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Torn Between Old and New

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Orpheus55, Jun 22, 2014.

  1. I've been playing semi-professionally for 45+ years. In my early 60s, I "downsized" to a PF500 head and a wonderful Avatar Neo 210 cab (which I am keeping). Like many have reported here and elsewhere, my PF500 has been--of late--problematic (cut-outs, slow turn-ons, etc.). Part of me wants to stay with the great lightness of class D micro amps (thinking BX500), whereas a little voice in my ear is saying: get the old-style, solid Hartke HL500. I am well aware and familiar with the EQ differences (just like my old bassman EQ) and the different control layouts. I'm thinking the LH500 would be a more durable and reliable unit, and I like the simplicity of the controls. And yet, the lure of "featherweight" amps persists (Fender's newer 500 watt entry is tempting). I play in a lot of sketchy electric venues here in SW FL and wonder if that could be a factor with the class D amps cutting out and generally frustrating me. 23 lbs. is not an obstacle, as I lift way more than that every morning. Any thoughts?
  2. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    I have had that head for two years without a hiccup. The sound is great, and at 2am, it's nice to carry your head and bass to the car with one hand. Great sound as well.
  3. I would gladly carry the head and bass out in two hands (instead of one) if I could feel confident in the heads reliability.
  4. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Do a search here. Lots of good feedback. I'm happy my Trace elliot rig sits in my closet.
  5. RoadRanger

    RoadRanger Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2004
    NE CT
    Anguilar TH-350 - costs more but similar sound and power, assembled in the USA and doesn't cut out when pushed :) .
  6. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    I'm 64 and changed to a Genz-Benz Shuttle head with a pair of 12" cabs (now one 12 and one 2x10). NOT going back!!! I can carry head and 12 in one hand, 2x10 in the other.

    Having the lightweight gear doesn't prevent it from putting out fantastic sound. Stay with the Class D gear, just get it working right. If in doubt, get a Genz.
    Orpheus55 likes this.
  7. Grissle


    May 17, 2009
    From what I've read the problems with the Ampeg PF series heads are focused on the PF500, and the PF350 and PF800 have been real solid workhorses. So those are an option. But if you're just looking for a change there's tons of great amps out there.
    My advice is to narrow down the tone you're looking for by listening to lots of music and auditioning rigs before just grabbing something for some random reason.
  8. Pilgrim, we are of a like mind and generation. I always appreciate and respect your point of view. Thanks.
  9. godofthunder59

    godofthunder59 God of Thunder and Rock and Roll Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2006
    Rochester NY USA
    Endorsing Cataldo Basses, Whirlwind products, Thunderbucker pickups
    I still drag around my Hiwatts but I just love my Orange TB 500 paired with two Orange 1x15 cabs.
  10. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Those little amps aren't as much a current drain as the bigger stuff, but I do know some folks who continue to rebel against them, but mostly for tonal reasons as the vast majority of micros are pretty solid performers. PF500 has had some problems along the way, as did a handful of amps from other brands, but complaints on newer PF500's seem to be way down, and I've owned 4 micro amps and none of them have been problematic except for the PF350 that a soundman knocked off my cab and broke the preamp board. But it was solid for over 2 years up till then. I even dropped it a couple times my own self and it still worked. For some reason, soundmen have a way of dropping stuff that always breaks it.

    And even newer trad SS amps have had a few kinks along the way, so bugs aren't limited to micros alone. If you dug the tone of the PF500 and aren't too bummed to give Ampeg another crack, the PF800 has been out for over a year, sounds like a PF500 but has a bit more kick in the ass from the extra headroom, and I've only seen one complaint about it ;)
    Orpheus55 likes this.
  11. Thanks Jimmy. I'm wondering if thePF 800 might be too much for my 8 ohm 500 watt cab? I'm thinking it would be OK.
  12. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    It has a volume knob ;) I use it with two SVT 210av's sometimes no problem.
  13. Gab124

    Gab124 The path is greater than the destination

    Dec 30, 2006
    I also have a Avatar neo, the B210. It works just fine with the PF800, which at 8ohms matches pretty well with that cab anyway. I would think that since you liked the PF500 with it you would not be trying to go any louder anyway, just gives you more juice to thicken up if you want. I can't speak for Ampeg reliability, as this is my first, but my other micros were very solid performers and stood up well to heavy use. I think it is a little like cars, the older models were tough, but required a lot more basic maintenance to keep them on the road, whereas the new stuff you just change the oil on for over 100,000 miles.
  14. Good points. I just sold the PF500for cheap to an engineer who said he knew what the problem was (some relay thing); a perusal of Craig's list has a "like mint" Hartke HA3500 for $200. I'm thinking of checking it out, or perhaps springing another $150 to get a new HL500.
  15. Gab124

    Gab124 The path is greater than the destination

    Dec 30, 2006
    I gigged a Hartke 3500 for a long time, very durable head. I, for some reason, could never really get to my tone with that head though, always resorted to pedals for various coloring.
  16. I read that the HA was 37 lbs. (?). The LH500 is (only) 23 lbs., which even an old guy like me can manage. I do like the simplicity of the layout and controls. If I can get MF to sell me the LH for $300 I'm going for it.
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2014
  17. Someone here suggested the new Fender Rumble 500. With that power and only five pounds (light enough for someone to walk off with in the dives we play) is this a viable option? I have a probably unfounded prejudice against Fender amps (goes way back), and this is a relatively untested new product. Five year warranty is a factor, and only $400. Hmmm. I was all set on the LH500, but I see only a one year warranty. See what summer vacation does for teachers? We spend too much time obsessing!
  18. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    I can't say I was ever able to get a tone I was in love with when I used one of these, either, but they are pretty bulletproof in terms of reliability.

    Orpheus, I absolutely love my older, heavy-iron heads (an Eden WT-400 and an Ampeg SVT 3-Pro), but I've been gigging two micros a lot in the last couple of years; the BX500 that you mentioned in your OP and an Aggie TH500. Both have been totally reliable and I really like them both, but for different reasons. The Carvin BX is VERY clean. It's super clear sounding and very even across the freq spectrum, so it comes off as sounding fairly bright as a bass amp. It also has a lot of EQ options, so you can dial it out if you want, but after reading that you like a simple control layout, I suggest the Aggie. Lighter weight, simpler controls and a tone that's very much in the Ampeg camp right out of the box with the controls flat. They're a bit pricey (I got mine used), but they really deliver. I like the Carvin a lot, and especially it's versatility, but the Aggie's a step up, IMO.

    Good luck in your search (and I'm glad to hear you like the Avatar B210 Neo - I've been considering one)!
  19. Thanks; I will look into that.
  20. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Hey there...like I said earlier: Genz Benz! There are no better amps made (at least to my ears). ROCK-solid reliable. A Shuttle 6.0, 6.2, 9.0 or 9.2 will blow you off the stage and never fail you. They are out there used, and they're great values. I like Hartke, but I LOVE Genz.

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