Ampeg PF500 or Hartke LH500

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by TUEP, Jul 5, 2012.

  1. TUEP


    Apr 8, 2007
    Both these 500 watters are not out of my price range, and I would kind of like to have a new bass head. I love my SVT-350 SS, I just kind of like something in the 500 watt range.

    I liked the sound of the B100R so I am kind of curious if the PF-500 has that kind of tone in a 500 watt package. Also as far as tone and volume what would be the A vs B of the PF-500 compared to a Hartke LH 500. I used to have a 60 watt Hartke combo and I thought it was the neatest little amp. Good little tone box.

    I like a raw gritty sound...kind of over-driven a little bit like AIC, Megadeth (I know he uses Hartke), Slipknot, Cliff Burton, and Anthrax kind of dirty.

    I am wondering what the consensus is of these amps in a hard rock/metal setting?
  2. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I think they're both quite cool amps but pretty different. The tone stacks are very different, for one. The PF500 has a more typical boost-cut for every frequency range with a sweepable mid control which is very cool, while the Hartke uses the Fender tone stack, which is boost-only for treble and bass, cut only for mids. It's a cool sounding tone stack and a very good sounding amp, but it does limit you to either near flat response or a mid scoop, and won't do any mid-forward tones without outside help.

    Half the B100R's charm is in the cab, but the PF500 sounds great and is very much what you'd expect from Ampeg. The Hartke is a traditional SS hybrid amp, which will likely give it a slight edge in the volume department, but both will blast you quite loudly if need be. I haven't tried to get distortion out of the LH500 before, but it has a preamp tube so I imagine you could get at least a little out of it. The PF500 doesn't have a tube but it does have a killer sounding grind out of it. It's not full-on fuzz but good for a mild or medium grind.

    Obviously I'm a little prejudiced toward the Ampeg, but the Hartke is a different but good sounding amp as well, and that's how they size up.
    zapped777 likes this.
  3. René_Julien


    Jun 26, 2008
    There is no consensus on what a great amp is for metal.

    But like Jimmy said, those two have a very different tone-stock.
    I play metal and I would go with that Ampeg PF500 in a heartbeat. (Disclaimer: I did not played one myself.)
    Because the Fender Bassman tone stack on the Hartke LH500 (i tested this one) is mid-scoop, and you don't want mid-scoop in a metal setting. Believe me.
    The PF500 has sweepable mid which I think is very handy on an amp.
    Boosting low-mids a bit is what you want to do, and try to keep everything else flat, maybe even rolling bass of a bit. (But there is a lot more to EQ-ing to study up on.)

    I personally am searching for a more "Ampeg" like tone in metal. But it's more a clean thumping sound I am after for power metal, certainly no SVT-sound.
    Your tone and sound goals differ a lot from mine, but I assume any Ampeg-like amp may get the job done for you.

    Another brand you might look into is Gallien Krueger. I don't know what their comparable model is.
    They give you very nice grind. But then again it is a matter of taste. It's not as warm maybe as others. Great tone control.

    Also remember that your cab is a factor in your sound.
  4. Plucky The Bassist

    Plucky The Bassist Bassist for Michael "Epic Mic" Rowe

    Jul 30, 2010
    Houston, TX
    I'd go for the Ampeg for aggressiveness...not to mention a less biased EQ section. Those new B-15 style cabs are just awesome IMO.
  5. TUEP


    Apr 8, 2007
    Thanks for the help guys. I didn't realize the Hartke tone stack was like that at all. Its wierd that it would be when Hartke usually markets to the hard rock metal crowd.
  6. All other things equal, the extra 150W shouldn't make stuff all difference by itself.
  7. CnB77


    Jan 7, 2011

    I don't know that I would reach that conclusion by looking at their artists page
  8. CL400Peavey

    CL400Peavey Supporting Member

    Nov 7, 2011
    Grand Rapids Michigan
    What kind of cab or cabs are you pairing either of these with? This will influence your sound as much if not more than the amp itself.
  9. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Larry markets Hartke to all bass players. And not all his amps have the Fender tone stack. I'm a lifelong Ampeg guy but you won't ever catch me saying a bad word about Hartke stuff. I don't like everything he's ever made, but his place in bass amp history is pretty secure and it's good stuff.
    tfer and wave rider like this.
  10. Tommy Nat

    Tommy Nat Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2008
    Cherry Hill, NJ
    I just sold a lh500 for the pf500. Both are awesome, but as of right now, the pf500 to me has the edge just because it is a little more versatile tone wise and more portable.

    The hartke is purely alot of clean power, I'm willing to bet the 500 watts is conservative cause that thing gets loud really quick. The tube preamp gives you a nice warm tone. I've used hartke for over 15 years and all of their products are built like tanks. Customer service is top notch, but I've never had to even use them.

    Time will tell if this ampeg is better for me, but so far so good, im really impressed with the tone you can get out of it.
  11. jeff7bass


    Apr 9, 2009

    MOTORHEADBANGER Spud-boy looking for a real tomato

    Dec 23, 2008
    Sidney, Indiana
    While the LH500 is heavier, it just has a great tone set in and works very well with metal. The mid control may be cut only (so leave it at 8-10), the amp has plenty of mids already in the default tone. It has a very complex voicing to it and will stay relatively clean at all volumes with a little bit of edge/grind when you bring the treble up. David Ellefson of Megadeth and Frank Bello of Anthrax use the LH heads for metal, so I don't think their will be a problem their. I think the PF500 is great, but the Hartke has more power/fullness and a more complex tone.
  13. arai

    arai Banned

    Jul 16, 2007
    Anther vote for LH500. I assume because it is metal you will be playing loud. Those pf500s have a reputation for cutting out when pushed
  14. pfschim

    pfschim Just a Skeleton with a Jazz bass

    Apr 26, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    I have a PF500 and have used the LH500 in several settings in the past 2 years.

    Don't let the interesting description of the Fender tone stack worry you. Despite the differences between the traditional Ampeg/Baxandal and Fender tone stacks, you will have no problem dialing mids in or out with the Fender style controls, that is just kind of a silly statement IMO/IME.

    The LH500 offers a more tube driven breakup than the PF500, and I'm guessing it's mostly to do with the AX7 in the pre section. The PF500 will growl, but its a pretty distinctly SS type sound. You will have to use your ears to decide which one fits your goals better.

    Having used them both, the LH500 is definitely going to be the louder/beefier amp (despite the equal ratings). Can't say why exactly but through the same 2 1x15 cabs, eq'd for the same bass (Fender active Jazz) the LH500 sounds and feels louder to me. The PF500 is hardly lacking in watts/volume and punch either, but loses the perceived volume battle - again all IMO/IME.

    I don't know if form factor is an issues for you, but the PF500 wins hands down here. It weighs in at 11lbs, where the LH500 tips the scales at ~25lbs. Outside of the exact weight differences, the LH500 just feels bulky and heavy compared to the PF500, probably due to it's old style iron tranny vs the Class D power section of the PF500.

    Best thing to do of course is to go and listen to both amps with your bass and hear for yourself. Choose with your ears, not your eyes.

    good luck
  16. a friend of mine in our club has a Kilo and has a killer tone, he told me that the hartke attack pedal Is pretty much the preamp section of the kilo so I am going to get one soon, I think the lh500 with the attack pedal vs the ampeg the hartke would crush the ampeg
  17. davecuellar85


    Dec 9, 2013
    If it's good enough for Glen Benton, then it's good enough for me!
  18. taddeomaiden


    Feb 15, 2013
    Rome, Italy
    I'd recommend the Hartke. I'm actually using it, but I've tried the PF500 as well. They're both good amps for their price, but I find the LH500 to be really exceptional.
    It's just more natural to my ears, very clean with simple but effective controls, and you can't imagine how loud it is. You just can't go wrong with it. And it's even cheaper.
    As Jimmy said above, though, you have to learn how the tone stack works, especially in metal where it's so easy to get lost in the mix. I play in a very loud death metal band with bass at 4, mids at 10 and treble at 7, and manage to cut through the mix really well. Keep in mind that, on these heads, a flat setting would be bass 0, mids 10, treble 0. In any case, I'd suggest starting with all the knobs at noon and find your own setting, it's a really "user friendly" head.
  19. Orpheus55

    Orpheus55 Supporting Member

    Nov 7, 2006
    Port Charlotte, FL
    I has the PF500 and liked it very much for two years; then, it started cutting out and died one nightingale the middle of a show. Tool it on to
    My tech but it wasn't worth fixing. Bought the Hartke 500 and it has been great. Racks nicely in a Gator shallow 2U. It is heavy, and I'm 63, but a great amp for me; reliability is important to me, and I just don't trust these little amps anymore. Check the threads; they are notorious for cutting out and dying (at least the older ones were).