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Is it the amp, the player, or a case of trying to keep up with the Jones


EZ

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I see a lot of company bashing around. People saying that this brand is cheap or it sounds like crap. I can understand if the stuff just fall apart and doesnt stand the test of time, but come on is it the amps, or is it the player who may not know how to get the best out of that amp? I know I have played some inexpensive amps that sound fine to me; they may not have had the kind of power I wanted, but over all the sound was ok at low volumes. Are we caught up with what is hot now. Hartke was hot when they first came out with ppl like Jaco using their equipment, now ppl say they sound like crap, Ampeg was around before most who read this thread were born, but they love them, and thats not the sound that got Ampeg where it is today I like the old Ampeg sound. So like I said is it the amp ,or the player not knowing, or are we trying to keep up with the Jones?
If you smell something stinking, it's juz me, I'm funky like that
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Yo.

 

I think it's all of the above and then some.

 

Jack Bruce gets the sound he wants out of Hartke (or they're paying him plenty to get a sound he can tolerate out of Hartke). :D

 

Here are some of the reaons why I think people get into different rigs.

 

1. Their current set-ups aren't loud enough. They need more power via more speakers, more efficient speakers, more wattage, or some combination of the three.

 

2. Their portability needs change. They get roadies and get bigger stuff. They wake up and realize that they will never have roadies, they're getting older, and they need and can have smaller, loud, good-sounding stuff that they can actually carry up and down stair by themselves.

 

3. They want this week's hot item. It's the rig du jour, they have the cash, and they get it. Sometimes this is the result of marketing and sometimes this is the result of actual technical/technological improvements.

 

4. Players' playing situations change and their requirements for certain kinds of tone change.

 

5. Players' score a windfall, have a few extra bucks, and turn that into a new rig.

 

6. Some players do not know how to get the best out of their rigs. This will lead them to disparage a particular piece of gear, if not the whole line.

 

Now, if a player's rig works for him/her -- whatever its components may be -- then so be it. I've probably been guilty of ragging on some brands of gear, but hopefully not too much and hopefully with the caveat that a particular piece of gear or line of gear never resonated with me -- which doesn't mean it wouldn't work for someone else.

 

However, I think on some types of measures, some brands or pieces of gear are at least semi-objectively better than others. For example, in terms of versatility, weight and size, reliability over time, etc.

 

Peace.

--Dub $$

spreadluv

 

Fanboy? Why, yes! Nordstrand Pickups and Guitars.

Messiaen knew how to parlay the funk.

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SW speaks the truth - as ever!

 

Another problem is that most bassists respond to how a product is marketed as opposed to what it actually sounds like and how loud it can go. And a huge part of that marketing is players buying cabs with large diameter speakers because they want big bottom, or big cabs with loads of speakers because they want to be loud.

 

So we see bassists buying an entry-level Hartke 8x10" because it looks big and loud, when a cab of a similar price but with half the number of speakers (therefore less good to their eyes) would blow that Hartke away. And be far easier to move, hold its value better, etc etc.

 

Quality not quantity is the key. Put a good 10" speaker in the right cab and it'll put out more SPL from 100Hz up than eight cheap 10"s. Put a good 15" in the right cab and it'll put out more bottom than a dual 18" sub let alone the dubious 15" and 18" bass cabs out there.

 

Alex

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Which automaker do you prefer, and for what reason?

 

This same argument was generally used against Peavey. Peavey made it a point to produce low cost, reliable gear.

 

They made a commitment to to the solid state amp many years ago. Their bass amp, an enormous amp with 2 15" speakers virtually squashed the Fender Bassman dominance 35 years ago; every band hall in the country had one.

 

But the Peavey amps, although powerful and useful, were heavy and the sound was not complex. And the sound "nazis" started harping.

 

Over the years, Peavey has introduced dozens of changes to their gear, generally in an effort to introduce ideas other manufacturers are using (EQ rather than tone knobs many years ago, contour dial, bi-amping, treble horns, etc.)

 

Peavey is the Kia of music equipment.

 

I use to own a Peavey, I do own a Kia. My Kia is cheap to run and reliable, even though it doesn't have self levelling shocks, noise cancelling stereo or hybrid technology. It doesn't have a sexy skin, but I didn't need that.

 

Of course, if I got in the taxi business, I might choose something different.

Yep. I'm the other voice in the head of davebrownbass.
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OT: My parents own a KIA and they love it too.

Now this figures...

I've just purchased a Hartke head to start building my stage rig. As soon as the deal is finalized everybody starts bashing Hartke. Personally, I've played them and I dig them. But, there again, I've not found very many rigs that I couldn't "dial" my sound in with. If it isn't loud enough then...what's FOH assistance for?

Love God...Love People!

 

 

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Pleasing sound is a HUGE individual choice... once in a band situation it changes to be heard through the sonic flood of frequencies. Trying to get my nephew to buy a g****r that is set-up right has a decent sound and good $$$ value as opposed to his hero righ now? Fat chance. But after telling him about the differences between the two might make him rethink the next time he's cut some 50 or 60 lawns to buy an amp or effects unit.

Same with the cars. DBrown is right. CORVETTE sounds alot better rolling of my tongue than KIA. Do I need a vette? heh HELL YEAH!! But will I be able to get one... no :( People want to fit in and if that means buying the cool thing, alot of the time they do and put up with the shortfalls of the decision. Getting information, talking to other players still only gets an opinion. But we thrive on that. Nature of the Beast. Choosing something or going our own way seems to be really hard for people to do and others to accept without ridicule, but thankfully it seems that this form shows differently. I agree/disagree (obviously) with every post and thread here. I just hope that I learn from each.

 

exhale

Peace, Brocko

Don't have a job you don't enjoy. If you're happy in what you're doing, you'll like yourself, you'll have inner peace. ~ Johnny Carson
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Originally posted by SteveC:

I think I'll just stay out of this one...

Come on Steve your voice is always welcomed.
If you smell something stinking, it's juz me, I'm funky like that
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Originally posted by Brocko777:

Pleasing sound is a HUGE individual choice... once in a band situation it changes to be heard through the sonic flood of frequencies. Trying to get my nephew to buy a g****r that is set-up right has a decent sound and good $$$ value as opposed to his hero righ now? Fat chance. But after telling him about the differences between the two might make him rethink the next time he's cut some 50 or 60 lawns to buy an amp or effects unit.

Same with the cars. DBrown is right. CORVETTE sounds alot better rolling of my tongue than KIA. Do I need a vette? heh HELL YEAH!! But will I be able to get one... no :( People want to fit in and if that means buying the cool thing, alot of the time they do and put up with the shortfalls of the decision. Getting information, talking to other players still only gets an opinion. But we thrive on that. Nature of the Beast. Choosing something or going our own way seems to be really hard for people to do and others to accept without ridicule, but thankfully it seems that this form shows differently. I agree/disagree (obviously) with every post and thread here. I just hope that I learn from each.

 

exhale

Peace, Brocko

Well said!!!! :thu:
If you smell something stinking, it's juz me, I'm funky like that
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It seems like we've drifted OT in a big way on this one.

 

People seem to like what they see the stars play.

 

People bash equipment that is built cheaply and is therefore unreliable.

 

Style is here to stay wether we like it or not. Just look at that other forum where there are hundreds of pages of posts about Schroeder cabinets. They might be great(I doubt it) but who would buy a cabinet that you can't hear before you buy it?

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I've been guilty of bashing Hartke in the past. I've played through many different amps and can always manage to get a tone that I can deal with, the Hartke rigs I've played through were always the exception. I do realize, however, that this is a matter of my own personal taste and would never criticize anyone else for owning and prefering Hartke gear. In the PBS Cream reunion concert, Jack Bruce certainly gets killer tone from his Hartke rig. I've never been able to get that kind of tone out of them, but I've also never used thier paper cone cabinets and I am far from being Jack Bruce.

 

As far as Peavey is concerned, I just sold my TNT 115S. It never had great tone (IMO) but it sounded decent enough and it held up through a lot of bad weather outdoor gigs and other abuses throughout the years. It was a very cheap amp that served me well and was well worth the money I paid for it. I sold it because I fit into Dr. Sweet Willie's first catagory and bought a new rig.

 

Bottom line: Let your own ears and needs do the talking and don't get caught up in the hype.

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Definitely (as DrSW said) all of the above.

 

Amps have gotten way better since I started playing professionally in 1970. So have the players. But I've seen a lot of bad amps and players as well. So the conclusion I've reached on the first two is that (a) a better amp will make a good player sound better (technique is another thing); (b) a poor player will make a good amp sound like garbage. (go to any GC on the weekend and hear that for yourself).

 

As for keeping up with the Jones: some of us can't afford to because of other financial priorities like keeping our cars running and putting food on the table. I've seen incremental improvements in boutique equipment over similar mass-produced items, but that doesn't mean I NEED it to sound better. But I wouldn't arbitrarily write off boutique gear either, simply because time, mass-production techniques and the persistence of R&D in various companies mean that, sooner or later, I'll find most of those innovations available in mass-production equipment.

 

So I won't fault a player for having better equipment than mine, because at the end of the day it all falls back to you and how much time you devote to your technique and sound.

BTW, my name isn't Jones. :wave:

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Originally posted by Big Daddy from Motown:

It seems like we've drifted OT in a big way on this one.

 

People seem to like what they see the stars play.

 

People bash equipment that is built cheaply and is therefore unreliable.

 

Style is here to stay wether we like it or not. Just look at that other forum where there are hundreds of pages of posts about Schroeder cabinets. They might be great(I doubt it) but who would buy a cabinet that you can't hear before you buy it?

A lot of ppl are doing it now a days, just read all the post about Avatar on this site. A lot of ppl are just trying to keep up with the Jones. There are ppl on this site as well as others that if they say Milton Bradley made a great amp, that the followers would run and get one just because, and would not dare to say that it wasn't as good as they were told. Ppl want to fit in, and not be out on a limb alone so they won't walk their own paths.
If you smell something stinking, it's juz me, I'm funky like that
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I have played alot of different amps over the years and have managed to make most all of them sound like crap (Peavey, GK, Fender, Ampeg) but when I paid propper attention and got over the "Louder is better" tom-foolery, I was able to get tasty tones from everything I played through with 2 exceptions. Hartke and Behringer. Now, I'm not saying they don't make a good sounding product. They just didn't sound good to me.

 

Portability, value and volume - but with tone ? The industry is getting better all the time. Do you get what you pay for? In most cases yes. What's in a name? Generally quite a bit.If there is name bashing here on this forum I would think it is the sound of experience and not just parroting what the masses are saying or jumping on board with what is "popular."

 

For many years I hauled around enormous cabs that sounded great. "Hey man - can you give me a hand with this?" got really old as did the sound guy shaking his head when he heard casters rolling across the stage. I know I am not alone in that.

Nowadays the need for giant cabs bristling with drivers is more ego than sound/tone IMO. I do just fine with a single 12 and a single 15 and I can carry each with 1 hand if I need to and yes, I can make it sound as crappy as an 8-10.

"He is to music what Stevie Wonder is to photography." getz76

 

I have nothing nice to say so . . .

 

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The only rig I have actually had to take back to where I bought it, and get my money back because it sounded so awful, was a Hartke rig.

 

I've had very satisfying experiences with SWR, GK, and Eden gear.

 

That's the only four brands of 'modern' bass rigs I have owned.

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Originally posted by Edendude:

The only rig I have actually had to take back to where I bought it, and get my money back because it sounded so awful, was a Hartke rig.

 

I've had very satisfying experiences with SWR, GK, and Eden gear.

 

That's the only four brands of 'modern' bass rigs I have owned.

I've never owned a up to date brand of amp, but I did try a Genz Benz about a month ago, and it put a big smile on my face. So far that is the only new thing I've tried that I really like. My amp is over 25 yrs old, and still sounds good to me, but I know it is time to move on if I want to be out on stage. When I use my 2-10s all is good, but when I show up with that 301 cab ppl run nobody wants to lift that thing, not even me, but thats my baby. :)
If you smell something stinking, it's juz me, I'm funky like that
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i have the ability to largely sound like myself no matter what i'm playing on or through. i'm good like that. but the gear that i like is able to get to that sound much easier and much louder than the gear that i don't like. it's usually not very objective further than that.

 

for example, i don't like SWR very much. they have a few gems, but generally it's not my style. that doesn't make me any more wrong than those who love SWR. it just doesn't fit my needs.

 

but i think it's not just bass gear, but everything in general, where people feel like there's something missing if they're not part of the crowd. lucky for me, my dad said very often when i was growing up, "225 million people can be wrong." in other words, even if the rest of the united states goes in one direction, that doesn't mean i'm wrong for going in mine.

 

and i think around here, like any community, there are commonalities and differences. so we may be really fond of a certain amp or cabinet that may not be en vogue elsewhere on the interweb. but we also generally chastise people for wanting gear simply because it looks loud, too.

 

it's hard when everyone says the brand you own and love is no good, but ultimately the only thing that matters is that you're satisfied with your gear. no one else has to play it, and if you like your sound, does it really matter what other people think?

 

robb.

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There are some very popular amps that I think sound like crap. I will not name those, but I will defend some of the others. There are a few amps that develop bad reputations because of a few bad production choice or because it becomes the "in thing" for the bass playing public to bash them.

 

Hartke is a fine example of this. I am not fond of the amplifiers, don't like their sound. Their kickback combo amps are the worst I have ever heard or played through. To me, their speaker cabinets - the XL, the 4.5, even the Transporter Series are fine. When I walk into a gig where there is a backline and I see a Hartke cabinet, I am cool with it. I pull my Walter Wood out of my gig bag and plug in. The sound is consistent and I have never blown one up. Of course I have no problem telling the guitarist to turn his amp down.

 

GK makes a pretty good amp. I owned a 800RB that was used when it was purchased. I used it for 10 years before I traded it in with another purchase. It broke once, a ship's electrician fixed it for the price of 2 beers. I need a back up head and I am seriously considering another GK. That having been said, their cabinets suck. Period.

 

I am no fan of Ampeg amps. I was forced to play one at a rehearsal studio in NYC back when I was doing "Tommy" with spectacular results. I was instantly turned into a rock 'n roll god. The sound was perfect in every way. If I were playing more rock gigs, I would not hesitate to own an Ampeg. I would not practice through it, but I would use it at the gig.

 

Last spring, I did an old school R&B gig. They supplied a Peavey Mark something amp and a matching 215 cabinet. Horrible sounding set up, however as soon we launched into some Al Green, Al Wilson, early Earth, Wind and Fire or Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes I was in heaven. All I needed at that point was a bottle of Rose, some polyester and a big afro.

 

The point I am trying to make is that we shouldn't fall victim to ad campaigns using our favorite celebrity bassist to determine what kind of gear we use. Nor should we spend hard earn money on the amp of the month when what we need to do is practice and do some mild eq adjustments. Use the right tools for the gigs that you do.

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I know I kid a lot about being an Ampeg nazi, but...

 

I never really heard any Ampeg cabinets until I bought mine about 5 years ago. I tried various cabs out: Fender, Hartke, Trace Elliot, Mesa, but could never find one that I really liked. Then I plugged into an Ampeg 4x10 and it clicked with me AND I practically stole the thing from the Guitar Center that I bought it at. I got quality and value out of that 4x10.

As far as my amp goes, I was actually out cabinet shopping when I first played it and fell in love. It took me years before I could buy one though.

I've had my current setup for about 4 years now. I have definetly found "my sound".

Tenstrum

 

"Paranoid? Probably. But just because you're paranoid doesn't mean there isn't an invisible demon about to eat your face."

Harry Dresden, Storm Front

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There is bad-sounding poorly made crap, there is good-sounding poorly made crap, there is bad-sounding well made crap, and then there are amps that cost a lot.

I think that pretty much sums it up.

If I could find a reliable Peavey Centurion, I'd live with the sound of it, which may not be as cool as some of the newer stuff, but is plenty loud, full-sounding, and easy to use. And, you can pick them up for a couple bills pretty much anywhere you find them. But they are all 10 or 20 years old, and are getting ready to give up the ghost one way or another. Lord, for a reliable, good sounding, powerful, cheap amp!

Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

 

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I need a back up head and I am seriously considering another GK. That having been said, their cabinets suck. Period.
I agree with this. As much as I absolutely love my GK 1001RB head, I'd recommend a non-GK brand of cab to mate it with.

 

I am yet to hear GK cab I like the sound of, but their heads are the best bang for the buck, in my opinion. I use my Eden WT head for all my recording work, but it's my trusty GK 1001RB that gets the call for all my live gigs.

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Originally posted by Tenstrum:

I tried various cabs out: Fender, Hartke, Trace Elliot, Mesa, but could never find one that I really liked. Then I plugged into an Ampeg 4x10 and it clicked with me AND I practically stole the thing from the Guitar Center that I bought it at. I got quality and value out of that 4x10.

As far as my amp goes, I was actually out cabinet shopping when I first played it and fell in love. It took me years before I could buy one though.

I've had my current setup for about 6 years now. I have definetly found "my sound".

God bless you for this. that's exactly what we're talking about here. you played through a bunch of stuff and found what you like. if only everyone did that.

 

as it happens, i have never really enjoyed ampeg cabinets. and that's my taste. so bought elsewhere. but you love ampeg, so that's what you bought, and it's what you love. and we're both happy. and our amps work for what we do.

 

ain't it grand?

 

as a side note, while i've never really played through a hartke rig, i once saw a band whose bass player played through a hartke. he had a great tone on the verge of breakup. it was very grindy and full. i also had a friend who had a hartke full stack. he was convinced that pushing all the graphic EQ sliders to full was the same as keeping them at 0, except louder. he put a little scoop in the mids and sounded like ass. can't really blame the amp. it was a lot louder than my carvin combo at the time.

 

robb.

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Lots of good comments here. My feeling (and I'm betting SteveC will agree) is that it's not so easy to make these decisions. And what you play in your bedroom, rehearsal, and gig has to cover a lot of sonic demands. How do you know until you try? You still have to buy something...

 

And we're all individuals with our own ears, even if we are like tnb or JeremyC and tend to sound like ourselves.

 

The one thing I disagree with EZ on is keeping up with others. I think most people that are trying to upgrade their gear have a mixture of GAS, recognizing what their rig is NOT doing, and a desire for improvement. Some of us (like me) are at a different place financially, and can afford to buy (or have the time to save up to buy) more expensive (notice I didn't say "better") gear.

 

For the record, weight is a key issue for me. Another issue has been understanding different types of EQ. I have played through a Hartke 3500 in a few different places and have liked the sound. Just the same, I've heard more reliability failures about Hartke than other brands. That's not "impirical evidence", but with all the choices out there, I'll pass.

 

I've played through many many rigs. And still there are more I'd like to try just to see what they can do.

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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As a nostalgic side note...

 

One of the best sounding rigs I have ever owned, was an old-school piece of crap, by today's standards.

 

Naturally it lacked the punch of a modern high-headroom amp, or the transient response of ten inch drivers, but it sounded great.

 

It was a Traynor 2x15 cab, with an all tube 100 watt Traynor head.

 

The head weighed as much as most 2x10 cabs weigh today, and the cab weighed as much as typical modern fridge.

 

Traynor eventually became Yorkville Sound.

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People have always had to have something to bash, and there is always something new and cool on the block. I have been playing through the same 3 rigs for 20+ years. I have 2 Trace VA 600's I use for Metal, I have an AH 500X I used for my Christian rock band, and an SWR Super Redhead I use for recording and open mic stuff. I had never heard of any of these heads when I bought them, just sat down and tried them out(yes the SWR is a combo). I think if Players took the time to go to multiple stores and get a taste of what they could be using, they might find something that gives them goosebumps. That is what I did, and to this day, I have found only 1 other amp that did it for me, and that was an Eden Traveler 400. Unfortunately, it is not in my price range, and I really don't need another amp....LOL
I seek knowledge from the winds of destiny , Wisdom from the seas of time, and honor from within myself. Lost in a land where bass and time collide.
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Originally posted by Edendude:

As a nostalgic side note...

 

One of the best sounding rigs I have ever owned, was an old-school piece of crap, by today's standards.

 

Naturally it lacked the punch of a modern high-headroom amp, or the transient response of ten inch drivers, but it sounded great.

 

It was a Traynor 2x15 cab, with an all tube 100 watt Traynor head.

 

The head weighed as much as most 2x10 cabs weigh today, and the cab weighed as much as typical modern fridge.

 

Traynor eventually became Yorkville Sound.

Favorite combo amp I ever played through: a Yorkville BLOC 300-watt amp.

 

And big ups for Peavey; their sound has come a long way. And for years, even if their sound wasn't the best, they could still make that sound after suffering abuse that would've silenced lesser amps. You can STILL go into a pawnshop and buy a 25-year-old Peavey that works just fine, that may have been dropped off the top of a grain elevator at some point in its life. You can't kill'em.

 

As for the point of this thread: Your sound starts in your head and heart, travels through your fingers into the instrument, and out into the world through the amp. The best amp for you is the one that gets the hell out of the way of this sound. It's not in the amp.

"I had to have something, and it wasn't there. I couldn't go down the street and buy it, so I built it."

 

Les Paul

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