Class or ass: Ampeg Pro SVTRC rack case

My Ampeg SVT-2 Pro is a champ. It can roar like the SVT buried inside of it and sing with all the bells and whistles of a graphic EQ, direct out, and even more I haven’t figured out yet. It’s got two major problems, though. One is the weight. It’s a beast, weighing in at 68 pounds unmounted. When Impaled toured the first time with Incantation, Kyle unlovingly dubbed it “the brick.”

Ampeg SVT-2 Pro

The second problem is the look. The SVT-2 and 2 Pro are victims of their time… the nineties. Everyone was looking to put things in rack mounts. Rack mounts look like shit. They belong in the back of a Google server warehouse, not at a rock show. Ampeg partially addressed this situation when they made the Ampeg SVTRC series. These are nice looking rack mount boxes for their stupid looking series of heads. I wanted one. My 2 Pro is a good amp on the inside and I wanted it housed like one.

All I’d been able to find are these old promotional photos. The rack mount on the top of this photo emulates the look of an actual SVT Classic amp nicely. That’s the one I wanted.

SVTRC cases

I eventually found the most amazing Ampeg collection for sale on craigslist. It included a version of the SVTRC. It was the one that looked like it was made for Neo and Trinity to wear while fighting Agent Smith. I told the guy I really wanted the case that looked like an Ampeg Classic. He said he had one. We made a gentleman’s agreement; I give him the money and take the case until he dug the other one out of his storage. Then he stopped returning my calls. This mother fucker was not a gentleman. I got stuck with a lemon.

Ampeg SVTRC rack case

This SVTRC was made to fit the Pro series of cabinets that Ampeg made in the ’90s. These are cumbersome beasts made of 15mm plywood and coated with some weird plastic resin instead of tolex. The rack case is no different. It’s made of thick wood and weighs in at 27.5 pounds. It brings the total weight of it and my 2 Pro up to 95 pounds. That’s more than Tracey Gold even before purging.

SVTRC vinyl cover

It came with a vinyl cover… not much protection if you consider throwing shit inside a tiny trailer or in the back of the van. Besides, the vinyl cover has holes on the side for grasping the case handles, exactly where the amp vents. I’ve heard lots of myths about tube amps, but exposure to rain and the elements improving tone hasn’t been one of them.

SVTRC rack case side

The handles were apparently designed by Torquemada. The shape is completely anti-ergonomic, made worse by the weight of the thing, and assured to break the fingers of any wayward bass player. There is absolutely no right way to grab these and hoist almost 100 pounds of amp onto the top of an 8×10.

SVTRC underneath

Finally, the feet… Ampeg has had the same feet and cup measurements on their amplifiers and cabinets for nearly 25 years up to the point this was produced. When they made the Pro series of cabs, they decided to change it. This rack case only rests comfortably on top of the Star Trek: TNG-looking 200 pound PR810s which are hard to find and apparently don’t sound that great. This thing dates itself like a Nagel print dates a hotel lobby.

NAGEL and bad cab design

The SVTRC had to go. I finally unloaded it on a father buying his son all new bass gear. I almost felt bad. I had been curious about housing my Ampeg SVT-2 Pro in the house that Ampeg built for it… curiosity sated.

Final results: the pro version of the SVTRC is ass.

His name is Rosso, and he dances on the sand…

8 thoughts on “Class or ass: Ampeg Pro SVTRC rack case

  1. I played through a SVP1600 poweramp (w/ Tech 21 RBI as the preamp) for a number of years and it seems very similar in design and weight SVT-2 Pro. The weight was unbelievable and definitely an issue with myself and bandmates…I'd basically need to swing it and use its own weight/momentum to get it on top of the cab. Also, the SVP got hot…really really hot and I needed to mount a clip-on fan on the back just to keep it cool during shows and practice. The thing ended up burning itself out twice and eventually died at the hands of a subpar repair shop (Pro Audio Repair in SF). After much haggling between the shop and Ampeg over warranty issues, I cut my losses and bought a different amp. The most disappointing part is that I thought I was making the right decision by purchasing a brand new amp from Ampeg only to have the thing completely die 2 years later. Sounds like yours is treating you right though.

  2. Best bet for bass players, buy a solid state. Not very glamorous. Your friends and other musicians will think you are cheap, but at least you won't have the heavy amp that may not make it thru the show.

  3. Depends on which solid state. I had an SVT200-T solid state that cost me way more on repairs than any tube head I've owned. I do like those Sunn bass lead solid state amps.

  4. Yeah, I learned that the hard way and will never buy new from them again. I've replaced it with a 70s Acoustic solid state that cost 1/6th of what the Ampeg ran me and haven't looked back.

  5. In the picture of the four racks, I am looking to buy the bottom one, BXTRAK3. Does anyone have one? Please email me: <svxpac.lh@gmail.com>

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