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history and timeline of Trace Elliot bass amps

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by epicowner, Jan 20, 2017.

  1. epicowner


    Jan 16, 2017
    Does anyone know if there are any resources available to take a Trace Elliot bass amp serial number and determine the amp's age and origin of manufacture from that number?

    Considering, like many brands, TE has changed hands over the years, this info would appeal to my geek side.
  2. Roland GR 88

    Roland GR 88

    Sep 16, 2013
    Sometimes the last 3 numbers indicate the yearly quarter followed by the year. eg: 201 would be second quarter of 2001.
    There will likely be a sticker with the date and a QC signature inside the amp but you'll have to slide the chassis out to see it.
  3. amper


    Dec 4, 2002
    Yes, a lot of Trace Elliot serial numbers would end in "/MMYY". However, one of the biggest problems with identifying and dating Trace Elliot gear is that model numbers and serial numbers were written with a Sharpie marker and would often fade to oblivion within a few years, and with several models of amplifier appearing virtually identical from the outside, with the only difference being the power output rating of the output stage, sometimes you don't know if you are looking at an AH130 or an AH200, etc.

    Sometimes, all you can do is to match up a piece of gear with its appearance in the marketing collateral. For instance, the V-Type and tube guitar amps appeared in 1995. My original V-Type head had a serial number of "somethingsomething/295".

    So far as I am aware, all Trace Elliot gear is explicitly marked with the country of origin, and up until the Gibson buyout, everything was manufactured in England, and will say "Made in the United Kingdom" or "Manufactured in the UK by Trace Elliot, Ltd." on it. Gibson did, I believe move some manufacturing to the US, but I do not believe or recall that any was moved to China before Gibson shut them down completely.
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2017
  4. amper


    Dec 4, 2002
    This is a typical vintage Trace Elliot speaker cabinet jack plate. As you can see, all the writing is almost completely faded away and is illegible, and you can see the printed "Made in the UK".

  5. amper


    Dec 4, 2002
    Here's one from a 2103H cabinet (2x10 with horn) from 1997, with the writing intact, and "Made in England". The serial number is "Model.Serial.Date" It rated for 200 W, and it's an 8 Ohm version. There were also 300 Watt/4 Ohm versions, Model # 2104 (no horn) and 2104H (with horn). The 200W/8 Ohm no horn version was the 2102.

  6. Clive Button designed most of Trace Elliot's best gear in their glory days.

    mikewalker and amper like this.
  7. epicowner


    Jan 16, 2017
    It's a GP7SM 250 head, and it appears to be made in UK. Sharpie serial numbers are worn completely off!
    amper likes this.
  8. amper


    Dec 4, 2002
    Then you have yourself a great amp!
  9. epicowner


    Jan 16, 2017
    Thanks all!
  10. davy4575


    Nov 4, 2009
    Denver, CO
    It would be handy. I just brought my gp12smx250 in for a complete rehab. It was functional but most of the board connections were loose or out of spec. In the course of repairs, the DI out turns out to be unbalanced. really bad design. its an xlr out, with pin 1 hot, pin 2 ground and pin 3 is open, nothing on it. Hums bad. I had a 1/4 in TS jack out added so that I can take the line out to a DI box to convert it to balanced. The thing that gets me is that there are about 50 different variations of that circuit depending on which year it was produced. My build date on that amp is 12/11/94. Im assuming that its one of the first variations of the SMX series heads. Ive seen a 95 that had the proper balanced DI out and was stereo with the biamping out and etc. of the other gp12 smx series amps. I also have an AH400 gp 7sm that I use. (yeah, I play with two trace elliots :) That has none of the compression, crossover etc of the smx. I believe the build date is 92 or 91 on that.

    So.....A definitive list of what amps with what features were produced during what years would be helpful as hell. That way my tech could get the right schematics. For instance what years were the series 6 produced, what years were features changed, What years were the SMX series produced, what features were added and removed.
  11. It sounds like your smx was monkied with. The DI was never transformer isolated to be phantom power proof so it may have been blown previously, but it was balanced. Does your 250 have a ground lift switch?

    The SMX pre was used in mono and stereo amps from the getgo. Hence the variations. Afaik all the standalone preamps were full bells and whistles.
    amper likes this.
  12. davy4575


    Nov 4, 2009
    Denver, CO
    Actually shows on the schematic as unbalanced and is listed on the back (Pin 1 - Signal Pin 2 - Ground Pin 3 - ) Does have a ground lift switch.
  13. Looking at mine, it's the same! Doh. Probably why they told me it wasn't working the first time I went to use it in 1996. Never tried to use it since.
    davy4575 likes this.
  14. davy4575


    Nov 4, 2009
    Denver, CO
    I use my extensively, I rarely mic the cabs or use a di. I used the heads because that Trace sound that we love is what I want recorded. The ah400 is my clean channel, the smx250 is my dirty. I run the outs to the console and then into the daw of choice and analog tape as well. gets me really pure trace elliot sound. So the solution im going to try until I buy another trace that has the balanced output is to run the 250 head's out to a DI box in order to balance it
  15. miacomet


    Dec 10, 2005
    North of Boston
    IMG_2838.JPG Late to the game here but I am curious about a 1518 (circular ports- no red stripes) that I've had since 2006. The last 3 numbers on the serial are 494. Am I correct that those represent the month and date, April 1994?
  16. amper


    Dec 4, 2002
    I believe so.
  17. woodyng2

    woodyng2 Supporting Member

    Oct 4, 2015
    Oregon Coast
    6720B08D-3CE0-4C34-9ECC-E9FFF97621FB. 603AFD56-1A6C-47EE-ADAE-065736F1D147. I got a model 3001 in a trade about a year ago. It has a 300 watt amp,7-band EQ,1-15” speaker.
    I’ve been using it weekly for practice,but am going to sell it. (I have to start schlepping it,and i think it weighs about 75 pounds,so i will be using my 28 pound markbass combo for that!)
    I would like to try to determine the age,but the scribbled serial number is completely faded and illegible. Someone have an idea about when these were made?
    It does say “made in England” on the back.
  18. Jim C

    Jim C Is that what you meant to play or is this jazz? Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    I know this for sure:
    Every TE I've owned or played put out way more SPL than an amp with a similar power output.
    It's like the horsepower wars of the 60's and 70's; very understated.
  19. lildrgn


    Jul 11, 2000
    Seattle, WA
    Ha, here's mine. IMG_20190115_201742. IMG_20190115_201639.

    I bought it in the mid 90s used from a pawn shop. I had a 4x10 cab with it but I dumped it about 10 years ago, too heavy and large. My s/n seems to read 619/0724. Which clearly doesn't mean July '24. But what would it mean? Couldn't be a faded out 8 in front of that 4, could it?

    Still solid, just recorded 8 songs with it last weekend!
    amper likes this.
  20. kraigo


    Jun 21, 2007
    Minneapolis, MN
    I came here trying to figure out my two Velocettes. The first was bought in the waning days in the late 90's. "t3445/02***". The second I just got, but seems to be just about the same era - very similar cosmetics - is "3445/2***". The last three digits that I've omitted are 95 apart. I think they we made within a few days of each other. I'm guessing different Sharpie jockeys, one omitted the leading "T" and "0".

    FWIW, I bought a Gibson Goldtone GA15 a year or two ago because I couldn't find a second Velocette. It's a pretty similar amp and this one has "Made in Britain" stickers on the back of the amp and on the Celestion. I think that, at least in the beginning, Gibson had the electronics done in Britain and did the cabinet work in the US. The cabinet is very different - 3/4" wood for the Gibson, 1/2" for the Velocettes, for example.

    I don't know if this helps at all, but since the internet has a long memory, maybe it will be helpful some day.
    amper likes this.

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