In Memoriam: Steve Rabe

Steve Rabe

Steve Rabe, founder and chief engineer of SWR Engineering, has passed away, his family announced. He was 73 years old.

“Known for his innovative and breakthrough designs in bass amplification products Rabe was the chief engineer from his founding of the company in 1984 until it was sold in 1997,” a statement explains. “Later the brand was sold to Fender.”

Rabe had experience in the amplification industry from working at Acoustic Control Corporation and A.M.P. before starting SWR, which got its name from his initials. His vision was to create a hybrid bass amp with a tube preamp and solid-state power section. The brand launched in 1984 with the PB-200, which Rabe handmade in his San Fernando Valley Garage. That model became the SM-400. SWR expanded into speaker cabinets in 1986 with the Goliath: a 4×10” cab with a built-in tweeter.

After selling SWR in 1997, Rabe moved on to create Raven Labs, ultimately retiring in 2005.

Former SWR Sales and Marketing head Rick Carlson reflected on Rabe’s passing, saying “Steve redefined the boundaries of bass amplification and changed the game, his legacy lives on in the hearts of the musicians that knew him and all those that played SWR gear. His influence was considerable and set the course for bass amplification as we know it today.”

Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Steve Rabe.

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  1. Steve Carriere

    I’ve had so much SWR gear over the years. Can’t even begin to list it all. Small combos to big rigs. An innovator and an inspiration for sure.

  2. Doug Westerkamp

    My sincere condolences to Steve’s family. Also, I think a correction to the editorial text above is in order. It says Steve worked at Acoustic Amplification, and I believe he actually worked at ACOUSTIC CONTROL CORPORATION in Van Nuys, the company that produced the legendary Acoustic 360 (or 361, if you prefer).Bass amp system. Acoustic Amplification, Inc. is the company Guitar Center created after they bought (and registered) the ACOUSTIC® name circa 2006-2007.

  3. i am seth rabe steve rabes grandson my family and i were devastated when he passed away.

    my dad brian rabe shared a love group for steve rabe on facebook.
    I am very sad that he had passed away, we went to the house where he died in and gathered all of his work and the guitars he was given by others and took them home to san jose california and have had them for a while, and my family specifically was and still is thinking about taking over the company.