Ampeg pf500: to buy or not to buy

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Mstins88, Dec 27, 2014.

  1. Mstins88


    Dec 27, 2014
    Vincennes, IN
    First post so forgive stupid questions or repeats.

    I'm looking for a new bass rig and am strongly considering an Ampeg pf500 w 115 stack. I will be mostly be playing a p-bass with flat wounds. I am looking for a vintage/Motown tone. This rig will be used to practice and for small venues.

    I have read several posts on the portaflex series (some good and some bad) and have watched several videos so I feel pretty comfortable with their sound.

    Is this my best option for the price? I'm hoping to stay around $800.
    Would the head sound better with a different cab?
    Used or new? (I've read portaflex heads should be bought new)
  2. Troph


    Apr 14, 2011
    Kirkland, WA
    From what I've read, it's worth the extra $$ to go for the PF800. Extra headroom, fewer reports of issues, etc. Used PF500 units have a reputation for being a bit of a gamble.
    Phasman likes this.
  3. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    Save up a little more and get the 800. They seem to be a lot more reliable.
    The 500's have had way to many problems for me to ever take a chance on.
  4. Hoochie Coochie Man

    Hoochie Coochie Man Supporting Member

    Jul 14, 2014
    The Chequamegon
    I own an early PF500, and I love it. If the PF800 would have been available at the time, I would have bought that instead. I will be buying a PF800 eventually. I would never need 800 Watts of continuous power, but the extra headroom the PF800 provides is nice to have considering it is a solid state power section.
  5. Mstins88


    Dec 27, 2014
    Vincennes, IN
    Thanks for the input. I am fairly confident that the pf500 will be more than enough for my needs. I could probably get buy with the 350, but like the extra features of the 500.
  6. slade


    Apr 5, 2001
    for your desired tone I think you're nailing it on the head! I too would snag an 800 though- after playing them both a lot. Either way though, motown in spades!
  7. devinp17


    Jun 26, 2014
    Ontario, Canada
    Like the others said: Save a little more and get the PF800. Even though you might not need 800 watts (of power, or the extra headroom it provides), it's much more reliable.
  8. Steve Dallman

    Steve Dallman Supporting Member

    PF-500's are getting even cheaper. MF, new is $249. I've had mine a couple years without a hiccup and absolutely love it. I usually have no PA support and it never fails to fill the room. My last amp was a 1001RB and I never bonded with it. I didn't like the low end character. I look forward to gigs just to hear the Ampeg again. I probably would have gotten an 800 had it been available, but I have no reason to "upgrade" at this point.
    BluesOnBass, slade and Ace Of Bass like this.
  9. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    Since the reports of pf500 failures tapered off months and months ago, I'm willing to bet that the issues have been engineered out by now. Strengthened by the fact that they haven't been discontinued. If possible the 800 is the way to go though.

    I have a 350 and it is great with a pair of 15s. A single 15 8ohm (250w) is JUST enough for average weekend rock bar stuff though. Just have to keep an eye on it. The 800 would be my next bump up: 400w @ 8ohms whereas the 500 is 300w, barely a hair over the 350.
  10. coreyfyfe

    coreyfyfe Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2007
    boston, ma
    I've had my PF-500 since about the time they came out and it's been rock solid, though it's mainly been my backup/practice/lazy-load in amp. If you like that warm, low-mid, vintage ampeg sound the PF-500 can definitely do that. As much as my amp has been great I usually say if you're going to buy one get it new with a warranty, should anything happen it's their problem and you aren't left high and dry.
  11. pfschim

    pfschim Just a Skeleton with a Jazz bass

    Apr 26, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    as a PF500/115He owner/user, I'm going to come down on the side of the "spend a little more money and get the PF800" argument. The PF500 sounds fine, really gets the ampeg tone, but the touchiness of the design with its tendency to go into to fault mode (hard shutdown) makes it difficult to rate it very positively. Mine (mostly) gets used for rehearsal anymore, I can't deal with an amp that shuts down on a gig. As has been said already, the PF800 (and the PF350) have far fewer negative user reports, and both bring the tone just as well as the somewhat risky (IMO/IME) PF500. And the PF800 has the major headroom benefit too.
    the good news is that there are so many good options to choose from.
    good luck with your choice.
    slade likes this.
  12. Mstins88


    Dec 27, 2014
    Vincennes, IN
    Steve do you mind posting the MF link to the $249 new pf500? the lowest I've seen anywhere is $319. Last week I emailed MF asking for their "best price" on the 500 + 115 stack, and they were only able to knock off about $95 from the $799 listed price.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2014
  13. FerruleCat


    Mar 29, 2014
    Tulsa, OK
    I ordered the PF500 last fall, then thought better of it and returned it unopened for the PF800. I'm more confident in that unit.
  14. Ace Of Bass

    Ace Of Bass A Rooster Illusion

    Jun 27, 2006
    I have been using mine almost exclusively for about three months....I haven't had any issues at all...knock on wood..
    slade likes this.
  15. bftbassman


    Aug 23, 2014
    Ephrata PA
    my pf500 is is played for weekly 3 hr practices at volume and is used for recording in studio and it sits right next to my desk for tone i ever had, it cuts in a recording mix and the Ampeg tone really has bumped up my sound a notch..great amp..super cool and portable port6.jpg

    Attached Files:

    Kams and BluesOnBass like this.
  16. diamondsplit


    Jan 13, 2012
    i would go with the 800 i think they sound nice i played 500 at 8 ohms it was not loud but it was smooth deep and great for the money
  17. High Camp

    High Camp

    Oct 3, 2013
    PF500 or PF800, both will give you great sound with a PF115HE or PF210HE, IMO.
    I have used my PF800 loads of times with the 115HE and/or the 210HE cab.
    I just love the sound of it. The vintage/Motown sound is easily dialed in.
  18. Mstins88


    Dec 27, 2014
    Vincennes, IN
    Thanks for all the feedback so far. It's good to hear some positives for the 500. I'm hoping many of the early problems have been resolved by now. Im still leaning towards the 500 unless I could get a used 800 in great condition for a price close to the 500. I cant really justify the pricetag of a new 800 when it's mostly going to be kept in the second bedroom for practice.
  19. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Inactive

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    It's not a stupid question, but there is this thing called search which helps you get started.
  20. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    In that case, I'd say do the 500.
    BluesOnBass likes this.