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Williams4S

Small but mighty heads

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Something's wrong with my head. But anyway, I need a new bass amp.

My trusty TC RH450 has developed an intermittent fault where it stops sending the signal to the power amp. The best fix has so far been a bit of 'percussive maintenance' but I can't see it holding out much longer. Shame, because I really liked that head. 

Anyway. I'm looking for a small head with a fair old whack of power to tame even the most grizzly and inefficient cabs that festivals and gear-shares have to offer. It needs a wicked DI and a little tone shaping, but other bells and whistles I'm not too bothered about. So, which of the following?

Aguilar Tone Hammer 500, Markbass LMTube 800, or Quilter Bass Block?

I've owned a Markbass LM3 before and enjoyed it. Very bright through my TC RS112s, but utterly reliable if a bit... boring. There's a Markbass distributer 5 mins from my house - good support.

I've tried Aguilar and loved it. A friend of mine runs a music shop that could sort one (or if I sweet talk him, he may even sell me his own personal one, but I'm doubtful!). 40 mins from my house.

Quilter Bass Block. I've read about it and it seems amazing, but I've never tried one and probably won't until I buy one. Price is good on Thomann at the moment but I worry about support if something goes pop.

 

Any experiences, A/B's on the above are welcome, and so are suggestions. I'd like to buy as new as possible to retain some warranty or support. It needs to be deep and rich for soul and slappy funk. 

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The Quilter is awesome.

Use the x2 dials for the eq, and gain and master for tone/growl/clean/thickness.

It really sings with a good bass. Really let's the characteristics of the bass come to life.

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I’ve had the Aguilar Tonehammer and a Little Mark Tube 500.

The Aggie I found to be like a slightly more modern sounding Ampeg. It had buckets of gain if required, and could be made to sound very vintagey. It could also do some very angry sounds. Not being a funk player I couldn’t comment too much, but would have thought that maybe the highs might not be at a high enough frequency for slap.

The LMT I thought just set flat suited a traditional Precision tone really well. I always had the tube on full, it didn’t really seem to add any traditional gain or drive, just a smidging of hair around the sound which was only noticeable if then turned down - the amp then sounded sterile in comparison. Strange really. Using the filters enabled a good variety of sounds.

I actually went from Markbass to Aguilar as I needed real gain/drive. I never had any problems with either amp not being powerful enough.

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Just wondering if you considered adding the Mesa Subway to your list? I'm a recent and happy Tonehammer convert but I did quite fancy the Mesa.

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Posted (edited)

The Quilter hasn't really got a DI - its an XLR output and is affected by the master volume. But its a great amp and you could always buy a BDI21 for £20 to get around it if necessary..... 

Edited by Mudpup

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I’m glad you said. I was curious about the DI as I’m not 100% about it having a ground lift either? Please correct me if I’m wrong! Lots of positive reviews on the whole though, but I’m largely reliant on the DI. The output being dependent on the volume doesn’t seem ideal. Like you said, a separate DI would be the way to go.  

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1 hour ago, Lozz196 said:

I’ve had the Aguilar Tonehammer and a Little Mark Tube 500.

The Aggie I found to be like a slightly more modern sounding Ampeg. It had buckets of gain if required, and could be made to sound very vintagey. It could also do some very angry sounds. Not being a funk player I couldn’t comment too much, but would have thought that maybe the highs might not be at a high enough frequency for slap.

The LMT I thought just set flat suited a traditional Precision tone really well. I always had the tube on full, it didn’t really seem to add any traditional gain or drive, just a smidging of hair around the sound which was only noticeable if then turned down - the amp then sounded sterile in comparison. Strange really. Using the filters enabled a good variety of sounds.

I actually went from Markbass to Aguilar as I needed real gain/drive. I never had any problems with either amp not being powerful enough.

Cheers Loz, valuable insight yet again. I find the Markbass stuff generally too top end sheen-y when all is flat, but quite usable with the (stupidly high) treble frequencies rolled off to 9 o’clock. I’ve briefly used an Aggie TH350 and those sweepable mids really impressed me. I prefer that vintage slap sound (Larry Graham, Pleasure, Brothers Johnson, Chic) and the Aggie nailed it, albeit through a Markbass 1x15 cab at low volume. Going through 2 12s at full chat may be a different kettle of fish!  

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7 minutes ago, Williams4S said:

 I’m largely reliant on the DI. The output being dependent on the volume doesn’t seem ideal. Like you said, a separate DI would be the way to go.  

How would that work?  There is no other output on the Quilter.  So you won't be able to connect the Quilter to the BDI21 (or any other DI box) to send the Quilter's tone shaping to FOH.

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1 hour ago, Soledad said:

Just wondering if you considered adding the Mesa Subway to your list? I'm a recent and happy Tonehammer convert but I did quite fancy the Mesa.

If love to, but I don’t think I could part with a grand for a head. I’d love to try one though! 

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Posted (edited)
5 minutes ago, jrixn1 said:

How would that work?  There is no other output on the Quilter.  So you won't be able to connect the Quilter to the BDI21 (or any other DI box) to send the Quilter's tone shaping to FOH.

You don't send the tone shaping to the FOH sound usually. Most sound engineers prefer a clean signal for their ease of use in my experience.

You can come straight out of the Quilters XLR into the desk but just have to be aware that if you change your stage volume it'll affect the signal to the desk. But you probably wouldn't be messing with that after soundcheck anyway......

Edited by Mudpup

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7 minutes ago, Mudpup said:

You don't send the tone shaping to the FOH sound usually. Most sound engineers prefer a clean signal for their ease of use in my experience.

Fair enough -  some do and some don't. I don't know what Williams4S does.

Quote

You can come straight out of the Quilters XLR into the desk but just have to be aware that if you change your stage volume it'll affect the signal to the desk.

That would be post-EQ though... 😉

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3 hours ago, Williams4S said:

My trusty TC RH450 has developed an intermittent fault where it stops sending the signal to the power amp.

plug and unplug jacks into the effect loop input and output many times... 
then open it up and check nothing has shaken loose. 
If that's no good and it's going in the bin I'll have it! :D 

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12 minutes ago, LukeFRC said:

plug and unplug jacks into the effect loop input and output many times... 
then open it up and check nothing has shaken loose. 
 

Wise gurus of Basschat! LukeFRC what’s the technical reason behind that? Or is it witchcraft? 

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I would suggest the TH700 to truly qualify as having plenty of power for festival cabs etc. Currently using the Eich T900 for the same reason, but I wouldn't suggest it as it's not your tonal goal by the sounds of it - Aguilar is. It is tiny and most likely uses the same power amp as the TH700 (one of a whole load of class Ds that came out as a new power amp module was launched).

I had an LMT500 and found it incredibly boring, but wholly reliable. The kind of amp that I wouldn't be upset to be made to use, but wouldn't be my choice for my own on-stage sonic preference. Some argue the 800 is lacking some grunt as they used a class A/B power amp in the 500.

Aguilar by the sounds of things - and 700w! 

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32 minutes ago, Williams4S said:

Wise gurus of Basschat! LukeFRC what’s the technical reason behind that? Or is it witchcraft? 

Sometimes switched  jacks can get corroded and not register correctly leaving an open. Not promising it will work in this case, probably won’t if hitting it reconnects the signal but another thing to rule out as the cause....

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Obviously the suggestion to clean the jack sockets was a separate one to opening it up, not some ceremony to be performed before you open the amp up! 

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If you like thick, warm, fairly traditional sounds, then the Quilter will do that in spades and at a bargain price. It seems to have unlimited power too. It's a quality piece of kit by any standards.  I gig mine every week and it just gets better as I learn more about the tone shaping.

Any time I'm through the PA the Di is supplied by the PA company.  A DI box is cheap anyway.

Anyway, can I suggest that you look at the EBS Reidmar 750.  It's also reasonably priced, loads of tone control including drive, LOUD, well built and reliable and a good built-in DI.  Just a thought as I regret ever parting with mine.  (I only sold mine because it was too wide for my Barefaced one10 cabs - sad or what?)

Frank.

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I've never really understood the reasoning people dont get the quilter because turning up the amp affects the input into the desk. Surely the sound guy would notice and just adjust?

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, la bam said:

I've never really understood the reasoning people dont get the quilter because turning up the amp affects the input into the desk. Surely the sound guy would notice and just adjust?

I think the issue is that the sound guy (in the venues I've been to where we have had one) will set everything at sound check time and may tweak once the audience is there during the first couple of tracks.

If you are turning yourself up mid set so you can hear yourself better on stage, you could risk being very loud for a while before the sound guy realises what's going on and has time to react. Not going to go down well with him or your band mates.

Edited by Al Krow
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If you're after a chunky amount of power, I'd look at the heads with the current generation of power modules (the Quilter, I think, falls into this category) which are around 800w; I had a TH500, but never really liked it all that much, and thought it was a bit gutless in comparison, and I agree completely about the MB heads being competent but a bit bland. My favourite (that I've owned, which doesn't include the Quilter, but includes an awful lot of other Class D heads) was the Magellan, which I'd say is the most flexible of the lot, tone-wise - it's got effectively two channels which cover a lot of ground, plus the power is...plenty.

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Posted (edited)

If you like the RH450, have you considered an RH750. I switched from the 450 to 750 and it’s great, although it’s now been superseded by my Mesa M6 (which is 10 times the weight and size) . I still have the 750 it’s great. 😃👍🏻

Edited by bassfan

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Posted (edited)
45 minutes ago, Al Krow said:

I think the issue is that the sound guy (in the venues I've been to where we have had one) will set everything at sound check time and may tweak once the audience is there during the first couple of tracks.

If you are turning yourself up mid set so you can hear yourself better on stage, you could risk being very loud for a while before the sound guy realises what's going on and has time to react. Not going to go down well with him or your band mates.

Well, he'd be sacked after that gig! What use are they if they do that?! :) levels need monitoring all the time. That's their job.

Although, to be fair, I very rarely turn up or down much once we start.

Edited by la bam

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38 minutes ago, la bam said:

Well, he'd be sacked after that gig! What use are they if they do that?! :) levels need monitoring all the time. That's their job.

Although, to be fair, I very rarely turn up or down much once we start.

Soundman bashing is no longer allowed on BC, but it's safe to say that the reason that ped brought that rule in is because not many people feel as favourable about soundmen as you do.

 

I either have less-than-stellar soundmen provided by the venue or I'm the soundman for most of our gigs. Either way I'm usually disappointed and either way there's usually no one watching the meters too closely after the first song.

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2 hours ago, la bam said:

Well, he'd be sacked after that gig! What use are they if they do that?! :) levels need monitoring all the time. That's their job.

Although, to be fair, I very rarely turn up or down much once we start.

Conversely your job as a bass player isn’t to f up to he mix by fiddling with your feed to the FOH - that would be amateur 

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Nah. What about guitarists changing patches for different songs etc? Surely the sound guy accommodates those? What about solos? Boosts and cuts  for vocals etc. Theres always loads of changes throughout a set.

Sound guys job is to ride the desk. 

And what boosts are you seriously expecting from turning the bass slightly up or down on stage?

 

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