Hartke LH500 Tone

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by basssoundbass, Jul 23, 2009.

  1. basssoundbass


    Jul 19, 2009
    I have an Ashdown Mag 300 H would the Hartke LH500 be a worthwhile upgrade ?

    How effective is the tube pre amp in the LH500 for providing a vintage tone ?
  2. Do a search for LH500 and KJung. There is a thread I put up a while ago that turned into an LH500 mega thread. There are tons of posts by users describing the tone.

    The simple answers to your two questions are: yes, and yes.
  3. UncleBalsamic


    Jul 8, 2007
    You've missed out on them being really, really good deals. Now they're only really good deals. Go for it. They're very well thought of around here, but read how to EQ it effectively.
  4. Lia_G


    Oct 27, 2005
    ??? Hartke lowered the price ... everyone I see is selling them at $349 now.

  5. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    LH500 is a nice head, I have to admit. I didn't want to like the new HyDrive stuff but I ended up liking it. Not the best head I ever heard, but very nice, especially for the price.
  6. Ryan Mohr

    Ryan Mohr

    Oct 23, 2007
    Sorry I have no experience with the MAG 300 so I can't help you there, but I have the LH500 and I can say that you can get a great warm, fat, tubey, punchy, vintagey tone. However, that doesn't mean that clarity and articulation are lacking.

    BassPlayer says "Paired with the HX810 and other cabs, the LH1000 was sweet and refined with good power delivery and a rich, complex midrange. The EQ may not offer razor-sharp accuracy, but the amp’s essential personality, quick and harmonically dense, was always suitable for a guy like me, who tends not to use the EQ on amps anyway. It was loud and propulsive, although I wish there were both a gain control and master volume to get the tube cranking for grittier tones. The LH1000 would be an excellent high-power workhorse head for a player that feels put-off or intimidated by buttons, sliders, and switches."
  7. LilRay

    LilRay Commercial User

    Dec 27, 2007
    Between my Roscoe and Leather
    Owner: Cockeyed Cow Custom Leathercraft
    +1 There is a comfort IMO in simplicity.

    God Bless, Ray
  8. koobie

    koobie Supporting Member

    Jul 11, 2007
    Portland OR
    I've got an LH500 on eval and though I'd consider it a good value, I can't say it sounds tubey. For some perspective, I briefly compared it to a GK RB800 solid-state amp. The two amps sounded fairly similar.

    I'm using a quality tube pre-amp upstream (run clean, not overdriven) and it considerably improves the sound of the amp, makes it far richer.
  9. keyboardguy

    keyboardguy Supporting Member

    May 11, 2005
  10. jgsbass


    May 28, 2003
    Floral Park, NY
    This weekend marks the 1 year anniversary for my LH500. Is it the greatest amp ever? No. Is it a great amp? Yes. All the power I could ever hope for and its been a reliable workhorse for 80+ gigs ( I usually don't get FOH support in a loud clubdate band where everyone else gets miked)where I push this amp and an Avatar sb112 pretty hard. I have a sound dialed in and although it doesn't have a real strong push around 200hz, I'm pretty content. I could nitpick some wishlist things (the DI would be nice if it could be post EQ, maybe a switchable midrange point) but its a great amp and I have no sense of urgency to try and buy another amp.
  11. This again depends on how you define 'tubey'. The LH of course, doesn't have the 'feel' of an all tube amp (no hybrid does IMO). However, as I posted in my original review, if you like the tone of the Alembic preamp and a good, powerful SS power amp (which most consider a version of 'tubey tone', if not feel), then IMO you will dig the LH series of amps.... clean tube tone but the tightness and immediacy of a good SS power section. It won't 'bloom', or 'give', or distort when pushed like an all tube amp of course, but if you dig, for example, an old Bassman type amp turned down really low (i.e., totally clean), that tone is emulated pretty well, and you can crank it up and keep that tone quite even at high volumes IMO.

    Regarding your GK800 comparison, the LH500 into 4ohms will totally bury that head in open, full low end IMO and IME. The volume will be about the same, but the LH has MUCH more going on down low, which IMO is a good thing. They are a bit similar up top though, so +1 there.

    They are, like the Alembic pre/power amp rig, a nice combination of quick, punchy tone, but softened by that very 'old school Fender' type of preamp and tone stack.

  12. alexclaber

    alexclaber Commercial User

    Jun 19, 2001
    Brighton, UK
    Director - Barefaced Ltd
    They were stupidly cheap in the UK, now they're merely cheap.

  13. That LH1000 model bridged into your 8ohm 'Big One' cab would be something to hear IMO!
  14. Lia_G


    Oct 27, 2005
    You know, I have chided various people for making this same "ass-u-me that the OP is in the US" mistake before. My bad, sorry!!! :bag:

  15. koobie

    koobie Supporting Member

    Jul 11, 2007
    Portland OR
    I agree, it doesn't cop the feel of a tube amp. The feel of an instrument's chain is a significant aspect imo, surprised I don't see more discussion about this on TB.

    I don't agree here, Ken. I owned an Alembic FX-1 and paired it with two quality solid-state power amps, a Crest CA-9 and Crown Macro Reference. Volume capabilities excepted, speaking strictly of tone, the LH500 doesn't come close to the richness of either of those combinations. It's more clinical & dry, especially in the bass. The bass frequencies are the main weakness in the LH500, as compared to an FX-1/quality power amp combination. The LH500 also has a significantly higher noise floor, an issue for recording. For gigging, it wouldn't be a significant issue. But again, what can one expect in a $350 amp? As I noted in my original post of the LH500, I do still consider it a good value.

    I usually play with a fairly clean tone so that's not my issue with the sound of the LH500. I just don't consider it the least bit tubey sounding or feeling. Can't comment on the comparison with the Bassman, it's been many years since I owned one.

    In my brief comparison, they sounded quite similar. IOW, they both sound like capable solid state amps. Neither sounded the least bit tubey. I don't hear any "softening" in the LH500's eq. I'm not sure why Hartke made it with such limited controls perhaps other than keeping the price point low and having a 'retro' marketing angle. One or preferably two sweepable mid points would have dramatically increased the usefulness of the eq section, but it would have also raised the price. And I wasn't too interested in comparing the ultimate volume capabilities of the older GK amp and the LH500, they're both powerful enough to play along with a drummer for jamming & recording. I mainly wanted to compare their basic tone and feel.
  16. +1 to virtually all of the above. I do hear a slight difference between the LH and the Alembic. To me, that difference is in a good direction, since, in generaly, I feel tubes color and cloud tone. To those who like that classic 'tube' tone, I can totally see where you would prefer the slightly 'woolier, fatter, bloomier' Alembic tone.

    However, I still feel that are MUCH more similar than different. IMO!
  17. Ryan Mohr

    Ryan Mohr

    Oct 23, 2007
    Interesting thoughts, I haven't had a chance to try out my LH500 through a good cab (just the 12' in my Fender combo), but so far it isn't the least bit clinical or dry in the low end. Very fat and warm IMO.

    Ken, how does the tone of the LH500 compare to the Mesa hybrid amps in your experience?
  18. The M6 is a different beast, but compared to the more 'tubey' sounding models (Walkabout, M600, etc.), it is tighter and louder, but still warm. The Mesa hybrids really go out of their way to try to emulate a full tube amp (of course, nothing sounds like a full tube amp other than a full tube amp). The Mesa's, however, have that big low end bloom and that 'give' to the feel (they even talk about 'time domains' in the manuals... i.e., putting the player a bit behind the beat when cranking the pre due to the tube pre compressing or whatever).

    I like the LH WAY better than any Mesa I've owned and played, and I'm impressed with the Mesa's ( again, the M6 and I assume the M9 are a different thing, and much more SS.. the M6 sounds more like a bit Markbass F1 than any sort of 'tube amp' to my ear).

  19. Ryan Mohr

    Ryan Mohr

    Oct 23, 2007
    That's what I thought, thanks! So it's sort of between the LMII and Walkabout tones? Very warm and fat, but still quick and articulate.
  20. Exactly... PERFECT description, based on my experience with all three heads. It's louder than the LMII, and will BURY with Walkabout (which is still a wonderful sounding head if you like it just a touch wooly and tubey warm).