Best Tube Head for Guitar AND Bass

Thoughtfree

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I used a blackface Bassman head and a Bag End 1 x 15" cabinet in a band where I doubled on guitar and bass. Sounded great for both.

Many years ago, a bassist on the local club scene regularly appeared with a Dual Showman head and two 2 x 15" Fender cabinets loaded with ultra-clean and loud JBL speakers. That was a powerful sound, needing no reinforcement from the PA.
 

rdjones

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Sunn 1200, 2000 or any of the four output tube versions
MusicMan 130/150
Traynor Custom Special
Bassman 135, Bassman100, Super Bassman, Showman/Dual Showman

You want something with at least 100 Watts and a large output transformer.
 

telemnemonics

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The ONLY answer is the Marshall Super Bass 100, because it has actually been used as a guitar amp by great guitar players and as a bass amp by great bass players.
In a pinch a Super Lead 100 works fine for bass too.
All metal panel '69-73 please.
I've owned both, several times.
 

ritten70

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I have a MusicMan 65 head (and cabinet) that I used for both guitar and bass over the years. Tube power amp but solid state front end, still sounds good to my ear. Not sure what the going rate is but mine would be out the door for less than $1000.

Paul
 

Engine Swap

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I was going to say Blackface Showman, but they are super clean. Are going to use pedals for dirt?
 

drmordo

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I have a MusicMan 65 head (and cabinet) that I used for both guitar and bass over the years. Tube power amp but solid state front end, still sounds good to my ear. Not sure what the going rate is but mine would be out the door for less than $1000.

Paul

$600-700 used (of course) at GC.
 

PoorNoodle

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With that budget you probably afford a used guitar head AND a used bass head? Otherwise a Marshall SV20 might be loud enough? It has great clean headroom for the bass (I’d plug into the “low”/#2 input. You may need an attenuator or pedals to get the right crunch for guitar…at the volume you want…
 

HouseBoat28

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If you're only planning to record, any amp will suffice, but to play live music with a full band, 100 watts would be a minimum. And any amp engineered to generate distortion for guitars will probably make a bad-sounding bass amp, and vice versa. If you're planning to derive all of your 'dirt' from pedals and just need a good, powerful amp capable of projecting your sound, there are plenty of options. I'd look for something with a 100watt (bass) and 50watt (guitar) output switch.

All that said, an Ampeg V4 might do the trick, it might even be considered the 'standard' for what you're asking, even without the 50-watt setting.

The larger concern might be the cabinet. While an amplifier doesn't really care what kind of signal you send through it, speakers definitely will, and a 4x10 bass cab that is designed for bass will probably sound pretty bad for guitar. Might not be as big a concern given the music you describe.
In terms of meeting in the middle and creating a uniquely imperfect sound, would you say I'm better off with guitar/bass through a bass head, vs guitar/bass through a guitar head?
 

HouseBoat28

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Sunn 1200, 2000 or any of the four output tube versions
MusicMan 130/150
Traynor Custom Special
Bassman 135, Bassman100, Super Bassman, Showman/Dual Showman

You want something with at least 100 Watts and a large output transformer.
That Traynor is definitely on my list.
 

marshman

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If you’re looking to craft dirty bass tones from your amp, the guitar amp sounds like the way to go. If you’re using a pedalboard, bass amps are better designed for clean headroom.

V4 (+/-B) are available for around $1000 used in this area…if you can live with used.

As a bass player, I like the Traynor YBA200, too, uncommon, but typically available for under $1K.—edit: Sorry, forgot about the 100 watt factor.
 
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Riffraff12571

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Traynor YBA-1 or a Bassman. I've got 1 of each. Both are 2 channel amps with a bass channel and a guitar channel so they are made for that job. The Traynor will cost a little less than the Bassman but is every bit as good, is built better and the 8 ohm output will probably give you more flexibility for cab choices. The Hammond OT's in them are intentionally oversized so they can handle impedance mismatches.

Someone gave me a non-working Bassman 70 last year. It sat in parts in my garage for a while. I was planning to fix it and sell it so I was in no rush to get it on the bench. When I finally got around to fixing it I found it to be great for bass and a good pedal platform amp.

I didn't try boosting it at first because I've always heard the ultra linear amps are clean and don't break up but I recently tried it with a tube screamer type OD and a Telecaster with a blade type bridge humbucker and was blown away with how good it sounded.

I made a video of it. The first clip in the video is the actual recording of the amp when I first tried it with the tube screamer type OD. It's a keeper now. 🤘

 
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telemnemonics

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In terms of meeting in the middle and creating a uniquely imperfect sound, would you say I'm better off with guitar/bass through a bass head, vs guitar/bass through a guitar head?
Really depends on the specific amp in question, and also on what you expect each use to sound like.
Man I'd love a V4! Is there anything produced on the market today that comes close or is easier to find/cheaper?
Have you played a V4?
I had a V4 half stack and years later a VT-22 which is the V4 head in a 2x12 combo.
IMO pretty lousy guitar amps except for really loud cutting cleans with maybe a neck HB.
Pretty good for bass but not loud clean bass in the old days, maybe perfect now except the head is like 80lbs IRRC.
And the originals were on a thick pcb but they are old now, one of mine was missing a large section of the board around the power tubes with burn edges where the socket and board just burned away. Got hand wired bits to replace the missing board section.
 




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