When buying an amp......

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by theshadow2001, May 20, 2005.

  1. theshadow2001


    Jun 17, 2004
    Ok I know that buying an amp is a very subjective decision one guy loves one sound while another pukes as soon as he hears it.

    However does anyone have series of tests that they run on amp while they are buying it for example trying out two amps set the eq's flat on both so you don't get a coloured sound and then compare them or something similar. Like a series of objective tests to put the amp through its paces so to speak. Obviously the results are subjective but the test themselves would be objective.

    I think that maybe this is just a case of the engineer in me coming out. Anyways as usual all input is appreciated
  2. Chiba


    Mar 11, 2005
    I don't know if this helps much, but I always test out an amp with the EQ set flat - bass or guitar amp, doesn't matter.

    Knowing a bit about tone circuitry helps though. For a lot of bass amps, zero is flat and you can cut or boost from there. But for a lot of guitar amps, which don't generally have the same type of 'active' EQ circuitry, zero is ZERO and 10 is actually 'flat'. A lot of people check out guitar amps (and cheaper bass amps) with the EQ on 5 and think that's 'flat', when it's not.

  3. Ostinato

    Ostinato Guest

    Feb 7, 2005
    Toronto ON
    I would check the action of the controls, smoothness, taper, cylindricity! (there's an engineering term for you). Let's see....you could turn up the amp and check for noise or hum. Check any buttons and switches for silent operation...no snap crackle or pop. Check for attenuators on the back of the cab, and fiddle around with those a bit.

    Personally, I eventually zero in on the midrange control, how it sounds turned up, down...if it sounds like cack..I decide not to buy. Most of all...do you like the sound?
  4. If at all possible, bring the current amp/head you are using and play through it for a while at the store to really get a feel for the acoustics of the room. Once you have your sound dialed in, then switch to the new head you are considering and start tweaking. It sounds simple, but not many people do it. That will really help you separate the sound of the room/store from the amp, and also let you directly compare the 'old' with the 'new'.

    I'm not that interested in what an amp sound like 'set flat'... since most amps (as pointed out above) have some sort of pre-set EQ built into them. If you can tweak it to sound good... it sounds good (even if you hate the flat sound).

    Finally, whether you are a slapper or not... take a few wacks on the E string and turn up the treble and bass controls on your bass (if it's active). If an amp does a good job with those extreme transients, it will probably do a pretty good job on most other things. I like to give a new head a good 'slap' workout, since that seems to be the technique that results in the widest range of input strength/transients and range of tone (from the lowest lows to the highest highs all at the same time).
  5. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    cool advice all around

    for me, i definitly bring my stuff for comparison (no matter how much of a pain that is) if i can, i use a/b boxes to switch stuff quickly.

    i also concur with the trying the amp flat 1st, but i also reccomend giving all of the eq options a whirl. many amps sound similar flat, but show more differences in the way the eq sections are voiced. i try each eq knob/switch seperately to check their ranges and voicing, and then try to dial in some sounds with more than one knob.

    I also give the amp/cab a volume test. i try to determine what the max usable volume of the amp is (just for a bit, and i warn them 1st - ;) ) If i'm looking at a cab i try to see when it starts to fail via being overdriven or exceeding xmax (once again, i just hit the threshold of this for a sec, i dont try to break the store's stuff).

    If i can i bring along to play so i can stand back and listen to it, (or i grab someone in the store to do it). A lot of times you can hear an amp's nuances that way.
  6. theshadow2001


    Jun 17, 2004
    Thanks guys some great advice all round!