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Vintage tube amp?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by boobinga, Feb 9, 2001.


  1. boobinga

    boobinga

    Feb 9, 2001
    Pacific NW
    I'm looking to pick up a choice vintage tube amp, and I'd like some input. I'm not overly knowledgeable in this area, but I did once own a Fender Bassman around 1967 that was a pretty good amp. I'm looking for something that has superior tube tone and that I can actually lift! (A 75 lb. yacht anchor, even with incredible tone, would not qualify!). I'd appreciate any assistance you might be able to provide in my search. Thanks! (This is my first post).
     
  2. notduane

    notduane

    Nov 24, 2000
    Location
    Welcome to TalkBass :)

    You may not have to go "vintage". There are some good current models that don't require
    a hernia belt :p. I've got a Pignose B100VH (100 watt, all-tube head). It ain't bad and
    it ain't that heavy. There's also a 1x15 combo version. There's the Mesa Boogie
    "Buster" series - head, 2x10" wedge, and 1x15" combo. All tube, 200 watts.
    A little heavier of course, but not bad. The 1x15 comes with a built-in
    "handle" like a piece of Samsonite luggage ;).

    Try here http://www.gbase.com for some online bargains. A lot of dealers
    have refurbished Bassmans. If money's no object, try one of these -
    http://www.alessandro-products.com/amp-basset.html
    I think they START around $2600 and (depending on options) can top $60,000 :eek: .

    [Edited by notduane on 02-09-2001 at 11:59 PM]
     
  3. I've really been looking at those Mesa Boogie Buster 200 heads. Maybe I should say I've been looking FOR one - I've never actually seen one in person. Anyway, they seem to be exactly what I want. I love the Mesa Boogie tube sound.

    My '68 Bassman says it's only 50 watts but halfway up is as loud as I have to turn it to get over 2 guitar players who like it loud.

    I've got a later Bassman 100 that's a little larger, but I might be interested in getting rid of it...


    Take care,

    Chuck
     
  4. boobinga

    boobinga

    Feb 9, 2001
    Pacific NW
    Thanks for the ideas! I'm kind of just starting my search. Right now I'm leaning towards picking up a mid-60s Bassman that's in really good condition. I've begun checking on ebay. Any other online sources?
     
  5. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Lordy, lordy, lordy. Back in the seventies, I had a '65 Bassman 50 head with a 212 cab. It sounded like crap. It got stolen. Best thing that ever happened to me (except that the rat bastriches also got my '65 P-bass, which sucked much less). However, whenever I feel nostalgic, I can plug my Lakland into my Bass POD, run it through my Eden amp and cabs, and hear that crappy sound anew. Boy, I hated that thing. That's all.
     
  6. boobinga

    boobinga

    Feb 9, 2001
    Pacific NW
    Thanks for the response, M. I'll definitely keep your comments in mind before plinking down any dinero!
     
  7. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Oh, don't get me wrong. I just don't like that "warm, overdriven tube sound" that so many crave. I like clean, modern MOSFET power. It's all a matter of taste. The Bassman tube sound, which it does very well, may be right up your alley. Don't listen to me.
     
  8. I just bought a used (near mint condition) Buster 200 115 combo for $550. Sounds really good, and very loud. I think i got a pretty good deal, especially considering I got it from MARS. I'll tell you hows it sounds in the real world after my show tonight.
     
  9. boobinga

    boobinga

    Feb 9, 2001
    Pacific NW
    M, I do actually value other people's opinions, but also I also keep in mind that I ultimately am responsible for my decisions.

    MW, I AM interested in your experiences with "Buster." Although I'm having a bit of trouble getting behind the idea of actually owning an amp named "Buster"!?!
     
  10. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    No, seriously. I am strongly biased against tube amps (no pun intended ... well, ok, it was a little intentional). You should go more by your ear than by my recommendation. You know, I like to program HP calculators in my spare time. I love solid state devices. I'm just not taking a well-rounded objective view of this (uncharacteristically).
     
  11. spoolie

    spoolie

    Nov 30, 2000
    The Mesa Buster is discontinued, they've replaced it with a hybred design called the M-plus. The 400+ is still being produced but is much more expensive. This is a great amp if you can find one used and yes Matthew, you did get a good deal. Mine really picked up when I retubed it with Svetlanas. The OEM tubes were kind of crappy, which is a shame for an amp of this caliber. I've used mine for about 6 months and still like it a lot. It replaced an Ampeg SVP preamp / power amp rig if this tells you anything. The Mesa is MUCH warmer and punchier and is plenty loud. But be warned, any tube amp is more trouble than a solid state. You've got to want that "sound" and be willing to put up with some tinkering.
     
  12. So I've had the Buster combo for a few days, and am pretty happy with it. So far I've played one show and two practices. I've only used it by itself so far, but will be sitting it on top of my Ampeg 1x15 for larger shows.

    It sounds really good; in fact, it sounds better than any of the solid state heads I have ever owned. The sound is deep and resonant, but note definition is maintained until the power tubes begin to overdrive. Notes on my D string sound fuller than they did on my Hartke. Can't really comment on the G string, as I really don't use it except in the occasional chord. The amp can produce moderately high volumes into the internal speaker, and I would say that output is on par with some 500 watt solid state amps. The footswitchable EQ is a nice feature, but I don't really see myself using it that often, as I prefer to keep the EQ engaged most of the time.

    The thing is a beast to lug around. At 100+ pounds, it's a two man job carrying the thing any more than ten feet. The pop-up handle and luggage wheels on the back make transport on flat surfaces easy however. I don't see this one going upstairs at home very often (I guess the fiancee will just have to get used to a large amplifier sitting in the dining room).

    FWIW, it runs six 6L6's and three 12AX7's. Controls include input volume, treble, mid, bass, output volume and seven band graphic EQ. There is a XLR out on the back, as well as an effects loop with mix knob. After reading about the Mesa tube thing, I am considering replacing the power tubes with Svetlana's. I emailed Lord Valve about replacing them on Monday, but have not heard anything yet.

    All in all, I think the Buster was a good purchase for $550. It may be wierd owning an amp called Buster, but belive me, you'll get past that pretty quick.
     
  13. killer B

    killer B

    Apr 18, 2000
    Phoenix, AZ USA
    I've been using a MESA/Boogie BASS 400+ for about a year and a half and I'm big fan of it. It has great punch and power and a tone to die for. Individual notes are really phat. I too am considering upgrading the power tubes as I've heard this can do good things for the sound, but I've got some milelage left on the current boogie tubes. I've compared this to solid state amps and hyprid pre-amp/solid state power amp set ups and the boogie always came out on top. Although an Ampeg SVP/crown power amp rig gave it a run for it's money. What I'd like to do some day is put the amp head to head with an Ampeg SVT II pro. Anyone ever to this I'd love to hear opinons?

    As for the MESA buster this is also a really good amp. Sounds very similar to the BASS 400+. It actually has a few features I wish the BASS 400+ had like the dummy load for recording.
     
  14. Boobinga, any tube amp with enough power to use is gonna be heavy:D My SVT weighs something like 90 lb, 115 in the flight case. Have a look at an Ampeg V4B. They've got great tone, they're fairly cheap and they actually aren't that heavy. 100 watts, pretty nice.

    Killer B, I,ve ABd the 400+ with a 'real' SVT (ie '70's). A good buddy of mine's got a 400+ we did a comparo. Both amps SLAY ASS! They have two distinct sounds, both of which rock. The 400 is more versatile, you can get more sounds out of it, while an SVT sounds like an SVT! The 400 starts compressing (tube compression) at a little lower level than the SVT, which is a good thing. The 400's not quite as loud (even with more power) but if you need anything louder than a 400+ you've got problems:D:D. I dug the SVT more he dug the 400 more- personal taste. We both agreed that they are the two best bass amps ever!!! If i hadn't lucked into the SVT I would have definately went after a 400+. Never tried a Buster, I'd like to. TUBE AMPS RULE!
     
  15. spoolie

    spoolie

    Nov 30, 2000
    Matthew and KillerB .... Check out www.thetubestore.com, they will supply output tubes guaranteed to match Mesa specs and much cheaper than Mesa's Svetlanas. (33 pair vs 48 pair) I got tubes from them and was very pleased with the service. Also try an Electro Harmonix 12AX7EH in the driver tube (the first preamp tube). It will further clean up the sound.
     
  16. I agree with Spacegoat on the V-4B. Great tone and pretty loud. They ARE kinda heavy, though (for a vintage one, that is).
     
  17. timv

    timv Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2000
    Chandler, AZ
    Spacegoat, I have both a 400+ (one of the first year ones, it only has a six band eq instead of the seven) and an original SVT (77 i think). Right now i just use my SVT and i use my 400+ for the power section of my guitar setup. When i try both out for bass I like my SVT better but I think i need new tubes for the 400+ though. It's been a few years since new ones and they aren't matched very well.
     
  18. boobinga

    boobinga

    Feb 9, 2001
    Pacific NW
    I really appreciate all the above discussion. I'll be checking out the amps mentioned, and I'm also going to ready The Tube Book, etc. I'm in no big hurry and want to enjoy the process. Thanks again.
     
  19. Timv,
    you have an SVT AND a 400+ ? WOW. Cool. I don't know how important matching tubes is in the 400, but it's probably pretty important. It's VERY important in an SVT. It produces so much power per tube (approx 50w) that if the pairs aren't closely matched it'll eat them very quickly. The 400 with good tubes in it is a force to be reckoned with!! My SVT's a '76 and it slays! I want a 400+ too. Help, GAS is reaching epidemic proportions!

    Boobinga,
    Ampeg V4B is something to keep an eye on. Also Traynor made some great tube bass amps. Bassmaster 50, 100 etc. They go real cheap.
     
  20. notduane

    notduane

    Nov 24, 2000
    Location
    Dang. Almost forgot this. I was reminded today with the
    arrival of the latest "Vintage Guitar".

    Somewhere between the Ampegs, Mesas and the Alessandros are
    Matchless. Thunderman is a fliptop type, but 45 watts
    Class A with a tube rectifier. No Master gain but a built-in
    compressor. Currently in a 1x15" arrangement, though a
    2x10" is due out soon (a 2x10 fliptop? :eek: ).

    There's also the Matchless Thunderchief 200 watt all tube head
    with four KT88's in the finals...

    ( http://www.district-parthenay.fr/parthenay/creparth/russeilwi/matchless/index.html )

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