1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

Tools or family members?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by basscooker, Apr 21, 2021.

  1. basscooker

    basscooker Commercial User

    Apr 11, 2010
    cincy ky
    Owner, ChopShopAmps
    As I read through many threads I often shake my head a bit.

    Something I just don't get, maybe never will, that often leaves me with more questions: is that inefficient, low-powered, boat anchor of a fartbox vintage cab really worth keeping?

    At least once a week a thread will pop up regarding suggestions for upgrading the driver in an older cab. Yeah, sure. Retrofitting can be done to good effect and bring a new life to an old box. My question, really, is WHY?

    Is your rig a tool that needs to perform or an adopted family member that may let you down but, hey, they're family; it's okay.

    I really want to know, TB, where you sit on a hypothetical. I'm all about replacing a stripped screwdriver; the mower I can't get running; the knife that has no edge left and is losing blade to being ground so much. Isn't music gear that doesn't do what you need it to do just unnecessary?

    Is there really THAT much to gain in "resale" value by throwing money at a tool (that even if it works as flawlessly as it did when it was NIB) which pales in comparison to even some of the cheapest budget new offerings? Reconing a speaker that (by comparison to modern drivers) kinda sucks to begin with? Digging into the wallet for 40-50 year old rare parts to get an amp that (once again, by modern comparison) is under powered and just 'meh'?

    There is absolutely validity to certain gear being worth it... Tone, of course. Historical significance, another. Sentimental or personal reasons can apply as well; maybe it was a part of very fond memories or something.

    Help me understand this, though. I have some older stuff that I hold onto. My Marshall amps are all hard-to-find micro stacks. I love my Ampro Frankenstein DIY creation. None of these are theoretically going anywhere. BUT none of it is part of "my gear" in any sense of the term. It's decor. Just fun. Would I ever consider any of it for playing with others? No way. If they needed repairs to continue working would I pony up hundreds? Not a chance.

    Hey, you do you! It just doesnt make a lot of sense to me reading so often about folks throwing money around trying to make their 19xx model, mid-level cab perform like a 201x boutique model. The cabs alone these days are generally better in almost every way I can think of than nearly anything made even 30 years ago. All of course IMHO, IME, YMMV.

    I was going to make it a poll but figured since there are valid reasons to cling to some gear it isn't as easy as yes or no seeing gear as tools. What are your thoughts?
  2. 2saddleslab

    2saddleslab Supporting Member

    May 30, 2003
    Probably the best description is my basses are an extension of me. I've got lots of sweat equity in each as well as custom parts my dad made. Doesn't get much better than that.
  3. basscooker

    basscooker Commercial User

    Apr 11, 2010
    cincy ky
    Owner, ChopShopAmps
    An actual instrument, 100% agreed, is a different story. We certainly bond. At what point does its "personality" actually affect performance to a level of repair vs replace?

    This is really more an amp/cab question (hence the subforum) because there are far fewer ways technology can improve on the design of the instrument as much as other gear.

    If in some wierd scenario a new (read "better") bass was available new for not much more than the repair or equivalent-replacement cost of a problem instrument; what do you do? This was your beater for years, but has a couple issues. Seems a no brainer to go new gear and say goodbye. Why do we want to hang on to gear/hobby stuff that doesn't even do the job it is supposed to anymore?
  4. abarson


    Nov 6, 2003
    Santa Cruz
    Some old equipment are hand-me-downs by well-intentioned people to someone just starting their venture into music/bass. Sometimes the want to upgrade is sincerely justified but the newly indoctrinated doesn't know what he/she doesn't know. Things like speaker swaps on the surface look simple and straightforward, and often there is a lack of understanding that there is a huge difference between bass and guitar cabinets. That the newbie doesn't search and read the plethora of threads speaking to this can be vexing, but I don't know of a way to compel self-education.

    My own experience with gear has been an odd path. I don't typically pursue mainstream brands (why? I don't know). I've always bought used because I'm cheap (there, I said it). I've disposed of good sounding gear because it was just too heavy or bulky to transport, and I've relied on resources like TB to point me in the general direction for my upgrades. It is a learning experience that hasn't ended.
    bigdaddybass12, Murch and basscooker like this.
  5. 2saddleslab

    2saddleslab Supporting Member

    May 30, 2003
    @basscooker, you must be a bass player, cause your timing is impeccable.:D I'm customizing [personalizing] my big rig cab as we speak. More on that when finished.

    Below is another example of tweaking a working [small rig] cab, but making it better, imho. Is it worth it for retaining resale value? Don't care. I buy and mod my tools to suit my needs, even if only aesthetically.
    A Little Back To The Future, Ampeg Style.........

    I've taken advantage of new tech by replacing the old cast frame speakers [in my big cab] w/ new Neo 12's. It saves weight, still get the same great performance, and retain the classic look.

    Not sure if I answered your question or muddied the water.:woot:
    fleabitten, basscooker and fdeck like this.
  6. lug

    lug Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    I treat my basses as family members, however I also treat my kids as tools.
  7. Goatrope


    Nov 18, 2011
    Sarasota Florida
    No doubt that I bond with certain basses, but all the other stuff are just tools to me. Tools working well and being reliable is what I insist upon. I’m not nursing any failing equipment.
    ImaStupidBaby and basscooker like this.
  8. The general population is of rhe belief that older is better, however, there is little truth in this. People selling used gear capitalize on flogging old junk.
    Passinwind, dkelley, DrMole and 3 others like this.
  9. Low8

    Low8 Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2014
    Some of my family members are complete tools.
  10. BarfanyShart


    Sep 19, 2019
    DC Metro
    I wouldn't keep family members down in the basement as long as I have kept some of my musical instruments.
    andruca, 6thplanet, rodl2005 and 5 others like this.
  11. Zoffy


    Jun 7, 2020
    Sacramento CA
    Good question, OP. Speaking for myself, I'm currently retrofitting an old Ampeg SVT 410. Got the cab itself for almost nothing and am putting Eminence Legend BP 102-4s in it. It's old, heavy, and needed a lot of work to get the cab itself workable (never mind the speakers). Stripping, sanding, wood filler...more sanding, more wood filler, more sanding...more wood filler, spray paint, Duratex coating, some aluminum sheets to stabilize the bottom... Could I buy a new cab for cheaper? Yup, absolutely. Would a new cab be lighter? Most definitely. Is a new cab going to have a perfect match between the drivers and the cab? Without question, yes. Does my project look janky? Yup, janky as hell. Will a new amp have a warranty? Most likely.

    So why am I doing it? It's fun. I have the money. I have the time. It's enjoyable. It helps me de-stress from my stressful job. I like projects. I may end up scrapping the whole thing and buying a brand-new one, or I may keep it and get a new one anyways. Don't really care. Guess that's my answer in a nutshell.
    Avigdor, Matthijs, Socobass and 8 others like this.
  12. Slough Feg Bass

    Slough Feg Bass Supporting Member

    Sep 28, 2007
    San Francisco
    yeah I pretty much got over the whole "old gear is so great" thing when I sold my Acoustic 360/361 setup back in the late 90's. Ever since then I am pretty much detached from being sentimental about gear. I've sold off so much stuff in the last few years, it is really interesting when someone comes over and has wide eyes, "whoa, this is original?!?!?!" Yeah yeah, it's been sitting in my garage for 20 years, get it outta here!

    I've learned that everything I have that is cool can always be replaced by something else just as cool.
    basscooker likes this.
  13. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    There are many reasons. Ignorance and optimism are two common reasons. People assume it's easy to throw a couple of random drivers in a box and get what the want. They also assume that since the box represents a sunk cost, that it will be cheaper to just buy the drivers.

    The error in thinking is the cost of buying parts is less than the cost of a finished product, which is often not the case. So the idea is you can make a better product for less, since your labor is free to you. I don't have a problem with this as long as someone is willing to actually do the work and do it right...I.E. do the modeling.

    Actually if someone wants to totally waste their money by throwing random drivers in a box, I am fine with it. But I usually try to help them understand what is necessary to get decent results so they are not wasting time and money.

    Some people do it because the hope to save money, or because they don't have enough money to get what they want.

    Some people do it because they are attached to a particular piece of gear.

    Some people do it for fun.

    I have quite a bit of stuff I should get rid of. I even put money into some of it to keep in running. For example, I still have my first motorcycle. It's 1990 and parts are getting hard to find. The Pirellis it's wearing are probably worth more than it is. Best tires I have ever put on the bike and they will rot off because I have three motorcycles and not enough interest and dedication to wear through the treads.

    If it bothers you, I suggest turning the page instead of tormenting yourself, because it's really none of your business
    Murch, Pulverizor, basscooker and 2 others like this.
  14. the ball peen hammer is my only family

    how dare you suggest i throw him out :mad:
  15. Some people just have to tinker.
  16. As far as amps go- I think your rant is more relevant on a guitar forum -but i do have a couple of vintage bass amps and no, i do not think they are the best option to take to a gig unless that gig involves a recording studio.
    Bass players are pretty progressive when it comes to new ideas. Just look at the number of new bass designs over the past 45 years. I think of active Alembics,5 strings, the Steinberger headless bass of 1981, Multi string basses, graphite necks and bodies, LED fret markers, fretless necks, optical pickups, Piezo bridge pickups, wildly unique materials and finishes on basses.
    Bass players, at least electric bass players, are not all conservatives by a long shot.
    basscooker likes this.
  17. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    For the record I own 29 amps. Some of them are highly collectable and some of them are not. Technically I have only gigged one of them. I do own SVTs and have gigged SVTs, just not the particular SVTs in my collection.

    I personally repair my tube amps when they break. I have bodged repairs on one of the non-collectable solid state amps. I started with one because I really wanted that particular model. Wound up buying a lemon that looked great but kept developing lot's of little weird problems. The seller gave me my money back and let me keep the amp. Unfortunately I accidently ganked one of the output modules while troubleshooting the fan circuit.

    Many of the semiconductors in the output module are obsolete and pretty much unobtanium; so I had to write the output module off. To be honest the repair was over my head anyway.

    Eventually I wound up buying three amps total :(. I bought the second amp as a donor, but it only needed a switch to be fully functional so I fixed it. Finding the switch was no easy task. The third amp is a complete husk as I cannibalized the working power amp, IO board, and preamp out of it. Cosmetically, it was a real beater; pretty much dripping in hazer fluid.

    So the original lemon has the chassis, transformer, and one output module, and everything else has been replaced. I did several factory updates on the original output module to get it sounding as close to the donor module as possible. The two modules still sounds slightly different o_O.

    Now I have two of these amps that are fully functional and in relatively decent working condition. I think I spent about $450 total. I doubt it would be easy to get $450 back if I sold them. But I am okay with it.
    Matthijs and basscooker like this.
  18. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    I called my brother a tool last weekend!

    Anyhow, I love the older guitars in my world. But I have finally given away all the road worn cabs and heads from my garage. Bottom line, a decent Mesa or Berg or MB or GB rig today is 1/2 the weight and 2X as loud with better clarity than any of the heavy rigs I used to play. I can't imagine going back. I loved the Acoustic cabs I had in the late 80s-90s, I loved the Hartke stuff I had, I loved the Trace rigs I had. But as cool as they were at the time they are not as good as what you can get today. Speakers are better, amps are better.
    But instruments are really the same, for the most part.

    So I separate the instrument comments above from amp comments because I agree, a well worn P or J is like a comfy pair of shoes, it fits.
    S-Bigbottom, basscooker and kesslari like this.
  19. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    I came here for this discussion, but some stuff about gear is getting in the way.
  20. Esteban Garcia

    Esteban Garcia bassist, arranger, aelurophile Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2018
    Portland, OR
    Tools. Dumped all my aged tonnage over the past several years with no regrets. I think there's a lot of hobbyist nostalgia represented here, nothing wrong with that if that's your thing. It makes sense for the fridges to land in basement man caves where they'll never have to be moved again.

    I'll never schlepp that kind of rig again. I definitely did my share of giant rig (plus giant PA) load ins/load outs in my day. Happy to be at a place where I can carry my rig into a venue by myself in one trip.
    basscooker likes this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    May 6, 2021

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.