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Most transparent 700W - 1000W amps on the used market

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by swamp_bass, Mar 9, 2014.

  1. swamp_bass

    swamp_bass I love it when a groove comes together

    Nov 20, 2013
    North Cackalacky
    So I've left the loud band I was practicing with, and landed in an even louder situation with the Jolly Green Giant as a drummer. Today I had to turn up my Little Mark II past 2 o'clock for the drummer to hear my hydrive 410. I'm loud enough, but I'm pretty sure I'm running out of headroom and I'm pushing the amp harder than I like to on a regular basis.

    I've spent the better part of today using the search tool and reading reviews on the multitudes of amps available out there, and then polling the interwebz to look at pricing and availability.

    Unfortunately for me, most of the reviews are in terms of: vintage tone, growl, roundness, tube emulation fat bottom end, and everything else I'm not. I'm a freak who likes an amp that's transparent, with just enough tone tone control to handle different sounds and different rooms. I don't want built in tone.

    The obvious solution is to get a more powerful Markbass, such as the LM 800. But those cost a small fortune, and don't come up used very often.

    From what I've read, the most transparent seem to be:
    Hartke, Markbass, Gallien-Krueger, TC Electronics, and Carvin.

    The cheapest power for the buck appears to be the Hartke LH1000, but it's really scarce on tone control (I prefer at least 4 bands to work with), and it doesn't have an input gain control. Of the Class D amps, I like that the PF800 has headphone out, but from what I've read it has a very distinct tone built-in even when the tone controls are set neutral (thought there might be a standard setting to offset that?)

    So the questions are:
    1. Which of the 700W - 1000W amps are the most transparent?
    2. Of those, which are the best values on the used market?

    I'm leaning towards Class D, but if the gap is on the order of $300 I'm willing to cart around a boat anchor in the name of cost savings.

    I know the standard answer for more volume is a second cab, which in this case would be another Hydrive 410. But that's a lot of cubic feet to transport and I don't have an SUV.

  2. 4-string


    Jul 23, 2006
    Not really transparent as in uncolored, but it is crazy loud and lets your bass' personality come through: GK MB800.
    Mike A and WBasstrolo like this.
  3. swamp_bass

    swamp_bass I love it when a groove comes together

    Nov 20, 2013
    North Cackalacky
    Looks like a nice amp, compact, powerful.... and $700. I don't see these used anywhere. This may be the pricepoint I'm at, but I'm hoping for something that's been around long enough to let a bottom feeder like me pick up a good bargain. For instance, Portaflex 800's can be had for under $500.
  4. jeff7bass


    Apr 9, 2009
    My Carvin BX1200, which is the SS version of the later model BX1500 (class D) is VERY clear and punchy with gobs of power. It has two amps that run either 2 x 400w with a pair of 4 ohm cabs or 1200w bridged into a single 4 ohm load. Great head with all of the EQ options you could ever want plus a built in compressor which works very well.
  5. swamp_bass

    swamp_bass I love it when a groove comes together

    Nov 20, 2013
    North Cackalacky
    Thanks for the input. I don't see the BX1200 for sale anywhere, but the BX1500 runs for $499 new and in general used Carvins seem to come up on the market frequently enough that I'm likely to snag a hot deal on one.
    Felix1776 likes this.
  6. kpc


    Apr 6, 2011
    You already have the 410. Why not the hartke kilo?
  7. swamp_bass

    swamp_bass I love it when a groove comes together

    Nov 20, 2013
    North Cackalacky
    The only thing standing in the way is a thousand smackaroos.
  8. Add another cab.
    This is more noise than higher wattage.
  9. gregmon79

    gregmon79 I did it for the muff... Supporting Member

    Dec 20, 2012
    Chicago IL
    Have you considered the GK 700 or 1001rb heads?? Very powerful with plenty of EQ and voicing options.
  10. swamp_bass

    swamp_bass I love it when a groove comes together

    Nov 20, 2013
    North Cackalacky
    This is like when the doctor tells you you have to exercise. And you don't want to exercise. The only two ways to add a cab to my 410 is the TB way (another 410 just like it), or the brochure way (a 115), both of which are the same weight and bulk that won't fit easily in my vehicle along with the rest of my equipment.

    Here's a pea-brained plot: If I can find a couple of Hartke Hydrive 10 speakers and build a 16 ohm 210 to slap on top of the 410. That should give me a nice boost, right?
  11. swamp_bass

    swamp_bass I love it when a groove comes together

    Nov 20, 2013
    North Cackalacky
    The GK 700 has less power than the LM II I'm already running. The 1001RB doesn't give that big of a bump in power from my current amp.
  12. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    Had a show and tell with another TBer yesterday and checked out a Carvin BX500. Sounded great! I use a Markbass SD800 that I find quite transparent, you can find them in the $600 range with the backpack when buying used. I love mine and have yet to find anything to de-throne it, and I have tried.
  13. nukes_da_bass

    nukes_da_bass Banned

    Feb 19, 2006
    west suburban boston
    Hartke 7000 is 350 watts plus 350 watts. Hard to.find but it has all the bells and whistles you are looking for.
  14. swamp_bass

    swamp_bass I love it when a groove comes together

    Nov 20, 2013
    North Cackalacky
    Ok, well after a full day of reading through archived threads on amps, I think I've found the magical balance between price, power, and wants:

    The Ampeg Portaflex 800.

    I found one used for just under $400. I know it falls a little short of the 700W minimum I was looking for, but it's still double my current LM II which is giving me enough volume now; the extra margin will give me the headroom I want. As a bonus it has the elusive headphone jack I've been missing since I ditched the old Rumble practice combo.

    As far as transparency concerns, I dug up an old nugget from JimmyM concerning the Ampeg Portaflex reputation for a colored tone:

    "Great tones for any style, easy to get good sounds out of quickly, does both clean and dirty."

    In the end, that's really my end goal - not to have the flattest sound for the sake of flatness, but the ability to play a diverse range of tones to cover the wide range of music I like to play.

    Thanks to those who indulged me and took the time to respond to my hack of a thread.
  15. Genz Benz Shute 9.2. This head will amplify whatever your bass ACTUALLY sounds like. It is uber transparent.

    Here is a great Vid featuring this head.


    I LOVE the transparency of my Shuttlemax 6.0
  16. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    You can get a new power amp putting out 1,000w for $300
    Send the Mark line out to power amp.

    More cones will matter more than doubling power.
    Or spend a little more to add a powered sub and you get to keep all the tone you have now. Lows are just sine waves, tone is in the mids and highs.
    AlexanderB likes this.
  17. sunbrother


    May 3, 2013
    Carvin BX1500 or a Genz Benz shuttle/shuttlemax
  18. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    LOL! Hack of a thread...I've seen much worse ;)

    Just got my own PF800 two weeks ago, and I still stand behind my assessment. Enjoy!
  19. Laurent

    Laurent Supporting Member

    May 21, 2008
    Napa, California
    Carvin B1500
    Susqmike likes this.
  20. monsterthompson

    monsterthompson The Eighth Note Wonder Of The World Supporting Member

    Nov 25, 2008