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Thinking about going from solidstate to tube. Advice needed.

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by creis2, Feb 3, 2013.

  1. creis2


    Nov 11, 2011
    Cambridge, MA
    I owned a SVT Classic a few years back. I know these heads are workhorses, and my situation wasn't the norm. But I had a lot of problems with my head (no need to go into them), so I ditched it and went with an Ashdown ABM 500 (which is a hybrid). The SVT sounded better, but once I'm playing in the mix, going through a PA, etc, I hardly noticed a difference.

    I played through an Orange AD200B today and it sounded really nice. Also, it wasn't nearly as heavy as the SVT. It also only has 4 power tubes and after doing some research, tube swaps and bias adjustments aren't too bad (I used to service electrical equipment, so I have an idea of what's going on).

    My guitarists are always bugging me to go all tube, but they don't understand guitar solidstate is much different than bass solidstate.

    The only catch is, the head is 2 grand. I'm worried about spending that much on a piece of electrical equipment. At least if my Ashdown were to go boom and was beyond repaid, I could quickly get a used one for $500. Not so much with the Orange. I know Orange is top notch stuff, but that's a lot of money for electronics, which can fault at any time.

    Also, I'm not one of those people that obsesses over my sound when playing solo. Things sounds a lot different when you're in the mix.

    I can't decide. Keep the Ashdown (which I currently like), or go with the Orange which I'm sure I'll like more, but I don't know if it will be 2 grand more.

    Could you all steer me in one direction?:)
  2. craig.p


    Sep 28, 2008
    New Hampshire
    Well, everyone's different, but people who tell me my equipment isn't right and I need to change it at my own expense . . . Well, let's just say it generally winds up not being so great of an experience for them. Memorable, yes. But not so great.
  3. Go this way
  4. creis2


    Nov 11, 2011
    Cambridge, MA
    Does it result in a knuckle sandwich:p?
  5. Not so funny huh??
    You had a bad experience with a problem child, doesn't mean you will the next time. If it is a sound YOU think is worth it then do it. If not I would not change what I play to satisfy any guitar player unless HE or THEY wanted to front the cash. "Put their money where their mouth is"? :D
  6. creis2


    Nov 11, 2011
    Cambridge, MA
    I guess my doubt should be enough to convince myself, just wanted to see the comical posts from TB.

    Any time I've ever doubted a purchase, but bought it, I was unhappy. But there are those times where I buy the item without thinking about it (my 71 P bass) no matter the price, and I still have the gear til' this day.

    But oh man, this amp is pretty :crying:
  7. bschuylerm


    Mar 4, 2012
    Get an SVT II Pro, you can find them used for like $1100.
  8. nostatic

    nostatic Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2004
    los angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: FEA Labs
    Bird in the hand
  9. droskobass


    Oct 8, 2007
    Montreal, Canada
    Former Part-Time, Non-Commission Employee MOOG Audio
    a straight up SVT II is a good option too.

    As for tubes and Bias, that's just regular maintenance. Budget the same amount for maintenance and accessories for your amp (tubes, cleaning, bias checking grid resistors and capacitors) as you do on your main and back up bass (strings set up polish, adjustments cases etc)

    if you want a sturdy amp get a point to point (like a Matamp GT200 instead of the orange) or a Divided by thirteen or even a classic traynor) these amps obviously cost more to acquire but they usually cost less to own in the long run (less repairs, less failure, greater resale value and better tone)

    the classic traynors can be had for half of what the orange costs, in fact Traynor has new heads out today (as do EBS T-90) Ashdown, Fender ) that are all tube.

    SVT's aren't bad but you need to have qualified tech that knows what to look for to do preventative maintenance. I picked one up from a guy that had has 2 years of constantly blowing tubes so it sat in his basement for 3 more years. my tech checked every component from A-B and replace any that were't up to spec, changed all the grid resistors and all tubes with matched Ruby's put it on the scope and it clocked in as the most powerful SVT he'd ever seen (and mine is a 2007 Vietnamese! (essentially rebuilt in Canada in 2012) the work cost me 475 all told but now it's been super solid and sounds insanely good.

    If you buy an amp new, and sell the gear when it's broken after moderate use and no maintenance, you'll always be on the losing side financially. If you have a good relationship with a experienced professional skilled tech you can turn other people's laziness into your gain.

    Most "mass produced" amps aren't built by educated or skilled techs. They are assembled on an assembly line in an assembly house. No matter what, you're going to need to re-tube, re-bias and have the amp checked to get it working correctly (even if you buy it new) If you go for a hand made amp ... you're getting much better quality amp that 'll last decades beyond the modern circuit board stuff.. (just my 2 cents) My next amp is going to be a divided by 13 .. I'll save up, but it'll be a better all 'round. And when I sell my SVT i'll probably have made money (even after the repairs)
  10. I say get a new guitar player. I had an SVT 8x10 rig in the eighties, when I had a good back. No thanks, I'll keep my MB800 . Don't let anyone else tell you what to do, especially when it comes to your money.
  11. hsech

    hsech I'm not old, I'm just seasoned. Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 27, 2012
    Central Iowa
    If it ain't broke...........
  12. Mr. Foxen

    Mr. Foxen Commercial User

    Jul 24, 2009
    Bristol, UK
    Amp tinkerer at Ampstack
    It isn't top notch, its a built to be cheap amp and a boutique amp price. Spend on quality instead and the reliability will be much better. The AD200 is built about the same as the Smarvo valve jobs (sold under various brands, Ashton, Smarvo and Eden). Depending on where you are, various handmade amps are available, and if its made by hand, it cab be fixed by hand much easier that an everything on PCB cheapy, and will be more durable. As mentioned Matamp is top dog, but far from the States, Dunwich amps does great work, posts here sometimes and is in the States, can't vouch for anyone else on that side though.
  13. creis2


    Nov 11, 2011
    Cambridge, MA
    I ran into the same thing when I was looking at the Orange OBC 410. It is heavy (100 pounds), and expensive ($1000). But I really liked the sound. When I found out they popped off the shelf Beta 10a's in it, I immediately called Don from LDS up. He built me a 410 (with orange tolex), with the same drivers, for more than half of the cost of the Orange. It only weighs 55 pounds too.
  14. creis2


    Nov 11, 2011
    Cambridge, MA
    What about the Traynor YBA200? It looks good on paper and the price is hard to beat.

    I was reading some threads and people say it breaks up early. What kind of headroom can I get out of this?
  15. Mr. Foxen

    Mr. Foxen Commercial User

    Jul 24, 2009
    Bristol, UK
    Amp tinkerer at Ampstack
    I had a YBA200, I didn't find early breakup was a problem, but it didn't sound very 'valvey', the hard to quantify bit. Maybe people push the pre to try and get it but it isn't there. Other than that, was a fine amp, fell out the flightcase during load in and played the gig fine. Loud bassy stuff, but had big cabs to go with.
  16. mournblade


    Nov 19, 2006
    Roanoke, TX
    Just got a VBA 400, waiting on new pre-amp tubes (or sending it to the tech if that doesn't cure the lack of gain). I am thinking of doing an a/b with my Mesa Titan. I had it (the Mesa) cranked up today and it sounded so good with the valve pre-amp. I am very curious how the two amps will compare with the same bass, same piece, same settings and cabs back to back.
  17. rpsands


    Jul 6, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    Anyone wanting to "go tube" should try an Orange Bass Terror 500 first. Sounds and feels as close to a tube amp as anything I've ever tried.
  18. bigsnaketex


    Dec 29, 2011
    Down South
    Fender Bassman automatically biases the tubes, is cheaper than the Orange and IMHO, sounds better. I paired mine with the matching 410 neo (less than 50 lbs). You'll never play solid state again!
  19. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Tell your guitarist you will play what he want you to the minute he plays whatever rig you choose for him. Or how about you even get to pick his volume level? Or maybe you think he should play a Strat instead of a Les Paul? Or maybe a different haircut on the guy would help your band's image? Perhaps a little work on his pimples would be nice? And tell him to shed a few pounds for the band.

    I love tube bass amps. I play a Mesa Walkabout (hybrid just like you) most gigs for a combination of reasons. And anyone who hires me, and then tells me what to show up with, can start calling other bass players. I don't like 4 string basses. If you require a P bass, I'm not your guy. I own an all-tube vintage amp and bring it out when I feel like it. If you don't like my Mesa, again, you have the wrong guy.
  20. creis2


    Nov 11, 2011
    Cambridge, MA
    I found a friend selling an Eden World Tour 300 tube head, for cheap. The bias is easy to adjust too.

    Can't decide :(