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Inconsistent Quality + Cheap Components = Deal Killer
on January 4, 2013
I bought an Ampeg BA-115 combo several years ago when I first start playing bass and really liked the tone. So when I wanted to move up to an amp head and separate cabinet I naturally went with another Ampeg. I bought an Ampeg Heritage SVT-810E speaker cabinet, which is the "assembled is USA" version, and the Chinese made PF-500 amp.
I liked the tone of the PF-500 just fine but that was about all I liked. I couldn't help but notice the fan runs all the time and is noisy. If you'll be playing with the amp well away from you at a gig it won't bother you. But in the quiet of my practice area, which is where I spend most of my time playing, a noisy fan running all the time is annoying. I keep the volume turned down so low there shouldn't be any need for the fan to run if it was thermostatically controlled.
With the first one of these I received, the power section went out within roughly 1 hour of play. I heard a popping sound and from then on I could get sound from the preamp but no output at the speaker jack. I was keeping the volume set about as low as it could go--around 2 or 3. The gain was also turned down to around 4.
I figured it was a fluke when that one went bad on me so I had another one shipped. The second one I got lasted around 2 hours and that one just died completely. I was jamming along and POOF. Nothing. Man that ticked me off! I'm pretty sure the power supply failed that time. There was no way I was going to try a third one.
I'm actually glad about what happened. I ended up buying a Gallien Krueger MB200 which was nearly half the price. The sound was different than the Ampeg but the more I played it the more I liked it. Ampeg's solid state amps have more of an artificially colored tone whereas the MB200 is very transparent. I find I prefer the more transparent tone. The MB200 has a small thermostatically controlled fan that so far I've never even heard running. IF it ever runs I can't hear it. I've had no problems with it whatsoever and I've had it since December 2011. It's amazing how much sound comes out of an amp so tiny it can almost fit in your pocket!
It's unfortunate that the quality of Ampeg gear has plummeted in recent years. As far as I'm concerned the PF-500 is constructed of absolutely substandard components. I buy gear that will last. You can't trust this particular amp to hold up. I've noticed in the forums there are quite a number of people who are unsatisfied like I was with the inconsistent quality of current Ampeg amps.
So the choice is you can either buy a vintage US made Ampeg amp if that's the sound you're after, which I wasn't interested in, or you can look to other manufacturers who have more consistent quality. The Gallien Krueger worked for me but there are plenty of other choices.