your quest for amplification?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Bigfeet, Jan 18, 2004.

  1. When you look back on the recent years of electric bass you notice that bassist have gone through a lot to get a good tone with what they could work with. From one knob bass amps, to ampeg, to biamping... the bass player has gone through the most of any other instrument to get the perfect sound and get heard. I'm interested on everyone's story on here. What are you using now; how long did it take you to find that it works for you, and if not, what are you looking for now?

    I started out playing through a fender guitar combo when first playing because it was the cheapest I could afford. Ever since then I've been fanatic about bass overdrive and have tried to emulate that loud, dirty guitar amp sound with better bass response. Naturally when I could afford it, I went with ampeg. Ampegs prooved to be good for dirt and volume, but they were unreliable and my equipment failed often. So then I went for SWR cabinets with an SVT head. The SWR was road worthy, but too mellow. Then I went for loud speakers and sub woofers. Loud and projected sound really well, but they hade no charactor or bite. Through my quest for speakers I've discovered I hate 10's as a main speaker, not enough cone space to get the proper punch. I find that tight 15's get the best sound for me and get loud enough to where I can feel and hear myself live. I started using two amps to get tone, one guitar amp to get that sound I wanted and a bass amp for low end. I also noticed certain cheap gear is loud, not very clear but hey they're loud. So far this is the setup that works best for me...

    Currently I want:
    - Peavy Max preamp
    - Rocktron Gainiac modified for bass response
    - Behringer Link Pro splitter/mixer
    - Crown or QSC power amp
    - Hartke 2x15
    - Avatar 2x10
  2. BillyB_from_LZ

    BillyB_from_LZ Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2000
    I started playing a long time 1974 when I was 15. My first amp was a repurposed tube amp from a console hi-fi through a pair of very tight 12 in. speakers. It worked...nothing more.

    After that, my gear choices are often based heavily on a balance of tone and price. I've always been extremely value oriented when it comes to buying gear.

    Thanks to the generosity of my bass teacher at the time (Jim Scholten...many years before Sawyer Brown) I got a great deal on a solid state Carvin head and a EV designed cabinet for two 15 in. SROs. It was loud but not too warm.

    My second bass teacher sold me his mint Marshall Major head for cheap. Two hundred watts of KT88 power through 2x15s sounded awesome. Ironically, I also loved the sound of that cabinet with my friend Dan's Woodson W200 head. At sane volume levels, the Woodson actually had more growl. He still has that amp and it still sound great.

    I graduated from college in '82, moved to an apartment near Chicago, got married shortly after that, etc. and essentially hung up bass playing. Not wanting to move the Marshall and big cabinet I sold them before I graduated from hindsight a huge mistake.

    While I didn't own the rig...another amp/cab setup that rivaled anyting that I'd heard at the time was a Gallien-Krueger head (don't recall the model, put seeing that it was about 1980/1981 an early model) and a 2x15 ProCo cabinet. Back then, before ProCo became a cable maker, the built some awesome speaker cabinets...similar to EV TL series but sounded way deeper and were built out of heavy 1 in. particle board.

    When I rejoined bass playing in very late '96, I went ampless for awhile. I tried an Ampeg B100R (GC was selling brand new blems for $300) but didn't keep it. I ended up buying a used EVM15B on ebay and built myself an EV TL606 cabinet for it..which I still use.

    I started looking around for a cheap amp...any old thing for $100 that worked. Ended up calling a little shop not too far from home that had a used '73 SVT head...for $250. Needless to say, I bought it. It was filthy and needed new preamp $100 later I had a pretty nice '73 SVT head and a 1x15 cabinet.

    About that time I found a nearly new SVT-350H head at Music Go Round for something like $230. I actually liked the sound of the solid state head better so I bought the 350H and sold the SVT (for a nice profit). I rolled the $$$ into other gear, mostly buying gear price way below market price or cheaply priced broken gear, fixing it up and selling it on eBay. I went through the SVT-350H, an Ampeg 8x10, an Acoustic 370 with Acoustic 301, an Acoustic 360, a pair of Goliath IIs, and Ampeg SVT-806 cabinet and even an Acme B2 Series II.

    Along the way, I picked up a broken Pearce BC-1 preamp which was easily repaired. This started my foray into rack gear. I still have and like the Pearce and have added an AMP SL-1 preamp to my rig too.

    I started out with an Ampeg power amp, quickly moving to a Crown CE-1000. My Peace has low output so I sold off the heavy Crown in favor of my custom ordered QSC PLX2402.

    Cabinet wise, I still use the home built EV TL606 with EVM15B, I added a home built 2x10 with Celestion 10s out of an Ampeg Pro series cabinet and a Foster tweeter.

    I owned some of the original Avatar Compact series cabinets...a pair of C15s and a B12. I sold those off with the intent of building some different 1x12s. I ended up buying a pair of Avatar B212s, an empty CB115H for a spare EVM that I had and just bought a B210.

    During the Avatar Compact era, I did compare them to a couple Eden D210XLTs that a local guy was selling. I much preferred the Avatars for overall tone as well as efficiency. It was interesting because I assumed that I'd like the Edens better, went in with a pocket full of cash to buy them and ended up going home with my own gear and a big smile on my face.

    I've never tried any boutique cabinets (other than the Acme B2, which I bought used (and in near mint condition) for $150), and am kind of afraid to...but who knows, I might still prefer my home-built and Avatar cabs to them anyway.

    One important thing to note...I've only used a couple different instrument cables the whole time...both made by me out of Belden 8410 cable and Switchcraft ends back in the '70s. THAT has to be the true tone secret :D

    I guess the main thing that I've learned is that the gear that sounds best (to my ears), doesn't have to be the most expensive.
  3. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Don't even get me started on this. There is too much to even think about... :D

    However, on the cab side of things, Accugroove and EA are the kings of accurate, uncolored tone, and Epifani has its own sound (i.e., not uncolored), but it is quite nice. Trying to decide between various cabs from these three has been an on-going challenge.

    Amplification-wise, I still find my Eden Navigator/PLX 3002 rack rig to be my "reference rig", although I love the tone and ease of use out of my Walkabout, and I love the compact power of my iAMP 800.

    In truth, I bring a different rig to just about every venue I play in. Room/stage interaction really plays a critical role. Having the right cab/amp for the job (and accurately guessing which combo to bring the first time I play a venue!) has become a fun mission.

  4. Pöl


    May 31, 2003
    right now my quest has led me too ashdown abm-500 evo II + ampeg 4x10hlf , now all i need to do is rob a small bank and get those things
  5. Phat Ham

    Phat Ham

    Feb 13, 2000
    gee I hate to break it to you but you got ripped off pretty bad on that deal :p

    note: for those of you who don't realize I'm being sarcastic, I'm being sarcastic.
  6. BillyB_from_LZ

    BillyB_from_LZ Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2000
    I know that you were joking. Funny thing is that my wife was quite unimpressed that I had just spent $350 for an amp and some tubes when I wanted to keep it to a C note.

    If it makes you feel any really wasn't useable when I got it...between microphonic preamp tubes and the scratchiest volume controls that I've ever come across, it was a mess...a true diamond in the rough.
  7. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I've gone through many amps but for EBG my search really ended in 1988 when I bought an AMP BH420 and an EV loaded Eastern Acoustics Works VB-125 cabinet (15"). I still use this rig every week; it's still my benchmark for evaluating other amps.

    For URB though, I found it lacking and started trying out other amps and cabs. I used an SWR Baby Blue for a few years before finally ending up with a Walter Woods head driving Bergantino HT112 cabs.

    Curiously, at jam sessions most bass guitarists seem to prefer to play through the AMP/EAW rig, I even had COMPLAINTS about the Woods/Bergantino rig so stopped bringing it.

    So for me the search is over until someone figures out a way to get the same tone and volume out of a much smaller package
  8. Phat Ham

    Phat Ham

    Feb 13, 2000
    I bet she wasn't too upset when you sold it for a lot more than you paid for it. Of course, it upsets me that you sold it in the first place.

    As for my gear, I really haven't gone through too much. My first amp was a Peavey Minx110 practice amp. When the time came for a gigable rig I went with a Carvin RC210, mainly for the "bang for the buck" value. When I started competing against a Marshall half stack I bought an Eden 4x10, and have been adding bits and pieces to my rig to get to where I am now: A kern preamp, QSC PLX2402, and FMR RNC. I have thoughts of selling the Eden cab and going with an Epifani 2x12, but money is tight and I'm not sure it would be worth it for me. For the first time in a while I am happy with what's in my rack, although that new Reed preamp is starting to agitate the GAS.
  9. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine

    Nice rack setup! That would be hard to improve on, other than incrementally. How do you like the RNC? I have been toying around with picking up an RNC and/or RNP or two for my home studio and/or live rig. You definitely would get more bang for the buck investigating different speaker cab combinations than messing with that very nice rack setup, that's for sure.

  10. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    Here's the rigs I've used that have received the most gig time. I'm leaving out a lot of stuff that I didn't hang on to for long.

    1. (1977) Acoustic 150 head, Acoustic 301 cabinet
    2. Acoustic 360/361 stack
    3. '70s Ampeg SVT head and 8x10 coffin cab (Best. Rig. Ever!)
    4. Rack rig over a pair of EV 2x15 cabs
    5. Rack rig over a pair of Marshall 4x12 bass cabs
    6. Rack rig over SVT 8x10 cab
    7. Rack rig over 2x10 and 1x18
    8. Rack rig over a pair of 2x10
    Currently owned: a couple of rack rigs, an SVT3Pro, and a variety of Bergantino bass cabinets.

    Because I no longer have amplifier GAS, I'll provide more details. Like I said my fave amp ever was a vintage SVT stack, but due to the size and weight it's not a good option for me now. The main tone machine since I started using a rack rig back in the mid-80's has been an Alembic F2B. It's treated me great and while I've tried a number of other bass preamps, the F2B is still #1. I've been using a Stewart World 2.1 for power: it's definitely the best amp I've ever owned in terms of power, weight, features, and clarity. Bergantino speaker cabs are responsible for killing my GAS. Finally, I often use a SansAmp Bass Driver DI to add some old-school tubey goodness to my tone.
  11. Phat Ham

    Phat Ham

    Feb 13, 2000
    I love my RNC. It is transparent, compact, and easy to use. A friend of mine uses a pair of them as his main compressors in his home studio. There are a few other talkbassers who are happy with their RNCs. You might want to search the effects forum, as there have been quite a few discussions on the RNC.
    I think I'd get the most bang for the buck if you sent me one or two of your spare EA cabs you have lying around. I'd take good care of 'em.:D
  12. Lessee...

    First few years I got by without an own amp. Then, about 1986 or -87 I got a Marshall 30W combo. That proved to be too small pretty soon, so I got a bigger Marshall combo: whopping 60 watts! Sold that ´92 or something and went few years without an amp (or a band). Then I got a used 250W AMP (BH-250 I think) head and an old DIY cabinet with an 15" EV speaker. That head was pretty cool, but the cab sucked and was pretty mych done for after few years of gigging.

    1997 our band bought a PA, so I decided to get something compact, since my amp was going to act only as my personal monitor from now on. I opted for a Hartke Kickback 12 and have been happy with it... until now. I will be getting a n Ashdown combo in near future and probably will stick with it for many many years...
  13. Fo' Shizzle

    Fo' Shizzle

    Aug 28, 2003
    Sadly, most of the gear decisions I've made over the years have been money based. As a result I've bought more than one ticket on the Peavey/Carvin train. None of those purchases came anywhere near getting the tone and volume I was looking for.

    Recently, I have gone back to basics and I'm getting closer to the tone in my head. A sansamp bass driver into 1/2 of a QSC 1310 amp. The cab is the 1st cab I ever owned. A late '70's peavey 2 x 15 front loaded cab that I've braced using 1 inch wood dowels running from front to back.(12 of 'em!!) the 15's are black widows. Power handling is about 700 watts @ 4 ohms.

    It is truly a retro rig that no doubt gets laughed at by the children that open for us but it's loud and angry and moves lots of air.

  14. Planet Boulder

    Planet Boulder Hey, this is a private Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2001
    6,482 feet above sea level
    I once had impure thoughts. Oh, and I pluck my ear hair.
    Years ago, I started out with a Stage 50-watt crapper that, 24 years later, I still have somewhere today(!) though I obviously don't use it.

    My next setup was a Carvin R600 and 1x15 cab. I never really cared for the R600 so I eventually got rid of it.

    While I still had the Carvin, I picked up a Trace Elliot AH200 which blew away the higher-rated R600. I just traded this head to petemac for a Heartfield DR5.

    At some point, I picked up an SWR Henry the 8x8, which I still have today, though it has one blown speaker and is thus temporarily out of commission.

    Purchased a used Ampeg B100R for a great deal because I needed a more portable combo. Still have it.

    While I still had the TE, I also picked up a couple of power amps, a Carvin FET-1000 (which I now use for PA) and a Trace Elliot RA500 (which is loud as HELL!!!!!) to ultimately use with a pre. At the time, I was using either the TE AH200 or an Ampeg B1 as the preamp. Also at some point, I picked up an Ampeg 2x10 Classic cab. I still use this, in tandem with my 1x15.

    Bought an Avatar 4x10, which I still use today. Love that thing.

    At some point i bought a Trace RAH600 head, but ultimately traded for a Sunn 1200S which I still have (and really dig and use) to this day. It is installed in my larger rack which contains a number of rack effects, etc.

    Bought a used Intersound IVP preamp because I'd wanted one for a long time, but I turned around and sold it soon after.

    Sold the Ampeg B1 a few weeks ago and bought a used Roctron Bass mAXE which I am deeply in love with and pair with the Trace power amp. That Trace power amp really gives a warm tone and I have the Rocktron in my smaller rack which includes a power conditioner, 31-band EQ and BBE 411 Sonic Max. Pretty hellacious, warm and growly tone.

    I hope my wife isn't reading this.
  15. My list is pretty long.starting in 1968
    My older brothers Fender Bandmaster with 212 cab.
    Bruce with 215 cab.
    Bassman 100 with 412 cab.
    Bassman 100 with Dual Showman cab with D 140 JBLs
    Sunn Concert Bass head with Sunn 200s cab with JBLs
    73 Ampeg SVT head with 2 Cerwin Vega B36 cabs

    Sold rig and retired in 1980.Used the SVT and Cerwin Vegas from 1974 till 80.

    1994 started playin again.
    Fender BXR 300
    Trace elliot RAH 200 with 115 Black widow homebuilt cab
    Carvin R 1000 head with 2 Peavey 210TX cabs and a 410 TX cab.
    Carvin RL210 and RL410 cabs.
    Sans amp Bass driver.
    2 Eden 210 XLTs.
    Sans Amp RBI preamp
    Aguilar GS112
    SWR 115 Son of Bertha
    SWR 212 with Eminence Kappas and a Foster tweeter.
    Crown CE 1000
    2 Avatar CB 112s
    Today I have the RBI,Crown,1 Eden 210 XLT and the Avatar CB 112s.I'm happy and so's my back.
  16. Hey have a pm....
  17. Tecx

    Tecx Radio Rock Leads To Sterility

    Jun 9, 2002
    Halifax, NS, Canada
    I have been through so many rigs... 99% of them where baised off of what was popular at the time... Thats why I am going with this:

    I am also going to pickup a really beatup cab, and upgrade it with modern speakers... I want to sculpt my own sound... Badly...

    Thats the plan...



    Nov 24, 2001
    New York,NY

    You're a man after my own heart!


    PS: What typef pre/pwr setup is that?
  19. Tecx

    Tecx Radio Rock Leads To Sterility

    Jun 9, 2002
    Halifax, NS, Canada
    Hey Steve, The pre is a Intersound IVP, ala Steve Alibini and Phil Lesh. They are rare as a bull with boobies - and have the most NARLY distortion channel. The poweramp is a old brand from the UK Lyonforge - built like a tank, and has some sexy ass VU's! These two will look very badass on a dark stage...