The following is a cleaned up and corrected copy of the initial post of a thread i wrote on 9/24/2003. I have to give thanks to cjazz50, Mark Reccord, Richard Lindsey, and Bob Lee (QSC) for correcting my misunderstanding of clipping as it relates to speaker damage. I don't like combos, never owned one. I think they a great alternative for those on a budget but become a trap later on. Why? Because it's much harder to upgrade or add on to a combo without replacing it altogether. I much prefer to go the seperate head/cabinet route because you can replace one or the other for less $$$ than if you had to start over from scratch. You can also usually add a second speaker cab to a head/one cabinet rig as long as the amp can handle the extra speaker. What do i mean by this? Most amps can handle a mimimum load of 4 ohms. you get that with 0ne 4 ohm cabinet or 2 8 ohm cabinets. Assuming that you started out with an 8 ohm cabinet to begin with, adding a second 8 ohm cabinet will increase your volume significantly. Some amps (e.g. swr) will handle a minimum 2 ohm load so you can use two 4 ohm cabs. I'm a big fan of 8 ohm cabinets because you can bring one to a small gig, or 2 to a larger one. However if your amp and a 4 ohm cabinet have enough guts to cut it in all the situations you play in, there's nothing wrong with that setup. Just be aware that if you want to add another speaker in the future, you'll have to buy a head that can handle a 2 ohm load, or a stereo head that can handle 4 or 2 ohms per side, or upgrade to a preamp/stereo poweramp setup. as far as wattage goes, the more the better, period. The bass needs 4 to 10 times the wattage to compete with a guitar amp. (actually, i think guitar combos are a wonderful idea. They're loud enough, and the world would be a quieter and happier place if more guitar players used 1x12 combos instead of 1 or 2 4x12's powered by 100 watt heads). More wattage also gives you more clean headroom, and makes clipping much less likely. Clipping in and of itself won't destroy your speakers, but a clipped soid state amp can put out a theoretical maximum of twice its rated power, (and it sounds terrible). Generally, to get that kind of wattage you eventually have to go the preamp/poweramp route. I like this setup the most as you can change preamps, poweramps, or cabinets without having to start from square one all over again. The downside is these setups cost a lot of money. Along the way i also learned that not all 400 watt amps are equal when it comes to volume. Back in the mid 90's i found that a Trace Elliot 300 watt head could blow the doors off of a bridged swr sm-900 or bridged eden wt-800 every time. I even ended up writing an article on it which appeared in the Nov. '97 "play the blues" issue of Bass Player. I started out with a 25 watt Westbury head with a Westbury 15" cab back in 1984. After the speaker blew i replaced it with a peavey black widow put in the westbury cab. Later i got a 300 watt peavey mark 4 head to get some real volume. After that i got a peavey 2x15 cab for gigs and ended up using the 1x15 for practice. A good while later, 1992?, i sold the peavey stuff and got a used swr electric blue head (150 watts) and a used swr goliath 2 4x10. Needing more power for real gigs i got a used peavey cs-400 power amp (for $150) that put out 400 watts bridged into 8 ohms and used the electric blue as a preamp. In 1997 i got an eden wt-400 and ditched the peavey power amp, but i still have that nifty electric blue. Later on i got a bagend s15d to use my eden's full potential (i.e. two 8 ohm cabs), and it was also neat as a smaller cab to bring to gigs and practices. In 1998 i added an eden 210xlt, so i usually gigged with the 4x10 and the 2x10 or the 1x15 and the 2x10. on some big gigs i also brought the swr 150 watt head and used it to power the 3rd cabinet. (i knew it would come in handy) In 1993 i finally got a couple of used preamps (alembic & demeter), a new aguilar 659 preamp (which i sold to Boogiebass), a used alembic superfilter, and a stewart 2.1 power amp (450 watts into 8 ohms per side). I would have gone stewart or qsc plx due to the light weight of both, but my pal at the stewart dealer gave me a great deal. Both the stewart and plx are great as they sound wonderful, are lightweight, and can handle 2 ohms per side. Due to size issues i sold my swr 410 and i sold my eden 210 after hearing epifani stuff - wow. At this time i also got a bagend s12d, and got an aguilar 112 as part of a complex trade at a guitar show, (that's how i temporarily ended up with the aguilar preamp). Unfortunately, due to financial issues i had to sell the aguilar 112, the eden wt-400, and the two alembic units, but i did score a wonderful 4 ohm bag end 210 from Nightbass. What's the point of the story? Well, for the most part i was able to upgrade one item at a time, and i have options like mad when i gig. Usually i bring the 2 small bagends and the demeter/stewart rig, (the two alembic units were paired with the stewart for a long time before i sold them), sometimes i bring all 3 cabs, sometimes just the bagend 15, and i play other gigs with the eden or swr head and 1 or 2 cabs. Before i sold it, when using the eden I also usually brought along the demeter and plug it into the eden's effect return so i get to use the demeter preamp and the eq of the eden. Am i done? naw. Am i happy? yup. Remember, the biggest thing is to trust your ears and while opinions and feedback can help, don't buy anything based on what someone else uses or swears is the best. And always demo prospective gear with your stuff. When i bought the bagend 12 i brought my bass, my amp, and my bagend 15 along to see what the bagend 12 would sound like for Me. I hope this helps some of you who are hoplessly lost in the "what should i do?" zone. But remember, my opinion is just that. Always trust you ears.