Vintage amps used for guitar?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by xax712, Apr 7, 2003.

  1. xax712


    Dec 25, 2001
    Northwest Arkansas
    Why is it that alot of vintage bass amps are being used for guitar (i.e. the old bassmans)? I was just wondering this and never could really figure anything out myself or with people I asked. I just see those used more often for guitar now than bass. I mean vintage in the bass world seems to make people automatically think Ampeg. I was just wondering why this was and if anybody has any good answers?
  2. Since no once else has chimed in, here's my take...The Bassman, though advertised as being for bass, didn't have enough oomph for bass. A particular rectifier tube would start dropping power supply to the tubes at modest to loud volumes. Crappy for bass, but ideal for sweet-sounding distortion on guitar. Also, the baffle on the early Bassman cab is thinner than usual, again very inappropriate for bass, but lends itself to some nice resonance for guitar.

    So this was an underdesigned amp that unknowingly worked out great for guitar.

    The old Ampeg bass amps aren't sought out for guitar...they were designed correctly to start with, though the V4 (and its brethren the V9 and V2) is a great guitar amp, it was designed that way.
  3. Jerry J

    Jerry J Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2000
    P-town, OR
    nashvillebill nailed it pretty much on the head. I have a '59 Bassman that I use for harp. It really sucks as a bass amp at anything other than very low volume. It's just too mushy sounding for bass. I recently sold a mint 1960 Bassman that was known for blowing the single 12" speaker without hesitation.

    Now on the other hand, the later 60's Showman head is a great bass amp for that real-deal, old school vibe.
  4. junglebike

    junglebike Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2003
    San Diego, CA
    Guitar amps are fascinating to me, as an engineer. The originals weren't meant to distort -- they were just designed poorly, and were incapable of accurately amplifying their input signal. It just so happened that they made some beautiful noises while failing to perform, and some talented musicians (Charlie Christian maybe before anyone else) learned how to exploit them!

    Thank god the vacuum tube was invented *before* the transistor!!!
  5. xax712


    Dec 25, 2001
    Northwest Arkansas
    So basicly the reason all these old vintage amps are so cool is because they are really crappy built. So the fact is that the old bassmans are sucky bass amps but good guitar amps and I should recommend something of the sort to the guitarist in my band.
  6. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    I wouldn't say that,xax. Ampeg just stands out in my mind as the only successful name that started out devoted to bass from the get-go, when Everett Hull devised the "amplified peg" on a double bass in the 1940's. The big money has always been in the guitar market and bass amplification for other companies was just a small division or extensionof an existing product line, (with the ironic exception of Jim Marshall who started out making bass amps but became better known for guitar amps).

    A lot of it in the early days had to do with the fact that early bass players were mainly guitar players who picked up extra cash by playing bass on the side. Their amps had to be used for both instruments. For example, I'd rather play bass through blackface Fender Dual Showman than an old Bassman.

    Funny, in my punk era, our guitarist had an 8x12 Ampeg that was designed as a guitar amp. IMO, my bass sounded better through it than his guitars. Unless he used a fuzz/distortion unit, he couldn't get the natural distortion/overdrive out of it that guitarists prize so much in old Bassmans, Silvertones, et al.
  7. BTW, Marshall's famous early guitar amps WERE the bass amps! That's where the 4x12 cabinet came from.