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Was the first popular bass amp the bassman?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Skel, Jun 27, 2005.


  1. Skel

    Skel

    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    Back in the early 60's - was the most popular bass amp the Fender bassman? If so - what is it about this amp that makes it a bass amp? Also what is the speaker configuration of a bassman?

    Thanks - Skel
     
  2. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    The original Bassman was actually almost worthless as a bass amp. The prized '59 (prized by guitar players, that is) was an open back 4x10 cabinet that couldn't play a clear E2, let alone an E1. What you're probably thinking of was the 2x12 dual 6L6 model, 40 to 50 watts depending on the year, first available in blonde and later in black Tolex. It wasn't bad for its day but still couldn't play an open E with any real volume. Those who could afford it preferred the 100 watt Dual Showman, loaded with JBL D130s. The Bassman was more popular than the Ampeg B15, mostly because it was larger and was a Fender, but the Ampeg was a better rig. Both were rendered obsolete by the end of the decade by Sunn amps that had far better speakers. Ampeg got its act together by the early 70s with the V4 and SVT, although curiously the folded horn V4 cab that was the better of the two disappeared while the SVT survived.
     
  3. The 0x

    The 0x

    Aug 24, 2003
    Timonium, MD
    In Britain in the early 60s, a popular rig was a Vox T-60. In America, the first "big" amp was the Sunn 200s bass amp. The bassman was used prior, but didn't provide as much clean headroom. Of course, then along came The Who & Marshall.
    [​IMG]
     
  4. The 0x

    The 0x

    Aug 24, 2003
    Timonium, MD
    FYI, the Dual Showman was 85 watts, not 100.
     
  5. Yeah, the Bassman was designed for bass but it turned out to be a much better guitar amp. The Ampeg B-15 is still renowned for it's deep "motown" sound but it wasn't the most popular amp. Sunn was big in the early 70s and then Ampeg was huge with the SVT.
     
  6. doc540

    doc540

    Jul 28, 2003
    Beaumont, Texas
    And to add to the bedtime story:

    Then in the early 70's Acoustic unleashed the 360 which was so powerful...

    HOW POWERFUL WAS IT??

    It was so powerful it created a sound wave deep and wide enough to stand in and make it seem like you were barely playing while beer pitchers 30 feet in front of you would start walking to the table edge.

    :eek:
     
  7. ESP-LTD

    ESP-LTD

    Sep 9, 2001
    Idaho
    The fact that it had 2 channels- "Bass" and "Normal".

    BillFitzMaurice has it nailed on all the details.

    Bass guitar is a pretty new instrument, and the early amps were pretty bad. The first ones I recall lusting after were the Sunn solid-state models about 1970 -

    50w Studio Bass combo
    150w Concert Bass head
    300w Colesium Bass head

    - the heads had 2x15 or 3x12 cabs (and probably others).

    I recall seeing a lot of Kustom tuck-n-roll models as well (100-200w and a 2x15).
     
  8. Skel

    Skel

    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    Wow - this is very cool stuff!!! So, I know Geddy Lee used a Sunn, and I think John Entwistle did later, right? And the Motown guys used an Ampeg? What did McCartney use in the beatles - I know it was a Vox, but what model? So, I really didn't know Sunn was so big back then. I know Fender owns them now - were they always solid state? Also, are they any good now?

    Last, I still can't believe these guys could get any kind of good tone for bass out of a Marshall. Like Entwistle - what exactly did he have - a Marshall superbass (whatever that means, and were his cabs loaded with Celestion 15" speakers or something? And what did the guy in the Beach Boys use - I thought for sure it was a Fender. Maybe it was the Showman? Did Fender actually *make* the dual Showman as a bass amp? Or when did Fender actually make bass amps that they felt were really bass amps? I saw a video not too long ago, where Paul McCartney was playing with his band - 3 or 4 young guys....anyway - I noticed that he was using his Hofner bass, and he had some kind of Fender head/cabinet. Did he use a Showman?

    Thanks for all the very cool info on this.

    Skel
     
  9. danomite64

    danomite64

    Nov 16, 2004
    Tampa, Florida
    Before the Portaflex, Ampeg made an amp simply called the "Bassamp", starting in '49. It is funny, because the Bassamp had the tilt-back design that's so popular nowadays. I doubt that the amp could be called popular, as Ampeg at the time didn't make large numbers of any amp.
     
  10. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    In the original version yes, as was the combo version, the Twin Reverb, but it morphed to 100 watts by the end of the decade.
     
  11. Geddy used to use Ampegs, V4's and SVT's, for Rush's early albums.

    The Ox used Marshalls first, then Hiwatts after Jim Marshall cut off the band for non-payment. After they were huge in the 70's, he switched to s/s Sunn.

    MOST studio players for the past 40+ years have used the B-15N, but it was Motown who made it famous. There are several people who liketo argue that most of the "Motown Sound" was DI, but it's funny that a B15N and a PBass with flatwounds sounds exactly like those old records. ;)

    His really WAS a case of DI, going straight into the console most times, but ocassionally supplementing with his Vox or an Ampeg B15N.

    Sunn was never "huge" in the Fender sense but they were quite popular. Ever heard the song, "Louie Louie" by the Kingsmen? That song created Sunn. The brothers from the band started the company because their Dual Showmans didn't have enough clean headroom for touring. The earliest amps were simple preamps built in front of Dynaco hi-fi power amps; they even bought the parts from Dynaco. They were tube, BTW.


    Not, IMO. There were several major problems with the Sunn 300T and Sunn 1200S when they were first introduced, and Fender no longer produces "Sunn" amps.

    The famed Marshall stack was intended for use as a bass amp. The JTM45 was a copy of the Fender Bassman. The 8x12/later two 4x12 cabs were meant as bass cabs.

    It was a Dual Showman, and no it was not intended specifically for bass. It was the "head" version of the Twin combo.

    That would be during the dreaded CBS era in 1969, when they introduced the 400PS to compete against the Ampeg SVT. It was unsuccessful and was discontinued in the mid 70's in favor of the lower powered 300PS which was even MORE unsuccessful. They also made a 200 watt tube combo called the Studio Bass which was a bass version of the Super Twin guitar combo.

    It's impossible to say. Nowadays, what's on stage isn't necessarily what's making the sound. He's supposed to currently be using a boutique brand called Divided by 13.
     
  12. danomite64

    danomite64

    Nov 16, 2004
    Tampa, Florida
    Some of the McCartney stuff I've seen over the last few years (the 'Back in the USSR' and the 'Cavern Club' dvds) show him using a Mesa 400 (+?) head and 2-15" cab.....
     
  13. Skel

    Skel

    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    Wow - this is killer stuff! You guys know your stuff about bass gear. I really have to say that Geddy Lee's tone on the early Rush albums - that's exactly the tone that inspires me. Fantastic punch, and good low end, but not that Motown sound - it's more punchy and "trebly" If this is what an SVT sounds like, then I want one! Does anyone know if he used the 8X10 cab? Did Ampeg have any other popular cabs (like one with 2X15's) that was commonly used with the SVT head?

    Thanks a lot for this great info.

    Skel
     
  14. Skel

    Skel

    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    Oh, and I can't believe Jim Marshall cut "The Who" off for non-payment? wow.

    Skel
     
  15. Skel

    Skel

    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    The one thing that almost confuses me is: Back in the early days - it seems like the most popular bass amps always had 15" speakers. Why is it that now - 15" speakers are so much less popular, and something like 10" speakers are so much more popular? Or am I just wrong about this?

    Skel
     
  16. The 0x

    The 0x

    Aug 24, 2003
    Timonium, MD
    Sunns were all tube in the beginning. They didn't start doing solid state stuff until 1971 (JE was one of the first users) And Entwistle used Marshalls because he wanted an overdriven sound. He used 8x12s & later 4x12s, just like Townshend. He pretty much used 12s all his life, although later accompanied by 15s or 18s. He didn't use a SuperBass, he used JTM45 100s, the 100 watt version of the JTM45, and sometimes he would use a 200 watt Marshall Major. If you want to hear what the P-bass through cranked up Marshalls sounded like, check out my Myspace, I have a video there of the early Who. I love that tone, I try to nail it the best I can. :bassist:
     
  17. The 0x

    The 0x

    Aug 24, 2003
    Timonium, MD
    It's also because Townshend kept smashing guitars when he couldn't afford it, and he kept stealing guitars from Marshall's Music shop. This was before The Who was really popular.
     
  18. OBBM

    OBBM

    Jan 26, 2005
    Surrey, UK
    First bass amp I remember seeing in the early 60's was the Vox AC30 Bass. That was followed by the Vox T60 and the Crockskin Selmer Treble 'N' Bass 50 with the Goliath 18-inch cab. Marshalls started to be around about that time. I remember making a copy of a Marshall 4x12 in 1964.
     
  19. ESP-LTD

    ESP-LTD

    Sep 9, 2001
    Idaho
    One notable exception is Carol Kaye , who used an open back Fender 4x10 combo. She was on a LOT of recordings out of LA.
     
  20. burk48237

    burk48237 Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Oak Park, MI
    The funny thing, all of these early tube bass amps were GREAT guitar amps. Blues players especially, just lust after the early bassmans. The ampeg B 15 had great tone but the early ones only made about 30 watts! Not a whole lot of headroom!