Ashdown reliability

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by bassbloke, Mar 21, 2002.

  1. bassbloke


    Feb 26, 2002
    I'm thinking of buying and Ashdown C110-300 combo but a guy who works for my local pa hire company says he hears bad reports about Ashdown reliability. (See ask Steve Lawson section for more details). Any views on whether these rumours are justified or has he just met some unlucky people?
  2. drewie


    Jan 20, 2002
    Cardiff, Wales, UK
    I 've used an Ashdown ABM-400 head for the past 3 and 1/2 years. I've used it 3-4 times a week for roughly 4 hours at a time, subjected it to temperature and humidity changes, dropped it, and spilt beer on it. I have not even serviced it as yet. Nothing has broken, there is no distortion in the sound. It has NEVER let me down. It is as good now as when I bought it. And the VU meter still works. That's British amplification for you...;)
  3. Rickenbackerman


    Apr 17, 2001
    Laurel MD
    whoa! There's a testament! I had my brandie-new 500-RC apart the other night and it's built like a brick s**thouse.
  4. =^..^=


    Jan 25, 2001
    Stuck on a rock !
    I've had a few problems with the 15" Blueline in my Ashdown cab (blown two of 'em in under a year) but the amp itself has never dropped a beat ! Ashdown have replaced them but next time when it goes I'm just going to replace it with an Eminence 1000 watt speaker (note I say 'when' - I'm pretty certain it will go again)

    I've just bought a MAG combo amp for smaller gigs and rehearsals so I can't be that unhappy with Ashdown gear.
  5. James G. Ellis

    James G. Ellis

    Jun 22, 2001
    I think there were some admitted problems with Ashdown speakers at one point, but I have had an ABM500 for a while now, but I have not had any trouble.
    (sound of knocking on wood)...
  6. bassbloke


    Feb 26, 2002
    Thanks guys - I'm getting conflicting messages on this. A couple of music store people have said they've been selling Ashdown with no more problems than other amps. OTOH I did a search at ActiveBass and almost all mentions of Ashdowns related to problems although most of them came from two individuals and both still seemed surprisingly pro-Ashdown despite the problems they were having.

    Interesting also the amount of people who say "No they are ok - I've only had the following minor problem". For me, no problem that involves having your amp shipped back to the retailer for repair etc is a minor problem!

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    I have just bought the Ashdown C110-300(well you know that!). Anyways, I have just used it at a fairly loud blues/rock practice, and I pushed it to it's limit. Everything held up fine, including the single 10"! If I had thought there would be a problem with the amp, I wouldn't have bought it. I don't have time to waste on unreliable equipment, especially while on a gig! I trust Steve, and I believe Todd Johnson has just started using Ashdown. They can't be that bad! What style of music are you going to use the amp for? I am using mine for playing mostly Jazz and Fusion, and a bit of Funk. It sounds amazing. :D
  8. bassbloke


    Feb 26, 2002
    Ajbassking - I have two projects ongoing at present. One is a low-volume jazz quartet the other is a 10 piece disco/funk/dance band. I'm always through a big pa for the big band but I do like a high percentage of the out-front sound to be coming from my rig rather than the pa. My Hartke 350 and 4 x 10 is loud enough and to spare but I crocked my back lifting it out of a car a couple of years ago and want something more portable. The Ashdown C110 weighs about 2/3 of my 4 x 10" (in fact even the 500watt 1 x 15 combo would be ok weight-wise and I've thought about that as another possibility).
  9. fleetwood


    Aug 29, 2001
    Swansea UK
    I'm getting nervous!!!
    I'm seriously thinking of getting an Ashdown Mag 250 head with a Mag 15 Cab and possibly a 2 X 10 as well. I play in a 5 piece Band doing Swing Latin
    Rock & Roll and Country.
    Am I making the right choice. I also have a bad back and the weight of the Ashdown stuff is part of my considerations.
    We play in Clubs and halls seating up to 150.
    Also, I never go through the PA, always my own gear.
    What do you think?????
  10. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
  11. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    A couple of months ago I played a benefit concert. The the people who ran the show bought all brand new equipment for the backline, and I was was first to use the Ashdown combo they had. Don't remember the model, but I know it was one of their better ones. I was the 1st person to ever use the amp. I had everything set at reasonable levels, and the volume at about 3 and the amp just completely crapped out after about 4 songs. I'd never seen that happen before. I had to plug into the PA.
  12. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    >>>Interesting also the amount of people who say "No they are ok - I've only had the following minor problem". For me, no problem
    that involves having your amp shipped back to the retailer for repair etc is a minor problem!<<<

    Absolutely - I agree that anything that leaves you without an amp for a time is bad news.

    The horrible fact is that there's no such thing as indestructable gear, and unless you go to the factory to pick it up, there are loads of variables in the chain before it gets to you - shipping from factory to testing site, shipping from testing site to distributor (could be overseas), the actions of the distributor, shipping to local distributor/dealer/shop, treatment in shop, treatment by customers in shop, knowledge of staff in shop, job lots of parts with faults that only show up down the line...

    All manufacturers have horrid stories of stuff going bad, them making great stuff then shop guys bashing it up. Putting it simply, if you buy your gear from a big box chain store, you have no right to blame the company if the gear fails (though arguably these manufacturers should just boycot the big stores til they start treating gear right) - most high end gear is built to a certain spec - I've not played any flimsy high end amps - obviously all tube stuff requires some extra care, and really heavy gear breaks easier when dropped, due to it's own weight, but if your amp has been dropped from the top of a stack of amps in the wearhouse at Sam Ash or GC - are they going to send it back of just think 'ah, it'll be OK, I'm on $7 dollars an hour, what do I care?????'...

    When gear goes down, you need good service and fast service...

    It'd be great to see a graph of amount of high end gear returned and where it was returned to - I bet if you asked LA Bass Exchange or Bass NW or Bass Place, their comments on the reliability of any gear would differ from the chain stores... :oops:)


  13. bassbloke


    Feb 26, 2002

    A couple of points.

    My comment on "minor problems" was meant to be more personal. First, some people have a practical interest in the technicalities. If something blows, they almost seems to be partially compensated by the learning process that results. I, on the other hand, am a technophobe with no interest in these things and just want to plug in and play. I've played bass and guitar off and on now for more than twenty years and I've NEVER had an amp blow up on me. In my experience good gear is generally very reliable.

    Nothing generally available in the UK appeals as much as the Ashdown. I've used a Mag 1 x 15" at a couple of rehearsals and loved the punchy sound. Your comments on the C110 300 make it sound perfect for me. But if someone warns me that a particular brand is unreliable, and I ignore them and go ahead and buy it anyway, and I end up with problems how much of an idiot will I feel?

    I'm based in Scotland in a place where I can't go down to the local specialist store. If an amp needs repaired it will need to be shipped back to the retailers. It's not a question of cutting costs and going to "big box" suppliers.

    I'm bound to say the research I've done has left me in two minds. Search the ActiveBass sight under Ashdown and you'll see what I mean. People seeking advice on gear are advised "buy Ashdown if you want your amp to spend most of its life in the repair shop". Even Ashdown fans seem to have experienced "minor problems" as acknowledged above.

    I respect your own positive experiences and impressions you have got from fellow bassists. The Bass Centre in the UK tell me that they have no more problems with Ashdown than any other gear (then again they were hoping to sell me one.....). So the evidence is conflicting but it definitely looks like Ashdown has a bit of a reputation for unreliability, deserved or not, and people will tread warily.
  14. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK

    I totally understand where you're coming from - from what you've read, it makes sense to be cautious...

    What are your alternative choices, ampwise?

    It's probably worth emailing Ashdown with some of your concerns, and asking if they have any comment...


  15. bassbloke


    Feb 26, 2002

    Basically I'm not too unhappy with the Hartke sound - it's the bulk and weight that's forcing the decision. A bad back means the cab is a 2 man lift, and that's just plain inconvenient. That doesn't mean to say I don't think the Hartke can be improved on - it probably can. My regular drummer (who also plays a bit of bass) tends to prefer a tighter, punchier sound. He feels the Hartke is slightly woolly compared to the Ashdown I tried on rehearsal. (And we must try to keep the little dears happy!).

    So basically I'm looking for something that is in the same ball park, volume wise, as the Hartke, with perhaps a slightly better defined sound in a more portable package. The Hartke 4 x 10 weighs 88 lbs so the Ashdown 1 x 15 or 1 x 10, both around 60 lbs, are only 2/3 as heavy which would suit me fine. Combos seem to be better value than separates and I appreciate not having to pay a premium for gear because it's made in the US and has to be shipped across, taxes added etc.

    Summarise the above and the Ashdown looks like just what the doctor ordered. But then I get told about the alleged reliability issue and I do some research which indicates there might be some substance to the allegations and I'm left wondering. Of course I read about Eden, Epifani etc but most of the high end stuff is hard to get in the UK and probably a silly price if you can find it.
  16. CaptainWally

    CaptainWally Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2000
    Sandy Eggo, CA
    I would offer that Ashdown might deserve a break because they're products are relatively new. Just like the first year a car model comes out, there are inevitable production problems, recalls, and complaints.

    I wonder if Ashdown will achieve the same level of reliability when Ashdown products have been on the floor as long as some other manufacturer's products?
  17. bassbloke


    Feb 26, 2002
    Captain Wally I don't disagree your comments up to a point. Ashdown deserve props for building a new range of amps with good looks and sound at what I think are pretty fair prices. That's what made me want one. Also, to be fair, although a few people have beefed about things going wrong, no-one to my knowledge has complained of poor after sales service in getting it put right. So far so good.

    But if they are having teething problems I don't want to be the guinea pig. I'm not going to buy an unreliable amp just to give the new kids on the block a leg up, even if I do salute them for what they've achieved.

    I emailed Ashdown at Steve's suggestion and this was the reply I got:

    "Hey, the web is a great place for positive and negative, more negatives
    is the rule.
    We all have some problems, ours are not huge and we have all sorts of
    stories about other peoples and our amps.
    We have thousands of satisfied player and huge bands who tour for years
    without trouble, I better look at this web site. These guys would NOT
    keep using our gear , buying it and working with us if it was unreliable
    But we are NOT perfect yet."

    Now this is a nice friendly response and fairly admits they are "not perfect yet". But a couple of things about it disturb me somewhat.

    First, the idea that on the web "more negatives is the rule". That doesn't accord with my experience. Bass sites are full of guys in love with their gear, praising it and often praising it extravagantly. The implied message - "what do you expect from the web, people are always complaining" doesn't ring true and smacks of evasion. People are not complaining of the reliability of amps generally they're complaining about Ashdown in particular.

    Second, the bands who have toured this stuff for years without problems. Either you're the new kid on the block with the odd teething problem (in which case bands can't have been touring your stuff for years); or bands have been touring the stuff for years - in which case you've had plenty time to get your product right. You can have one or the other but not both.
  18. fleetwood


    Aug 29, 2001
    Swansea UK
    Oh dear................
    Maybe we should have a poll of Ashdown users.
    Where are the Ashdown amps and Cabs made? Here in the UK or does Ashdown have a factory in China?
    Should be OK if it was Japan!!!
  19. fleetwood


    Aug 29, 2001
    Swansea UK
    Just where does all this leave you now?
    I know I'm more confused than ever. When you buy something like an amp and speakers you really need to have confidence in them. It would be interesting to know if there was a particular amp or cab which was giving more problems than the others. It could be just one item or issue series of an item causing the problems.
  20. fleetwood


    Aug 29, 2001
    Swansea UK
    Ashdown have recently superceded the 200w Mag head with a 250w. Apparently the new one has an improved power supply. Also the 400w Mag head isn't being replaced. The EB Combos have also been upgraded. Is this to sort out a few bugs which may have existed in previous gear.