1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Your opinions wanted! How small an all tube rig DO YOU THINK I can I get away with?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by experimental bassist, Jan 6, 2014.

  1. experimental bassist

    experimental bassist

    Mar 15, 2009
    Okay, instead of hijacking a similar thread I've decided to start my own.

    Your opinions wanted! Just as the title says. How small an all tube rig DO YOU THINK I can get away with?

    About me: I play a MIM Fender Precision in a five piece Blues band: Harp player through a vintage Harmony (?) tube combo amp (10-20 watts?), lead guitarist usually through a pedal board/sometimes through a vintage Marshall tube "quarter stack" (old Marshall tube head - wattage unknown- and 2 12 cab), rhythm guitarist / keyboardist through a small powered monitor, drummer on a Roland electric drum kit also through small powered monitor, and myself on bass through my Ampeg BA210 combo.

    Thing is, in college my lead guitarist minored in sound engineering, and that with the fact that our drummer uses electric drums we have an excellent discipline over our sound (ie...low, LOW stage volume, all instruments kept low, tone and vocals are paramount, all instruments run through mixer into PA that does heavy lifting and overall volume duties.

    We practice and perform this way, always able to speak to one another on stage and no one wears hearing protection (although I do advocate hearing protection in general)

    My current setup is my Precision plugged into my combo amp, which is my older Ampeg BA210. 220 (?) watts SS into 2 10 speakers FYI.

    I run the gain around 4, and never, and I mean never, turn my master above 3. :meh:

    So after reading about all these incredible new lower wattage tube offerings and watching the youtube demos (for example Ampeg v4 reissue, Fender 100T with the 25 watt option, Ashdown LB30 and now their incredible little CTM 15) I'm just [del]dreaming[/del] wondering if I should move up to a mini all tube tone machine.

    My question to you, my Talkbass friend and fellow bass player, is what is the smallest (physical and wattage) that you would suggest I could get away with?

    Obviously I would still run through the PA for rehearsal and live shows, although I'm not sure if the smallest of the small tube heads have a DI or not.

    For starters, I have a vision of me running the tiny, easy to move about Ashdown CTM 15 through a 212 and enjoying a grindy, slightly overdriven all tube bass tone at a volume something just above conversation volume and either through a DI or micing the cab letting the PA take care of whatever volume increase is needed.

    Is this viable? Does anyone else do this? Can it be done? :bag:

    I just hate the idea of spending money for a full blown (100 watt or more) tube rig since i am in a band that runs such a low stage volume. Yes, I'm a cheapskate so may as well let that factor into the suggestions as well! :p

    Anyway, suggestions, experiences, anecdotes, and even flames welcome. :cool:
  2. Grissle


    May 17, 2009
    You might, might, be able to get by with 30w. 15w will work well an acoustic gig generally. But if there is amplified guitars, keys, drums, 30 would be a minimum, again in general. Newer 100 watters are lighter these days, like 40-50lbs.

    Also, to have a nice tube head and have to DI it just guts me. I carry my own speaker level DI for when I know I'm not going to win THE BATTLE with the sound guy. So I at least still get some benefit from the power section.
  3. Just a note I have seen gut shots of the CTM 15 and it is not all tube. The preamp is SS opamp. Don't know about the LB 30 but not had to figure out by the tube count. 30 to 50 watts should do.
  4. experimental bassist

    experimental bassist

    Mar 15, 2009
    Thanks for your reply.

    Okay, I guess I didn't realize how light the 100 watters were. 40-50 lbs isn't bad at all.

    I looked and it seems the Ashdown LB30 (now the CTM-30) does have a DI, but appears the CTM 15 does not. Not that it's a deal breaker, but I do use DI pretty much all the time. I guess I could get a mic (sm 57 or similar?) and run a line from that to the mixer.

    Not sure what you mean by speaker level DI, is that like the style that runs on the output side of the amp to the speaker?

    The good news is that really we are our own soundguys for most of the shows and venues we do (small bars/billard halls, VFWs, winerys, private parties, and thankfully the occasional $WEDDING$), and the few larger annual festivals we do (national sanctioned Bar-b-que festival for example) we have a great repoire with the sound companies (I swear our harp player has been in a band with every one of them at some time or another over the years :rolleyes: ) so they are for the most part great to work with and really work with us.

    If I can ask, what kind of head do you use?

    Thanks again. :bassist:
  5. experimental bassist

    experimental bassist

    Mar 15, 2009

    Oh, didn't know that. Thanks for the info.

    Yeah, it's not like I don't like the sound of my SS Ampeg, it's just if I go with a tube rig I'd like the whole effect, just as scaled down as I can get it.

    Thanks for your reply! :)
  6. jmcorn


    Jul 4, 2012
    South Carolina
    Praise and Worship bassist member #1232
    I think an old 70s fender bassman 50 would sound good at that level.
  7. Your welcome. While I haven't seen a gut shot the LB 30, I looked at the manual and it has a tube complement that suggests full tube path.
  8. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    I would imagine a Ashdown Little Bastard on a good 2x12 would be more than loud enough for your setting. I loved the tone out of mine as well.
  9. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    You could probably do it with a B-15, almost definitely a B-25B if you can find one (55w), but I'd probably go with a V4B because headroom is a nice thing to have. And the new ones are very light at 41 lbs vs 61 for the old ones and sound just like the old ones.
  10. vickde


    Jul 23, 2005
    Orlando, FL
    I have the LB30. The schematic shows an all-tube signal path. The DI is fed by a tap on the output transformer, so the tube tone is not compromised at the DI. I have used it on a couple of projects. With three vocals, acoustic guitar and harmonica in the PA, the LB30 is loud enough to play clean through a single 1x12, although it's more solid through two of them. With an amplified guitar (Blues Jr), and a couple of vocals and electronic drums in the PA, it gets a bit crunchy if I dig in.
  11. Jefff


    Aug 14, 2013
    And 20 lbs is a lot at my age!

    As someone who bought is first new car because the SVT rig with the cabinet, head, and bass would fit, a new V4B is in my future.
  12. two fingers

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

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    What do they go for these days? OP is trying to save some dough.
  13. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    $1300. Hey, some things are worth it ;)
    BassmanPaul likes this.
  14. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member


    This was my experience with all-tube rigs, back when drummers who could play at low volume were more common, and the guitar players I worked with generally used small combo amps.

    30-50 watt heads would crunch up a bit with any kind of compact cab setup (ie; 1x15, 1 or 2x12) as soon as you got yer blues on, even at lower levels.

    80-100 watt heads (ie; Traynor YBA-1, Ampeg V4B) would let you keep your tone a little fuller and clean-ish with the sort of lineups that the OP is talking about. You'd start to get some breakup towards the end of the night, but nobody seemed to mind by that point as long as the beer was flowing.
  15. Selta


    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    I haven't taken a cab to a gig in over 4 years now. Our stage volume is extremely low also. Our guitarists have no cabs on stage, the cellist has a tiny combo amp, the keys run direct to the PA... I even took out my poweramp from my rack, which is now just my pre, my wireless and my field kit (solder, soldering iron, some wires, basic tools, spare AA, AAA and 9v batteries etc. etc.).
    So it depends. Keep in mind, the above is for my situation in a heavy metal band that plays with insane PA support and most of us use good IEMs. We could fart on stage and hear it from one end to the other (which, we play on stages that are generally 30 feet or more wide). So for me, 0w into 0x0 cabs ;). I love IEMs and can't really see myself being happy with stupid loud stage volume type bands/gigs anymore.
  16. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    But without a cab, how do you run an SVT?


    Cellist in a metal band? Well despite no amps, it sounds interesting.
  17. Grissle


    May 17, 2009
    Ya I can run from the speaker out jack straight to the DI, then to the cab and the other line level 1/4" or XLR go to house. Especially for vintage tones that power tube goodness gotta' be there!

    I'm using a Fender PA 100 at this time. But I've had Ampeg & Marshall tube heads, (had to let them go, sadness😢) Ampeg Hybrid (my SVT4-Pro is broken right now😢) and SS heads. And nothing brings out the subtle but rich harmonics like a tube power section!

    I think that's why the VT Bass works well too because its tried to emulate the tube power section of an amp as well. And not just a tube pre.
  18. Selta


    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    Man, I went back and forth with this so much. I did the first two gigs... SVT into a 2x10 that was isolated as much as possible (way off stage etc.) mic'd. Then I played with my rack instead once, and that sealed the deal... especially when I ventured out front and could only slightly tell the difference when I was sound checking, and the difference disappeared once the whole band started going. So instead of "lugging" a 80 whatever lb head with my little cab, I carry my 15ish lb rack and I'm done. The SansAmp does pretty well for me.
    You should leave a weekend open in November and come out to Seattle. Heck, you can stay at my place :p
  19. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Thanks for the offer, but November? Sounds cold!
  20. Selta


    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    Nah. It doesn't really get "cold" here in Seattle. By FL standards, though... :D Think about it... you have a few months ;)