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B-15R for Big Band?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by StuartV, Mar 13, 2014.

  1. StuartV

    StuartV Finally figuring out what I really like Supporting Member

    Jul 27, 2006
    Manassas, VA
    I think I have just gotten a gig as the bassist for a big band jazz ensemble. It's kind of a community band thing. I haven't seen/heard them yet, and I'm sure I'll have a better idea of the answer to my own question after I rehearse with them this afternoon.

    But, I've never played bass in a big band before (only trombone), so I'm wondering if any of you that have big band experience think my B-15R (100W, remember) will be adequate (without an extension cab)? How about with a 1x15 extension cab added? I'm pretty sure it will be plenty with the extension cab, really. But, any input from experienced big band bassists would appreciated.

    ps. I am unbelievably stoked to get this gig!! Playing bass in a big band has been at the top of my list since I started playing bass!
    :hyper: :bassist: :hyper: :bassist: :hyper: :bassist: :hyper:
  2. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    I think it would be plenty. In a big band, the bass isn't really overpowering.
  3. stiles72


    Mar 20, 2009
    Albany IL
    I think it would be a great fit
  4. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
    Congratulations on the gig Stuart.

    I don't see why it wouldn't work. Horns can get loud though. If there' s an issue, an extension cab would help swing it.

    I was in a big band and there was less money to go around. You make more in a small band. :p
  5. TheDialog

    TheDialog Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2008
    I think it will fit well if there's PA support.
    I could never hear myself on stage or at practice with the R.
    These may help:
  6. Joebone

    Joebone Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2005
    Los Angeles
    Speaking as a trombonist/bassist, that should be fine. A decent 1-15 has always seemed the sweet spot for big band electric bass - broad coverage so everyone can hear and feel you without you having to blast and challenge your drummer, and the bass can provide some pillow and thump under the band. You're in an environment where the bass 'bone and bari sax are moving air, and 1-15 just somehow seems to complement that. Unless the band has ultra-modern charts channelling Jaco in the bass chair, you'll want just enough upper-mids and highs to provide a wee bit of definition. The more I think on it, that B-15R sounds pretty much ideal, so long as it is on casters and you don't have stairs.
  7. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    100 watts and a 15 should be just fine for a big band. They're typically whisper quiet compared to a rock band.
  8. +1

    What's the output with the extension?

    Remember: Better to have too much, you can always turn down or forgo the extension. Come in with too little, you're stuck.

    I've heard some pretty loud jazz bands, just depends on how many pieces.
  9. StuartV

    StuartV Finally figuring out what I really like Supporting Member

    Jul 27, 2006
    Manassas, VA
    Thanks, David. Yeah, there's no money in this gig. In fact, it'll probably cost me money. And I don't care. I haven't found a working band around here to join yet. And I always wanted to play bass in a big band. In a perfect world, I will find a good working band (3 or 4 piece, playing rock and blues) to join and do both, for two slightly different kinds of fun.

    Bands playing in the vein of Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, etc. are generally pretty quiet. But, I'm thinking you might not have ever heard Stan Kenton's or Buddy Rich's or even (a slightly smaller band) Maynard Ferguson's bands from the 70s era. Those bands would get LOUD! Which is what I'm worried about. 5 trumpets, 5 trombones, and 5 saxes, all good players blowing hard, plus a good drummer can really get really loud!

    It's a tube amp, so it's 100W at 4 ohms or 8 ohms.

    The band has a bass amp, so for today's meet-and-greet and rehearsal I'm just taking a couple of basses and that's it. I'm really just mentally preparing myself for what I'll do if I don't like their amp as well as I like my own gear (and what are the chances of that?! ;)). I have some great gear (yes, on wheels :)) and I have no qualms about humping it back and forth to rehearsal and gigs, if it sounds better than what they have.

    And if the 15R is not loud enough, I have options anywhere from a 1x15 extension cab all the way up to taking my vintage SVT and Heritage 810 (and what a sight THAT would be on a big band back line!), if needed. But I sure would like it a lot if the 15R works, all by itself. I think it has a good tone and totally the right look for using with a big band.
  10. elgecko


    Apr 30, 2007
    Anasleim, CA
    "Loud"...but still not rock band loud. I've played in all manner of big band, playing all manner of big band charts, and have yet to experience one where even a small Polytone would be unable to keep up.
  11. StuartV

    StuartV Finally figuring out what I really like Supporting Member

    Jul 27, 2006
    Manassas, VA
    It's been over 25 years since I played in a big band, so I'm hoping you are right and my memory is just skewed by time and my lack of rock band experience back then. :D
  12. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
    Ya Stu but you'll be able to wear some cool rags to look the part. The dames in the audience will like the band for that.
  13. interp

    interp Supporting Member

    Apr 14, 2005
    Garmisch, Germany
    Sounds ideal to me. My son played with a 17-piece band through a B-15N with a Altec-Lansing 15 and it killed.
  14. Febs

    Febs Supporting Member

    May 7, 2007
    Philadelphia, PA
    I think one of the differences is that in big bands, the bass doesn't need to compete as much for sonic space with other amplified electric instruments as in a rock band, so while big bands can be deafeningly loud, the amplification requirements are not nearly as great.
  15. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Stuart, anyone who asks if a 100w tube amp is enough for a big band better be prepared to repeatedly hear the phrase, "Stuart, please turn down."

    Yes, some big bands are loud. If this was the Brian Setzer Orchestra, you might make a case for something more than that. But I believe I could do any community jazz band with a B-15N, and you'll have 75 more watts. And really, I could probably do Brian's gig with one, too, since he always has PA.
  16. jmlee

    jmlee Catgut? Not funny. Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2005
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    Played for years in various big bands with a B-15S at 60 watts. Way more than enough, even in my last Toronto band with 15 pieces and the formidable Paul DeLong on drums. Big band playing is all about dynamics, not volume. Sometimes it's a trio, plus/minus a soloist. Sometimes it's a powerhouse of brass and drum shots. Bass volume is best defined by the trio moments. But the bassist owns the time. The drummer has the horns and owns the punch.
  17. StuartV

    StuartV Finally figuring out what I really like Supporting Member

    Jul 27, 2006
    Manassas, VA
    Well, I needn't have feared. Their amp was a brand new (but not the new design) Ampeg BA115. And it was plenty! This band is definitely in the Glenn Miller vein, with no powerhouses that I saw.

    I've never played with a BA115 before. It sounded pretty decent!
  18. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    For the money, the BA115 is hard to beat.
  19. Sugar McGuinn

    Sugar McGuinn

    Feb 10, 2010
    Hey Stuart,
    Two things I know from hanging around this place is: Jimmy is always right (no sarcasm, that's truth), and 100 tube amp is all you should ever need (I think Jimmy said that, too).

    I use a B-15R as my main rig in a 10 piece Soul band (3-horns). I never want for volume, nor does anyone else... The B-15R is a forgotten gem of an amp... I use mine with 2-Bergantino NV115 cabs, TAD tubes (new discovery for me), and a AVRI 63 PBass.., melted butter on pancakes, my friend...

    I will say this... I've used my B-15R with one cab, and I just didn't dig it... Yeah, the volume was fine, but the "air" was different... Didn't like it... Now, alway 2 cabs (4ohms). Also, just for appearances, I got 2 Ampeg PF115 cabs... Looked cool, but was NOT the same thing... I know a lot of folks really dig those cabs, but they didn't do it for me... Not by comparison... Buy some decent cabs...
  20. Sugar McGuinn

    Sugar McGuinn

    Feb 10, 2010
    That's the good stuff...