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What would be a good "budget" tube head?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by AJHS-1stTrumpet, Sep 19, 2008.

  1. AJHS-1stTrumpet


    Jan 5, 2007
    Hey folks. I've been practicing bass through my blues junior guitar amp at low volumes, and really love the all tube tone when I play along to recordings on my stereo. I've been thinking that I would like a lower cost tube head/cab set up that would allow me to practice at lower volumes in my dorm and play small gigs (mainly church stuff at low volume.) I don't need a monster. Thanks for your help!

  2. There's a peavey Alphabass on the bay. At 160 watts it's loud enough for small-medium stuff. That Yorkville/Traynor one isn't super-pricey.
  3. Ampeg B25
    Ampeg V4/V4B
    Sound City PA heads are great for bass
    (50Watt, all tube, inexpensive)

    For practice and small club gigs I use an ELK Viking 50. It's a 60's era Japanese tube head that is an exact copy of a Fender Vibrolux reverb with the tube vibrato and tube reverb. It's probably somewhere between 40 and 50 watts as it's got 2 6CA7's for power. I use the Normal channel for bass and man it sounds soooooooo good. Warm and smooth. Playing through an old Fender bassman 2x15 cab it's plenty loud enough for non-rock gigs and rehersing. Nice thing is that this is also a smoking guitar head. I got the stupid thing for free and it came loaded with vintage tubes as well.

    So look around and think outside the box a bit and you can find cool smaller tube amps.

    I'm currently buying old Bogen and Masco tube PA heads and converting them for bass and guitar. These can be picked up for very cheap and often with nice vintage tubes in them. In a lot of them all you have to do is switch out the old style inputs and outputs to 1/4 in jacks and your set. They come anywhere from 10 watts up to 150 watts or more.
  4. I have an old Bassman 135 from the late 70's. I picked it up off of ebay for 300 bucks. Its no SVT, but it has a real cool fat tube tone and 135 watts of tube can run a 410 pretty well.
  5. For smaller stuff, they have the smaller bassman heads too. The 50 watt one might be perfect.
  6. AJHS-1stTrumpet


    Jan 5, 2007
    Well, I hadn't thought of tube PA systems. I'll have to look into that. I've been scanning for the Ampeg B25, Traynor YBA1 and Bassman 50, which are all around the same power. Of these, what are the major differences? Anything good/bad I should know about? What about tonal differences? Thanks again!

  7. garmenteros

    garmenteros Bass Enthusiast Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2008
    Dominican Republic
    UNIVOX 1011. 105 watts of tube power and a whole lot more versatile than what youd think... i own one and its in the shop... if you can get your tech to throw in el34s instead of the 6l6s... you should get a good 140 150 tube watts... which is a lot... more than enough to rattle most cabs... these heads were sold with matching 8 by 10s back in the day
  8. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    Get one of those DI's that hooks up to speakers.
    Hook this from your blues junior to any bigger amp.
  9. jimbilly


    Apr 19, 2006
    I've used a couple of old Fender heads for bass, I just got a '66 Showman, I'll have to try that one out. In my keeper pile is a '68 (silverface, silver trim) Bassman (50w) head, it get's kind of loud through an 8x10, and sounds really good. Even blackface Bassmans are usually under $600, the really early silverface Bassmans are less than that, a bargin IMO. A stock, good condition Bassman a good investment, great guitar amps too.
  10. Bassmec


    May 9, 2008
    Ipswich UK
    Proprietor Springvale Studios
    Shame you are in the states as in the UK we have Simms Watts, Selmer, Carlesbro, Sound City and Roost all in the camp of far lower price than Marshall, Orange or Hiwatt amps of the seventies.
    Although these other manufacturers mainly died out these amps were all very good and well made.
    But if you find an old Simms Watts AP 100 they are an EL 34 amp but with a fabulous Ultra Linear output stage. The Roost is also a great bass amp much like the Sound City or Hiwatt but with a bit more marshall like gain in the pre on the Roost.
    I just bought another Simms watts AP 100 for £120 needs new lytic caps and output tubes but its all beautifully hand wired so no problems working on it.
    I have a mighty 4 X KT88 AP 200 Super as well, I wonder if any body ever saw one in the states, They are huge!.
    Simms Watts also used RCF speakers in their cabs, very good sound and SPL.
  11. Rugaar


    Apr 11, 2007
    Watch your local and nearby CL. (where are you located?) I've seen some smokin' deals lately on small (50w or so) tube amp heads. (Fenders and Ampegs for $125-275) I've been really tempted to grab a couple of them even though I don't need another amp. I got my Peavey Alphabass last year for $100.
  12. fireincairo


    Jul 8, 2008
    Bass amps:

    Peavey VTB
    Traynor YBA-1, 2, or 3
    Fender Bassman (50, 100, 135 versions)

    Guitar tube amps that will function as bass amps:

    Peavey VTM
    Ampeg VT-22
    Peavey Butcher

    Pretty much any guitar amp will function as a bass amp, but you'll want to run it into speakers that can handle the lows. PA cabs, bass cabs are all fine for that.

    Also, many old guitar amps have a low and high gain input. If you want more headroom, just use the low gain input. If it's still overdriving, get some lower gain preamp tubes (12at7, 12au7, 12ay7) and swap around till you get the tones you want.
  13. fireincairo


    Jul 8, 2008

    Soundcity put out some roaring high watt guitar amps that would work great as bass amps.
  14. redstrand


    May 18, 2007
    Saint Louis, MO
    Fool For Four Strings
    I have 200w Peavey butcher hiding at a friends house....I might need to mug him.
  15. fireincairo


    Jul 8, 2008
    Are you sure it's a 200 watter? My Butcher is only 120 watts, but it's pretty loud with a 4x10 cab and 1x12 cab. I'm going to swap out the 1x12 for a 2x12 cab and am hoping I can get more volume from it.
  16. jarrod cunningham

    jarrod cunningham

    Apr 24, 2007
    sylacauga alabama
    spector basses
    traynor 200 ... i use it at smaller shows where i dont want to take in the flight cases .. i LOVE my tone with it and a old crappy ampeg 810 .....

    i thought butchers were also 120 watts not 200 .... believe me ive looked for a lot of good guitar to bass tube amps .... it all depends on how loud you need/want to be . the traynor is way louder than a mesa buster also !!!!
  17. AJHS-1stTrumpet


    Jan 5, 2007
    Hmm, I have no real way to try any of these out, so I would love to have some descriptions of the sounds. I like a nice fat bass tone. I don't want it to sound thin or lifeless, but I don't want it to sound like mud either. Generally I play for churches through a PA with no amp, so a 50 watter would work nicely.

    Also, I was thinking it might be fun to build an amp kit over christmas break. If I were to build my own amp from a kit, are there any guitar models that work well with bass, such as tweed fender or marshall clones? Thanks!
  18. I used an old AUS made PA head(180w) all tube- for bass for 12 yrs. Worked really well. Had 6 x EL34's & sounded good.
  19. sunbeast

    sunbeast Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2006
    Los Angeles, CA
    For really low volumes, I'd suggest trying out some sort of tube simulation like the new Sansamp VT Bass pedal- it'll likely be alot more versatile than any all-tube amp that you'll find find for the same price (they are pretty cheap pedals), and at low volumes I seriously doubt you'd be able to tell much difference (its at high volumes that the difference really becomes apparent, in my opinion). Actually, I'd be willing to bet that you could get better tones out of the Sansamp at low volumes than most tube amps at the same volume- tubes really sound "tubey" when they are pushed, and can sound pretty anemic at low volumes (even a 50 watt Bassman amp would be too loud for a dorm at any sort of decent sounding settings- I can tell you that from experience!). There aren't many tube amps that'll sound good both at dorm levels and at church levels, in my opinion- but you may find otherwise!

  20. fireincairo


    Jul 8, 2008
    Don't forget Sovtek Mig100. It's pretty much a Bassman clone.

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