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XoSo

Ampeg. Are they the Marmite of amps?

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Two part question. First part: I'm fairly new to bass having played guitar most of my life. I reckon I could recognise the tone of most guitar amps blindfold - they either fall into the Marshall, Fender or Vox tone camp. Those are the three seminal tones (IMHO). I have very little experience with bass amps. I am playing through an Ampeg PF500 and find it more than capable and pleasing for the low bedroom levels I play at. But here's the question - yesterday I read a post about someone who had switched from Ampeg to an Orange Terror Bass and was loving the amp giving him everything he wanted 'without the Ampeg tone' and its not the first time I've read things like this. So it seems there is something about the 'Ampeg tone' that people either love or hate and I'm at a loss to detect that myself. I know its not the easiest thing to describe tone in words but give it your best shot - what is it about the 'Ampeg tone' that divides people.

Second part to my question: If, as I think guitar amps can be roughly divided into the Fender, Marshall or Vox camp in terms of tone, is there a similar distinct group of tones that bass amps fall into?

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Ok, I'll bite:

I had a pretty decent amp head for years.  No pedals. Really happy with it but heavy.  

Stopped playing for a bit and then decided to go down the lightweight route: Ampeg micro, orange terror, Mark Bass Randy Jackson, Ampeg PF500 and now Ampeg PF50t.

Once you go down the path of looking for something better/different/newer/shinier, etc it never ends.  Just a route to indecision, second guessing and discontentment.  We call it GAS (gear acquisition syndrome).  Be happy with what you've got and focus on practising and improving your technique.  You'll sound better and won't have to blame it on your gear why you suck.

However, feel free to take my advice as in no longer use it anymore.  Much like half the pedals I have bought! :)

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Cheers buddy. Yep, really happy with my gear and not feeling any inclination to change at all. Just curious to know why people seem to either like or dislike ampeg

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I have about a garage worth of pedals bought over the years for guitar. Am consciously not buying pedals at all for the bass - can't see the need. Just concentrating on developing a good natural clean tone

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I'm new to the Ampeg camp and it's like I can stop searching now. Sit me down with a Precision through an SVT and it's like all that scrabbling around is over. Unlike Bono I found what I was looking for.

I also believe Trace Elliot has a special tone and Eden amps have a character all their own. Behringer and Markbass, Orange and Carlsboro - all distinct, and I've gigged with them all and more - but you know what? I bet you any money I could not tell them apart in a blind test. At least I couldn't tell which was which.

Even the valve Ampeg sounded OK but nothing special when I first plugged in, but once I played it with the band it just oozed class throughout the whole sound. It needed that context to make sense. As you say, tough to describe the sound, my singer said it was like melted chocolate poured over the mix, which I rather like. Of course the thing with bass is you and I and everyone else on Basschat will make precisely the same gear sound different by what we do with our hands.

Edited by stewblack
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I don't recall any post on here where someone claimed to hate the Ampeg sound, although a few Ampeg models have come in for some stick for various reasons.

So no, I don't think the Marmite analogy applies.

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Just now, XoSo said:

Didn't say the post was on here but I definitely read it and not for the first time

Fair enough!

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When I first got my CL head I had the eq all at 12 and was very underwhelmed, after playing with the eq and ( as mentioned above) playing in a band context I understood why it's the classic.

Maybe a lot of negative comments ( only talking about the valve heads mind) are from people who have tried the head on their own and not with a band?

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First time I used an SVT stack I was very underwhelmed at the sound when trying to get a good sound from it. Then the whole band started playing and I realised what all the fuss was about, sat beautifully in the mix, no booming, no weediness, just solid bass presence. 

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4 minutes ago, Lozz196 said:

First time I used an SVT stack I was very underwhelmed at the sound when trying to get a good sound from it. Then the whole band started playing and I realised what all the fuss was about, sat beautifully in the mix, no booming, no weediness, just solid bass presence. 

 

7 minutes ago, danbowskill said:

When I first got my CL head I had the eq all at 12 and was very underwhelmed, after playing with the eq and ( as mentioned above) playing in a band context I understood why it's the classic.

Maybe a lot of negative comments ( only talking about the valve heads mind) are from people who have tried the head on their own and not with a band?

☝️

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I've honestly never heard anyone say a word against Ampeg. Are you sure you're not thinking about Ashdown? They've long been a proper "love-it-or-hate-it" amp.

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no definitely Ampeg. That's what caught my attention, because I use ampeg myself. I think it was someone on the No Treble forum

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My BA 115 combo was an utter pile of.  I wouldnt compare this to their real gear though.

After watching / listening to Bowie live at the BBC in 2000, and listening to Mark Plati give it some on Ashes to Ashes , and Gail Ann Dorsey on the rest, i decided i loved the tone.  Especially Ashes to Ashes when guitarist Plati took over on bass. Wonderful. Cant tell ya what model Plati and Dorsey are playing thorugh, but Ampeg officianados will know

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I love the Ampeg tone but their recent offerings have had mixed responses.  I almost got a SVT 7 Pro until I read lots of negative comments from owners about them cutting out.   I also liked the look of the PF-50T but initially read lots of complaints regarding unacceptable noise/hum levels.

The B15, V4 and SVT are all classics and featue in many recordings from old school R&B, blues, funk to all forms of rock / metal.  I guess there might be a few out their (modern jazz players and perhaps the ultra modern metal) may want a cleaner uncoloured tone but I echo the comments of others, i've seen very few say they dislike the Ampeg tone.

I'm looking forward to the Yamaha era - i could conceivably see myself with an Ampeg for my next amp.

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Could it be down to the cabs rather than the amps? I'm not sure of the model numbers and age of the various ones I've encountered, but quite a few 8x10s have been way darker sounding than I like, or in the case of some of the 4x10s, had an annoying gap in the upper mids between the 10s and tweeter. 

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I've yo-yo'd between Ampeg and Orange over the last 10 years. I wouldn't say it's a radical change as they are subtle variations of the same kind of vibes.

My two favourite brands, personally.

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I always thought that Ampeg were the bass equivalent of Marshall in the guitar world. 

Ever present, industry standard gear that some people love, many people like and some people who just don't like them. 

I wouldn't say no to an Ampeg head. Would I trade my Trace Elliot V6 for an SVT though? Not a chance. 

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I have an SVT 2 Pro and it’s all I will ever need in an amp. Killer tone and control. Only complaint is that it’s bloody heavy! 

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On 11/02/2019 at 18:36, PJ-Bassist said:

I also liked the look of the PF-50T but initially read lots of complaints regarding unacceptable noise/hum levels.

Yes, they messed up the grid bias circuit on the early models, but sorted it with a simple mod on later production.

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