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Portaflex woes

 
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Nick
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Joined: 20 Apr 2006
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Location: Albany, NY

PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2015 2:16 am    Post subject: Portaflex woes Reply with quote

So a few weeks ago I ordered an Ampeg PF-500 Head. I've wanted the flip top setup since I learned about it and since joining the new band on bass I finally felt it was justified.

I got an "open box" from musicians friend for $260, then had to wait another week or so to order the cab for some stuff to sell on eBay. I let it warm up to room temp from being left out in the cold on my doorstep and played it just fine with headphones for a while. It looked brand new aside from the lack of original box and paperwork.

I had to buy the cab new, as I could only find deals on the 210 and not the 115 I wanted. With the savings on the head I decided it was still reasonable to buy it new.

So I hook it up to the cab, and if I want to play it beyond low (and I mean LOW) volumes, the "Fault" light will come on and the sound cuts off for several seconds before coming back. I can hear there is power there, plenty of headroom, but the louder I turn it up, the faster and more frequently it faults. Completely unusable. I tried disconnecting and using headphones again, and I can crank it to whatever just fine.

I called Ampeg, who suggested I return the head, however they didn't actually explain what the issue was. I'm just wondering why it faults putting out sound to the speaker and not headphones. The amp can't be running too hot, it'll do it even when I first turn it on.

Musicians Friend first offered to let me buy a new head for a $60 discount. When I called back after contacting Ampeg, I tried to do a little better, considering I paid full price for the cab. I had seen these on their site before for $350 each, so I was basically trying to get that price, paying $300 for the head. After being on hold for a bit, the customer service rep came back with a price of about $10 more than the open box model I bought for an upgrade to a new one.

Getting a deal I hadn't even asked for made me happy, but now I have to wait another week before having a complete rig and I'm still worried after all this it will end up being the cab after all.....does this even make any sense to anyone? All I know is it's the last time I'm going to buy any gear of this nature online, and if I get it sorted it's probably the last time I'll have to.
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Ankhanu
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2015 2:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Damn, that sucks.
But, I look forward to a review when it gets there... been really curious about that combo (though I'm more interested in the 210 than the 115... both would be ideal, though Wink )
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Nick
Y'SEE!?


Joined: 20 Apr 2006
Posts: 7979
Location: Albany, NY

PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2015 3:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah I was really hoping I could find the cabs locally and see which one I liked better, but nobody has them right now.

I decided on the 115 because almost everything I've read on talkbass about this series says the two cabs actually sound very similar, only that the 115 has a little more low end not present in the 210, with maybe the 210 being a little tighter in the high/mids but not really noticeable comparing them. I figure with all the midrange frequency controls on the PF500 it would be easier to boost the mids in the 115 than add lows to a 210 if that makes sense. Also the 115 weighs about 4lbs less than the 210 so that also helped influence my decision.

I dunno, a full stack would be kind of cool but I can't see myself needing that kind of power over the portability of having just the one cab.

Juan Alderete from The Mars Volta uses two full stacks like you're describing.


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Fakir Mustache
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2015 8:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've read some things on the internet about the new, by which I mean last 10 years, Ampeg solid-state heads, mostly reliability problems.

Have you seen this? '90s solid-state Ampeg
1990s Portaflex, may not be your cup of tea since it's only 100 watts, but looks cool.
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dezb1 wrote:
I only buy synths with mini keys as I like the shortscale synths.
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Nick
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Joined: 20 Apr 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2015 2:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've read about those issues too....I had assumed the open box on musicians friend was simply a returned model, however when the rep I talked to told me he was getting another shipment of "open box" heads if I wanted to exchange mine, I found out it was actually an Ampeg refurbished unit. I've learned as a consumer that "manufacturer refurbished" on any modern electronic products is just code for "might work, might not" so I have hopes my new head will be fine

I really still like the idea of this rig, but I do think I may try to find a cheap gk mb200 or similar to have as a backup down the road. While my pf500 is being exchanged I'm using my gk backline 100w 112 combo into the ampeg cab and it sounds way louder and deeper than the built in 12" speaker.
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Bacchus
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2015 2:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've read a lot about these in the last while too.

From what I gather, they have reliability issues out of the box, but I haven't read of anyone developing faults, so I think if you get a good one then it's a good one and you won't need a back up. It's weird that they are still having issues though. Would these open box ones just be all of unsold units from the first run where reliability was an issue?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts when you finally get it sorted.
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Fakir Mustache
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2015 4:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

it's funny, I personally had problems with the GK combo, the metal one with a 12", but I suppose the new ones could be better than the one I had in the '90s.

actually the same thing almost was happening: warning light would come on, amp would shut off, I would have to turn it off then back on to work.
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Nick
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 30, 2015 3:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So my return will take a couple more days to process, and I just got paid yesterday, so I called the guy I talked to at musiciansfriend back to order the new head.

First, he asks me if the price we agreed on was $284 (it wasn't, but it was still just $24 more than the open box one I got so I didn't care).

Then he put me on hold, came back 5 minutes later saying due to new policies out of his hands he can't discount things that far anymore under any circumstances. I asked him what the best he could do now was, and he said $335, which was $13 more than he offered me last week before I even asked for a deal.

I was then offered the same open box deal I bought, at the same price, which I wasn't having....I'm not buying that these new circuit based amps can actually be refurbished and I didn't want to gamble, even if they did agree to let one of their warehouse guys give it a good testing before shipping it off.

He told me he'd raise it up the chain and call me back. He called back 10 minutes later and I bought the amp for $269. Because I am scared to death of this one faulting out like the other did I bought the 2 year coverage plan on it.

A week ago I would have recommended Musiciansfriend to anyone based on how they took care of me when a purchase didn't work as planned. I was planning on ordering more from them. Now after this bait and switch I'm not so sure I ever want to give them another dime. Yeah it all worked out in the end but fuck, that is some shitty service.
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ekwatts
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 30, 2015 10:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Friend had the same issue. He had it replaced twice and eventually got his money back the third time, just couldn't be arsed with it. So it seems like a fairly consistent fault with that model. He ended up buying a Tiny Terror bass head I think.
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Nick
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2015 4:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote



New one arrived yesterday and I haven't been able to stop playing it for the most part. This one works and doesn't seem to have any issues-I'm not going to test things by setting it to all max or anything, but after a few hours with it and switching between this and my old amp I finally got the confidence to mount the head to the flip top.

I was expecting it to be MEGA LOUD compared to my Backline 112. It does have a bit more volume but much more clean headroom, mode depth, and a much more usable tonal palette. Can't wait to use it in a band setting; both my bands practice this weekend so I'll get to hear both myself and someone else play it.
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Nick
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2016 2:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok.....a year in. Amp is still working, however I went to record through the DI out yesterday and the output is all fucked. Buzzy clipping sound...gain and EQ affects it but not master volume, and there's no way to clean up the signal. TBH the last time I gigged with it and ran DI was last summer so who knows how long it's been borked.

Luckily I got the 2 year warranty through musicians friend with it so I should be taken care of, but seriously this is some shoddy gear, and really not worth the money for how cool it looks.
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Fakir Mustache
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2016 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You have to really lower the input volume to your computer if you want to record it, computers are weird. There are probably several sets of settings, at least one for the computer and one for the program.
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dezb1 wrote:
I only buy synths with mini keys as I like the shortscale synths.
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Nick
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2016 3:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I mean I tried just about every setting. IIRC the master volume used to work on the DI now the sound is farty even if it's not clipping on either the amp or interface. In fact I know I've recorded through DI before with the very same setup and never had a problem. Something is busted.
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