Techs! What amp(s) are you using?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Benjamin Strange, Mar 17, 2004.

  1. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    We have some very knowledgable (and opinionated) amp techs here on TB. I've seen them praise and slam just about every amp brand out there, which makes me curious: what amps are they using personally, and why?

    Are you guys picking them out for their tone? Their reliablity? Their build/design quality?

    I know nothing about amps other than what sounds good to me and what doesn't. Who knows, maybe if I knew more about amps I would pick something different. What's the secret, guys?
  2. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Hi Basstriaxis, in my humbly opinionated opinion, the secret is high power and extreme reliability. Followed by, dynamics, cleanliness, and ease of use/handling/transportation. Lately we"ve been playing a lot of large venues, so the WW Ultra has been getting a lot of use. 1200 watts at 7 pounds, can't beat that, and it's super reliable, it's taken all kinds of abuse and still works perfectly. Same for the Stewart 2.1, it's a 17 pound 2100 watt extension amp that powers the subs, it rarely makes it to an indoor gig but works perfectly outdoors for long periods in 110 degree heat. For smaller gigs, and for recording purposes, I have a little WW MI-100 that fits the bill, and I use whatever extension amp is needed to get the required power. Both of these little WW amps have great preamp sections, they're punchy and dynamic and have plenty of tonal flexibility, and they happen to sound good with my Roscoes and F basses. It took a long time to find something that worked, and I'm very happy with these amps.
  3. Brian Barrett

    Brian Barrett

    Nov 25, 2001
    Murfreesboro, TN (Nashville)
    Dealer, Builder
    I have to agree with pretty much everything said. Walter Woods Amps are by far one of the best products in my opinion a bass player can own. However its not cheap, so there has to be alternatives. I think someone can have just as nice a setup in a power amp/preamp rig, but of course the weight and size isn’t as nice. I prefer the Crest Power amps, but this is an opinion area and everyone is going to be different. I've bought and sold a number of different amp manufactures and been a dealer for a number of companies and I find the Crest amps to be the best bang for the buck and the best customer service of any amps companies I've worked with. I find them to be smooth and musical with out being harsh sounding like many are. This is just a personal taste and everyone will have their opinion on which is best. It’s really up to you to talk with people and check specs on each amp.

    TB actually isn't the best for this type of question. Your going to have guys that own brand X and swear by it. Your going to have guys that sold brand X and now have brand Y and swear by it. Same goes for bass and cabs. No one will say that what they own sucks. If you want info then ask people why they sold their amp, bass, etc. Ask not for people that own it presently, but for those that had it in the past. That way you can hear the reason's they sold it which might help more then everyone arguing why what they have is better. Same as if you go to a gear review page. How Often do you see people say their Mex Jazz bass sucks, or their Japan bass sucks from brand X? You don’t because people aren’t going to own something they think sucks. Now fast forward a few years later and they have sold and bought something else. Then ask them if that bass was as good as they thought. What is the answer going to be now........
  4. Brian, I couldn't agree with you more
  5. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member

    If you want info then ask people why they sold their amp, bass, etc. Ask not for people that own it presently, but for those that had it in the past. That way you can hear the reason's they sold it which might help more then everyone arguing why what they have is better.

    OK, I agree in principle, up to a point. But what about someone like me who's played the same bass for 20 years, and has never found anything they like more, despite looking on and off that whole time? I have no problem saying that certain things could be better, and in some ways my new bass _is_ better. I also have no problem saying that my old bass does a lot of things really well. Surely my opinion has some validity, given the long time I've had to develop it? Sometimes, brand loyalty is deserved, no? Would saying I miss my Travis Bean (assuming I sold it) be more meaningful than saying I still love it after 20 years?

    I've owned dozens of amps, and worked on at least a few thousand. I own three different brands of power amps right now, and I bought them all with a high degree of certainty that I would get what I expected and wanted out of them. This has proven to be true. I have no intention of selling any of them, although everything in my world is negotiable that way. I think that most techs are realists, and therefore are not so hung up on "the best", or on blind brand loyalty, or on the idea that what we currently own is beyond reproach. Everything breaks, eventually, and nearly everything works, for the right application. The secret, to me, is qualifying the proper application.

    Anyway, to answer the original question: I buy new amps when it makes sense, with good warranties, and turn them over when the warranty runs out, or when they fail. I have better things to do than repair my own gear. I used to buy lots of broken stuff, fix it, use it, and eventually sell it. Now, I rarely mess with anything that's failed, beyond fixing it and moving it along. I've made an exception for my Hafler, which I consider to be a very fine sounding amp, much better than any dedicated bass amp I've ever heard. I doubt if I'll ever gig with it again though, and I'll definitely have a spare with me if I do.

    Apart from all that, weight, cooling scheme (fan or not), and fashion show appeal ("rider friendliness", in the parlance of the sound provider) all matter to me. I have a couple of PLXs, a Crown K2, and the Hafler P-3000, and each has its place, and does what I expect from it. I build my own preamps, because I insist on a stereo rig, and I haven't found a commercial preamp that seems any better, for me, than what I can build. Honestly, in many ways I'd prefer to buy an off the shelf solution. My 13 year old preamp just went up in smoke last weekend. Today I ordered the rest of the parts for the new one I've been planning on building for a while. It'll take at least 30-40 hours to build it, time I can ill afford. I'd rather slam myself than someone else for any perceived deficiencies though.