As our Misc / More page states, we get a wealth of random, unique projects on a regular basis that don’t really fall within a ‘normal’ product line. One of the more recent projects we had the awesome opportunity to work on was the repair and restoration of a ’73 Ampeg V-4 and ’70’s B25B cabinet. A solid combination for a gorgeous vintage bass tone, and extremely rough states for both pieces of gear! The cabinet was actually a cab we had sitting around the shop. It was the first cabinet I bought as a kid, and I’ve had it laying around ever since I blew the speakers a decade ago. I bought it in the 7th grade from my friend’s older brother for $50 along with a solid state Crate head. I’m sure the tone I got from that setup was a joke at best, but it was loud! And when your bass is covered in stickers and hanging at your calves, what else matters?
The head was brought to us by a client and friend of ours, and was a head that he used as a kid. What better home for my old cab than to be restored and paired up with a V-4 from the same era? It was an easy decision, and our client immediately got on board with the project. The head had been sitting in a garage for 15+ years, but it fired up – give or take a power tube – right away and sounded surprisingly gorgeous! It wasn’t until we opened it up that we found out it had become a wonderful home for generations of mice. With wires chewed raw and the chassis packed absolutely full of filth, we’re extremely lucky that the head didn’t catch on fire. I have never seen a piece of gear in such a horrible state, but the craziest aspect was that it still worked in this condition! Unreal. Good job Ampeg, your gear can withstand a decade and a half of neglect and rodent abuse.
The head had been modded substantially somewhere along the line. You can see from the photo that all the caps have all been replaced, and they added a bias control and a few other unique mods. I have to attribute those mods as the independent variable in the amazing tone, as I had a ’74 V-4B a couple years ago that I shortly sold for it’s lack of desirable tone. But this V-4 – with is originally a guitar head, and I guessing someone performed these mods to get a great bass tone out of it – sounds nothing like my V-4B did, and in the best way. I would have loved to keep this rig, but at some point you have to be professional and let your growing business and family trump wonderful tone. Such is life, I suppose.
After the six weeks it took to properly clean and re-wire the head, we stripped both the head and cab. The cab had a very important message carved into it (see photos) under the tolex, so it must have already been re-tolex once. I don’t know Courtnie Schitskie, but I’m assuming she inspired some great songs. The cab and head were both extremely solid still, so we didn’t have to re-glue or reset anything. The full restoration included all new tubes, new Eminence 15″ drivers, new factory-black tolex on the head and cab, new faceplate, and new vintage-spec silver grill cloth. We reused the knobs, corners, handles and badges to keep a real vintage feel on the rig, especially since this rig is going to be a player’s rig. This isn’t going to sit on display, and has many more years ahead of it to get naturally relic’d all over again. Maybe we’ll get the chance to restore it again someday!
A great project, and a ton of fun for all of us at EC. If you have a random project, get in touch with us and see what we can do!