Tiny, low watt bass heads

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by el murdoque, Dec 15, 2017.

  1. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    I've just stopped playing at home with my guitar head because I had to find out that this setup only worked with a certain cab, and I sold that cab. What I liked about that setup was that the guitar head had attentuation built in, so I could limit the output to 1W.
    Long story short, this amp has to go. I'm looking at small, low wattage heads now.

    The ones I found so far are:
    Hughes & Kettner Bassmaster
    A minimalistic tube preamp capable of putting out 5W.
    It's butt ugly but it has tubes.

    Phil Jones Bass Buddy
    Graphic EQ and limiter built in, can run on batteries and puts out 10W.
    Classy look, as well.

    Hotone Thunder Bass
    Without a doubt the smallest SVT copy out there. 5W

    ....but there are bound to be more around?
  2. knumbskull


    Jul 28, 2007
    Ashdown CTM-15 sprung to mind, but at 15 watts it might be a bit overpowered ;)


    it's discontinued, i think, but might be available used.
    Squittolo, izpak and alesreaper9 like this.
  3. Marko 1

    Marko 1 Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2009
    N.E. Ohio
    Is there something about watts that frightens you? :)
    Lobster11 and Coolhandjjl like this.
  4. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    Not at all. If necessary, I can go from my preamp straight into a 4,5k W bridged 19" amp.
    And I have enough Heads ranging from 200-500W.

    The tiny all tube heads fascinate me, though. You can get some tubey sound bliss from a package that won't break your back.
    And I like things neat. In my living room, I will have a Barefaced Super Compact (which should arrive any day now)
    and don't need a lot of volume, just a good sond. Sure, you can just use any old head I have lying around to do that, they all have a master knob that can be turned down. But I like it better when there is an Amp that is kinda made for exactly that application.
    RedVee, knumbskull and Marko 1 like this.
  5. I have a VHT special 6, which is a guitar amp. That said it is workable as a bass amp through a proper cab. There are a ton of small tube amps out there that will work for bass.
    Freightshaker likes this.
  6. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    From those I tried I was mostly disappointed.
    Can you point some out that you tried and liked?
  7. basscooker

    basscooker Commercial User

    Apr 11, 2010
    cincy ky
    Owner, ChopShopAmps
    I have always been curious about the 5w Ampeg. It might be 15 I can't remember for sure. It looks like it would fit beautifully atop a 210AV. They pop up at the GC used pages for like $200. Just a bit too much for a " well, lets see" IMO.

    Vox, Orange, Epiphone and Kustom all have/had one. Marshall had about half a dozen. Peavey did one or two, but surprising I can't recall Fender doing one in a head. There are probably a dozen more 5w and smaller gitfiddle tube amps around that I missed. Bass amps, though are much fewer way down there. I didn't even know about the ones you mentioned lol.
  8. Why were you disappointed?
  9. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    Lack of clean bottom or in some cases the B string would drop drastically in volume.
    I have no idea if 5 watts is enough to reproduce a low B without distortion at room volume, though.
  10. Yeah, I would say you're expecting a lot of an amp that size.
    Marko 1 likes this.
  11. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    Well, the Setup that worked fine was a Hughes&Kettner Tubemeister 18 head with a barefaced one10 cab.
    With just a bit of bass boost from my active basses, I got a beautiful tone - and that at the 5 watts setting.
  12. That has more to do with the cab than the amp. The sensitivity of the cab in the frequency range you are playing will be a massive contributor at low power.
  13. InhumanResource


    Dec 28, 2012
    I like the idea of that little Hughes and Kettner guy. That's pretty cool.
  14. Peavey, Egnater, and Fender still make low watt tube models. My Super Champ X2 can do clean low B. I still kick around the idea of picking up an Engnater Tweaker.

    Edit: Using GK neo 12's.
    el jeffe bass likes this.
  15. Coolhandjjl

    Coolhandjjl Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2010
    Remember, really low frequencies need lots more watts to sound good than the rest of the frequencies.
    BadExample and Aqualung60 like this.
  16. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I've owned two of those little H&K units, a Cream Machine (sounds like a Marshall, but no EQ...sold it) and a Blues Master (also sold as Crunch Master...Fender EQ stack, still own it). These are both only 1 watt. I've hooked them up to a 15" EVM in an EAW VB-125 cabinet and they sounded fine. Remember 10 watts is only twice as loud as 1 watt and 100 watts is only twice as loud as 10 watts. The Metal Master has a higher gain preamp, not good for clean sounds. None of these are 100% tube, there is an IC-based buffer before the preamp tube. But they have real tube class A power amps. The attenuator built in is the same as the first generation Red Box units, it can be bypassed when running into another amp. Although made for guitar, they sound fine with bass IMHO. Great for recording.


    The H&K units were sold mainly as overdrive preamps to put in front of another amp, but could drive a speaker cab. Way ahead of their time, they sold poorly and got blown out for about $100 over 20 years ago.

    There's also the SWR Interstellar Overdrive, another 5 watter sold as a preamp.

  17. What cabs can be used with these small heads? I like the Thunderbass and would get one but I'm not sure what cab I could pair it with
  18. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    I just don't get it. If you are playing at home, is perfect tone (which is impossible to achieve) that important? For $300, you can get a head that you can use at home, is tiny, and would also work for gigs. Why spend that kind of money on a practice amp?
  19. Jack


    Sep 6, 2003
    Northumberland, UK
    What is your current amp and why will it only work with 1 cabinet?
  20. BrianToska


    Jan 14, 2013
    Houston, TX
    I have a Fender Champion 600 5 Watts all tube guitar amp that sounds fantastic when you disconnect the speaker and run it through a bass cab.
    RoadRanger likes this.
  21. Primary

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