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Bass chords and speaker longevity

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by the_stoot64, Apr 13, 2015.

  1. the_stoot64


    Mar 8, 2015
    Along the same lines as a bass guitar will shorten the life span of guitar speakers, how long do you think bass speakers will last playing chords on a bass guitar?
  2. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    1.21 Gigawatts.

    There are soooo many other variables at play that would affect speaker life. I play chords all the time and my speakers are in great shape. There are guys that blow speakers playing Mustang Sally and don't know it. Listen for signs of speaker distress and use good judgment in the usual ways (levels, EQ) and you should be fine.

    And there are lots of chords in lots of registers. Will playing notes in general shorten speaker life? Depends. If you're already on the edge of hurting your speakers and decide to play some power chords in 1st position, maybe that will put them over the edge, but that falls under the "utilize good judgment" clause above.
    bholder and crentest like this.
  3. I haven't worn out a speaker yet, but I don't play chords. The danger would be ''heavy handed'' chording generating sub range thumping rather than the actual chord.

    fdeck HPF for you.
    SunnBass likes this.
  4. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    Said it shorter and sweeter than I did. The fDeck is a good tool, but so are your ears. Playing more than one note at a time won't, in itself, harm anything, but if, in the process of doing that, you generate more loud and low energy than normal, yeah, you might have an increased chance of hurting something.
  5. At least a fairly fresh question! :) Guitar speakers are not designed to produce the low registers of bass guitar. They exceed their mechanical movement limits trying and that destroys them. Bass specific speakers could care less about chords and will survive quite well. See the warnings about heavy handed spikes (doesn't need to be connected to a chord played either) above.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2015
    TMARK, BrBss, kwaping and 1 other person like this.
  6. mrufino1

    mrufino1 Supporting Member

    Aug 2, 2005
    Nutley, NJ
    That being said, don't slap at a billion miles an hour. It's safe for speakers but has destroyed a lot of music.
  7. I've been playing chords on bass since the 70s. Never blown a speaker doing it. When I had a pedal board in the 90s I blew a few cranking Distortion, Delay etc. all at once. As stated above learn to use your ears. It took me a few blown tweeters and speakers before I learned to be more cautious. The only things that have blown in the last 15-20 yrs were things blown letting others play my rig. The last time it happened I was in the room listening at the jam I was hosting, and didn't hear it until I went back on stage and realized the last bass player had blown the tweeter. He was conspicusly absent after the break and I haven't seen him since. Beeatch!
    rtav and dtsamples like this.
  8. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    ????? o_O

    tfer likes this.

  9. Quote of the thread. :cigar:
    heynorm likes this.
  10. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I do chords on bass all the time, sometimes very nasty low voiced chords that thump. Not on gigs, but I love to do stuff like that at home with an amp cranking ;) But that in and of itself won't cause any stress to speakers. You have to do it at a volume that the cab can't take to blow speakers, and as long as you remain below that threshold with one note, playing more than one isn't going to suddenly cause a safe operating amp to have a conniption and blow cabs. The only people who have to worry about it are people who are already pushing their cabs as hard as they possibly can and skirting close to the danger zone. As always, that gooey gray crap between your ears is your friend.
  11. the_stoot64


    Mar 8, 2015
    Thanks for the replies. I don't really ever push my amp hard, so my speakers should be alright.
    crentest, B-string and JimmyM like this.
  12. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    /\/\3phist0 likes this.
  13. The sort of volume you use on gigs you could use a guitar cab. I took it as a given that OP wants to give it what for with a band in the background trying to make him deaf.
  14. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Well looks like he doesn't ;) But even if he does, it's all relative, and if you're playing at deafening levels, you just need to increase your cab area to accomplish what you want. But that has nothing to do whether you're playing chords or not.

    And no, I couldn't necessarily use a guitar cab. I have a Super Reverb from 73 and it's a 410 cab built into it and I blew a speaker last year playing bass through it. First speaker I ever blew in my life.
  15. I thought I was pretty clear about the chording technique needing attention. When you're as hamfisted as I am it's easy to bang a godawful LF thump out of the bass instead of something for angels to sing to. That's the relative I'm looking at.
    I let a gui**** blow my tweeters once.
  16. Arjank


    Oct 9, 2007
    Above Amsterdam
    Try to avoid those really dissonant chords, they easily "twist" the voice-coil/spider assembly with large cone excursions.
    S-Bigbottom and Jim Nazium like this.
  17. If you´re worried about high levels hitting the amp, just put a compressor in front of it (not literally...hope you get it) LOL
  18. DieterVDW


    Sep 19, 2012
    Gent, Belgium
  19. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Speakers wear out from too much volume ... not too many notes.
  20. ThisBass


    Aug 29, 2012
    Compressors can't prevent from large signal levels.
    Compressors need somewhat of time to read the signal first, and after "calculation" of the signal is done then the compressor can reduce the progam material.

    The very first beginning of a transient remains uncompressed.
    Unfortunatelly the signal peak is biggest at the beginning of a transient. That's why compressors can't prevent from over excursion unless the remaining uncompressed signal parts are hard stopped.

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