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Where to invest equipment money?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by alembicbassist, Oct 14, 2003.

  1. Bass that you would love to play

    13 vote(s)
  2. A head with plenty of volume and tone

    3 vote(s)
  3. Good cabinets

    1 vote(s)
  4. Save your money

    4 vote(s)
  1. Here is my problem. I have about $850.

    I have a 4 string P/J setup that I am not in love with, but sounds pretty good with a new DiMarzio Ultra jazz in the bridge position. I have a SWR workingman's 10 at home that functions well and is loud enough for small venues. I have a 15" cabinet in which I put an Eminence Beta 15 speaker but the cabinet volume is really to small. Then there is an Ampeq SVT-350HT that I have borrowed and can use most of the time over the next couple of years.

    Question: Where would you spend your money.
    1. A bass that I like better such as a Fender Geddy Lee with upgrades, or a Skyline 55-02, or 55-01.
    2. Spend the money for a separate head.
    3. Invest in some good cabinets.
  2. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    My opinion is to start with the bass. In cases you don't have an amp that'll suffice, you can always find a workaround. Tone begins with your bass.;)
  3. Jon Burnet

    Jon Burnet

    Jan 21, 2001
    Memphis, TN
    you have to remember that your tone is only as good as its weakest link.

    myt recommendation is to start with the bass then head or better yet pre power setup THEN cabs.

    try out alot of basses first. you guys are ina good situation now. 500-1000 bucks can buy a KILLER bass now adays. there WAS a zon for sale around that much not too long ago.
  4. I'd suggest "Save" so you can get a good head AND cabs.
    They'll make a mediocre bass sound very good. I found this out in the late 60's when I kept the same $40 Sears Silvertone guitar and replaced my $40, 8" amp with a $250, 2x12" amp.

    Don't just take my word for it....From guitarnuts.com -

    "Your electric guitar is only one-half of an instrument. This may seem obvious, what good is an electric guitar without something to amplify it? However, the importance of the amplifier is so often overlooked, especially by beginners. It is not an exaggeration to say that a good amp can make a lousy guitar better, while a bad amp will make the best guitar sound lousy"
  5. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I'd buy the bass now, then start saving for an amp rig since it seems the amps you have already will get you through gigs for the immediate future.

    I disagree with Jon B., BTW. Cabs are far more important than the head when it comes to tone. When shopping for a rig, always pick the speakers first.
  6. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    I'd say that it begins with your fingers.

    If the Ampeg goes away what will you do? You can get a very nice Behringer head for only $200 at many places as a holdover. That leaves $650 for a nice bass. Keep your eyes on the classified ads here for the next few months. Nice things come up often.
  7. I took a 30 year accoustic hiatus in the last part of the 20th Century and just got back into electric again 3 years ago. Like most people I spent my money on my instruments since that is what is in my hands and I was used to that with accoustics. Over a period of two years I went through about 10 inexpensive amps for bass, guitar and steel guitar and I kept changing pickups in the guitars. Then I got a really good guitar combo; big difference. A week later I found a killer deal ($75)on an excellent used 2x12 cab with Celestion speakers. Wow! I what a difference. I couldn't believe how good my guitars sounded! As soon as I got some more money together I got rid of the Peavey TKO and bought an Ashdown. Same result. So now my recomendation is to do the opposite of what my initial impulse was and what most people do. First is the speaker, then the speaker cab, then the pre amp, then the amp, then the cables, then the instrument. So if I were you, for that kind of money I'd get an Avatar 15" bass cab and put your Eminence speaker in it. Then I'd get a Sansamp RBI preamp, then I'd find a used power amp, then I'd buy a set of Klotz cables and that would about take care of the $850. Finally, I would save more for a better bass, like the Geddy Lee you mentioned, bought used off ebay and upgrade or mod it if required. This is just me. I expect most people would go for the bass first.
  8. I believe in being independent.

    I would suggest getting the equipment that you need first.

    The bass you have works and sounds good but you need your own rig to play through. You can't depend on a loner for ever, what if it blows up ?

  9. there is two ways to think about this. your bass will only sound as good as the amp and cabs you play it through. but life is always better when you have a bass that you really love to play. if your amp situation is under control and you can work with it for a while I would find a bass that you can afford and really love to play. then as time goes on build your rig around your bass. a good way to get the most for your money is to look at used basses. the only new bass I have ever bought was my MIM fender jazz. since then I have bought all used stuff and it has all been in "like new" condition but I only had to pay about half the new price. if you can find one that you really like then go search for good deals on it. for instance if you really like the 55-02 there are plenty of those around on the used market for great deals.
  10. Tim Cole

    Tim Cole

    Jun 12, 2002
    Findlay, Ohio
    I'm going to have to diagree here. He should be getting a good quality sound out of his amp setup he has now, regardless of volume. As long as it is audible to him, and the bandmates that care to hear it, it is enough. Most of the time, bass players are through the FOH mix, making their amps essentially for the monitoring onstage. Your bass is where the tone heard FOH is coming from.

    A true high end amp is normally a more "transparent" sound, than the cheaper lesser amps that color it. In comparison, if you look at a turd with a magnifying glass, it's just going to look like......a magnified turd.

    I'd reccomend the skyline 55-02, if you indeed like those basses.

    Best of luck!
  11. Tristan


    Jan 28, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    wait,wait,wait... your profile says you have a godin sd-4... aren't those pretty nice???
  12. A little back-scratching with Aaron Schiff here, since he knows how much difference a $2200 amp makes over a $2200 bass.

    From guitarnuts.com again -

    ..."Okay, now that we have the "amp snobbery" out of the way -- let's look at the more subtle ways your guitar and amp interract to make the complete instrument. The pickups and tone control circuit in your guitar do not stand alone, they interact with the first gain stage in your rig. This gain stage is either the preamp of the amplifier or the gain stage in a stomp box. The guitar and the first gain stage make up a complete circuit that, more than any other part of your rig, determines what native tone is available for amplification, distortion, effects, and so on. If you lose much of the native tone of your guitar that native tone is gone forever -- you can use various effects to try to put some interest back in the sound, but the native tones of the guitar are gone for good...

    Every amplifying device has an input impedance. Furthermore, every amplifying device has a frequency response curve that may, or may not, be narrower than the output range from your guitar. Finally, amplifying devices have varying sensitivity to impedance and signal amplititude. Some are very tolerant, others less so."

    It seems that everyone who espouses spending more money on the instrument rather than the amplification can't back up their opinion with an expert's input or years of experience...........yet, I can.

    Bottomline - The truth is always in your ears.
  13. Tristan


    Jan 28, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    what i would do in your place. i'd drop a new p pickup in the bass. perhaps a dimarzio to match the j. then i would get an avatar cab to go with the ampeg head. if you did this you would have a good rig with $$$ to spare. hopefuly you'd have enough money for a head when you can't use the ampeg anymore.
  14. O.K.

    1) You have the Ampeg as a loaner. How reliable is this deal? Is the owner overseas or something?

    2) You said you already have the Workingmans that can handle small venues. What's the likelihood that you might be playing bigger gigs soon?

    3) You never mentioned selling your current bass.
    How much do you realistically think you could get for it? Perhaps add this cash to the $850 you already have. Now what can you buy?

    Which gets on your nerves more: your current bass or your desire for a bigger amp?

    Think it through.

    Good luck.

  15. Tristan:

    The Godin is nice enough. I think honestly that changing the J pickup both helped (no more hum-which I really like-now I can actually use the pickup) but also changed the tone so that I do not quite get the tone I liked with the single coil/tone rolled all the way off.

    I did a lot of sanding to the body and to the headstock, so that I at least like the shape and the new black color. BUT.... I still don't have the fast neck I miss from the Alembic and other basses I had. I also like the feel and look of maple necks.


    My head says go with the cabinet first, then head, then bass, BUT the heart says the opposite.


    I would not sell the old, bass, just maybe try to turn it into a fretless 4 string.

    Only once have I had to need more power, when I played outdoors at a picnic. Mostly I go through the house through the SansAmp Bass Driver DI, or am in a smaller room, where I have been asked to turn down the WM-10. Last time the SABDDI hummed to much and so I had to play only through the Ampeq and cab.
  16. slonlo420


    Sep 20, 2002
    Washington, DC
    This is an interesting thread as everyone on this forum can probably relate to this situation. That being said, the Workingman 10 sounds pretty good and as was stated above will feed a pa system in any room too big for it to handle by itself. Furthermore, my experience has been that a nicer quality and sounding bass is also easier to play allowing you to do things you can't do on your current bass. Thus, the tone comes from your hands and you're having more fun playing (isn't that what it's all about?). Yes, a high quality amp will thump harder and in most cases be more transparant but so what if the signal it's reproducing is mediocre and the playability of the instrument is holding you back. Garbage in, garbage out. Tone starts with your hands and goes from there.
  17. extreme

    extreme Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2000

    I don't appreciate your comment:

    Just because nobody did back it up doesn't mean that the choice to put the money in an instrument can't be backed up from lots of different angles.

    My perspective is that the comments from you and Aaron are both relating to guitars & guitar amps. This is very different from bass gear. With an electric guitar, the amp is truly half of the battle. I'm not saying amps don't matter, but it's less of an issue with bass (depending on the tone you're going for...). Guitar amp distortion characteristics impart alot onto the sound of an electric guitar. Many bass players' tone ideal is something clean and unaffected, "au natural" if you will.

    There are many times where I don't take an amp with me since I'm playing through a house rig, recording, etc. I've got some good ampage for when needed, but it stays in the house much more than my basses. I'd rather put the money where it will be most used and appreciated.

    All this said, there are tons of good options out there. Spending lots of money on a bass or amp doesn't mean it will be the best for you. I do, however, think it's most important to get a bass you can really be at home with (easier said than done, right? :cool: ).
  18. wneff


    May 27, 2003
    Woburn, MA
    Here is another idea:

    1) You have a decent bass, and you said you liked it. So, nothing really wrong there. Rather than spendng more money on an expensive bass, make sure you have money to change the strings when they need changing.

    2) You also have a Sans amp and a workingman 10. So, for low volume situations you are all set. You also mentioned you have a speaker cabinet where you replaced the 15" speaker with Eminence. Here I have a question: Is it a closed cabinet or a bass reflex? If it is a bass reflex cabinet and the Eminence is not an exact match of the original speaker you will have a problem because the speaker is not tuned to the cabinet. In your situation I would try to seal the bass reflex ports from the inside with some plywood. Not as good as a tuned bass reflex but better than a mismatched bass reflex.

    What I would do is to get a power amp (since you have the sans amp and/or the workingman as preamp). Maybe a QSC or so. I like the PLX because they are light, but I don't have one.
    Power amp should be 400 or so, PLX 1202 is (I believe) $600.
    From the rest of the money I would get a avatar 2x10" for $260 (www.avatarspeakers.com). Never heard one myself, but I think its a lots of good speakers for the money. So, for $860 (if you save some and get the PLX) you get a system that puts out 1200 W into the 15" and the 2x10", driven by the sans amp into the (bridge mode) QSC. (get the 2x10" in 8 Ohm)

    Mid size: Drive the avatar with the workingman (3x10"!), you get 100 W out of this system.

    Small size: Only the workingman

  19. Then I must be doing something right. :D

    My experience has shown me that the quality of the instrument is even LESS of an issue for bassists.
    This is true because we dwell in a sonic ranges (Hz's) that aren't perceived as well by the human ear as the "ear-friendly" range, (mids) where guitars reach the human ear with much less wattage...(hence the need for fine bass amplification).

    I can't count the number of band's I've seen where the bassist is using a Peavey (exclude the Cirrus), an Ibanez, or a plain-jane, run-of-the-mill, Fender while the guitarist(s) is using much more extravagant, expensive, PRS's/Les Pauls, and vintage Strats/Teles.
    However, when it comes to amplificaton, the bassist apparently has spared little or no expense. That's where they put their money because, most of the time, you really can't hear the nuances of a high-end bass until the drums and guitar drop out. They just need the horsepower that good amplification produces.

    Bottomline - Take two bassists of equal ability and send them out on two auditions...

    1. With a Ken Smith and a Crate amp
    2. With an Ibanez and a Ampeg SVT

    I'll put my money on #2 anyday to get the job.
  20. lamarjones

    lamarjones Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2002
    Raleigh, NC
    If you can live with how your bass plays, get the amp. IF you bass actually doesn't play well, get a new bass.

    A workingmans 10 I don't think is going to get you very far. For 850? An avatar 410 or 212 and a GK 700 rb will take somebody's face off if you want it to. IF you want it to. Get the gk used, and both should not be a problem at all.
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