Page 1 of 2
#1
As many of you know, my main amplifier is the venerable and infinitely badass Mesa Bass 400. I've owned this amp for about four months now, and it's seen mucho recording and practice time, and a fair number of gigs. It's been very well-behaved and reliable in the time I've owned it.

Anyway, I've had someone local offer to trade me his amp for my Mesa: an Ampeg SVT2-Pro Premier Edition, number 37 out of 250. It is almost 16 years old, but in outstanding condition (my Mesa is twenty and pristine).

The Mesa and Ampeg all-tube heads have been rivals since the Earth was cooling. Boxers and briefs, apples and oranges, PC and Mac, Coke and Pepsi. Both amps are similar in maximum volume, have graphic equalizers, are incredibly well-built, and utilize six 6550's for power.

The SVT has a fatter low end and powerful low-mids, and is more gainy and aggressive than the Mesa. However, it is also less flexible and generally has one solid tone that fits well in many places. It's not a one-trick-pony, though.

The Bass 400 is cleaner and punchier, and generally more hi-fi than the SVT. It is also slightly more transparent, which is unusual for a tube amp, but still retains it's tubey balls. In terms of "meanness", the 400 has more of a gritty sound whereas the SVT has a fuller, bigger overdrive. Finally, the 400 is a bit more tonally versatile and flexible.

My dilemma should be obvious by now: which amp do I go with? As a bassist I'm primarily into jazz, reggae, hiphop, and some indie-rock. I only play 5-string and BEAD-tuned 4-string basses. However, I am unsure of which amp would work the best for me. I've had good success with my Mesa, but I also really dig the SVT sound and wonder if it's fatter tone would work better with the fatter varieties of bass I deal in.

Let the opinions fly!
"Comedy's a dead art form. Now tragedy, that's funny." -Bender Bending Rodriguez
Last edited by mountaindew88 at Oct 6, 2008,
#2
Just based on the music styles you play, stick with the Mesa.

But if your genres were more like rock, funk, and metal, then I would tell you to be all over that Ampeg. The indie is really the only place where I can see the Ampeg having a clear advantage over the Mesa, based on how you've described them.

Have you brought weight into the equation?

Good luck man!
#5
Weight isn't a concern.... I'm young and full of life, so I see now as the time to use tube amps! I'll start looking at the VHS-tape sized amps when I retire :p I do understand that the Ampeg weighs more than twice as much as the Mesa (95 pounds versus 45 pounds), but I always have help available to move it around. Even if I didn't, I can handle a heavy rack without much trouble. Just lift with your legs, not your back!

For cabs, I'm currently using ADA 1x15's. They're borrowed, though. After I decide on which head I want, I'll choose cabs accordingly. If I stick with my Mesa, I'll either get Mesa or Avatar 2x12's. If I go with Ampeg, I'm not sure yet. Regardless, I'll only be using 12" and 15" speakers. If I do end up swapping for the Ampeg, I might consider the 410HLF due to it's big low-end response.
"Comedy's a dead art form. Now tragedy, that's funny." -Bender Bending Rodriguez
Last edited by mountaindew88 at Oct 6, 2008,
#6
hrmm.....

id say get the ampeg, and get an aguilar 4x12, or the BASSON 8x10.



im a fan of big huge refrigerators, rather than 2 halfs put together, or one half.

mhmm
#7
I would stick with Mesa.
it sounds better, in my opinion. but that's just me.
Quote by FatalGear41
I wouldn't call what we have here on the Bass Forum a mentality. It's more like the sharing part of an AA meeting.

Quote by Jason Jillard
HUMANITY WHATS WRONG WITH YOU.


Warwick Fortress>>Acoustic AB50

http://www.myspace.com/rustingbloom
#8
OK - is your 400 using those Mesa-brand tubes, or can you put any 6550's in there? If you have to use those chinese pieces of crap, I'd get the SVT hands-down. You'd be mistaking transparentness for lack of character! Yeah, that's right, I just recommended an Ampeg.

Also, you mentioned the power amp tubes, which are half the equation. What's the preamp tube sitch in both of those? Are the graphic EQ points where you want them on either amp?

And why does this guy want to trade it?

EDIT: And get a cab with tweeters, for chrissakes.
Quote by Cody_Grey102
I was looking at a used Warwick Vampyre LTD 5'er for about $200. I went home to grab my wallet and came back and some jerk with an epic beard got it already..
Last edited by thefitz at Oct 7, 2008,
#9
My Mesa is capable of using 6550's and KT-88's. However, before I can use these tubes, I need to have bias pots installed in place of Mesa's fixed bias resistor. The Mesa tubes in my 400 now are rebranded Sovtek 6L6GC's, not Chinese tubes (this explains why they're capable of handling the Mesa's 540 volt plate voltage).

As far as preamp tubes, the Mesa is pretty basic: a 12AX7 for each channel, a balanced 12AX7 phase inverter, and a balanced 12AU7 driver. I honestly have no idea what the preamp tubes in the Ampeg are doing, but there's eight of them.

He wants to trade it because he "really wants a Mesa all-tube head before you can't find them anymore, and you've got a really clean one!"

Don't worry, ports and tweeters are in my future. How the hell else will I cut with a fifteen?
"Comedy's a dead art form. Now tragedy, that's funny." -Bender Bending Rodriguez
#10
Don't you read Bass Player Magazine? It's not about cutting through. It's about being smug!

If you want the Mesa, you want the Mesa. The whole bias pot thing pisses me off HARDCORE and is the reason I'll never, ever own a tube power amp, but I don't think those SVT2PRO preamp tubes are useless. Are there multiple channels?

And do you really want to trade?

In my opinion, I tried the 400+ and it didn't stand out to me at all. Maybe the 400+ is different though.
Quote by Cody_Grey102
I was looking at a used Warwick Vampyre LTD 5'er for about $200. I went home to grab my wallet and came back and some jerk with an epic beard got it already..
#11
Quote by thefitz
Don't you read Bass Player Magazine? It's not about cutting through. It's about being smug!

If you want the Mesa, you want the Mesa. The whole bias pot thing pisses me off HARDCORE and is the reason I'll never, ever own a tube power amp, but I don't think those SVT2PRO preamp tubes are useless. Are there multiple channels?

And do you really want to trade?

In my opinion, I tried the 400+ and it didn't stand out to me at all. Maybe the 400 is different though.


Fixed?

Look at you guys with all of your fancy tube talking.

But as for his reasoning, I dunno if I would buy it completely. I mean, its not like you have Premier Edition SVT-2 PROs around all the time. Maybe he just likes the tone of your Mesa more or something.

AND FITZY JUST RECOMMENDED AN AMPEG! THIS IS AN EPIC THREAD!
#12
Quote by thefitz
Don't you read Bass Player Magazine? It's not about cutting through. It's about being smug!

If you want the Mesa, you want the Mesa. The whole bias pot thing pisses me off HARDCORE and is the reason I'll never, ever own a tube power amp, but I don't think those SVT2PRO preamp tubes are useless. Are there multiple channels?

And do you really want to trade?

In my opinion, I tried the 400+ and it didn't stand out to me at all. Maybe the 400+ is different though.


Channel-wise, the Mesa has two and the Ampeg has one. With the Mesa, it has a low-gain, clean, "modern" channel and a punchy, mean, gritty "vintage" channel. The channels each have a separate volume control and input, and are footswitchable via an AB switch. You can also run both at the same time.

With the Ampeg, it has a single channel. Both amps have bypassable solid-state graphic EQ's.

As far as wanting to trade, it depends on which amp I want more in the end. I'm somewhat leaning toward keeping my Mesa and dropping in some 6550's, but every time I think of SVT tone, I reconsider. The SVT's fatter low-end and low-mid bump would be very useful to me, but on the other hand I have the possibility of the amp being too aggressive.

Both amps are relatively rare, The Ampeg was made in 1993 and is the 37th 2PRO ever. My Mesa was made in 1989, and is one of 800. Both amps were hand-made in the USA, parts included.
"Comedy's a dead art form. Now tragedy, that's funny." -Bender Bending Rodriguez
#13
They're both designers pieces, yeah. My opinion? Get the cabs first. THEN see which head you like better.

EDIT: From what I understand, you loved your SVT Classic very much. I think you're retarded, but you loved it and admitted you missed it. From what I understand, the 2PRO is a Classic with a better EQ section. Basically, the 2PRO is the best of both worlds of your Mesa and Classic. However, it's leaning more towards the CL than the 400.
Quote by Cody_Grey102
I was looking at a used Warwick Vampyre LTD 5'er for about $200. I went home to grab my wallet and came back and some jerk with an epic beard got it already..
#14
Quote by IndianRockStar

AND FITZY JUST RECOMMENDED AN AMPEG! THIS IS AN EPIC THREAD!


POSTING IN AN EPIC THREAD :p

I would love to be in your shoes right now deciding between the Mesa and the Ampeg, but I'm poor. I've played some Ampeg products and haven't been impressed with the tone to be honest but that amp isn't just a standard Ampeg I suppose. However, I have played my teachers daughter's Mesa 400 and I absolutely loved it in comparison to anything I've ever played (besides certain SWR heads ). In my opinion stick with your Mesa.

Gibson Les Paul Traditional Satin
Fender 72' Thinline Telecaster
Fender Am Telecaster
Bad Cat HotCat 30R



Korg Pitchblack
Xotic BB Preamp
TC Flashback X4
Strymon Timeline
EHX POG 2
JHS Double Barrel
#15
Quote by thefitz
They're both designers pieces, yeah. My opinion? Get the cabs first. THEN see which head you like better.

EDIT: From what I understand, you loved your SVT Classic very much. I think you're retarded, but you loved it and admitted you missed it. From what I understand, the 2PRO is a Classic with a better EQ section. Basically, the 2PRO is the best of both worlds of your Mesa and Classic. However, it's leaning more towards the CL than the 400.


With SVT-CL, it had a cool tone but was completely inflexible, which is why I stopped missing it I think the the only reason I did miss it was because it's the only nice piece of gear I've ever bought new. However, I would never even consider owning a Classic again.

It still boils down to a conflict of tone, though. It's either the Mesa tone, or the Ampeg tone. I just need to figure out which would work best for my music. Chances are I'm going to end up with one or two Avatar 2x12 neo cabs, which are definately going to be colorless. I will be able to A/B the two heads sometime next week through his Mesa 2x12 and 4x10 cabs.
"Comedy's a dead art form. Now tragedy, that's funny." -Bender Bending Rodriguez
#16
Here's my Fitz guess - you'll prefer the Mesa through 12's and prefer the Ampeg through 10's. I guarantee it. Which tone you like better is your call.
Quote by Cody_Grey102
I was looking at a used Warwick Vampyre LTD 5'er for about $200. I went home to grab my wallet and came back and some jerk with an epic beard got it already..
#17
Quote by thefitz
Here's my Fitz guess - you'll prefer the Mesa through 12's and prefer the Ampeg through 10's. I guarantee it. Which tone you like better is your call.

True, because the bigger speakers will reinforce the Mesa's slightly thinner low-end, and the 10's will keep the Ampeg's gigantic low-end in check.

Still haven't reached a verdict though.... but again, if I keep with the Mesa I'll probably buy Mesa or Avatar cabs, and if I swap for the Ampeg I'll get Ampeg cabs, most likely the 410HLF because it has an insane low-end response, and a tweeter.
"Comedy's a dead art form. Now tragedy, that's funny." -Bender Bending Rodriguez
#18
That wasn't quite what I was meaning. I don't think the 12's have a much 'bigger' bottom - more like deeper. Whereas the 10's have a narrow bottom that people insist on calling 'punch', but there isn't much circumference to the tone. It's very focused. 12's have a very broad tone that's much wider. With a tweeter, you're getting more of a signal from the 12's, with no 'emphasis' on anything per se. More like hi-fi. 15's are too broad to be used full-range IMO, tweeter or not. To me, 12's fit in that sweet spot where you get the best of both worlds. 10's are too narrow in their response (called punch) and 15's are too wide (called boom).

Anyway, I said what I said for the opposite reason you inferred. I meant that you'll find your Mesa more hi-fi through 12s, and your Ampeg would sound more punchy through 10's. The speakers would take advantage of those amps' skill sets, as opposed to balancing them out like you mentioned.

Yes, I realize most of what I said made no syntactic sense.
Quote by Cody_Grey102
I was looking at a used Warwick Vampyre LTD 5'er for about $200. I went home to grab my wallet and came back and some jerk with an epic beard got it already..
#20
Ahhhh.....

Well, fitz, as you know I'm not a big fan of 10's anyway. My favorite speakers are 12's and 15's by far, especially 12's. Chances are that due to my sonic preferences and available cash, I'm going to wind up with an Avatar 2x12, and some random fifteen. This setup will fit my sonic and transportation needs perfectly, as it is modular, light, and the tone is right where I want it. After some serious thought, this is where I want my cab setup to be.

Therefore, I should probably go with the Mesa, as this speaker arrangement would sound best with that amp? Keep in mind that if I stick with Mesa, I'll be getting bias adjustment pots and the appropriate 6550 power tubes it was originally designed to use.

Now that the problem has been potentially solved......... how do you think the SVT2-PRO would behave with my proposed cab setup? Keep in mind that ohmage isn't a major issue, as Avatars can be ordered to operate at 4 or 8 ohms. If I got the SVT, I'd need 4 ohm cabs. If I stuck with the Mesa, it wouldn't matter.
"Comedy's a dead art form. Now tragedy, that's funny." -Bender Bending Rodriguez
#21
I imagine with 12's and a 15, like I rock, the SVT2 will sound absolutely massive. Absolutely massive. With 10's, you'd get that punch coming out of that little speaker box, but with that proposed setup, you'd have a sound that just envelopes the stage. The sound will go up, down, and around the guitars and drums from head to toe. Picture mollasses coming through a Simonizer power washer. That's the Ampeg with 10's. Picture mollasses flowing out of a vat. That's the SVT with 12/15. Picture drowning in mollasses. That's the SVT with just 15's.

That said, the massive tone is a massive responsability. I'm not sure if you could conjure a tone beyond absolutely huge, but then again, genre-wise you may never need to. You're on crack if you think I'm implying that the Mesa has a bit of the sheen my SWR has, but you're more than likely to get a little more restraint from the Mesa. Do you want to cuddle, or do you want to get laid? Following that analogy, I must want to take a moonlit walk on the beach. But you get my point.

EDIT: About that huge-ness, let me clarify that the 10's will focus the tone to 'punch through' like a cannon ball, while the 12/15 combo will be a brick wall on a conveyor belt.
Quote by Cody_Grey102
I was looking at a used Warwick Vampyre LTD 5'er for about $200. I went home to grab my wallet and came back and some jerk with an epic beard got it already..
#22
Well, at least I now have the cab dilemma figured out: At least one Avatar 2x12, and either another 2x12 or some random 15". Done, and mostly carved in stone.

As far as being completely enveloped in sweet, thick tone, that's what I'm into! That's my primary goal, and I feel that my choice of cabs can deliver it along with just enough punch to have some forward presence and to hear my pitch.

The Mesa may be too polite in this regard, as it it has a much punchier, present personality. It'll be the amp that cuts a lot more than it envelopes. Of course every bassist wants both, but I lean toward the latter. However, my concern with the Ampeg is taming it's aggressiveness into something more smooth and smexy..... Despite lacking the SVT's bottom end, the Mesa is quite a bit smoother.

Keep flinging ideas my way, it's making the decision easier by the post!
"Comedy's a dead art form. Now tragedy, that's funny." -Bender Bending Rodriguez
Last edited by mountaindew88 at Oct 8, 2008,
#23
I don't know what to tell you at this point - it seems like you're trying to sound like a gentleman with the voice of a biker. You want a smooth, sexy sound, yet are decided between the 2 biggest rock/metal amplifier companies in existance. Why not look to trade it to someone with an Epiphani 902UL or something?
Quote by Cody_Grey102
I was looking at a used Warwick Vampyre LTD 5'er for about $200. I went home to grab my wallet and came back and some jerk with an epic beard got it already..
#24
Quote by mountaindew88
Weight isn't a concern.... I'm young and full of life, so I see now as the time to use tube amps! I'll start looking at the VHS-tape sized amps when I retire :p I do understand that the Ampeg weighs more than twice as much as the Mesa (95 pounds versus 45 pounds), but I always have help available to move it around. Even if I didn't, I can handle a heavy rack without much trouble. Just lift with your legs, not your back!

For cabs, I'm currently using ADA 1x15's. They're borrowed, though. After I decide on which head I want, I'll choose cabs accordingly. If I stick with my Mesa, I'll either get Mesa or Avatar 2x12's. If I go with Ampeg, I'm not sure yet. Regardless, I'll only be using 12" and 15" speakers. If I do end up swapping for the Ampeg, I might consider the 410HLF due to it's big low-end response.

that 410HLF has little if any low end below the A string, was playing through one today and below the A i had nothing but high end tone. The Hartke HA2000 and VX115 had way more low end then the Ampeg, this amazed me considering how much more 'high end' the ampeg B-2RE and 410HLF are.

Just food for thought
Gear:
Washburn RB2500 (5 String)
Yamaha BB400 Fretless (1981)
Carlo Giordano 3/4 Upright (White)
Cort Action 4 (Stereo-fied)
Orange Bass Terror 500
Orange 1x15 Cab
Boss GT-6 Bass Multi-effects
#25
Man, this would be so much easier if I actually had those cabs to test both heads through.... However, he has a Mesa 2x12 as his place, which may give me enough of an idea which fits me better. In complete honesty, right now I'm looking at keeping the Mesa and fixing it up to top speed. When it has the appropriate 6550 or KT88 power tubes in it, it's going to have a much bigger bottom, even bigger than the 400+. I'm still going to drive down and test-drive his SVT to give it a chance, though.
"Comedy's a dead art form. Now tragedy, that's funny." -Bender Bending Rodriguez
#26
It sounds to me like you want the SVT, because you're into a "huge" sound (as long as it can be tamed). As long as you're careful in your EQing and your use of gain, I bet the SVT would be just what you're looking for. That mesa is really nice though, I'm not sure I'd be able to trade it. Your best bet is just to try it and decide for yourself.
Quote by PatMcRotch
The term grammer nazi is from the camps in the lolocaust made by Adrofl Hitlol...


Quote by Wasted Bassist
Be sure to rape the blue note (augmented 4th). Rape it hard and exploit it like the skank it is.


Founder of the All-Tube Bass Amp Owners Club. PM me to join.
#27
Well, regardless of your head situation, you basically said you're getting some sort of 12" speaker configuration. Dude has 12's. You will, one way or the other, have 12's. Play both heads through that cabinet. Pick the one you like better. Done.

Or, you can use some of my half-Scottish half-thefitz intimidation freugality and talk about how amazing your head is and demand BOTH THE HEAD AND THE CAB for your head. HAHA!
Quote by Cody_Grey102
I was looking at a used Warwick Vampyre LTD 5'er for about $200. I went home to grab my wallet and came back and some jerk with an epic beard got it already..
#28
Quote by thefitz
And why does this guy want to trade it?


Thats the question you should be asking.
Quote by SomeoneYouKnew
what would that be called? a Fibson with Gender confusion issues?
#29
Quote by |Heretic|
Thats the question you should be asking.

Because he really wants a Mesa, and mine's in particularly minty shape. There isn't a value conflict and there's nothing wrong with his head (so he says, I've yet to meet up with him to try it out), but he said he prefers the Mesa tone and hasn't been able to find a 400 or 400+ locally.
"Comedy's a dead art form. Now tragedy, that's funny." -Bender Bending Rodriguez
#30
ive wanted a 2-pro for so long, it will be my next head...... once i save up enough cash to get one (im using a 450H, basically a B2RE, right now), and after hearing fitz use the sexy molasses analogy, i think ill get some 12s eventually too.

mmmm.

SVT2-Pro, mmmmm. sex. mmmm. molasses. mmmm.

yumm.
#31
Alright kids, I've made my final decision. The winner of tonight's epic battle of the titans is....


Mesa.


For a number of reasons. Firstly, I've owned the amp for a while and am familiar with all it's ideosynchracies and quirks, so why waste unnecessary time familiarizing myself with a new head only to achieve similar sounds with the same basses? Second, I will never, ever in my life find another Mesa tube head in such flawless functional and aesthetic shape. Ever. Third, I haven't given it a proper chance, it really needs those 6550's and bias pots before it can truly shine. Lastly, I feel that it would be able to take better advantage of the 12's and 15's so near in my future without sounding muddy
"Comedy's a dead art form. Now tragedy, that's funny." -Bender Bending Rodriguez
#32
Good call! I'd still give them a shot if I were you (unless you have already), but I'd go as far as saying you have the second best bass head on UG. Nothing beats a pre-Fender SWR SM-900

EDIT: You sure you don't want the SVT2? Those TalkBass members would just love you if you had it.
Quote by Cody_Grey102
I was looking at a used Warwick Vampyre LTD 5'er for about $200. I went home to grab my wallet and came back and some jerk with an epic beard got it already..
Last edited by thefitz at Oct 8, 2008,
#33
Gracias! You're probably right though, P-Nut's bass tones are among my favorite

COUNTER-EDIT: Are you kidding? It was a 2PRO, not a non-pro. They'd tear me a new one for even thinking about it. Scratch that, they already tear me a new one for not having a Markbass or a Shuttle. And a $15,000 burl-top bass that looks like it has the Grinch's face on it. You can't take that **** seriously!
"Comedy's a dead art form. Now tragedy, that's funny." -Bender Bending Rodriguez
Last edited by mountaindew88 at Oct 8, 2008,
#34
Pshh. You're just saying that because you don't have a Sadowsky.

And because your youth isn't over and have many good life experiences ahead of you, not tucked bitterly away in the past.
Quote by Cody_Grey102
I was looking at a used Warwick Vampyre LTD 5'er for about $200. I went home to grab my wallet and came back and some jerk with an epic beard got it already..
#35
Quote by thefitz
Yeah, that's right, I just recommended an Ampeg.

GOOD GOD. Wasn't that one of the signs in the bible declaring the end is near?
On topic- I think you made a good call with the Mesa, It sounded more versitle.
what a waste of a perfectly good sig.
#36
Quote by pedalguy1
GOOD GOD. Wasn't that one of the signs in the bible declaring the end is near?
On topic- I think you made a good call with the Mesa, It sounded more versitle.

no. that was me buying a Behringer, sending it to him, and receiving a sincere thanks.

seriously, Ampegs aren't terrible, there's just much more usable amps out there.
Quote by FatalGear41
I wouldn't call what we have here on the Bass Forum a mentality. It's more like the sharing part of an AA meeting.

Quote by Jason Jillard
HUMANITY WHATS WRONG WITH YOU.


Warwick Fortress>>Acoustic AB50

http://www.myspace.com/rustingbloom
#37
Quote by the humanity
no. that was me buying a Behringer, sending it to him, and receiving a sincere thanks.

seriously, Ampegs aren't terrible, there's just much more usable amps out there.

lol, I know, everyone uses them, it just startled me that fitzy would even consider one. Oh, and I know your Behringer pain well, for I own a bx4500H that was purchased on a whim. I cry myself to sleep every night.
what a waste of a perfectly good sig.
#38
my first amp was a Behringer. my only clean punchy sound possible was picking/fingerpicking at the bridge with the mids cut below 5, the treble at at least 7, and the bass between 3 and 2.

and the little crap didn't even have a volume knob. what the hell? who forgets that? thats more important than the EQ.
Quote by FatalGear41
I wouldn't call what we have here on the Bass Forum a mentality. It's more like the sharing part of an AA meeting.

Quote by Jason Jillard
HUMANITY WHATS WRONG WITH YOU.


Warwick Fortress>>Acoustic AB50

http://www.myspace.com/rustingbloom
#39
Quote by the humanity
and the little crap didn't even have a volume knob.




Thank God I never bought a Behringer. Wow, what model was it?

On topic: Good for you that you chose the Mesa. For my purposes I would've chosen the Ampeg, but your needs are different than mine. Plus, Timmy C uses SVT 2-PROS.
#40
Quote by the humanity
my first amp was a Behringer. my only clean punchy sound possible was picking/fingerpicking at the bridge with the mids cut below 5, the treble at at least 7, and the bass between 3 and 2.

and the little crap didn't even have a volume knob. what the hell? who forgets that? thats more important than the EQ.

Im sorry man, that sucks. One question though, wouldn't you have noticed this before you bought the product? My actually sounds good If I keep it at a low volume and you the "shape" button. The more you turn it up the muddier it gets, and it runs out of headroom real fast. 450 watts my ass.
what a waste of a perfectly good sig.
Page 1 of 2