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Tubey Goodness

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Kronde, Mar 20, 2006.

  1. Kronde


    Feb 1, 2005
    Charlotte, NC
    I am in the market for a decent (used) tube amp in the $500 or less range. From what I can surmise I am looking at one of the following:

    1. 70's Ampeg V4-b - 100 watts, nice growl, obvious recognition

    2. 70's Traynor YBA-3 - 120 watts, cleaner tone, somewhat cheaper

    3. 70's Fender Bassman -135 - similar wattage as 1 and 2 but may not be as reliable.

    Can anyone shed some insight or point me in the direction of other amps I should be looking at... I currently have a GK 700 RB, which has been very reliable pushing a couple of bag end s15-d's. I am just looking to try some other things out. If it matters, I play in an alt-country band and my main axe is a mid 70's p-bass with flats. We typically play small to mid-sized clubs

    muchos gracias
  2. rllefebv


    Oct 17, 2000
    Newberg, Oregon
    Since you're listing '70s amplifiers, you may wanna toss a Sunn 200S in that list...

    FWIW, I have a '71 V-4, (guitar amp that works extremely well for bass), and it is chocked full of tubey goodness! Driving a 2X15 cabinet in a roots/rock group, I get just the right amount of fur to bring things to life...

    I also have a mid/late '70s, heavily modded Fender Bandmaster, which, despite it's lower wattage rating, gets surprisingly loud through the same cabinet... It gets a wonderful bass tone through the 'clean/reverb' channel...

    The Traynor has been on my G.A.S. list for some time now, and eventually I will have one...

  3. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    You might actually want to look at new amps.

    If you ask a few technical people they'll point out that capacitor
    technology has vastly improved in the last 30 years.

    Where as tube amp design hasn't really changed. You could take an old amp, and put in new caps, and end up with essentially what you're going to get if you bought a new amp. And I hear people do this - they put an old amp for service and get new tubes and caps. Sometimes transformers. Essentially a new amp.

    And while tuning up an old amp, typically, you'd want stiffer caps in the power supply, but the old transformer may not be able to handle it well.

    Probably best to leave old amps for collectors, and pick up a new amp for actual playing.

    Now 30 years from now, maybe today's caps/resistors/transformers will be considered junk, but I doubt it.
  4. Eric Cioe

    Eric Cioe

    Jun 4, 2001
    Missoula, MT
    Seamonkey, why did you bother to come to this thread? It asked for opinions about which tube amp to get, not whether or not he should get one.

    I like my Bassman 100 a ton, but an Ampeg V-4B would be cool too. I suppose, though, that if I were going to buy a 70s Ampeg, I might as well save up about 3x that much and get an SVT.
  5. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    No where in my reply did I say to not buy a tube amp.
    You read that in.
    I suggested buying a new amp.
    Nevermind, doesn't matter.
  6. Kronde


    Feb 1, 2005
    Charlotte, NC
    thanks for the commets...

    Seamonkey...any recommendations on modern amps in the $500 range. I really just want to do some xperimentin with a tube power and pre...
  7. Traynor YBA200 sells for about $600 new, so used would be in your range. Another possibility is the Sovtek Mig 100B (manufactured in the 90's). One of the Sovteks sold for $250 on ebay a few days ago. And lastly...the Pignose B100v. The 1X15 combos usually sell for about $500...and so do the heads. I hope this helps (and maybe saves you some money).

  8. rllefebv


    Oct 17, 2000
    Newberg, Oregon
    I hear what you're saying, but... A well maintained 35 year old amp does exactly what it was intended to do 35 years ago... I bought my V-4 right after it had gone in for a pre-sale maintenance visit, (the guy selling the amp was a vintage fanatic who kept all of his stuff in tip-top shape)... Had one failure shortly after I bought it due to a power surge while I was playing it... I brought it to the repair shop whose sticker was on the back and he replaced some blown resistors as well as went through it again, (Hey, Portland Oregon forum members... I highly recommend Jim at Amphead!). I expect many more years of service from this amp...

    As for today's stuff being outdated and considered junk in 30 years, I'd say it will happen way sooner than that considering the pace of technology. That 486 33 Mhz computer that was all the rage a dozen years ago isn't fit to browse this forum with, but I will maintain that it still does exactly what it was designed to do with the programs that were available at the time...

    Since '70s amps in the $500 range were referenced, that's where I went... Mike's suggestion of the YBA200 is spot on... Also, the Pignose B100V pops up from time to time...

  9. Kronde


    Feb 1, 2005
    Charlotte, NC
    thanks comrade, I may have to start watching out for a Sovtek, I will add it to the list.
  10. There's a 50 watter with the matching cabinet on there right now, but I think the guy's asking too much.

  11. jgsbass


    May 28, 2003
    Floral Park, NY
    Earth made a tube head for bass and one as a PA head
    w/6l6's. Kustom amps are tubey as well.These amps sometimes show up CHEAP. If tubes are the ultimate goal, that is.
  12. That's a great suggestion. The Traynor YBA200 is right in line with his power and price range.

    Yup. An electrolytic capacitor is generally 30-50% smaller and the more expensive ones can tolerate prolonged excessive heat. And that means absolutely nothing. ANY electronic device in its third decade of service is going to probably (but not definitely) need new caps. That goes for tubes, transistors, and the BS amps that don't exist yet that Seamonkey is so fond of.

    Linear supply, class AB is the standard, is the most stable, and easiest to service. Not surprisingly, it also happens to work. And gee, one of the selling points of an old amp is that it IS an old design that isn't going to sound like a modern amp. Seamonkey would have you believe that an old design won't be as authentic as a "modelled" simulation of one. :rollno:

    Let me highlight some of his more misleading statements and appropriately clarify what it is that he's actually saying:

    So if you put new caps in an old amp it's going to sound like a new one of a completely different design? According to Seamonkey, that's the case. This notion is ridiculous and just an extension of his vehement anti-tube crusade. While he throws around impressive sounding words like "capacitor" and "transformer," you shouldn't take what he says at face value because he's speaking in very broad generalized terms that don't apply in MOST cases and he really knows next to nothing about electronics.

    And this is a lie as presented, a complete and total lie. An amp needing repairs, whether it be tubes or capacitors or even a transformer is not "normal." An amp that needs those things is one that is malfunctioning. He's trying to scare you about things that are a normal part of maintenance for ANY kind of amp, tube, s/s analog, s/s digital... etc. To accurately paraphrase his mumbo-jumbo into real English: ' A broken amp may need new parts.' Doesn't sound so ominous now, does it?

    And here he reveals exactly how limited his knowledge of electronics is. Higher capacitance power supplies (what he alludes to) do not stress a power transformer any more. In fact, they lessen the draw through the transformer and actually make it run cooler because they are supplying the additional current. The ONLY caveat to this is for really old amps that use tube rectifiers. With higher capacitance, the rectifier tube can be run into an overcurrent condition and burn out. None of the amps you mentioned use rectifier tubes, so you don't need to worry about it.

    ..or ignore the troll posting false and misleading information because he hates tubes.

    Modern electrolytic caps are longer lived, but will eventually require replacement. The resistors made today will be just as good as the ones made 50 years ago, but they will be electrically less noisy. Modern transformers are no different from "vintage" ones.
  13. The 0x

    The 0x

    Aug 24, 2003
    Timonium, MD
    I got my Sunn 200s for $220, and my Sunn Sceptre for $200. Awesome amps, and cheap if you know where to find them. The fender bassman heads are a bit more expensive, and I love them alot as well, but I like the Sunns a bit better.
  14. As excited as I was after hearing grit from my newly-acquired GK 800RB for the first time, I found it still falls pretty short of the earthy tone of my Mesa Bass 400 - I just heard the recorded tone, and although it's good, it's not my Mesa...

    I think you should get at least 200 watts for playing out; it will help you acieve cleaner headroom - especially for country..
  15. I love C-Munkey. He's a great emulation.

    The great thing about old tube amps is they're cheap to fix. It's a lot tougher to take a thousand lines of code to a tech and tell him your SVT simulation sounds like it's biased improperly.
  16. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    + Whatever on the Traynor. I was just playing mine (along with some other fine tube heads) today, and let me reiterate, it is one killer amp for the money!

    And you can find sometimes find Mesa Boogie tube amps in that price range. Some guy named 'gingley' just scored a D-180 for $455 off ebay... :ninja: :bag:

  17. amper


    Dec 4, 2002
    If you look really hard, you may come across the following either in your price range, or a little bit more:

    1. Trace Elliot V-Type or V4 (I sold one for about $550, if I remember correctly, a couple of years ago. It was my spare, and after I bought my SWR rig, I didn't need it anymore. Still have my first one, though!).

    2. The Mesa D-180, as Tom mentioned. Or a Mesa Buster Bass (200W) or even an early version Bass 400 (the one with six tubes, not twelve).

    3. Fender Studio Bass. Another great 200W 6L6 amp. Our old bassist used to play the combo version. It would be better as a head with a better cab. Find a blackface version (not "blackface" in the 60's sense, but they were made in both black and silver panel models, I think). Late 70's early 80's or so.

    4. Maybe the Sunn 300W amp?
  18. It would really be worth it to dish out $100 more and get the Traynor.
  19. +1

    ..and the older Bass 400 uses 6 X 6550's, so it will have just as much juice as a newer 400+.

    and of course, the D-180 has that cascading distortion feature..
  20. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    Good luck finding a V4 in decent shape for $500. $650 to 700 is more like it for one that isn't in need of re-tube / recap.

    There is a Music Man 150 in the GFS here that would be a nice choice. SS pre and tube power. That's an amp that will continue to appreciate as well.

    A 50 watt tube bass amp (Bassman, Bandmaser, YBA1) makes a fine recording device and a worthless gigging amp.

    Before taking the plunge on a Mesa, you should really play through one. I did and it was an eye opener. One I'm not likely to repeat. I like my bass clean and punchy. The Buster was neither...
    That Traynor 200 sounds better and better...

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