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Combos vs Stacks?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Doctor Intrepid, May 12, 2018.

  1. Combo

  2. Stack

  3. Mere preference

  4. Carrots

Results are only viewable after voting.
  1. Doctor Intrepid

    Doctor Intrepid

    Dec 27, 2017
    Hello All

    A little poll here and an opportunity to express your expertise and opinions.

    I have only ever owned combo amps, but always wanted a stack. Even recently, when I now have money, I still went for a combo rather than a stack due to cost and other mitigating reasons.

    Anyway, my question to the TB community is what is better/preferable: combos or stacks? I know traditionally stacks were preferable because they were more versatile and could be added to later. But you can now do that with (some) combos (Rumble, for example), and most combos have lines out and combos have typically been more portable. Of course, many stacks are portable now too since they are smaller.

    So is there really any reason to prefer one type of amp over the other or is it merely preference?

    Keep in mind I'm not asking advice about what to buy. This is just a thread to talk about something we all love.
    zon6c-f likes this.
  2. MY opinion, I will never get a combo again. If the amp dies you have a door stop, no one will buy a broken combo even though the speaker is in great shape and the repair bill will probably be more that the combo is worth. :(

    You use the word "Stack" a lot and not sure what your definition is, some think two cabs stacked even if it is just two 1x12's stacked and others think 8x10.

    With a separate head you can use just one 1x12 for a small location and when you need fire power that same head can go on an 8x10 or any other combination of cabs to bring the thunder needed. Then when you do a cabless gig with inears or just stage monitors that same amp head (at least with my Genzler) serves as my DI line to the P.A.

    Doing all this with the same head is worth it for me.
  3. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    nothing wrong with either choice. i currently prefer lightweight combos, but i'd use either to get a particular job done.
    SJan3, Wisebass, pudgychef and 5 others like this.
  4. MobileHolmes

    MobileHolmes I used to be BassoP

    Nov 4, 2006
    There are so many variables that there is no one answer. What genre? How big is the venue? Do you have PA support? What does the rest of the band run? Does your drummer have any sense of dynamics?

    For me, I like the flexibility of A separate head and cabs, even though my cabs are small (two 112s). I don’t play with a loud group but rarely have PA support for me. But I’m impressed by the quality of some of the smaller combos lately (Gk, fender rumble)
    packhowitzer and Doctor Intrepid like this.
  5. joel406


    Dec 27, 2013
    I use a Gallien Krueger MBF-800 with either a full “stack”(2 410s).

    Or I use it with a TC Electronic K210(210) cab.

    While the 410s ain’t light they are at least manageable. And on wheels(casters).

    The 210 is a one handed carry.




    Not sure why the one picture came up twice.


    This gives me ease of transporting as well as 4 different amp cab combinations.
    Last edited: May 12, 2018
    Wisebass and Doctor Intrepid like this.
  6. jchrisk1


    Nov 15, 2009
    Northern MI
    Depends on the venue, for me. I'm playing at a distillery tonight. I may take my 112 combo, or a head and 210. Maybe a pair of 210's so I can hear myself better. Enough gear to be versatile is key for me.
  7. Best of both worlds. Lightweight combo with extension Jack and full DI section. Oh..and a bear. :)

    Attached Files:

    TH63, JeffJ2112 and Doctor Intrepid like this.
  8. ghostinthemach

    ghostinthemach Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2011
    Brea CA
    I like each at different times and places: 1109BB5B-1AC1-4DBE-B0A0-5EE7EA12D814. EEFEBAC2-AC60-47E6-A258-E18D98BDB0EE. B21589CE-67B7-4559-B856-889A3C9FE4C2. B5E7AD4C-580D-4324-A0E3-E13FBB7FE2E5. E4BEB0E8-46CD-4BF9-900D-988D73E1BD92.
    The right tool for the job is the rule for me.
  9. Christine

    Christine Guest

    Aug 3, 2016
    I started out with a big old heavy stack, cool as hell but now at my age and the fact we only play smallish venues I use a combo (Fender Rumble) which is simple to set up and lightweight. If we still played bigger venues then I probably would go with a separate amp and cab
    SJan3, Pbassmanca and MobileHolmes like this.
  10. otp57


    Oct 10, 2016
    Both are OK,but a combo is easy to load and setup
    I use both and both have the power to knock down walls.
  11. TL;DR
    Started on a full stack, flirted with a combo, back on a half stack now (which will probably see me out).

    Many years ago I started out with a stack, 2 x 412s + tube head, something that would "flap yer flares".
    As I got older (and played at a more sensible volume) I dropped to 1 x 412.
    Then went to a 15" Trace Elliot combo, loud but not in a nice way and the 15 beamed like crazy (and it weighed in at 96lbs!).

    Decided I wanted a better quality and lighter cab so took a leap of faith and built a fEARful 15/6 that I powered with a PA amp and a preamp. At that point I thought I as done with my rig, it was all I ever wanted.
    Changed bands and the 15/6 was overkill so built a fEARful 12/6. Got tired of schlepping the Pre+PA rack so got a GK MB800. I still have the 15/6 + rack but it never leaves the house.
    alesreaper9 and hintz like this.
  12. Bunk McNulty

    Bunk McNulty It is not easy to do simple things correctly. Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2012
    Northampton, MA
    Stacks. Small room one 2x10; bigger room two 2x10s; outdoors both plus a 4x10. I believe it was here on TB I first saw some genius vertically stack two 2x10s. Smaller footprint, hear myself better. :D
  13. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    Evev though an amp nowadays is only 5 pounds or so, I’d still rather carry my cabinets without that extra 5 lbs. Easier on a bad back to split things up.
    Pbassmanca likes this.
  14. If you hang around TB long enough you will have one of each to compare for yourself. It sounds like you are asking for justification for ignoring your stack gas but once you have tasted it you're screwed.
  15. Linnin


    Jul 19, 2012
    Linningrad, Earth
    Both. Fender Rumble combo on top of a Fender Rumble cabinet. Combo and stack. See? Easy-Peasy.
  16. Worldeeeter

    Worldeeeter Banned

    Mar 29, 2010
    Asheville, NC
    I owned nothing but combos for 27 years. I loved the portability, ease of use, and minimal spaghetti all over the stage. In some cases, I added a second cab and had a “combo stack”. Then, I joined the class D revolution and purchased a Bergantino B|Amp. Now I switch between 210 and 212 cabs, and the amp is so small and light that it’s no hassle to transport. Either option can be great, with the right equipment.
  17. StatesideRambler


    Jul 1, 2015
    TOXIC topic. There are partisans on the extreme of each side who will go all-Ted Nugent on you for choosing what they don't like. They are all on sound footing with their positions because nobody who knows what's what would play any amp these guys don't like.
    wizard65 likes this.
  18. Korladis

    Korladis Banned Supporting Member

    I don't like the lack of flexibility with combos. You can't just bring the amp and share a cab with another band/backline. If either part fails, you're stuck with the entire thing being basically useless.

    That said, there are some very good combos, and many players like the simplicity of having everything in one unit.
  19. Linnin


    Jul 19, 2012
    Linningrad, Earth
    Coming soon to a Stage near you! Fender Rumble Stage 800 plus a matching 210 cabinet.
    GMC, Pbassmanca and JeffJ2112 like this.
  20. Rip Van Dan

    Rip Van Dan Supporting Member

    Feb 2, 2009
    Duvall, WA
    By far and away I prefer a stack - that is an amp with a separate speaker cab.

    add speaker cab as desired
    upgrade speaker cab as desired
    upgrade amp as desired.

    can't upgrade speaker and still use same amp section
    can't upgrade amp and still use same speaker section
    Hard to add speaker cab if possible at all

    I have a stack now. I started with a Fender stack back in '66 ('66 Bassman), went to a Standel stack, next a GK guitar amp with JBL PA speakers (w/horns), then to a Yamaha 115 combo, next to a GK backline bass stack (125-watt amp and 115 cab) - added a Sunn 212 (wired in series to get around the 8 ohm min. load on the GK amp), then an Eden Nemesis RS400 amp with a Sunn 212 and the GK 115. I almost blew up the Sunn 212 because my amp was sending it too much power, so retired the Sunn 212 and added an acoustic B410.

    Those two cabs with that amp worked well. Then upgraded the amp to my hotrodded (800-watt) WT500 with the same cabs. Because I could do channel blending with the new amp, the cabs sounded better with the WT500/800. Then replaced both those cabs with one DNS-410 (by DNA) which produces a heavenly sound with my WT500/800.

    AND THEN...besides normal gigs, where I use my stack, we host an open-mic on Fridays at a small Brew Pub and they have a Peavey Max 112 combo there for me to use. I rolled in my 410 the first time I played there and it scared them! So I rolled it back out to the car and used their Peavey Max 112 combo. With the master set at 11 o'clock, it worked fine in there, which meant less gear for me to move.

    Then they moved the stage and there's a 14"-tall beam running across the ceiling at the edge of the stage. Now I have to run that combo at 2 o'clock and can't hear it as well either on stage or out front. Even though that beam is at the ceiling, it really cuts the sounds of the bass and guitars tremendously. I'm seriously thinking about bringing my old Sunn cab out, but I don't think that Peavey Max 112 has an extension out on it...might have to bring in my stack and try to find room on stage for it...

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