Trace Elliot Elf C110 Combo: What is it?
Having successfully taken the trend for compact and portable bass amps to – almost – its logical endpoint with the superlative Elf series, Trace Elliot has applied this small-is-beautiful maximum to a combo format.
Can this work? Well, why not? And Trace Elliot will tell you the Elf C110 is proof positive that its nano-sized amp head can be exported into a combo to spectacular effect. As the numbers suggest, this is indeed a 1x10” combo, with 200-watts of Class D power driving a single Neo 8-ohm speaker. At 18lbs, it is certainly a manageable proposition for taking to and from the rehearsal space or gig, and Trace Elliot has done everything to keep its profile as small as possible.
Here, bulk is the enemy. The control panel of black numbers on high-viz lime green is mounted on the top of the unit and recessed into the cabinet itself, protecting the dials from accidental bumps. It ships with a dust cover to keep it tip-top when not in use.
As you might expect from Trace Elliot the build is rugged, with a metal grille cover protecting the speaker and lending the impression that this is an amp that can take a bit of punishment. Though a lack of corner protectors seems like an oversight.
Like the amp head, the control panel is straightforward, running left to right with a 1/4” input jack, Gain, Bass, Middle, Treble, and Volume, and a 1/4” headphones output. The rear of the amp houses an XLR output with ground lift, on/off power switch, a switch for selecting speaker or headphones output, and an auxiliary speaker output for hooking up an external driver at 8-ohms.
Trace Elliot Elf C110 Combo: Performance and verdict
The original Elf head weighed only 1.6lb and could be smuggled into a venue in a large pocket, so of course, packing a speaker, the C110 can’t quite compete with that. But as an all-in-one giggable bass amp solution, it is hardly a refrigerator. You’d happily cart it around.
The DI makes it just as effective at home or in the studio for recording, just send your signal out to your DAW and you’re away, and the extra speaker output is a handy option for expanding the 1x10 format into a more serious backline workhorse – it certainly has the power required of it.
Indeed, the C110 has some lungs on it. Crank it up and give it some welly and it could blacken your eye. It has low-end fortitude in abundance, more than capable of articulating a five-string bass guitar, with impressive detail and tone-sculpting through the midrange and treble. The latter allows you to dial in some forensic detail that brings out all the nuances in your basslines.
• Trace Elliot Elf (opens in new tab)
The original head remains a gamechanger for portable bass amplification and if you don't think you'll need a combo, grab one of these, stick it in your pocket, and you're sorted.
• Ampeg Rocket Bass RB-110
Versatile, affordable and convincing, this solid-state combo does a superb job of delivering a more accessible take on classic Ampeg sounds. And like the Elf, it too is available as a 1x8 combo for even more portability.
A big part of the Elf’s charm was its simple control layout, and it is the same here. The active three-band EQ is well-voiced, offering boost and cut either way and makes dialling in a tone a cinch. Bass players who enjoyed the Elf – and they were legion – will find this a similarly rewarding experience.
There is a lot of power in the EQ, which is worth bearing in mind when using it. When the amp’s LED is green, your signal is passing through uncompressed but will flash red to let you know when you’ve pushed the amp into activating its onboard compressor. If you dime the mids, for example, you might have to dial down the gain a little to maintain the same level of compression.
Trace Elliot says the gain dial is the most important control on the amplifier and even underscores this point in the manual. There is a lot of merit to that as it changes the character of the sound the further you push it, with more compression coming online and a wonderful level of musical grit when you give it some welly.
This will surely please the rock bass players, but then this Elf combo casts its charms far and wide. All players in search of a usable, portable combo will find some joy in this punchy little amp.
Given its dimensions, the C110 makes a solid practice choice, so it seems a pity that it doesn’t come equipped with the means to incorporate an external audio source. Bluetooth would have been excellent, as would a USB connection. But we would also have settled for an aux-in.
That said, perhaps Trace Elliot presumes that this will be an audience-facing piece of kit. It has certainly given it all the tools for the job, giggable sounds – particularly if you connect a second speaker cabinet – and a robust build.
MusicRadar verdict: It’s the Elf you all know and love, only housed in a combo format. That means powerful EQ, a gutsy performance, portability, and no shortage of appeal.
Trace Elliot Elf C110 Combo: The web says
“The EQ frequencies have been sensibly selected and will address the needs of bassists who need a strong, robust bass tone that can be adjusted as required in a wide variety of performance settings.
“In a live setting, the combo stood up well to a certain point – but inevitably there came a point where the physical limitations of the unit were holding it back. At this point, you should consider an extra cabinet to spread the overall load.”
Bass Player Magazine (opens in new tab)
Trace Elliot Elf C110 Combo: Hands-on demos
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Trace Elliot Elf C110 Combo: Specifications
- MADE IN: China
- POWER: 130 watts @ 8 ohms, 200 watts @4 ohms (with an additional 8 ohm cabinet)
- FEATURES: Gain, level indicator, bass (center @ 80Hz), middle (center @ 400Hz), treble (center @ 4.2kHz), power indicator, volume, speaker/headphone selector switch, ground lift switch)
- SPEAKERS: 1x10” Neo 8-ohm driver
- DIMENSIONS: 324mm (H) x 305mm (W) x 355mm (D)
- CONNECTIONS: Input, headphone/line out, speaker output, balanced DI XLR (direct out)
- WEIGHT: 18.5 lbs
- CONTACT: Trace Elliot (opens in new tab)