which Ampeg SVT head to buy?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by jcroxford, Feb 17, 2019.

  1. jcroxford


    Jan 7, 2017
    Sacramento CA
    I'm new to tubes. I have only ever owned solid state amps including when I used to play guitar. Can anyone explain the difference other then price point (which is considerable) between:
    Ampeg SVT-CL Classic
    Ampeg SVT-VR vintage reissue
    Ampeg SVT-CL Heritage

    I'm currently running a Rickenbacker 4003 through portaflex pf800 head & 2 15"portaflex cabs and tons of pedals. I play Doom metal. My guitarist plays through a Sunn Beta lead and Marshal cab. volume wise, I'm cranked and he is blowing me out with his beta on 2 or 3. I demoed a 100w ampeg at guitar center and loved the sound and feel of the tubes. My plan is to aquire a tube head & 8x10 cab.
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2019
    SactoBass likes this.
  2. If money is no object I'd get the Heritage CL but any SVT will sound great. Not a bad choice.
    10cc and rodl2005 like this.
  3. jcroxford


    Jan 7, 2017
    Sacramento CA
    I wouldnt say money is no obect. I just want to know why and what I'm paying for.
  4. Both the SVT-CLs are the same amp, the Heritage costs more because it's assembled in the USA and has a few upgraded parts and pricier tubes. But it sounds the same as the classic version. I own both and use them interchangeably (my classic isn't overseas made but they use the same components).
  5. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    The VR is meant to be a functional equivalent of a vintage SVT. I has two channels with different voicing and no master volume. In order to get overdrive (OD) you need to push the output tubes fairly hard. Another option would be to use a clean boost to hit the front end of the preamp hard enough to drive the first tube section into OD.

    The CL preamp is voiced similar to channel 1 of the VR, and a bit higher gain. The idea is you can get a bit of preamp drive with the CL by cranking up the Gain and the setting your volume with the Master. In other words you can get preamp drive at a low volume. Preamp drive and output drive don't sound exactly the same, but the CL is a bit more versatile if you want OD.
    Wisebass and Zbysek like this.
  6. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    This. I like both sounds. But they are different for sure.
    Wisebass and Wasnex like this.
  7. And the 50th anniversary edition coming sometime this summer is supposed to feature two channels that will have both the late 60s and mid-70's voicing. Could be worth the wait for the OP to see how that one turns out.
    diegom and SactoBass like this.
  8. JLY

    JLY Supporting Member Supporting Member

    murphy likes this.
  9. Lovep

    Lovep Supporting Member

    Mar 17, 2011
    Indianapolis, IN
  10. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Don't know if I can add anything other than what's already been said.
    diegom likes this.
  11. jcroxford


    Jan 7, 2017
    Sacramento CA
    wow, thanks for the video. That thing looks amazing...
  12. Alexander


    Aug 13, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    I’m happy as can be with my VR. I hate preamp grind, so have no need for the gain control the CL heads have. I like the aesthetics of the VR more - which honestly is the reason I bought it over the CL. I learned a little trick last year about jumping the channels on the amp and it takes everything I love about the tone and just gives it a little more - fatter and warmer than running one channel alone. It’s subtle, but very nice. You can’t do that with a CL.

    I also play through the Heritage 810 cab, which is the sweetest sounding cab I’ve ever heard - to me, kinda like the lovechild of an Ampeg and Bergantino NV.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2019
  13. Yeah I started gigging my Heritage 810 again for that same reason. It's bigger than I need most of the time but it sounds too good to leave at home.
  14. You can find 2 of Bob Glaub's SVT-VR heads he used with CS&N, for sale on Reverb (some place in Burbank, I believe). Those heads are not US made, IIRC. Had all the soldering rehit, not a bad touch. Don't know if it was necessary but then again I'm back after a 15 year hiatus so I'm not up to date on the quality comparos of US, Vietnamese, Korean, etc.
    I suspect you'd be happy with any of them but shop around. Locally, a woman sold her brother's USA SVT and 810 (perfect cond) for $900, while others were selling the imports for $900 for the head alone!
  15. Element Zero

    Element Zero Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2016
    Mesa Subway WD-800. Save yourself some coin and your back.
  16. SactoBass

    SactoBass A retired civil engineer who likes all-tube amps! Supporting Member

    Jul 8, 2009
    Lake Havasu City, AZ
    +1 :thumbsup:

    I have a feeling that there are quite a few bassists waiting for that amp to become available! :)
    Mastermold likes this.
  17. SactoBass

    SactoBass A retired civil engineer who likes all-tube amps! Supporting Member

    Jul 8, 2009
    Lake Havasu City, AZ
    First of all, good choice selecting an Ampeg all-tuber! :thumbsup:

    I've owned a CL and a VR. I found myself liking the tone of the VR more than the CL. If someone asked me why that is, I don't know if I would have a good answer, because *ALL* Ampeg all-tubers sound good to my ears. But the VR seemed to put the biggest smile on my face! :)
  18. SactoBass

    SactoBass A retired civil engineer who likes all-tube amps! Supporting Member

    Jul 8, 2009
    Lake Havasu City, AZ
    I dislike preamp grind as well. To my ears, preamp grind sounds too fizzy, like a hornet flying around inside an aluminum can. For me, it's getting a slight grind from the power tubes that puts a smile on my face! :thumbsup:
  19. Lovep

    Lovep Supporting Member

    Mar 17, 2011
    Indianapolis, IN
    I think a lot of bassist eventually will go down the SVT road--whether it's truly needed or you just want to scratch that "itch". Be careful what you ask for...there is a downside to owning an all tube amp (cost, weight, maintenance, etc.) that you don't have with SS amps. Having said all that, there is nothing like a cranked SVT...the way it rattles your ribs. I have owned the CL, VR and Heritage, BUT I have sold all three. If all tube is really your sound, look into buying used and save yourself some $$...there are a bunch on Reverb right now.

    If you like the tube vibe, a hybrid amp would certainly give you a more than what your PF800 can offer. Look into the Ampge SVT 7-Pro (1000w) or the newer Mesa WD800 (800w). The WD800 offers a nice tube breakup in the sound that is close the the SVT, but not quite...BUT, its like 7lbs...lighter than your PF800!
  20. glivanos

    glivanos Supporting Member

    Jun 24, 2005
    Philadelphia Area
    Yes. This one!!