Solid state heads - GK or Ampeg? (or SWR?)

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frenchbass
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Solid state heads - GK or Ampeg? (or SWR?)

Post by frenchbass » Mon Apr 04, 2016 11:27 am

Hi all,

So, I'm on the hunt for a new rig since coming back from overseas. I was playing guitar in a band before I left, and stashed my gear here while I was away.

Now that I'm back, I've gone back to the bass (and am loving it)....but I need to acquire a rig. I'm selling my guitar rig (worth about 2.5k) and am looking to replace with an equivalently priced rig...so this pretty much rules out any tube amps..

I've seen on TM there are a couple of options, which are within the budget (around $800), so...what are you're thoughts on the below:

GK 800RB - this appeals to me the most. Although not the most powerful amp, the reviews I've seen seem to say that it's going to have enough grunt for me. Also, I used to have a 700RB, with an Ampeg spec 8x10, and I remember being pretty happy with the tone. Apparently the 800RB is more 'real' sounding than the 700...but these are all just other opinions I've read.

Ampeg PF-800 - What is this thing?! I like the sound of SVT Ampegs (I'd grab an SVT7 if one was going for the right price)...but this thing seems tiny! Does it really have enough balls to play on large stages?

SWR Workingpro 700 - I've never really been a fan of SWR...from what I remember on the few times I've played through SWRs the sound has been a bit muddy for me...maybe I just needed to spend some time getting to know it though.

I'll also need a cab (or 2), and am looking to get either 2 4x10s, or a 6x10. As I said previously...I had an 8x10...but it's just a real pain in the ass to lug around to gigs (although that tone was almost worth it...loved the sound I was getting from the Ampeg spec cab)

I play rock what I guess you'd call 'modern rock'...so am after a punchy but warm sound, with a bit of bite. Of course I use a sansamp too...

As an aside...are there any heads out there that have have a single (or maybe two) tube(s) to get get some tube warmth, that sell within my price range?

Thanks team!
Fender Aerodyne 2012
Gibson SG Special 1989
Fender Contemporary Telecaster 1986
Orange 4x12
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john
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Re: Solid state heads - GK or Ampeg? (or SWR?)

Post by john » Mon Apr 04, 2016 7:09 pm

If you liked the sound of your last rig going with a GK head might be your best bet.
There is a 700rb with a Warwick 6x10 on trade me that is slightly above your budget (or is thee $800 budget just for the head)?

http://www.trademe.co.nz/music-instrume ... 057610.htm

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frenchbass
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Re: Solid state heads - GK or Ampeg? (or SWR?)

Post by frenchbass » Tue Apr 05, 2016 9:15 am

My total budget for head+cab(s) is 2.5k...

I previously had my old 700rb head hooked up to a Warwick 4x10...really wasn't happy with the sound...

however when I ditched the Warwick 4x10 and got my fridge, the GK sound was much closer to what I was aiming for.

...I also find it hard to trust a brand that uses comic sans as their font choice... :wink:

I randomly stumbled across some of the people on this fine forum discussing the GK fusion MB800...they dont seem to be on the RS website...any idea how much one of these would set me back?
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Re: Solid state heads - GK or Ampeg? (or SWR?)

Post by basshead56 » Tue Apr 05, 2016 11:54 am

My experiences with GK would put me off them, but they do sound good (had two die on me during a tour).

I have owned heaps of great solid state amps over the years, most recently the Mesa M-Pulse 600. Would have another in a heartbeat. There are no bad Mesa Bass amps or cabs!!!
The Fender 400 Pro was also a solid performer, ran that through two Ampeg BSE410HLFs and it was trouser-flapping good!
I've had a couple of earlier Ashdown ones which were OK but a bit 'empty' or sterile sounding, though I'm told the newer ones are much tidier.
The Trace Elliot stuff I've had was great too (had a few of those!). Heavy but more headroom than I could ever need (including outdoor festivals).

I also have major respect for a couple of Marshall heads - the DBS is a TRULY great solid state head with heaps of grunt and the VBA400 (still own this and the two matching 4x12s) is the only thing that could stop a planet with sheer valve power!
I had a DBS starting out and i stupidly sold it for practically nothing to a mate who killed it one night at a gig by knocking a tray of pints on it.

I am definitely an Ampeg fan and always have been. Over the years I have owned just about everything in the SVT range including a 2 PRO, SVT III, SVT 3 PRO, 4 PRO (still own that and it is AMAZING running through the 610HLF), B500 DR (digital garbage), SVT450H (rubbish also). I currently also have an SVT Micro and 210 AV (2 cabs) rig and 2x B100R 'Blue Rocket' combos - both are stunningly good. I have tried the 7 Pro and didnt really think too much of it to be honest. Didnt sound like an SVT to me.
But back to heads - I tried it all in the quest for the tone of the big boys, in a solid-state form and always came up slightly short. So in the end I came to the SVT CL and 8x10. weighs a ton and is a horrible thing to try and move about but there is nothing as good as 'that' sound.
The new Portaflex heads are good at replicating the Ampeg tone. Never played the PF-800, but have played the 350 and 500 - exact same amps, just bigger power outputs. I tried the 500 next to my SVT Cl and B100R's and it definitely stacks up but just missing a tiny touch of the warmth of either. Still a cracking amp for the money and I like that you can mount it to the 210 or 1x15 cabs (the 4x10 is sealed, which is a pity as they've missed a trick there)

In the end, the Sansamp through a decent sized amp would be fine, as the sansamp tone is awesome. It's as much about the cab really. The 6x10 is my personal favourite cab config.
Fender Precision X 9 (mostly 70's), Jazz, Jaguar,
MM Stingray, Gibson T-Bird, Dean Cabbie, Dano DC Bass
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Re: Solid state heads - GK or Ampeg? (or SWR?)

Post by foal30 » Wed Apr 06, 2016 2:42 pm

I've never found an SWR to be muddy. Definitley suit a Jazz Bass IMO
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Re: Solid state heads - GK or Ampeg? (or SWR?)

Post by frenchbass » Sat Apr 09, 2016 4:39 pm

Thanks for your input all! It's all just a matter of preference I guess.

Hard to know without trying first, so I guess I'll have to go window shopping for some window shattering goodness.

Now I just really have a question about Watts. The 800rb I'm thinking of is only 300w (+100w for the highs in bi-amp) - is this going to be grunty enough for playing big venues (I hope to be doing this very soon :lol: ), or is the 800w Ampeg Portaflex going to be the better guarantee in this case?
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frenchbass
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Re: Solid state heads - GK or Ampeg? (or SWR?)

Post by frenchbass » Tue May 31, 2016 12:08 pm

Just a quick update...

I went for an Mesa M-pulse 600. Got it at a great price, and it has the power that I was after. Also, has a tube pre, which is fantastical.

Unfortunately I haven't been able to test it out yet as I haven't got a cab yet! On the lookout for one now. Looking forward to giving it a go when we finally get gigging again!
Fender Aerodyne 2012
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Re: Solid state heads - GK or Ampeg? (or SWR?)

Post by foal30 » Wed Jun 01, 2016 2:26 pm

Good one
Location? If in Chch you can come around mine and plug into a cab here.
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frenchbass
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Re: Solid state heads - GK or Ampeg? (or SWR?)

Post by frenchbass » Thu Jun 02, 2016 11:48 am

Thanks foal, I actually got the sale of the century just yesterday and scored a mesa 4 x 10 for $300...pretty stoked with that! She's a bit rough around the edges, but as long as it's just cosmetic, I don't really care! I guess I'll know for certain when I plug in over the weekend :D

Anyway, I'm in Auckland, so that wouldn't have worked. :P
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Re: Solid state heads - GK or Ampeg? (or SWR?)

Post by foal30 » Thu Jun 02, 2016 12:31 pm

Well done FB
$300 for a Mesa cab seems a bargain, hope it works out.
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Re: Solid state heads - GK or Ampeg? (or SWR?)

Post by beagle » Thu Jun 16, 2016 11:28 am

frenchbass wrote:Thanks for your input all! It's all just a matter of preference I guess.

Hard to know without trying first, so I guess I'll have to go window shopping for some window shattering goodness.

Now I just really have a question about Watts. The 800rb I'm thinking of is only 300w (+100w for the highs in bi-amp) - is this going to be grunty enough for playing big venues (I hope to be doing this very soon :lol: ), or is the 800w Ampeg Portaflex going to be the better guarantee in this case?
Hey frenchbass
I use an 800RB as my main amp. It's a good overall sound IMO but I'm sure there's better depending on your tastes.
As it is an old school 300 watt amp, for big venues you wouldn't regret having 2x 4x10 cabs or an 8x10 if you're playing Rock.
Every sound guy I've used has had only good things to say about it and it's DI output.
Main likes for me... easy to carry, 100% reliable, simple.
I'd recommend you checkout the current digital amps before getting one of these as they are smaller and have more watts.
Musicman Sterling, Fender Jazz, GK 800RB, 400RB, Neo412, Neo112, 410T

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