Combo Amp Trends

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by tubatodd, Feb 17, 2014.

  1. tubatodd

    tubatodd Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2004
    Birmingham, AL
    [/HTML]For decades, the bass combo amp has pretty much looked like a head+cabinet merged into 1 self contained box with the controls right there on the front.

    Figure 1

    Over the last few years the combo amp has evolved to where instead of the head and tone controls being mounted for front access, they are now installed at the rear of the amp with access from above.

    Figure 2

    I was rather surprised when I saw Hartke moving in this direction as well.

    Figure 3

    Can someone explain to me why this is the new norm? I own one of each "style" and see benefits of them both.
  2. Gaolee

    Gaolee It's all about the polyester

    Access from different places has been fairly normal since the beginning of amplifiers. The one place that's a little unfortnate for modern day use is access at the bottom of the back of the amp. I would expect the advantage to having access at the back would be packaging. It's only a guess.
  3. scottbass

    scottbass Bass lines like a big, funky giant

    Jul 13, 2004
    Southern MN
    If you are significantly taller than the amp, it is easier to see and adjust the controls from above rather than from the front.

    Perhaps there is some returning to old schools going on, too. Back in the '50's most all amps had the controls on the top rather than on the front.
  4. Uncle K

    Uncle K The custodian is your enemy Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2011
    Erie, PA
    My guess is because the controls are easier to see while standing. BTW, back in the 90's SWR Workingman's 10 had the rear mounted power section
  5. john m

    john m Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2006
    Is much easier to mess it up by spilling stuff into it. LOL

    Actually--- I like my Markbass 112 combo's design when it's sitting on the floor for ease of adjustment.

    My GK head on top of a large cabinet (sometimes two cabs) makes the controls easier to see and reach.
  6. tubatodd

    tubatodd Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2004
    Birmingham, AL
    Excellent point!! I saw an SWR Basic Black combo last night and it did indeed have rear mounted and top facing controls.
  7. experimental bassist

    experimental bassist

    Mar 15, 2009
    Unless one is going to consistently run a combo on top of an extension cab or a stand or a chair, having controls on the top makes much more sense.

    I primarily gig with my older Ampeg BA210, it's the first combo I've owned with controls on the top, it just makes a lot of sense from an ergonomic perspective and I am glad more manufacturers are picking up on that trend.
  8. philvanv

    philvanv Gerbil Turds, Kitsap County Turd Core

    Jul 2, 2012
    and at the bottom it says thank you, and now you can shag off
    I actually wish mine was on the top. It would actually make it a little easier to make adjustments...
  9. Low Class

    Low Class Supporting Member

    Jul 4, 2005
    Orange Park, Florida
    Nothing new to us Polytone users. They started doing this in the 70's.
  10. tubatodd

    tubatodd Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2004
    Birmingham, AL
    When I'm sitting and playing (which is most of my gigs), front facing controls make the most sense. That being said, my go to amp is now my BG250-210...which is top facing. I keep my Zoom B3 on the top of the amp towards the front edge. I do 99.9999% of my tweaks (all but volume) thru the B3.
  11. philvanv

    philvanv Gerbil Turds, Kitsap County Turd Core

    Jul 2, 2012
    and at the bottom it says thank you, and now you can shag off
    I just like the idea of looking down rather then kneeling down
  12. basscooker

    basscooker Commercial User

    Apr 11, 2010
    cincy ky
    How about a foot-controller with all of the features? Just a power amp and speaker, with a wired controller. Oh, wait we have those already...nevermind. :/

    But really, though, the top-facing controls do make little combos easier to work with. Big combos I don't feel really need this.
  13. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    Old Polytones had the amp on back. They even had diamond tuck covering!

  14. I don't know the answer, and I really don't think there is a right or wrong reason/answer. Some people even like controls that light up because its easier to see - personally I can adjust my amps with my eyes closed. One of the disadvantages of having top mounted combo controls is when stacking combos sometimes it can be hard to get to the controls on the bottom combo and you may need an angled L jack cable or stack them sideways. And one of the advantages of top mounted combo controls is its easier to get to them while standing. With all that said, personally like the top mounted combo controls and G-K solved the stacking problem with their new chain output and slaved power cabs.
  15. Gaolee

    Gaolee It's all about the polyester

    That's great!