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Best Multi-purpose Rig?

John David

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Hey all.


First of all, this is my first post. Been reading and enjoying Bass Player for years and I am hoping this community is fairly active and engaged. Many of my favorite online bass communities have died off in the past.


Anyway, I moved to Salt Lake City recently and just started playing music again after falling in with http://thetanaught.com/. My primary role in that band is cellist, though I do plan on playing melodic lead bass and playing back and manipulating field recordings. I typically switch off instruments while I play, sometimes within the same song. I don't want separate rigs for each instrument to conserve space and money and make moving easier, since I am likely to move again within the year.


In the past, I've amplified everything through an old Peavey keyboard amp with a 115 cabinet. Keyboard amps make awesome multi-purpose amps for low to fairly loud (but not heavy rock loud) bands. I'm looking to part with that amp, however, because it's somewhat heavy and frequently needs to be serviced.


I'd like to put together a flexible multi-purpose rig that can play back any instrument I want through it as well as mix multiple sound sources at once. I don't need a lot of wattage or speaker surface area right now, but I'd like to be able to expand it if I need a louder rig. I'm also primarily a bassist at heart and it's important that the rig can put out bright melodic/chordal tones as well as very round and warm vintage tones. Weight is a big factor as well. I don't want to have to lift anything heavier than forty pounds or so.


Here are some options I've explored:


1) Another keyboard amp. Roland mixing keyboard amps sound excellent and are very durable. Pros: compact, easy to transport, one piece, relatively inexpensive. Cons: not very modular. Lacks a powered speaker out and is not easily expandable into a big rig.


2) Preamps, a mixer, and powered PA cabinets. I own a Sansamp RBI bass preamp, and a Fishman cello preamp and have run them into a mixer into my keyboard amp or PA in the past. This sounds just fine and affords me great flexibility. Pros: very flexible, highly tweakable sound, modular. Cons: very long setup time, very high "bug" factor (bad patch cable, loose connection, etc.) Tone? Can full-range, lightweight, powered PA cabinets put out a convincing warm vintage bass tone?


3) Preamps, a mixer, hi-fi dual-channel (solid state / tube pre) bass amp, passive cabinets. Pros: highly modular, probably best bass tone out of the three options, especially if I want to use it as a straight-ahead bass rig. Access to tube pre good for vintage tones. Cons: lots of moving parts and very long setup time. Probably the most expensive option. In the past, I occasionally used this setup with a low-end Ashdown amp and found that the resulting sound was compressed and somewhat muddy (perhaps the preamp was designed for vintage tone). This setup would only work with a transparent and high-headroom preamp which means likely an expensive high-fidelity modern amp.


Does anyone have a similar hybrid rig? Have any advice?




John David

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Heh. Yeah. I've heard folks use them live. They have an amazing room-filling sound. Way out of my price range right now, though.


I'd like to spend about $400 - $600 for a minimal setup and then maybe grow it out by adding more cabs later if I need more volume.

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I can't think of anything for that price range, except maybe a PA head pushing something like a 12 or 15 inch neo speaker.


Preamp, mixer, power amp doesn't have to be complicated to set up if it's all racked together, but it's expensive and you really need multiple preamps. You could get a Genz Benz shuttle bass head that has two channels with completely separate preamps.

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At my age, portability is high on my list. I have lugged 100+ lb. Peavey combos, heads and cabinets around for 40 years. I recently purchased a used Fender Bassman 150 with the 12" Neo Eminence speaker and the total weight isabout 30 lbs. I love the tone of that speaker and the power is suffcient for me.


"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb, voting on what to eat for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb, contesting the vote."

Benjamin Franklin

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I use a full-range 3-way PA speaker as a bass speaker, a Carvin LS1503 (http://www.carvinguitars.com/products/single.php?product=LS1503). I like the sound enough that I deal with portability or lack thereof (~58lbs).


They used to make an active version, the LS1503A, but it's not on their website any more (they are selling some on ebay http://cgi.ebay.com/Carvin-LSx1503A-425W-Tri-Amped-Main-Speaker-BLM-/400166577482?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5d2bc9654a).


There was a huge Talkbass thread on them (first part at: http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?t=336504). There are plusses and minusses - some folks had problems, etc. There has also been a movement towards fEarful and Barefaced cabs as better implementations.


The cost might work for you and the 3-way design would work well for things other than bass.


Missed your 40lbs limit the first time through - some of the newer fEarful cabs folks are building (12/6/1) are right about 40lbs.

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You could get a Genz Benz shuttle bass head that has two channels with completely separate preamps.


Yep. I've had that head in mind for a while. A friend of mine warns me against class D power amps so I'd like to A/B it against a non-class D power amp of equivalent wattage and see if they compare in terms of volume and low frequency response. He recommends Trace Elliot amps as an alternative. The low weight of class D sure is attractive, though.

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I've been using a Shuttle Max 12.0 for months now. Previously I was using either an SWR SM-400 or an an SWR SM-900. I haven't found any downside to using the class D amp. There's more than enough of everything I need. I have the two channels set up very differently, one for fretted and one for fretless.


I'm using either an Accugroove Tri112L, Tri210L, or both.

Those are all full-range speaker cabinets and I know one keyboard player using them.


This is not an inexpensive collection of gear, but it's very portable.

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music-man, who hasn't posted here in a while, had a nice compact rig that he used for electric bass and cello. It involved an epifani cab, but I can't remember for the life of me what the head was. It sounded great with the cello (at The Bitter End in NYC), but I haven't heard him play bass through it.







Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

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A friend of mine warns me against class D power amps so I'd like to A/B it against a non-class D power amp of equivalent wattage and see if they compare in terms of volume and low frequency response.

What does your friend say is wrong with Class D amps?


I have both a QSC PLX1602 (big iron, Class AB) and a Peavey IPR1600 (SMPS, Class D) in my PA rack.


Volume differences? The IPR has a higher voltage gain than the PLX, so it's "louder" at lower settings. But they both put out the same wattage.

Low frequency response differences? Nothing that I or anyone else can hear.


The only difference between the two is the weight and the current draw.

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