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upgrading to valve

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by dreadheadbass, Mar 8, 2008.

  1. dreadheadbass


    Dec 17, 2007
    well i'm finally gonna take the plunge after years of using solid state i'm gonna gets me a valve amp (tube if your american)

    the only question i have (and yes i've searched the forums) is what wattage am i gonna need to buy?

    at present i'm running through an ashdown mag 600 (550w or there abouts)
    a company called "hiwatt" has aproached our band with a deal (we get photo's of the amps on our page and we get em at trade price) and now i'm stuck between 2 models

    both have pretty much the same toys and are all tube construction the only major difference is one is 200w the other is 400w

    now then i did a search and all the forums i checked still disagreed on most of the points a watt is a watt but tube is louder because blah blah blah etc

    so my question is thus WITHOUT starting a massive debate and putting up theorys and science
    what wattage will i be best off with the guitarists are using 100w tube marshall amps we have a loud drummer and we play medium to large venues
    price is an issue as there's a massive price gap between the 2 could i get away with the 200w or will it not have enough grunt to keep up?
  2. EBodious


    Aug 2, 2006
    well, i can offer an irrational, unscientific answer. bare in mind i have no experience with all-tube (valve, is it) bass amps. i do have experience with guitar players....

    if you guys wanna keep your stage volume down and your guitarists want 100 watt amps for the headroom, then sure you can get away with a 200 watt amp.

    if you are rock'n'rollers and your guitarists are typical guitarists who are gonna crank those puppies up to 11, then having 4 times their wattage will be a necessity.

    i know it costs more, but when you run out of headroom on the 200 watt head, you will always wonder if you should have gone 400 watt.

    i have a 400 watt hybrid head and i play moderately loud rock with moderately old people and i appreciate all my headroom.

    cheers (as they say)
  3. kdogg


    Nov 13, 2005
    With a loud drummer, and 2 guitarists playing 100 watt Marshall's, I'd go with the 400 watt bass amp. Sounds like you'll need the headroom. I went from the 1200 watt Ampeg SVT 4Pro, solid state, to the 300 watt SVT CL, all tube, and find I have all the volume and punch I can handle. I liked the 4Pro, but find the CL to be much more present and organic, if that makes any sense. I think you'll be blown away, when you fire that thing up for the first time. :hyper:
  4. robboy


    Jul 13, 2006
    Boca raton Florida
    I did a quick experiment the other day. I played the same notes thru a Bassman 100 and then switched to an Acoustic Image Focus. Both amps were driving a GK Neo 1/12 and a GK Neo 2/12. The Fender put out about 111db at 6 feet and the Acoustic Image about 107db. Both were out of headroom with the Fender perhaps distorting very slightly. However, the distortion is very musical sounding and not at all objectionable. The solid state OTOH is nasty and not nice to listen to. I know this isn't a very scientific test but the Focus is rated at 800 solid state watts and the Bassman with 4 6L6's is only rated at 100 watts. Even a relatively low powered amp like the Fender will kick a solid state amp to the curb with ease and at the same time give you a big fat sound. I used solid state amps for years for bass thinking that they were better. I was so wrong:crying:
  5. 7thbass


    Nov 21, 2003
    Houston, Tx
    Looked like the guitar amp, but man did it sound GOOD.

    I am not sure how much power tube distortion you are looking for, and that might be the determining factor with a 200w vs 400w amp. The 200w should have less clean headroom, but give more power tube distortion earlier. But if you are not looking for overdriven sound, headroom is king.

    I would tend to go with more power, because you can never have enough bass. Ymmv, yaddah yaddah, but you are fortunate that there is no bad choice.
  6. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    John K Custom Basses
    I would recommend that you get the 400 watter. you'll be glad you have the headroom if things ever get unruly (volume-wise). a 200 watt Hiwatt is a beautiful thing to behold, but, IMHO, a 400 even better.

  7. I think it really depends what cab/cabs you will be using and how much clean headroom you want.

    If you have a 4x10 or smaller I would recommend the 400 watt, but if you have a bigger cab rig you can probably get away with the 200 watt as long as you don't want it super clean.
  8. dreadheadbass


    Dec 17, 2007
    hey thanks for the info guys n gals this will be my 1st tube amp that i've owned

    i think based on what people have said here i'll go for the 400w monster seen as i'm a bit of a volume junkie and my band is a cross between alice in chains and iron maiden so i think the extra power is probably gonna be best

    looks like i need to get saving the amp i'm after is about 1,300 pounds which aint bad considering it retails for around 1.999
    i think i'm gonna be best off locking myself in the store room of the shop and opening all the taps on it last thing i wanna do is shell out that kinda brass and it turn out to be a naff amp
    anyone had any exp with hiwatt??

    thanks again for the help its most apriciated:bassist:
  9. Maybe keep a look out on the used market (ie eBay) can sometimes get things quite a bit cheaper that way :)
  10. I would simply get the 400 watt just so you have the head room and wont want to upgrade later
  11. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    I agree. If your gas is anything like mine, you'll end up getting the 400W amp anyway sooner or later, so you may as well bite the bullet and stump up the cash now. Paradoxically, it will be cheaper in the long run.
  12. tubster


    Feb 5, 2003
    Southwest Spain
    Hi-Watt made some of the best stuff ever to come out of the UK in their day (70's). If the new gear is of the same calibre, you have a stunning piece of gear for a great deal. Yea, it's $2300 US or thereabouts.

    Try before you buy. Are you locked into using their cabs too? Check the head with a bunch of different cabs but watch out for the impedance - tube amps do not take kindly to being mismatched.

    Also keep in mind how much this amp is going to cost you when you replace the valves - gonna be upwards of 100 quid I would guess.

    How does the price of the Hi-Watt in the UK compare with other amps - both UK and imports?

    From a purely practical standpoint - buying a domestic product in the UK makes a lot of sense. If it is designed, built and serviced in Milton Keynes (or whereever), you can always jump in the car and drop it off at the factory. Beats trying to get to NYC or Shanghai from Seattle!
  13. 6x KT 88s, 4x ECC83s and 1x ECC81. Your talking £250+. Probably just shy of £300 when you add in tech time.

    Of course it could be less (or alot more) depending on the tubes.

    And just a quick look at prices, ~£1,350 for the 200 watt version, ~£1850 for the 400 watt version (again, may be up or down, just looked at one source)
  14. 200 Watts tube is great if you want a natural destortion that isn't too loud. My yba200-2 (Traynor) is 200 watts and I really like it for that reason. But, all things considered I'd go for 400 watts if it came in that configuration.
  15. dreadheadbass


    Dec 17, 2007
    i live in the uk and my band gets a big discount on hiwatt gear (as i explained above)
    i think the retail price on the 400w is 1955 GBP but i'll be getting it for just over 1327 its still a lot of cash to stump up but i think tube will really help my sound so it will be worth it

    i'm not too worried about impedence as it has a select switch on the back of it so it should work with all my cabs

    i know tubes are expensive but then again so are strings and we still stump up the brass when we need em so i'm not too worried about that it just gives me an excuse to slash my gf's shoe budget ;)

    anyone recomend any other good all valve amps (i wanna try as many as possible before i shell out)
  16. One of the older Ampeg SVT-IIs (come one, everyone knew that would come up :bag: )

    Orange AD200? (limited by 200 watts tho)

    Marshall VBA400

    Peavey Classic 400

    Each sounding different from each other and the hiwatt :)
  17. Other than the old Hi-Watt...... My first choice would be a Reeves or the Reinhardt, they do tubes for a living.
  18. dreadheadbass


    Dec 17, 2007
    cool i shall give all of the above a look too thanks

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