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Trace Elliot, tell me about it

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I had the AH350 many moons ago. Great heads - powerful, unburstable, reliable, heavy. If you can live with the weight, they are still great amps. TE's design brief was to mate a good quality pre' with proper eq to a PA power amp output stage. They were originally built in the wilds of rural Essex (I took mine to the factory for a service/repair and they did it on the spot whilst I went to the local pub for lunch). They were a bit of a revelation in their day compared to what else was available and that uv front light looked cool.

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Trace Elliot were at one point in the 1980s THE best bass amp around. They were used up and down the country by a ton of bass players (who could afford them) and compared to what was available at the time, were light years ahead the competition. They had a unique, full, quality sound which was perfect for finger and pick styles but excelled in slap & pull style. You could see these amps being used by so many different music styles, from Reggae to metal, funk to pop. They were expensive at the time, but you really did get what you paid for.

The one you have pictured in the Mk V series GP11 AH500 which was one of the best around at the time (early 80s). I had one, along with 4x10 and 1x15 fane speaker loaded cabs. The sound was absolutely immense and super loud, to the point where it really could get uncomfortable for drummer and guitarist. I used it with a 62 Fender Precision, 76 Fender Jazz bass and a Yamaha BB1100s fretless. The sound was amazing and as I said, it really was hard to get a bad sound out of the rig. Sound engineers loved them for their hand DI out at the back and the handy feature of a noise gate was the icing on the cake.

I've used Trace gear in various guises for most of my bass playing career, in fact I remember the Series 6 being demo'd at the British Music Fair in 1986 I'm that old! The weight of them was what put me off, as there were lighter cabs around. The quality that went into them was revolutionary at the time, with the graphic, pre-shaping and sheer volume - not to mention the green and black colour scheme set off by the UV light just looked great on a dark stage. I used a small 100watt GP7 1x15 combo throughout the 1990s along with a Status 6 string and loved the sound. I finally gave up the ghost on Trace after using one of their Series 6 2x10 combo valve hybrid amps and the weight just being too much for me. Still love the sound of Trace gear and always feel nostalgic when I see the Series 5 and 6 amps. Can't believe the second-hand prices nowadays compared to what they used to be.

Oh, by the way, they used to be manufactured in a place called Witham in Essex which I visited on more than one occasion for a service on these amps. They were superb there, with first class customer service too.

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17 hours ago, WHUFC BASS said:

Trace Elliot were at one point in the 1980s THE best bass amp around. They were used up and down the country by a ton of bass players (who could afford them) and compared to what was available at the time, were light years ahead the competition. They had a unique, full, quality sound which was perfect for finger and pick styles but excelled in slap & pull style. You could see these amps being used by so many different music styles, from Reggae to metal, funk to pop. They were expensive at the time, but you really did get what you paid for.

The one you have pictured in the Mk V series GP11 AH500 which was one of the best around at the time (early 80s). I had one, along with 4x10 and 1x15 fane speaker loaded cabs. The sound was absolutely immense and super loud, to the point where it really could get uncomfortable for drummer and guitarist. I used it with a 62 Fender Precision, 76 Fender Jazz bass and a Yamaha BB1100s fretless. The sound was amazing and as I said, it really was hard to get a bad sound out of the rig. Sound engineers loved them for their hand DI out at the back and the handy feature of a noise gate was the icing on the cake.

I've used Trace gear in various guises for most of my bass playing career, in fact I remember the Series 6 being demo'd at the British Music Fair in 1986 I'm that old! The weight of them was what put me off, as there were lighter cabs around. The quality that went into them was revolutionary at the time, with the graphic, pre-shaping and sheer volume - not to mention the green and black colour scheme set off by the UV light just looked great on a dark stage. I used a small 100watt GP7 1x15 combo throughout the 1990s along with a Status 6 string and loved the sound. I finally gave up the ghost on Trace after using one of their Series 6 2x10 combo valve hybrid amps and the weight just being too much for me. Still love the sound of Trace gear and always feel nostalgic when I see the Series 5 and 6 amps. Can't believe the second-hand prices nowadays compared to what they used to be.

Oh, by the way, they used to be manufactured in a place called Witham in Essex which I visited on more than one occasion for a service on these amps. They were superb there, with first class customer service too.

Thank you for that great insight. I have two other Trace amps, but this AH500X is by far the heaviest. Big, beat up and only working on one channel (originally a 2x500 watt amp) but monsterous sounding.

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Can't really figure out what that "Level" knob in the back of the amp is good for, never seen something like that

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1 hour ago, isteen said:

Can't really figure out what that "Level" knob in the back of the amp is good for, never seen something like that 

I think that was to adjust volume levels if you'd bi-amp'd your rig. Usually you'd have a cab for your higher frequencies and one for the lower frequencies. The levels could be adjusted by these knobs, which is a handy feature if you're on an exceptionally boomy stage, a simple flick and your lower frequency volume is lowered.

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19 minutes ago, WHUFC BASS said:

I think that was to adjust volume levels if you'd bi-amp'd your rig. Usually you'd have a cab for your higher frequencies and one for the lower frequencies. The levels could be adjusted by these knobs, which is a handy feature if you're on an exceptionally boomy stage, a simple flick and your lower frequency volume is lowered.

Isn't that what the "X" represented in the model name? A cross for crossover and therefore bi-ampable (is that a word?).

As stated above, TE gear was what just about everybody aspired to in the 1980s. When I got my first "proper" job I took out a bank loan and bought the obligatory stack - AH250, 1048 (4x10") and 1518 (1x15"). Unbelievably loud and capable of just about any tone. I was a lot younger and stronger in those days and usually managed the load in/out by carrying one cab in each hand. No way could I do that now!!

In the end (after at least 15 years of faultless service) I just wasn't playing often enough to justify storing something the size of a family wardrobe in the house, and down-sized. Do I regret it? When on stage, yes - but when it comes to loading in and out, definitely not! But if I had roadies... ;)

TE gear is available at really good prices at the moment, but this may not continue as the Class D/Neo bubble shows signs of bursting. Retro and cutting edge at the same time? Oh, and the UV light was the height of cool! :sun_bespectacled:

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I've recently picked up an series 6 AH200 for £100 and it is a beast, currently preferring it over my Genz 12.2, something i never thought id say, its heavy but i make up for it with 2 light weight genz 1x12's so best of both worlds! i might keep my eye out for a 500 now I've seen this thread!

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57 minutes ago, Conan said:

Isn't that what the "X" represented in the model name? A cross for crossover and therefore bi-ampable (is that a word?).

You are indeed correct and an amendment to my previous post, the level knob was fro the use with the Crossover faeture but rather than a volume control, it was for frequency adjustments.

I'm gassing for some TE gear now !!

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9 hours ago, Conan said:

As stated above, TE gear was what just about everybody aspired to in the 1980s. When I got my first "proper" job I took out a bank loan and bought the obligatory stack - AH250, 1048 (4x10") and 1518 (1x15"). Unbelievably loud and capable of just about any tone. I was a lot younger and stronger in those days and usually managed the load in/out by carrying one cab in each hand. No way could I do that now!!

 

I thought I recognised your username.  One cab in each hand?  It's Arnie !!!!   :o

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On 11/12/2018 at 11:56, Conan said:

1048 (4x10") and 1518 (1x15").

So it was 10" x 4 and 8 ohms, as well as 15" x 1 and 8 ohms. I remember a friend of mine had this 1818X monster (18" x 1 and 8 ohms but it also had a 10" "tweeter") with funny handles. Nobody could lift that alone without breaking back or something else sooner or later.

Oh those colors and UV-light... at least setting the amp had to be easy in a dark stage. I never had the chance to own one, but if it was any lighter... Another interesting unit was from Steve W. Rabe: Mo' Bass.

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as regards the weight, I've got two heads, a series 6 AH200 and a SMX GP12 AH 250, both without fans and an easy one handed lift (about 13Kg) our rehearsal studio has an AH600 which is bloody heavy.

My amps have never been lacking in volume so I would say get a lower output model, you've no need to worry about them not being loud enough

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I bought an AH500-7 about a year ago and, to be honest it’s a little bit overkill for my needs but it sounds fantastic, especially wity my sandberg . I’m a valve amp fanatic but this amp is a lovely contrast tonally. It’s heavy  but not awkward to carry. I like the idea that’s a genuinely British made amp. 

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All I ever wanted when I started playing bass in the early 80s was a big TE rig. A 15, a 4 X 10, and a glowing green lit head to reach up and plug into. The ultimate set up it seemed to me.

When I finally acquired my first Trace many years later it was a small 130w combo. It sounded every bit as good as I hoped it would and lasted me for years, but it wasn't the huge rig I'd fantasised and lusted for.

Fast forward to the present. My dream set up appears regularly in the for sale section here and on eBay and guess what? Now I can afford it I can't bloody lift it.

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1 hour ago, stewblack said:

All I ever wanted when I started playing bass in the early 80s was a big TE rig. A 15, a 4 X 10, and a glowing green lit head to reach up and plug into. The ultimate set up it seemed to me. 

Me too. That was the ultimate status symbol for a bass player back in the 1980s and when I finaly got one, it was like I'd made it. The weight was immaterial, knowing what I'd have on stage both looks and soundwise.

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1 hour ago, WHUFC BASS said:

Me too. That was the ultimate status symbol for a bass player back in the 1980s and when I finaly got one, it was like I'd made it. The weight was immaterial, knowing what I'd have on stage both looks and soundwise.

I use mine with a lightweight barefaced 2x10 and it sounds fantastic and it’s a nice tidy rig . I think it could blow the cabinet if I maxed out the head but I’ve never needed to go beyond 12 O’Clock 

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 ^^ I don't know how TE rate their amp sound-wise but they do underestimate their outputs, especailly on their 80s models. I defy anyone to tell me that the max output of an AH250 is 250 watts. They're much louder.

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2 hours ago, WHUFC BASS said:

 ^^ I don't know how TE rate their amp sound-wise but they do underestimate their outputs, especailly on their 80s models. I defy anyone to tell me that the max output of an AH250 is 250 watts. They're much louder.

There’s something about those MOSFET transistors  at the back end that really moves air around the lower frequencies. I’ve owned 500w class D amps before ...but the AH500 is a different beast altogether.

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There are probably more efficient heads out there today but I’m dubious as to their fixability or serviceability.

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15 minutes ago, Quilly said:

There are probably more efficient heads out there today but I’m dubious as to their fixability or serviceability.

I think Trace heads had "no user serviceable parts inside" which I think was a deterrent to stop people tinkering or trying to fix stuff themselves.

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3 hours ago, WHUFC BASS said:

I think Trace heads had "no user serviceable parts inside" which I think was a deterrent to stop people tinkering or trying to fix stuff themselves.

I've heard of people changing the MOSFET transistors etc.

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37 minutes ago, Quilly said:

I've heard of people changing the MOSFET transistors etc.

yep, I had them replaced in my GP12 SMX head last year, seems louder then ever now :)

Edited by PaulWarning
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