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The eternal search for tone

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by pajohnso58, Sep 18, 2008.

  1. pajohnso58

    pajohnso58 Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2007
    My latest GAS attack has me on the prowl for a new amp. I currently have an Epifani UL-210 combo (with the 502 head) and a UL-112 extension. While it is plenty loud and cuts through the mix, it lacks the warmth and fullness I want. It is also a bit midrangey and a bit too sterile for my tastes. So far the closest I have come with gear I already own is to run an Avalon U5 into a QSC amp into the UL-112.

    I have some great sounding basses: '65 Fender Jazz, Sadowsky Vintage 5, Warwick fretless, and I play a variety of styles in a church/christian setting. Over the years I have owned amps from Ampeg, GK, Aguilar (preamp), Acoustic, and Fender.

    Here are my thoughts so far:

    - Looking for a warm, full, clean, round tone
    - I do not need thundering loud, just enough to fill a stage or medium room
    - I am leaning towards tube or hybrid, but I do not need distortion or overdrive
    - Portability is important as I have a bad back
    - I tend to find one sound on my amp and stick with it and I tend to use very little eq if any
    - I am thinking a pair of 12s or even a 15 might be better for me than 10s

    I guess I am focusing on the head first. Some contendors:

    - Mesa M-Pulse 600 or Venture combo
    - Mesa Basis M-2000 (I tried this when it first came out and absolutely loved the tone, but the amp had a ton of hiss)
    - Genz Benz 750
    - Vintage Ampeg V4B
    - Vintage Fender Bassman
    - Peavey VB-2
    - Aguilar 750 (a bit pricey)
    - Ampeg B15 (probably not loud enough)
    - Sticking with the Avalon/QSC combo and getting a second UL-112

    I know tone is totally subjective, but I appreciate suggestions to help narrow down or even expand my search. Again, it is about great warm, full, clean tone at a moderate level.

  2. Pako

    Pako Are we having fun yet?

    Jul 31, 2002
    USA, Montana
    I would love to hear your reaction plugging your Avalon/QSC into a couple EX-112 Bergantino cabs. If your into tweeters, maybe a HT112 and a EX112 would suit. If a single cab design is in your cards (bad back it may not be), a single 2x12 cab from Jim should do ya. I've always been a 4x10 kind of guy, but running a couple Bergantino 12's has forever changed me for the tone you are describing. There are a lot of other tone variables from your gear to what I'm running, but you might find the Bergantino's to be smoother, rounder, warmer to your ears than the Epifani's. I can't guarantee the result to your ears, but I would seriously check them out. I usually run pretty flat at the amp as well and use any tonal adjustment at the bass. Running Tube pre and solid state power section. I have played my Sadowsky Metro JJ, my Warwick Fretless, and now my Skjold through these cabs and it sounds great, GAS free. :)
  3. 4-string


    Jul 23, 2006
    As long as overdrive or distortion isn't needed, I'd also look into Eden and Thunderfunk.
  4. crimson_basser


    Jul 9, 2008
    Endorsing Artist: Spector Basses
    you want warm and fat?

    aguilar is the way to go
    sounds as thick as a juicy steak

    it sounds so big, and you rly FEEL the tone in the air around you
    its an awesome feeling
    and there are other options besides the DB 750 (which is expensive)

    look around for used aguilars and you could find some older models (as i did, DB 359, 200 watts all tube 1100 bucks) its got the same face plate setup as the DB 750, with the same EQ, effect loop and DI options. But instead of having a solid state power amp, its tube (which is eeeeven better)

    its heavy, maybe not as heavy as the 750 though.

    and i run that through an Orange 410.
    sounds like a dream

    my opinion :)
  5. mat666


    Apr 3, 2007
    I've heard only good comments on markbass LMII - it's small and weighs 6 pounds or so - check threads here you'll get more info
  6. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    DFW, Texas
    You might consider adding a UL-115 to your UL-112.

    I would think that the U5 into that would sound very nice.

    The M-2000 is a very warm, very versatile amp.

    I'd second the LMII recommendation for a warm tone as well.

    Ashdown or Yorkville are warm-sounding amps also.

    Good luck!
  7. pajohnso58

    pajohnso58 Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2007
    The DB 359 sounds like an interesting option. I used to have the 659 preamp that I liked alot. Does anyone know why the 359, 728, 680 and 659 are no longer being sold?
  8. pajohnso58

    pajohnso58 Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2007
    I tried several MarkBass heads yesterday including the LMII, F1, and R500 through a variety of cabinets: Epifani UL-112, MB single 15, MB four 10, MB double 10. For all the comments about the warmth of the LMII, I found it to be loud and punchy, but not warm at all. I was using my '65 Jazz which is a great smooth sounding bass and it sounded fairly typical to me. If I was in the market for a solid amp that was extremely light, I would grab one in a heartbeat.

    I am still looking for suggestions for a warm, full, smooth, clean amp. So far my Avalon/QSC combo is leading the pack, but I am seriously considering trying out single 15 cabinets. I am also going to try the Genz Benz Shuttle 6.0.
  9. will33


    May 22, 2006
    You should have everything you want in the U5, I'd just shop a bunch of different cabs.
  10. Spencer!


    Jun 25, 2006
    Owner, Pike Amplification & 3Leaf Audio
    Aguilar wasn't making any money on them. If you want warm, look no further than the DB750.
  11. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    DFW, Texas
    I suspect that it had something to do with how many units were sold per month (or year).
    There's a fine balance that affects parts ordered and their cost relative to how many are being sold.

    They are all fine, solid units, though.
    I almost bought a DB659 at one point (back when I got my former Demeter VTBP-201S) -- very nice sounding preamp.
    The choice was more based on synergy with the cab I got at the time.
  12. Mike Shevlin

    Mike Shevlin

    Feb 16, 2005
    Las Vegas
    I agree with some more cubic inches on the deep end. And your timing is perfect for the new GK Fusion 550 which I think is hitting stores now. I tried one @ Winter NAMM & it's everything you are describing. The TF750 would do it for you to. The Aggie 750 would as well, but it's darn heavy if you have a back problem. Good Luck!
  13. pajohnso58

    pajohnso58 Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2007
    This is excellent advice and the direction I am going.

    I played my '65 Jazz through a DBX 160 into the Avalon U5 into a set of Westone molded 2-way IEMs, and the sound was awesome! I then used this same preamp rig into a QSC power amp into my Epifani UL-112 in a small room and the sound was still awesome! The UL-112 was a bit light on the B-string of my Sadowsky Vintage 5, but overall the sound was very rich and solid.

    Given this rig would never fill a larger room, I am now deciding between two cabinet pairs:

    Epifani UL-112/UL-115:

    I expect the UL-115 will give me much of the tone of the UL-112 with more output and bottom end. I can use the UL-112 for small rooms, rehearsals and when I play a 4-string; I can use the UL-115 for larger rooms and when I play a 5-string; and I can pair them up for a killer rig.​

    Bergantino HT112ER/EX112ER:

    I have never played through a Berg cabinet and, given all the great reviews here on TB, I have to give these a try before I decide on the UL-115.​

    I am also planning on adding a Shuttle 6 or LMII for the smaller playing situations. Walking in with a micro-amp in the pouch of my gigbag with the UL-112 in one hand (only weighs 30 pounds!) is very appealing.

    This combination of gear would enable me to tailor my rig for all of my current playing situations:

    160/U5/IEMs - when no amp is needed
    Shuttle/UL-112 - for a super light rehearsal set up
    Shuttle/UL-115 - Small rooms or when a little more low end is needed
    160/U5/QSC/UL-115 - Medium rooms (the QSC mono bridged can put out 1100 watts into 8 ohms)
    160/U5/QSC/UL-112/UL-115 - Large rooms (the QSC puts out 1600 watts into 4 ohms)​

    Next step is to go down to Bass Specialties north of Philly and try out the UL-115 and the Bergies. I think I am finally on my way, at least until the next serious GAS attack!
  14. pajohnso58

    pajohnso58 Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2007
    Just picked up a Berg HT112ER. These things are freekin' awesome! :hyper:

    Full, deep, tight... everything I was looking for. :D

    I tried out the UL-115 and while it certainly had nice low end and plenty of output, it was not as focused as the HT. I also tried the AE112, but it did not have the depth and fullness of the HT.

    As soon as some other gear sells, I will be getting an EX112ER to go with it, and then choosing between a Shuttle and a LMII or F1 for a lightweight rehearsal setup.
  15. Eublet


    Jul 28, 2006
    The U5 lacks an useable EQ, substituting that for presets that you either like or don't like. Those who are happy with those presets think the U5 is fine. Those who need something more are unhappy with it.
  16. Humblerumble


    Feb 22, 2004
    Try the Mesa Walkabout, light and tubey. Fat round and warm. If your back and wallet can handle it DB750 is wonderful, but the Walkabout is a close second.
  17. Mojo-Man


    Feb 11, 2003
    The Walkabout combo's are great.
    But, a Walkabout Head, and Berg. Cab. ( NV2x15)
    Would do the trick.
  18. pajohnso58

    pajohnso58 Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2007
    I find that I generally use very little eq on my amps or basses to get my base sound. In fact, I believe one of the signs of a great bass or amp is the way it sounds flat.

    At times I will use a little mid scoop or low and high boost for slapping, or I might lean towards the bridge pickup for an alternate thinner, punchier tone. I am mainly a fingerstyle groove player and I tend to look for a nice full, even sound and stick with it. I find that the first preset in the U5, which has a very slight mid dip, sounds great for most things and the second preset is a great slap tone. I guess I am not much of a tone tweaker/knob twiddler; not that there's anything wrong with that.;)
  19. pajohnso58

    pajohnso58 Supporting Member

    Jan 27, 2007
    My back definitely cannot handle a DB750 and it would be an equal strain on my wallet.

    The walkabout looks interesting, although the output is a bit light (165 @ 8 and 300 @ 4). I can't seem to find a new one on-line, but used ones seem to be in the $600-700 range which is competitive with the Shuttle and LMII. How does the output and oompf compare with one of the micro amps that have twice the power output?
  20. I have a Markbass CMD121P combo (with a built in LMII). If you tweak the filters an the Markbass it can sound quite warm. If you add a SansAmp, it will help even more. You've got an economical, light (13kg) combo which sounds mighty when you add an extension speaker. (I gather the MarkBass gear is not so expensive in the US as it is here - everything COSTS!!).

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