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Workingman's 12 combo - is that the SWR sound?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Funkmeister79, May 23, 2012.

  1. Hey folks. I've been using an SWR Workingman's 12 combo (the older ones that look kind of like mini washing machines) at a bandmate's house for rehearsal with my Jazz bass and I am really digging that thing. To my ears, it sounds warm, punchy, fast and responsive, big and kind of 3-D sounding. The notes kind of bounce out. Granted, I have to cut the mid and treble knobs down to about 10:00 to get a tone I like, but once I get there, I'm pretty happy.

    So is this tone representative of the SWR sound? I've read lots of opinions here that the SWR tone is too hi-fi and clean for some. Are there other SWR heads and cabs that can replicate that tone?
  2. Adam Bomb

    Adam Bomb

    Mar 26, 2008
    Bezerkely, CA
    I had the WorkingPro 700 (or something like that). Never should have gotten rid of it. And recently played a SWR combo as part of a backline. Might have been the Workingman's 12. The tone was familiar to me. "3D" is a very good description. But apparently I can really only speak to the lower-of-the-line "working-" products. Gotta figure the better stuff ounds even better, though.

    If you do go SWR, learn from my mistake and don't be afraid to boost the mids if you can't get loud enough. Easy on the scooping-type features that make it sound so phat at low volumes.

    --Bomb :bassist:
  3. I was hoping to revisit this issue as my rig quest continues.

    If I wanted the SWR Workingman's 12 combo tone in a larger package, what would you recommend? Would some certain SWR heads get me there, or could I get it in a cab (like a Workingman's 1x15, 2x10 or 4x10)?
  4. Pickebass

    Pickebass Supporting Member

    Jul 12, 2004
    San Antonio, TX
    The WM12 is one of my favorite amps of all time. Just no loud enough for larger gigs. I tried the Workingman cabs and they were crap in comparison to the Goliath cabs.

    I would consider getting a sm400 head or sm900, which have been relatively cheap lately. The redhead to me is a great combo when you can get one cheap.
  5. Mtnman


    Jun 5, 2012
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I am a fairly huge SWR fan and have owned both the WM 12 and the WM 15 combos. For cabs, I've had a Son of Bertha, Triad, 2x10 and a Goliath IV. For heads, I've owned both the SM400S and WM 4004.

    I can say from experience that they all had a different sound, but they all had the same character. I believe your 3-D description is about the most accurate description of the SWR character I've heard.
  6. MoeTown1986

    MoeTown1986 Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2010
    SoMD (Mechanicsville)
    I own one of those old washing machine 12's and prefer the sound of that over my redhead!
  7. Jeff Scott

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

    I had one of those old washing machine 12 amps, #36! :cool:
  8. bb03


    Mar 1, 2009

    I would say that it's the heads that have the SWR sound. I've used a few of their heads with many different brand cabs, and the sound is always similar. If you want the exact sound of the WM12, the safe bet would be a old Workingman's 160 or 300 head. The 160 is the head version of the Workingman's 15 combo (which gives you a parametric mid control), and the 300 has a 3 band graphic mid setup. If you have enough cab (410 or bigger), you should be able to pull off most gigs. The key to these heads is that they have the proper type of master...they keep getting louder all the way to "10". Don't think they're not very loud because they're quieter than most heads when at noon.

    You can easily find either of these on ebay, or craigslist in nice shape for $150.00 to $250.00. There's also the Bass350...awesome head, but it does have a tube pre, so it's a slightly different sound than the Workingman's stuff.

    Edit: There's a nice looking 160 on ebay right now for $200.00 or best offer...that's worth it even for a backup head!
  9. Crabby


    Dec 22, 2004
    I owned an original pre Fender Workingman's 12 for many years and thought it was really a sweetheart of an amp. I later owned an original Bass350 head (the red one) and thought it had a very similar tone. The control layout was almost the same. The head had a pre amp tube but you could tell these amps came from the same family.

    I did find the WM12 quite underpowered for jamming with a band. The amp ran out of headroom pretty quickly but it was only 100 watts.

    I then discovered the Mesa Walkabout and it was game over. For a small combo with a single 12, the Walkabout is the new "Gold Standard".

    I still have fond memories of the WM12 for home use but bass gear has come a long way since the early nineties.
  10. tonybassman


    Jul 27, 2011
    I just took my Workingman 12 to band rehersal. It was fine at just over half volume. I absolutely love the sound of this little monster. Here it is sitting on my 15" cab. I got the SWR for $40 on Craigslist. Score!

    SWR Workingman's 12 Bass Combo Specifications:

    * 120 Watts RMS
    * 160 Watts @ 4 Ohms (with 8 ohm extension speaker)

    * (1) 12" Custom SWR driver
    * (1) Le-Son TLX-1 Piezo tweeter

    * 8 Ohms (internal)

    * 15-1/2"W x 22-1/4"H x 15-1/4"D

    * 50 lbs.


  11. Jeff Scott

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

    i eventually took the amp chassis out of the cabinet and made a real nice tung oiled oak case for it with cutouts top and bottom for the heatsink fins to allow for much better cooling than SWR's casing did. The front of the case was angled to match the front face of the amp so this thing looked amazing, and it sounded much better, too, with other speaker cabinets than it did with the built-in Celestion driver. The WM12 sounded great but it did tend to fart out when cranked up a bit, and it was definitely the speaker and cabinet, not the amp, itself.
  12. odineye


    Dec 29, 2011
    Bear DE
    I agree that; if you want the sound, it's in the head and that SWR's all have a 'fairly' consistant sound.

    But, for that same $200.00 you can also pick up this http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f127/swr-sm-400-$200-shipping-946848/ the head that started it all... well, maybe not 'started', but pretty well made a name for the company. I own both the sm-400 and a workingmans 4004, and while the 4004 is a great amp, the sm-400 is just soooo much sweeter.
  13. Lync


    Apr 13, 2004
    I enjoyed my Workingman's 15 for many years (pre-fender). I remember when it came out it was a fairly light combo from a boutique brand that was affordable. Plus, it had a built-in beer shelf. WIN!