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.
Only In America
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."
Her Satanic Majesty's Shakedown Cruise
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.
In The World Of 300-Watt Amps, Perspective Is Hard To Come By
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.
Ampeg’s PN-115HLF is a modern, lightweight bass enclosure built to handle the power of high-output Ampeg bass heads. Designed and assembled in the U.S.A. out of the highest quality components, including a single custom-designed 15-inch neodymium Eminence® woofer, the PN-115HLF delivers high-quality, high-output bass in a modern design that looks mean and plays meaner. Pro Neo Series Speaker : 1 x 15 "Eminence custom made in the United States Tweeter : 1 compression motor 1 "Eminence with level adjustment Frequency response: 35 Hz - 18 kH Sensitivity : 98dB Max SPL: 128dB Weight : 27 kg Dimensions: 597 x 578 x 445 mm Weight : 26.8 kg Manufacturing : USA
The Ampeg SVT-210AV is a bass cabinet that delivers up to 200 watts. True to the sound of the brand, its 2 loudspeakers of 10" from Eminence surprising by a very good presence enabling this baffle to ensure concerts without any difficulty. There is more than a measured footprint allowing daily use easy. Power 200 Watts RMS Impedance 8 ohms (mono) 2 speakers 10" Eminence Frequency range 58 Hz - 5kHz (-3dB) Low frequency usable 40 Hz (-10dB) 6.35 mm jack input
The Ampeg BA-112 is a compact and very efficient combo delivering 75 watts. Equipped with a 12 '' Ampeg loudspeaker, it restores the sound dear to the brand. This amp is perfect for playing at home, in a rehearsal but also for modest-sized concert halls. It has many undeniable features like its cut-out for direct sound, many settings to configure the sound you want, the ability to connect a smartphone to play on your favorite music but especially a very effective overdrive circuit to imitate the Sound of a tube amp. RMS Power 75 Watts Impedance 4 Ohms 1 loudspeaker 12 "Ampeg Custom Ampeg Legacy Preamplifier 3-band equalizer Controls volume, drive, mix, tone low, tone mid and tone treble Ultra-hi / ultra-low switches Frequency range 20 Hz - 20 kHz Gain 54 dB Overdrive Bass Scrambler Attenuator -15 dB switchable 6.35 mm jack input Auxiliary input 3.5 mm stereo mini jack / mono 6.35 mm jack (possibility to play with a smartphone/MP3) Headphone output 3.5 mm stereo mini jack True 60° sound reinforcement monitor angle Black metal corner protectors
The Ampeg SVT-410HLF from the Classic series is one of the references in its class. Capable of delivering devastating bass with a low frequency of up to 28 Hz with its 4 HP 10", it also knows how to deliver perfectly defined treble thanks to its configurable tweeter. Power RMS 500 Watts under 4 ohms 4 speakers 10" 1 tweeter 1" with volume control Crossover frequency 4 kHz Frequency response 48 Hz to 18 kHz (-3 dB) Low useful frequency 28 Hz (-10 dB) SPL max 125 dB Sensitivity 98 dB 2 1/4" jacks inputs 2 Speakon® inputs Handles and transport wheels Bar for maximum handling
Mythic amp since the 60s, the amp head AMPEG SVT-CL is able to deliver 300 watts with a warm and powerful sound from its lamps. You have here to do with professional equipment with an exceptional longevity. Power 300 Watts Impedance 2 and 4 Ohm Wooden body Pre-amplification lamps 2 x 12AX7 Driver lamps 1 x 12AX7 and 2 x 12AU7 Amplification lamps 6 x 6550 Gain and Master Controls EQ 3 semi-parametric bands with 5 pre-selection of medium frequencies Boosters ultra low / high Stand-by and phase reversal switches Inputs 2 x 1/4" jack, 0 and -15dB 1/4" jack asymmetrical DI and 1/4" XLR symmetrical HP outputs 2 x 1/4" jack and 1 Speakon® with 2/4 Ω impedance selector Effects insert 2 x 1/4" jack (preamp out and Power Amp In) Weight 36.3 kg
In the world of high-performance bass amps, Ampeg’s SVT amplifiers are in a class by themselves. In true Ampeg tradition, the SVT-4 PRO offers you more power, performance and flexibility than any other bass amplifier in its class. SVT-4PRO offers an expansive palette of tonal options. The Frequency control allows you to select the center frequency for the Midrange control, giving you five distinct voicing options for the Midrange. And if that’s not enough, you can use the 9-Band Graphic EQ to fine-tune your sound—or use it to set up a footswitchable “second channel” with a volume boost for your bass solo.SVT-4PRO is designed for the player who wants SVT tone and performance (with a few modern enhancements) in a convenient, high-powered, rackmount design. With a huge diverse group of artist endorsements, including Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel/King Crimson), Cliff Williams (AC/DC), Pablo Stennett (Ziggy Marley) and far too many others to list here, the SVT-4PRO is a clear favorite among professionals. In the world of high performance bass amps, the Ampeg SVT-4PRO has what it takes to really define your sound.RMS Power Output: 300-Watts x 2/900 (mono-bridged @ 8 Ohms) RMS Power Output: 490-Watts x 2/1200...
Looking for a baffle to accompany your bass amp head? Or, maybe you've recently changed your vehicle to save fuel, and have no more room to carry your beloved SVT-810E in concert. The SVT-410HE delivers superb performance, up to 18kHz, and will easily fit into your new vehicle. The Ampeg SVT-410HE is also the ideal speaker for the player who wants to add an extended superior register clarity to a system that already has many low frequency performance. Just ask George Clinton, he uses a SVT-410E to complete his amp head, all SVT staging. Baffle 4 x 10 " Power handling RMS: 500 watts Frequency response (-3dB): 60Hz-18kHz Low frequency usable (-10dB): 43Hz Nominal impedance: 8 ohms Sensitivity: 98dB Maximum SPL: 122db