Demise of the A/B Amp!

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by BassVibes, Feb 18, 2018.

  1. I was in a well known UK local music store yesterday looking for my next amp purchase with one eye on another A/B class amp. But I was advised not to buy this class of amp, even though the store had a load of Ashdowns A/Bs on display, but to check out the D class amps as no one buys A/B class any more (I noted Mesa only doing D class and tubes these days).

    It did strike me yesterday when I saw these large icons of the past surrounding me on the shop floor, now superseded by these tiny amps displayed in small glass cabinets, that a big part of rock n roll is about to be lost to miniaturisation. As a kid checking out what rigs my favourite bands used on TV and stage (iconic names like Ampeg, Marshall, Mesa etc) will be no more. I know technology must progress, but still a sadness gripped me that another part of rock iconography is soon to be consigned to the dustbin of history.

    So I’ll be turning up for rehearsal next week with my Mesa d800 shoved in my cable bag, my band mates asking where is that great looking amp you normally bring (my old Ashdown ABM)
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2018
  2. Jack


    Sep 6, 2003
    Northumberland, UK
    Don't most of those iconic names you mentioned actually still make amps? So they won't be lost at all.

    Quartz didn't stop them making hand wind. CDs came along and it didn't eradicate vinyl. Turbo 4 pots didn't kill the hemi and in the eighties solid state didn't stamp out tube amps. Big amps will be fine.

    5 or 10 years from now most bassists will probably be playing some sort of ampless set up. Pedal boards, modelling, that kind of thing. A HUGE paradigm shift is coming in the same vein as when most bassists jumped from tubes to solid state and then later from big lead sleds to class d.

    Most. There will still be plenty of people making amps of all sorts of types, don't worry.
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  3. Bassbeater

    Bassbeater Guest

    Sep 9, 2001
    Marketing hogwash. Small lightweight expensive items are more profitable to sell than large heavy expensive items. They compete but will not eliminate anytime soon. Most of them don't even rackmount without kits, that's not serious gear imo.
  4. Snaxster


    Nov 29, 2008
    Hello. At first I thought the demise of the paragraph was at hand, too. But then I read the reply by @Jack and knew in my heart that both the Class AB amplifier and the paragraph were alive and well for now. :D

    In the USA, which is representative for its being a very large and vital consumer market for... everything whatsoever, sadly, currently the company Sweetwater is the most mainstream of music equipment ecommerce retailers. A search for "class ab amplifier" at the Sweetwater website just now yielded 20 results. The distribution of product types within those results was

    Guitars (12)
    Live Sound & Lighting (4)
    Bass (3)
    Studio & Recording (2)​

    Yet those results are only as revealing as Sweetwater's metadata lets them be. When I searched elsewhere, I found that the (newly released, I believe) Orange 4 Stroke series bass amps feature only Class AB output sections, and that QSC (until lately a reliable source of top quality rackmount Class AB power amplifiers) still makes at least one Class AB amplifier, the model PLX1802.

    It turns out that Sweetwater also sells both the Orange 4 Stroke bass amps, and the QSC PLX1802 amp. That raises their tally of Class AB amps to 23 as

    Guitars (12)
    Live Sound & Lighting (5)
    Bass (5)
    Studio & Recording (2)​

    Surely there are a few more. My point is that Class AB is all but gone, but it is not quite forgotten.
  5. Of course Ampeg, Mesa etc will move with the times with the new technology and continue to thrive. My point was ‘big’ rigs at the back of the stage will be in the minority.
    Coolhandjjl likes this.
  6. JimChjones


    Aug 6, 2017
    SE England
    Well, I'd swap my heavy 2U rackmounted Fender for a little Class D any time... M. Bassbeater is welcome to slip across la Manche and buy the big lump from me!

    Of course there are genres where the stacks are part of the show, but if I were buying new gigging gear now I'd definitely be looking at getting the PA to do the heavy hitting.
  7. Haha. In future I’ll write my posts after breakfast not during. Paragraphs hopefully improved ;-)
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  8. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007
    Anyone can build big bass gear.

    Last night I went out with 700 watts and 2 112 cabs (47lbs total) and was louder than when I used to struggle with a 100 watt tube amp and 2 412 cabs, (250lbs total?). . . . and. . . . I sounded so much better.

    I've used both. Just give me modern bass gear, every time.

    Edit to correct maths. 47lbs instead of 40lbs!
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2018
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  9. Snaxster


    Nov 29, 2008
    Ha! Thanks for being a good sport! Yes, your revised post is much more readable. ;)
    tfer and Pbassmanca like this.
  10. beans-on-toast


    Aug 7, 2008
    A general rule of thumb, never take advice from anyone in a music store. They always have an agenda when making recommendations. Make up your own mind based on auditioning products and your needs.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2018
  11. Relsom

    Relsom Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2013
    The Old Dominion
    Funny that the OP should mention the ABM. I used Ashdown ABMs from 2001 until about 5 or 6 years ago when I bought my first Shuttle combo. While I love my ABMs, these days I usually opt for the light and easy gig rig. I've bought and sold a couple of ABM500's. Currently without, but looking again for a deal on one. Just cant shake it. So I think there's still a market for the A/B amps, but yes, it is shrinking.
    Band Mom likes this.
  12. bobyoung53

    bobyoung53 Supporting Member

    Complete baloney, your local music store is trying to push class D amps for some reason, maybe more profit? Perhaps their new marketing strategy is to sell more and more light weight class D's to eliminate lugging and increase profit, remember tastes are many time dictated by either wholesale or retail decisions not customer tastes. I remember walking into my local record shop sometime during the late 80's and seeing only CD's, they had eliminated records entirely which was a highly premature marketing decision the industry made as look at the rise of records again and the rise of analog sound and devices period. Class A/B amps are alive and well and going no place, anyway when technology changes too fast there is usually a backlash as evidenced again by records coming back into fashion. Manufacturers think, well I can make more money putting a chip in a little box with a couple of inputs and outputs with a light weight power supply, look at the shipping costs I'll save etc. Wishful thinking on the part of the manufacturers perhaps? I think there is a place for class D amps but they are not going to take over the market place anytime soon. If class A/B amps are becoming obsolete why are all tube amps still being made and used all over the world?
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2018
  13. Phlipper


    Feb 5, 2013
    Fayetteville, NC
    Endorsing Artist: Used Fender Lead Sleds and Hartke cabs with bent grills
    In 1560 Negrodamus predicted the rise of the Class D amp, but also that people would eventually see the folly and that tubes would again become predominant.


    Recovering from a seizure-like event one morning after nine rounds on the back at Augusta, he wrote ...

    'So the mighty glass will fall. And tiny crap will emerge from the East. But the people will hear and understand and they will rise up against it. And the glass shall again rule the land ........ b!tche$"
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2018
  14. bertbassplayer

    bertbassplayer Supporting Member

    Jul 7, 2000
    Carlsbad, NM
    I don't agree at all. I agree that A/Bs aren't going to obscurity. I think that Class D has taken over the market but it isn't just stores pushing Class D that is making it popular. Most sales are Class D now for bass stuff, partly due to the portability and partly due to it being the cheaper option at the stores now. The more that happens the more the stores will stock that and not other things, because like others have said they are more profitable. Shipping costs is less, the amount of space they take up in the store is less. If they are selling 10 Class D heads for every 1 A/B head, and the A/B head takes up the space in the store that 5 Class D heads do... it just makes business sense.

    That being said, you have to make the decision for yourself, and don't accept what someone says. If you love A/B amps, then buy them. If you love Tube amps, then buy them. If enough people buy them, that's what companies will make, and that's what stores will carry.

    I do think that Class D will continue to thrive, same with Neodymium bass speakers. Personally, I spent over a decade carrying around over 200-300 lbs worth of gear and now I just don't want to do that anymore, so class D for me.

    I think gone are the days when people go to shows and remember the band playing Brand X gear flashing its badges on stage. So I think less people are flocking to the stores asking for specific gear, e.g. running and wanting an Ampeg fridge with the SVT-CL.... realizing they couldn't afford a SVT-CL and getting the SVT-350 because it looked the same.

    Now as for people going straight direct vs having amps. Geddy Lee has been doing that forever. I can see why a lot of people are doing that, especially if the places your playing the sound guy is just going to force you to DI. In that case I can see why you might as well just stop bringing an amp.
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  15. Kro


    May 7, 2003
    New Jersey
    In the minority? Probably, but there will always be classic specimens of all sort of topology that will be sought after and used though. How often do you still see SVTs on stage? Convenience may lead to further miniaturization and modeling options (which is awesome), but there's still going to be something magical about using the real thing and not an emulation.

    The quartz/mechanical watch analogy is a good one. Quartz watches are technically superior in every way, and when it comes to high-end quartz, even display the same level of craftsmanship and mastery associated with the fine mechanical variety. However, there will always be a place for the older tech - it's an authentic bridge to another time. The heritage/nostalgia/"classic" factor shouldn't be underestimated.
  16. gelinas666

    gelinas666 Guest

    Sep 8, 2009
    I use all types. Class A/B, D and Class H.. All Tube is still my favourite but you can get some good tones and headroom from them all! Some light,some heavy in weight.. I purchase my amps for sound quality,headroom and cabinet matching..:thumbsup:
    Pbassmanca likes this.
  17. ahc


    Jul 31, 2009
    No. Virginia
    From the Cliff Claven Little Known Facts Dept: Nearly all tube amps ARE Class A/B.

  18. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    1) I think you made a great choice. The Mesa Subway is an excellent head.

    2) I used to work at a music store. Most of the guys I worked with would steer customers away from $800 Fender guitars (mind you this was 15 years ago) and towards $350 Ibanez guitars because we made more profit in them (thus more commission). So don't believe everything you hear from a salesman.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2018
  19. Mr. Foxen

    Mr. Foxen Commercial User

    Jul 24, 2009
    Bristol, UK
    Amp tinkerer at Ampstack
    Valve amps are obsolete too.
    Old Garage-Bander likes this.
  20. yodedude2

    yodedude2 Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2005
    san antonio, texas
    if i gave a damm about rock iconography, i might give a damm, but i don't, so i don't.

    i'm in it for the music. rock on!
    dan1952 likes this.