Ampeg B-100R Combo Review: Vintage Sound of the 60s

Vintage-style bass amps seem to be harder and harder to find these days, especially affordable ones. For every vintage reissue bass amp, there are probably ten or more vintage guitar model amps available on the market. About ten years ago (or more now), I saw an amazing looking bass amp in a music store. It appeared to be an Ampeg B-15 Portaflex, the legendary bass combo from the 1960s. On closer inspection, I realized it was a new, solid-state remake of that classic old tube amp. It was the Ampeg B-100R Combo.

The amp had the classy blue checkered vinyl and silver cloth grille, just like the original. Of course, I had to play through it at once, so I grabbed the nearest Fender bass, found a cable nearby, and I plugged in. The amp had a warm, pleasant, tube-like tone that immediately impressed and surprised me. It quite simply was the best solid-state combo amp I’d ever heard.

The Ampeg B-100R Combo is not exactly light, coming in at about 65 lbs. Luckily, the amp has caster fittings at the bottom, which I highly recommend using. Wheeling it around is a lot easier than lugging this beast by the leather strap handle. It should be noted, however, that a tube-powered Ampeg B-15 is well over 100 lbs. After only 15 minutes, I went home, grabbed my Ampeg BA-115, and I headed back to the store for a trade-in. The deal was made, and I went home to put the new amp through its paces.

Ampeg B-100R Combo Specs and Sound

I won’t get too technical here, so just the basic info on the B-100R.

It features a 15-inch speaker, 100 watts of power, and six knobs: gain, bass, low-mid, high-mid, treble, and master volume. You also get three ultra switches: low, mid, and high. The main impression I got from this cool combo was warmth and punch. I’ve played other amps that had lots of low-end but lacked that vintage mid-range “honk” that I really love. I felt as though I was playing through an old tube amp when I was playing the Ampeg B-100R.

With a Precision Bass and flats, it’s Motown city all the way with this amp. There’s lots of low-mid presence and good bite even though it’s a 15-inch driver with no tweeter. My Jazz Bass sounded punchy and fat, especially with the ultra-bass switch engaged. With the ultra-high switch on, the Jazz sounded crisp and bright, but with the ultra-mid (which actually cuts mids), the Jazz sounded too scooped for my taste.

Where the B-100R shines

This amp has plenty of power for small to medium size gigs, and it’s perfect for practicing. It has a headphone jack, and I was really impressed with the sound through cans. I heard no hiss, and there was a good, clean tone that sounded pretty faithful to the speaker tone.

The bottom line is that I highly recommend this amp to anyone looking for a vintage bass tone that doesn’t want to deal with a costly and fragile old tube amp. Unfortunately, and unforgivably, Ampeg discontinued this amazing bass model. However, you can still find them used if you’re lucky. They are most definitely worth keeping your eyes open for. If you find one in good shape at a decent price, grab it.

Leave a Comment