Whatever Happened To…. The Search For Some Brands That Disappeared

We all come to know, love, and eventually trust certain brands, whether by the tone, the hype or the people behind it But sometimes, just as we think we’ve found another long-term player in the gear game, we are left standing out in the cold.

Here are some brands that flew coup, and caused or maybe have caused their respective exits from the scene. Some went out with a whimper, others came storming back, and others still may have one more card up their sleeves to play.




Looking back, it seems like Blackheart was ahead of the curve when it came to the “lunchbox” amp head craze. They made a nice range of dead-simple, great-sounding amps with killer “hard rock with a dash of punk” aesthetics. Then, poof.


There is still an “active” website for Blackheart [http://www.blackhearteng.com], accessible through the website of it’s parent company, LOUD Technologies, Inc.,but it doesn’t appear to have been updated since 2010.




I think we all, at one point, owned a Crate. Especially those of us that were playing in the ’80s and ’90s. Mainly known as a maker of low-cost starter and mid-range amps, Crate did come into it’s own later with the higher-end Palomino and Blue Voodoo models. They also had their fair share of bonafide pro endorsers and even jumped into the modeling game with the Flexwave series.

But it may have been too little, too late. Even with status as a household name for beginner musicians, they seem to have been unable to keep up with changing times. Crate also has an “active”…maybe we should say “zombie”…website, but like Blackheart’s site it doesn’t appear to have been updated recently either. Interestingly enough, LOUD Technologies, Inc., is also listed as Crate’s parent company.



Ah, the good folks from Krank. Some of them are actually still making amps under the name Revolution, but the story behind the Krank name, as I understand it, goes a little something like this:
– Private owner has good local success and brings on investors as managing partners to expand the business;
– Turns out “managing” is not something these partners do very well and huge amounts of debt accumulate;
– A new investor/managing partner comes aboard and takes control;
– Krank begins to achieve wider success, but poor management practices doom the brand once again and many of the main people in the company, including Tony Krank, bail out.
– Krank Amps is shuttered in 2013.*


Here’s the lesson, boys and girls: when you’re expanding your team, make sure you have folks who know what they’re doing.



em1Four Force

This company came out strong, but unfortunately tapped out early:

“Some bad news to share, we have exited this business. I founded this company to bring high quality sound to a new low price level. Technically, I think we nailed it but the marketing challenge was huge and very expensive. To get the sales volumes needed to build a strong business the marketing costs would be very expensive and pushed the price of the amp too high. Thank you for all your support, we had a blast trying to get this business off the ground. I still have a bunch of amp designs and some key patents so you may see a future re-incarnation. For now I need to let my bank account recharge…Jim”.

They were the kings of marketing and then all of a sudden, poof. Goes to show ya…budgeting is important! (see screenshot from their Facebook page) But at least there is closure, and an honest-to-goodness answer. Jim – we wish you the best of luck.

What’s the moral of the story? Good names can be here today and gone tomorrow. Sometimes they just go on hold or come back from the dead, and other times the whole thing goes up in a blaze of glory. Either way, it’s a new day and there are newer brands that are working really hard to earn our trust and our business.

Who do you think is next to fade into the sunset and who already has that missed? Who do you think should go away? What are some of the newer brands out there that you think have some staying power? Tell us your thoughts, and we may turn them into a larger story!

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