It is not the loud brand name that should define whether you purchase the product or not, it is the characteristics of product itself. Trace Elliot`s amplifiers are exactly the case. Although they are not widely known, their quality is great.
The History of Trace Elliot
Although the brand was founded not so much time ago, in 1979, it had had rough times. Everything started with a small shop, the owners of which decided to start manufacturing some audio equipment by themselves.
Things had been going great first, so even Trace Acoustic – the child company producing musical instruments was growing. However, due to the fact, that company was changing directors often, it was not developing smoothly.
In 1998 Trace Elliot was purchased by an American Company Gibson Guitar Corporation. In 2002 the factory was closed until 2005, when Peavey Electronics re-purchased the brand. With a powerful parent like this, Trace Elliot returned back to the powerful state. A set of ELF amplifiers was released. We`ll mainly talk about Trace Elliot ELF 1*10, but I`ll mention other products as well.
- Check out Trace Elliot website: https://www.traceelliot.com/
- Follow on Twitter: https://twitter.com/traceelliotamps
The first thing that should always be known about any piece of musical equipment is its` size, weight and the material it is made of. This information helps a lot with planning the studio and making overall impression about durability and convenience.
Trace Elliot ELF 1*10 weighs 20 pounds (it is slightly more than nine kilograms). Amplifiers weighing this much are related to the group of highly portable and compact amplifiers. It is possible to carry it around just by hands, without using any extra equipment.
This amplifier is 17*17*19 inches (which is 432 *432 * 483 in millimeters). There are two conclusions to be made out of this information. The first one is that Trace Elliot ELF is a rather small device (small for an amplifier). The second is that it has cubic form. Cubic amplifiers are much more convenient in terms of stacking and transportation, than rectangular ones.
The manufacturers claim, that this device has a durable cab. Well, it really is. The sides are made of solid painted wood (paint protects from scratches and sun a little). Front-side, where the speaker is, is covered with thick metallic grille. There is a handle on top as well, to make carrying easier.
The first impression tells me, that this amplifier is a worthy one. Let us proceed to looking at technical features. Here are the most significant of them:
Dual combined input jacks
The jacks are SpeakOn/phono, so that it is possible to connect either one or two guitars, a guitar and a mic or a computer. The amplifier can serve multiple purposes, and be suitable for performances of duos.
Baffle serves technical purposes more, but the construction is performed in such way, that it changes resonance a little. These changes are positive, they make sound a bit louder and brighter.
Although you do not pay much attention to things as cradle first, you start appreciating them later on. The built-in cradle in this one will make the convenience of working process much higher.
This amplifier doesn`t have tones of modern electric stuff inside, it is surprisingly powerful and well-working. Let me tell you several words about the sound test.
“It is really important to have a convenient setup for playing and recording any kind of music. I`ve seen a lot of beginners, who had tones of equipment, that they couldn`t handle, place or even carry properly. Usually, setting things up took them so much time and energy, that they were exhausted even before starting to play.” —George, 28, Producer
The Sound Test
Although the price of this one is not so high, it is rather powerful (300 watt). Therefore I expected powerful sound. Well, I got that.
- Loud sound and great volume
Although single 10’’ speaker might seem not enough for providing a lot of power, this is not the case. The amplification level is high, the volume of produced sound is full. I would probably rate these two parameters as 8 out of 10.
- Rather clean sound
Well, I am saying that this rather an advantage, because mids and lows are OK. However highs and lows could have been better. But keeping the fact, that this thing is a budget one, in mind makes it possible for me to say, that sound produced by Trace Elliot Elf is good.
- Lack of adjust-ability
There are only the basic parameters to adjust. It is enough for a beginner, but any player looking for development would probably want more tuning.
- Lack of built-in functions
It is probably just me, but I already got used to built-in reverberation and delay in other amplifiers. Especially after testing other models with up to nine built-in functions, Trace Elliot ELF 1*10’’ felt a little bit empty.
Summing things up, I can say that this amplifier does exactly what it has to do, but nothing more. It produces clean and loud sound, however if you want to add spiciness to the sound, you`ll need to use extra equipment.
“Adding a lot of effects to the sound is not always necessary. In fact, I think, that whether you are a beginner or a professional player, you do not really need them. I mean the beginners want to be able to hear all the mistakes, and the experienced ones want to show how high their skill of playing guitar is. And there is always a possibility to add as much effects as you want on recorded sound, so I don`t think that an amplifier needs stuff of that kind built-in.” —John, 26, Guitarist
- Light weight and compact size
- Loud sound and great volume
- Clean sound
- Lack of adjust-ability and built-in functions
More Trace Elliot Products
In fact Trace Elliot has more devices, that can be used in combination to make the efficiency really high. Here are some of them:
- The Amplifiers
While 1*10’’ is supposed to be the universal decision, other amplifiers will meet some special requirements.
ELF Ultra Compact Bass Amplifier
Even though the word “ultra-compact” must mean something, I was still surprised when I saw this one. It only weighs a pound and a half (less than a kilogram) and can easily fit in a pocket. The dimensions of this device are 6.8’’ * 4.1’’ * 1.4’’ (which is 17.1 * 10.4 * 3.4 in millimeters).
Even being this small, Ultra Compact Bass Amp is still powerful enough and is perfect for travelers and simply the ones, who prefer having an amp with all the time in case of unexpected inspiration.
- Good tone control
- Loud enough
- Powerful and versatile
- Lack of power for the stage
Trace Elliot 2*8’’ Cab
2*8’’ cab can both be used as a single amplifier and as a double one. The device provides a wide variety of choice. It can either be a more compact version of 1*10’’ amplifier or a more powerful one.
Well, as you can see Trace Elliot produces amplifiers for all sorts of situations. Engineers made sure that independent on what type of player you are, you`ll find a suitable device on market.
- Can both be used as a single amplifier and as a double one
- Lightweight package
- Full-range bass reproduction
- No cons, pros reviews only
Remember: As you probably still remember, I mentioned that Trace Elliot ELF 1*10’’ lacks adjust-ability a lot. There are two separate transits from the same company for deciding this problem (honestly, it looks like a marketing move to me, which is not so nice to the users).
Trace Elliot Transits
There are two transits. As if developers lacked fantasy, the device are named simply A and B. They have the following features:
Transit A Acoustic Preamp
- Built in compression, notch filter, pre-shape and EQ band controls.
- Back-lit control becomes the chromatic tuner for accurate tuning.
- Customize delay settings with level, feedback and tap-tempo.
- Pre and post XLR balanced, dry, and headphone outputs for live coverage.
- Can be useful if you are beginner
- Effects as reverb and delay will hide many mistakes
- The unit itself in very heavy.
- The knobs are small and hard to read
As you can see part A of the transit is devotes to adding different effects to the sound. This can be useful if you are beginner and want to perform in front of public. Effects as reverb and delay will hide many mistakes. That also a nice option if you are recording something, and want to make your records sound unique.
Transit B Acoustic Preamp
Part B is mostly devoted to mastering the sound. Such things as compression and equalization help improving the sound a lot.
- Compression and equalization help improving the sound a lot
- Drive with blend control and built-in bass enhancement add to the tonal options available
- Easy to use and easy to tweak
- There is a lot of amplifiers, even in the lower price, that have all the built-in options
Remember: Although transits look really stylish (they are really beautiful) and fulfill their mission completely, I do not think, that it was a good idea to produce them. On one hand, it is rather convenient. If you are completely new – you do not pay extra money for what you do not need. On the other – it is just taking extra money from your pocket.
There is a lot of amplifiers, even in the lower price, that have all the built-in options. Here is one of them:
Harthe HA 2500 Bass Amplifier
It is an amplifier that weighs 22 pounds (around 8 kilograms) and has dimensions similar to what Trace Elliot Elf 1*10’’ has. It works at 250 Watt at 4 ohm or 350 Watt at 8 ohm. It is powerful and loud enough.
The amplifier has built-in preamps and tube emulation. These things are really basic but help a lot with sound designing.
Another important thing is that Harthe HA 2500 has a metallic body of rectangular shape. Although it is not the most comfortable material to carry by hands, the transportation features are outstanding. This amplifier is easy to fit in a big backpack or in any road bag.
- Loud sound and great volume
- Clean sound
- Has built-in preamps and tube emulation
- Easy to fit in a big backpack or in any road bag
- It is not the most comfortable to carry by hands
Of course, products of Trace Elliot have their advantages as well. So, if you are looking for exactly the device that amplifies the sound, Elf 1*10’’ is your choice. Later on, if you are satisfied, you have an option to upgrade. However, if I were the person, who is tight on budget, I would rather buy an amplifier, that has all the features built-in.
Finally, do not forget to spend a lot of practicing, if you are a new player. It is much more important than spending a lot of time choosing equipment.
“I`ve seen a lot of fresh players, all making the same mistake. They are wasting days and weeks in the shops, looking at expensive equipment an thinking about how great they will sound, if they have it. However, it is not the amplifier or cool guitar, that make the sound great. It is the skill of the player. The thing is that almost all the budget equipment sounds pretty much the same. I mean that it is hard to feel the difference between two amplifiers in the same price range, unless you are a professional. Therefore my advice is to devote a lot of time to the process of playing, and maybe, save up some money for better devices.” —Franklin, 32, Guitar Teacher
To finish this article, I`ll tell the most important things about this amplifier. So that if you want to get back to Trace Elliot ELF 1*10’’.
- Although Trace Elliot company had had rough times, the situation has stabilized now. Mighty parent Peavey Electronics sponsors the inventions and controls their quality.
- Trace Elliot ELF is a compact and durable sound amplifier, that has a convenient cubic form and built-in handle.
- It provides nice sound, but lacks adjustability.
- 1*10’’ is not the only model in the ELF series, there are other ones, that 1*10’’ can be combined with.
With being said I finish this review. Remember to practice a lot. Good luck in your training.