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40-lb amp = "boat anchor"; 40-lb cab = "portable"... is this discrimination??

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by PlayTheBass, Mar 13, 2005.

  1. PlayTheBass

    PlayTheBass aka Mac Daddy Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2004
    Carmichael, CA
    OK, so I'm currently looking at the possibility of getting a new power amp since my PLX3002 crapped out on Saturday (more), and I've been poring over TB obsessively this weekend… :) and I'm wondering: why is it that a 40-lb amplifier is considered a "boat anchor" requiring "power-lifting", when a 40-lb cabinet is considered lightweight and portable?

    I mean, if anything, a smaller amp is easier to carry than a bulkier cabinet when they weigh the same. So is it just because we expect cabinets to be heavy and amps to be lighter (because we expect bigger to mean heavier)? Or is it because we usually want to rack the power amp with other equipment (pre, etc.), so we're already mentally compensating for that additional weight on top of the amp alone?

    Given my devotion to the PLX series for so many years, I've certainly been in the school of lightweight amps. But I am open to trying something new (and by that I mean "old"), and am willing to think of maybe splitting my rack up if I got a heavier power amp, so that it could be carried separately. It just struck me that time and time again people would talk about, say, a Crown Macro-Tech as something you're going to pay the price for lifting over and over, and yet we never bat an eye at moving cabinets that weigh just as much and are more awkward to lift. Are we discriminating against amplifiers?
  2. Plain Old Me

    Plain Old Me

    Dec 14, 2004
    Cabs have casters, amps don't unless you have a good rack case.
  3. PlayTheBass

    PlayTheBass aka Mac Daddy Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2004
    Carmichael, CA
    A good point, but I have owned many cabs in the 40-50 pound range and not a single one had casters. And even with casters, you still have to lift the thing at some point (steps, back of car, etc.)
  4. Plain Old Me

    Plain Old Me

    Dec 14, 2004
    In my band, usually everyone helps get the cabs onstage, but your on your own with the head or rack.
  5. DubDubs


    Aug 23, 2004
    Los Angeles
    I have two Aguilar 112's that are considered light (about 35lbs) and they don't have castors. Only big cabs have castors. My Rack is about 50lbs. I need help carrying it (I can lift the weight but there's just one not so well placed handle on the case) so I'm really considering a PLX. I judge things as "portable" or "boat anchor" depending on their weight and how easy they are to carry not on the type of equpment they are. Obviously the type of gear has a little to do with it, a 5lb cab is what should be considered portable but there's no way a cab could be that light. What I mean is a 30lb cab and a 30lb rack setup are both fairly portable to me.
  6. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    I've always gone light weight.... but I finally realised I much prefer the slower rounder tone of a tube power section.

    so my current rig is...

    2 cabs @ 50lbs each
    1 tube head @ 100lbs

    vs my gig rig for the 90s

    2 cabs @ 30lbs each
    1 ss head @ 15-18lbs

    I've got more volume, 2x the drivers and better tone now :bassist: it was well worth doubling the weight to me.
  7. Plain Old Me

    Plain Old Me

    Dec 14, 2004
    Same here; my rack gave out and I went tube and will never go back.
  8. It's just a psyche tactic some use to make themselves feel better about not possessing an SVT. (Not that there's anything wrong with that. :rolleyes: )

    P.S. SVTs are heavier than some boat anchors.
  9. CaptainWally

    CaptainWally Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2000
    Sandy Eggo, CA
    You have a point - you're the one that has to carry it. Go for it!
  10. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    I mean, if anything, a smaller amp is easier to carry than a bulkier cabinet when they weigh the same.

    Not in my experience. Many bass cabs have the handles placed near the center of mass of the cab, but rack cases have no way of accounting for that, and amps vary widely in their weight distribution, no? My 38 pound Crown K2 is a total bear to carry in an SKB case, even with nothing else in the rack. My 54 pound 1 X12 cab is a joy to carry, comparatively.

    But, it's ultimately all down to what you're comfortable with.
  11. uglybassplayer


    Aug 24, 2001
    New Jersey
    Mostly because the terms "lightweight" and "heavy" are only meaninful in relation to the object being described at the time. It's like comparing a cell phone and a notebook computer. A 4.5lb notebook would be considered a lightweight computer, but a even a 1lb cell phone would be considered extremely heavy by today's standards.

    It also has a lot to do with our perception of size/volume vs. weight. Looking at the notebook vs. cell phone analogy again... Because the cell phone is so much smaller compared to the notebook computer we expect it to weigh much less. Looking at speaker cabinets, we would consider a small 1x12" cabinet that weighed 80lbs to unnecessarily heavy, but a large 8x10" cabinet at that same 80lbs would be considered a miracle. Most heads are considerably smaller in size than the cabinets they're paired with... Naturally we expect it to weigh less. Especially since there are powerful digital heads are available weighing in under 5lbs these days, it's getting harder to justify the weight of the old tube heads. I suspect that if technology made it possible sometime in the future to manufacture great sounding 4x10" cabinets that weighed under 25lbs...

    See if you still agree with that statement after toting something like an AI Focus or WW Ultra to gigs for a few weeks ;)
  12. Pickebass

    Pickebass Supporting Member

    Jul 12, 2004
    San Antonio, TX
    Have you ever carried a 40-50lb head? Or carried a 40-50lb cab? The difference is that with the cabinet. The weight is more "spread out" on the cab. As a result, it doesn't seem as heavy. On an amp head the same weight is spread out over a smaller space the weight seems more "dense". I'm not a science guy, so this is my non scientific explanation. I have a DB359 in a case... weighs around 60lbs... HEAVY. However, it's easier to carry the two GS112s in both at the same time, one in each hand.

    I don't understand the law of physics
  13. PlayTheBass

    PlayTheBass aka Mac Daddy Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2004
    Carmichael, CA
    I don't know, I still think the smaller amp is easier, regardless of weight distribution (and besides, I've had some cabs that weren't exactly balanced, as manufacturers seem to want to leave the handles in the middle even if the front of the cab is the heavier). I mean, it's just simple ergonomics: the closer you can hold something to your body, the easier it is to carry. An amp can be held right up against your body, so that it's only a few inches from your chest (or your belly, depending on your body configuration ;)), while a cab always requires reaching out.

    And the act of raising and lowering while lifting is much easier when the object is closer to you. Reaching out is what strains the back.

    Exactly! That's what I think it is. We're biased against the amps.
  14. PlayTheBass

    PlayTheBass aka Mac Daddy Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2004
    Carmichael, CA
    Right -- the key word being "seems". It isn't really heavier at all, it only seems it. But again, why? Especially when it's more awkward to pick up!

    Now that makes sense -- carrying the DB359 in front of your body, your back is bearing more of the load. Carrying the two Aggies with one in each hand spreads the load across your shoulders and upper body, where there's more strength. (If you were to carry the speakers in a stack in front of you, I bet they would seem heavier than the amp!)

    I guess my original question is really geared toward carrying both the amp and the cab in front of your body.
  15. PlayTheBass

    PlayTheBass aka Mac Daddy Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2004
    Carmichael, CA
    I've experienced that too, but doesn't that again demonstrate a bias toward thinking amps are lighter? I mean, nobody ever wonders if the rack might be heavier, and I'd sure rather have help with a 50-lb rack than a 40-lb cabinet.
  16. Larry Kaye

    Larry Kaye Retailer: Schroeder Cabinets

    Mar 23, 2000
    Cleveland, OH
    bought an Acoustic Image Focus 600 1, 4 pounds, stuff it in the two rack spaces abondoned by my former 36 pound head. Rack has telescopic handle and wheels. One space for 31 band eq I'm addicted to, about 2.5 pounds, Furman power conditioner 3.5 pounds? 4 pounds for the head and 8 pounds? for the rack? That's 18 pounds total with casters.

    Yeah, my cabinet weighs 47 pounds and no casters. so I bring a small rack and roll cart (I carry a PA cab too and believe me, I'm too old to be schlepping this crapola), make two trips to the car. Nothing that can't be lifted up and down steps if necessary.

    Don't really need help loading or unloading. But my former rack was 31 pounds heavier and felt like it weighed a lot more than that because it's awkward to carry.

    The point, None really...with an 18 pound rack, awkward handles and other hernia creating and car damage causing racks are a thing of the past!!!

  17. uglybassplayer


    Aug 24, 2001
    New Jersey
    I'm not sure where you're going with the "bias" and "discrimination" statements. I think it's simple really... We tend to frown on heavy poweramps and heads because there are lighter alternatives on the market that have proven themselves to be every bit as good. But hey, if you don't mind the workout and lugging around 150lbs to 200lbs of gear doesn't bother you... More power to you!

    As far as getting or expecting help with transporting your rig, I would think that is a "give and take" issue with the whole band. I've tried my best to build a bass rig that's lightweight and portable, yet sounds the way I want it to sound in the bands I play with. I did this so that I don't have to rely on anyone else to help me transport my own equipment... The rest of the band has enough to worry about with their own gear. Luckily for me, my band mates share my feelings and manage the transport and setup of their own equipment as well. The one thing we all pitch in on is the setup and breakdown of the PA, and we've started thinking of ways to shaving off some pounds and bulk to save us some headaches (and backaches) in that area as well.
  18. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics

    My 20 pound head is a boat anchor compared to, say, the Focus. A 40 pound cab is pretty darn light, if it'll do the job at hand. Apples and oranges, not "discrimination" (in some negative sense) per se, in my opinion.
  19. ihixulu

    ihixulu Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2000
    South Shore MA
    There are worse biases to be concerned with in this world than whether an amp is called "fatso" by the cab. Sheesh...
  20. Mike Money

    Mike Money Banned

    Mar 18, 2003
    Bakersfield California
    Avatar Speakers Endorsing Hooligan
    I think people need to stop complaining about the weight of their gear.

    Want light gear? Play guitar.

    Its not odd to see me with 2 basses on my shoulders lugging around my 98 pound TNT... with no casters...

    aint no biggy. just deal with it.