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Help me choose a head under £500?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by davidjackson, Aug 20, 2012.

  1. Ashdown Mag 300H EVOII

    10 vote(s)
  2. Ampeg PF-350

    4 vote(s)
  3. TC Electronic BH500

    8 vote(s)
  4. Peavey Tour 450

    7 vote(s)
  5. EBS Reidmar 250

    3 vote(s)
  6. Orange Terror Bass 500

    18 vote(s)
  7. Aguilar Tone Hamme 350

    23 vote(s)
  8. Other (Please specify in thread)

    8 vote(s)
  1. davidjackson


    Sep 10, 2011
    I have finally decided to 'upgrade' from my Laney 120B combo amp and am now looking at a head and cabinet solution. I can spend around £500. Each time I find something on e-Bay or on offer from an online store I run a quick check on TalkBass and find 20 posts explaining why that amp is terrible and should only be used as a door stop or paper weight. So instead I am coming to you guys first for what the best heads are under or around the £500/$500 dollar mark.

    Here's my criteria:

    1) Although I am looking for between 250w to 500w of power there is no real science behind that. My band have a great PA and I will be running a line into that anway.

    2) We play mainly Motown and Soul and outside of that band I tend to play jazz or mellower stuff. So although I want to be able to get a nice warm sound I don't need any kind of overdrive or metal bite.

    3) I play a Fender AmStd Jazz as my main bass and have a Yamaha BB424 (P/J) as my back up - both passive.

    4) I also have a Boss multi effects pedal unit so have no great need for extra effects, a tuner, etc. in the amp.

    5) I really enjoy things that are well designed and well made.

    6) I am a bit of a brand snob so the idea of 'Ampeg' is much more appealing than 'TC Electronics' but that is just me being difficult!

    7) I am probably going to go for just one high quality cab rather than two cheaper ones initially and would be tempted to go for a 15" - don't know if that might affect your suggestions?

    What do you guys think?

    PS: I am happy to buy second hand if you think of something that would be over £500 new but may be under that mark used.
  2. inmate13


    Nov 4, 2010
    I would advise a Trace Elliot amp. Why? Because they just dig it, simple as that. You can achive any sound with it and they are cheap at the moment, second hand thou. But nothing really wrong with that. I just bought a 5. hand amp probably :) and works like brand new. And don't let those wattage fool you, 150watt TE has more power than some power amps i had rated around 300/400 watts on one channel. This is just my personal opinion on how to get the best amp for good money, hey... maybe some will be spared and you can afford some other upgrade too :)
  3. davidjackson


    Sep 10, 2011
    Thanks inmate13. There are a lot of Trace Elliott heads around second hand so I will take a closer look at them.
  4. packhowitzer

    packhowitzer 155mm of pure destruction

    Apr 20, 2011

    I have yet to find a better value than Gallien Krueger amps. I listed the MB500 to stay in keeping with your budget. I actually play the MB800. It started out as a backup to my Ampeg SVT 2 pro and Ampeg SVT 4pro. Now it is my main amp. The ampegs are great, but it is just so hard to get a bad sound out of the GK, it was really affordable (even new) and it is LOUD.

    I'm not sure what GK amps go for in the UK, so you may be better off with an Ashdown or a Trace Elliot or something more local to you, but unless you have a specific problem with GK, you'd be doing yourself a disservice to omit it from you list of choices.

    Good luck.
  5. I would narrow down your cab choice first. It is as much if not more important than the amp in determining your tone.
  6. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    This, plus 1,000.

    Your cab choice will also determine how much power you need, ie 300 watts is plenty for most gigs when paired with an 8x10, while some of the new high-power compact cabs from Barefaced, Baer, AudioKinesis wt al like 500 or more.
  7. davidjackson


    Sep 10, 2011
  8. Can't go wrong with Aguilar honestly. Of the options you listed that's what _I_ would go with. The Orange would be my second choice if it's in your price range. It has a tube in it which I'd think would warm up your tone a bit. I've never played one, but they sound ok from the clips I've heard. My third choice would be the TC Electronic (those things are pretty darn cool).

    If I can deviate from your list, I'd _highly_ recommend the Streamliner 600. I have the 900 which was initially supposed to be my backup amp for when I didn't feel like toting my 6U rack around (~50lbs with everything in it), but after hearing it it's my main amp now. It has a 6 stage, 3 tube preamp which can sound pretty clean to warm to dirty depending on your settings. Super versatile, super light, just a wee bit bigger than the Shuttle (it fits in the front pocket of my pedalboard bag). You can find it used pretty cheap too. I played it through my Hartke 210C combo via the pre out -> power in jacks and it made those speakers sound twice as loud without the speakers freaking out or bad clipping than the Hartke amp built into the combo. If I can get the volume I got from it via a 2x10, I'm pretty sure if you go 4x10 or 2x12 you'll be loud as hell (the power amp section of the Hartke amp I was using to power the speakers so that I didn't blow them is only 250w, so 600w would be crazy loud)
  9. I think a used Ashdown Little B*stard LB30 would be a pretty good fit, if you don't mind the all valve nature of it.

  10. steve_rolfeca

    steve_rolfeca Supporting Member

    I'm thinking Genz Streamliner 600, if you find one within your budget.

    The MB500 is a great amp, and the form factor is handy. I have a Streamliner 900 and an MB800, and to be honest, the G-K is getting all the action these days.

    Still, for Motown and mellow jazz sounds, you can't beat the 3-tube preamp in the Genz.

    Also, the HPF and limiting are much more speaker-friendly on the Genz, The MB800 is definitely harder on cabs- it gets my woofer looking like it's going to jump out of the cab, at volume levels where things were still pretty relaxed with the Genz.
  11. GBassNorth


    Dec 23, 2006
    I have a lot of similar tastes to yours and really loved the tone I got out of my Ashdown Mag300 evoII 210 combo. It was heavier than it needed to be (built like a tank) but it really sounded ultra warm and smooth even with the 10" speakers. I'd imagine with a 15" cab it would be even better.
    I never had any problems with the one I bought but I did sell it several months after I got it due to the excessive weight and the strain it put on my shoulder injury. I traded for a GK MB210 combo and love it as well. Just about as warm, much much lighter and higher output. You might want to consider one of these as an alternate.
  12. davidjackson


    Sep 10, 2011
    Thanks everybody. I really appreciate you taking the time to comment.

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