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Ampeg PF series amps = OK to buy NOW?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Remus_Redbone, Sep 8, 2013.

  1. Remus_Redbone


    Dec 27, 2010
    Western AR
    Ok, I've read and read and read some more. I see there's been a few (hundred or thousand?) who have had some problems with the Ampeg Portaflex 350 & 500 heads, (not sure on the 800's).

    I have an old Ampeg B-15T that I'm planning to upgrade with a new speaker in the cabinet, and a new amp on the flip-top board. I'd like,to go with an Ampeg Portaflex series amp for obvious reasons, but also for that Ampeg tone the PF series can produce (sounded great in the store). They also seem to be priced fairly for the features and power output.

    I'm looking at the PF-500, which will be driving the 8 ohm speaker in the fliptop most of the time and a 4 ohm load when I need the extra cab for big rooms or outdoor gigs.

    My question: is the problem "fixed", or are these amps still failing at an unacceptable rate?
  2. SuperK

    SuperK Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2012
    San Jose, CA
    I'll start.
    I've had mine about six months and play it 8-10 hours a week and I've never had an issue. Never. And I ride it pretty hard. Gain at about 2:30 and volume up to 2:00 - 3:00. AND I bought it used so who knows how much action it saw before I bought it.

    FWIW most of the problems seem to be with the 500's. The 350's and 800's seem to have a good track record.

    Let the PF500 bashing begin.....
  3. bassguppy

    bassguppy Supporting Member

    Actually, there has been about 12-15 who have had an issue and then there are countless others who have never purchased the amp who will chime in about the EVIL AMPEG CONGLOMERATE and will use that chance to disparage the big dog on the block.

    And they thank you for this new thread.
  4. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    My PF350 has made it past its 2 year warranty problem free. I've cranked it super hard into a 4 ohm load, 8 ohm load, and without a load, even dropped it from short distances accidentally before, and it always works. I know a couple dudes around here who use the PF500 and it's working for them as well, and I've played different ones a few times at stores and tried to make them cut out and couldn't. And they've been very proactive about getting folks with problems sorted as quickly as possible. I don't know...I hear about the problems on here, but my experience with the PF heads has been totally positive every time, and I'll probably get piled on for saying it, but I think if the PF500 hadn't sold the crazy amount it sold, the percentage of complaints on here vs the positive experiences wouldn't be out of line with any other gear that sells in that price range, as people often make special trips to the sites like this when their stuff quits working.
  5. xroads


    Nov 6, 2012
    As this is your question, Ampeg to my knowledge never made a statement that the problem is fixed.
  6. arai

    arai Banned

    Jul 16, 2007
    12-15! Is that a fact?
    Where are you getting this figure from?

    From the thread I am about to link my count is 61. One thread, an old one.

  7. SpruceGoose54


    May 21, 2013
    Someone posted a response from Ampeg in another thread about how the amps aren't designed to go over 12 in the master volume and that doing so is risking amp failure. I can understand that you don't want to strain your amp and it means you probably need more power, but it doesn't seem right to disclose that after so many have been sold. But on the flip side I played one in a rehearsal studio and it sounded great! Easy to get the dark ampeg tone and filled up the room without a problem.
  8. xroads


    Nov 6, 2012
    Yeah, they sound great for what they are supposed to do, however, with said failure handling strategy by Ampeg, I will not own one.
  9. okcrum

    okcrum in your chest

    Oct 5, 2009
    Verde Valley, AZ
    RIP Dark Horse strings
    It will never be safe to own a PF as long as TB exists. Or Eden. Or GK. The "problem" to TBers is that all amps have nonzero failure rates.

    Thus, I own two PF500s.
    sleepyEDB likes this.
  10. Venom of God

    Venom of God

    Oct 8, 2007
    I've known of two people who had to send their PF500's back out of maybe six people with them. Just saying.
  11. mazdah


    Jan 29, 2010
    Kalisz, Poland
    Beside the cuteness and the sound, a budget amp will always be a budget amp.
    You want no trouble - double the price. Or triple.

    My PF-350 developed really annoying rattle so I sent it for a warranty.
    Funny that it rattles only when I use my cab (PF-115) on a carpet floor - my room, various studios and rehearsal rooms.
    The cab IS FINE. Solid floor or PF-210 gives no rattle - we tried my amp in the shop, there was almost no rattle at all.
    They (the technicians) could not find it for the first time, so I had to send it back.

    I like my PF-350 a lot better than my friends' SVT-7 so I'm not going to give up on this amp.
  12. okcrum

    okcrum in your chest

    Oct 5, 2009
    Verde Valley, AZ
    RIP Dark Horse strings
    I think I bought one of those. It was returned to MF as a failure by a TBer. It's been working perfectly for me for almost three years. Just saying.

    EDIT: In fact, that's the one I loaned to a local buddy whose MB800 rig died the other night. He liked it well enough I think he's going to get a PF now.
  13. lbbc

    lbbc Supporting Member

    Sep 25, 2007
    Seaford , DE
    I bought a PF-500 based on reviews by Bass Player magazine and recommendations by TB'ers on a thread I started here. I played it last night (gain and master at 2 o'clock) with no lights flashing or cut outs.

    I agree that no amp is 100% fault free, but this amp does sound great to me
  14. shoot-r


    May 26, 2007
    I'm REALLY happy for everyone that's had no problems with their PF-500's......wish I was one of you...

    My recommendations to anyone considering a PF series amp...

    If you don't need alot of power, go with the PF-350.

    If you need more power/headroom, go with the PF-800.
  15. Remus_Redbone


    Dec 27, 2010
    Western AR
    I appreciate the responses. I've seen a lot of other products released with a problem that appeared when the public started using (and abusing) the product. The manufacturer makes the needed changes and the product becomes as reliable as expected.

    What I think I'm seeing here is that Ampeg hasn't admitted there was a specific problem with the PF amps, and explains failures to either the 1) industry fail rate of x% or 2) abuse by the owner.

    I was hoping it was #1 exclusively and I would take my chances. Even though I would have full control over failure scenario #2, I can't see buying an amp that I could break by accidentally pushing it too hard in some scenario. Unless I've misread, it looks like Ampeg leans toward #2 as the cause of some failures.

    I owned a Peavey Combo 300 for 17 years that never failed, & was working like a charm the day I traded it in. It was what I would call "very heavily used". I currently own a Peavey T-Max that I bought new in 1998 that has never so much as blinked. It has also seen some very heavy use. I've owned the Ampeg B-15T I'm upgrading since the mid 90's without a failure & it was used when I bought it. Those three exhibit the kind of reliability I expect with a new amp.

    On the other hand, I bought a new GK MB-150E six years ago this past Labor Day and it has broken down twice so far with very light / infrequent use.

    I guess it's down to a coin toss among the choices of micro heads that will fit on my flip top board. Ampeg PF-500 is my #1 desire, but I'm still not sure if it's going to be my choice. I'll read up on warranty....
  16. lowendblues

    lowendblues Supporting Member

    Oct 8, 2004
    Interesting. I got a PF-500 coming in on Friday. I've been into the GK tone for a few years, and felt the need to change it up a bit.

    I hope I'm not disappointed. But, that's what customer service is for right? I've had Ampeg stuff in the past, so I'm optimistic. :)
  17. BassmanPaul

    BassmanPaul Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2007
    Toronto Ontario Canada
    Make sure that whatever driver you install will be an upgrade. Just dropping a suitably sized driver into a cabinet ends up in a crapshoot. Use a modelling program such as WinISD to select a suitable driver for the box.
  18. Steve Dallman

    Steve Dallman Supporting Member

    I've gigged pretty heavily and pushed my PF500 since last Nov, without a hiccup. It replaced a GK1001RB which I don't miss. They are miles apart.

    I gigged with the GK for years, but never bonded with it. It got the job done and not much more. The Ampeg is more an extension of my bass, and I find it very, very satisfying.

    I used an SVT head in the mid 70's through the early 80's. The switch to the PF500 brought back memories of switching from my more than adequate Carvin back then to the SVT, although I find the PF500 has more tonal options than the SVT had.

    I rather like the compression and use it to varying degrees.
  19. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    Ampeg never acknowledged there was a problem, so I highly doubt they state they've corrected it. That would be admitting they made a dud, they didn't fess up to the BA series failure rate, I don't see them fessing up to the PF series failure rate. Didn't somebody official state the failure rate was only 3% which is actually quite high for electronics. (That might have just been TB speculation) Now another factor you have to keep in mind is how much they sell in comparison. I used to run an electronics warehouse and we would see broken Samsungs more than any other brand, but seeing as Samsung sold 3 tvs to 1 compared to the other brands, I would hardly consider them as having a high failure rate.

    Honestly OP, if your buying new don't sweat it. Used, I would probably avoid it as Ampeg's CS only applies to their customers, not their products. Mind you this is coming from a guy who was soured on Ampeg by Ampeg themselves so I am probably slightly biased. Their CS is quite easy to deal with if you have to get your money back after months of ownership (and months in repair) like I did. My retailer took it back no questions asked, I just had to bitch all the way to the top manager.
  20. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    More for the rest of us!