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I want to buy some used Trace Elliot gear. What faults/signs of malfunction should I look for?


BELA
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Hello. I would like to buy an "old" TE amp or combo. This is the first time I will be buying used gear so I would be very grateful if you can give me some advice.

When I go to see and test the gear, is there any particular things to test or to look for to be sure that the gear is working fine?

The gear will probably be from the early/mid 90s so I am sure it wont probably be 100% perfect but...

 

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Switch on - expect a thump, but do all cones return to their 'resting' position'.

 

  • Is there excessive noise or mains hum?
  • Do all controls work? Mechanically and sonically. Expect a bit of noise when adjusting, especially linear graphic pots, but these usually improve with use/a bit of switch cleaner spray. If broken they can be expensive/difficult to replace.
  • Are all sockets OK?
  • If it has a fan, does it come on?
  • No broken fuse holders/power sockets etc. (although can be replaced).
  • Switch in the graphic, pre-shape etc. Does this change the sound.
  • A normal bass should light the LED by the gain control with it on about three-quarters when played hard.
  • Most important, can you play it at volume without unwanted/unpleasant distortion? A TE should be able to sound loud and clean.
  • Don't be alarmed if it has been repaired at some point over the years, this is not unusual.

Understand how a TE amp works, the gain should be set so it flickers on during louder passages. The volume will probably be set fairly low most of the time and still be loud. Pre-shape gives you the 'classic' scooped sound, and isn't as useful as you might expect for many styles. Parametric and graphic EQ work as you would expect.

 

 

When I bought my TE 1110 GP11 combo there were a few issues:

 

  • Knob missing - sorted thanks to a generous BC member.
  • Speakers had been replaced, one was wired out of phase. Easy to correct (swap wires over). Some might say the speakers used weren't the best choice, but I never found a problem.
  • When switched on, all the speakers jumped forwards by an offset (except the out of phase one which moved inwards!) This showed a DC offset caused by a matched pair of transistors going out of spec over the years. I was able to replace these, but if needed you could get a repair shop to do it for you.

 

There was also another matter related to it being a non-=standard PSU/power amp, but this was not a problem.


 

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13 minutes ago, Stub Mandrel said:

Switch on - expect a thump, but do all cones return to their 'resting' position'.

 

  • Is there excessive noise or mains hum?
  • Do all controls work? Mechanically and sonically. Expect a bit of noise when adjusting, especially linear graphic pots, but these usually improve with use/a bit of switch cleaner spray. If broken they can be expensive/difficult to replace.
  • Are all sockets OK?
  • If it has a fan, does it come on?
  • No broken fuse holders/power sockets etc. (although can be replaced).
  • Switch in the graphic, pre-shape etc. Does this change the sound.
  • A normal bass should light the LED by the gain control with it on about three-quarters when played hard.
  • Most important, can you play it at volume without unwanted/unpleasant distortion? A TE should be able to sound loud and clean.
  • Don't be alarmed if it has been repaired at some point over the years, this is not unusual.

Understand how a TE amp works, the gain should be set so it flickers on during louder passages. The volume will probably be set fairly low most of the time and still be loud. Pre-shape gives you the 'classic' scooped sound, and isn't as useful as you might expect for many styles. Parametric and graphic EQ work as you would expect.

 

 

When I bought my TE 1110 GP11 combo there were a few issues:

 

  • Knob missing - sorted thanks to a generous BC member.
  • Speakers had been replaced, one was wired out of phase. Easy to correct (swap wires over). Some might say the speakers used weren't the best choice, but I never found a problem.
  • When switched on, all the speakers jumped forwards by an offset (except the out of phase one which moved inwards!) This showed a DC offset caused by a matched pair of transistors going out of spec over the years. I was able to replace these, but if needed you could get a repair shop to do it for you.

 

There was also another matter related to it being a non-=standard PSU/power amp, but this was not a problem.


 

 

All good advice.  Especially the pre-set/eq in out buttons - notoriously the soldering fails and can be noisy to operate and even distort.  

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1 hour ago, Paul S said:

 

All good advice.  Especially the pre-set/eq in out buttons - notoriously the soldering fails and can be noisy to operate and even distort.  

It takes longer to take the board out than it does to fix this though.

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When you go to pick it up just have a look about. Is it being kept in a damp shed? Is there a knackered car on bricks in the driveway? Does it smell of cat pee? Do you think you will get out of there alive? 

 

Seriously, all the best advice has already been given. Just shop around, there's bargains to be had if you're patient. I snagged an excellent 2x10 combo with 12 band EQ, valve pre, loads of features in brand new condition a few months back. But I spent ages trawling eBay looking at stuff the rats had run out of bits to chew listed at £500 and more. 

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My 2p worth; (for heads and combos)

 

Power it up, all good?

If it's an SMX, set the input gain type to 100 % valve, turn the gain and volume up a fair bit and firmly slap the top of the amp.

 

Sounds silly,  but it'll help detect a microphonic 12AX7 in the input stage; there'll be a ringing sound. 

Similarly, any crackling or loss of hiss from the drivers from the unit apparently cutting out may be caused by the cables that carry the signal from the preamp module to the power amp working loose. They're only a push-fit.

 

Fixes? Replace the valve.  About £20max and 5 minutes' work. 

The cables? Solder them rather than rely on the push-fit connectors. 

 

This is derived from experience with my SMX and advice I received about it from Qualified Service Personnel and Ex Trace Staff.

 

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

I have just tested an Ah500x head and everything seemed to work fine, but I have to turn the gain control almost to full 100% to make the "ok" led light. I would say 9-9,5 in the 10 scale.

Is that normal or is it a sign that something is not working correctly?

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41 minutes ago, BELA said:

I have just tested an Ah500x head and everything seemed to work fine, but I have to turn the gain control almost to full 100% to make the "ok" led light. I would say 9-9,5 in the 10 scale.

Is that normal or is it a sign that something is not working correctly?


Sometimes that’s how it is.  The lights/indicators for the input gain dictate how far you turn it.  I’ve had/have lots of TE amps and between 8 and full to light the lights is not uncommon.

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59 minutes ago, BELA said:

I have just tested an Ah500x head and everything seemed to work fine, but I have to turn the gain control almost to full 100% to make the "ok" led light. I would say 9-9,5 in the 10 scale.

Is that normal or is it a sign that something is not working correctly?

Depends on the bass.

 

I had a passive Yamaha BB that needed 9 to get solid green

 

My Stagg active EUB sounded best when the input just flicked on the yellow and that took 7.

 

Kala UBass passive piezo, green on 7. Go figure.

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The not so good thing about my TE Series 6 is the set positions on both input and output level controls. If I set the input at a high level then a single click on the output jumps the volume enormously. Using a lower input setting (I never worry about the leds as long as it sounds okay)  gives the output level knob much finer control of volume.

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