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What's up with SWR?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by omaha_sessions, Apr 13, 2009.

  1. omaha_sessions


    Mar 29, 2009
    While browsing different sites for a used bass head, I noticed SWR heads are by far the most popular on the market, especially the 350,550 and 750 series. I haven't had a chance to play one. Are they just very specific to one genre or just lack tone? Why are there so many out there?
  2. Spinal Tapper

    Spinal Tapper

    Nov 15, 2007
    I had a 350x for many years. 6 to be exact. VERY reliable, more than Ampeg or the GK heads I've owned. Now its dead - instead of fixing it, I sold it to my techie friend for a quick buck. I just wanted to try something new since I've had it for a while.

    Pretty nice head - "standard" tone, not too dry, not too wet - simple controls. The sub-octave switch was kinda cool too - although I never used it in a practical situation.

    FWIW, I recently got a Markbass R500 to replace my SWR and I'm happier with that.
  3. jarrod cunningham

    jarrod cunningham

    Apr 24, 2007
    sylacauga alabama
    spector basses
    they sound a good bit like eden . very hi fi . i think a lot of guys do not want to hear every note they play .... i like a lot of gear , but my new band is playing a lot of newer radio tunes and i switched back to swr for the hifi reason . im tired of the muddy honky 80s rock tone from some other companies .... its all in what you do or want .... but if you need a great clean amp that is reliable , then swr will work just fine ....
  4. brianmharrison


    Oct 11, 2007
    I just got a used bass 350 and love it. Sure it hi fi but you can also eq in a fat warm sound as well if you need it. More versatile tone wise than my ampegs I used to have.
  5. hasbeen

    hasbeen Commercial User

    Sep 23, 2004
    Vice President, KMC Music. Warwick U.S. distribution, Ampeg distribution
    If brand A has been in business for 30 years, selling twice as much annually as brand B, who has been in business for 5 years, then, there is a high degree of probability that they'll be more used brand A's in the market place.

    This isn't a reflection, necessarily, of how desirable the product is or isn't.
  6. uaudio


    Apr 11, 2008
    Steve Rabe was doing innovative stuff at a time when there were very few successful small amplifier makers out there. The Redhead combo amp is one of my favorite recording amps of all times. Its also hard to believe since they're ubiquitous now, but he also developed one of the first commercially viable 410s with a tweeter.

    Over the years, they got bigger and sold a ton of amps. Then they were acquired by Fender and integrated into a vast supply chain empire. So you see a lot of them on the used market because of the numbers they sold.

    Good, solid amps.
  7. Greyvagabond


    Aug 17, 2007
    Los Angeles
    I love my Bass 350 reface. I think SWR also made some of the first mass-produced hybrid amps. They seems to have lost a bit of the "it" factor to MarkBass, Genz, TecAmp, and other new-comers. I think they are a fantastic deal now; I hope they stay unpopular!
  8. cheezewiz

    cheezewiz Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2002
    I don't like the tone of SWR which tend to be very mid scooped. I also don't like the fact most models are very underpowered for their stated wattage. SWR is not so much for me. To each his own though.
  9. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    swr was the latest greatest thing years ago. bass players are a bit fickle, and new gear keeps being made. do i think swr is the best stuff out there? nope. does it sound good? yeah, but that is subjective. a lot of it is available as players need the money to buy newer amps.
  10. omaha_sessions


    Mar 29, 2009
    all reasonable explanations. thanks guys. how would you compare the swr tone to that of gk?
  11. yamaha


    Apr 7, 2006
    GK, to me, is a good punchy, aggressive tone. Amazing for rock.

    SWR is warmer, better definition, probably more versatile.

    I really love SWR cabs, and I do like the SWR amp tone, but as stated previously, they aren't as loud as others in rated watts vs SPL, at least to my ears.

    There are (I agree) a lot of X, and bass series of amps being sold in the classifieds lately from SWR, but I don't think it really means anything. 2 Years ago, it was Schroeders invading the classifieds, last year, something else. Next year, maybe everyone will be ditching their Mesa's.
  12. Jim C

    Jim C Is that what you meant to play or is this jazz? Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    The old SM400's are (IMO):
    * Unbelievably reliable
    * Very hi-fi and full range (4 band parametric, bass, treble, aural enhancer, and compressor)
    * Neutral
    * Very dry tone wise
    * Plenty of power and did deliver the rated numbers with low distortion, when checked with a big a$$ load resisitor

    Insanley good for high volume funk, and slap & pop
    Not my favorite for R&B or rock when one would prefer an Ampeg tone
    Way ahead of their time
  13. RCCollins

    RCCollins Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2008
    San Diego, California
    i find that unlikely
  14. Altitude

    Altitude An ounce of perception, a pound of obscure. Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2005
    Denver, nee Austin
    I still see 3 SWR backline rigs for every one I see of anything else. There's a lot of boutique stuff that has gained some popularity over SWR, especially around here. But I think that SWR, along with Eden and Ampeg, are still the backline standard.
  15. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    Your two comments seem contradictory. What exactly are you getting at?
  16. hasbeen

    hasbeen Commercial User

    Sep 23, 2004
    Vice President, KMC Music. Warwick U.S. distribution, Ampeg distribution
    As an fyi...regarding "new-comers"....we just celebrated our 25th anniv. :D:bassist:
  17. I noticed the SM-900 was not on your list. IMO, a great amp. I also had a Basic Black combo for a while- also good.
  18. omaha_sessions


    Mar 29, 2009
    silky smoove, i meant they are popular in the market because there are alot of them for sale. I guess its relative though. Like people said, it's probably because they've been around so long. I see alot of new amps on ebay. Guess there are just a lot of resellers out there.
  19. Sorry to be pedantic, but SWR are not "Hi Fi" which is short for High Fidelity. Swr have a huge mid scoop, which is their sound that lots of people like! But it is changing your sound a LOT! A hi fi amp will sound like you plugged directly into a recording console (with correct impedance etc) and are listening to it through studio monitors...
    Also the lack of power is really just because of the mid scoop. It then seems quieter. Check out my dyno test here: http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=420970&page=9

    Carry on
  20. I plugged into a Workingman 15 at a low volume rehearsal, and it sounded really fat and smooth.

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