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Old 23rd September 2005, 06:28 AM   #1
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Default suggestions for a good bass guitar amp build

Hi bassists.

I just finished a simple Fender 5E3 guitar build, and want to replace the lame Laney 15" 100w bass amp I have in my club now with another tube build.

(I run a small music club, about 70 seats. Lots of bands pass through. Rock, punk, jazz, funk, blues, jazz.)

Here's some questions:

1) I'm looking at building something like the Ampeg B-15 right now, but am wondering if that's enough wattage to fight through two guitars and a loud angst filled punk drummer.

2) Prefer a one piece amp, preferably tube, and weight is not that important as it will pretty much sit in one place, or be shoved to one side. No touring with this amp. Tone is most important. Simplicity is best.

3) We have both acoustic and electric players. Any amp work well as a compromise for both? The Laney certainly doesn't.

4) Is building a bass amp that much different than a guitar build? I'm assuming the cabinet will be essential, so am prepared to deal with material issues, ports, insulation, baffles, etc. Also, the driver is crucial. Probably look at some PA options.

5) If necessary, I could do a seperate head/cabinet build, as I have access to good PA cabinets which I could easily alter.

Any cool suggestions?
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Old 24th September 2005, 07:57 PM   #2
Brion55 is offline Brion55  United States
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Other than the EQ points, bass amps are pretty much the same as guitar amps as far as construction. The speakers are quite different however.

As far as building one, I have built many bass rigs over the years for myself and for others, tube and solid-state. The low frequencies of a bass need a lot more headroom and power than a guitar. In my opinion, about double. I once built a bass amp with 4 - 6550's running about 550 volts. It worked pretty well. I had a friend that owned a Fender PS 400 bass amp. It was a monster! It had 6 - 6550's running on 700volts driven by a 6L6 transformer coupled! At about 400 watts RMS, it really kicked butt! It took two people to lift the head! I think I have the schematics to it if you'd like to see it.

I switched to solid-state power amps with tube preamps years ago and would never go back for several reasons, but that's just my opinion. I never drive the power amp to clipping.
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Old 2nd October 2005, 05:12 PM   #3
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I think you need to consider what it's being used for?. If it's a small gig (no PA), then it has to be loud enough to cope with the acoustic power of the drums. If it's a larger gig (with PA), the front of house should be done by the PA, and it's only being used as an on-stage monitor - and again, it has to cope with the power of the drums, but only on stage.

In my daughters band I've found that acoustic drums, 60W transistor guitar amp, and 120W transistor bass amp balance quite nicely. If the gig warrants miking the drums through the PA, then we put both bass and guitar through as well, so I have control from the mixer.

As someone who was sound engineer for a local band back in the 70's I found the biggest problem was too loud combo's on stage, particularly the lead guitarist, but sometimes the bass player as well. At many gigs we ended up with both bass and guitar turned completely OFF on the PA, and they were still too loud. A 100W Marshall valve amp and a 4x12 is an incredibly loud device!.
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Old 2nd October 2005, 11:22 PM   #4
Brion55 is offline Brion55  United States
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Nigel is right. It's much better to have small stage amps as monitors and let the house system mix and deliver to the audience.

Back in the bad-ol’-days, when all we had were PA systems, usually a small mixer/amp with two crappy sound columns full of 8” speakers, you couldn’t do this, and needed larger amps on stage. You don’t need them these days. Saves ears too!
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Old 2nd October 2005, 11:38 PM   #5
Fuling is offline Fuling  Sweden
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I too have (vague) plans for a tube bass amp.
The idea of squeezing 150W out of two PL519´s is close at hand.
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Old 3rd October 2005, 09:54 AM   #6
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The stage is small (not even elevated) and I've tried to keep the noise level down by keeping wattage and drun size small. The kit is custom, with an 18" kick, and 10" snare, and almost looks like a kids set. But drummers who can't control their volume are controlled by the size of the kit. Even then it get's way loud. I've built a 20W Fender Deluxe which is actually a bit too loud and doesn't need to be fed through the PA. (Before I had 2 smaller 15W solid state "practice" amps, which I miced and fed through the PA, but it muddied up the mix since they had to be driven loud to be heard on stage, and I was drowning in mids, so I want to keep the amps out of the PA. The Bass Amp is a solid state 120W Laney, which has to be driven pretty maxed out to get anygood bass out of it. That's why I'm thinking of building a new amp by keeping the Laney cab with it's 15" speaker, and building a separate head to drive it.

I guess the question is tubes or not, and what schematics are available that fit my needs?
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Old 7th October 2005, 05:13 PM   #7
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I've finally decided to do an Ampeg B25 preamp with a V4B output.
Thanks for your comments!
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Old 7th October 2005, 09:58 PM   #8
Brion55 is offline Brion55  United States
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Let us know how it comes out. You may want to check the 15" speaker to make sure it's a good one. A low efficiency speaker can rob a lot of sound! You might also look into adding another cabinet with a couple of 10" in it, to give the rig some more punch.
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