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Why No Inexpensive Tube Bass Amps?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Simon Langley, Jul 16, 2011.

  1. Simon Langley

    Simon Langley

    Jun 19, 2007
    Chico, CA
    I look around and see several inexpensive tube guitar amp offerings (Egnater Tweaker, VOX Night Train, Bugera, 333, Blackstar, Peavey) just to name a few. I personally own the Egnater Tweaker and am amazed that such a feature packed, good sounding amp could be so inexpensive. If it can be done for guitarists then why not bass? How cool would it be to have a fliptop based amp in the $300-$500 range? I can't believe that there isn't a market for such a thing or that replicating something as simple as a SB-12 circuit is that expensive. Am I just wrong or, am I just not looking in the right place?
  2. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Bassists tend to demand more power.

    Most guitarists see a tube amp as a necessity, whereas (outside of TB), most bassists see a tube amp as a luxury.

    Also, there are high quality solid state bass amps that are fairly inexpensive. A low cost tube bass amp would be competing in a crowded market, and constantly fighting the suspicion that it's cheap because it's crappy. If you're going to the trouble of making a tube bass amp, you might as well place it in a market segment that has higher margins and less competition.
  3. Because an output transformer that can handle the power that we need is super expensive. (that period should be read aloud)
  4. nocontrols


    Apr 2, 2011
    This is true. From what I've seen, a lot of bassists (most, even?) are satisfied with solid state so the market for tube amps isn't as large but with guitarists that's a totally different story.
  5. FWIW some of those cheap tube guitar heads sound pretty nice with bass as long as you don't need a lot of clean volume. Seen comments on the forum of people liking the Epi Valve Junior, and the cheap Peavey models, among others.
  6. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Ya, but the second you do need the volume, they give up the ghost. That's why the B-15, even with its low power, is so good. The transformers are overbuilt and the sound holds together at higher volumes. And that's also part of the reason they cost more.

    Guitars and bass are similarly shaped and tune sort of the same. That's really where the similarities end.
    Esoge likes this.
  7. The demands of a good bass amp are so much higher than a guitar amp. Human hearing is not so good at lower frequencies, more reserve power is required from the power supply. As stated above the transformers needed (power and output) must be larger and therefore more expensive if you want to have the reserves needed to keep a bass player happy. Vibration resistance for the amp build are also much higher. Most guitar amps will not see sustained vibrations rattling them under 200Hz. Bass amps will see under 200Hz all the time at high levels.
    You must have missed Peaveys VB2. Beringer (under a couple brand names) has put out cheap knock offs and has more coming if you don't mind unreliability. ;)
  8. Plucky The Bassist

    Plucky The Bassist Bassist for Michael "Epic Mic" Rowe

    Jul 30, 2010
    Houston, TX
    I totally see where you are coming from (believe me, I've wanted one like this SOOOO badly for recording), but you might be best looking for either a tube preamp + power amp solution or getting a pedal like the VT bass to warm up your tone. If you like the Ampeg tone, the VT bass is a very nice compromise. Not saying it's a tube amp replacement but it's a very good pedal to get that SVT or Fliptop vibe. Playing it with my P-bass through a Carvin BX500 and my Kustom 2x15 cabinet, it of course sounds like a tube amp. The only thing I've considered adding on is a compressor between the VT and the power section on my amp.
  9. Simon Langley

    Simon Langley

    Jun 19, 2007
    Chico, CA
    I do own and love the VT Bass pedal and use it extensively live when I need that Ampeg sound. I realize that asking for a 300 watt SVT clone for $500 is unrealistic. Just talking about a simple 15-30 wattish all tube bass specific amp and it seems to me that with the popularity and simplicity of the Ampeg fliptop circuit (VT Bass, Barbour Linden, Flipster, etc.) that there would be a market for it, especially for recording.

    Guess there is a lot I don't understand about amplifier construction and cost. Like transformer specification differences between a 25 watt bass amp and a 25 watt guitar amp.
  10. madmachinist


    Dec 28, 2008
    another option could be to biamp, using your tube guitar
    amp for midbass and highs , crossing over to an ss poweramp
    for lows.

    i like to run my lows to a 700w QSC poweramp , and cross over
    to a 50w tube HIWATT halfstack @160hz or so .
  11. Simon Langley

    Simon Langley

    Jun 19, 2007
    Chico, CA
    Good idea but I am not looking for a stadium rig. I am also not looking for a close but not quite pedal. Just wondering why with the recent flood of good quality and sounding, inexpensive guitar amps that emulate classic tube amp circuits of the past no one is offering the same for bass. An "Egnater Fliptop" would suit my needs, scratch that, wants quite nicely.
  12. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    It's just a marketing decision. It took a lot of yelling and screaming from bassists before mainstream amp makers began breaking free from the traditional speaker configurations such as 2x10, 4x10, an 1x15.

    In addition, it takes a strong stomach to play in the low cost market. Why sell cheap gear when there's Behringer? It's just a lot easier for amp makers to follow the convention that tubes are a step up from transistors.
  13. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru.......... Supporting Member

    This is a reality, now. Running a good sounding, small tube guitar amp into a bass cabinet is totally feasible, right now, for recording, as you don't need to crank up the volume for doing so. I have run my Princeton Reverb Amp into bass cabinets and it can get pretty loud, actually (plenty loud enough for band practice and smaller venue gigs). And sound great doing so, too. :)

    I have been playing with an Aguilar® Tone Hammer® 500 the past couple days and it can sound very tube-like, and is reasonably priced, too. :)
  14. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    You can use a hybrid

    This right here is a self made hybrid. Guitar rigs have a better following and a lot of layouts get published.

    You don't need a 5150 working as a pre-amp. You can do the same with a 5w amp. But why bother when many hybrids do this already. Pre-amps also. And amps like TC Electronics create the same sound. An iPad into a power can to.

  15. Simon Langley

    Simon Langley

    Jun 19, 2007
    Chico, CA
    Very impressive indeed but again I am not looking for a stadium rig. Just a little all tube head to stick atop my 112 cab to either record with or use for practice.
  16. Rafael


    Feb 4, 2008
    My guitar player plays a five watt tube amp in practice, and it is too loud....that is with a drummer who pounds the skins and me through a Bassman 100, and I can barely keep up. That seems to be why the proliferation of tube heads for guitar: for a few hundred dollars you can build an amp that goes plenty loud at guitar frequencies, but getting 100-400 watts out of tubes means HUGE transformers [they go up like exponentially in size/weight] which means huge cost....lots of copper costs $$$.
  17. Duke21


    Nov 14, 2010
    Narvik, Norway
    There is the Ashdown "little bastard" which is 30w, but I guess it is not really cheap.
  18. Simon Langley

    Simon Langley

    Jun 19, 2007
    Chico, CA

    Once again my point has been missed. As I have stated a couple of time in this thread already I am not talking about something that can keep up with anything. I am talking about an intentionally underpowered, small, inexpensive all tube bass amp that can be used for recording or practice. I don't want or need it to keep up with drums or guitar, I've got the stadium rig covered.
  19. Rafael


    Feb 4, 2008
    The point I was trying to make was that there are different levels of practicality between the two issues, and small tube amps for guitars are practical, small tube amps for bass are not, so they are relegated to a niche usage, which you mention, of practice/recording. If the point is to obtain a tube sound but not stadium filling volume, why not just choose a guitar amp? They've been using bass amps for like forever!

    Disclaimer: I've been thinking something similar vis-a-vis tube amp sound without the tube amp weight/cost issues, and I plan a build based on my dream. Stay tuned....
  20. trayner1


    Jul 1, 2010
    La Jolla,CA