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What happened with the Hartke cab craze?

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

  1. cripula


    Dec 20, 2006
    I ran 2 4x10s from '87-99, with a Carver power amp and a GT preamp. They were ok, other than the fact that over time, every single cone ripped away from the outer. They were all repaired with glue, and were fine after that.

    I had a 180 degree shift in what I wanted tone-wise in '99 - dumped the 6 string bass for a '64P, and the rack gear/hartkes for a 70s SVT. Still happy with that combo...
  2. Altitude

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

    Mar 9, 2005
    Denver, nee Austin
    I was hoping at least one person would think that was funny. I always think of a Rolling Stone cover I saw with their lead singer in the photo. The caption said "Can Jesus Jones Save Rock & Roll"? The story painted the band as going a different, more raw direction than popular rock music was going at the time, and that maybe that would be something that might catch on.

    The next year (thereabouts), Nirvana released "Nevermind". Nobody ever heard from Jesus Jones again.
  3. NorCal Dog

    NorCal Dog

    Nov 28, 2005
    i only have experience with one Hartke cab,, the 2.5XL

    bought it as a small rehearsal cab,, plugged it in & it was just farting out every other note :rollno: it went back the same day,,, absolutely the worst cab i've ever played


    i picked up the new Hartke LH1000 head & this thing kicks major booty :hyper::hyper::hyper:

    run with a pair of Carvin LS-1503's the tone is incredible, to say the least
  4. Mikebass [IIRC] said something similar. I don't know as I don't follow Hartke much.

    Those 5s have bottom?
  5. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    Hartke is an example of savvy marketing. While there's nothing all that special about aluminum cones, they do look different, and since most bass gear sells based on how it looks making his cabs visually different was a very smart move by Hartke. A few well placed endorsement deals by high visibility players on TV, Will Lee in particular, and every kid from Boston to San Diego wanted one of those cool looking cabs. But it's no longer a novelty, so the buzz has died. The fact that the latest offerings look very much different from the originals is not the least bit coincidental.
  6. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    "Tom Hamilton of Aerosmith was probably their most notable endorser, also Stu Hamm who I believe still uses them today. "

    Not to my recollection. When they started the key endorsers were Jaco Pastorious, Will Lee, Gary Tallent, and Daryl Jones. Stu Hamm has used them from "Radio Free Albumeth" at least. More people probably saw Hartkes underneath Will Lee's GK head on the original Letterman show than anywhere else. Plus lots of jazz artists' bassists used them. The GK/Hartke rig was "the hip" rig.

    Most recently Tom Hamilton has been using Ampeg (fake B15's on stage, other stuff off-stage feeding the FOH), as has Will Lee.

  7. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Maybe I'm just stuck in a time warp, but I still think my cabinet looks cool as heck with stage lights shining off those aluminum cones.
  8. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Banned Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    Okay, marketing/appearance sure - but I recall my cab sounded really good for certain applications! For driving rock and roll, it was da bomb... The problem was it just didn't sound warm to me, and I got into more soulful music with my next band, started playing more fretless and it started sounding harsh.

    Of course, it could been the amp I was using which was also popular at the time (a fender rack mount solid state thing with an 11 band eq - I can't recall the model)...

    Anyway, I went to SWR and was much happier. I didn't give a damn how anything looked, I just wanted to sound good and headroom
  9. Chuck King

    Chuck King Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2006
    I think they were a fad---which has nothing whatsoever to do with how good or bad they were in reality, so those of you who love them, don't take that as a slam. They were sufficiently visually distinctive, and fashionable, that they are associated in people's minds with a certain place and time. Like Steinbergers. Fashion being what it is, it was inevitable that many people using them (especially high-visibility players like rock stars) would move on to some new flavor-of-the-year.

    I had a GK/Hartke rig (with a couple 410XL cabs) for a long time and it never gave me any trouble, but I was never really happy with that signature tone. For a while I had a 115 Transporter cab---it was very light and I liked that aspect of if because I could carry it for a couple blocks easily, allowing me to go to and from gigs on the el, but it remains the only cabinet I have ever blown.
  10. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    I could see that happening. I love my Hartke cab for the rock and blues I mostly play, but if I was going fretless I don't think it would be a good fit.
  11. IanStephenson

    IanStephenson UnRegistered User

    Apr 8, 2006
    That's the BXR 400.

    BXR400->Harktke was Stu Hamm's rig until Hartke started making amps, and he switched to a Hartke head.

    The BXR is pretty transparent - not a lot of colouring to the sound. If you want "warm" you need something in the loop to give you that shaping.
  12. BillytheBassist


    Aug 18, 2005
    I use Harke amps and cabinets exclusively, and have for sometime. I dig the tone, clarity, and dependability.
  13. GreaserMatt


    Sep 4, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    Those aluminum cones definately have a distinct sound; I've always wanted to try out one of their older 1x15 cabs. I think the older stuff is better than the newer stuff (as most music equipment goes imho). Here's my other 4x10; a well used, beer soaked XL series from the late 80's/early 90's... I forget when they actually went into production...


  14. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    i'll give it to larry for one thing, those hartke's can take a beating!
  15. knarleybass

    knarleybass Commercial User

    Apr 6, 2005
    Tustin, CA
    Owner of Ulyate Instruments
    I think the craze ended when people actually tried them out.
  16. chadds


    Mar 18, 2000
    When you can put in your rider a cab/amp that is widely available in almost any town it can be a convenience that if the rig sounds okay and we know Victor can get his sound then it's okay. Doesn't mean it's a pure sound choice.
  17. qtowens


    May 30, 2008
    Ferndale, MI

    +1 on the LH1000, best head Hartke has put out in some time (the LH500 is no slouch, either...).
  18. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    Glad to hear the LH stuff is good... After my beloved mid-90s 3500 gave it up I ordered a new one (the one that came in its own case), and it came out of the box with the compressor not working and the graphic EQ all wonky. The whole thing just looked and felt "cheap". I sent it back and went with another brand. Probably will not buy a Hartke head again as it just doesn't appear the quality is what it used to be.

    Love their old XL cabs, though.
  19. GreaserMatt


    Sep 4, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    ^^^^^^ That's pretty much it, right there. The older stuff was made better, imho. I have an older 2000 that sounds great still, very loud, etc. It has the original tube in it.
  20. I think the thing that has affected the sales of Hartke is that the have become a proprietary brand of Sam Ash Music. As a result, they are not placed in stores that offer direct competition(Hense you never see them at GC). While this gives Sam Ash a special line, right now GC seems to have more following. I don't particularly like the Hartke sound(Except the new LH heads) but I don't think the quality is any less than other more popular cabinets. I think the marketing strategy is flawed. (I think MarkBass may go the same way if GC flounders at all).

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