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Microphone Month 3

Ampeg PF-500 500-Watt Portaflex Bass Head Reviews

3.5 stars based on 25 customer reviews
Questions about the Ampeg PF-500 500-Watt Portaflex Bass Head?

Questions about the Ampeg PF-500 500-Watt Portaflex Bass Head?

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  • Val Douglas
    from Rego Park, NY October 12, 2016Music Background:
    google it

    Great buy

    Such a great amplifier !! And I take it with me in a computer bag...weighs just 11 pounds..
    I'm impressed with the prompt service from Sweetwater and with their follow-up calls. Totally pleased.

  • David Moore
    from Nashville, TN November 28, 2015

    One Year Review

    I have an Ampeg Heritage 8/10, SCR-DI and a Fender Precision bass. I use this in church playing contemporary Christian. And can get vigorous at times. Beautiful tone once adjusted to ones desired effects. No problems at all filling the hall with rich full sound. I will eventually purchase a Heritage SCV amp. This (in my humble opinion) will make the perfect overall sound. I definitely recommend this amp until a top of the line is affordable.

  • Joe C
    from Boston, MA March 13, 2015Music Background:

    Plenty of Power

    I've used this for gigs ranging from small/medium bars to outdoor weddings and it was plenty loud enough. In addition to being loud it also has a very nice tone and the power really gives a full sound. I've played through a 60's B-15 before and that was cool but isn't as transportable as this one and the B-15 is only good up to a certain level before it goes into distortion. This one is definitely the choice if you have professional gigs or recording, especially bc of the options for routing you get with this one.

  • Jessie
    from Texas December 30, 2014Music Background:
    Live Sound, Recording

    Good Buy

    I've been playing on Ampeg for about 12 years now, and this is the 1st one I've bought for personal/studio use(used the 350 last time). Paired this with the pf-210 and this baby works wonders for stage. The tone just keeps warming up the longer you play on it.

    Would recommend this set-up to anyone looking for a serious bang for the buck.

  • Rex Romagnolo
    from Hayden, ID December 16, 2012Music Background:
    Pro Musician, Country/Classic Rock band


    When my GK RB-800 died after 22 years I was looking for something to replace it at a reasonable price. This is a great little amp with plenty of power to push my 4X10 GK cabinet even in the larger venues I play. The bottom end is a little richer than my GK much like the old SVT I used to use years ago. Tons of features that my GK had with the addition of a tuner out which lets me mute the volume while I tune. It packs up nicely with my pedals and cables in the Gator mixer bag I bought too. I highly recommend the PF-500 to anyone on a tight budget that need a quality bass amp.

  • Dave
    from Silver Spring, Md. November 5, 2012Music Background:

    AMPGE PF500 Portaflex Bass head

    This item will receive 5 Stars from me.
    Easy to use, Great Price, Tonewise Amazing. Great with the Lows, High & mids.
    Great looking, I love the fact that it has a Compressor which is Highly needed for my basses.
    This item is Highly Recommended, do not look anyelse....others are too expensive ...dificult to EQ....
    You may use this head with a two 8 ohms cabinets.... or a 4 ohms...the sound will be very Pure and Rich.
    For a 500 Watt head...Ampeg did its job. Very Strong but Most importantly Great Tone..!

  • Tom Kemp
    from Northern Virginia September 11, 2013Music Background:
    37+ years as Musician/Hobbyist, Bass Player, Recording Engineer and IT Pro

    I've only had this for a couple weeks, but am very pleased...

    Ok, so it doesn't blow away my classic SVT head and SVT PR-410HLF...but then it shouldn't...wasn't intended to. I purchased this as a a light-weight option for use in small clubs, in which I play Blues and Jazz, but also as a secondary amp for when I play loud metal...I love to split my signal...one clean...nothing between the bass and the SVT rig...the other for effects...I simply love the Ampeg tone. In that department...there is no question, this amp has that Ampeg sound! It has the capability of being loud, but sounds great at low levels as well. I coupled it with a TC Electronics RS112 200w cabinet for the smaller venues...42 total pounds...unbelievable!!

  • FrankieSmoove
    from Houston, TX January 2, 2017Music Background:
    35 Year Player

    Good Tone, Adequate Power, Some Issues

    I'ved owned this amp for 6 months. It's been gigged 4 times and used for practice about 4 hours per week. I run it at 3-4 gain and 7-8 volume into FOH with the XLR out for medium sized gig venues, both inside and out, using the PF 210 and 115 cabs. This setup provides sufficient stage volume. Much above 4 on the gain and a noticeable overdrive starts to kick in, not a bad thing, just not what I've needed so far. Nice to know it's there though. Very flexible tone control. I run the amp with the low boost on and the high boost off.

    I use a pedal compressor so I set the amp compressor to 0. I initially experienced the clipping/fault issues others have described, but using the pedal compressor I haven't had that problem. The onboard compressor seems to be very aggressive in it's operation. I also run the effects knob at 10 to get the full benefit of pedal compressor and other effects that I use.

    The only negative I've found is the volume knob has some crackle to it after sitting in one spot awhile and takes a few sweeps back and forth to go away. This is a factory refurbed unit so, hopefully, issues of premature death as others have reported were taken care of.

    Overall, I like this amp. I may eventually go with the PF-800 though to give me a little more headroom.

  • Customer
    from December 27, 2016

    Backup became my Main

    I have had this head since mid August did a outdoor gig with my SWR 350 head well it cut out I figured I blew a fuse. This never happened before but I always keep extras fuse so everything was good. I got to thinking let me buy another head as a backup so I got the Ampeg PF-500, well I liked the sound and the power so much the SWR became the backup. And I liked the price I payed my rig setup is a 2 10 inch speaker cab with a 15 bottom but sometimes I use a 18 bottom and i get a lot of umph out of it with 11th Ampeg PF-500 so I'm good

  • David Lin
    from Smithville, MO September 2, 2016Music Background:
    Artist, worship leader, production

    Solid bass head - solid price!

    I'm not a bass player, but I have a Ampeg SVT 350 Classic and a couple of 4x10 cabs. I produce a Christian music festival called Nehemiah Fest and run four stages. I backline the bass rigs on all the stages. I wanted another reliable bass head to be able to split my cabs between two of the stages. The Ampeg PF500 was in my price range and I couldn't be more pleased with the performance. It's much lighter than the other amp and sounds as good or better! I'm very pleased with the performance and will probably end up being the primary head when my band is playing!

  • Caroline Browning
    from CO August 19, 2016

    Plenty of power.

    I've used this head for 6 years I think, and the size/power ratio is fantastic. Tone is great, I can get everything I want out of it. Had one issue about a year in when it quit, fault light came on, in the middle of a show. Called the warranty number and since it wasn't related to overloading the amp, no problem with ohms with what I was running it to, they fixed it. Was a pain to take it to them a city away etc but overall can't complain. It's a great natural sounding amp, I run it through a 4x10 ampeg cab, and now am actually looking for something a little smaller to run it through. It's very quiet, fan is not noticeable, but when I recorded through it for the first time recently noticed that the mid and treble makes quite a hissing noise when everything else in your signal flow is silent. Definitely not noticeable when playing live though, even at low volumes.

  • Customer
    from Texas April 20, 2016

    Good amp head

    So far so good, the tone is great on the head. The other bass players are enjoying the bottom end and clarity of this head. I am giving it 4 stars, as I don't know the longevity yet. The Ampeg rep at Sweetwater said they have fixed the issues with reliability on the new PF-500 currently out. Time will tell. Great support from Kevin Spunde at Sweetwater. I paired the head with the PF-115LF, instead of the stow away cabinet. I wanted a ported cabinet to help transfer the lows better, as I'm not running through our system during worship.

  • Nick Skinner
    from Calistoga, CA September 17, 2015Music Background:
    Bass player, engineer

    One Sweet Head

    One Sweet Head

  • Joel Bence
    from Lansing, MI June 15, 2015Music Background:
    Professional Bass player

    Night after Night with a Caveat

    I purchased this amp about a year after its release from a local dealer. The first unit I used to drive a 4 ohm 410 and it started to cut out on me on the first gig. I tried to play another gig with it and it did the same thing again. I brought the amplifier back to the dealer and we bench tested the amplifier. At 8 ohms it would play fine, but at 4 ohms the distortion rose and the signal cut out. Bench power came out below advertised specs, 327w into 4 or 8 ohms before distortion rose to audible. Surprised by this I called Ampeg and they thought it shouldn't be the case so they shipped me a brand new one to exchange. No arguments at all.

    The new one would play a 4 ohm load as long as the volume was set low enough and the compressor was used. Some improvement, except I had to use a good deal of compression and the compressor is agressive in its attack/release/ratio settings I prefer relaxed attack and quicker release with a lower ratio. Any rate, the power output is the same or not perceivable different. It still rises quickly to the level of power amp distortion when anything more than 350w is asked from it.

    What I feel the weakness of this amplifier is: The PREAMP! I have been happy with this product using the power-amp IN line and simply using a VT-Bass DI as the preamp. I no longer have to worry about the cut outs, I no longer go into protection. I no longer have a quiet amp, the volume is improved due and the tone is so so much better.

    So if you can deal with the fact that this amplifier has its limits, then jump on board. My suggestion is to buy the PF-800 or the PF-350 and skip the 500. The 350 sounds better for lower volume gigs, and the PF-800 has the power to do the bigger shows without cut-outs. The PF-500 while it seems nice just doesn't have the preamp to make the 350w sing.

    If you like the preamp on the PF-500, can deal with only 350w before distortion, but want to stop the cut outs, purchase a high pass filter and filter out the sub sub lows. Your cabinet cannot reproduce them anyways, and the bass boost of the PF-500 offers no protection to adding extreme amounts of sub-lows. If the preamp of the PF-500 had a better designed high-pass the issue with protection and about 80% of the critical comments on the amp would be fixed or a mute point.

    But I have played over 450 shows with this amp.. so it's reliability can be high regardless of the reviews you have heard.

  • Mike G
    from Philly February 4, 2015Music Background:

    a really cool amp so far!

    This is a rad amp. I love the versatility I get. It's new so if I continue to love this I'll bump to a five star rating! Really though I can keep up the volume with my guitarist who uses a large 4x10 setup and Randall amp head. He's big, loud. But so am I!!!

  • Randy Rumrill
    from Danielson, CT April 25, 2014Music Background:
    Part Time Musician

    Good Portable Head

    I have been eyeing these since the press release 3yrs ago. I missed the Ampeg sound even though I have been very pleased with my current set up I play through now.(Another Mini Head Company)
    I decided to get one for a back-up seeing I am playing more these days. The first week it came in, I put it to the test in 8ohms at back to back gigs with the supporting Ampeg PHE115 Cab. One was a Benefit with other bands, whom used my amp so I was able to hear how it sounded in the mix...Very impressed. Even with a 10 piece horn section.
    It is light weight, portable, easy to use..very happy...It may even come to more gigs then just my practice and back-up amp.

    from Chicago, IL. USA September 27, 2014Music Background:
    hobbyist and session bassist.

    I have capacity to plug into a big PA show.

    I live in a clustered condo building and I have to cool it with the voiume. But I am satisfied with the 300 Watts that I get from having an 8 ohm rating on my cabinet. And like the title says, I have capacity to play a bigger venue. I'm happy with all the outlets in the back of the amp.

    If what I describe here sounds like what you have this might be the amp for you.

  • Andrew Paffendorf
    from San Diego, CA March 7, 2016

    Hit and Miss

    I too am running into the fault light issue. I play in the low to mid-range and if I pluck or push a little bit out of my bass, it shuts down. I now play in fear every time I get on the stage. The tone and portability are great and it has a DI port that works great, but I have to say I am overall dissatisfied with this amp. I am sure the folks at Sweetwater help me out...they have been great so far!

  • Charlie
    from Florida August 22, 2013

    It's a gamble

    I love the tone that I get out of this amp. I purchased this amp a year and a half ago and had no complaints. A lot of people commented on how cool the portaflex systems looked and how great my amp sounded.

    Unfortunately I started having problems with the amp two months ago. It cuts out randomly whenever it feels like cutting out. I read on several bass forums that many other people are having the same issue with this amp.

    Ampeg told me I could drive it to a repair center 4.5 hours away. I decided to mail it in to sweetwater for $50. I would have given this amp a 5-star review, but due to the problems I am having with it I gave it 2 stars.

    If you are willing to risk looking like an idiot when your amp cuts out during a gig (like me), and you are willing to pay for the amp to be shipped back to sweetwater, then definitely buy this amp.

  • Sam
    from Syosset, NY May 1, 2016

    Very Unpredictable

    As other people on this site have testified, the amp will cut out suddenly, if you happen to hit it a little too hard, it will do so at the worst time on stage. Or it might be ok. Very nerve racking when you're playing out. Not Ampeg's best, obviously.

  • Sam
    from Syosset, NY February 15, 2015Music Background:
    Bass Player

    Very Disappoinyinh

    The sound completely drops out at the slightest provocation. If you're playing quiet music, I guess it works, but any attempt at cranking it, even ever so slightly, makes the sound stop as the fault light comes on. What kind of an AMPEG is this?

  • Drew
    from December 26, 2016

    Two Years and its dead

    This was a great amp until it blew up. Right at the two year mark it blew. I had it repaired and it lasted another year. I won't be sinking any more money in this Chines piece of crap :(

  • rutmanis
    from La April 9, 2016Music Background:
    30 years playing and recording


    Great sound. Goes thermal at low volume and shuts off. Could've been great

  • eben
    from United States November 26, 2014

    Do Not Buy

    Had this unit for 2 years - just outside the Ampeg warranty (their usual is 5 year), fault light issue,

    Wouldn't recommend it, or at least would recommend it for a very short time.

  • WIlliam Evans
    from Double Oak, TX February 24, 2014Music Background:


    I got his for my son - mainly as a practice amp so he's never really gigged with it much. The unit died and a month before the warranty was up and AMPEG replaced it with a new unit. The replacement unit died in a similar way after six months. Blue fault light no fan. So no, I would not recommend this unit. Google "PF500 fault light" and see all hit you get. These units just are not worth the bother.

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