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What is the attraction to Trace Elliot amplifiers?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by alaskaleftybass, Nov 6, 2013.

  1. alaskaleftybass

    alaskaleftybass Will Hanbury, Jr. Supporting Member

    Mar 21, 2012
    Sitka, Alaska
    I've been reading about TE's for years, but never had a chance to play one. Now I see that Peavey is building them in the U.S. and that is a favorable sign to me.

    What is so special about these amps to TE owners? I'm very intrigued as I'm a fan of Peavey amps. Peavey must have seen a value niche in buying Trace Elliot.

    I'm looking for: Tone? Versatility? Unique sound style? Power? Is there any other amp that kind of compares in sound or performance? Thanks guys and gals.
  2. I just like the green colour. And I'we heard them live and they sound good.
  3. TE heads have a nice tone, but are pretty heavy by modern standards. The preamps are very versatile and switchable, they rely heavily on a 7 or 12 band eq, a simple dual band compressor (which works great), some have a bendable tube drive, a few pre shapes which offer a specific TE sound. Each of these items is switchable. Generally lots of send and return options (which are always well thought out) and a mute switch (which seems to get lost on the likes of Markbass amps). Usually there's more power available than the rating indicates (UK RMS is quite a conservatively quoted)...so a 600w head can drive a lot of cabs and move a lot of air.
    They look great with their green back or UV light and there's a build quality and reliability which comes with a TE which sort of grows on you. I've been using my AH 400 SM head for the last 15 years and I love it....although I'm thinking of a smaller head for smaller gigs.
  4. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo

    Quite a few years ago I heard a 5 piece rock band where the bass player was using a 1x15 combo with a Fender Jazz bass. Sat in the mix perfectly. Not overbearingly loud but just a fine, clear mid-rangy almost P like tone. Second best bass tone I ever heard at that point after my '64 Fender Jazz through my Sunn 2000s 2x15 JBL rig. They were kinda expensive and I wasn't playing out much at the time so I didn't pursue getting one.
  5. orangejulius3

    orangejulius3 Supporting Member

    May 6, 2013
    La Habra CA
    One of my favorite bass players, Mark King from Level 42 use to play through TE. After seeing some of his equipment, I thought it looked really nice.
    His tone is great by the way. They also had a black light in front of the amp so the amps print stood out.

    I had the privilege of playing through a Trace Elliot GP7 4x10 combo.
    I kept it for 2 years and ended up trading it for a Warwick bass.
    The EQ section was cool. It wasn't your typical 3 to 4 knob EQ section.
    The 7 band EQ can either be handy or a nightmare.
    I can say that this was my favorite combo ever, and the only reason I gave it up is because it was awkward carrying it and pretty heavy. On top of that, the red oil finish Warwick Corvette $$ humbucker was calling me.
  6. I can only speak to the vintage stuff. Absolute truth in RMS clean ratings with power supply caps to back up the 2x peak ratings without noticeable distortion. Hence the expression "there's watts and then there's Trace watts".

    Either you have the patience to tweak multi band graphic EQ or you don't.

    They don't do dirty tone by themselves. The tube in the preamp warms only a little.

    I imagine Peavey got a great deal on the brand. I haven't heard any bad reviews or comparisons on the Team Trace Elliot thread. New Green anyone?
  7. In their day, and some would argue still today... They were clean (hifi sounding), powerful and reliable and very popular in Australia and the UK (where they were made), but as mentioned, heavy.
    I still have a AH100 that was the lowest power head... 100w into 8ohms (used to live in the boot of car as a backup), and played through a bunch of the much higher watt versions back in the 90's.. But, I wouldn't trade my tone hammer or GB shuttle for any of those old sleds now... Personally I don't think the tone holds up today (dated and a little thin or maybe polite to my ears now) plus never liked the graphic EQ either... But they recorded well and the cabs sounded excellent, also heavy :)
    ...and no doubt as tastes change and cycle around, there will probably be a second coming of the 90's vintage TE stuff started by some garage/college band movement early 2020 ;)

    Edit: what downunderwonder said !

    Oh and before I get slammed, I was only referring to the SS amps, not the infamous bottle monsters !
  8. RedLeg

    RedLeg Supporting Member

    Jan 24, 2009
    Kaiserslautern, Germany
    Nov Shmoz Ka Pop?
    it was a 90's thing. seemed you either went SWR or TE for that modern hifi sound. the compressor was the shiz and you could read them in the dark with that cool black light.
  9. ga_edwards


    Sep 8, 2000
    UK, Essex
    IME, Trace amps have a unique, identifiable tone. If you're thinking about acquiring one, you really need to try one out to see if you like the colour.

    My first proper amp was a BLX80 combo. Only 80 watts but was very efficiently designed and produced volume and depth of tone that belied it's diminutive dimensions. It's preamp had a couple of neat features, two preshapes (one scooped 'rock' setting, and another more airy 'Classic Trace Elliot' shape). It also had a eq balance control that boosted bass and reduced treble one way, or vice versa the other way - this is a really easy way to quickly adjust tonal balance to suit room acoustics.

    At the time I never quite got to grips with the graphic eq, but now, years after I sold the amp, it makes sense. Rather than using it for tone shaping, it's a efficient way to quickly hone in on problem room acoustic issues.

    So basically, the amp had it's own voice which you could tweak to suit the room, but not really a transparent amp that you could change the colour of at the flick of a switch. But if you don't like the initial voice, then look elsewhere, as it's tricky to make it sound like anything else.
  10. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    *The "pre-shapes" are fairly close but need to be embellished via the 7 or 12 band EQ. BTW, the EQ curve pictured in the manual is pretty much spot-on.

    *Dual band comp actually works!

    *Can't recall if it's the Pre-shape or EQ but one defaults back to the off setting when initially powered up. Minor niggle.

    *EQ balance is brilliant. A nudge in either direction changes the tonal character without having to re-set the GEQ. Very useful.

    *The solid state / valve input blend works well. I'm using whatever tube was provided but I can see where different tubes would have a significant impact, more so than other single tube configs I've used.

  11. obimark


    Sep 1, 2011
    I never saw much Trace gear in the US---so not sure any great attraction- I guess it was big for some metal dudes like DefLep and Winger int he 80s as they did a lot of ads, but I never saw your local bar schmoes rocking it in the 80s, and out of the 25 bass amps I have owned, never got one.

    Curious to see what Peavey does with it, I know there stuff I saw was heavier than I would ever want to carry...I do like the green colors though..
  12. Matthijs


    Jul 3, 2006
    This. I also associate Trace with Stuart Zender and Jamiroquai in the 90's.
  13. I gigged a 300 for a while in the early 90's. Nice head, kind of 'boutique' in that it came from the UK. Very warm, mid forward tone (unless you hit that 'scoop' button). Very articulate but not hi fi, and quite loud per rated watt. Looked cool at the time also... GREEN!

    Things have come a long way since then IMO.
    bass nitro likes this.
  14. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    For years I gigged an 80's AH500X. Very heavy, VERY loud and versatile, with two independent power amps. Also it reproduced low frequencies better than anything else I've ever played, even my DB750. It made my Eden sound thin and hollow in comparison.

    Weird, but when I turned it on and the fan started blowing, it also smelled really good. Not a smell I could identify but somehow comforting.
    rtav likes this.
  15. Bob C

    Bob C

    Mar 26, 2000
    Duluth, MN
    I agree TE amps have a built-in signature sound. If you want "uncolored", it might not be the amp for you.

    On the other hand, as was mentioned, they have lots of EQ and routing options. And every time I've plugged into one in a music store, I've gotten a pleasing useable tone in seconds.

    To my ears, they are punchy, clean and somewhat hi-fi, but not sterile at all.
  16. jasper383


    Dec 5, 2004
    Durham NC
    That's the smell of Trace Elliott himself.
    Microbass likes this.
  17. nutdog

    nutdog when I'm a good dog they sometimes throw me a bone Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2009
    in the dog house
    I guess it was early 90's when I saw ELP on the tonight show and Greg Lake was standing in front of a wall of those black and green cabs. Looked awesome!

    My first real bass rig was an AH300smx with 210/115 cabs. Actually it was the second amp. The first one was a lower powered gp7 something without the dual comp. It kept making scratchy noises. Gibson had just bought TE and support was awful. The lady at the store swapped even for the 300. She said "I just want you to be happy". I was. :)

    At the time it was the best sounding rig I tried that I could fit in my 2 door T-Bird. Now my streamliner/CN212 sounds better and weighs less than one of those trace cabs. Still black and neon green. :D
  18. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

  19. No real attraction here. I own one, GP7-300 IIRC, It has so many items of poor engineering I was highly disappointed!
  20. will33


    May 22, 2006
    It works!

    I ran into several of the 410's around here as backline in the '90's. Saw Tommy Shannon playing the same stuff quite a bit, probably same rental company used locally. Sliding the ports in and out changed the character and "bigness" of the sound. It's one of the things that started getting me interested in how all that stuff worked. I just remember the amps as being clear sounding and seemingly loud for their comparitively low power ratings as the Edens we got around the same time, which were also supplied backline quite a bit back then.

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