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Hartke 3500 vs. Ashdown Mag300R

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by tbitsky, Apr 22, 2005.

  1. tbitsky


    Apr 15, 2005
    Read through the thread on this site enough, and you start to see some repeats. When people are looking for price vs. value heads, the Hartke 3500 and Ashdown MAG 300.

    I also get the impression that a lot of people think the Ashdown is good, but if you have a little extra cash (about a hundo), spring for the Hartke 3500.

    I've heard Hartke gear before. They're priced so well, yet I've always been impressed with how they sound live. Good and punchy, they seem to cut through a mix very well.

    I can't find a local dealer for Ashdown. I've tried. So I can't compare the two.

    So, of the two talkbass favorites, which one edges out the other?
  2. +1 for the Ashdown Mag. :)
  3. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    I haven't played the MAG300...but I did have a 3500, and used it as my only head from the early 90's until about six months ago. It was decent sounding head for the $$$, was loud enough for me to play in most settings without a problem. It never broke, failed or refused to work...and is still 100%, even if I'm not using it.

    I did change out the 12AX7 tube in it to get different tone options, but that's more because I can't leave well enough alone.\

    I do know that the older versions of the amp (like mine) are known to be a bit more hardy than some of the newer versions..
  4. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    The Hartke is a clean and punchy head, the Ashdown has a warmer kind of sound. Still punchy and can be run clean, but it's forte' is more the warm and wooly thing IMO.

    Ashdown heads have had some reliability knocks,, mostly due to the fragile VU meter. Apparently the VU rides on top of the circuit and is not integral to the operation of the amp, so if it dies, not big deal ... The Hartke is a little fragile due to the design of the front panel. Lot's of plastic parts to break if the amp is mis-handled.

    I ran a 3500 for quite a while and liked it a lot. I racked it and added some stiffening support to the back and bottom of the chassis in the rack. Essentially additional rack mounting points. Never a problem with it.

    I haven't owned an Ashdown yet, but I will at some point. I used the ABM 500 head into a Bergie cab last fall and it knocked me over. Sweet setup! I would expect the Mag to have a very similar voicing but with less power and of course a little less flexibility.

    So - clean and punchy or warm 'n wooly (or punchy). I think that is your decision ...
  5. I've had both, but didn't use either one extensively. (especially the Ashdown) But my pick is the Hartke. I like the tube sound and with SS and tube preamp channels, I find it much more flexible and to my liking. I can't comment on the reliability, you will read here that Ashdown has had some problems, but Hartkes seem to hold up very well. A good condition used Hartke will run you about as much as a new MAG300. I think the lighted eq buttons are very cool The sensitivity of the MAG's VU meter is high enought that you really have to drive it hard to make it move.
  6. nspbass


    Nov 26, 2004
    While I've not played through the Hartke, I do own a MAG300 and have to say that it's a great amp, especially for the price. I've not had any problems with it so far and I haven't had any issues with it being loud enough through my Avatar B212. Warm would definitely describe the sound from the Ashdown. I like it plenty and don't plan on replacing it for a long while, if ever.

  7. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    I don't mean to hijack the thread or anything, but it's said we're comparing apples-to-oranges a little here, tone-wise, and that makes me wonder what brands DO go-along with the Hartke-sound?

    I'm guessing from what I've generally gathered here on TB that maybe we're talking GK, but what others are generally what I consider punchy, but a little harsh and 'cutting'?

    As for the Ashdown 'warm and wooly' thing, I imagine the amps that are most known for that are, for instance, Ampeg.

    I guess that there's only one other catagory that rounds-out the 'basic tone types': the 'transparent', hi-fi sound - like SWR?

    I'll be buying a new head soon, and I'm considering Hartke and GK. I'm familiar with the Hartke-sound, and I like it, but I'd like to know what other brands have a similar sound. I like aggressive midrange. Am I on the right track, here (with the GK-comparison, at least)?

    Thanks -

  8. danman


    May 18, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA
    The hartke is a rock for reliability. I had one and gigged it weekly for years. I never had an ashdown. But, lately on this board, they are in the reliability S***hole.

  9. Me either, but . . .

    You might be interested in checking out an Eden. I think of them as warm, some say wooly, and to me solid state amps sound really tight and crisp. The Eden amps (and speakers I'm told) have a midrange presence lacking on amps like SWR (which I can't find a good tone on). The EQ is pretty agressive too, so yo ucan dial in a ton of different sounds.
  10. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    Dan! You're just who I need an answer from, then: you say you owned a hartke, and your profile says you play a GK - a 700RB II, no less! That's just the head I'm putting up-against the Hartke5000 in my new rig descision!

    How does the GK-sound compare to Hartke? Why did you switch to GK?

    Thanks -

  11. Nova


    Apr 19, 2002
    Williamstown, WV
    Go for the Ashdown. I'm madly in love with mine.
  12. Ashdown all the way baby!! Such a great sounding amp!! gotta love it
  13. 20db pad

    20db pad

    Feb 11, 2003
    I been everywhere, man...
    None. At all.
    Most players I know have trouble with the input jacks on Hartke stuff cutting out. Mine did as well. Other than that, they're OK.

    My MAG300 - the one in the case - is still going strong. It's a little more "old school" sounding, and I like the simpler controls. If I was pressed for an opinion, I'd give the thumbs up to the Ashdown.
  14. Really? never heard that befor! Just buy Hartke .... enough said!
  15. fraggs5


    Mar 27, 2005
    apples to oranges. Depends on your style, your taste. I say hartke, others may disagree.
  16. andruca


    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    The Hartke is absolutely reliable, clean, punchy, defined, cutting and versatile. And you'll have to max the Ashdown to obtain half the volume the Hartke delivers. I've had extremely bad experiences with Ashdowns (both with MAG and ABM and both related to heads' quietness and cabs' farting at ridiculously low volumes). Had a 3500 for more than 7 years and they rock. If you feel like needing more warmth, then change the cheap 12AX7 that comes from factory (the crappiest Sovtek) and put a JJ or EHX and it will also sound warm whenever you want it.

  17. danman


    May 18, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA
    The hartke was great. I switched because I wanted a cleaner sound. The GK gave me a cleaner clearer sound.

    The GK is a rock solid amp and so is the 3500 I had.

    Good sound. With the tube preamp you can get a nice clean tubey sound. The EQ allows for some pretty extreme balancing. But, beware, the eq can get pretty noisey. The sound, however, was a little colored. I needed clarity for chording and slapping.

    The SHIZNIT. Good solid clean power. In my opinion, this amp makes my bass louder. Even changing the eq drastically, my bass still sounds like my bass. The eq on this amp is super quiet and seems like its been designed soley for room compensation. When you are in a boomey room...roll off the bass and your bass will still sound like your bass.

    That being said, I like the GK better.
    Its lighter, more powerful, clearer. This all depends on what you want. The hartke may be more versitile with a 10 band eq. I, personally, rely on my bass for versatility and let the amp make it louder. If I had a different bass, my opinion might have been changed.

  18. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    Thanks for the reply, Danman!

    Man... I was planning on starting a big'ol thread, and have everyone wrangle over my amp head options with me...

    I don't think I'll need it. I'm pretty sure now that it's going to be the 700RBII. I think that's just what I'll need! Uncle Bob's in Milwaukee will sell me one for $550; that's about the same price as the comparable Hartke, so it's just a matter of what I want, without the cost being a factor.

    One thing that turned me on about the GKs is the talk of these over-sized power supplies with those torroidal transformers.

    There are a couple things still on my mind:
    - How does that 'boost' control work-out? GK says that it adds certain even-order harmonics to the sound. Wouldn't that bring me a little closer to the Hartke kind of 'color'?
    - One thing that I'm also excited about is that crossover. It's crossed way up at 5KHz, which makes me think that I may end up hitting the crossover button as a high-cut without using a tweeter for more old-school tones! Then I'll really be able to honk those upper-mids (remember that I'm running a PA cab with a big horn crossed-over at 2000Hz, so I don't have the "benefit" - definately in quotes - of natural cone-only rolloff). Make any sense?

    Oh boy!

  19. danman


    May 18, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA
    I have a pretty good ear.
    The boost control to me just raises the volume and kinda adds a little more solid state sound.

  20. Jazzin'

    Jazzin' ...Bluesin' and Funkin'

    I have an Ashdown 300MagH, and I've played through a Hartke 3500 a few times as well. I never really liked the Hartke. It didn't have the sound I liked and it feels very cheap.

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