Looking for a new bass preamp

Discussion in 'The BASS Place' started by TheGoodTexan, Apr 4, 2019.

  1. TheGoodTexan

    TheGoodTexan Moderator Staff Member Ad Free Member

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    I think I want a new preamp for live bass playing. Right now I'm using a Line 6 Bass POD XT Pro, through a Crown K2 power amp, into a GK 2x10 cab loaded with Eminence drivers.

    I'm just a P-bass guy. I'm about to switch back to Labella flat wounds, and I want a more... organic? More... analog? I only use the POD because I got it at a steal of a price. It does ok. I don't use any of the effects in it at all, and I only use a slight bit of compression on occasion.

    But here's the deal - I have close to zero budget. So I'm probably looking for some forgotten 80s rack mount piece that has zero modern features.

    I could sell my POD and get some more money to spend, but I made a pact with myself a long time ago that I would never again sell any gear... only save up and purchase.
     
  2. bftfender

    bftfender Friend of Leo's

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    Sansamp is worth the wait. I think it was, other than a boost the only pedal i ever used. You are playing power amp and the sansamp will be like in the studio right in the board. Every session we do the sansamp from big fat OD to tight metallic response..its in that pedal. It took me so long to trust it recording until my studio guy a/b'd against my pf500..matched & didnt have to drag amp to sessions anymore. It can get fender warm & Ampeg punch
     
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  3. SolidSteak

    SolidSteak Friend of Leo's

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    Tech 21 definitely has a lot of good options - I see some used VT Bass pedals (the old one without the speaker cabinet simulation) for $89. I use a Sansamp VT Bass for DI, but I have a couple decent bass amps so I don't feel the need to use a preamp in front of them. I can definitely see how putting something in front of the Crown power amp you mention probably helps add more character.

    For a more budget-conscious option, you could try one of those Joyo American Sound pedals as a bass preamp? I've used one playing bass direct to a recording device and it didn't sound bad at all. In fact I'd guess a lot of guitar preamp pedals would work for bass too.
     
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  4. TheGoodTexan

    TheGoodTexan Moderator Staff Member Ad Free Member

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    I'm trying to stay away from a pedal, just for set up reasons. I currently have the POD and the Crown power amp in a nice SKB portable rack. Whatever I replace the POD with, I'd like for it to be in rack format.

    I was looking at an old Yamaha PB-1 bass preamp. They're MIJ. Seem to be very basic design, which suits me well. There are a few reviews here and there that give it a thumbs up, but I think I need to hear one before I buy one on eBay.
     
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  5. Obelisk

    Obelisk Tele-Afflicted

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    A TC Electronics 1140 EQ would be one I would look for. Great sounding eq with tons of gain. They are the sound of Michael Hedges. I have used one for bass many times. The Roland SIP-301 might be a bit too expensive for your budget, but those are a really good solid state pre dedicated for bass. The Yamaha is probably similar to the Roland. An older SansAmp isn't a bad idea for bass. They actually sound killer for bass. I bet the rackmount preamps dedicated for bass are probably really good for bass, but I have zero experience with them. I know the original SansAmp is a studio must for engineers. Many bass tracks you have listened to were recorded through a SansAmp.
     
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  6. mexicanyella

    mexicanyella Tele-Afflicted

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    If you are going for a one-sound, organic, no-effects kind of vibe, and you are playing a P-bass, with no budget...

    ...my vote is, just keep using the Pod. Here's my reasoning...

    It's a little computer in a box, but it's a pretty tough box, and you apparently have yours mounted in another layer of box. Sounds like a pretty durable setup.

    You don't sound like a button-pusher, and what little experience I have with Line 6 stuff going weird with age has had to do with buttons/switches going "intermittent" (Lowdown 110 combo, Flextone head). If yours spends its life getting powered on and off, but not endlessly tweaked, maybe you won't have to deal with that issue for awhile yet.

    My experience with a borrowed guitar Pod 2.0 (using it for both guitar and bass) was that it had a ton of output available and could pretty much blow my power amp into eternal clip-light if I wanted it to. So...tough enclosure, lots of power, probably going to be pretty straightforward and reliable for some time to come...what's left? Oh yeah, tone...

    I was after a grunty rock P-bass tone, more or less, kind fo mid-forward, with the ability to play softly and get a clean, present tone or dig in and get a midrangy dirty grunt. Using the guitar pod, I found this in the 50-watt Marshall Plexi-imitating model, with the gain knob set pretty low (9-10 o'clock), bass set similar, mids cranked, highs to taste, a little compression and no cab emulation. That sounded pretty good to me through a few different cabinets I tried. I just left it in Manual mode and tweaked those basic settings whenever I'd power it up.

    If the Bass Pod has a plexi-ish setting (Marshall Superbass?) you might give similar settings a try and see if that sounds good. I ended up buying a Zoom B-2 after giving my friend back his Pod, and found the Marshall Superbass model in the Zoom to behave similar to the Plexi in the guitar Pod...both units could get a sound I like but the Zoom has more bass-specific EQ choices, so it's a little easier to dial in.

    Anyway, if you read this far, and haven't already explored the kind of settings I described, see what you think. Choosing a Marshall head for bass seemed counterintuitive to what I thought I wanted, but at low gain settings I like Line 6 and Zoom's impressions of a Plexi pretty well.
     
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  7. 63telemaster

    63telemaster Tele-Meister

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    Track down an Award Session JD10 or JD20. I've used a JD10 for 25 years and haven't found anything to beat it. Strictly speaking it is a guitar preamp/DI but I also run my Hofner bass through it with great results.
     
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  8. SolidSteak

    SolidSteak Friend of Leo's

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    That looks a lot more versatile than a pedal preamp too - parametric EQ, crossover, HP/LP filters, headphone out, footswitch input... very impressive! I might have to look for one.

    You may have already seen this, but here's a youtube video of someone trying out a bunch of bass preamps, and I see the Yamaha on the rack:
     
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  9. 4mal

    4mal Friend of Leo's

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    Flame suit on... IMO the Tech 21 stuff is lack luster at best. Only one of those boxes I have liked at all was the Paradriver. The rest are simply too colored. Not a popular opinion, yes I am aware... I have also tried a ton of different preamps ...

    Organic, analog feeling, amp like response in a floor box. Aguillar tone hammer is tough to beat. It can go colored or stay fairly neutral. It is one of the only floor box preamps I have found that doesn’t remind me that I am playing through a stomp box pre... the Mesa Subway would be the other but that is more money yet.

    Last year my stage rig was based on both of those preamps, 1 per bass combined using an sFx Micro Mix into my efx chain and. Radial DI. FOH sent me a dedicated Aux mix with bass, kick and acoustic guitar. That was delivered through 1 or 2 QSC K12’s as wedges. Not much below about 60 but very nice sounding at moderate volumes on stage. Didn’t get in the sound guy’s face...

    But... OP doesn’t want a stomp... wants inexpensive, under the radar... if you can live with Leo and George’s interactive ripoff of the RCA tone stack AkA Showman Amp, TwinReverb, etc... BBE BMAX rackable pre shows up cheap, when they show up... BMAX-T is more Gucci but also more dinero. Sounds like it too...

    On the super cheap... ART Tube Channel. The poor man’s Demeter. You have to demo before purchase. Why ? Transformer rattle. Some do, some don’t. Live is no big deal. Will drive you bonkers in a studio space. I was able to fix one by sandwiching rubber mat between the top of the case and the former. Hincky fix but it got me through an EP release.

    Other great preamps that show up cheap and need to be auditioned due to their age... Ashley BP-41, Yamaha pB-1, some Peavey preamps from the 80’s ...

    Alternative approach... rackable parametric EQ from DBX, Rane, Furman, Ashley, Klark, Drawmer, etc... outboard PA rack gear is give away these days. Many of the 1ru parametrics have enough gain on tap to drive your poweramp just fine... 3 or 4 bands of fully parametric is plenty of tone shaping ...

    If I were picking one of the above... Tone Hammer all the way... used in the $150 range at Talkbass
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2019
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  10. TheGoodTexan

    TheGoodTexan Moderator Staff Member Ad Free Member

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    I’ve seen a lot of people use the SanAmp/Tech 21 pedals, but I’ve never used one personally. Since I don’t want a pedal preamp right now, I wouldn’t buy one anyway. But I would be interested in trying just about any single space rack pre that I could budget for.
     
  11. littlebadboy

    littlebadboy Tele-Afflicted

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  12. Hexabuzz

    Hexabuzz Friend of Leo's

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    Just curious how much you've actually dug into the Pod. I like Pod gear, and you have tons of options to explore here - I'm actually a bit shocked that of all these choices, none of them are getting you even close to a sound you want

    Bass PODxt Pro Amp Models based on*:
    • Acoustic 360
    • Aguilar® DB750
    • Alembic F-2B
    • Ampeg® B-15A
    • Ampeg® SVT
    • Eden Traveller WT-300
    • Fender® Bassman®
    • Fender® Dual Showman®
    • Gallien Kruger 800RB
    • Hiwatt® DR-103
    • Hiwatt® 200 DR
    • Marshall® Major
    • Marshall® Plexi Super Bass
    • Mesa/Boogie® 400+
    • Polytone MiniBrute®
    • Sunn® Coliseum
    • SWR® SM-500
    • Vox® AC100
     
  13. Preacher

    Preacher Friend of Leo's

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    TGT,
    do you have a floor pedal for tuning?

    I play a PB mostly anymore and I run a really small floor board and play most through the house PA.
    I also used the POD XT Live but recently went to my small board. It is as portable as the POD and since I use just a bit of the POD I put it away.

    I run my small board this way

    tuner - 7 band EQ - compressor - ultimate drive (rarely use) - Dany slapback delay - Tri Reverb - Sparrow Dr. J Brown box (Sansamp DI) - into the PA.

    I do see where you are going for the rack but I have no suggestions for a rack mounted unit.
    But if you wanted to go for just a floor tuner and small box for a little color the Sparrow might do you.

    https://www.premierguitar.com/articles/20566-dr-j-d53-sparrow-driver-and-di-review

    I have had mine for almost a year now and love it.
     
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  14. Taildragger

    Taildragger Tele-Meister

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    There's a newer version of this pedal out now, but I've picked up a couple of these older ones used for pretty cheap and really like them:

     
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  15. TheGoodTexan

    TheGoodTexan Moderator Staff Member Ad Free Member

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    This is a good point.

    When I got back into bass playing a couple of years ago, it was because I had an opportunity to do a fill-in for a house gig on occasion. I bought a new P Bass Deluxe, and found the Bass POD Xt for $175 on Craigslist. I went and checked it out and offered him $100. We settled on $150.

    I plugged that up and turned it to the B-15 setting and never really explored any of the other settings. Maybe I should spend some more time with it.
     
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  16. Bassman8

    Bassman8 Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    I'm another that has the older version of the Hartke Bass Attack and am very happy with it. I did have a Sansamp and it was nice but being old school I like the simpler layout of the Hartke better.
     
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  17. erratick

    erratick Tele-Holic

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    There is a great thread on TalkBass with exactly your question. It is unfortunately from 2010.

    https://www.talkbass.com/threads/good-rackmount-preamps-on-a-budget-vol-1.637412/

    Yamaha PB-1 I've used. It was clean enough. It just wasn't my sound- doesn't mean it isn't your sound, because I was not chasing a rolled off tone sound. I think it could do that sound.

    Over on Reverb, there are a ton of rack mount Tech21 bass Preamps and a couple from behringer (super cheap) and some others.

    I have some Tech21 gear and really liked it. But your mileage may vary.

    The other thing to consider is if you are chasing that motown type sound- flats and then look for either an interface or a pre that sounds like a Rupert Neve DI or is a Rupert Neve thing. Many of those recordings were flatwounds/tapewounds on a P bass into a board with a pre- like a Neve. RND1 is not rackmount is the type of thing you want.
     
  18. kodiakblair

    kodiakblair Tele-Meister

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    2nd vote for the Behringer BDI21,had mine for years. Great bit of kit. The Eden WTDI is another. I also have a soft spot for the Hartke Bass Attack.

    Another couple of budget preamp are the Moen Bass Buffalo and the afore-mention Dr Sparrow. Caline Orange Burst is a pretty great BB clone.
     
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  19. mexicanyella

    mexicanyella Tele-Afflicted

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    Whoops...in my "just keep the Pod, since you have it" suggestion above, I forgot to mention that flatwound strings have made my EQ-ing job a lot easier. With rounds on my Squier P, having additional bands of EQ on my Zoom preamp was a big advantage in favor of the Zoom over the guitar pod. Since I made the switch to chrome flats, taming the highs requires a lot less subtractive EQ to get the "soft on top" tone I seem to like. I find guitar-amp-like three-band passive EQ easier to work with since the flats. I've run through the Pod (and my buddy's Line 6 Flextone amp head, which is the same preamp but in a head-shaped box and with 2 x 150-watt power amps) since going to flats and had no problem getting a tone that was in the ballpark right away.

    One other suggestion you might try, if you don't do this already: try setting up a sound that you like, but it's a little too bright or present. Like, to the point that it's making your technique tentative, trying not to make excessive fretboard rattle or string clatter. Control this deliberately too-bright tone by backing off your P-bass tone knob a bit. See if that sounds or feels different, better or worse than darker amp settings.

    That combined with trying some of the other amp models in the Pod could make a difference, saving you from making a purchase.
     
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  20. WireLine

    WireLine Tele-Afflicted

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    If it matters...

    I use an Ampeg Classic preamp pedal for 95% of bass gigs. No presets of course but with the tweak of a dial or button dances in the same lineup as SVT, Bassman, and everything in between...
     
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