Bassists- educate me on "the classic" bass amps.

jcs

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I’m going to disagree that the bass straight into a DI ever “excels”. One of the reasons I think the bass sounds awful in most large scale live set-ups is that too many players and soundmen use a dry DI sound into a board with dry-sounding preamps. They justify it by claiming most great studio bass sounds were just a DI, but in reality, most classic bass sounds were a DI into a very colored, transformer based preamp, Eq module and compressor that are each providing at least some saturation if not outright distortion. Add the fact that it’s all then fed into a tape machine, and there’s very little to that sound that’s uncolored. It’s certainly not even remotely analogous to using a plain direct box only into the PA.

I’m also a fan of sealed cabs, because they’re actually more honest than a ported cab. The ported cab may go a little lower, but unless you’re playing dub reggae, those lows aren’t necessary and half the time the resonance of the port blurs the pitch of the low notes. It’s just a bunch of boom.

My main gigging amp (when I gigged) was an Aguilar DB750 and a Bergantino sealed 610 cab. That setup made every note on my Basses (even the low B on my Pedulla Rapture J5) fat and defined but with a Tubey color that sounded good in a sparse arrangement or in a dense mix. I have just as much love for a vintage SVT - it works beautifully alone or in a mix.

I think the origin of the desire for no amp coloration began when people first bought boutique basses like Alembics and felt the onboard tone controls were enough (or maybe the price tag pushed them to think this way). This preference for no “color” is why the bass is so wimpy on so many late 80s rock albums - they’re trying to make a perfectly clean bass sound work with multitracked distorted guitars and massive, PA In the studio enhanced drums. Fortunately that trend has reversed itself.

In any case, i think the SVT is still the king for this reason.
Yep...though i'll tell ya, the classic TL-606 1x15 cabs are still viable and cheap since they are all over and many bassists have moved on..my TL-606 have EV15L's and are stacked.
 

jcs

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My only issue with the V4-B is cost and availability. Used SVTs are so plentiful than I can buy them for around 1/2 to 1/3rd the price of a new V4-B, and I’ve never seen a used V4-B come up locally.

If you can tolerate the extra weight there’s good deals to be had out there.
Psssttt.. Music Man HD150...mine is the guitar version but im building a head cab for it and run 7581's for maximum punch instead of 6L6GC.

Only issue with an SVT is when they develop "issues"! It aint worth it for me...the weight that is!
 

jcs

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Look at the bassist's rig behind me in this pic from the '70s:


He ran this stereo with a Rickenbacker 4001:
Ampex SVT with one 4x10 cab for highs
Fender 400PS with three 1x18 cabs for lows. As I understand it, there's only one tech in the world who will service that head these days.

It was tone to die for. Incredible. Of course, you needed a bunch of young roadies to move it even an inch.

This was a 1950s revival act. Note lipstick on cheek...

I still have that guitar. It is still heavy. In fact, it may have gotten heavier. I know I have.



Bob

* The proprietor of this message doesn't suggest this bass rig for anyone.
You kiddin...that rig would be a fantastic way to wake the neighbors!
 

somedude

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Same here...however, nothing like an 8x10 live and since mine is on rollers its actually easier to move around imo (mine is not in a basement lol) than many 4x10s..

I can roll my 8x10 outside easily and tip into the back seat of my Camry (on its side)...something about having speakers at ear level live as well.
810s are getting cheap enough that I can afford to own multiples. A basement cab, a garage/gig cab, a stays in the rehearsal space cab...
 

jcs

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Expensive? They are no more expensive than their competitors like GK, Hartke, etc.

Yes, Markbass is still around and is good equipment. They helped lead the charge toward smaller/lighter rigs.

They sound great to me live.
I like every Markbass ive heard live but SO many different models...plus i hear of quality issues with some but not sure if its true at all.

However, i own Music Man HD-150, Eden Metro (450 watt 2x10 combo i made into a head), GK800RB, GK400RBIII....Eden Metro sets on top of my 8x10 most of the time, its warm and takes many pedals very well along with extensive EQ on the 2nd channel....1st channel is tube preamp.

All of these can be bought for reasonable, are high quality and only the Music Man HD-150 is heavy.

The early Minnesota-made Edens are preferable by many it seems.
 

derekd

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I like every Markbass ive heard live but SO many different models...plus i hear of quality issues with some but not sure if its true at all.

However, i own Music Man HD-150, Eden Metro (450 watt 2x10 combo i made into a head), GK800RB, GK400RBIII....Eden Metro sets on top of my 8x10 most of the time, its warm and takes many pedals very well along with extensive EQ on the 2nd channel....1st channel is tube preamp.

All of these can be bought for reasonable, are high quality and only the Music Man HD-150 is heavy.

The early Minnesota-made Edens are preferable by many it seems.
It's nice to have so many options within brand like Markbass offers, and with other brands, some of which you mention.
 
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jcs

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Seriously. I should just get another and keep it in the back of my car. If someone stole it, they'd probably put it back the next day after regretting it.
Well, its not like an 8x10 takes up a big footprint at home either! My issue with smaller cabs in a small room is they arent tall enough @ near ear level unless you set them on top of another cabinet...then that involves lifting!
 

claudel

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Over the years I've had a lot of bass amps

I now have ~10 amps and 49 cabinets in my iPad, plus a bunch of effects.

This is my current favorite...
 
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I've never evolved past a head and cabinets. And all my **** weighs enough to scare me.

I'm totally lost reading about Sam's Amp, plugins and the last time I checked Helix was an 80s band. (not that I check on them all that often)

I'm not much of a fan of tube bass amps. I've got a Bass 400+ and, yeah, it sounds nice, I prefer my SWR or my Seymour Duncan heads. So items that I would look at fondly from "back in the day" would mean the 80s to me.

The GK800RB was a game changer- it was small, light and powerful. It ran that beautiful clean solid state sound and it had the horsepower to push it.

The SWR Goliath 4x10 bass cabs were the 80s game changers for cabinets. Probably Hartke cabs as well.

Sometime in the mid 80s Seymour Duncan came out with a series of amps that more than doubled the power in one channel- where an 800RB could do 300 x 100, the Duncan amp was 300 x 300. But it also weighed twice, or more, of the GK head.

I'm still gigging my SWR SM-900 head and 90-115 pound cabs. While bass amp technology has improved immensely, I'm not playing out enough to justify the expense of getting new bass gear and I don't think I'm selling the stuff I've got for any appreciable amount of money.
 

bard2dbone

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1,233
Okay. This is an abridged list, because they weren't ALL winners. But back in the day I started with a Peavey TNT130, just like pretty much everyone around here. It was loud-ish. But the tone was 'meh'. Then I got an SVT, complete with the 8x10 cab. So my amp rig was nearly as tall as me, and actually weighed MORE. Then I found out that the cool distortion it had when pushed hard was because an output tube was bad. So when I had it re-tubed (Expensive! Even in the 80s when you have 14 tubes to swap out.) it came back sounding just like every other SVT. So I traded it for an Acoustic 361 rig. That lasted for a while.

Then I went into the navy. When I got out, I started playing again.

My first pro quality rig after the navy was a Gallien Krueger 800rb into a Hartke 4x10. Then the same GK head into TWO Hartke 4x10s, back when everybody had that rig. Then I got a deal on an Acoustic B4 head and powered 2x10 cab. I put them on top of a Randall 2x15 cab Between the power amp in the B4 going into the 2x15, and the internal power amp of the TC-210P driving the 2x10s, I had about 760 biamped Watts. That was a LOT for back then. But it was enormous and heavy. I eventually swapped that rig for an SWR Redhead into an SWR Triad. This was what I had until long after the band had faded away.

But now we come to the point you're asking for. I now have two bass rigs that I can carry in one trip that would be fine unsupported for a small gig, or plugged into a PA for a large one. My 'bedroom-sized' rigs are a Gallien Krueger 200mb combo into a 1x12 GK extension cab, and a Little Mark II into a Schroeder 1212L.

But when I record, it's mostly a combination of a Tech21 GED-2112 DI and The Markbass/Schroeder rig.
 

MKB

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Have really enjoyed reading all these posts, being a long time guitarist and part time bassist for a few decades. I've started getting into bass again due to some recording needs, and have been out of the bass gear realm for maybe 30 years or so.

But from a guitarist perspective, I'd think a killer bass amp would be a Marshall 1959 reissue head into a proper cab. You could really send it over the top if you open it up and change a few components (basically change it to a Super Bass, would only take an hour or so). Big, heavy, loud, but should do the tube thing well. And a vintage Fender Twin Reverb might be nice if you had the right cab with it (the 2x12 open back in the combo probably would not be ideal)

I'd think also that bassists would be all over the modern digital amps (when done right). IME the average tones from newer digital amps are significantly better than standard analog solid state amps, and power is really cheap per watt in amps when you go digital. I'm about to try a rig using a Line 6 X3 (it gets great bass tones to my ears) into a Seymour Duncan Powerstage 170, and then to a 2X12 cab. Might be interesting...
 

Endr_rpm

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Have really enjoyed reading all these posts, being a long time guitarist and part time bassist for a few decades. I've started getting into bass again due to some recording needs, and have been out of the bass gear realm for maybe 30 years or so.

But from a guitarist perspective, I'd think a killer bass amp would be a Marshall 1959 reissue head into a proper cab. You could really send it over the top if you open it up and change a few components (basically change it to a Super Bass, would only take an hour or so). Big, heavy, loud, but should do the tube thing well. And a vintage Fender Twin Reverb might be nice if you had the right cab with it (the 2x12 open back in the combo probably would not be ideal)

I'd think also that bassists would be all over the modern digital amps (when done right). IME the average tones from newer digital amps are significantly better than standard analog solid state amps, and power is really cheap per watt in amps when you go digital. I'm about to try a rig using a Line 6 X3 (it gets great bass tones to my ears) into a Seymour Duncan Powerstage 170, and then to a 2X12 cab. Might be interesting...

IME you're not WRONG about amps like the SLP and Twin, but you're missing an important variable- 100w is about the LOWEST a bass player can get away with in a standard rock band setting, and only if they don't mind significant grit in the sound. My usual rule of thumb is equal or greater number of speakers and 3x the wattage of the guitarists I play with. One of my main gig amps is an EBS tube head intoa 410. I can rely on that for most americana style gigs where the drummer is in check and the amps are small. If it gets even moderately loud, I'll go with my Peavey VB2 (225 watts tube) and 2x15. the 2x15 isnt so much for volume, but rather to get the top speaker where I can hear it. a 410 is very directional with the highs. I don't play REALLY loud, just not my thing. But if I did, SVT and 810 or something solid state in the 500-800 watt range and LOTS of speakers, like the Mesa D800 into an 810, or bass specific 412.

Im interested in the wee digital amps, but Id be concerned they aren't really spec'd to push the kind of low end a bass would need. the 170 watt Seymour Duncan looks nice, but 170w @8 ohms is barely enough solid state power to hang in a band setting. Look at the RB800 mentioned upthread- its 300 watts, PLUS another 100 watts in a tweeter amp, and WAY over engineered, and these days thats considered a relatively small SS power amp. Mesa and Markbass both have sub 8 pound heads with 800 watts @2 or 4 ohms.
 
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amphog

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4,187
Have really enjoyed reading all these posts, being a long time guitarist and part time bassist for a few decades. I've started getting into bass again due to some recording needs, and have been out of the bass gear realm for maybe 30 years or so.

But from a guitarist perspective, I'd think a killer bass amp would be a Marshall 1959 reissue head into a proper cab. You could really send it over the top if you open it up and change a few components (basically change it to a Super Bass, would only take an hour or so). Big, heavy, loud, but should do the tube thing well. And a vintage Fender Twin Reverb might be nice if you had the right cab with it (the 2x12 open back in the combo probably would not be ideal)

I'd think also that bassists would be all over the modern digital amps (when done right). IME the average tones from newer digital amps are significantly better than standard analog solid state amps, and power is really cheap per watt in amps when you go digital. I'm about to try a rig using a Line 6 X3 (it gets great bass tones to my ears) into a Seymour Duncan Powerstage 170, and then to a 2X12 cab. Might be interesting...
100w is barely enough power for bass with a live drummer. Modern digital amps will work, but a 6000w Behringer will be needed to compete with a SVT, I own both. Also the 100w Fender bas amps never really cut it in a rock band, and you would need more than one of the Marshalls!
 
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Jeff Scott

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A modern-day classic bass amp is the Aguilar Tone Hammer 500. I have never been left wanting whenever I use it.
 

somedude

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D class amps aren’t digital, they’re solid state. Some of them may have digital modelling integrated, but many of them are completely analogue.
 

somedude

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Have really enjoyed reading all these posts, being a long time guitarist and part time bassist for a few decades. I've started getting into bass again due to some recording needs, and have been out of the bass gear realm for maybe 30 years or so.

But from a guitarist perspective, I'd think a killer bass amp would be a Marshall 1959 reissue head into a proper cab. You could really send it over the top if you open it up and change a few components (basically change it to a Super Bass, would only take an hour or so). Big, heavy, loud, but should do the tube thing well. And a vintage Fender Twin Reverb might be nice if you had the right cab with it (the 2x12 open back in the combo probably would not be ideal)

I'd think also that bassists would be all over the modern digital amps (when done right). IME the average tones from newer digital amps are significantly better than standard analog solid state amps, and power is really cheap per watt in amps when you go digital. I'm about to try a rig using a Line 6 X3 (it gets great bass tones to my ears) into a Seymour Duncan Powerstage 170, and then to a 2X12 cab. Might be interesting...
You’re thinking too much like a guitarist. Triple the headroom. Class D is so cheap there’s no point in wasting money on an underpowered amp.
 

eddiemac

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Almost nobody played a Fender Bassman for very long in the 60's due to the weak speakers and low watts. Most bass players gravitated to the Fender Showman/Dual Showman (w/ one or two JBL D140F). Then came the Kustom 200A tuck and rolled with 2-15 JBL's. Standel, more powerful, solid-state amps (with JBL's, then Altec's) entered the scene and were soon supplanted by the Sunn 200S with the slot ported 2-15 cabinet with JBL's. The Sunn 2000S replaced that for pro big-stage artists.
 
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