Which Amp & Cab would you choose?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by FDR Jones, Jul 17, 2020.

  1. FDR Jones

    FDR Jones Inactive

    Apr 7, 2018
    Hello all, I'm curious what kind of amp and cab you would pick if you intended to mostly use it running a standalone tube preamp into the fx return of the head, so just using the power amp and cabinet. I was looking at Fender, Ampeg, Aguilar, and Tech 21... just wondering what other people use for this application. For me, this would be a home studio/practice amp.
  2. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    I think you're asking two somewhat-but-not-entirely separate questions. If you're going to use the amp mostly as a poweramp (then, presumably, sometimes on its own?), almost anything with an effects return and adequate power will do. I'd get something that you like the sound of okay on its own so that, if and when you use it that way, the experience doesn't suck too much. ;)

    Cab -- for home studio/practice use -- again, is going to totally depend on you -- your preferences and desired use. "Home studio and practice..." will this involve playing/recording with a drummer sometimes? Playing only on your own? Micing up the cab for recording? You'll want something that'll get loud enough for what you need it to do but not so much overkill for the space that you need to turn up louder than comfortable or practical to get it in its "sweet-spot" (the broadness of which can vary from cab to cab), where it sounds and feels best to you.

    Some (other) things to consider:
    • What pre are you using?
    • What kinds of sounds are you shooting for/do you like? Give examples.
    • A two-or-three way cab can be -- at least theoretically -- harder to record than a speaker in a box (but do-able -- not my field of expertise, though)
    • If mic-ing the cab (or just annoyed by fan noise in quiet practice), take fan-noise into account (some amps have very quiet fans or are fanless -- others sound like tiny vacuum cleaners. (Same for stand-alone poweramps -- rack-mount and otherwise -- should you consider those.)
    • Size/weight requirements? (There's some excellent old-school stuff available cheap if you don't mind the size/weight that go with it.)
    • Is the tube pre in a rack? Do you think you'll mount the amp in a rack with it, if so?
    • Will this stay in your studio permanently, or do you think you'll take it out to gig sometimes? If so, will you take just the amp, or will the tube pre come, too?
    And...what's your budget?

    Tone preferences, use, volume needs, size/weight stipulations, and budget, if you want meaningful recommendations.
    SB300 likes this.
  3. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Here's a budget rig from my experience that I think could work well for home practice and recording (including with an external preamp), depending on what you're looking to do:
    • Cab: Low-cost DIY practice/coffeehouse tweeterless 110 [long] (with a Deltalite II 2510 subbed for the Basslite)
    • Amp: GK 400 RB IV
    • Total cost: $400-$450
    • Impressions:
      • Amp and cab are both louder than you'd think -- could cover a Blues Jam at a pub with a reasonable drummer. Cab is easy to mic (a 10" speaker in a box), not super deep in the bass, mid-forward, not super-extended in the highs, nice old-school Rock tones accessible along with various brighter sounds (Jaco harmonics pop easily, but the "air" up top isn't there).
      • Relative lack of very deep or high extension from the cab might be advantageous in some recording situations, particularly if combining with DI signal from tube pre or "thru".
      • Two of the 110s (or a comparable 210) make a pretty gig-able rig, with a more full (but still not super-extended) low-frequency response.
      • Power section is solid -- feels good -- fan on mine is quiet (at least at home-practice volumes),
      • Effects loop is on the front (not sure about the earlier revisions of the amp).
      • Effects return works nicely with a line-level signal from an external pre (Gain, EQ, Contour, and Presence are bypassed, but Boost and Master volume are still in the circuit).
    Similar rigs with comparable amps and cabs could be put together depending on what you like and what's available to you (amp and cabs were both purchased through TB classifieds).

    There are lots of ways you could go, amp-wise and cab-wise (and I am usually playing, even at home, through something more modern and hi-fi-ish than the above), but this seemed a decent place to start.

    Depending on how you like to practice at home, you might find an amp with an Aux-in and/or headphone out useful.
    SB300 likes this.
  4. FDR Jones

    FDR Jones Inactive

    Apr 7, 2018
    Thanks for the in-depth replies. I appreciate the description of this rig.

    I'm interested in what other people choose for this type of at-home set-up, but I guess I'm not expecting someone else to figure out what I want and do my research for me. I just like to see what's out there and follow the discussions and I can make my own decisions from there. I don't even have the money to buy anything right now, TBH.

    My sort of gut instinct on this draws me towards an Ampeg PF-350 and a 1x15 or 2x10 Portaflex cab. I also like the idea of an Aguilar TH-500 and their DB 1x12 cabinet, which would be more expensive. Fender is in the mix just as a less expensive option-- no real allegiance there. Tech 21, I like their stuff and have considered buying the VT bass 200 watt combo. Quilter might be in the mix as well.
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2020
  5. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008

    Do you already have the tube preamp you mentioned, or would that be something you'd be purchasing, too? (That'd be a whole other discussion.) I was looking at things from the standpoint of "amp and cab to use with an existing pre and possibly alone."

    I still think that, research into specific pieces aside, answering some of the preceding questions (tone preferences, playing with drummer or not, mic-ing the cab or not, etc.) can help guide the discussion.

    If you don't know the answers and/or aren't looking for specific recommendations right now, that's okay, but then maybe edit your OP to reflect that. Something like:

    Hey, all, quick survey: I'm looking at an at-home rig for practice/recording down the line. I'm curious what you all use -- if you could tell me what and a few quick words as to why, I'd appreciate it!
    Even then, you'll probably get some questions as to your intended use and setup -- and maybe by then the discussion will have evolved to the point of giving you some ideas and answers -- but, in general, the more specific information you can give people, the better, even if that info is what you don't know now. Otherwise, when you say, "amp and cab to use with a tube pre for home practice and recording," you'll get people like me spinning their wheels trying to suss out specifics.

    I do have the setup I mentioned and, while I don't do a lot of miced recording, I think it would work well for that and did run an external pre into it, just to see.

    If I could pick (for me) any modern Ampeg rig for home recording, it'd be a PF-50T and a 112 AV cab, with the idea of closely mimicing a B-15 with some modern versatility as far as having a DI and having the ability to run the head as a tube preamp if I need more power than its 50 Watts. For gigging, I'd take a second cab -- or perhaps a bigger cab -- and, perhaps, a separate power-amp or micro to use for more juice, depending on the cab, band, and venue. If you don't have a tube pre, the PF-50T contains a gorgeous one. If you do, I'm not sure it'd be my first choice as a power amp (no effects loop) -- you might be okay running into the -15 dB input on the front, but you'd be stacking EQs, etc.

    I can see a pf350 or micro VR and one or two 210 AVs working well (and I've played the latter setup in a pub). Make sure they have effects returns.

    The cab I play through most often at home is an Audiokinesis Hathor 1203. I have a MAS 112 (functionally, a big, mean 2x12) that slays live in medium-to-loud settings, but it's too much for comfortable home practice -- it needs to get breathing just a bit to sound and feel its best, which is hard to do in an apartment setting (I wouldn't take it to play a coffee shop, either). The Hathor is a smaller cab and works better in small spaces at lower volumes (though still can get loud for its size and is very gig-able). It's smooth and more modern (more even and more extended top and bottom) than the DIY 110 or the aforementioned Ampeg cabs but versatile -- works well with most amps, has some voicing options via switches and the ability to run ported or sealed -- and still sounds more like a bass cab than a PA cab.

    Quilter -- Bass Block 800 works well as a power amp, with an XLR line input. Feel is slightly looser and more elastic, by design, than your typical SS amp -- difference is subtle but there. You might or might not like that. Fan is slightly noisy -- supposedly addressed in the BB 802.

    There are some small, fan-less power amps -- Ganz Straight Ahead Power Amp, Baby Sumo, etc., if you don't need a head. I have a 1000 Watt RAD amp. They can be a bit pricey. Rack amps can work great, but often have a bit of fan noise.

    Compact amps I've played with super-quiet fans: Glockenklang Blue Rock, Genzler Magellan, Eich T-900. All had Aux-inputs and headphone outputs as well. There are others, I'm sure.

    Fender Rumble amp might be okay. I am not a fan of the cabs, but there are people who dig them. Can't speak to Fender's current higher-end stuff, as I've not played it. VT-200 combo looks interesting, but I've not played it.

  6. FDR Jones

    FDR Jones Inactive

    Apr 7, 2018
    Thanks for the follow-up. Let's set aside the discussion of what I should post and how. Although, judging by the number of replies, perhaps some soul-searching is warranted.

    I definitely appreciate your thoughts on fan noise, though. It's not something I had really been thinking about.
  7. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Just a suggestion, take it or leave it.

    Fan noise rarely an issue for live play -- and maybe not for recording -- but if you're playing at low volume and mic the cab, I've played with some amp where it could be picked up. (Also a bit annoying if you're OCD like me and practice late at night.)

    You can set the amp some distance from the cab/mic, if it's picking up noise.

    EDIT: Apologies if I came off confrontational. I did get a bit frustrated, but that's at least 50% on me for making assumptions re. the intent of your post and then running with them. I still think some further context would be helpful, but, ultimately, that's up to you.

    When you're able to put it together, I hope that you get a rig that makes you smile.

    Last edited: Jul 17, 2020
  8. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    I'm fortunate enough to have a Monique M700. It's designed to match with the Monique Preamp. While it's a boutique system and quite expensive, but

    that's the way I'd go with a separate pre, power, cab system. I realize that not everyone can afford a system at this price point.
  9. Zbysek


    Mar 23, 2017
    Czech Republic
    I am using Markbass Little Mark III. What I like about it is that the FX loop is pre EQ...
    That way, I can EQ my preamp to work well for FOH and can adjust my onstage sound without affecting FOH feed...
  10. lug

    lug Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    Peavey MiniMax or MiniMega
  11. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    2 words. Rhymes with schmesa Schmoogie. Quit messing around.
  12. BobDeRosa

    BobDeRosa Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 16, 2012
    Finger Lakes area of New York State
    Owner, Tritone Jazz Fantasy Camps
    Why not just get a head with a tube preamp you like and sell the standalone preamp or keep it as a spare?

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