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Best size amp for auditorium setting?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by thelizardking98, Jan 25, 2012.

  1. thelizardking98


    Jan 25, 2012
    I'm joinin my high school jazz band. I need to know if a 75 watt :meh: can cut through during practice and performance. I have a Fender Rumble 75 and Epiphone EB-3 ( I know, it's crappy setup ). We expect to have trumpets, trombones, tenor saxes, possibly a guitarist, a drummer, and random percussion equipment. Please help, I don't want to be the brick in the band's wall :bag:
  2. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    That might actually be sufficient. Is it a 12 or 15? In a big room like that where the audience is pretty far away you will probably have the right amount of presence.
  3. cchorney


    Oct 21, 2010
    Meriden, CT
    That's part of what practice is for - to see if your existing rig can keep up. I would be more focused on remembering to use your EQ to create your tone in that setting... hollow wood stages can make your sound overly bassy, boomy, etc.
  4. I play a few gymnasiums and an occasional Grange Hall - I cannot see 75 Watts doing anything other than making yourself invisible.

    Those venues I play I use no less than 450 Watts and a 410.

    In a classroom, perhaps you can get away with 75 Watts - but not with much tone, cohesive volume or definition.

    My opinion: Buy big and don't look back.
  5. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I often play in a band with a 3-pc horn section with a B-15...25w. 75w should be fine for now, and you can upgrade when you can afford it. You won't be building walls or anything.
  6. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    I played electric bass in school jazz bands from middle school through college. I went through a progression of amps, but the loudest that I ever used was a Peavey that fed 65 W into a DIY 15" speaker.

    In my opinion, the Rumble will be sufficient for practices, and will let you get a feel for the volume of the band. Truth be told, the wind sections of most high school big bands can't really get terribly loud, because it takes years for those players to develop their chops and tightness.

    An electric rhythm section and drummer with rock kit can overwhelm the rest of the band, but y'all will need to play with restraint.

    Right now I'm playing upright in a big-band that can peel the paint off the walls. Most of the players have music degrees. I can get away with 100 W into a reasonably efficient DIY 12" for both rehearsals and gigs.

    But this is hugely a YMMV thing. I've noticed that every "how many watts do I need" thread elicits answers covering a 10:1 range of power ratings, with no apparent rhyme or reason.
  7. Here's why I stand for more Watts and bigger cabs first time out.

    When one buys small and cheap, they can't wait to get out and buy a new bigger amp or combo or whatever. Even a garage band can use more power.

    Oh - I know there are holdouts who never play outside their 'mancaves' - but really they are in a minority I feel.

    Then when more power and musical saturation is needed, they can't cope and either fold or sound bad when they run their gear at 18 o'clock.

    The solid richness and capacity of a bigger amp and cab is really inspiring and creates emotions that just make bass playing a lot more fun. When you can feel it - it just all comes together.

    If one buys larger - as large as one can muster the first time out, one can always turn the volume knob down to not overwhelm the rest of the band - but I bet one won't.
  8. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    That's an argument against getting a big rig if you ask me. Volume wars at school jazz band are lame. Learn how to be dynamic and get a good sound that blends into the band properly and don't go in there trying to dominate it. Sheesh...yeah, let's teach kids to be unprofessional at an early age ;)

    Not that I'm against big rigs...got a couple myself. But it's high school jazz band. Kids aren't expected to have a 1000w amp and two 810's.
  9. greenboy


    Dec 18, 2000
    remote mountain cabin Montana
    greenboy designs: fEARful, bassic, dually, crazy88 etc
    I've heard stage bands from high-schools that get pretty damn loud, but the bass really isn't having to fight for space with much.

    Many of these bands had small Polytones with I think around 100 watts. My only critique was that for electric bass they had to adjust their tone to something kind of lame (or maybe just didn't have much of an ear for it), and for acoustic bass it's not especially kind to the tone either. Having just a little more power and a cab with a little more fidelity below and above will take it to a higher level tonewise.

    Don't listen to guys who've never held a gig in a big band.
  10. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Granted I'm just a day jobber, not a full time pro, but I've probably played around 300 - 400 gigs.

    The OP is talking about a musical genre where most of the instruments are acoustic, where electric instruments are generally viewed with suspicion, and where playing with intensity at an appropriate volume level is considered to be a matter of basic competence.
  11. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I think it was the kids, Greenie. I know Ray Brown didn't have much problem sounding great with a Kay upright and a Polytone MiniBrute ;)

    I'd at least try it with the Rumble for now. It's what you've got, it's fine, expectations are low for someone just starting out, the important thing is to get in there and start making music. If the Rumble can't hang, then worry about it. But I have a feeling it'll be fine for now. Don't ever let gear prevent you from making music.
  12. greenboy


    Dec 18, 2000
    remote mountain cabin Montana
    greenboy designs: fEARful, bassic, dually, crazy88 etc
    Yep. Shaking money at it before you have some experience won't help as much as working on the playing and music experience, and after not too long you'll have a better idea on the gear front anyway.
  13. FunkMetalBass


    Aug 5, 2005
    Phoenix, Arizona 85029
    Endorsing Artist: J.C. Basses
    My jazz band provided an SWR 6x10 stack, so I can't say I ever struggled to be heard, but I do feel that 75W might be a bit on the low side.

    See what happens in practice. Try playing around with boosting the low mids and panning toward the bridge pickup. It might just work out perfectly.
  14. ShoeManiac

    ShoeManiac Supporting Member

    Jan 19, 2006
    New Jersey
    I played with my college's jazz band for a little while, and it's an interesting sort of gig. The lineup was around 20 or so pieces: 3 or 4 pieces each for the trumpet, trombone and sax sections; guitar, bass, piano/synth & drums. In that case the school provided the amps for the guitar, keys & bass players. And as an ensemble it could definitely get pretty loud.

    The bass amp was a Peavey combo that was probably around 150 or 200 watts. It worked in that context, and it was plenty of power. I don't recall an instance where I or the other bass player ever cranked it above half power on the master volume. A 75 watt amp might work in that sort of setting with brass and reeds. But is the drummer keeping the volume manageable? This is where the band director can actually be your friend and keep volume wars from popping up.
  15. Yeah at my schools jazz band we have a pair of Fender BXR 100 watt combos and they work just fine.
  16. pengyou40


    Dec 2, 2010
    JimmyM, I read your posts all the time, and I think you're a very experienced and knowledgeable guy. However, I don't see how the OP will be able to even be heard with a 75 watt amp when you consider that he might be playing with: "trumpets, trombones, tenor saxes, possibly a guitarist, a drummer, and random percussion equipment"

    It's true, like Greenboy said, that some of the lower frequency range of the bass won't be in contention with all those instruments. But don't you think that with <100 watts all the midrange and treble (and some bass freqs.) of his bass will get drowned out by multiple brass players, one woodwind, a guitarist, other percussion instruments AND drums!???
  17. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Well if it doesn't work for him, then he can talk about upgrading. I think he needs to give it a shot first. This isn't exactly UofM here...it's first year jazz band in high school. We don't even know if he's going to like it and stick with it yet. No offense to the OP. And maybe the teacher doesn't want them to be loud. Maybe he wants them to learn dynamics and all that stuff. Trust me...I know of what I speak, bro ;)
  18. Tim1


    Sep 9, 2005
    New Zealand
    I teach high school and agree with Jimmy. Our school jazz/stage band uses my old Ampeg 12" combo (B50R?) which sounds great and is more than adequate.
  19. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Intergalactic Mind Space CA
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    Try your amp at rehearsal. See if you can get it up close to ear level and don't stand in front of it. Cut the bass some and boost the mids. See how it goes.
  20. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    With 75 W, it will indeed be possible for the bassist to be drowned out. But that's a difference between a jazz ensemble and a rock band. Every player in the jazz band can be drowned out by the rest of the band. You're not trying to locate and fill every gap in the sonic space. You're trying to sound good as an ensemble. You're trying to interpret (with improvisational latitude) the voicings and dynamics dictated by the arranger.

    What I've found in big-bands (I've played in about a dozen different big bands), is that a good volume setting should allow the bass to be drowned out by the band during ff passages, so that the band can come back down again. This is the state of affairs on live recordings from ancient to modern times.

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