Trace Elliot AH500X - Opinions?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Blackbird, Mar 6, 2004.

  1. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    Hey, guys

    Last year, I lucked out and found an Ampeg SVTIII Pro and an old Trace Elliot AH500X for a great deal at GC. I've been gigging regularly with the Ampeg and put off getting the Trace up to snuff because it requires a different power cord shape than the ones we have in the U.S.

    I managed to find a cord that fit and found that the head works, but it could use some attention. The fan is very noisy, for one. Still, Going out with the Ampeg and leaving the Trace home feels a bit like driving the Volkswagen and leaving the Porshe in the garage.

    I've searched TB and the best ifo I could get about the AH500X is that Johnny BoomBoom has one.

    So if you have any info, opinions, comments on this head (It's a Pre-Gibson, BTW) Please feel free to share.

    Thanks a lot.

  2. I have a UK-made AH600SMX; a little more recent but the same idiosyncracies may apply. There is some fan noise, but nothing excessive. What I do find is that the pots and switches get fairly noisy and need cleaning regularly. No problems with the sliders.

    It's a great amp - lots of headroom.
  3. I love my ah500x. It has way more power than I will probably ever need, with stereo 250 watt amps (and I mean trace 250 watt not peavey or GK or something) you could play wembley stadium (at least you'd have plenty of stage volume). I drive 2 ampeg 610 hlfs with it (i wish they made the 810 in the hlf configuration) but I also have used it in conjunction with an EUB to accompany an unplugged acoustic guitar at very small tavern gigs, still sounds sweet.

    Mine is a pre gibson model from 1986. Fix that baby up, they just don't make em like they used to.

    PS, yes the fan is loud, but screw it, once you start playing nobody's gonna hear the fan anyway.
  4. Sorry, but i really dislike these amps, use one at our practice rooms when we cant get the room with the nice marshall stack, and im using that head into a trace elliot 410 and its always just short of clipping, and still not quite loud enough :(

    One thing i have noticed in my tinkering about is that there is a switch for the fan level on the back, so if its on the slower speed it wont be as noisey, but like embrynat2000 pointed out it doesnt really matter too much when your playing
  5. SamJ

    SamJ Founder - Fender MIA Club

    Apr 22, 2006
    PDX / SFO / HNL
    I tried one before I settled on the Ampeg... It's nice.. better sound than the Hartke that was the same price.. but I really fell for the sound of the Ampeg.. Get the SVT III pro, I say this even though I'm trying to sell my SWR! :D
  6. Tom Crofts

    Tom Crofts

    Mar 15, 2001
    Ask yourself this: Does the Ampeg have a UV light on it?

    Plus trace elliots sound awesome :) Well, my AH600SMX does :)

    Oddio, what cabinets are you running with your 600?
  7. Kelly Lee

    Kelly Lee Yeah, I'm a guy! Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2004
    Marana, AZ, USA
    I think they are awesome heads. Back then they were still built by hand in Essex. Plenty of power for just about any gigging situation you could ever be in.

    :meh: Dude, if that is the case with an AH500X, something is seriously wrong with it. It needs to be checked out.
  8. In all honesty that wouldnt surprise me

    I was using the against a fairly loud drummer, the guitarist was using a JCM900 and 412 at about half volume on the master and pre gain about 8ish (with one speaker torn to sheads in the cab, we pointed that out, its been like that for years tho and they aint going to fix it), so, that gives you the mentality of these people who rip us off for using a practice room ( £11 an hour = ~ $20.50 an hour )

    I really cant wait til we have our flat so we can practice there, only problem right now is our drummer living in another town
  9. room 2 at stage2k right?

    That trace head is buggered and the cab has problems too. I never use that head because its so awful, havent ever been able to get a nice sound out of it. I bring my tech21 along, and that too doesnt sound too hot through that cab either. They really need to get the bass situation in that room sorted!
  10. you got it man, aye they really do, well, at least its because that head is buggered,

    i retract my earlier statement and replace it with:

    "I have never played a funtional version of that amp"

    the cab seemed ok, the only noticable problem we had, but couldnt locate was an occasional high pitched whine, we think it may have been from that amp but could never locate it
  11. it was whining a lot for ages, the guys there couldnt fix it so i opened it up and pulled the crap out of the fan myself. sorted!
  12. simpy1


    Mar 31, 2005
    New Zealand
    Hmm I have an AH350SMX, and love the sound but I use a power amp with mine, because it clips fairly easily.:meh:

    Don't get me wrong, it's f***in loud, but at just over 3/10 it starts to clip! So in the interest of saving my speakers I bought a power amp. Lost a bit of the sound from using line outs, but it works.
  13. zachbass02

    zachbass02 One Hairy....squatch. Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    I have the same amp,an AH350SMX. I have no problems going louder than 2 4-12 guitar stacks and a drummer that hits like King Kong without clipping. One stack is a Mesa triple rectafier head (I think), excrutiatingly loud, and a Marshall stack. I couldn't keep up with them with an Ampeg head. No trouble now with the Trace. I love the tone of it much more so than the ampeg I used to have. I push it through an Ampeg SVT410HLF. I have had no problems out of it yet.
  14. Craig Garfinkel

    Craig Garfinkel

    Aug 25, 2000
    Hartford, CT
    Endorsing Artist: Sadowsky Guitars
    I bought an AH600SMX brand new in 1986 and used it and abused it for about 11 years. Fantastic amp. When it finally crapped out in '97, instead of having it repaired I picked up a brand new AH500M for really cheap. The local store was blowing them out. I should've had the old one fixed. The 12 band EQ of the SMX was far better than the 7 band EQ on the 500H, and the new amp in general sounded inferior. Of course Trace Elliot by then was no longer the company it was, being distributed and/or assembled by Gibson, then Kaman (or vice versa), then some guy had a bunch in his basement...whatever.

    Then Aguilar came along and that was that (for me, that is ).

    That old AH600SMX was incredible though. It was the first high powered (I always ran it bridged at 600 Trace Elliot that to 1000 watts claimed by US amp companies at the time) audiophile quality amp I ever owned. It was an amp that was ahead of its time, really. IMO it completely blew away the SWR head, both power-wise and tone-wise.

    My first killer rig, one that would stack up tone-wise with what I use today (sort of), was the AH600SMX with an original SWR Goliath 4x10, and an old JBL 15" cab on the bottom, circa 1986-87.
  15. Tom Crofts

    Tom Crofts

    Mar 15, 2001
    Craig, I recently got a 1997 AH600SMX, what's the difference between yours and mine? Construction or features-wise? I assume it is running at full power all the time. How did you run it bridged? Was it a 2 channel amp? Mine has a load of outputs and stuff at the back, seems to be for some kind of bi-amp crossover type affair... I've left it well alone and gone for the left output, is this gonna be 600W at 4ohms if i just use one output?
  16. Use the Trace, BB!!! :hyper:
    My V4's fan is a little noisey, but you don't hear it thru the DI or when playing. That fan IS huge, tho.
    Maybe you can replace yours with a higher quality one? Could just be an old fart fan!

    Nice amp, looks great. I've yet to come across a SS Ampeg that can keep up with my 280W Trace.

    P.s. tried the V4 with an 8x10. OMG! :hyper:
  17. Craig Garfinkel

    Craig Garfinkel

    Aug 25, 2000
    Hartford, CT
    Endorsing Artist: Sadowsky Guitars
    My AH600SMX had a three-way switch on the back where you could select bi-amp, stereo or bridged mono. Way cool. The head actually had two separate 300 watt amps under the hood. In bi-amp mode, you would send 300 watts each to outputs A and B. Stereo mode was just that, but as stereo-wired basses were rare to almost non-existant that feature wasn't too practical. Bridged mono sent all 600 watts to both outputs.

    My '97 AH500M on the other hand, was a straight-up 500 watt amp. No bi-amping or bridging capabilities. I would assume the same is true of your AH600SMX, but I could be wrong. By '97 Trace had been bought out by either Gibson or Kaman and many changes...I'm afraid not for the better...ensued.

    The new Trace Elliot is, I'm of the impression, either the resurrection of the old Trace Elliot...or darn close.
  18. Just one more chip in to the mix for me (I will talk about my ah500x for days if you let me).

    I have never heard it clip ever. Mine has arrows that light up so you can dial in your gain just right, and then after that just give it the volume you want, I think the loudest I've ever turned it up has been to 7/10, and that was so loud that I'm sure I did some permanent hearing damage, but the sound was still very very clean. For how old it is, 20 years +, I think that it is still ahead of it's time.
  19. simpy1


    Mar 31, 2005
    New Zealand
    I think mine is bung.