Piggyback Review

manufacturer: Hartke date: 02/18/2011 category: Guitar Amplifiers

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Hartke: Piggyback
The Piggyback will blow the doors off a guitar rig twice its size. The amp is a compact 2-channel powerhouse with 60 Watts, 2-channels, a classic 12AX7 tube pre-amp section and tons of tone control.
 Sound: 9.3
 Overall Impression: 9.3
 Reliability & Durability: 9
 Features: 8.7
 Overall rating:
 Reviewer rating:
 Users rating:
reviews (3) 7 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 8.5
Piggyback Reviewed by: thom_92, on july 05, 2008
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Price paid: € 300

Purchased from: The House Of Music

Features: The Hartke Piggyback is a 6o watt tube mini stack. It has two channels and a channel Switch. Channel one actually uses the tube, whereas channel two doesn't. There are different effects for both channels, channel one has crunch (distortion), volume, bass and treble; channel two has gain, volume, mid, bass, treble. The amplifier alos has reverb, which effects both channels. The 60 watt amp and the 4 8-inch speakers provide enough power to play on stage. The amp is easy to move around, because it has wheels and handles. The Hartke Piggyback also has a headphone jack and a CD input jack, so you can play along with a CD-player. I never use the last feature, but it sounds ok. The amplifier has a little plastic window in it through wich you can see the tube, it glows when the amp is on. I guess this enables you, when it breaks down, to see if it's the tube or something else. // 9

Sound: I use this amp mostly for playing styles like jazz, funk and soul, but it also sounds good when playing blues/rock, my guitar is a London City hurricane II (a PRS look-alike). The sound is great, it has a really clear sound, even on high volumes. The amp is very versatile, you can create a lot of sounds with it, ranging from smooth jazzy sounds to heavy distortion. Channel one has a bit of background noise, which I think comes from the tube, since channel two has no background noise whatsoever. But, despite the background noise, channel one is still great because the tube gives a really warm sound. Tha amp has two types of distortion: the crunch on channel one and the gain on channel two. The crunch gives a very fuzzy sound; it mostly distorts the high tones. The gain on channel two gives a heavier distortion, but not heavy enough to play something like metal (which I don't mind since I never play metal). // 9

Reliability & Durability: I have had this amp for half a jear now, and so far I haven't had any problems at all. But if something would break during a gig (like the tube or a speaker), there is a good chance you could just play on because if the tube breaks, you still have channel two, and if a spreaker breaks, you still have trhee others left. The outside of the amp is pretty sturdy, the angles are renforced with thick plastic. However I doubt it would still work when it would fall, but I'm not going to try that out for you. // 7

Overall Impression: The Hartke Piggyback is a versatile amplifier, best used when playing jazz or blues. It has a great sound for just 300 euros, so if it was stolen I would defenitely buy it again. What I love most about this amp is the warm sound that the tube gives. And besides the great sound, it also looks really good. // 9

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overall: 9.3
Piggyback Reviewed by: unregistered, on january 21, 2011
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: £ 280

Purchased from: LookAt.com

Features: I'm not entirely sure when this amp was made, though I've seen posters on ebay dated 1994, so it isn't exactly new. So, features a 12AX7 front end (which you can see through the window on the front, no idea how to get in to replace it if needed though), "crunch" and volume. Easy enough to get some nice sounds there. The clean is very clean (near Fender sort of clean), but this amp really shines with distortion. Turn the crunch to around 3, you can go from clean to mild overdrive just by picking a little harder. Up around 6 or 7, there's more still, yet the sound remains well defined. Turned all the way up, it becomes more of a fuzzy sound. Not my thing, but someone out there must like it. The Bass and Treble controls sum to a flat response, and it's here that (for me) it lost a mark. I would've preferred it if the turned the bass and treble up and down, and left the mid alone. That way, turn the bass and treble up, you can get the scooped mid sound of modern metal. However, here, you turn them up, it just gets louder. It's only minor, and channel 2 does have a mid control, but it's something. The spring reverb, while quite nice in itself, lacks volume you'd want for things such as the guitar solo in You Do Something To Me by Paul Weller. It lost another point here due to that. Leave the 'verb around 2 and forget about it. It'll fill in the sound a bit, add some depth. You know what I mean. It lost another point here due to that. Channel 2 is my selected distorted channel, due to the inclusion of a midrange control. Turned the mid up (as they suggest in the manual, to get the Back in Black sound), gives the Back in Black sound. Those 3 opening chords sound very close to the original, especially if you use humbuckers. There's also a CD player in (covered a bit more in the next section), and effects loop, and channel switching footswitch, which defeats the button on the amp. 60w is certainly enough for a medium gig (decent sized auditorium), but I haven't tried micing it up just yet. So, 8/10. Just remembered. It has wheels. Makes it so much easier to move it around on stage. The whole thing doesn't weigh a lot, so it's easy enough for a teenager like me to carry it around. // 8

Sound: I have 2 guitars, one with dual humbuckers, one with 2 single coils and a bridge 'bucker. Given the neck or middle single coil pick-up, you can get lovely clean sounds (think Fender and you're somewhere near). Can be a little bass heavy on the neck pickup, but throw in some crunch on Ch.1, and you can get chunky, rhythm sounds. Flick the Switch to the bridge humbucker, turn the gain up further and power chords and solos really come to life. On to Ch.2... With the gain on around 6, back the treble off a little and boost the mid (6 or 7), you can get near the sounds of the power chords in Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me by U2. Bringing the treble up to level again, drop the gain to ~5, and there's the Back in Black sound. In my band, we have no bassist, so there's extra demand on me to fill in the lower regions (during, say, Misery Business by Paramore). I had the bass turned up all the way on the multi effects and my old amp, and it died a death (took about an hour between smells starting, to the amp saying enough's enough). Anyway, the low end from this amp will be plenty, even for the drop C sharp tuning, where I play palm muted power chords with a little distortion for the verses. There's no shortage of low-end punch. The distortion is also fine for the solo later on, without needing to Switch channels. Currently, I'm using it in my bedroom, 4ft from my PC. The reverb hums (turning it past 2 makes it more obvious), and there's a slight noise on the input, too. The noise on the input only becomes a problem if you really turn the gain up, so that's okay. The reverb hum would be quiet on-stage anyway, so it's no huge problem either way. Anyway, the CD input is very good. I plugged my iPod in and was suprised to find that the 8" speakers in there do treble pretty well. They won't go all the way to 20kHz, but they go high enough to hear all the cymbal crashes etc clearly when you're playing along. There's no really low bass either, but they're guitar speakers, so if they cover drop Csharp, it's enough (and they cover it more then adequately). Pleasantly suprised there. So, yeah, it's all great except the hum. // 9

Reliability & Durability: The amp arrived in a cardboard box that had clearly been knocked around (shipped from Barcelona to the UK). No damage showing on the amp at all. It's solidly contructed (there's a front to back brace inside the cabinet to stop the panels flexing), with chunky plastic corners on everything. Turning the controls gives the impression of quality (sometimes, they just feel cheap, don't they?). The bottom half of the front panel of the amp is plastic, but looking at it, you'd never think "that looks cheap". There's other small things, like the power Switch being set in a little so that you can't accidentally Switch is off by leaning a guitar on it. It's the small things like that that gives the feel that it's never gonna break. // 10

Overall Impression: I'm a bit all over the place when it comes to what I play. Some Paul Weller stuff, some Pink Floyd, some ACDC. Then Misery Business by Paramore, just because everyone else in the band wanted to. The amp matches well to these, and really turning the gain up means thrash metal isn't out of the question either. As I said earlier, the cleans are very clean, so it's a versatile amp. The guitars I use with this amp are: A Squier Affinity Strat, and a Vintage VS6. Many point at the Squier name and ask why I didn't go for a "proper" Fender. I tried a (400) Mexican strat and there just wasn't the same tone or variety as on my guitar. If it'd cost more than 400 to beat mine (of course, it's down to personal preference too - I'm not saying mine's better, just that I prefer mine), I'm happy to wait for more money to arrive. The bridge humbucker particularly melds well with this amp, the extra output is welcome, and gives lovely distorted sounds. Before buying this amp, I looked at Vox's budget-end (350 down) stuff, up to the AC30VR. I listened to a lot of youTube videos (finding one with decent sound quality was difficult), and started wondering if 30w would be enough. Vox's 4w all valve amps would've been very difficult to hear on-stage (our drummer likes to really go for it), and 15w might not've been enough either. I looked (briefly) at the Marshall MG50 (which always sounded really bass heavy to me, even with the bass turned all the way down), and the Fender FM series (cleans were good, distortion wasn't great). In the end, this one gave the best compromise between the cleans and the distortion, but in a package that should've costed much much more - Marshall's 100w SS head costs similar, before you add speakers. Their 15w ministack costs about the same, but lets face it, is 15w enough? The *only* thing I'd add to this amp is a Mid control for channel 1. I only heard about this amp because another guitarist I know recently bought one. He's the sort that'd spend a few thousand on a guitar, and the same on an amp. But after trying loads, he picked one of these, too. If someone stole this, I'd kill them. Twice. Then buy another one, with no hesitation. Hartke aren't known for their guitar amps, but they've made something special here. // 10

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overall: 9.5
Piggyback Reviewed by: unregistered, on february 18, 2011
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 220

Purchased from: used

Features: I really don't know what year this amp was made in but from what I understand they were an early to mid or late 90s thing that never caught on... Thank GOD or this amp wouldn't have fallen into my hands for 220. This amp is a 2 channel 60w tube/state hybrid with a matching 60w 4x8 speaker cab. As far as I understood prior to buying this amp is that only the first channel uses the single 12ax7 in the preamp but I beg to differ... when you turn it on have it set to the second channel and you will see that you still have to wait for the tube to warm up for it to kick in so even if that channel doesn't rely on the tube it still has that tube warmth to the second channel. As the other reviews point out.. this amp is wonderfully built and the only complaint i have is the lack of midrange control for channel one and the huge volume difference between the two channels.. channel two decimates the first one. I'm honestly considering having someone look at my amp tho, one to settle my tube per channel debate and to check out the volume issue.. not a big deal as I only use the second channel tho.(you'll understand in a minute) // 9

Sound: Ok to give you an idea of what I use this amp for.. I play my BC Rich Metal Master with it in a hardcore/metalcore band. BEFORE you jump my shit yes I am full aware this is a blues amp. Allow me to extrapolate.. basically the tones on this amp will cover your entire blues/rock spectrum. I was ripping out anything from Jimi to SRV to ACDC and Van Halen's lead tone. Legitimately I think this may be the most musical midrange I've ever seen in an amp much less a hartke(don't they do bass amps usually? ) for under 500 dollars. Now.. I did play a show with this amp just using its distortion and yes it was a hxc show and oh my god what this amp lacked in saturation it made up for in crunch... I changed more than one part that night just so I could keep chunking along. However... It simply wasn't enough. So i plugged my Rocktron Gainiac tube pre into the effects loop and ran my guitar straight into the input on channel 2. f--k ME my other guitarist plays a Peavey valveking and I had to turn down at practice. Tonally.... with the preamp its very similar to a Mesa but nowhere near as muddy. Actually with little to no effort on my part and however long he tooled with his EQ pedal my guitarist and I are now tonally matched beautifully. I love this amp and the only upgrade I plan... A tube power amp so i can get louder and crunchier. and of course a new 4x12 cab (although the matched cab does its job perfectly I just want to hear how much more thud it'll get xD) ---ps on its own I'd love to use this amp as a blues amp--- // 10

Reliability & Durability: I could tell right away this amp was built solidly... The pots turn smoothly and quietly the input jack is a wee bit loose but nothing some epoxy or similar couldnt fix :p but I do gig it without a backup and we've never had an issue between us so I very much do expect this amp to hold up for years with little to no problem and if I ever do retire her.. she'll be my mainstay jam/blues amp for a long time. // 10

Overall Impression: Without my preamp.. I'd still have hella fun with this amp. If you can pick one up.. I'd do it. If it was stolen.. I'd pay for a new one with the thief's guts. hahaha. but with the preamp... I basically got a mesa single rec. for 270. (extra 50 for the rocktron.) -----side note... running the preamp thru the loop means that you now control the volume with that preamp---- // 9

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