Upgrading from an HA3500 head; Suggestions?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Ezmar, Nov 14, 2017.


  1. Ezmar

    Ezmar

    Jul 8, 2010
    So I've had a Hartke head for a few years now, and while it's okay, especially for the price I got it for, there are some things I'm not quite satisfied with. Mostly in the way it handles strong attacks. I tend to dig in a bit when I play, and when I do, the amp tends to make a sort of clippy sound like I'm peaking or something. This tends to happen at any volume level, and happens a little bit when I play more gently; there's always a bit of click at the beginning of the note.

    While this may be an issue with the cab, or a repairable issue with the amp itself, I'm looking to upgrade anyway. What I'm looking for is a flexible, versatile head without too much "inescapable" color to it. I love the graphic EQ on the Hartke, and would be very reluctant to part with that feature. I also like the generally flat response and color of the amp, which allows me to sort of slide into whatever style I feel like without feeling like I'm mismatched.

    If it helps any, I'm playing a Jazz bass, and I tend to favor the sound with the neck pickup rolled off ever so slightly, and I favor a Geddy Lee Power Windows style bouncy punch kind of sound. While I don't need to get "The Perfect Amp for That Sound", I'm not looking for huge booming bass or snarly scooped mids. Something nice and even would be great. If there's anything I'm dissatisfied with tonally in the Hartke, it's that it can sometimes feel a bit muddy in the upper mids and highs, and while I don't want a bunch of clank (I get that enough from my Rotosounds), I'd appreciate clarity.

    I think I've gone on enough about the sound I'm looking for, and I'm sure there are a lot of amps that will fit the bill. I'm just looking for some suggestions of what to look into when I'm shopping around for a new amp. I've got a lot on my "to buy" list, so I'd appreciate something less spendy, so no gorgeous all-tube amps for me, as much as I'd like to go that route. Obviously the more money I can save the better, but I also don't want to compromise just to save some money. Let's say, I'd love it if I could keep it around $500 or below, and I don't want to pay much more than $700 at the maximum. I have no problem buying used either.

    This won't be an imminent purchase, as I've got some other things on my plate before I go replacing my current amp, but it's nice to have some ideas in mind as I'm keeping my eyes open for deals and whatnot. There are plenty of amps out there, and while most are serviceable, there's no point in spending money unless I like it better than what I already have.

    It's also possible that my cheap B410 Acoustic cab is to blame, in which case it may make more sense to simply upgrade to a nicer cab. If this is likely the case, let me know. It could be that the cheap speakers don't like being pushed to start moving.

    Thanks for hanging in there for my wordy post, and I hope you can give me some advice!
     
  2. I use a 3500 for rehearsal and a back up for gigging. It has been flawless and has not exhibited the clippy sound you have mentioned. I would first look at upgrading your cab as the 3500 is a decent amp with gobs of power. I think you may be doing the slow kill on the acoustic.
    Fishheadjoe
     
    Aqualung60 and murphy like this.
  3. Al Kraft

    Al Kraft Supporting Member

    May 2, 2016
    Northern Virginia
    A click at the beginning of a note can often be the result of a voice coil rubbing IME. I'd try the head with a known good cab. This seems like a logical first step with the symptoms you described.

    If the amp is the culprit, I would check the preamp tube - although my best guess is still coil rubbing or other speaker damage. Pre-amp tubes typically last literally forever, but you never know when you have a pre-owned head.
     
    Aqualung60 and murphy like this.
  4. Ezmar

    Ezmar

    Jul 8, 2010
    I'm inclined to agree with this assessment. It's not the best amp, but I'm fine with it for now, and the cab is pretty cheap. I actually had to replace a speaker that went bad right when I got the cab.

    Any recommendations for cabs? I'd have to travel a fair ways, as my local store doesn't stock much in the way of bass gear. From my understanding, differences between cabs with the same speaker config can be pretty subtle, so I may as well try something recommended for starters.
     
  5. Al Kraft

    Al Kraft Supporting Member

    May 2, 2016
    Northern Virginia
    In my experience speaker size and configuration are a very poor to totally useless indicator of how a cab may be voiced...and yes I know that flies in the face of years of folklore saying otherwise. I've been an engineer for 40 years and a musician even longer. The best advice you can get is to listen to everything you can and don't pass up auditioning something based only on the size of speakers, or way the cab looks. A cab's performance and voicing are dependent on too many factors to list and virtually none of them can be even seen much less evaluated by looks alone.

    Since you asked for a recommendation and gave some preferences (including budget), I'll suggest that a GK Neo 212 II cab or two GK Neo 112 II's (if a modular solution is more attractive) might surprise you in terms of performance, size, weight, quality, and balanced voicing all for a bargain price. These cabs are hard to beat IMO if you're budget conscious and looking to get an exceptional cab, especially with a sale or discount. That 212 will hold its own nicely against your current 410 volume-wise and provide you a very full, balanced tone with a lot of clarity and definition.

    My other typical name brand favorites include Mesa Subway 112 and 115 and Bergantino CN212 and HDN212 cabs. They're a bit pricier and are sold new at the manufacturers established prices only, although they can often be had used and in good condition. All of these meet your criteria to my ear (which is not the one that counts here) and at least give you a sense of how I hear what you described.

    Once again, I strongly recommend you try everything and don't pass up listening to something based only on speaker size and/or configuration. I hope that's helpful.
     
    eriky4003 likes this.
  6. Ezmar

    Ezmar

    Jul 8, 2010
    I was mostly basing it off of being pleased with the sound of my 4x10, though I probably wouldn't be opposed to a 2x12. I'm not sure I'd want to go 1x15, but I'll look into those suggestions regardless.

    Thanks again!
     
  7. Al Kraft

    Al Kraft Supporting Member

    May 2, 2016
    Northern Virginia
    I think the most you can fairly conclude is that you like the way your 410 is voiced. I assure you that there are many different sounding 410's out there. If you can get somewhere and audition a number of them side by side I think you'll be surprised.

    The good news is that you know exactly what you like, which means you're better off than many folks who are still chasing a sound they've that's only in their head and they can't exactly describe. :) Just be open to other cab configurations and I think you'll be very glad in the end. Good luck with your search!
     
  8. Is your HA3500 preamp set more for the tube function, the solid state function, or a combination?
     
  9. Ezmar

    Ezmar

    Jul 8, 2010
    I'm leaning towards concluding that the issue is with the cab, since it's a cheap cab, and the preamp settings seem to have little bearing on the prevalence of the sound. If anything, it seems to happen more with the solid state side, but that could just as well be my imagination. I tend to give it the tube pre, and give it a little bit of solid state for some added kick.
     
  10. murphy

    murphy Supporting Member

    May 5, 2004
    Canada
    Where do you live?...What cab do you have?...and you want to spend $700?
    There is a Epifani UL410 in the classifieds for $550 I think
    You would be very happy...especially if it is 4ohm
     
  11. mbart203

    mbart203

    Dec 29, 2009
    CT.
    If you're looking to upgrade the cab for an affordable price, check out the Fender Rumble V3 cabs.
    I have two Rumble 210s, they sound great, very light and easy to move but still solidly constructed.
    I'm very much into the same sound you described and play a jazz bass.
    I use one of my 210s under an Ampeg SVT pro 4 head at church. That sound can definitely be obtained in this setup with nothing added.
     
  12. deathness

    deathness

    Jan 19, 2015
    BKLYN
    Another thing, the 3500 can get a little weird if the preamps are cranked too high. Generally, keep the blendable pres low and let master do the work on the volume. Also, if you have the compressor engaged, try turning that down. Just a couple other things to troubleshoot in addition to the cab.

    If it is the cab and you generally like how your acoustic sounds but want an upgrade, check out the ampeg svt-410he. The ampeg is sealed like the acoustic so will share some of the response your used to with the acoustic and there just aren't a ton of sealed 4x10s out there readily available to demo in stores or on the used market. But as Al Kraft mentioned above: try everything you can.
     
    Al Kraft likes this.
  13. aproud1

    aproud1 Don't surround yourself with yourself. Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2007
    Cincy, OH
    Might be worth trying to make a day of going to a big music store somewhere and trying everything out and seeing what works for you. Might be a long day and cost some money to do but I bet it would be worth it. Basing decisions on the the opinions of others when it comes to tone can be helpful but can also lead to buying and swapping a lot of gear. Doesn't sound like you want to do that. So driving a long distance to check stuff out might save you money in the long run.

    All that said. The 3500 is a decent head. There are so many newer amps that are so much better and more powerful it's almost overwhelming. I personally like Markbass EQ points the best but use a Mesa Subway 800 for a variety of reasons.

    Are there any bass players near you? You could try a different amp through your cab or vice versa.
     
    Al Kraft likes this.
  14. backin82

    backin82 Jack of a Few Trades

    Sep 9, 2009
    Oklahoma City, OK
    I believe the 3500 says that the "optimal" sound/volume is at 6 on both the tube and ss preamp knobs. I'm usually playing there with about 2 on the master. I haven't ever heard the problem you're discussing, and I've played a 3500 for 15 years. My guess is also that the problem is your cab.
     
    Al Kraft and murphy like this.
  15. The Chuck

    The Chuck

    Dec 11, 2013
    Wilmington, NC
    I had a 3500 for years and years.... I never had an issue with it. Those things are practically bullet proof. Definitely try your head with a different cab to see if that clears up your issue. Used Hartke 410XLs can be found at great prices.
     
    Al Kraft likes this.
  16. One other thought... If you have the graphic eq enganged, be sure the that first two faders on the low end are cutting and not boosted. That 31hz fader is a speaker killer!
    Fishheadjoe
     
    Al Kraft and backin82 like this.
  17. A Hartke HA5500. The extra power adds significant thumpage.
     
  18. Squint

    Squint

    Feb 22, 2017
    Louisville, KY
    Are you confident that the click is an amp/cab issue? Only reason I ask is that I have had basses in the past that would get clicky if I was playing more aggressively and the strings were contacting the pickups. Especially if the pickups had the exposed magnet poles. Just a thought.
     
    Al Kraft and murphy like this.
  19. murphy

    murphy Supporting Member

    May 5, 2004
    Canada
    Oh yes...happened to me

    Once I kept playing gigs and thought my speakers were blown

    Finally discovered it was my instrument cable gone bad....Doh :banghead:
     
    Al Kraft likes this.
  20. backin82

    backin82 Jack of a Few Trades

    Sep 9, 2009
    Oklahoma City, OK
    Great point. I have that slider pretty low most of the time. The max I'll use it is probably -5, and a lot of times I'll kill it entirely.
     
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
    May 26, 2022

Share This Page