Whatever happened to Crate amps?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Analogeezer, Dec 2, 2021.

  1. Analogeezer


    Jul 29, 2021
    Not that I miss them, just kinda curious.

    I'm old enough to remember when they first came out, they had plain wooden outsides, like they were actually made from old pallets or something.

    Later on they dropped that look and went to tolex coverings.

    The thing is I don't even remember them around during the "Rat Fur" era, but I suppose they were.

    I recall them being part of St. Louis Music and Wiki confirms this, SLM actually created the brand, but that is about all they say about Crate in the SLM article.

    I take it the brand went by the wayside when Loud bought SLM? Or was it before that?

    Again, not pining for the return of Crate amps (but stranger things have happened), I'd rather see SWR or Sunn revived before that but Crate amps used to be EVERYWHERE, especially in the small local mom and pop type stores.

    I suppose when mom and pop brick and mortar stores went away so did a lot of the market for Crate amps.

    If anybody has fond memories of their Crate bass amp, well by all means post that, I have zero experience with them, just used to see them around a lot.

  2. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    I have a Crate "Bass Bus" battery powered bass amp, I really liked it when it worked, but it never worked quite right (charging issues). The built in effects were actually nice but they died first then later the whole amp just stopped. Wish I could get it fixed.
    BBQisgood, wmmj, KohanMike and 2 others like this.
  3. El Güero

    El Güero Inactive

    Oct 5, 2015
    I remember when they were new, late 70s or early 80s? Don't remember if Dickie Betts was an endorser, but Crate did use his name in their advertising, maybe something about the parabolic EQ or whatever you call it.
    BBQisgood likes this.
  4. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    If my recollection is anything to go by, I'd say their reliability record finally caught up with them.

    I knew several people who ended up owning dead Crate amps. As was the case with @bholder' s amp, they just stopped working one day.
    ImaStupidBaby, wmmj, westrock and 2 others like this.
  5. landrybass


    Oct 23, 2011
    Atlanta GA
    My mom went to a music store for my very first bass and they sold her a Bass with a Crate GUITAR amp. Thanks guy. That amp sucked so bad, but I loved it.
  6. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    To me, they just never were amazing. Where Peavey hung their hat on reliability for a good price (even though the tone was muddy), Crate built their rep on features for a good price (even though the tone was muddy). They had all kinds of dials and switched and graphic EQs. But none of that made them sound incredible.

    If I recall (and I may be way off) whoever bought up Crate changed the name to Blackheart and they too were eventually shut down.
    wmmj, Mastermold and Justinian like this.
  7. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    Their entry into the world of compact, class D heads about 15 years ago (I think it was called the Block or the Power Block or some such) was not the most reliable piece of gear. That might have been the beginning of the end for them.

    St. Louis Music changed hands in 2005 and again in 2008 so the new owners may have dropped the line.
  8. arbiterusa


    Sep 24, 2015
    Never used them for bass but did a whole album's worth of guitar tracks with their little 65 watt combo. It recorded unexpectedly well.
  9. Riff Ranger

    Riff Ranger Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2018
    Bigfoot Country
    I started playing in 1993, and yes, they were everywhere. I started on one of their practice amps: probably 15 watts, 8” speaker, 4-band EQ (and to this day, I find fixed 3-band EQ lacking), covered in bedliner. I graduated to one of their big rat fur (yes, they were there for that) combos, with a nice 15” JBL *EDIT: EV, not JBL*, 7-band graphic EQ, and onboard chorus; that wasn’t a bad amp, and I found one just like it still kicking at Twin Town Guitars in Minneapolis this summer (90 miles from where I grew up).

    I, too, have wondered how they went from everywhere to almost nowhere; and I haven’t found much, either.

    Marty Friedman apparently used their guitar amplifiers with Megadeth in the late ‘90s, and that was about the last I heard of them. Their guitar amplifiers still have some fans in death metal. But I don’t think they ever shook their reputation of building everyone’s first lousy practice amp.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2021
  10. Tanner5382


    Sep 26, 2010
    Georgia, USA
    Crate often got viewed solely as a budget/low end amp manufacturer. It's hard to blame anybody for having that opinion. Some of their solid state stuff sounded alright, though.

    However, they did make one outstanding guitar amp I used to borrow from a friend sometimes. The Blue Voodoo. That amp sounded incredible.
  11. SJan3

    SJan3 Supporting Member

    Dec 8, 2010
    I had a CRATE 1X15" cabinet loaded from the factory with an EV speaker. It was a small cabinet for a 15" but it was very punchy. I liked it and, for it's time, it was fairly lightweight. Cost was around $330ish.
    Titch, BBQisgood and jeff7bass like this.
  12. ElectricBass72


    Aug 6, 2019
    Same here. The Crate B160XL... it had chorus, 15" speaker and graphic EQ. Bought one in 1991 and played many gigs with it until '96.
    BBQisgood and Riff Ranger like this.
  13. Riff Ranger

    Riff Ranger Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2018
    Bigfoot Country
    That was the one Marty Friedman had.

    That was the one I had, though I’m almost positive mine had a JBL in it. It had a good speaker, in any event. [EDIT: EV, not JBL]
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2021
  14. The high school where my son went and played bass had one.

    The only Crate amp I was impressed with is their acoustic amp series, the ones with the tan tolex. Those things kicked butt and were extremely loud. The guitar player from our band gas one. They are a clear as a bell. A guitar player at my old church had one too.
    BBQisgood, mngnt and byacey like this.
  15. Obese Chess

    Obese Chess Spicy Big Dad Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2005
    Portland, OR
    The guitarist in my high school garage band bought a Blue Voodoo with a matching 4x12 from a friend of ours for like $200. That thing sounded so much better than it had any right to.
    BBQisgood, mikewalker, wmmj and 4 others like this.
  16. Tanner5382


    Sep 26, 2010
    Georgia, USA
    I used it through a matching 4x12 as well. You're absolutely right about the sound!

    Never had any experience with standalone Crate bass cabs with a different brand of head.
    Obese Chess likes this.
  17. I purchased this Crate, Model BX-80, in December 1992, along with my very first Fender, a brand new MiM Jazz, as a Christmas present for myself. 80 watts with a 15" driver. I bought it as a practice amp and it served the purpose very well. The photo was taken in the summer of 2018 and I finally sold the amp in 2019. It was still performing just as well as it was when I first brought it home. I never had a single issue with this amp. I'm glad it stayed in the rehearsal space, 'cause it was heavy. The fellow I sold it to says it's still going strong.

  18. roborend

    roborend Supporting Member

    Jun 10, 2012
    Rock Island Illinois
    My first bass amp in like 2006 was a crate 50 watt combo, it was terrible lol and it did die prematurely as well
    Rottie Roo Roo and westrock like this.
  19. KohanMike

    KohanMike Gold Supporting Member

    I have a 2nd gen. Crate Limo 50w 10" portable battery amp that I use with my uke group, mostly when I'm playing uke to amplify my harmonica, but at times with my bass uke/mini bass guitars. It has a sealed lead acid battery that lasts for hours. I originally bought it years ago to use with my guitars and resurrected it with a new battery after sitting in a closet for years. Works great. This is a web page dedicated to the Crate Limo: The CRATE LIMO AMP WEB PAGE - CRATE TX50D. My main bass amp rig is a Carvin MB15 Combo, 200w and adding a matching 115MBE cabinet, brings it to 250w.

    Crate Limo 2nd Gen.JPG Crate Lino controls.JPG
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2021
    Dec1975 likes this.
  20. pisces_bass


    Jun 8, 2019
    Central WA
    A Crate 1x15 combo was my first amp, circa 1990. I played out with it a few times, mostly house parties. I don’t recall the details like power or type of speaker. It got loud enough but was pretty muddy/boxy sounding.

    It got replaced in 1994 with a Hartke Model 2000 head and Fender 1x15+2x10 cab. That rig did some work!
    MobileHolmes and BBQisgood like this.
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