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VINTAGE BASS AMPLIFICATION

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by lowphatbass, Aug 10, 2005.


  1. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    Anybody out there using bass amps and/or cabs from the 60's or 70's?? I sure don't see many around when I am out and about. From a player's standpoint 60's and 70's era basses are red hot right now yet the only vintage amps I ever see are the "flip top" Ampegs, and even that's getting to be a rarity.
    Now, I started playing in 1982 and feel fortunate that I never had to haul around some of the rigs from prior decades and I respect those of you who paid those "dues" for the rest of us. Not knowing, here's a few guesses as to why vintage bass amps aren't bieng played alot:

    #1) The "vintage sound" that is so desirable is actually what we've heard on records, not live performances, and it's a product of the bass plugging right into the board, so a more modern, accurate bass amp actually comes closer to acheiving this sound?
    #2) The weight and size factor, our backs aren't what they used to be.
    #3) Could it be that amps from the 60's and 70's just sound bad??

    You guys/gals with experience please chime in and give me your take on vintage bass amps. Those of you who are using them in any combination let me know what you're using and what it does for you.
     
  2. jokerjkny

    jokerjkny

    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PA
    '60s & '70s gear to me, includes the ol' SVT stalwarts, which are just as popular today as they were then.
     
  3. Lonnybass

    Lonnybass Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2000
    Minneapolis by way of Chicago
    Endorsing Artist: Pedulla Basses
    Well, for one thing, technology has come a long way, and we can now put more power into a smaller and more portable package, yet have the versatility to color our sound just about however we want it to. I'm using an Alembic F-1x tube preamp, a "vintage" design that definitely has an old school vibe. Yet my power amp (Stewart 2.1) and speakers (2 x Acme B2's) are based on more updated and relatively sophisticated designs. The best of both worlds!

    Lonnybass
     
  4. The 0x

    The 0x

    Aug 24, 2003
    Timonium, MD
    I dig my '69 Sunn Sceptre very much so... kicks more ass than any modern amp i've tried.
     
  5. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    Ever tried your Sunn through a "modern" cab? Not saying it would sound better, just curious.
     
  6. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    That's exactly it for me. If not for my lower back, I'd be haulin' a vintage SVT head.

    My 4 and 6 space rack rigs are at least as bulky, but weigh 50 and 30 pounds less, respectively. I also use the Berg NV610 instead of the Ampeg SVT 8x10... I'm saving about 60 pounds plus some bulk there. And when I don't feel like moving the 6x10 I use 2x10/1x15.
     
  7. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    Yea, it seems like hauling those big cabs around just isn't neccesary. I can get more volume and more bottom out of my 2x8 than I could out of some old 2x15 and 4x10 cabs I had (way back in the 80's ;) ).

    One of the reason's for this thread is I am considering taking the Tube power amp section out of an old Hammond Tone Cabinet and morphing it into a nice little combo configuration. Maybe modeling it after my S15d cab, building a nice wood enclosure, some tweed or something, who knows. I think it would be cool having a little vintage looking combo that's just "plug and play" with some ba!!$ for some of the smaller gigs I've been doing lately.
     
  8. protoz

    protoz

    Nov 30, 2000
    Iowa
    I have a 68 Sunn Sorado that I love and can crank all day but I haven't taken it out in the wild since getting it because it is only 65 watts and can't keep up with my guitarists 5150.

    I use it with a 'modern' Sunn 2x15 and it sounds great but my main head is a Sunn 1200S Hybrid amp.
     
  9. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    toms_river.nj.us
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    That was mine and I'm pretty sure a 69 had tube rectifier... yours has silicone. I guessed it @ 72.


    lowphatbass: I played that Sunn head through my Schroeder 1210 and it was heaven to my ears! I just needed a LOT more clean volume and headroom... Sean plays and sounds much like his name sake and needs a "Dimed low watt head" to achive his overdriven power tube tone.

    I'm playing a late 90s head.... but it is 100lbs of 100% tube signal path (~435watts clean).

    SMASH mentions the AMP -> Thunderfunk connection... I spent the 90s using an AMP head myself, the little brother to the Thunderfunk model. 260ish watts into a pair of BagEnd cubes. killer tone and indoor or out I never felt I was overpowered by my bands.

    also I started the same era you did.... on a flip top. The most Gawd awful amp I've ever delt with. I wish I still had it, but I hated every second I used it ;)
     
  10. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    Setup and repair/KRUTZ Strings
    I had a Sunn Concert Bass head and a 1x15 cab with an EV in it. I just gave it to a freind because it just didn't have any warmth to it.
     
  11. endlessbassic

    endlessbassic

    Dec 23, 2004
    A good friend of mine plays a late 70s Ric 4001 into a Noise (not joking!) head (a 100w Brit amp similar to a HiWatt or Sound City) through an early Bergantino 310 and it sounds like the heavens parting. Beeeautiful tone, and volume for miles. The head is surprisingly lightweight, but the cab, as you can imagine, is not.

    I'll haul my '68 Traynor around until my back gives out 'cos i've never heard a modern amp that comes close..
     
  12. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    I think the real evolution in bass amplification was brought about more by the advent of the low B than any other factor. I adore old vintage cab's loaded with 15 " JBL's and at this point I'm up to 6 of them. In an appropriately designed cabinet, they are very, very efficient so you can actually get darned loud with say 200 watt's. I gigged through the late 70's with 2 15"s in JBL cab's for 4 ohms driven with a GK 400B. My guitar player back then used a Twin for his clean sound and a Fender Deluxe, with the controls dimed for his lead channel. This wasn't a real quiet setting ...

    If I tried to get that kind of volume out of those cab's using a low B, I would be replacing drivers frequently ... It takes an immense amout of power to deal with the very low notes that modern bassists are using. Cabinet efficiency has gone down as the required frequency response had gone down and hence the power levels have had to come up ...

    As for vintage bass sounds being more direct than mic'd... I seriously doubt that. For all of the rave about vintage Neve boards, the boards of today are far superior to what was available inthe 70's. Greater dynamic range and lower noise floor. DI's from the likes of Avalon, Focusright, Manely, TD and others are off the charts better than the stuff available back then. A lot of what you hear on the recordings of the 70's is bass through a medium (say 50 or 100 watt) tube amp into a sealed 2x12 or 1x15 box with an EV RE 20 and/or Senn 421 on it. Maybe a Neuman if you were rich enough.

    One of my very favorite tones from any rig I've played through was a Fender Showman Amp into a 2x12 Fender Sealed, small cab. I think it was the cab that the Bandmaster used. I played though one with Altecs for a bit and a different one with EV's... For a 4 stringer - tone to die for - and from a 3 knob eq!

    Havig said that, I'm not ditching my 1001 RB II and Bag End cab anytine soon. It will do vintage vibe and a more modern vibe and get's loud as hell without breaking a sweat or my back ...
     
  13. The 0x

    The 0x

    Aug 24, 2003
    Timonium, MD
    It seems to sound best through 12s & 15s, but sounds terrible with 10s.
     
  14. protoz

    protoz

    Nov 30, 2000
    Iowa
    I haven't run my Sunn heads through anything but 15"s it's what they were made for.
     
  15. luknfur

    luknfur

    Jan 14, 2004
    DIXIE
    FWIW:

    Personally I haven't noticed any significant improvment in live band sound myself. The equipment's changed but the venues the music's played in haven't. It's a different sound to me that has it's own atmosphere and appeal just like the garage band stuff does. It's just different.

    I'd say then or now, the quality is there or it's not. The rig, bass, player, band, and tunes work or they don't.

    No doubt recording can have dramatic affect. How many bands have you seen that sounded nothing like they did recorded or maybe even isolated tunes.

    But as far as vintage tone it's not something that's as likely to come from onboard preamps, active EMG's, all solid state rigging, and small, high powered ported cabinets as it is passive harness and pups, big tubes, and larger, less efficient, closed back cabs. Not that it can't be done.
     
  16. cdef

    cdef

    Jul 18, 2003
    NET
    My rig is a Road 220 MOSFET head w/ 1x18" cab. Made in 1978, I'm told, and still holding up very well.
     
  17. todd 4ta

    todd 4ta

    Apr 3, 2003
    Indiana
    I'm playing in a surf rock band, and it's all about the early 60's tone for my amplification. I recently obtained a '66 Fender Dual Showman, which was recommended by my lead guitar player who is a walking encyclopedia of sixties amplification (as long as it's Fender !..). I also have a newer version Fender amp, the Bassman Pro 300 (ie Sunn 300T) which I have been using up until I got the Dual Showman.

    I'm still working on getting a vintage cab. I'm currently using one of Nick Epifani's very first 2x12 cabs. It's a side-by-side design with two EV drivers. I think it sounds great paired up with either of the Fender amps.

    Here's the Bassman Pro 300 & Epi 2x12 in action:

    [​IMG]
     
  18. Funkster

    Funkster

    Apr 6, 2000
    Wormtown, MA
    I have 3 vintage rigs and use everyone of them, I use a early 70's SVT Stack at rehearsal, I use my vintage Ampeg B15-R and Traynor YBA-1 for studio work. I use my 2 newer rigs for live gigs a 90's Sunn 300T or my 00 Eden WT400 into 2 Aggie GS 210 cabs. Not because my vintage stuff doesn't sound good! I just want to keep it that way so the vintage stuff stay's home.
     
  19. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    I am so jealous...

    Todd if you can fing a copy of the old Fender Bandmaster 2x12. This is the small sealed Fender box rather than the large one. With EV's or JBL's and your Showman ... it simply drips tone ...

    I recently hooked up with a trio that does some surf. Any hints for somebody I can cop surf bass lines from ? I've never played or listened to this stuff before. Given the setting I'm in, writing my own line is cool. would like toget an idea or what the 'real-surf' guys do. We're doing maybe 4 surf tunes in amongst a bunch of other 'rootsy' stuff.

    Thx!

    ... a '66 Showman... lord!
     
  20. Funkster and I have a bud who's in a surf band. He uses a old blueline Ampeg B25b and the matching 2x15 cab. 55 watts and it sounds great in that scenario IMO. Despite modern gear's obvious benefits there is just "something" about those old SVTs etc. I really cannot explain it.

    Jeff