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Hartke Kickback 12 vs Ashdown Five Fifteen

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by kbakerde, Nov 14, 2012.

  1. Hartke Kickback 12 - 120w - $100 used

    38 vote(s)
  2. Ashdown Five Fifteen - 100w - $229 new

    8 vote(s)
  1. kbakerde

    kbakerde Supporting Member

    Jan 24, 2012
    Hey all,
    I am soliciting opinions from the TBers on a new amp. For a background, I have been playing bass for a while, not very good, but I just started playing again with other people. I am not in a band, just a bunch of guys that get together, drink some beer and play some tunes. That is all I want.

    I need a new amp that can keep up, but don't have a lot of cash or space. I also will not be paying gigs in bars. Let me also preface by saying I fully understand that people have very definite opinions, so for the crowd that will want to say just buy a fEARful and a Ampeg SVT, just keep it to yourself. This decision is SPECIFICALLY between these amps.

    Ashdown Five Fifteen - I had been trying to get an Ampeg BA115 used from GC for a couple weeks, found a bunch for a steal, but none actually worked. So I saw this guy on MF, couldn't find a lot on it but it seemed well regarded, 100W, 15" Speaker for $229 and free shipping. I ACTUALLY ORDERED THIS AND IT IS GETTING DELIVERED TODAY.

    Hartke Kickback 12 - Saw this on Craigslist, guy is using it in his home studio, very little wear and wants $100 for it. 120w and 12" speaker. This seems like such a good deal, if I go with it it would be worth paying the return freight on the Ashdown.

    So those are the choices I have in front of me. The power is about comparable, I don't see that extra 20w being a make or brake item. To me it comes down to 1 - 12" vs 1 - 15", the Harke is about 40 lbs vs 60 lbs for the Ashdown, DI on the Hartke, and build quality difference between Hartke Kickback and the Ashdown practice line.

    I appreciate any insight and opinions for these two amps. Thanks everyone!!
  2. The DI + price tip the scales to the Hartke, IMHO.
  3. mellowgerman


    Jan 23, 2008
    Orlando, FL
    Hartke. Those are fantastic little amps. Sounds like it would be perfect too if you've got limited space and cash. Even if the return freight is $40, you'll still come out ahead. Plus, if you decide to upgrade or sell it for any reason, you can list it on CL or on here and probably get your money out of it again pretty quickly.

    EDIT: I should add that I used to play through one of these Hartkes in my high school orchestra and I never had any issues. Great tone and a satisfactory amount of power in such a small package.
  4. glorth2


    Jan 26, 2006
    Not to threadjack but I'm in a similar position. I'm looking at either a Hartke Kickback 10 or an SWR Workingman 12. I can't play either of them but assuming the same price, what would you choose? Thanks.

    Edit: Also seems that I could grab an Ampeg 115 combo. Thanks.
  5. LowBSix

    LowBSix Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2008
    818 ~ 805 ~ L.A.
    Endorsing Artist: GHS Strings
    Hartke Kickback 10 or 12 are great.

    I'm blown away by the sound I got from a HARTKE Kickback 10. I couldn't turn it up beyond 11 o'clock without distorting the stock speaker

    I replaced the speaker with an Eminence CH2010 150 watt 8 ohm speaker and it's Clearer, bigger tighter and warmer sound with the volume/gain knob at 2 o'oclock.

    Sessions, small clubs, small churches, acoustic gigs, jazz gigs, rehearsal and practice.
    $100 used
    $120 speaker replacement

    I worked at West LA Music for a few years and saw more return/repairs on Ashdown product than anything else in the whole store...

    PS: I've owned, Walter Woods, Demeter, MESA, Ampeg, Trace, GK and Aguilar... This little guy sounds amazing.
  6. acleex38


    Jul 28, 2006
    Still miss the Kickback 12 I sold in 2008. Another vote for that. Got it as a backup/practice amp in '07 and it became my main amp for practices and EXACTLY the kind of jam the OP is describing.
  7. kbakerde

    kbakerde Supporting Member

    Jan 24, 2012
    Guys, thank you for your replies. Feel free to keep them coming.

    Just as an update, the estimated return fee for the Ashdown will end up being about $45, so that makes the price difference to $145 - $229. Cuts its it down by a third, but if it is a better amp that is lighter and $80 cheaper, then it is a deal. Little problem is that the guy is an hour and a half away, and am away this weekend. I am trying to arrange a time to meet him, test the Hartke and I think that is where I am going thanks in part to the overwhelming response (20 for Hartke, 6 for Ashdown). But since I will get the Ashdown delivered today, I will get to try it out and keep it around til I am sure I can get the Hartke.

    Keep the information coming!!! Thanks.
  8. kbakerde

    kbakerde Supporting Member

    Jan 24, 2012
    I would like to thank the 35 people who voted. The result was overwhelmingly for the Hartke. Unfortunately it seems that I was the second or third guy in on the Hartke, and someone snatched it up yesterday. So as a pretty nice consolation prize, I got the Ashdown 5:15 delivered yesterday, and I wanted to pass along my impressions of the amp.

    So for starters, looking at the specs of the amp, the Ashdown is a 100w, 1x15 sealed combo amp. It has a preamp gain to help temper the active instruments and an output volume level. It has a bass, mid and treble boost/cut knobs. Lastly, it has a CD input, a Headphone jack, and an 8 ohm extension cab jack. This does not have a DI since it is a practice amp. For me that is fine, I don't plan to be gigging in a bar band to need it. If I ever did, I own a direct box, or could pick one up for not too much money to drive a FOH.

    This guy seems to be built quite well. It is HEAVY at 60 lbs, but not so much you can't haul it around. It is 24" x 24" x 18" so it is still nicely compact. Controls are easy to use, the main thing is getting the hang of the Input Level knob. That doesn't really affect your volume as much as your tone and clipping. You drive it to 10 with an active bass, and the amp starts to clip and distort a little. Bring it down and the sound will smooth out. This knob is there to replace the stock -15 Db pad on most amps. Even if you turn the input level all the way down, you still get good volume out of the amp.

    I used my MIM Fender Deluxe Active Jazz bass, with SCM Noiseless pickups. The amp is dead quite no matter how you crank the gains, or the EQ levels. I did drive both the input and output at full blast for a bit. Amp got nice and loud, there was some distortion effect, but not too much and it still sounded good.

    For the EQ, it is pretty easy to dial in a few different sounds. When playing flat, that is kinda how it sounds. It's good but not memorable. Next I cranked up the bass, boosted the treble and cut the mids. This sounded awesome, round and full and got nicely loud.

    My second EQ setting attempt was to give the mids a good boost to about 7-8, boost the bass to about a 6, and leave the treble flat or cut it a little. This setting gave you a really nice punchy sound with those boosted mids, but rolling the highs off kept off the harshness and distortion. Not technically as loud, but you could hear it better due to the mids.

    I have to say, few people went with Ashdown, but after playing it, I am not sure I would have ended up going with the Hartke. It is a really nice looking amp, very simple and has the amount of power (and price) I was looking for. Now I have about 30-45 days to try and break it in and put it through some paces. I want to see how it holds up and if I can see any problems. But I have to say, this is a really good sounding 100W combo amp. I think I would prefer this over the Fender Rumble 75 at the same price. So far so good, I like the Ashdown.
  9. Bassmec


    May 9, 2008
    Ipswich UK
    Proprietor Springvale Studios
    I think the Ashdown is better than the other amps you mention because the tone you can get out of the 15" driver at fairly low watts is generally
    Fuller sounding than the others.
    I think the large price difference bent the argument about what to buy quite a bit.:bassist:
  10. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    +1 when it comes to combo amps, you're always better off with a bigger spkr. The 15 will get louder than a 10 or 12, regardless of the power difference, (100 watts vs 120 watts). You got the better amp, congrats.
  11. glorth2


    Jan 26, 2006
    Trying to understand this/make a decision. As I mentioned, I'm looking at a Hartke Kickback 10 (wish it was a 12), a SWR Workingman 12 or an Ampeg 115. I generally like the punchiness and crispness of the Hartkes. I have no experience with SWRs but they seem to be fairly highly recommended here. No experience with Ampegs but every single review for the 115 on MF was positive, esp as regards to durability which is a big deal for me. All are around the same price. Now you're saying that the 115 will be as loud or louder than the SWR 12? How about tone? Thanks in advance for your help. :)
  12. Dignan81


    Feb 17, 2005
    St. Louis, MO
    i have had a hartke kickback 12 for about 10 years now. its mainly my practice amp at home or for small get-togethers but sometimes I use it for gigs in small bars, wineries, or other situations where I need to be quick and take up little room. It has never let me down. It has a good DI out on the front. I keep the tone aka contour button off and run the EQ pretty much flat. Seriously a damn good amp for me.

    I have no experience with the ashdown but I did briefly own an Ampeg B15 and it pretty much sucked for one reason. The DI out always had this horribly loud and annoying buzz. So I took it directly to Ampeg here in St. Louis because it was brand new and under warranty. They had it for 2 weeks and then told me that's just the way it's supposed to be. Needless to say I returned it and bought the Hartke Kickback 12. I should've just got the Hartke to begin with.
  13. Sav'nBass

    Sav'nBass What the .............. Supporting Member

    Jan 18, 2009
    Northern Va.
    The Hartkes are nice.. I saw one na pawn shop that I wanted to buy for my son but by the time I got back there it was gone. It s a nice amp with great features. If yo are running through a PA then it's a no brainer. I agree with Dig about the buzz on the Ba115.. I used to use the one we have at my church and it drove us all nuts.
  14. glorth2


    Jan 26, 2006
    Does anyone know anything about the Hartke Mustang line? Looking at a combo that seems to have 2 8"s.
  15. Ianhin

    Ianhin Banned

    Mar 1, 2015
    South Africa
    Ive got a Hartke A35 with that horrible aluminum speaker, i play it flat out at our band prac s with no audible distortion (im sure it s there though) and no problems. Just the speaker has a hideous resonance.
    TN WOODMAN and alaskaleftybass like this.
  16. alaskaleftybass

    alaskaleftybass Will Hanbury, Jr. Supporting Member

    Mar 21, 2012
    Sitka, Alaska
    I had a chance to play the Workingman 12. It was a pretty nice amp for the speaker size. Hartkes get a lot of love everywhere. Great products and sound loud.
    Now, to throw a monkey into the mix, have you searched for a used Peavey combo? Probably could get a pretty nice used Peavey TNT, TKO, or Combo on CL or eBay for pretty cheap and you've probably heard about Peavey's legendary reliability on their older American made amps.
  17. Ianhin

    Ianhin Banned

    Mar 1, 2015
    South Africa
    I hear good things about Peavey bass amps.....