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Fractal Audio AMP models: SV Bass (Ampeg SVT)

yek

Moderator
Moderator
* EDIT: Up-to-date information is available in Yek's Guide to the Fractal Audio Amplifier Models *



SV BASS: based on Ampeg SVT

Ampeg is a big name in the world of amplification. While their guitar amps are praised (used by Josh Homme and others), they are not nearly as popular as their bass rigs. Sometimes it seems that every bass player on large stages uses an Ampeg SVT rig. The list of Ampeg artists is mindblowing.

Ampeg:

“In 1946, Everette Hull, an accomplished pianist and bass player, organized a partnership with Stanley Michaels under the name "Michaels-Hull Electronic Labs." Their mission was to produce a new microphone pickup that Hull designed. The pickup was fitted on the end of an upright bass and was dubbed the Amplified Peg or "Ampeg" for short.

In 1949, Hull became the sole proprietor and changed the name of the company to the Ampeg Bassamp Company. Since that time, Ampeg has produced some of the music industry's most innovative and memorable products, satisifying the needs of musicians all over the world. Many of these products feature incredibly unique features and performance capabilities resulting in six U.S. patents under the Ampeg brand name.

Also in the early 60's, Ampeg was the first company to incorporate reverb in an amplifier. The Reverbrocket preceded Fender's Vibroverb (often thought of as the original) by nearly 2 years. In 1969, Ampeg set out to design the most powerful amplifier ever made. At that time, 50-watt amps were considered more than adequate. 100-watt amps were considered "plenty loud." Ampeg, however, not only harnessed 300 watts of pure tube power but actually created a new valve (tube) technology - Super Valve Technology, or the SVT. Now the most sought after stage amplifier, the SVT has proven its road worthiness on stages around the world.” More Ampeg history.”​

The SVT bass rig still is Ampeg’s flagship product. SVT stands for Super Valve Tube or Super Vacuum Tube, even Ampeg itself isn’t consistent.

The sheer size of a SVT rig (head plus accompanying 8x10 cabinet) made people refer to it as “the fridge”.

Ampeg:

“1969 was a year giants rocked the earth, and they wanted big amps. By that point in history, rock music was the baddest man in the whole damn town. Stadiums and outdoor festivals was where the action was—Madison Square Garden for chrissakes. Fifty watts just wasn't enough to move that chick in the 61st row in her hand-embroidered bellbottoms. It wasn't as if nobody was filling the void—witness the stacks of Marshalls, mountains of Hiwatts, and truckloads of Dual Showmans doing more to promote tinnitus in a single generation since WWII.

Ampeg needed to compete. The team of amp designer Bill Hughes and Roger Cox—with input from Bob Rufkahr and Dan Armstrong—set about to create what Cox referred to as "the biggest, nastiest bass amplifier the world had ever seen." Using the same sort of madness that drove Dr. Frankenstein, the team came up with a 300-watt all-tube phantasmagoria they called the Super Vacuum Tube—or SVT, to save on vowels. To fully grasp the monstrosity of their creation, the SVT's 300-watt output stomped the deafening 200-watt Marshall Major by a full 100-watts!

Unveiled at the 1969 NAMM show in Chicago, the SVT head alone weighed 95 lbs and contained fourteen tubes, six of which were massive 6146 power tubes. To heat all those tubes, massive transformers with magnetic fields powerful enough to cause genetic mutations were necessary. And what kind of speakers were able to handle all that power? Nothing less than two cabinets sporting eight ten-inch speakers and weighing 105 lbs. each.

After surveying his creation, Cox was actually concerned about potential liability—when your engineers warn of the possible harm their designs could cause, you'd better listen. Ampeg's management did and devised a warning label which read: "THIS AMP IS CAPABLE OF DELIVERING SOUND PRESSURE LEVELS THAT MAY CAUSE PERMANENT HEARING DAMAGE."

Some say we make our own luck, but they're usually the people with all the luck. Luck came to Ampeg, not from their own doing, but by the lack of knowledge concerning international voltages on the part of the Rolling Stones. It seems the Stones shipped their Fender amps over to the States to rehearse for their soon-to-be-legendary '69 world tour, plugged them in, switched them on, and the resulting smoke and burn first made the roadies think Keith had nodded out again, until they remembered that the amps were set up for UK voltage.

The Stones may have been "The Greatest Rock n' Roll Band In The World," but like all bands, they liked to get free gear. In a panic, now deceased Stones keyboard player and road manager Ian Stewart contacted Rich Mandella, Ampeg's Hollywood liaison, desperately begging for amps for the tour that was now only weeks away.

Mandella, knowing a good thing when he saw it, loaded up all the SVT prototypes and some old 4x12 cabs into his pickup and headed down to the Warner Brothers lot where the Stones were rehearsing in an unused soundstage. Keith, Mick Taylor and Bill Wyman plugged in to the SVT prototypes and proceeded to turn them up to a level that reduced the un-hip to flaming piles of goo. The Stones may have had sympathy for the devil, but they gave no such kindness to the SVT prototypes. Mandella began to notice that the prototypes were getting close to meltdown under Keith's relentless bashing. According to Mandella, "Everything he was doing in rehearsal just kept getting louder and bigger and crazier, with two or three heads per person. I'd watch the amps, and when I could see one was about to explode, I'd just switch heads."

Since those prototype SVT heads were the only ones in existence—production was still a ways away—it was decided in a very smokey room that Mandella would accompany the Stones on the tour as their personal Ampeg technician. While the Stones rocked, and the audience grooved, and the Hell's Angels kicked the living crap out of everybody within a pool cue's length, Rich Mandella was behind the backline making sure everything was sorted. If you want a sample of the mayhem, check out Gimme Shelter, the Stones' own documentary of the 1969 world tour. But if you wanna hear those early SVTs blasting for all they're worth, rush right down and pick up Get Yer Ya Ya's Out, the best live album ever made.​

Since then, the SVT has become the bass amp that all rock bassists dream of, whether they're famous or completely unknown. Ampeg has modified the SVT concept for a wider variety of sounds, but fortunately, they still make the SVT-VR, which are virtually identical to the ones the Stones used to put their Jack Daniels bottles on top of. (The SVT-Classic is also available, and is very similar to the original.)​

Former Bass Player editor Scott Malandrone put the SVT in perspective this way: "The SVT has done for the sound of electric bass what the Marshall Super Lead had done for the electric guitar—it would give the instrument an identity." We couldn't say it better ourselves."​

We don’t know which specific SVT amp has been modeled by Fractal Audio. A vintage one, or maybe a current SVT-CL or SVT-VR version. Either way, the SVT is a 300 watts rig, powered by six 6550 tubes. It has inputs for passive (0 dB) and active (-15 dB) instruments. Controls are Volume, Bass, Mid and Treble (the tone controls are flat at noon). Some models have a Master control, a Mid-Frequency selector and Ultra Lo / Hi switches to emphasize low or high frequencies.

The manuals of the current SVT-models provides sample settings.

We’ve got IRs of various Ampeg bass cabs as stock cab(s): 1x15 SV, 4x10 SV, 8x10 SV.

There are also commercial libraries available from Fractal Audio/ML Sound Lab (4x10) and Dr Bonkers (8x10).





 
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VegasGuitar

Experienced
Yes ..... them weren't the good old days, at least for my back. Mid to late 70's I carted two heads and four 8x10 cabs around central Florida. At some point I upgraded and added two of their 2x15 cabs ...... I loved showing folks the warning label ........... Makes me really appreciate the compactness of the Axe-FX
 

dr bonkers

Fractal Fanatic
Those amps are so loud in person, I swear during on an artist's recording session, the bass player turned up to such a level, the amp seemed to bend light in the room. Ear plugs are just mocked at the type of SPL you can generate with an SVT stack.

But the thing is, the SVT is not just loud, but a really definable set of sounds too.
 

jimfist

Fractal Fanatic
Wondering, is there a reason that FAS hasn't shot an UltraRes series of IRs for any SVT 8x10, of further, ANY bass cabinet at all, for use as a stock cabinet offering?

As for the SVT amp itself, the midrange selector and tone knob are a critical part of the SVT tone on both the Blue Face original and the more recent Classic amp head. The sole SVBass model likely has this mid frequency fixed, no? It'd be great to know what frequency this is set at, and furthermore, why there aren't more SVBass model choices that vary this mid frequency selection. Likewise the Ultra Hi/Lo boost switches are a key tone-shaping element, and are worthy of having a discrete SVBass model, unless, of course, the stock SVBass has its various switches (Cut/Fat/Bright) programmed to accomplish these Ultra Hi/Lo functions.

Please don't suggest that you can accomplish the same thing by adding various filters and EQs, or tweaking a dozen parameters in the SVBass model when there are, for example, 6 discrete amp models based around various settings for the Cameron CCV-100.

I've always felt that the stock SVBass and various bass cabinet IRs have only represented a generalized flavor of what an SVT can sound like, there being quite a number of very distinctive tones living in this head. Not that the SVBass is a lousy model, but just a very generic, baseline version of an iconic amp.

JMHO.
 

selta

Power User
Wondering, is there a reason that FAS hasn't shot an UltraRes series of IRs for any SVT 8x10, of further, ANY bass cabinet at all, for use as a stock cabinet offering?

As for the SVT amp itself, the midrange selector and tone knob are a critical part of the SVT tone on both the Blue Face original and the more recent Classic amp head. The sole SVBass model likely has this mid frequency fixed, no? It'd be great to know what frequency this is set at, and furthermore, why there aren't more SVBass model choices that vary this mid frequency selection. Likewise the Ultra Hi/Lo boost switches are a key tone-shaping element, and are worthy of having a discrete SVBass model, unless, of course, the stock SVBass has its various switches (Cut/Fat/Bright) programmed to accomplish these Ultra Hi/Lo functions.

Please don't suggest that you can accomplish the same thing by adding various filters and EQs, or tweaking a dozen parameters in the SVBass model when there are, for example, 6 discrete amp models based around various settings for the Cameron CCV-100.

I've always felt that the stock SVBass and various bass cabinet IRs have only represented a generalized flavor of what an SVT can sound like, there being quite a number of very distinctive tones living in this head. Not that the SVBass is a lousy model, but just a very generic, baseline version of an iconic amp.

JMHO.
Well, you know, we have 4 models of Mesa/Boogie IIc with various switches. But for the SVT, we don't even know which version was modeled or what position anything was in. Heck, it could be one with the 6146b tubes - I owned one of these and restored it myself, tube relay and all. Based on direct A/B of the 1969, a mid 2000s SVT-CL and a late 2000s SVT-VR, my guess is that it was an SVT-CL.

To me, the bass gear that is present (and likely never updated) is just there as a token so the "Can be used by bass players!" marketing check box can be ticked. Heck, probably actually just there so guitarists who want to try to record root note bass lines under their playing can with the Axe-Fx. At least we're getting some good 3rd party IR options now. Maybe someday we'll get another amp or two and a pedal or two.

Tons and tons of great tones are missing.

I knew this thread would be interesting when it finally came up, and I figured jimfist and I would be the two stirring the pot :D

I'm pretty sure "tone controls flat at noon" is incorrect. I'd have to try to find my old tests or re-do all of the testing, but I remember it being something odd to get flat out of an SVT-CL. My brain is telling me that bass was slighty counter-clockwise of noon, mids were noon and highs were clockwise of noon. I'll see if I can find it later, if anyone really cares (I doubt it on this forum).

Also, if it was a real vintage one or a VR, there were *many* switch and channels that could have been used - 3 switches on ch1, 2 switches on ch2.
 

JT2

Inspired
Still the best bass rig PERIOD. Would love to have the The Reverbrocket in the Axe Fx. Sweet chimey chords to off with your face R & R. Oh those 12AX7s.
 

selta

Power User
Still the best bass rig PERIOD. Would love to have the The Reverbrocket in the Axe Fx. Sweet chimey chords to off with your face R & R. Oh those 12AX7s.
That's actually fairly debatable. I would love to be able to say that without feeling guilty, but right now I can't with so many bass essentials missing. If a bass player is dead set on Ashdown, G-K, Aguilar, Trace Elliot, Acoustic tone, he or she is not going to be happy with the current offerings from Fractal. If that same player has the B7K, Super Symmetry, OC-2, BassBalls and BigMuff as the core of their effects, they won't be happy with the Axe-Fx.

I understand that the Fractal products are a God send for guitarists. Life changing for most, and has pretty much everything every guitarist wants and needs. The same is simply not true for bassists.
 

Rexgtr

Experienced
Yes ..... them weren't the good old days, at least for my back. Mid to late 70's I carted two heads and four 8x10 cabs around central Florida. At some point I upgraded and added two of their 2x15 cabs ...... I loved showing folks the warning label ........... Makes me really appreciate the compactness of the Axe-FX
Q~ What was on the warning label?

My old bass player had one Ampeg 8 x 10 cab, he'd ask me to help move it and OMG why are those cabinets so damn heavy?
FF to many years later at a Slayer concert I was blown away by the bass sound, stacks of Ampeg, the best bass sound I ever heard live and I'm mildly a fan of that band (They were opening for Judas Priest)
 

Rexgtr

Experienced
Every time I read grumbling of AxeFx lacking bass effects/amps I can't help but think how Dream Theater's bassist John Myung uses AxeFx & MFC live. He's obviously touring the world and getting what he wants out of these magic little black boxes, no doubt with some professional help dialing in the sounds he needs.
(Not trying to diminish bass players requests)
 

selta

Power User
Every time I read grumbling of AxeFx lacking bass effects/amps I can't help but think how Dream Theater's bassist John Myung uses AxeFx & MFC live. He's obviously touring the world and getting what he wants out of these magic little black boxes, no doubt with some professional help dialing in the sounds he needs.
(Not trying to diminish bass players requests)
Appending "Not trying to diminish bass players requests" to a post where you do exactly that doesn't absolve you of doing that. But, this is exactly the kind of thing bass players get when we request anything from FAS. Obviously, since other bass players use it, it's good enough because XYZ player is the be all, end off of players and tone.

Have you seen John Myung's rig? I have, in person, up close (in 2014). The axe-fx was being used for chorus, reverb and overdrive. His input signal is split 3 ways - 1 goes Demeter tube DI, 2 is fed into a optical compressor, to Demeter preamp/poweramp setup, which then feeds a Radial JDX (speaker simulator). The third signal goes to the Axe-Fx II for the above mentioned FX.
That could've easily changed in 2 years, but I have a feeling it hasn't.
 

VegasGuitar

Experienced
How DOES he use it though?

Whenever I see requests for more guitar amps or effects, I think how John Petrucci uses the Axe-Fx live. So no need to request anything more for guitar. :)
The third output goes into the Fractal Audio Axe-FX II, which handles overdrive, chorus, reverb, and any other effects processing. .....

On the floor, Myung uses a Fractal Audio MFC-101 switcher with all of the patches he needs to switch between effects. ---- Premier Guitar Rig Rundown
Appears at that time he didn't use any amps or cabs from the Axe-FX.
 

selta

Power User
The third output goes into the Fractal Audio Axe-FX II, which handles overdrive, chorus, reverb, and any other effects processing. ---- Premier Guitar Rig Rundown
Appears at that time he didn't use any amps or cabs from the Axe-FX.
Actually, I didn't get that from Premier Guitar... I got it by standing there looking at the rack myself and talking to his tech.
 

Rexgtr

Experienced
I was hoping someone who knew more would chime in and theorize how John Myung uses his AxeFx. Thanks Selta.
 

selta

Power User
I don't know what (if anything at all) he is using it for now. I could bug his tech, but he's a pretty busy dude and we only know each other through several layers of acquaintances. I'd like to hear what he's doing with it now a days though.
 
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