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TBP-1 Review (Very Long)

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Jim Ingraham, Jun 1, 2005.


  1. Jim Ingraham

    Jim Ingraham

    Nov 14, 2002
    Shillington
    Ive been waiting to gig this pre several times till i posted about it. Ive been trying it with different speaker combos, different rooms, different bands and what i can say is:
    :bassist: :bassist: :bassist: :bassist: :bassist:::
    [​IMG]

    I’ve been on this vintage tone quest lately and the TBP-1 is the latest piece of the puzzle ive put in place. Ive gotten rid of all my actives and winnowed the herd down to a P and a J.
    The sound im after is the tone of my little 68 Bassman 50 with my Fenders.... but big and loud with no farting. The Bassman works good as a pre thru the QSC, but its a lot to carry and you still have to dump the speaker load somewhere.

    So when i read about the TBP here, i thought this may be a good replacement for my Bmax, which i love, but its just a little to trebly and high fi for the sound im pursuing. Trouble is there’s nowhere to hear these pres as no one around here (PA) stocks these units. Everyone seems to want 600 for them online which is a bit much to take chance on.

    So i walked down the block to my local Fender dealer( he's literally at he other end of my block) and ask them to price me one out.....525......sold. Took a couple weeks to arrive and when it did and i hooked it up i was a little disappointed.
    I am so used to high end of my Bmax that this Fender sounded kinda muffled to me. You can dial in some highs but this things flat voice is strong rich upper mids coupled with a huge round phat bottom. It’s kinda like a PBass in that by itself it sounds sort of plain, but in a mix it just sits in there and pumps. If you like a lot of glassy top end this pre isn’t for you, but if you like old school meat and potatoes Fender bass sound, that’s what this ones all about. I played it Sunday night at a very loud gig and it was exactly the sound I’ve been hearing in my head, big and phat on the bottom, clear articulate and punchy in the mids and upper mids, no clickety, bright, trebly sounds to be heard. ( although you can dial them in).

    Now onto the layout… the first section is your standard passive cut only Fender tone stack. Set it flat at 2-10 -2. Pull for bass boost and pull for treble boost. This pre sounds really good flat and tweaking these pots doesn’t yield large changes. However they are interactive and changing one changes the others so it takes a little getting used to.

    The next section is the overdrive channel. Now, I’m not an effects guy and not a particularly big fan of distortion and fuzz bass but I like this channel for adding a little bit of grind on certain songs. For the most part though I haven’t found much use for this yet as I think its more of a guitar players thing.

    Next is the Vari-Q section… now this one is pretty cool. It’s a combination semi-parametric eq and notch filter. One knob centers the frequency from 80-2k while the gain control widens the range of the band as you increase gain and narrows it as you decrease gain. This means you can narrowly cut a problem frequency and supposedly (according to fender) the increased band width on the gain side is more musical. It seems to work pretty well as a notch filter which is mainly how ive been using it so far.
    The next little dial is my favorite so far… it’s the Room Balance control. This knob bypaases the line out and only effects your stage sound. Bsaically if you turn it up it boosts highs and cuts lows and visa versa. A little bit goes a long way with this baby but its great for dialing in room.

    Now around to the back…. Ive never had an amp with bi-amp capabilities before but I have to say im really digging this feature. It has an active crossover adjustable from 100 to 2k, hi and low outs and a balance. The way ive been using this is running my top speaker (a 112 or 210 depending on the rig) out the full range main out, turning the xover all the way down and running a second speaker as a sub(either a 118 or 112 with the horn turned off). Then I run my power amp in stereo and this gives me a powerful new EQ tool by simply boosting or cutting the sub channel. The only problem with this setup is im giving up my headroom as my PLX1602 only puts out 300/side at 8 ohms. Still it gets plenty loud and I get deeper lows along with more controllable mids. I think its time to start looking for a bigger power amp though.

    Next we have the DI section. A very high quality Jensen transformer coupled with a pre and post button and a level control. Haven’t really used this yet on a gig, but screwing around with it at home it seems very quiet and accurate. Will be recording with this next week so that’ll be a good test.

    Next is an effects loop which I dont use and finally a tuner out and something kinda weird, a main input jack on the rear. I don’t know why that there.

    My other favorite thing about this unit is the foot switch. It just seems so logical to include one with pre. This one controls the overdrive channel, the effects channel ( which I use a quick volume boost as there is a gain pot on the rear effects panel), the Vari-Q channel and then a mute switch which doesn’t effect the tuner out. I must admit that ive never used pedals before but its just so damned handy (or footy) to have these controls available without going back to the amp.

    Just a few other quick thoughts and impressions about this pre. This thing reeks of quality, the controls feel weighty and very smooth, there is absolutely no noise at all in this amp even when cranked, its just dead quiet. Also from the Jensen transformer to the TRS jacks used in every input and output, Fender just didn’t seem to skimp anywhere here. A few concerns I have, namely the quantity parts inside. This thing has more electronics than my dual xeon motherboard. I just hope its not a problem down the road as I’m usually a less is more type of guy. It’s also fairly heavy for a pre, look for it to add about 10 lbs to your rack Someone in another thread raised the question of the tubes being mounted to PCB boards… I dont really know if this is a potential problem or not….wont be for 3 years anyway. And finally, what’s with the new Fender logo for bass gear?? I want the old one back!!

    Bottom line for me is, this the bottom I’ve been looking for. I am now pre gas free (for at least 6 months)

    [​IMG]
     
  2. The 0x

    The 0x

    Aug 24, 2003
    Timonium, MD
    I want one!!!! :hyper:


    By the way, how much overdrive is available on the OD channel? (as say, compared to a Mesa Walkabout)
     
  3. Jim Ingraham

    Jim Ingraham

    Nov 14, 2002
    Shillington
    Not familiar with a Walkabout but compared to my Polytone there's not as much. I think that with active basses however, yuo'd get a lot more. I think of the overdrive as more of a seasoning rather than a main dish.
     
  4. BassGreaser

    BassGreaser

    Aug 22, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Jim I've gone the same route for that old fat tube tone...well almost. I'm currently using a Bassman 135 with a Bassman 70 2x15. It's about a 100watts with the 6L6's, but I just love the straight tone I get from it, and it works very nicely with the upright as well. Quick question....I run my setting at T=5, M=5, and B=5. Is that the flat setting? :meh:
     
  5. The 0x

    The 0x

    Aug 24, 2003
    Timonium, MD
    Nope, the flat setting is 2-10-2.
     
  6. BassGreaser

    BassGreaser

    Aug 22, 2002
    Austin, TX
    hmmmm....I'll have to go try that setting out :hyper:
     
  7. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Boston, MA
    I am very interested in this pre. Thanks so much Jim for the great review. I hope I get an opportunity to check this one out.
     
  8. If I'm not mistaken, that logo is a version of the one used on Fender amps between 1948 and 1955 (Deluxe, Princeton, Pro, etc.). I know what you mean, though.
     
  9. thejohnkim

    thejohnkim

    Sep 30, 2003
    NYC
    love those footswitchable features
     
  10. Hawkeye

    Hawkeye Canuck Amateur

    Thanks Jim, for the great review. I've been looking at that preamp myself. By the way, what enclosure are you using for the pre / power? It makes your setup look like an integrated head. I've never liked all the aluminum on the SKB type of racks.
     
  11. trainyourhuman

    trainyourhuman Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2000
    MI
    Awesome. I need one. Great review. Nice P.
     
  12. DaveDeVille

    DaveDeVille ... you talkin' to me ?? Supporting Member

    sweet looking setup , congrats on the new pre-amp .

    i've actually been looking at the TBP-1 for awhile , and i think your review has only added to my already increasing GAS ...
     
  13. Jim Ingraham

    Jim Ingraham

    Nov 14, 2002
    Shillington
    I built that enclosure although if i were to do it again id add another space for a second pre or tuner or whatever.
     
  14. Hawkeye

    Hawkeye Canuck Amateur

    Very nice job Jim. If I decide to get a power amp and take my Peavey Max Preamp "on the road" I'd like to have something like that.

    The commercially available racks tend to look a bit too industrial or obviously like luggage for my liking. I like what you've done with your situation.

    Keep up the good work and thanks for your review.
     
  15. afroman

    afroman

    Aug 31, 2000
    Brooklyn, NY
    Jim that's a very good review. It's exactly how i feel about my TBP-1. It's just a plainly great sounding preamp, even set FLAT. I use the OD section all the time but I only add a little bit of it. I think of it as part of my EQ, not as an OD feature. Also the TUNER jack in the back is a very good idea. Maybe you'll have some piece of gear someday that makes it better for you to plug into that jack instead of the front (like a Wireless unit), so to me it's a wonderful feature. It's better to have it and dont use it than to need it and dont have it , IMO.

    I hope you keep enjoying the TBP-1 as much as i enjoy mine.
    Do you find the Fender's output to be a lot lower than you BMAX???
    I find I have to crank the volume to about 6-7 to get as loud as I did with my Bmax set at 4.

    Take care man and enjoy...
     
  16. Jim Ingraham

    Jim Ingraham

    Nov 14, 2002
    Shillington
    the output on the Fender is much lower than the BMax although i'd guess the Fenders output is closer to the norm. That BMax is too hot. Here's what Ive been playing around with today...running the BMx into the effects loop of the TBP. I cant figure how to get the tone stack part to work but the EQ, compressor and Sonic Max works great...gives you a whole nother palette of tones when you stomp on the effects button. Also that footswitch controlled mute is just the coolest thing since French Toast :bassist:
     
  17. afroman

    afroman

    Aug 31, 2000
    Brooklyn, NY
    Cool man, that's nice to know.

    Thanks...