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what mini rig can capture a vintage b-15 sound

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by bino, Feb 27, 2004.

  1. bino


    Jun 27, 2002
    Orange County
    i'm beginning to research/save for a mini setup. i've noticed that a lot of recordings and players that i've enjoyed over the years used the old ampeg b-15 portaflex. i was wondering what head/cab could deliver that vintage tone as well as be flexible enough to get more smooth and dubby.

    my thoughts for a while had been an ashdown abm 300 and aggie 112, but lately i've been reading a lot of good comments about other cabs and heads.
  2. Why not just get a vintage ampeg B-15 or a newer one if the price is right.
  3. bino


    Jun 27, 2002
    Orange County
    not much of a good reason other than i'm too lazy to lug around a 120# combo, i don't want to lock up $2000 in a single combo (i'm not exactly gigging for money), and i'm enjoying this shopping/auditioning process.
  4. bino


    Jun 27, 2002
    Orange County
    anyone out there use a berg ht115 on it's own? wonder how that would pair with an ashdown head.
  5. metron

    metron Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2003
    The Berg 115 is going to sound nothing like a B-15. Its very smooth, bright, and hi-fi unlike the old ampeg. It is a great cab though. I use it for practice. I A/Bd it against my Ampeg 410 HLF (ported 410 with a tweeter) and the Berg 115 sounded brighter and zingier but with less low end depth than the 410.

    Ive heard the current Ampeg B100R combo is portaflex-like.
  6. Yeah, you're going to have a hard time getting some of that new slick gear to sound like a fliptop. Plus, how much money does that new stuff cost? If it adds up to $600, then you could just buy the real deal - an old B15-N. They are the most fun amps to play in my opinion, and they're not real heavy.

  7. metron

    metron Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2003
    Yeah the Berg 115 is expensive. Check out the B100R combo ampeg makes. A lot of people like it but if thats not your thing look into the real deal. I would like to have an old portaflex myself...
  8. Hey Bino,

    Great question. I'm in the process of looking and saving for a similar rig. My current amp is the Ampeg B-100R combo that Metron mentioned. The B-100R has a warm sound and the look of a vintage portaflex. It weighs about 65lbs. and fits in the trunk of a hatchback. The B-100R is loud for a 100 watt solid state amplifier, but I'm increasingly running into situations where it runs out of volume. Anything larger than a small bar/club date and I need significant PA support. More versatility would be nice as well.

    Like you, I've been considering an Ashdown ABM300 with the Aguilar 112. However, I've never auditioned the two together. The ABM combos I've played through (110 and 410) didn't impress me with their sound. If money wasn't an object I'd probably go all Aguilar. . .

    What other heads are you researching?

    Also, if you don't mind me asking, where in Maine are you located? I play with a band based in Portland. Our recording studio is in Blue Hill. My girlfriend and I are planning to move up (or down) there this summer.

  9. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    The charm of a good B-15 is the warmth. The combo of a relatively low powered tube amp and an efficient 15". That 15, (A jensen ?) isn't overly bright. Not like a JBL or an Altec for instance... Not exactly the characteristice of a modern day amp.

    I use a smallish ported 15" cab from Sonic with a D140 in it and drive it with low wattage Fenders A bassman, A Princeton or a Pro Reverb. Sounds goofy I'm sure, but I'm too lazy to move much around in my very tight studio space so it really depends on what I'm setup for at the moment.

    I don't record that thing at very high volume and as the Fender's and the JBL itself are brighter than a B15, I roll the treble back a bit. A lot actually ...

    The Princeton does alarmingly well. Not very loud at 12 tube watts but that means you can really work the output tube and that makes a lot of difference. Not exactly a gigging rig though.

    If you take a bassman and a 1x15 to the local blues jam I suspect you'll be disappointed. These are quiet rigs, pretty much studio only ... I would love a B15 but at the prices ... no way ... I had the opportunity to play a 61 Blonde Bassman through the Fender 2x12 loaded with Altecs a while back. That's another rig I can't afford. Damn that was nice ... I'd take that one over a B15 any day ...
  10. bino


    Jun 27, 2002
    Orange County
    hey tightbidness, i live up around bangor. i sent you a pm, but that's the first timed i've used the feature. let me know if it makes it to you or not.
  11. JahKnow

    JahKnow Guest

    I use an EA IAmp 350 combo, and I can get just about any tone known to man (or woman). I've seen them used for around $600. If you need more poop, add a CXL110 ext cab. I got this set up for $1200.
    For tube warmth, I run into an Aphex Punch Factory, into a PreSonus MicTube. Very warm and versatile rig. JMTC's.
    PEACE!!!!!, Johno!

    P.S. Oh, and very portable!
  12. an old b 15 is nice to have in a studio or at home but they just don't seem to cut it on gigs anymore unless the group is at extremly low volume.don't expect a modern type sound either.
    they were good in their day,built like a darn tank.
    it's still a cool amp and i'll keep mine. (that i bought used in 1966,played thousands of gigs, and never a major problem w/ it) i hardly use it at all now.

    (i also had a 70s model that was nice. (w/ a jbl)

    if you are looking for that particular sound,go the bucks for a clean old one.stay away from the reissue model ( to much $$) and the solid state one they made for a while.

    the older sunn tube amps are good also and are cheap to buy and maintain and have that sound.(look for a 200s top)

    i doubt any newer amp has that sound at any size or price.
  13. extreme


    Mar 20, 2000
    If you want B-15 sound in a louder package, just buy the real deal and mic it! Of course, Bag End 15" cabs have tons of low mids and are very efficient...pair one up with the amp of your choice (MM HD-130 for me! 130 tubey watts) and stick a SABDDI in front. You want to emphasize mids, so cut highs and lows on the SABDDI.
  14. Why not pair a WalkAbout with the Aggie 112. You can easily dial in plenty of tube warmness from the WalkAbout and the Aggie 112 has a thick laid-back kind of tone. Other plusses would be the suprizing loudness of the rig, its overall lightness, and the ability to tweek the EQ for a HUGE range of tones.
  15. Flat Bass

    Flat Bass

    Dec 8, 2002
    I would say to actually find an old B-15 and take the head off of it then get a Bag End S15-D cab and put it on top. It is way more portable and probably sounds even better!
  16. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    I never owned a B15. They just aren't practical enough for me to own one. I have played through them and love their sound.

    I agree with the guys who recommend a Bag End S15-D. When I first played it at a gig with my P Bass with flatwounds, the first thought that crossed my mind was B15. The head I was using was a Ampeg SVT-IIP preamp with a Peavey DPC1000.

    It has nice low mids, and little highs in comparison to the hi-fi cabs of today. It also has that growl that the vintage cabs have. It might be due to the efficiency of the speaker. It's much more efficient than other 15s out there, but the drawback is that it doesn't have the low-low dub sound like other 15s. Don't let that make you think that the cab won't fill a room with lush bass, because it does.

    If you are looking for compact rig, a Bag End S15-D and an Eden WT400 would make a great vintage sounding combo. Plus the Eden has enough flexibility to get some modern tones and still have the tube vibe. It's also gonna be louder than the old B15. A real nice perk is that you can carry the WT400 easily in a backpack, and the S15-D with one hand.

    Another compact rig that surprisingly has a nice b15 sound, was my EA iAmp350 and CXL110 cab. It's not a 15, but it growls like an old 15 with the right amp settings. The frequency response and timbre were similar once I rolled down the tweeter. If you add a second CXL110, the sound changes and goes into a more modern vibe.

    Either of the options might not get you exactly the B15 sound you have in your head, but can approximate it well. Even B15s can differ in tone from one another, since age can affect tone by affecting wear on the speakers, differing electronic components among differing production runs, repairs, etc.
  17. GRoberts


    Jan 7, 2003
    Tucson, AZ USA
    For what it's worth, I use a Bergantino HT322. (not saying this gets the B-15 tone). Last night at the blues jam that my band hosts, a variety of bass players came in and played through my rig. I was quite blown away at how vintage and punchy a 72 P-Bass sounded. Then someone played an Old Gibson EB-3 (SG Bass - dual Pick-ups) Again, Very deep, fat an round soudning with little of what you might call "Hi-Fi" tone. What I learned is: The Bergie will produce a "hi-Fi" tone when called upon, but the tweeter can be dialed down, or out of the mix completely. The Vintage basses sounded very very authentic to their intended tone, albeit with perhaps a bit more punch and authority. I do Love the Bergie. That being said, I recommend demoing a Bergie 115 and see how it works with your bass. Granted, it is not known as a Vintage sounding cabinet, but you might get what your looking for, or maybe even something "better!"
  18. bino


    Jun 27, 2002
    Orange County
    jive1, I like your ideas/comments. I actually just posted another thread questioning the capabilities of 300-400 watt heads. Sounds like you like them? Have you noticed they handle high-quality cabs well? I'm always reading how it takes 500+ watts to hit a cabs "sweet spot." Truth is, I'm probably not experienced enough to hear those subtleties nor am I'm ever needing that kind of volume.
  19. Planet Boulder

    Planet Boulder Hey, this is a private residence...man

    Nov 10, 2001
    6,482 feet above sea level
    I once had impure thoughts. Oh, and I pluck my ear hair.
    Someone mentioned an old Sunn (such as a Coliseum), but obviously, a Sunn is a Sunn and a B-15 is a B-15 - the main similarity is the fact they each possess a vintage tone, not necessarily the same tone.

    As an aside, a friend of mine had an old B-15 that he loaned to Mike Gordon (actually, he loaned it to a studio in Seattle and Mike used it) for, I believe 1 or 2 songs on the Billy Breathes CD.
  20. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    Personally, I tend to choose higher efficiency cabs so I don't need as much juice to push them to their sweet spot. A cab with lower efficiency like an ACME will require much more juice to get them to open up compared to a highly efficient EA CXL110.

    In my experience, the 300-400W heads work just fine with my cabs for small-medium sized gigs. I do use quality cabs (Aguilar GS112s, Bag End S15-D, EA CXL110s), and the heads push them just fine, but the cabs can handle more power than I usually give them. Please note that I am not a total tone freak in that I factor portability and weight almost as much as tone and volume when I select cabs and heads.

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