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#1
Hi!

I'm looking for a new amp, and wondered what the difference between a stack (or half-stack) and a combo is?

thanks!
#2
Uhh..

A stack consists of a cabinet with speakers in it, connected to a amp.

a combo is the amp and speakers in one unit.
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#4
stack


combo
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Peavey Valveking 112 w/ 2x12 cab

Originally Posted by Shirate
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#5
I don't know exactly what you mean, but if you mean the technical pros/cons then here:

Stack:
Pros:
More versatility (Option of switching heads without buy a new cab, and vice versa)
Choice of speakers
Arguably easier to move if you aren't very strong. You could move the cab, then the head, without having to drag the combo.
Cons:
Takes longer to take from one place to another.
Generally costs more to buy a cab and a head as oppose to a combo.

Combos:
Pros:
Quicker to transport from and to places.
Not having to worry about speaker leads.
Smaller.

Cons:
Less speakers; not as "full" sound (Normally)
Less versatility. (You can't just switch.)


That's about it, some others might add things I forgot though.
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#6
The only difference is the amp and speakers are separate in a cab, and combined in a combo.

You can go into more detail (eg the post above) but at the end of the day it's a personal preference.
#7
i know the difference in what you guys are saying but is the sound any different?? that was my point..
#8
More speakers have a more full sound but it's preference.
Matthew 7:7 ""Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."

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#9
ok thanks....

do you have any tips of stacks that are pretty decent but not SO expencive??
#11
Peavey Windsor (amazing imo)
Peavey Valveking
Avatar cab + head that you like and can afford?
Matthew 7:7 ""Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."

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#13
If you buy it second hand you can get some really good stuff.
Matthew 7:7 ""Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."

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#14
Stack's make you look like a tool if you're playing a small gig, combos in a large gig will make you look like a pussy if you can't play, or like a BAMF if you can.

The sound difference? Having a separate cab and head gives you more versatility in terms of mixing and matching tones, but even if you have a combo you can still switch out speakers, and some also give you the option of adding a cab to the existing speakers in the combo, or using a cab instead.
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#15
Arguably easier to move if you aren't very strong. You could move the cab, then the head, without having to drag the combo.

That's a pretty broad and inaccurate statement.

Moving a head + small (like a mesa stilleto) 212 will be easier then moving a 212 combo, but that's about it.

Larger 212 cabs (like Avatar Contemps) and 412's will weigh close to the same as the average 212 combo, be larger and bulkier making them more difficult to move and to transport.

There are some definite pro's to head/cab over combo, but ease of transport isn't one of them.
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#17
Quote by Fundis
i know the difference in what you guys are saying but is the sound any different?? that was my point..


you could have said that then

apologies for not being telepathic

EDIT:

Quote by gald
That's a pretty broad and inaccurate statement.

Moving a head + small (like a mesa stilleto) 212 will be easier then moving a 212 combo, but that's about it.

Larger 212 cabs (like Avatar Contemps) and 412's will weigh close to the same as the average 212 combo, be larger and bulkier making them more difficult to move and to transport.

There are some definite pro's to head/cab over combo, but ease of transport isn't one of them.


disagree

after my 210 bass amp im never having anything bigger than a 112 that isnt in more than 1 piece

the heavy bits are transformers, chassis's, speakers etc, not wooden cabinets. so if you spread them out its much easier

my 210 is a bitch to haul. it's such an awkward lift. a head is so much easier, and i was suprised how light a 412 was the first time i lifted one. got it onto a 3' stage from the floor easy (and im not bragging )
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Last edited by stevo_epi_SG_wo at Jan 8, 2010,
#18
Quote by forsaknazrael
That's an okay budget. What kind of music do you play?


I play mainly old rock (Rush, Led Zeppelin etc.), but i use pedals for distortion, so i want a good clean tone. of, course, if i can use a footswitch, that's even better, I can use both pedals and the footswitch. Have you got any suggestions of a stack for my use?
Last edited by Fundis at Jan 9, 2010,
#19
Quote by stevo_epi_SG_wo

disagree

after my 210 bass amp im never having anything bigger than a 112 that isnt in more than 1 piece

the heavy bits are transformers, chassis's, speakers etc, not wooden cabinets. so if you spread them out its much easier

my 210 is a bitch to haul. it's such an awkward lift. a head is so much easier, and i was suprised how light a 412 was the first time i lifted one. got it onto a 3' stage from the floor easy (and im not bragging )


****, I wrote up a big long post but it got eaten by my browser so I'm just going to hit the highlights.

I didn't say you were wrong, just that the statement that a "stack" was "Arguably easier to move if you aren't very strong." was too broad and inaccurate.

A small 212 cab (like a Mesa Stiletto cab) and a head will be, in general lighter then your average 212 combo (though I'd prefer to move a 65lb amp once, then a 40lb cab and then make a second trip, but that's personal preference.)

However, larger 212 cabs (an Avatar Contemp. for example, which weighs in at 65lbs) will weigh near the same as a combo and in some cases be larger as well. My YCV80 weights in at 65lbs, same as the Avatar, but is half the size and is far easier to move.

Once you move into talking about 412's it's not even a discussion. In a thread sometime ago this turned into a rather heated argument, and not being one to give p I did some research and looked up the weights of some of the more common 212 combos and 412 cabs and the weights were, on average, pretty similar, but the combos will be half the size.
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#20
I think the weight thing is pretty relative. My 8412 which is probably the smallest 412 you can get is made out of mostly mdf and weighs just as much as the jcm900 combo I just got. If anything I would say the combo is much heavier. The mesa rec 412 is about 1/3 larger then the marshall and weighs like I dunno 1 billion times more.

For me it's more an question of options. Most higher end combos have at least one speaker out so there is the option of getting a cab later. Personally I like having a decent 412 that I can mix and match heads with.
Prs se Holcomb is the answer
#21
Try a Twin Reverb. Heavy as hell and you're a wimp if you need help. OTOH a stack and a folding trolley is an excellent idea.
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#22
that's how the girls knew who to sleep with in high school. ability to lift a twin reverb over your head.
Prs se Holcomb is the answer
#23
A stack has much more power to it, which is why most large gigs should be played with a stack or a few.

What I mean by more power isn't more voltage, but they can ram out sound much harder than a combo can. You can have two closed back 4x12 cabs and a head, and then try to compare it to a combo. There's a difference.
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#24
Quote by V.U.K
A stack has much more power to it, which is why most large gigs should be played with a stack or a few.

What I mean by more power isn't more voltage, but they can ram out sound much harder than a combo can. You can have two closed back 4x12 cabs and a head, and then try to compare it to a combo. There's a difference.


Well most gigs would be mic'd if they were large enough so there would be no difference at that point. It would be more of does your amp voice better through a 112, 212, or 412.

It's like asking which kung fu is better? A gun.
Prs se Holcomb is the answer
#25
Quote by Fundis
i know the difference in what you guys are saying but is the sound any different?? that was my point..


The biggest difference is that most stacks are closed back, and most combos are open back. Closed back cabs have more bass, and tend to handle medium to high gain better. Sometimes they're described as sounding "tight" although if you've never played one that description may do you no good. Open back cabs tend to sound a little better with clean or very lightly distorted tones. They're sometimes described as sounding "airy".
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#26
What the hell sort of gigs do you guys play where you need a 100W amp to be heard by the crowd but can't mic up the amp?? If it's big enough to need that sort of power do yourself a favour and hire a decent PA ffs; that way you might actually get a half decent mix. What use is a great guitar sound if the mix is shit?
These discussions do my head in, they really do. The amp has to be loud enough so you can hear it on stage over the gorilla behind the drumkit, the sound out front is supposed to be controlled by the mixer, guys - how can he do that if you are as loud as the PA? And this is coming from somebody that has owned nothing but 100W amps (apart from one 60W one which has become my main gigging amp). The aim isn't to fill the hall directly from the amp - those walls of Marshall stacks you see at big concerts aren't all plugged in you know? Hell most of them don't even have drivers installed in them.
I repeat, if you need a 100W amp to be heard by the crowd - hire a PA.
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#27
Quote by V.U.K
A stack has much more power to it, which is why most large gigs should be played with a stack or a few.

What I mean by more power isn't more voltage, but they can ram out sound much harder than a combo can. You can have two closed back 4x12 cabs and a head, and then try to compare it to a combo. There's a difference.


No. No, no, no, no, no. This is exactly the wrong reason to want any kind stack.

Aside from playing a basement show or something, "ramming out sound" doesn't matter because you're going to be mic'd up through the house PA.

Unless, of course, you're one of those people who feels the need to run your amp dimed and **** up the sound engineer's day. Stage volume doesn't need to be that loud, let the sound guy set the levels with the PA. I can't count the number of local shows have been ruined by some hard-on running their big, badass 1/2 stack way to loud and ****ing up the sound.

I do agree, obviously, that a closed back cab has much different tonal qualities then an open back cab, and they push air better. Especially for heavier music, a close back cab will have better bass response and that's a legit reason to want one.

But to say you need a "stack or few" to play a show because of their "power" is just ignorant.
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#28
Tonight I'm playing a show at a meeting room of a building. It's a huge room and we're bringing our 6 channel P.A. because they don't have their own. With backup vocals and horns we're not going to be able to mic up our amps. I'm definitely excited about cranking up my B-52 past 2 for the first time ever :lol: But 99% of the time it would be easier for me to have a combo. Making 2 trips and lugging a 90 pound 4x12 down and up stairs for practice and shows is just not fun.
#29
Having a stack is very convenient when you're giging in medium size venues where the PA situation is questionable. If the PA is great and the soundman is a legit audio engineer, you can run on 3 and have everything in the mains and monitors. If the PA is a piece of crap and the soundman is a burnout who knew a guy who smoked up with a roadie for Molly Hatchet, then you run on 7 and put only the vocals in the mains and monitors. That way you have options to adapt to the situation at hand.
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#30
I dunno, maybe it's living in a major city or something, but even the smallest-hole-in-the-wall bars and venues around here have more than adequate PA's and engineers.

There's only been one show I can think of with bad sound that wasn't cause by a guitarist being way too loud.
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#31
Quote by gald
I dunno, maybe it's living in a major city or something, but even the smallest-hole-in-the-wall bars and venues around here have more than adequate PA's and engineers.

There's only been one show I can think of with bad sound that wasn't cause by a guitarist being way too loud.


Let me guess - you're a self proclaimed soundman/engineer?
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#32
Quote by Even Bigger D
Let me guess - you're a self proclaimed soundman/engineer?

Nope. I'd have about as much luck performing open-heart surgery as I would operating a soundboard.

I just know what I hear when I'm at shows, what I've read and what I've been told from professional sound engineers (as in, people who graduated from places like Berklee and know what they're doing and what they're talking about.)
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#33
Fender makes a lot of great amps for pretty cheap, too many to name really. Peavey Windsor was another great suggestion. Bugera makes the 333 and the 6260 which are both fantastic. obviously im a Mesa user so i would suggest that, but thats a little outside of your budget (although if you can find a used one in your price range try it out, maybe the Lonestar or Stiletto). CRATE IS NOT GREAT!!! Vox makes some good amps in your price range as well...
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#34
Quote by Even Bigger D
Let me guess - you're a self proclaimed soundman/engineer?



I mean do people realize that just one of these

http://www.jblpro.com/catalog/general/Product.aspx?PId=41&MId=4

is equal to like 8 marshall fullstacks? They are meant to be arrayed in 6's for stadiums and outdoor venues. thats a maximum of almost 20,000 Watts of power. PA's will win every-time. That wall of stacks was used for awesome branding and marketing effect but its just for show.
Prs se Holcomb is the answer
#35
There's no question PAs have the capability to be far louder. And for huge venues, running everything through the PA is pretty mandatory. Although it should be noted that JBL posted is NOT equal to 10 marshalls - it's got 10 times the power handling maybe, but its sensitivity is only 95db/1watt/1meter vs say 103/1/1 for the speakers in a V30 loaded 4x12. That right there kicks the marshall up to being about as loud.

My rule of thumb is as follows: if the venue is small enough that you aren't planning to mic the drums, you probably shouldn't mic the guitar & bass amps either. Because in those venues (where about 95% of all gigs are played), the drums set the volume anyways. Just have the drummer drum, the guitars and bass set their levels on stage to that, and stick the vocals over the top with the PA. Works great.

Trying to put everything but the drums in the PA at a small venue (especially one without a couple of dedicated monitor mix busses) is a recipe for disaster.
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Last edited by Even Bigger D at Jan 9, 2010,
#36
Quote by gald
Nope. I'd have about as much luck performing open-heart surgery as I would operating a soundboard.

I just know what I hear when I'm at shows, what I've read and what I've been told from professional sound engineers (as in, people who graduated from places like Berklee and know what they're doing and what they're talking about.)


The reason I ask is that overly loud guitars is mostly a gripe of amateur "soundmen". Real pros are used to dealing with fairly hefty guitar volumes, since most touring acts use multiple 100 watt heads and cabs (although some are frequently backups).
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#37
Like I said, maybe it's being a major city where there are a lot more people and venues (meaning, if a venue has a rep for bad sound no bands will play there and no people will go), but I have rarely found bad sound a venue be cause by anything but overly-loud amps.

It may also skew my view on what is a "small" venue compared to what you think (though I have no idea, for all I know you live in NY City) is a small venue. Almost every bar around here mics the kick and has at least a boom mic over the kit.
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#38
Quote by Even Bigger D
The reason I ask is that overly loud guitars is mostly a gripe of amateur "soundmen". Real pros are used to dealing with fairly hefty guitar volumes, since most touring acts use multiple 100 watt heads and cabs (although some are frequently backups).

The key words in the sentence are "dealing with."

One of my good friends is a sound engineer for Berklee (graduated from and now works there) and it's his #1 complaint when he has to do sound at the school rock venue. He can compensate for it, but his life would be easier if he didn't have to.

It's not so that, if you know your shit, you CAN'T get a good live sound without a PA and by running 'larger' amps, but those who understand how to do it right are few and far between.
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#39
Well, I've never played in Boston, but since mics on drums is typically done for 1000 seat plus venues, you'll have to excuse me if I'm a bit skeptical. Are you trying to tell me that's Joe's Dive Club will have racks of Crowns, an 8-bus Mackie console, stacks of JBLs and when Bubba the drummer walks in the first think Joe's Berklee-trained engineer will say is "let's get those miced up"? You can see why this strains credibility, right?
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Substitute the stage for the wire, and he's got it.
Last edited by Even Bigger D at Jan 9, 2010,
#40
Quote by gald

One of my good friends is a sound engineer for Berklee (graduated from and now works there) and it's his #1 complaint when he has to do sound at the school rock venue. He can compensate for it, but his life would be easier if he didn't have to.


That has the aura of whining, to be honest. Touring acts have always done it the way they do (with substantial stage volume) for a very good reason.
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“Life is on the wire…the rest is just waiting” - Papa Wallenda
Substitute the stage for the wire, and he's got it.
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