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alexa3020

How to pick a new amp?

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I’m considering a new amp with a budget of up to £1000. This is a big purchase for me & I really don’t want to get it wrong.

I can obviously test the amps in the shop and start dialling what I think are some really nice tones. My problem is when I get to the band environment they often don’t work, they just don’t sit right in the mix.

so to sum up, I’ll not know if i like the amp until it’s used in the band environment.

id be interested if anyone else has this problem & if so what’s the best thing to do?

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Posted (edited)

I have an off the wall suggestion for you. Get a Helix LT or hx stomp and an FRFR powered cab. 

This is give you a huge amount of options with high quality amp sims. 

Admittedly the learning curve can be quite steep at first to get the best out of it, but it's definitely worth it. 

 

Edited by Crawford13
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Posted (edited)

Match the power output to your cab

Decide whether you want purely a clean tone or an amp with some form of drive circuit.

Do you want one you can silent practice with a headphone out

How do you want the DI to work

Do you get Tone from pedals and need it amplified, or do you get it from the amp, or a combination.

Whats your fave EQ, Fender tonestack, baxendall etc.

How much EQ control do you want, especially selecting mid frequencies.

How heavy and or big are you willing to go.

What do your fave artists use.

How important are the aesthetics
 

Do you want to buy new or second hand

This will automatically narrow it down

 

Edited by Cuzzie
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What sort of music do you play?  Clean tone?  Dirty?  Do you run a pedalboard?  When you rehearse in a band, do you moderate the volume or are you going full pelt?  Do you put your cabinet up against a hard wall or pull it into the room?  I could add a dozen more questions.

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Are there any bassists who’s time you like, and by that I mean on a local basis re live bands. Always a good place to start if you’ve heard something you like in a band context.

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Thanks for the input so far. I realise that my first post is really not narrowing things down enough.

my current gear is Hartke ha5500 or tc electronic bq500

my cabs are ampeg115 or gk212mbe

Us p bass 

big muff pedal

behringer bdi preamp (when using tc head only)

the best combination is the Hartke & Ampeg, this is also really heavy too.

The tc head and gk cabs are lightweight, but you do take a hit with the sound.

I play in rock bands, one covers and one original.

The drummer is loud in the originals band, so we are often at full whack and ears are ringing after practice.

in terms of bass tones that I like in a rock setting, Colin greenwood springs to mind. He uses ampegs or ashdown (and sometimes a music man bass too).

I don’t want a heavy amp.

To be clear the budget would be for new head & cab.

amps that spring to mind are mark bass & Aguilar, but I’d honestly be open to anything.

in terms of eq I usually dial a nice tone and that’s it. I’ll then just use the tone control on the bass during a gig.

 I usually like to play clean, but occasionally kick in the big muff.

apologies for the war and peace response!

 

 

 

 

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10 minutes ago, alexa3020 said:

amps that spring to mind are mark bass & Aguilar, but I’d honestly be open to anything.

Both of these amps have distinctive sounds, and neither are used by a huge amount of rock guys. 

For what you have said, I would maybe look at ampeg pf800, dark glass m900, or mesa d800. 

Or my initial suggestion of going the Helix route. 

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15 minutes ago, alexa3020 said:

Thanks for the input so far. I realise that my first post is really not narrowing things down enough.

my current gear is Hartke ha5500 or tc electronic bq500

my cabs are ampeg115 or gk212mbe

Us p bass 

big muff pedal

behringer bdi preamp (when using tc head only)

the best combination is the Hartke & Ampeg, this is also really heavy too.

The tc head and gk cabs are lightweight, but you do take a hit with the sound.

I play in rock bands, one covers and one original.

The drummer is loud in the originals band, so we are often at full whack and ears are ringing after practice.

in terms of bass tones that I like in a rock setting, Colin greenwood springs to mind. He uses ampegs or ashdown (and sometimes a music man bass too).

I don’t want a heavy amp.

To be clear the budget would be for new head & cab.

amps that spring to mind are mark bass & Aguilar, but I’d honestly be open to anything.

in terms of eq I usually dial a nice tone and that’s it. I’ll then just use the tone control on the bass during a gig.

 I usually like to play clean, but occasionally kick in the big muff.

apologies for the war and peace response!

 

 

 

 

First thing first....protect your ears!  Ringing ears after a rehearsal is not good. Save a bit of your budget for some quality ear plugs...if you do you'll probably hear yourself better for a start and your hearing will be saved, you really don't want tinnitus.

 

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I used both Markbass and Aguilar for a while, then had a provided rig at a gig which was Ashdown. Decided to swap immediately, for the punk that I was doing the Ashdown just had so much more punch & depth to it. Worth checking out, their RM range is lightweight to carry but not in the sound department.

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15 minutes ago, Crawford13 said:

 

For what you have said, I would maybe look at ampeg pf800, dark glass m900, or mesa d800. 

I used an ampeg pf combo (I think) it was nice but it was 300w and just wasn’t loud enough perhaps the 500 or 800w versions would be good to try. I’ll check out the other 2 although they might be out of budget.

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13 minutes ago, Urban Bassman said:

First thing first....protect your ears!  Ringing ears after a rehearsal is not good. Save a bit of your budget for some quality ear plugs.

 

I’ve got some £20 ear plugs from Amazon. I guess your on about something a bit better? If we are doing our own sound, I don’t like using them as I can’t tell if I’m too loud or quiet.

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16 minutes ago, Lozz196 said:

I used both Markbass and Aguilar for a while, then had a provided rig at a gig which was Ashdown. Decided to swap immediately, for the punk that I was doing the Ashdown just had so much more punch & depth to it. Worth checking out, their RM range is lightweight to carry but not in the sound department.

The rootmaster series is definitely an option. I started off with a mag210 which just wasn’t loud enough (300w), but I played through Abm series (500w) and that was great.

thanks for the suggestions everyone

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14 minutes ago, Lozz196 said:

I used both Markbass and Aguilar for a while, then had a provided rig at a gig which was Ashdown. Decided to swap immediately, for the punk that I was doing the Ashdown just had so much more punch & depth to it. Worth checking out, their RM range is lightweight to carry but not in the sound department.

I'd second checking out Ashdown seeing as you've mentioned Colin Greenwood sometimes using them (and admittedly because I also happen to be a massive Ashdown fan too). Great amps but also worth bearing in mind they have some of the best customer service and aftercare in the business. 

As far as the difficulty in knowing how an amp will actually sound in the mix after having tried it in a store, why not take your Hartke and/or TC with you and ask if you can A/B them. It may not let you hear it in the mix but it'll at least give you a reference point. 

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27 minutes ago, alexa3020 said:

I’ve got some £20 ear plugs from Amazon. I guess your on about something a bit better? If we are doing our own sound, I don’t like using them as I can’t tell if I’m too loud or quiet.

Get proper ACS custom moulds with whatever Attenuation you want - at Least 15dB - and of your are singing this is good, maybe up to 20 if you are parked next to a loud drummer, About 17 should be fine.

You only have 1 set of ears.

So far as the amp goes, we can all throw a hundred suggestions at you, but draw up the list of wants and then trawl through the big makers out there and see what fits the bill.

Once you have them, look at some maybe not on the normal big list, it’s far easier for folk on here to advise once you have a short list, other wise it gets unwieldy.

Defo protect your ears, the cheap amazon ones will dampen all the sound and dynamics and not let you hear the mix

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Posted (edited)

I personally haven't found any regular class D mini amp that will hang with my loud rock covers band. Same as the OP, they sound great at home and have brilliant features on them and i love them until i take them to a noisy gig and they get buried by the drums and twin guitars. I can get by with them but i haven't found THE ONE yet.

I always seem to go back to my Gallien RB700 and i've come to the conclusion that i'm just not a class D guy. I've tried loads of them and the only one that comes close to keeping the punch and slam and not just flattening out when you turn it up is a Quilter BB800 - i've had it for a few years whilst others come and go but you have to get used to its quirky layout.

Had a Mesa D800 earlier in the year, got a Magellan 800 now that i've gigged about 4 times and will be moving on soon. I've had a Markbass Evo, GK Fusion500, a Genz Shuttle over the years. I'm thinking of giving it one last go and trying a Darkglass M900. The newer breed of class D are much better than the old ones to be fair. Maybe i'll just order a Handbox R400 and hope its not just a niche trend that new amps become on here sometimes - that's probably a more sensible option and sounds more likely to be the right thing for me but the Darkglass looks fun. 

If i had £1000 to spend and didn't want a Gallien i think i would grab an Ashdown series 4 ABM600  (a great rock amp with tons of slam and much more versatile than you may think) and a decent 2x12 or a couple of 1x12 cabs from the classifieds on here. Maybe a Barefaced or Bergantino cab for £400/700 or a Fender Rumble cab of some sort. Ashdown are selling hand made ABM600's for £550 direct at the moment or they come up fairly regularly on here for £400ish.

They're a friendly mob on here, pretty wise in general and you wont lose your shirt if it turns out the gear doesn't quite work for you.

Edited by Mudpup
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+1 on the ACS ear plugs. If your ears are ringing its not good. Protect them now.

As you've mentioned Ashdown already i tried an Ashdown Spyder 550. Had a great rock tone thru the Ampeg 810 they had but i found the EQ was very limiting but still great for what i was doing at the time. Not an expensive amp either.

I've tried the Markbass in rock and Prog and it was ok but not enough oomph.

Gallien Krueger 1001Rbii was a pretty good amp but found it a bit sterile sounding. Takes time to find your way around the EQ. Very loud too.

Gallien Krueger MB range i found too clean a tone. Not enough oomph either

Did have a Genz Streamliner 600 that sounded really nice with a valve pre-amp. I would consider one of them as a back up to my Mesa head.

I've not found any lightweight gear that does it all for me. I went back to Ampeg SVT4 Pro (far too heavy and unreliable) and now on a Mesa Mpulse 600 into a Mesa PH212 cab that gives me the old 70's rock tone i like.

Quite fancied the Mesa D800+ or the WD800 (valve pre-amp) but that's silly money at the moment.. 

Tried a mates Hartke  LH550 thru his 2off Hartke 15" cabs and that was really nice for a blues rock sounding band but as you know quite a heavy lot to lug around.

EBS HD360 amps are pretty impressive and not too heavy. They do a 350 as well but i found the 360 had a few more buttons that i liked like a mute button..

Aguilar AG500 i found too clean and struggled to get a good sound i liked.

Summary :-

LIKED - Genz Streamliner 600 or 900, EBS HD360

MAYBE - Markbass Tube amp, Mesa D800 series, Warwick tube amps, GK Fusion amps

NOT FOR ME - Aguilar AG500, Warwick (solid state too clean) GK MB series.

Bit long winded but hope it helps. Tone and amps are all very subjective and the speakers being used with each amp will have a large effect on the sound too. Everyone has a sound in their head that they want to replicate live not forgetting the bass being used will have differed from your own.

Dave

 

 

 

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I play in a rock band and swear by my Mark Bass LM3 / 102p Traveller set up, but, our drummer is not overly loud! There is something about the Mark Bass sound that I really like especially when paired with a Precision, I have owned and sold a Mesa D800 as I thought the MB amp sounded better. I will add that adding a 1x15 Traveller cab to the set up actually took away the sound I love from the MB amp!

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I found with the Markbass that it doesn't have a lot of on stage oomph but it seems to sit very well between guitars, keys and drums allowing it to be very clear in the mix. 

I've heard a few people say the same about the Markbass LM3 v Mesa D800. 

Dave

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3 hours ago, Lozz196 said:

I used both Markbass and Aguilar for a while, then had a provided rig at a gig which was Ashdown. Decided to swap immediately, for the punk that I was doing the Ashdown just had so much more punch & depth to it. Worth checking out, their RM range is lightweight to carry but not in the sound department.

Plus 1 ashdown kit is great brilliant for rock music and I'd guess well within your budget 

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I would start with the cab. My personal favourites are 2 x 10", 4 x 10", and 2 x 12". Smaller simply sounds smaller, two 1 x 12" do not feel the same as a 2 x 12".

When the cab has been found, I would go for the amp.

Budgetwise I would put £550 - 700 to the cab, and the rest to the amp. Used gear is a good option. Barefaced, tks, Bergantino etc. Ashdown may be pretty heavy, but so is the sound, too. Glockenklang is somewhat rare, but the sound...

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Never really heard the Glockenklang amps. Do they sound similar to anything else ?

I had a Berg AE112 (x2) cab set up and it seemed to lack something i couldn't quite put my finger on. As you mention maybe the 212 cab would have been better.

Berg cabs can be expensive tho.

Dave

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3 hours ago, alexa3020 said:

 I don’t like using them as I can’t tell if I’m too loud or quiet.

As others have said, protect your hearing!  I've had Tinnitus for around 34 years and believe me it's not fun. Once you have it, the only time it's gonna stop is when you pop your clogs. 

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4 hours ago, alexa3020 said:

I’ve got some £20 ear plugs from Amazon. I guess your on about something a bit better? If we are doing our own sound, I don’t like using them as I can’t tell if I’m too loud or quiet.

Soundcheck without them in then put them in. That's what i do. Once the soundcheck is done you just need to trust you've done it right and don't worry too much about the sound during the gig. But you have to do a decent job on the soundcheck.

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Appreciate the suggestions, I think I’m gonna just have to try a few out and then go with my gut & hope it works well in the band setting. 

If I can’t find anything I like I’ll just stick with the Hartke ampeg setup for gigs which I do like, and tc and gk for practices.

Anyone experienced with the orange terror?

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Check out the Handbox thread, albeit with the complication that you might not be able to try one first.

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