1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  

What happened with the Hartke cab craze?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by SanDiegoHarry, Sep 23, 2008.

  1. Altitude

    Altitude An ounce of perception, a pound of obscure. Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2005
    Denver, nee Austin
    Couple of thoughts. The Hartke Aluminum 410 concept was a pretty radical design idea. Radical design ideas seem to go in one of three directions:

    1. They do not catch on at all. They fail. (New Coke)
    2. They catch on, popularity swells, and eventually they alter the status quo in their category. (the iPod)
    3. They develop a following, become popular for a period of time, but fail to materially alter the status quo, and become a niche product. This happens especially when a competing product comes along and becomes a category 2 (Sony MiniDisc, or perhaps the music of Jesus Jones)
    I'd say the Hartke aluminum cabinet concept evolved more or less like category 3. I never owned one, but I thought they sounded fine. Someone else (David Eden, namely) happened to come along with a more compelling product.
  2. jgroh

    jgroh Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2007
    When I was playing heavily in my late teens and early twenties, Hartke's were IT. Then I took a long time off (like 13 years) and came back and was surprised to hear that they were not what they used to be. When I started buying some gear to just get back in the game without dropping a ton, I bought a Hartke head and 4x10 cab (the low end VX series). And I tell you what, both sound pretty good!

    I bought a used Ampeg with a tube preamp in it because it was a good deal and now I am looking for a good 4x10 at 4 ohms to get the full wattage out of that head, but the Hartke cab sounds good. If it was 4 ohms I would be keeping it.
  3. bertbassplayer

    bertbassplayer Supporting Member

    Jul 7, 2000
    Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX
    I think some of the reason why things catch on or not is simply advertisement and/or who is endorsing it.

    Pepsi was close to dying out until Michael Jackson had that Pepsi commercial that brought it back to popularity (even though Jackson didn't even drink a pepsi or hold a pepsi during the entire commercial).

    Like that, some guitar/bass amp companies have gotten popular just by who uses them.
  4. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    The Transporters were garbage and probably a bad business decision in retrospect. The XL product line rocked. Unfortunately I think more people associate the Hartke name with the Transporters than with the pro level stuff.
  5. bassman_al

    bassman_al Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2008
    Fairfax, VA USA
    I like mine. Had it over 10 years now. I weigh 140 lbs and I am able to lift the XL in and out of cars, but I know the days until I downsize are growing short as I round 40 and head toward 50...
  6. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    I hear you. It's amazing how much weight my cabinet has gained these past 10 years... :atoz:
  7. kelleysdad


    Dec 12, 2007
    I have been using a 2.5XL for 6 years. Got it to use to Bi-amp with a JBL 15" on bottom but it sounded so good by itself, I quit hauling the JBL. I understand it is discontinued.Too bad, for the weight vs tone, it is probably the best cab they made. Very loud, tons of bottom.
  8. IanStephenson

    IanStephenson UnRegistered User

    Apr 8, 2006
    I agree it was bad marketing to bring out low end products. I've got a kickback10 - not cheap, but really great. However for less than a quarter of the price you can get something with the same badge on that looks almost identical. After trying a Hartke 15W practice amp, you probably wouldn't look at a Kickback.

    Trace Elliot had similar problems, and Acoustic are just asking for trouble with their new "dual brand" thing.
  9. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    Two other factors:

    (1) IME, the dustcap seals were prone to break. It's an easy DIY $4 fix; but when the dustcap rattles against the cone, it sounds like a blown speaker.

    (2) Hartke had a paranoid speaker-replacement policy, so that you couldn't just buy a replacement driver.

    I suspect that the two factors combined to give even the XLs a rep for failing and being a PITA to fix.
  10. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    I wonder if that's what happened to my 210 Combo? All the sudden one day it sounded like one of the drivers was blown yet there doesn't appear to be any visible damage and I wasn't close to overpowering it.
  11. FronTowardEnemy

    FronTowardEnemy It is better to go unnoticed, than to suck

    Sep 19, 2006
    Plainfield Illinois
    I still own and use at practice a TP 4x10 coupled with my Tech21 B410. No problems for the past 10 or so years. I won't gig with it due to the fact that it doesn't sound as good as my Tech21 B410, but it is still a reliable decent sounding cab.
  12. jellymax


    Nov 29, 2006
    SF CA
    the early ones were not so great. later they made a deeper sounding box that
    sounded decent. aren't they about 100 lbs?

    about 10 years after they invented aluminum speakers, they
    came out with an amazing new invention----paper cones.!
  13. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Yes that would be the XL series. That's what I have, a 4x10 that was probably built between 1991 and 1993. I believe the listed weight on those puppies is around 95 lbs. Tom Hamilton of Aerosmith was probably their most notable endorser, also Stu Hamm who I believe still uses them today.

    Hartke also made a 1x15 and I think possibly even a 1x18, but those never seemed to catch on like the 4x10s. Don't know what kind of weight those checked-in at.

    Those new Hydrive (?) cabinets sound intriguing in concept but they are uhhg-leee. Also it seems like in their recent advertising Hartke is really targeting the death/black metal crowd and that's really not where I'm at so I probably won't be giving them any new business.
  14. I owned that 1155 combo with the 15" and 5" tweeter and that thing was as solid as a tank and took almost everything I dished out. I did have to replace both speakers (at different times). The tweeter blew when my instrument cable popped out of my bass and hit the metal mic stand and zzapppp!!! Other than that, the only other complaint I had were with those PLASTIC input jacks. I had them replaced with that more durable material called...metal:)
  15. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    The Kickbacks were a great design concept (note how widely copied it has become), but I never really liked their sound personally, also I hated the EQ and the plastic jack. And, it seemed every time I went into the music store they had two or three of them on the repair bench with shredded cones.
  16. dbong


    Mar 2, 2008
    I wholeheartedly agree with this. I've got (4) Hartke 2.5XL's and use the quantity as I need them. I wouldn't trade any of them for any Ampeg, Eden, Genz, etc. It's just one awesome cabinet with such perfect bandwidth and tone plus not so hard to lug around. Nonetheless, the cabinet is discontinued. It's a rare bird. And, it does bother me that replacement speakers are hard to get. Ouch!
  17. GreaserMatt


    Sep 4, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    I own an old XL series 410 w/ the alum cones, & an MX series 410 (paper cones w/ alum tweeter) & they sound great. No probs yet. I paid $100 a piece for them (seperate sales). The alum cones have a distinct sound, & people either love them or hate them. Get some casters for the bottom...

    You can't even mention the name Hartke over at HC...



    I never liked the Hartke cabs at all. Way too "Clanky" for me. I am interested in hearing the new cabs though.
  19. +1 My thoughts exactly. I had a 4.5XL that truly did Rock and with only a 200 W SS amp.
  20. I've still got an old 4-10 XL, but rarely use it. Yeah, it sure is heavy. When I bought it, I ran an SVT head through every cab in the store with the bass tone control on 10, and hit the low E hard while muting it to see how the speakers reacted. The 4-10 XL was the best of all of them; no breaking up or farting. Still works fine.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.