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Thoughts On Ampeg Portaflex B-15R?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Pentatonic, Mar 6, 2014.

  1. Found someone selling a Ampeg Portaflex B-15R in very good condition for $1299. I've read that its a nice amp but does not quite get that vintage B-15 sound. Thoughts on that?

    I like that it is a modern amp at 100 watts with direct line out. I currently have a B100r and love it if that helps any.

  2. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    I like them- it's exactly the same amp as the older V4BH. It's not like a vintage B15, but it is a nice all-tube amp.
  3. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I think you'd really dig the B-15R in that case. For the best example of how they sound, I suggest listening to songs from Beck's album "Sea Change," since the bass player did it with a mic'ed B-15R and and handful of different basses. "Paper Tiger" is a real good example. Some argue that the cab is sealed and doesn't sound like the old ones, and I'd argue that it's a B-15 so who cares? They're all great...just different shades of great.
  4. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
    Take an SVT CL preamp and marry it to a 100W power amp and you get a B-15R. It's a nice amp but different than the earlier B-15N's.

    If you have a suitable speaker cab, also consider the new 100W Ampeg V4B head. At $1500, it slightly more expensive than what you are considering paying for the B-15R.
  5. bludog

    bludog Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2012
    Brooklyn 11217
    I love my B-15R. I had B100R and then when I came across the B-15 from the same era, I snagged it. I had always wanted one because it had more power than the vintage ones. I also was a little concerned about the popular feedback that it wasn't the same without the double baffle, etc, etc but it's a really close interpretation of that vintage sound. No doubt it's a great sounding tube amp with a good amount of volume at 100W. I have the B15E extension cab which makes it plenty loud for any room I'm playing.

    *I wouldn't say it's the same as the V4BH. A lot of people say they are fundamentally the same amp in their design but I remember them sounding different when I had a chance to play the V4BH. Just my opinion...
  6. StuartV

    StuartV Finally figuring out what I really like Supporting Member

    Jul 27, 2006
    Manassas, VA
    I also really like my B-15R. I have not gigged it, but I totally would. Sooner or later, I'm going to hook up my Aguilar GS115 cab as an extension and see what it sounds like like that. I imagine it will be quite loud.


    - the 15R is switchable from 100W down to 60 or 40. Nice if you want to get some power amp distortion without too much volume.

    - the 15R has another switch to change the bias so you can drop in EL34 tubes, in place of the stock 6L6s, if you want. I want to try that myself. It seems that everybody that does that really likes the sound with the EL34s even better than the stock 6L6s.

    - several people have reported just changing out the stock speaker for a better one and getting a really nice improvement in sound. I really want to try that, too.

    - It's not a hard task at all to remove the front baffle (the panel that the stock speaker is mounted in) and replace it with a double baffle setup, like the old B-15s had. I actually got a quote from Fliptops of $125 to make me both pieces needed to do the swap out to convert it to a double baffle. If you REALLY want the sound of the original B15s, I would think that swapping out the baffle and putting a better speaker in at the same time, then running it on the 40 watt setting would totally get you there.

    All that said, mine sounds so good just like it is that I have never gotten around to doing any of those mods to it. And, fortunately, all those mods are totally reversible, so no real harm in trying them.
  7. Thanks for the replies everyone, very helpful.

    I am GASing for the amp, but just mulling it over some as it is more of a want than need.

  8. Laurent

    Laurent Supporting Member

    May 21, 2008
    Napa, California
    I have played the amp that's for sale. Note that it does not have the original speaker in it. Of course the seller is not qualified enough to see this. It was switched to an EV Force 15 which makes the amp sound better than the original speaker to my ear. Some will protest and argue with me but it's my humble opinion.
    I tested the amp for a couple of hours and loved it until I A/B it against a Markbass 115 Jeff Berlin sitting next to it and as good as the B15 sounded, the Markbass sounded a lot better. I love B15 but I think one only would buy them because of nostalgia not because of tone. JimmYM will loudly protest but I invite people to carry out the same test which is of course subjective.
  9. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Been sampling the wonderful selection of wines from Schramsburg tonight, Laurent? ;)

    But seriously, I've not played a B-15R so I only have recordings to go by, and they don't make it anymore so it's not like I need to pimp it. So I will only mildly protest. The Jeff is a cool little amp that has a similar vibe, but while I think the LMIII inside the Jeff can sound pretty clean tubey, I can't envision a scenario where I wouldn't choose a tube amp over a micro if both are available to me.
  10. Laurent

    Laurent Supporting Member

    May 21, 2008
    Napa, California
    I don't think it's the amp part that drags down the B15r. The amp sounds great and has a beautiful character. What is obsolete is the speaker and the cabinet design on the B15R, which sounded great for the era but is being outperformed by more modern speakers/cabs.

    Also the weight and form factor is not in favor of the B15R.

    Pentatonic: PM me if you want to know more about this amp. I have detailed pictures as well.
    Note it's not mine, I just happen to run across it as I was traveling this week.
  11. Thanks kindly for the offer to help, PM sent.
  12. I had the same experience when I chose the Berlin combo over a used Ampeg B15 R . I really thought I wanted the Ampeg but glad I the Berlin especially since adding the NY151extention cab.
  13. Laurent

    Laurent Supporting Member

    May 21, 2008
    Napa, California
    PM responded. Pictures were sent.
  14. Thanks a lot!