Calling on a bit of shared Trace knowledge....

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Mark Andrew, Jan 9, 2020.

  1. I have been through allot (not all )of the trace posts many of which are really old and as usual with TB allot of opinions, some good reviews but I had trouble getting an answer or opinions from someone who has had both amps I'm interested in. In the 90s I tried allot of smaller Trace heads in various back lines 150 watters with 7 band or 12 band eqs mostly. To be honest back then I never had the chance to play around properly with these units, couldn't get where I wanted to be with them quickly found them asthmatic compared to whatever Peavey head I was using at the time. Yes the band was stupidily loud. I have never tried any of the larger units. I promised myself that I would pick one up one day as I think personally the older ones are a good if not stable investment. Perfect for static practice room duty and the occasional outdoor gig. The question is which one? The purists seem to like the gp11s while others much prefer the later units (while others knock the quality ) with 2 band compressor and option of valve preamp blending. I don't buy the quality issues if it's still running now it's good enough for me but I too was leaning towards an SMX gp12 head 250w or higher due to the extra functionality. However they are much loved by collectors and the furry models come up fairly often the older non furry models are less common and tend to be collected. A battered but fully functional AH500 gp11 has come up that is flirting with me online, a plain Jayne... should i reciprocate her advances? She a is a very early late 80s model. In your experience Trace experts how do the gp11 models differ from the gp12 SMX series amps soundwise? Will I regret not holding out for (the younger more exotic) SMX? Opinions from people who have tried both preferred. Many thanks.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2020
    BOOG likes this.
  2. News to me that any have gained collector status. If the price is right grab it up I reckon. There are a few dual compressor pedals floating around around if you want to scratch that itch.
    Mark Andrew likes this.
  3. There are of course different levels of what you could call collector status but I see good examples of earlier models being on many a wish list over here they seem to be slowly but surely increasing in value as I've been scouring the classifieds for a while now ;)...
  4. Jim C

    Jim C I believe in the trilogy; Fender, Stingray, + G&L Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    IMO, if it is not a V series, it's just another used base amp.
    I had a 350 watt version for awhile.
    It's an acquired taste for their sound which many really like.
  5. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    I played an AH350SM for a year or so in the mid 90s. I thought it was an incredible amp but I wouldn't be looking to buy one today. I remember it being extremely versatile and having a certain unique mojo that I found very appealing. I also remember it seemed really heavy and had a lot of controls. With so many controls there is a lot that can go wrong with one of these amps, and I believe sourcing OEM parts to repair them will be difficult to impossible. The weight and repairability of the amp would be two really heavy strikes against it.
  6. There are of course different levels of what you could call collector status but I see good examples of earlier models being on many a wish list over here good examples of the more desirable models seem to be slowly but surely increasing in value as I've been scouring the classifieds for a while now ;)...
    It's fully working at the moment and has been given a service for what thats worth. I luckily know a good tech to fix my basket case projects:) have a 42kilo classic 400 so if it's lighter than that I will call that a plus ;). But mainly its good to hear that the sound was pleasant. It would be a boys toy for me in the practice room so portability is not a Biggie and intensive use is out of the question. I heard they can be a bit noisy?
    Wasnex likes this.
  7. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    Yes I believe the amp had a bit of hiss, but not to too bad for the day.

    As far as the parts, I believe many of the switches and sliders were OEM, so if something breaks finding a new part may not be possible. The amp I was using in the 90s was plenty loud but showing signs of wear. I considered it reliable enough for my needs, but sometimes I had to push a button more than once to get it to work, and some of the sliders needed to be jiggled to get them to behave. It definitely could have used some service.

    I thought TE did a great job of mixing HiFi with a bit of warmth. The low end was big with sort of a nice musical bloom that I liked, but also focused and tight. IMHO these are not qualities that tend to go together in one amp, so I considered it somewhat remarkable.

    If all the controls are currently working smoothly, perhaps you will get many years of enjoyment out of the amp.

    Good luck!
  8. So tempting...but really it's a bit huge and the biamp capability fun I'm sure but I was really after a smaller early SMX with all the bits and bobs onboard..... But after your post I'm tempted to give it a try.......
    Wasnex likes this.
  9. I love my old Trace heads. The overbuilt power supplies with huge EI core transformers on the Series 6 and earlier models are works of art and key to their monstrous sound. Later models switched to toroidal transformers. And I like the simplicity of the Series 6 era, no compression and less features than later models. They can be a bit noisy compared to today’s stuff but if you’re playing in a loud band who really cares, especially if it’s gonna live in a practice room. The gp11 models allow you to tweak more, but with the gp7 it’s faster to get a sound. One issue with buying old is you’ll probably wanna do a recap. And you’ll get more versatility from a modern amp with more tone shaping features. But that AH500 will work for your practice room, they’re built like tanks and you’ll never need to replace tubes!
    Mark Andrew and Slough Feg Bass like this.
  10. DougSlug66

    DougSlug66 Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2019
    Columbus, OH
    I love the older Trace heads as well - have 2 AH500x GP11's. Agree they are heavy, and a bit noisy, but man do they sound good. You can tweak them for any style. I personally am a huge fan of the same vintage Trace 4x10 cabs without the horn. They are big and heavy, but so even sounding and great smooth low end. It's like their old ads said - "The fine art of overkill" :)
    Mark Andrew and Kieran Mulvaney like this.
  11. rtav

    rtav Millionaire Stuntman, Half-Jackalope

    Dec 12, 2008
    Chicago, IL
    I’ve got a Trace AH500X Series V and it is a total beast. Stupid psycho loud. Great tonal options and POWER.

    II will have more power than you will ever need - and I played with a guitarist who had a Marshall full stack and a drummer who micd up all his drums for practice. 84E11AF0-A741-4C2E-9495-01B9B8161D72.jpeg

  12. Samatza


    Apr 15, 2019
    Oh yeah! I used a Trace setup like this for some big shows back in the day, man that thing had some juice and it sounded awesome.
    DougSlug66 and rtav like this.
  13. Here's my two cents:
    I played a 2x10 combo Series 6 for 15 years with ZERO issues. I then got the itch for collecting Trace gear; eventually having 5 working rigs. V-Type hybrid head, GP7, GP12, BLX, SM and SMX. Reliability started to become suspect on all the stuff as it got older. I loved it all, right up to the point where I sold it all off.
    If you want to get that Trace head, then quit wasting time and get it. Play the hell out of it and move on. I have no regrets.
    DougSlug66, Mark Andrew and Wasnex like this.
  14. Slough Feg Bass

    Slough Feg Bass Supporting Member

    Sep 28, 2007
    San Francisco
    love the old Trace stuff. I had a GP11 all through the 90's, and yeah, it was great!
    I often think about getting a V-type someday, but I really don't need it...right now...
    Mark Andrew likes this.
  15. Thanks for the input. I will see if I can go and give the old girl a try. I see where your coming from with the tubes. Much as I love my classic 400 I had it reduced to 200 watts partially for this reason and this amp costs less than a retube. Although I always set my tube amps up professionally I have struggled to get more than three years out of a full set of power tubes before one drifts on a few occasions with moderate use. The remaining surviving tubes usually test fine of course but irritating all the same....
  16. Where the early gp11s painted not Tolex covered? This one has silver corners and tired gloss paint on the casing. Can't really find a decent photo of this's a 1987 model AH500.
  17. DougSlug66

    DougSlug66 Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2019
    Columbus, OH
    Oooohhh the bright box!!! I want one of those in the worst way......
    rtav and Mark Andrew like this.
  18. In the end i held out for the SMX i was originally after. Is the later apparrently less desirable green carpet model but in looking forward to putting it through its paces.....and the price was right.

    Attached Files:

  19. hamertek98


    Apr 3, 2004
    That’s a great amp!
  20. Wisebass


    Jan 12, 2017
    Lost in Space
    hi Mark :)

    All the usual suspect have posted their lead sleds? :D

    Here is mine :laugh: AH500x (Tolex btw)


    Happy NAD!!!


    Mark Andrew and BOOG like this.
  21. Primary

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    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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