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Amp too small?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by szvonek, Nov 7, 2000.

  1. Hey all, I have an Ampeg BR-100, and it's great in rehearsals (we practice in a basement that eats up sound), but our band is getting close to playing out, and I'm not sure if my amp will be big enough. Do I need a head, combo, etc.? Be careful when throwing around techie-jargon like ohms, etc. with me, cuz i really am superclueless on amp stuff mostly because thinking about speakers and watts really bores me. I'm hoping I won't have to shell out tons of cabbage again to play out. Alright, thanks a lot for the advice. I bow to your collective knowledge, oh great Bassforumpeople...
  2. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Depends on how loud your band plays, what kind of music you play, what kind of gigs you will be doing.

    The B-100R is big enough to do moderate volume gigs in medium sized rooms, ie. your typical night club. The mystery word here is "moderate volume"...typical blues, jazz, C&W gigs, sure; metal or punk, well you might want something louder, a LOT louder.
  3. Goes to show you how interested I am in amps, I even misquoted the name of my own. Thanks man.
    We play original modern rock, kind of a Foo fighters/PJam mix. So it sounds like I'll need something louder then...what would the minimum wattage be I'd need? Would I be totally embarassed if i tried using my amp in a club do you think? I think I need some amp 101 too if anyone has the time. I don't even know what a frickin pre-amp is. This is sad.
  4. White_Knight


    Mar 19, 2000
    A little amp 101? Ok, I'll do my best: everyone else, pick up the points that I miss.

    BTW, before I dig in, BassPlayer had a good article on this a short while back. Try looking through their website.

    Ok, first of all, there are several parts to an amplifier. The two most common and the two that have the largest impact on you overall are the power amp and the pre-amp. These can be seperate units (such as a rackmount power amp, like a Mackie 1400i and a rackmount pre-amp, such as a SWR Grand Prix). Otherwise they can be a single unit, commonly called a head (such as a SWR SM-900 or a Ampeg SVT4 Pro). Now that's the amplification side of it. If you combine the power amp, pre-amp, and a speaker together in the same cabinent, it's called a combo amp (Crate BX-100, SWR Workingman's 15, Ampeg B100R).

    Now, to what those parts of the amp do:
    1) The Pre-Amp
    The Pre-Amp is the low power amplifier that takes the low-voltage signal from your guitar and prepares it for boosting at the power amp stage. This is where you do all of your EQing and gain. This is also the level at which external effects (such as a stompbox) generally run at.

    2) The Power Amp
    The Power Amp then takes the pre-amp's low voltage signal and boosts it to an acceptable volume. You want the Power Amp to color the sound as little as possible. Basically it's what makes your signal loud.

    Basically, combo amps combine everything in a single cabinent. This makes them easy to move around and relatively easy to use since you don't have to set everything up, just plug in and go.

    The head and speaker cabinents system utilizes an amplifier head paried with generally 1 or 2 speaker cabinents. For example, a Ampeg SVT 4 Pro connected to a Eden 118XLT (18" cabinent) and a SWR Workingman's 2x10 (10" cabinent). This setup generally (though not always) has more power than a combo and offers a little bit more flexibility - you can switch cabinents around for different sounds or switch amps for more power.

    Finally, there's the rackmount solution - this it much like the head/cab idea except the the head is divided up into seperate components: a power amplifier and a pre-amp. This allows all of the customization of the head/cab setup but with the added ability to change out a pre-amp and leave the power amp, or if you like the sound of your pre-amp, to switch out your power amp.

    Anyway, that's a good start. Let us know if you want to know anything else - we're here to help.

    BTW, here's some links of manufacturers that offer all of these setups:

    *You can find plenty more links in the bass section at Harmony Central:

    [Edited by White_Knight on 11-07-2000 at 10:02 PM]
  5. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    You need 300 watts minimum to play out.
  6. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    Actually, it depends on the kind of music you play (Fill your profile. It'll keep us from second guessing ans will e better able to help you) I, f'rinstance play Jazz. I once used a Hartke Kickback in a big room and was heard just fine. Mind you, those extra 200 watts wouldn't have hurt either. For Hard rock, 300 watts sounds about loud, er, right.

    Will C.:cool:
  7. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I understand what you're trying to say, but wattage means NOTHING unless you also consider the speakers you will be using, etc. I'm old enough to have been around when you saw bass players using Fender Bassman amps , a mere FIFTY watts into a 2-15" cabinet and that was considered "industry standard". It was also pretty loud, deafening even. Until the Ampeg SVT was invented in 1968 there was no such thing as a 300 watt bass (or guitar) amp! We have gotten so darn loud over the years it's insane. Paul McCartney played with the Beatles in Shea Stadium with only a 50 watt amp!!!

    The Ampeg B-100R can be used for gigs but if the band wants to be loud ON STAGE you will be running it flat out (you might even LIKE the way that sounds!).

    In general, a good rule of thumb for live rock bass is whatever wattage the guitarist has, you need 2 to 4 times a smuch. I.e. if he has a 50 watt Marshall you want a 200 watt amp.

    You also want at least 2-15" or 4-10" speakers. The more speakers you have moving air the louder you can get. It's simple physics: a 100 watt amp driving 1-15" speaker is no louder than a 50 watt amp driving 2-15" speakers assuming the speaker are the same. That's because doubling the cone area increases acoustic efficiency of the speakers by 3 dB, which is the SAME amount of volume increase you get by doubling the power. So a 200 watt amp with 2-15" speakers can be about 6 dB louder than your B-100R, this is a significant difference!

    A good rig like that on the cheap would be search for a USED GK 400RB amp head (I see these regularly for $250 or so) then pick up either two 1-15" cabinets (8 ohms each) or a single 2-15" cabinet (4 ohms). Since 10" speakers are the rage today you can pick up used cabs for about $2-300. So total cost would be about $500, not much more than you probably paid for that B-100R and it will cover your gigging needs for a LONG time.
  8. Awesome, thanks everyone, lots of great info. Really appreciate it. That's pretty shocking about Paul's 50 Watt amp at Shea...he must've run it through PA speakers too at least right?
  9. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I am old enough that I played a 50-watt Bassman into a Fender 215 cabinet. It sounded like total, unmitigated crap. My comment was very general, but I stand by it. If you're trying to play out, big venue or small, good speakers or bad, jazz or rock, anything less than 300 watts is going to mean making some concessions. In reality, you need 600 watts minimum to get the 300 watts worth of volume and the headroom you deserve as a bass player. Treat yourself right.
  10. assteak


    Nov 3, 2000
    if you hook up a cabinet with something like a 100 watt combo, wouldn't the combo just need more power? ...to power the cab?
    is there a limit as to how big of cabinets you can hook up?

    i have a hartke kickback 12. what kind of cabs can i hook up to it without blowing my amp? more confuseness...
  11. Brianrost,I know this is too trivial, and makes no difference to anything, but Paul actually used a 100w rig for Shea Stadium. God, I feel embarrased bringing that up, but I'm a stickler for detail.
  12. These are old-school watts right?
  13. RS


    Aug 27, 2000
    Cleveland, OH
    Fast and Bulbous, Tight also

  14. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Ha! You hooked them! :D

    The real answer is:

    You can never have an amp that it is too small ....

    but of course you can have one that is too quiet, too noisy, sounds awful etc.

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