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What amps did bassists use in the 70s?

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Serious question - I have no idea. There is a wealth of vintage guitar amps out there, many makes to chose from.

But I am totally stumped for 70s era vintage bass amps that can hold up?

Ampeg? Hiwatt? Sunn? Surely not everyone could afford them. And where the f*ck are they all now?

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Names that come to mind are;

Fender, Marshall, Ampeg, Hiwatt, Sound City, WEM, Selmer.

Hiwatt, sound city and Selmer wern't as expensive then as some may think. After all, there were still a lot of valve amps going around at the time and transister amps were also firmly on the scene. I remember transister radios becoming popular in the 1960's. Before then, it must have pretty much been valves for almost everything.

I don't recall ever seeing a valve WEM amp.

Of course, H+H as others here have said. They sounded a bit different to a lot of what was running around at the time.

Edited for c*ck ups

Edited by essexbasscat

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[quote name='essexbasscat' timestamp='1331312411' post='1571287']
I remember transister radios becoming popular in the 1060's. [/quote]

So that's why we lost the Battle of Hastings... :D

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I think the reason is that whilst guitars are quite easy to amplify given their frequency range. Bass has always been difficult and the amplification has historically been inadequate. Take Jack Bruce for example, his classic 'sound' is actually just the sound of a Marshall guitar rig, the speakers distorting from the low frequencies, the amp maxxed out through it not being powerful enough for bass.

Things were a little better in the 1970s, lots of companies experimented with better speaker technology and more powerful amps, but the ones that have lasted have generally been enormous and heavy. I used to gig with an old Acoustic 360 1x18" it would only take about 150w max, but it was quite efficient, and extremely large and heavy!

It wasn't until the 80s that transistor amps and the now standard 4x10" speakers came along that bass was able to be amplified cleanly at high volume. Even so, we are now in a period of another leap forward in terms of technology with lightweight cabs and class D amps.

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The in thing at the time were slave amps and mountains of speakers. It was all a bit different then,

Have a look at some piccys of cream's on stage rig (and yes I know that's the 60's, but I don't think things changed a great deal from the 60's to the 70's. I wasn't out gigging then, but it always seemed to be the same sort of deal backstage for a long time).

There were also 18" speakers for bass (my first bass rig had a single 18" speaker) with a WEM head.

Edited by essexbasscat

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[quote name='1970' timestamp='1331312603' post='1571291']
any exact models?

was there no such thing as bass headroom in the 70s?
[/quote]

My cousin played a WEM ER40, 40 watts of transistor power, so no. I think they just used lots of cabs to move air rather than powerful amps.

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This 70s bassist used a 120W Orange valve amp and a WEM Starfinder cab, later replaced by an H|H 4X12 cab.
I'm still kicking myself even today for selling that Orange amp.


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Edited by discreet

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I had both an Orange 100 W amp and a Hiwatt 200 watt head in 79-82 with a laughable home built (by me) Mackenzie loaded 15" cab... They were not expensive (the Orange was less than £100 and the Hiwatt about £130) , although Soundcity amps were a little cheaper... Diferent era...

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[quote name='crez5150' timestamp='1331313261' post='1571306']
These were 80's
[/quote]

I was thinking more of the earlier ones with the luminescent green front panels.

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[quote name='essexbasscat' timestamp='1331312411' post='1571287']

I don't recall ever seeing a valve WEM amp.


[/quote]

Dominators were all-valve.

Vox.

Burman, late '70s at least. (You knew I was going to say that).

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[quote name='brensabre79' timestamp='1331312730' post='1571294']
I used to gig with an old Acoustic 360 1x18" it would only take about 150w max, but it was quite efficient, and extremely large and heavy!
[/quote]

Do you mean the 301? The 360 was a preamp and went with a powered W horn cab, think was 3 or 400w in the bottom of it. Acoustic were serious expensive toys in the UK then.

Definitely more the cabs that weren't up to it than the amps, I'm rocking 70s amps now and they can do it with modern cabs.

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[quote name='icastle' timestamp='1331315406' post='1571348']
I was thinking more of the earlier ones with the luminescent green front panels.
[/quote]

Like these

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My first amp in 1980 was a Carlsboro. It was total sh*te!!!!

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If you cheat a little bit and bring the date range up to 1979 then you can also add Peavey, and the first glimmerings of Trace Elliot to the list.

Gibson and Musicman used to make amps back in the 70's as well.

I can also vaguely remember some Selmer looking copies appearing at some point in the mid 70's but can't for the life of me remember the brand name they were sold under... :unsure:

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I used to see lots of Marshalls on stage as well. Marshall isn't the most popular brand of amp for bassists nowadays, and I think they tend to get overlooked when people talk about old bass amps.

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[quote name='gjones' timestamp='1331317615' post='1571397']
My first amp in 1980 was a Carlsboro. It was total sh*te!!!!
[/quote]

Ditto that!

My second one was a HH Bass Machine like Crez has pictured above. I've still got that one. :)

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In the early 70's I used Marshall, Hiwatt and Fender. The guys I knew used these plus Vox, Simms Watts, Sound City and Orange.

Ampeg, Sunn and Acoustic were almost unknown unless you were the Faces etc.

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