Review Demo – Trace Elliot ELF



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If you haven’t noticed, there’s a revolution afoot—with the world getting smaller in so many facets of our lives, from circuits to cars to tiny houses. Music gear is not immune, yet for us bassists, we’ve forever been taught that bigger means better. So it seems a little counter-intuitive for us to want something smaller, since our entire existence revolves around being “big”—be it big tone, moving big air, or playing the big strings on our instruments.

Enter the ELF from Trace Elliot, one of the biggest little amps I have ever seen. Beyond its incredibly small footprint and the initial wow factor, the amp could be one of those gotta-have type products for a myriad of reasons. I say could be, because to get past the initial sideshow attraction aspect of it, it has to sound good, too.

When I opened the ELF’s included carry bag, I was greeted by a straight-ahead-looking design with Trace Elliot’s familiar green adorning the solid-feeling enclosure. Given its size and that it’s lighter than a Carnegie Deli Rueben sandwich at just a hair over 1 1/2 pounds—yes, 1 1/2 pounds—it had better be rugged, since us musician types will likely be shoving it into a gig bag or backpack (or even a pocket). While our test unit did feel solid overall in its construction, the plastic housing where the IEC power cord connects felt a bit loose, which could pose a problem after prolonged use.

The front panel is about as no-nonsense as can be. There are two 1/4″ jacks (one for input and one for headphones) that surround the five dials governing the gain, volume, and 3-band EQ. I was happy that Trace Elliot went with “normal-sized” controls rather than the mini variety—a move that will make on-the-fly adjustments in the real world easier. Finally, the ELF houses two small LEDs on opposite ends of the EQ section: one a signal indicator and the other to let you know the amp is powered on.

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