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 Amplification 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.

Get daily bass updates.

Get the latest news, videos, lessons, and more in your inbox every morning.

Share your thoughts

  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.