Ashdown woes

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MattBansheeMattBanshee Frets: 350
Last week I bought a second-hand Ashdown Little Giant 350W on eBay for £130+ shipping. I'd been looking to upgrade my Behringer 300W head for a while, and liked the idea of a mini head that was easy to take to rehearsal studios. I saw mixed reviews of the LG350 (mostly relating to it being quite quiet) but the price was right so I took the plunge.

It arrived, plugged it into my Marshall 1x15 (250w 8ohm) and was impressed with the tone shaping, but it definitely was really quiet and it all seemed to relate to the preamp - with gain all the way up, my Fender Jazz was hardly getting the VU to react, let alone give much movement. A compressor pedal helped sort that out though.

Fast forward to tonight and I'm in a decent rehearsal studio playing bass with a new band. There's a stack of Ashdown Mag cabs there, so I plug both speakers into my Little Giant. The preamp thing is still a bit of an issue but there was still plenty of output volume to keep up with the band, running at 60-70% output volume. Happily playing away and all of a sudden the output rapidly nosedives and cuts out completely. The VU is still responding though so it's getting a signal, just not putting anything out.

I switch off, check the speaker connections (it'd be odd for both to go anyway) and turn on - still no output. I have a fiddle around again; it's feeling warm but not too hot to touch, and the fan hasn't kicked in at all. I plug the studio's Mag head in to check the speakers and all is working. Plug the LG back in and it's working again, phew! Carry on jamming, 20 mins and the output goes again. At this point I unplugged it and carried on with the studio's head for the rest of the session. At packing up time I gave the LG one more try, and it's back working again.

Got home and googled it - apparently overheating and fan failure is a common issue with this amp, causing the symptoms I'd experienced. Apparently the fan is supposed to briefly spin on powering the amp up to show that it works - mine is not doing that, so I imagine that, without the fan running, the amp just can't handle being pushed into higher volumes. I've requested a refund from the seller (the listing said "perfect working order" and unfortunately it isn't) but it's a real shame as I actually really quite liked how it sounds!
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 1489
    The ALG had a reputation for fragility. 

    Out of interest, what was the combined impedance of the Ashdown cabinet array at your rehearsal venue?
    I fear the Geeks, even when they bear GIFs.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 26316
    Ashdown are the most unreliable major amp brand I know of. Hopefully you can get your money back, and then don't buy another one.

    The Behringer is a much better amp actually. Far better engineered.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • JezWyndJezWynd Frets: 1683
    Does the VU meter on their kit have any useful function?
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  • MattBansheeMattBanshee Frets: 350
    The ALG had a reputation for fragility. 

    Out of interest, what was the combined impedance of the Ashdown cabinet array at your rehearsal venue?
    2x 8ohm in parallel = 4ohm, the quoted minimum impedance on the amp
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 26316
    JezWynd said:
    Does the VU meter on their kit have any useful function?
    It shows you which of the spare amps you have on stage are not yet turned on, so you can easily see which one to swap to when the first one dies.

    Look at the stage setup for any Ashdown endorsee...
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • MattBansheeMattBanshee Frets: 350
    JezWynd said:
    Does the VU meter on their kit have any useful function?
    It's pretty useful for someone like me who has active and passive basses with wildly different outputs; means I can tweak the gain when changing basses to make sure I don't get unwanted clipping
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  • MattBansheeMattBanshee Frets: 350
    Seller has promptly and graciously agreed to accept the return of the amp and refund in full (through eBay's resolution centre), so that's good news. 

    What alternatives would people recommend? How about the Ampeg PF350 or TC Electronics 250W mini head?
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 26316

    What alternatives would people recommend? How about the Ampeg PF350 or TC Electronics 250W mini head?
    The TC isn't great either in my experience. I haven't seen a PF series Ampeg yet - most of their solid-state gear is pretty robust though. I've got one of those little Micro VRs, which looks like a toy, but is actually quite a serious amp. Not sure it will be loud enough into an 8-ohm cab if you've been used to a 300W amp though.

    MarkBass gear is excellent - the Little Mark head is probably the most common. I've never seen a dead one of those either.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • MattBansheeMattBanshee Frets: 350
    ICBM said:
    JezWynd said:
    Does the VU meter on their kit have any useful function?
    It shows you which of the spare amps you have on stage are not yet turned on, so you can easily see which one to swap to when the first one dies.

    Look at the stage setup for any Ashdown endorsee...
    That would assume that the VU meters actually work though. Pretty much every Mag series I've used with the manual VU needle has either a faulty backlight, or doesn't work at all.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 26316
    MattBanshee said:

    That would assume that the VU meters actually work though. Pretty much every Mag series I've used with the manual VU needle has either a faulty backlight, or doesn't work at all.
    True!

    Actually some of the cheap Electric Blue series have a row of LEDs instead, and surprisingly they are also some of the least unreliable Ashdowns overall too. Apart from blown speakers, anyway...
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • MattBansheeMattBanshee Frets: 350
    edited August 16
    ICBM said:

    What alternatives would people recommend? How about the Ampeg PF350 or TC Electronics 250W mini head?
    The TC isn't great either in my experience. I haven't seen a PF series Ampeg yet - most of their solid-state gear is pretty robust though. I've got one of those little Micro VRs, which looks like a toy, but is actually quite a serious amp. Not sure it will be loud enough into an 8-ohm cab if you've been used to a 300W amp though.

    MarkBass gear is excellent - the Little Mark head is probably the most common. I've never seen a dead one of those either.
    I was looking at the PF350 because they're £249 on Amazon Prime at the moment, which is cheaper than guitar shops, free next day delivery (with hassle-free returns) and I have a £20 credit. Also, it quotes 350W at 4ohms and 250W at 8, which would fit my 250W 1x15 perfectly for small gigs etc, whilst hopefully still chucking out enough volume.

    Edit: noticed it also has a little aux in socket and headphones out, and can be run without a speaker load, which makes it super useful for practising at home.
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  • MattBansheeMattBanshee Frets: 350
    In fact, it seems that the PF350 has an identical preamp to the Mini SVT, just a bigger output section.
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  • JezWyndJezWynd Frets: 1683
    ICBM said:

    What alternatives would people recommend? How about the Ampeg PF350 or TC Electronics 250W mini head?
    The TC isn't great either in my experience. I haven't seen a PF series Ampeg yet - most of their solid-state gear is pretty robust though. I've got one of those little Micro VRs, which looks like a toy, but is actually quite a serious amp. Not sure it will be loud enough into an 8-ohm cab if you've been used to a 300W amp though.

    MarkBass gear is excellent - the Little Mark head is probably the most common. I've never seen a dead one of those either.
    I was looking at the PF350 because they're £249 on Amazon Prime at the moment, which is cheaper than guitar shops, free next day delivery (with hassle-free returns) and I have a £20 credit. Also, it quotes 350W at 4ohms and 250W at 8, which would fit my 250W 1x15 perfectly for small gigs etc, whilst hopefully still chucking out enough volume.

    Edit: noticed it also has a little aux in socket and headphones out, and can be run without a speaker load, which makes it super useful for practising at home.
    That's a great deal. Esp as Amazon returns are so easy.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 26316
    That is a good deal.

    What speaker does the Marshall cab have? If it's the old Celestion Sidewinder, 250W into it is safe - if it's anything else (especially not a Celestion) be more careful... although as long as you don't audibly overdrive the speaker it should be OK. There's a reasonable chance the amp might not quite put out as much 250W at 8 ohms either, sometimes the de-rated output is a bit of a guess… it could be as low as 175W in theory, although I would expect somewhere between 200 and 250.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • MattBansheeMattBanshee Frets: 350
    ICBM said:
    That is a good deal.

    What speaker does the Marshall cab have? If it's the old Celestion Sidewinder, 250W into it is safe - if it's anything else (especially not a Celestion) be more careful... although as long as you don't audibly overdrive the speaker it should be OK. There's a reasonable chance the amp might not quite put out as much 250W at 8 ohms either, sometimes the de-rated output is a bit of a guess… it could be as low as 175W in theory, although I would expect somewhere between 200 and 250.
    It's the sidewinder
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 26316
    MattBanshee said:

    It's the sidewinder
    An even better buy for £50 then :). I wouldn't have any fear of running a 250W amp into it.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 1489
    ICBM said:
    The TC isn't great either in my experience. 
    Presumably, you mean the red BH series with the Toneprint effects business.

    I have the older Staccato '51 and Classic 450 heads. The only problems these ever had were due to pilot error.
    I fear the Geeks, even when they bear GIFs.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 26316
    ICBM said:
    The TC isn't great either in my experience. 
    Presumably, you mean the red BH series with the Toneprint effects business.

    I have the older Staccato '51 and Classic 450 heads. The only problems these ever had were due to pilot error.
    Yes - I've never even seen one of those. Several dead BH250s though...
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • MattBansheeMattBanshee Frets: 350
    Any thoughts on the Eden mini? Only 260W but Andertons chucking them out at 200 quid...

    https://www.andertons.co.uk/p/WTX264/bass-amp-heads/eden-wtx264-260w-mini-bass-amp-head
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  • MattBansheeMattBanshee Frets: 350
    Update - Ashdown returned and full refund obtained. I have now used the money to get an Ampeg PF350 head from eBay (described as excellent condition) for £170, so hopefully that will do the job better than the Ashdown.
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  • BorkBork Frets: 79
    Ashdown stuff made in China has had a number of QC issues over the years from the Superfly head onwards.

    I run two Genz Benz Shuttle heads, they use PCB power modules by B&O.  I had one spark out on me in a major way (melted PCB and tracks) last year.  BUT I bagged an identical power module on Ebay and it was literally unplug and swap. Couldn't have been easier.  There's a lot to be said for amps with after market replacement modules made by third parties.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 26316
    edited August 31
    Bork said:
    Ashdown stuff made in China has had a number of QC issues over the years from the Superfly head onwards.
    *All* Ashdown stuff has quality issues - in fact, the UK-made stuff is no better and may even be slightly worse. The Superfly is just more than usually poor .

    Bork said:

    There's a lot to be said for amps with after market replacement modules made by third parties.
    Assuming the third party doesn't stop making the modules, leaving your amp unrepairable even by the manufacturer…
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • BorkBork Frets: 79
    Yeah but this is the risk we all run with any amp and the lack of availability doesn't always mean something can't be fixed as you well know. 

     I was just pointing that it was nice to have something that was easy to fix.

    In any case, the amp is no longer available but the power module is still available on ebay.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 26316
    Bork said:
    Yeah but this is the risk we all run with any amp and the lack of availability doesn't always mean something can't be fixed as you well know.
    It does if it's a proprietary Class D power section or a switch-mode power supply, usually. Or at least if not impossible, then uneconomically difficult.

    It does not apply to any amp, at all - to be fair, the older Ashdowns do have one advantage despite their unreliability... they use standard discrete components and are easy to work on.

    Bork said:

    In any case, the amp is no longer available but the power module is still available on ebay.
    Until they run out.

    I wasn't specifically referring to the Genz Benz - just that it's a really bad idea to base a design on a complex sub-assembly which can't easily (or effectively at all, in some cases) be repaired at component level.

    Unfortunately this is becoming quite a serious issue in the repair business…
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • BorkBork Frets: 79
    Well, I'm quite pleased that there was an easy to replace part given the nearest amp repairman is about 1000km away and in a different economic territory. The last repair they did was both expensive and didn't work - I had to pay duty when they returned the item, too.
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