Which tube bass amps would you get?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by madasahatter, Feb 22, 2024.

  1. madasahatter


    May 28, 2013
    I’m looking for some opinions to help me decide on which tube amps to eventually get.

    The quick background and some limitations:

    In the nearish future (sometime this year) I’ll be renovating my garage to turn it into my new music space. Part of the renovation is building a shelving unit for bass amps. I’ll have slots for 8 amps with 6 of them already claimed. To figure out final dimensions of the shelving unit I’m pre-planning the amps that would eventually fill the final 2 slots.

    I’ll be running all the amps through a DeLisle 8x8 amp switcher into an Ashdown RM610 cab. The amp switcher is putting a few limitations on what I can have. It has to be a tube power section; so no mosfet, SS or Class D, and limited to 300 watts.

    The amps filling the claimed 6 spaces are:
    • Crate BV300 with a SVTCL, SVTpro, & Eden Navigator preamps running through the power section
    • Randall RM100 with modded preamp modules for bass (Orange, Marshall & Fender flavored)
    • Ashen Miley that should arrive next month
    • Hilbish GT120 – current project build of a Matamp GT120 clone
    • Trinity Trip Top – Future build project of a B15N clone
    • Ceriatone Model Tee – Future build project of a Sunn Model T

    The top contenders to fill the final 2 slots in no particular order
    • Trace Elliot V4
    • Traynor YBA200 or YBA300
    • Ashdown CTM100 or CTM300
    • Peavey VB-2 or VB-3
    • Fat Jimmy Bass Odyssey
    • Hiwatt DR201 clone build

    I realize some amps like the T.E. or VB-2/3 may take a bit to track down if that's what ultimately makes the cut. I'm willing to put in the time & effort to search.

    If you had to choose what would it be and why? I’d love to hear about experiences with any of these amps. If you think anything else deserves to be on the short list let me know.
  2. hbarcat

    hbarcat Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2006
    Rochelle, Illinois
    I'm a serious Mesa guy so my first choice would be one of their all tube amps, like the 400 or 400+.

    I noticed that Ampeg is missing from your list. I think most bassists would make sure to include either the Ampeg V4B or B-15.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2024
  3. LetItGrowTone

    LetItGrowTone Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2019
    The Traynor YBA300 has an "ultralinear" output, which should offer some distinction from the others, including the YBA200. (I don't know which of the others might also be ultralinear.) You want variety, right?

    The Traynor YBA300 stays cleaner to a higher output level, and when it does break it's spectacularly "hard" for a tube amp; this is very different from e.g. Mesa Bass 400+.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2024
  4. beans-on-toast


    Aug 7, 2008
    That’s easy, the Traynor YBA200 and the Hiwatt DR201. But that’s just my taste.
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  5. madasahatter


    May 28, 2013
    I have Ampeg covered in a way. The Trinity Trip Top is a somewhat clone of a B-15. The Crate BV300 has a near identical power section of an SVT; with only minor component differences. It was made at the time SLM owned both Crate & Ampeg. Crate at that time lifted a lot of stuff from the Ampeg line. Running my SVP-CL and SVP-Pro preamps through the Crate's power amp sounds just like another iteration of an SVT.

    Yeah, I'm looking for some variety in general. Looking into the YBA200 & 300 I say they were a little different other than wattage. I've done a little research trying to discern what all those differences are. I've read that the 300 stays much cleaner than the 200; more than the additional 100 watts would imply. I guess that's attributed to the "ultralinear" output? On the other hand I'm down for some early breakup too. The think I've had a hard time finding is what the tonal differences; if any, there are
  6. Jugghaid


    Jun 28, 2002
    Denver, CO, USA
    I would absolutely recommend the Trace V Type and the VB2. The Trace is an iconic tone and gives you a KT88 power section for the V4/V6/V8 etc. The hybrid ones are also quite nice but the al, tube ones are legendary for a reason . The VB2 is fairly unique as it has an EL34 power section (a sextet) and a great 2 channel preamp. Both will give you something you don't already have.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2024
  7. coreyfyfe

    coreyfyfe Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2007
    boston, ma
    From your list, if you're considering a DR201 of some kind I would suggest a Science Mother (best-201 flavor amp on the market in my opinion) or a Reeves 225. But looking at some of your other selections you seem to have a more DIY bent, so they might not be quite what you want.

    Of my amps, my go to are the AD200B or the Science. I've done the hilbish GT120 build as well, and have or had at various times a model T clone, verellen meatsmoke, a lot of ampegs, DCA blackmark, etc.
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  8. Jugghaid


    Jun 28, 2002
    Denver, CO, USA
    Also would second the Mesa suggestion. A 400+ or maybe a Prodigy/Strategy.
    Liam Wald likes this.
  9. dbsfgyd1


    Jun 11, 2012
    Mascoutah, IL
    +1 on Eden Navi.

    Best wishes on your project. Please post with pics when completed.
  10. metron


    Sep 12, 2003
    Another vote for the 400+. Its such a great sounding and unique amp. I would also add a 70s Ampeg V-4B. I really like SVTs but something about the V series sounds a little sweeter to me.
    Wasnex and Jim C like this.
  11. jmlee

    jmlee Catgut? Not funny. Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2005
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    One more vote for the Traynor YBA200-2. The dash two is important since the first version had a slightly wacky auto-bias system. The YBA300 is noticeably louder but if you want gradual sweet breakup the 200 is your amp, and it’ll be plenty loud through that 610 in your garage. The YBA200-2 does not sound Ampeg-y to my ears but has a distinctive character to it. Mine’s fully re-tubed to optimize some stuff but the off-the-shelf ones sound very good.
  12. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
  13. dbsfgyd1


    Jun 11, 2012
    Mascoutah, IL
    Quick question with regard to amp switching and tube power amps. It’s my understanding with the tube amps that I’ve had they require to be under load when powered up, meaning connected to a speaker or they will fail.

    How does your plan address this? Or is the goal to eliminate the patchwork everytime you decide to use a different amp, but just using one powered up amp at a time? Or is there some technology I’m not aware of which I wouldn’t completely discount that possibility…LOL…

    If I am spending other people’s money, I’d recommend a Hiwatt. This is the best tube amp I’ve ever owned or used bar none. That list encompasses just about every name brand tube amp manufactured before say the turn of the century.

    The characteristics of a Hiwatt is its clean & present, but still puts out a very pleasant sound when driven hard. Really expensive, but it is a great head.
  14. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    You should buy the amps you like rather than what I would buy.

    I may be able to help as I own some of the amps you are considering:
    Trace Elliot V4 and V6
    Ashdown CTM300
    Hiwatt DR103, DR201, and Reeves 400.

    If I don't address something you are curious about...feel free to ask questions.

    These are awesome amps...but IMHO they each have a significantly different personality.

    The Trace Elliots have huge lows and are very clear and clean. The V6 is notably louder and bigger sounding than the V4. These amps are significantly mid scooped. I put them in the Fender tone universe, but not at the center. FYI, the Orange AD200B is about as close to the center as you can get.

    The Ashdown is darker and emphasizes the low mids. The tone stack is very quirky, but if you start with the rotaries at about 9:00 and keep them between about 7:00 and 11:00 there is a wide range of available tones, and adjusting the amp is fairly intuitive. You can adjust higher than 11:00, but the results can be cofounding. The preamp is pretty high gain and easily drives. The low end is not super full or super deep and there is not much glass or air available up high.

    The Hiwatts also have huge lows, but the contour is different than the Trace Elliot. I think the Hiwatts play deeper, but the lows are not as focused (low mids are scooped out). Hiwatts are mid scooped in a different way than Fenders. They also tend to have a peak in the upper mids that emphasizes clank and fret rattle. This can be awesome if you want a clanky tone, but you can't really dial in nice smooth highs like the Trace Elliots. The Hiwatt voicing sounds warm with guitar, but smiley faced (mid-scoop) with bass.

    My understanding is the Reeves 400 is tuned slightly different from a real Hiwatt to make it work better with bass. It has the Hiwatt sound, but it's not quite as extreme as my DR201, which is a clank monster.

    I suggest adding the Orange AD200B and Mesa 400 and 400+ to your list. The 400+ is louder than the 400 and also kicks a lot harder down low. I think I prefer the 400 unless I need massive power. The 400 seems sweeter and more musical to my ears.

    IMHO, The Mesa Strategy is super powerful, but also sort of low-fi and aggressively voiced. It does not have much low or high extension, but lot's of mids. To my ears it sounds more like a Mesa Buster than a 400 or 400+. I think the D180, 400, and 400+ sound great (Fender adjacent)...the Buster and Strategy (meh). YMMV I believe the Buster and Strategy lean a little more towards the Ampeg tone universe, but I wouldn't really say they sound like an Ampeg
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  15. ardgedee


    May 13, 2018
    By coincidence I have an online acquaintance who just put his Mesa Boogie D-180 up for sale yesterday. No idea if that's in your wheelhouse or not.
  16. Ashdown CTM-200r and a Reeves 225
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  17. Plucky The Bassist

    Plucky The Bassist Istanbul...not Constantinople Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2010
    I miss my YBA200-2 on a regular basis :crying:
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  18. Gervais Cote

    Gervais Cote Supporting Member

    Oct 30, 2023
    I'm not shopping for a tube amp but if I was, the Aguilar DB 751 would be the first on my list. A friend of mine bought one and it simply turned his Fender Pro jazz bass into a punch and tone master like I couldn’t believe.
    Don’t know where you leave but if you could bring your bass and try one, you could be amazed.

    DB 751

    My second choice would be a Traynor amp just because they sound soooooo sweet but I 'm not up to date with their latest products.
    The Traynor amp and cab I randomly use at my buddy's basement is from the 80's and it’s pure and very enjoyable music every time.
  19. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    Yeah, that caught my eye too. I'm curious how this DeLisle switcher works, and why it would require a tube power section. Like @dbsfgyd1 I too was raised to believe you never wanted a tube amp powered up with no load connected, and so unless the DeLisle puts a dummy load on every input (and then somehow gets around the possibility of arcing contacts when switching inputs) I don't see how it would be safe. And I definitely don't see why you couldn't use a mosfet, SS or Class D amp connected to such a switcher.

    Sounds like a very cool system, just wondering how it works.
  20. What is it about the DeLisle forcing you into using a tube head? I'm not super familiar with that switcher but I'm not sure why it wouldn't work with solid state amps. Not questioning your use, more curious than anything.

    If I was buying a tube bass head I'd go Aguilar 100%. I like the Mesa 400+ as well but I'd probably get more mileage out of the Aguilar amps.