If you like Ampeg try Hartke?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by HeavyGroove, Aug 12, 2022.

  1. HeavyGroove

    HeavyGroove Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2006
    So this is a comment I've now seen mentioned a few times in posts of varying ages and has received likes from TB members as well. I've never played a Hartke, but I always put them more towards the GK side of the spectrum and not Ampeg. Unfortunately, these posts never mention Hartke models specifically.

    I did some more digging and it looks like the old HA models were more punchy (perhaps more like GK) and the LH models are warmer (maybe closer to Ampeg). Can anyone with Hartke experience point me in the right direction?

    Background - my last amp decision was between an Ampeg 7pro and a DarkGlass microtubes 900v2. Ultimately I went for the DG, but I honestly miss the 7pro every now and then (I think part of it is the tube preamp, which it looks like a lot of the Hartkes have). With used Hartke's always in stock at a decent price, if they were something between the punch and clarity of the DG and the low-mid grind of the 7pro, I wouldn't mind trying one out.

    Thanks for the input!
  2. That goes WAYYY back. I remember lots of people in the 90s (and it probably started in the late 80s) telling Ampeg users to "Try Hartke" because Hartke gear had a relatively "open" sound compared to the severely baked/contoured in sound that an SVT-type rig does. That was kind-of the point. You could always dial out the frequencies you didn't want from the Hartke stuff.

    They make good stuff. I love my HD112 cabinets - they were reasonably priced and sound really, really good. I don't feel like getting anything else. Ironically, I power them with a TC RH750, who's baked-in sound is definitely influenced by the SVT sound - just wider. I don't really like their "big iron" heads, and I'm not really a fan of their new class-D stuff as well. Mainly because of the choices they made in the preamp side. Their amps have a very bright sound and their distortion is quite fizzy. I wouldn't read too much into the tube being part of the preamp. It may do something but the whole preamp is configured to have a voice that goes beyond just sticking a tube in the signal path.

    You'll have to try one.
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  3. dbase

    dbase Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2008
    South Jersey, USA..
    If you like Hartke, try Mesa ;)
  4. Lol... Funny. I do use Mesa gear in rehearsal spaces from time to time. I like the amps and sometimes use them with my Hartke cabs, too. But I wouldn't just dump my gear to buy a Mesa rig.
  5. dbase

    dbase Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2008
    South Jersey, USA..
    I had the LH500 and two HD12's and they were gigging workhorses. wanted to go deeper and lighter and got the Mesa WD800 and a Subway 15 and havent looked back. but to do this it cost me twice what I paid for the Hartke but easier to carry for this old man. Never had a problem with my Hartke gear.
  6. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    I like Hartke stuff, both the heads & cabs. That being said and IMO, the Hartke amps always sounded better with a "character" pedal (BDDI, etc) on the front-end. One of the better matches back in the 80's / 90's was the GK head paired with an aluminum driver Hartke enclosure.

  7. dbase

    dbase Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2008
    South Jersey, USA..
    Pictures of my evolution to Mesa
    bass rig.jpg

  8. HeavyGroove

    HeavyGroove Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2006
    The Mesa WD800 was actually another head I tried out between the DG and Ampeg. Hands down the best quality and presentation of ANY amp I've laid my hands on - true "pro grade" gear. I loved so much about it, but there was always an inherent softness to the tone and I felt like I was playing besides the music and not with it.

    My main bass is a 5 string and while the power damping feature work great, I always wound up turning it towards the more solid state side to keep the B string tight. I am in a new/much better practice space now, though so I could have a different opinion if I tried it now.

    Either way, I guess the LH series is similar to that sound if you went in that direction. Any HA3500 experience?
  9. HeavyGroove

    HeavyGroove Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2006
    So I guess the old HA3500 etc heads would fall in that bright with fizzy OD category then?
  10. dcbassist5

    dcbassist5 Supporting Member

    May 11, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Endorsing Artist: Ashdown, Lakland
    The older Hartke 5000 and 7000 heads were killer. I tried the LH series and they have a ton of power but we’re a bit too sterile for my taste.
    My Mesa Subway D800+ covers just about every tone I can think of. It can get close to my Ashdown ABM as well as Ampeg.
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  11. HeavyGroove

    HeavyGroove Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2006
    I love the clarity and definition of my DG head, but it can definitely sound "dry" too. I think I might be missing that "3D" sound the tube pre-amp in the WD800 and 7Pro provided. Since the D800+ is all solid state, does it still have that character?
  12. Geogio


    Jan 15, 2013
    I have a little 35 watt Hartke Kickback use at home mostly for home use but I have used it out through a DI in it worked great, it is clean sounding.

    I saw a small lunchtime trio in DC about 15 years back. The guitarist was using a small Poly-Tone and the bassist was using a Hartke kick back 35 and the drums were a small cocktail kit, those three played in a courtyard for about 45 minutes and nobody said a word while they worked out on some serious vibe.

    It was about the same time I was kind of looking around for a small bass amp and that was all the convincing I needed.
  13. marchone

    marchone Since 1951 Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2009
    EQ on the WD-800 by all reports takes some time to learn. Also, try a couple different Subway cabs.

    I have the Mesa Ultralite SW210. I had the SW115 together with it for a few weeks. I thought the difference was great enough to sell the 115 and keep the 210. More mids to my liking. I can expand with another.
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  14. Aussie Player

    Aussie Player

    Apr 20, 2011
    I've used the HA's and liked them very much.
    They add grunt while maintaining note clarity on the bottom strings which is seemingly hard for many amps to do, without ripping your ears off with treble on the high strings at the same time.
    I hate treble from a bass guitar so this is important to me.
    Still have a HA3500 head and a 4x10 quad box in my arsenal.
    Hartke Rig.JPG
  15. HeavyGroove

    HeavyGroove Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2006
    Are those HAs more or less uncolored?
  16. Aussie Player

    Aussie Player

    Apr 20, 2011
    What does "uncolored" mean? Translate please? lol
  17. This guy likes his Hartke...

    philhartke-rig (1).jpg 242524456_10161037082394989_2724396239844879920_n.jpeg

  18. HeavyGroove

    HeavyGroove Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2006
    The amp presents a more or less unchanged representation of your bass's tone. For example, a heavily colored amp would be an Orange amp.
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  19. Aussie Player

    Aussie Player

    Apr 20, 2011
    I am not really clear on what you are asking? I know English, but am still learning American....lol

    My tones come from my bass guitar and I use the amps to reflect that sound with just a little grit added to the bottom end which I require to maintain clarity of note. ie Void of boomyness.
    Note my settings, are a very slight mid bump only, if that's what you are asking?

    PS: I've never played an Orange amp.
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  20. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    I will keep collecting until I have 40 basses
    Ampeg and Hartke are my favorites