Here’s a rig assembled from used components based on 30+ years of playing that provides great tone, the security of backups, flexibility, and that actually fits in the back seat of a small car! I like the classic Ampeg tone, and the 5-tube Ampeg SVP preamp does it so well that I use two in this rig. Each drives a solid-state Ampeg 3550 power amp. One goes to an Ampeg 4x10 cabinet (all tone controls set flat except for bass at 2 o’clock). The other preamp is set with a small mid boost that sends some low-midrange bark to an Ampeg 2x10 cab. For the classic SVT sound, I can run through one SVP and power amp to both cabs (350 watts into 4Ω), but the bi-amp sounds great for a jam and provides a rumble with just enough low-mid boost to cut through the mix. Having the twin pre- and power amps also provides great piece of mind in my blues/rock jams. I hardly ever use the DBX 31-band EQ in my rack; the tone from the bass and preamps is great as it is. But if I’m in a room with strange acoustics, I put it between my bass and a Radial BigShot ABY splitter/switcher that sends the post-EQ signal to each preamp. I also use short Pro Co Guardians “Fat Max” 8-gauge speaker cables between the power amps and the speaker cabs.
I usually play an early Music Man StingRay Bass (shown in the photo) and a Lakland Skyline 5-string for jams and gigs, and a passive mid-’90s Fender Jazz Bass or ’51 Reissue Fender Precision Bass with just the preamp for recording or more classic electric bass sounds. After years of playing through many different rigs, this is the one that cuts the mix with two guitarists, keyboards and drummer for blues/rock and jazz/blues sounds, it doesn’t clash with the amplified kick drum or keyboard, and still gets that fat classic tone at necessary volume levels. Plus, buying most of the components used really cut the cost to get this high-end sound! —Manny Torres, by email