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Which should I buy - SVT-VR or 70's Blueline?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Alexander, Nov 18, 2010.

  1. Alexander


    Aug 13, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    I've recently fallen in love with the SVT tone by purchasing and playing through an SVT 2Pro. The one I have though, I must say is about to get thrown out the window as it is eating power tubes and no tech (including the UK's Ampeg Service Center) seems to have any reason why. So I am about to rack it up as a loss and start over - considering the money I've invested, it makes me sick...

    But I digress... I'm thinking of going with either a VR or an original 70's Blueline and I'm torn between the two (which seem to be comparably priced). The original has the cool factor, of course but functionally doesn't seem to have any other advantages from what I've read. The VR is new with warranty (which sounds good to me considering my track record with the 2Pro) and it seems some mods to bring it up to date over the original.

    I'm assuming either will get me a modest increase in tone over the 2Pro (again, from what I've read here - let me know if you disagree). I've been playing through a Berg NV412 and may or may not keep it if I go this route (I'm considering the matching 810 now that I have a vehicle capable of transporting it).

    Anyway, thoughts?
  2. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    i find very little difference tonally in the two. for all the changes between the 70's blue line and the vr, it's stayed remarkably consistent tonally.

    i'm surprised about your 2 pro, though. it's been told to me that tube amps are pretty easy to fix.
  3. Alexander


    Aug 13, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    Thanks, Jimmy -

    Yeah, I've heard they are an easy fix, too - but for some reason this is really elusive. Kills me.

    On another note, can anyone confirm if the VR has a gain control? I keep reading that it does not, but when you look at the amp on MF, there is a gain knob.

    Also, I hear a lot about players plugging into both channels at the same time with good results. What does this sound like compared to plugging into one or the other? Any harm in doing this?
  4. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    there is no gain knob, only a single volume for each channel.

    i used to use both channels for effects, making channel 1 clean and channel 2 effected. i don't do it anymore since i use pedals that don't require it. you can also jump channels and make yourself a gain/master setup to get preamp distortion. or you can plug two different basses into the channels. none of it will hurt the amp to do it.
  5. Alexander


    Aug 13, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    Cool - that's what I thought on the gain, but swore I saw a picture of the amp with one. Maybe I was looking at the CL?

    Anyway - looking forward to getting this sorted out. Likely will go the VR route for no other reason than the ability to buy new with warranty. But, don't want to be gunshy just because of my experiences with the 2Pro...
  6. You could have been looking at a CL or a V9.
  7. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
    The problem with any old amp is that you often need to have it serviced properly if you want it to be reliable. By properly serviced I mean clean it well, go through the amp and check out all the resistors and capacitors to ensure that they are within spec, check all the solder joints and wires, replace the power supply caps and power cord if necessary, use an electrical cleaner like deoxit on the tube sockets, jacks and pots, inspect and re-tension the tube sockets, etc.

    This means putting at lot of extra money into it over the purchase price. In the end, you will have a great sounding old amp that performs to new specs and it will be reliable for years.

    On the other hand, if you buy a new SVT-VR and you get a good one that works, and you put in a good set of tubes you will have a great new amp. The problem with some new amps is poor quality components and quality issues. There isn't anything that can't be fixed but it is frustrating to have to deal with problems with a new amp. You can't put in better components while it is under warranty. If you can get a used one at a good price and then address any issues if necessary, you come out ahead.

    There are trade-offs either way. I'd go with a 70's model. Just my preference.

    As for your 2Pro eating power tubes, here is one possibility to consider. I'm assuming that the tech checked out the DC voltages and that they are ok. If there is an impedance mismatch between your tubes and the primary side of output transformer this can cause the tubes to run down sooner than they should. The tubes are working in a different operating region than they were intend to. For example, if your amp output is rated at 4 ohms and your cabinet impedance is 2 ohms, the power tubes will see half the impedance that they are expecting. They will work harder. The tech wouldn't see this unless they looked for it and they would need to have your cab and amp together to check it out, not just the amp.

    Another possibility is that the 2 ohm and 4 ohm taps are wired backwards. You think that you are plugging into 4 ohms when you are actually plugging into 2 ohms.

    It could also be that the output transformer that isn't wound to spec. It might work properly but if the windings ratio is isn't correct, it can be hard on your tubes. This isn't something that a tech would normally test for.
  8. StuartV

    StuartV Finally figuring out what I really like Supporting Member

    Jul 27, 2006
    Manassas, VA
    The 2 Pro doesn't have separate 2 and 4 ohm taps. Just a switch to set it for 2 or 4 ohm operation.

    To the OP: if you're running your rig with the ohm switch not set to match impedance of your cabs, that would explain why you're eating tubes. If you have it set for 2 ohms and you've got a 4 ohm cab (or 2 8 ohm cabs), that would be bad. Or using 1 8 ohm cab, no matter how you've got the switch set (the SVT 2 Pro only supports 2 or 4 ohm loads).

    Using a higher impedance cab with a solid state head is okay. It is NOT okay with a tube amp. It will work, but chew tubes up faster - just the symptom you described.

    Or if you are leaving the amp turned on (and not on Standby) with NO speaker cab hooked up, that would also chew up tubes.
  9. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
    Thanks for clarifying. I think that we are saying the same thing. :)

    Inside the amp, the output transformer has 2 and 4 ohm taps and they are wired to a selector switch. What I meant to say is that maybe the taps are wired to the switch backwards.
  10. I wonder if swapping components (like preamp capacitors and stuff like this) would be a improvement anyway, tonewise. I've been considering moding my VR a couple times, but the lack of information on the internet just makes me thinck that it's virtually useless and impossible to improve an svt. What do you guys think?
  11. Seans


    Jul 4, 2008
    Herefordshire, UK
    Half the fun for me, of an original SVT or any other vintage ''thing'' is the fixing up, getting everything working just as it should or better, obviously this depends on the condition to begin with but it adds to the feel when you actually get round to giging it, plus you know the weak points and can act in a preventative maintenance manner.

    IMO I feel the VR does not sound as good as the original, it does get 'the' sound but just not quite as well, that certain warmth. But who the hell is going to know at a gig, if I had the choice I would still go original, but then that choice has to be looked in depth when one comes up.
    Oh and the originals will always be worth more.
  12. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
    The way that I see it, amps are designed and manufactured to meet a cost specification. There is always room for improvement. Loud claims that they have built a better CL with the Heritage model. I can be done with the VR as well.

    I've never had a chance to swap components in the VR but I did have a chance to disassemble one and look inside when I had one. There are things you can do to lower hiss and hum. For a start, I would put in a better quality shielded wire in the pre-amp and the interconnecting wires and use better connectors in some places. I would better shield it against radio frequency interference. I used to be able to pick up hockey games on my amp. Next I would beef up the power supply capacitor values, especially the first stage. I would install a good quality caps. Unless you change the circuit boards, you are limited to the printed circuit routing that they have. I noticed the Loud has different boards in the Heritage model. I don't recall if the heater lines were twisted or if the heater ground was offset but this would be worth looking at. I would also improve the DI and put in a better quality Jensen transformer. I would also replace that noisy fan.

    I've found that you can make big sonic difference by installing better quality capacitors and resistors in the signal chain. So it does make a difference. The thing about the SVT is that it's a very loud amp. When you turn it up, the hum and hiss that's there isn't going to bother a lot of people. If you can improve the tone, people will take notice.

    I like the idea of making the amp as good as it can be. Even if I'm the only one who notices. ;)
  13. GBassNorth


    Dec 23, 2006
    Never used the blueline but do have the SVT VR paired to a Bergantino NV610 and love it. In fact recently I've resorted to using channel one nice and clean for my bass and channel two with effects connected to my stratocaster guitar. Talk about killer riffs!
  14. Alexander


    Aug 13, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    Thanks, guys - this is very helpful (and interesting). The impedence switch has been set correctly and I've been careful not to switch it on without a cab connected. The Ampeg service centre charged me quite a bit to take the boards out, clean, new tubes, etc, etc. but it didn't help. The tubes are going and going very fast - literally I can get maybe 3-4 gigs before it starts showing signs of the tubes dying. It is on its way out...

    We'll see what happens...
  15. nysbob


    Sep 14, 2003
    Cincinnati OH
    If you're looking at '70s SVTs, there is no reason to bypass considering the magnavox years.

    I've had outstanding sound and service from mine. :cool:
  16. snaverb


    Feb 19, 2007
    Atlanta, Ga
    Go with the VR. Sounds the same as the older ones and you'll get a warranty.

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