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Itch for a Valve Amp


Deepfat

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Hiya!

I've been playing for about 30 years now on and off in original and covers bands.

I like my basses and gear in general. I have an Ashdown ABM500RC (bought new about 20 years ago), through 2x10 and 4x10 plus a Fender Rumble 800 when I want something light.

Both sound really good but I have this itch for a valve amp. A good friend pointed me at this forum for some advice.

Most of the youTube videos of newish valve amps seem to focus on how gritty and distorted they can get. I'm looking for a fat, fibrous, warm, punchy and sweet tone - not to be another Lemmy. Nothing wrong with Lemmy mind, just not the sound I'm looking for.

I mainly play with my MM Stringray or my Fender USA Zone - never really got on with 5 strings. I'm also quite fond of my Kramer which is one hell of a bass for the £200 I paid for it.

I prefer roundwound strings but do have flats on my Chowny and basic Yamaha fretless. Mostly play with fingers - crap at slapping.

The best live bass sound I've heard in many years was the bassist for Maddie & Tae who was using a Mesa Boogie Strategy. That was sweet. 

Anyhow - would any of you nice people be able to offer some advice or am I on a quest for the holy grail? 

Cheers,

Deepfat!

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13 minutes ago, Deepfat said:

Most of the youTube videos of newish valve amps seem to focus on how gritty and distorted they can get.

I know exactly what you mean, it’s the same for me, most of the videos I’ve seen seem to focus on the distortion, I’ve seen Robbie Shakespeare ,  Devon Bradshaw and many other reggae bassists getting a nice deep warm tone from Ampeg setups . I’m following this thread with interest 🙂

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I’m a returning bass player but my previous gigging rig was an Ampeg SVT Classic CL 300w valve amp through a 610 cab ( this was for all gigs even pubs ) I too played a MM Stingray bass

I was in a heavy rock band with just one guitarist so I needed a full sound 

I then turned to guitar playing using Marshal DSL100HR valve heads etc etc

Does valve = better ?

personally for guitar I’m sure of it however for bass I’m not too sure 

In a band context I think you can achieve a very close sound with the modern Class D heads and perhaps a pedal for a flavour of grit.

Valve amps are great to the point they have muscle and warmth but omg they are bloody heavy and need new valves replacing say every year and bias adjusted assuming matched valves etc 

Tough decision but sounds like you have a great rig already 

How about a valve preamp pedal ? 

Edited by BassAdder27
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2 hours ago, BassAdder27 said:

Valve amps are great to the point they have muscle and warmth but omg they are bloody heavy and need new valves replacing say every year and bias adjusted assuming matched valves etc 

True to some degree but there are many exceptions and the revalving every year is a thing of the past (and to a degree biasing).  

Do a search on the forum for Handbox WB100 as one example.

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28 minutes ago, warwickhunt said:

Do a search on the forum for Handbox WB100 as one example.

I so wanted to love that amp! I borrowed the one the WoT had, and although the tone I got from it at home was sweet, creamy and rich - when I tried it at full band rehearsals I couldn't get a single sound that I liked. It sounded thin and lacked volume and headroom. OK, it's "only" rated at 100 watts (IIRC), but I was playing it through two quality, sensitive 1x15" cabs (a Barefaced Compact and a TKS H115).  Of course, some old schoolers will put that down to the Neo speakers... 😉

While my experiences with valve amps has been very limited, I have had lots of great, usable sounds using SS and hybrid amps - from Trace Elliot, through Ampeg, Aguilar, Hartke, TC Electronic and GK to Markbass. The one I stuck with is my Little Mark 2, which I believe is a class A/B power module. To my ears (and back) it is the perfect compromise. Having heard other bassists playing through it (including WoT), it sounded pretty rich and full to me 😎

On the other hand, if the itch needs scratching, go for it! Go for a used valve monster and you should be able to sell it on for what you paid for it (assuming you aren't blown away by it!) 💜

Edited by Conan
OCD
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The Ampeg V4B is a good amp, providing playing in a hugely loud band isn’t required. Yes it’s 100 valve watts but from what I’ve heard of them they do break up into a lovely drive-sound at band volumes, not super driven but that break-up that many of us covet. Fairly light for a valve amp too I believe, think around the 40lb mark.

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19 minutes ago, Conan said:

I so wanted to love that amp! I borrowed the one the WoT had, and although the tone I got from it at home was sweet, creamy and rich - when I tried it at full band rehearsals I couldn't get a single sound that I liked. It sounded thin and lacked volume and headroom. OK, it's "only" rated at 100 watts (IIRC), but I was playing it through two quality, sensitive 1x15" cabs (a Barefaced Compact and a TKS H115).  Of course, some old schoolers will put that down to the Neo speakers... 😉

 

Oddly enough I found the opposite!  It was OK at home or in isolation but was sweet when I gigged it (pair of TC RS210... none neo speakers ;) ).  I do use the contour control a lot whereas WoT told me he doesn't use it at all.  

Volume - I do have the master a fair way round but I don't drive the input hard as I don't want overdrive.  Oddly enough the other amps I presently own are a 1600w Blacksmith, 1000w Blackcat, 350w TC Staccato and I sold my 750w Thunderfunk when I bought this.  I find the 120w HB can keep pace with a very loud drummer and louder guitarist (no PA support) and I've not needed to resort to using my other amps.  

At the end of the day tone is subjective but for someone wanting to scratch a valve itch the HB is a (relatively) light weight option.  

As a footnote; I once owned a Mesa Boogie 180 all valve amp and I 'hated it' (why buy an amp you hate? ...because you are young and Mesa Boogie is 'the' name/label to have), you could cut glass with it.  The other point of note is that I trialled a Stoneham YI200 when I was deciding on this valve amp and it was awful.  It farted out through its own matching 410/115 cab even at low volume.  :(  

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2 hours ago, stewblack said:

You need an SVT in my opinion. I have been holding mine for another Basschatter ever since I had it completely overhauled and revalved.

If he decides he does not want it, I'll be listing it here. 

I picked up one in the first lockdown for a good price. I've wanted another since selling my first (touring SVT) years ago. Itch successfully scratched as it sits next to me in my studio space, ready to rock! 

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Or try the Laney Nexus Valve that's on evilbay for £600 at the moment. Volume not a problem at 400watts. Check out what @la bam had to say about this beast. I tried one when I was picking up a Nexus cab in Brum - don't need it but if I had the Cash GAS would have struck.

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2 hours ago, Dood said:

I picked up one in the first lockdown for a good price. I've wanted another since selling my first (touring SVT) years ago. Itch successfully scratched as it sits next to me in my studio space, ready to rock! 

I fear I'll miss mine horribly when it goes but health issues have put me out of a couple of gigging bands and I can barely lift the thing so all in all it's not going to get used.

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I have about the same preferences as you I would think.It seems to me like you would be blown away by a Fender superbassman,or a Mesa/Boogie all valve amp.Maybe an Orange AD200MK3 with a good cab.(Not Orange cabs in my opinion),or an Ampeg SVT.

I can't understand how just about all the promo videos of the Superbassman only focus on the distortion.The clean sound is really "uncoloured",fat,clean,big and transparent in a way.Great sound.

I have an Orange AD200MK3 and an Ampeg SVT Classic,they are both a little bit coloured in the sound,especially the SVT,but I like the sound of both of them.I really like the power tube compression from the Orange.

Edited by Anders
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16 hours ago, stewblack said:

I fear I'll miss mine horribly when it goes but health issues have put me out of a couple of gigging bands and I can barely lift the thing so all in all it's not going to get used.

I feel for you, that really does suck. In reality, I can't see mine going out to gigs either as I don't have the best of backs these days, though things are improving with physio exercises and the like. It would be nice to crank it up as they do a lot with those 300 watts!

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9 hours ago, Dood said:

I feel for you, that really does suck. In reality, I can't see mine going out to gigs either as I don't have the best of backs these days, though things are improving with physio exercises and the like. It would be nice to crank it up as they do a lot with those 300 watts!

Nothing I've ever played comes close. It's not a sound, it's an immersive experience. 

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I had a valve amp itch during the summer, then PMT had their sale and the was an Ashown CTM300 for sale. But several people ordered the 1 amp they had for sale so I missed out. Then a couple of days later Ashdown had a B-stock sale and I got one for just  under £1k. 
It's a fantastic amp! At 300 watts there's plenty of headroom to have loud and clean (or you can have loud and grindy). Even at home volumes it sounds awesome!
They still have one in the B-Stock sale...

Edited by bartelby
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3 hours ago, bartelby said:

I had a valve amp itch during the summer, then PMT had their sale and the was an Ashown CTM300 for sale. But several people ordered the 1 amp they had for sale so I missed out. Then a couple of days later Ashdown had a B-stock sale and I got one for just  under £1k. 
It's a fantastic amp! At 300 watts there's plenty of headroom to have loud and clean (or you can have loud and grindy). Even at home volumes it sounds awesome!
They still have one in the B-Stock sale...

If I were in the market for a valve amp the CTM 300 would be where my money was spent.

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13 hours ago, ryancowell25 said:

Just a note on Stoneham YI200 mentioned in the thread. Picked up one that was just in the used section. Certainly no problems with clean volume whatsoever and beautifully put together. 

I was watching one on eBay recently and seriously considered it. 

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