Everything has been said already. This head is remarkable due to its quality build and sound. With a good bass you can forget about using an EQ, you only need to use the preamp (which combines tube and solid-state technology) and the Contour to get an excellent sound.
Very interesting value for money, especially secondhand.
The only downside is its weight.
It's a hybrid amp.
Solid-state and tube peamp, solid-state power amp
2 pots for the preamp (tube and solid-state)
1 compressor pot
1 10-band EQ with On/Off switch
2 Contour pots (Low and High Pass)
1 Master/Volume pot
1 effects loop.
1 DI output with Pre/Post amplification switch
2 speaker outputs on 1/4" Jacks
There's a manual included, but the controls are simple and intuitive.
In the manual you can find setup examples, which is practical to start and find the right sound, because you can then fiddle with them a bit and find the desired sound.
The 10-band EQ is not very easy to understand in the beginning (I'm used to 3 bands only) and the bands are very sensitive, but you'll get used to it.
So you can easily find the sound you are looking for!
It's great for all styles of music.
I play mainly rock/punk. With a Fender Precision the sound is very twangy, it's exactly what I was looking for.
This amp has been used by other bassists playing different styles of music during gigs and they have all been very satisfied. This amp adapts perfectly, regardless of the music genre!
I was disappointed by something: The built-in compressor is not on par with the rest of the amp. Up to 2/3, there's almost no effect and if you go beyond 3, almost no sound comes out of the amp. It's a mere accessory (not necessarily indispensable), but given its quality, it's better not to use it. I actually opted to buy a compressor pedal.
It must be 8 months since I use this amp and I am not disappointed, on the contrary. It's great for small and big stages. For the time being, I haven't been able to crank the volume knob beyond 2 during gigs (otherwise it gets picked up by the PA).
Tested at higher volumes at home, I was able to notice some noise with the volume set to 5/6 but up to now I have never had the need to play that loud!
Before buying this amp, I had the opportunity to test other brands, like Ashdown, Ampeg and MarkBass, as well as other Hartke models. I chose this one because, in my opinion, it's the most versatile at this price point. It's the best value for money, even if you don't quite have the same sound as with an all-tube Ampeg.
Now that I'm used to playing with it, I would buy it again without hesitation. It's powerful and with a relatively decent price, you can go for it with your eyes closed!
Everything has been said already, so I'll sum it up quickly. Front panel: active/passive input - 2 preamp tube/solid-state - compressor - 10-band EQ - low/hi pass and master. Back panel: 2 speaker outputs - effects send-return (with balance) - DI output
This amp delivers 240 watts into 8Ω (350w max into 4Ω), rackable amp
Extremely simple to use. I bought a Hartke VX410 cab (but I'm thinking about buying a Hartke VX115 to get good subs). I have the manual but have never opened it. Very versatile amp in terms of sound, powerful enough to play with hard-hitting drummers. Very robust, it has been abused in all possible ways and I have used it outdoors under extreme conditions. I can play slap for hours with the volume cranked all the way up and a Metalcore. Besides 2 or 3 pots that crackle a bit, despite a thorough cleanup last year, I have had no big issues.
Simple and versatile
I've used it for 10 years. I have and still play with more powerful and better amps, but this one suits me better because I know my settings. If I had to buy an amp today, I'd buy the same, new or secondhand, since there's no big difference in price. But it is so sturdy that I wouldn't hesitate buying it used, after some tests, obviously.
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I purchased this head in 1991 from Musicians Friend for around $480
Sound, versatility, ease of use, and reliability is what makes me a Hartke fan. I play rock, from the classics right up to todays new music as well as some country and southern rock and this amp allowed me to dial in exactly the sound I wanted and quickly. This head has a solid state and tube preamp section. The solid state pre has a tremendous amount of mid bite. You can drive right through any guitar using this preamp. The tube preamp is smooth and warm with a characteristic scoop out of the mids. The compression works well to put a purcussion bite to each note. The bass and treble contours allow you make broad spectrum adjustments to your sound and the ten band graphic EQ allows you to fine tune tour tone. LOUD! This amp can handle it's own. Best make sure your speakers can handle the 350 watts this beast hammers out. Reliability can't be beat. If you take care of your gear, you'll get more than your monies worth from it.
I honestly can't think of a down side to this amp outside of the compression. If you are really picky about the compression then buy a seperate compressor.
I have gig'd hard with this amp for over 11 years and didn't have a single problem. This thing has run in every climatic environment you can think of and had never let me down. In fact, it still has the original tube in it and sounds as good as the day I bought it. Racking the head helps a great deal. It is important to isolate the head from cabinet vibrations a much as possible. I use a 2 inch thick piece of black foam.
Dollar for dollar, pound for pound, watt for watt, this is one fantastic head. Great sound, versatility, reliability, this one of the best investments in your rig that you will ever make. I don't think you will be disappointed.