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Can someone give me a dirty low down?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Juneau, Jul 29, 2004.

  1. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    Hi folks, pretty new player here (under 1 year) and so far have only used Combo's. I started off with an SWR LA Series 12 and have since moved on to an Ampeg B-100R. I love the Ampeg tone Im getting right now out of my bass and volume isnt really an issue since I dont play gigs yet, but my amp gets plenty loud for a club/bar type situation as far as I can tell.

    What Im wanting to know basically is, can someone give me a run down on benifits of using separate head and cabs, and maybe some general info like what a pre-amp is for and does? I have no idea what compression is either and I hear that one a lot. I understand the basics of having separate amp from cab, IE can use different brands together combining features ect, but is there something else to it?

    Anyhow, any light shed would be appreciated. Thanks!
  2. Hollow Man

    Hollow Man Supporting Member

    Apr 28, 2003
    Springfield, VA
    The biggest one is volume. They just don't make combos that go nearly as loud as most of the heads that are in production. The other big one is options. With separate heads and cabs, one can we swapped while retaining the other.


    Compression is just an effect that works to equalize the strength of input notes. Basically, it bottlenecks your sound. Notes with low amplitudes (weaker sounding) are boosted, and those with higher amplitudes (louder) are diminished. It's hard to describe the distinctive sound you get, but Billy Sheehan and Kirk Hammett (yes, he plays guitar, not bass) are both prolific users.

    Hope this helps!
  3. Transverz

    Transverz believer of the Low End Theory

    May 3, 2004
    Los Angeles, CA
    Hey Juneau,

    First off, there is a current thread going on that fully and nicely details the use of preamp and poweramps:


    I'm no expert, but here is my take on things:

    About the benefits of separate cabs and amps, for me it's versatility. If you ever need to increase/decrease power, want a different sounding cab setup for different situations or for sake of tone, a combo can be a bit limiting at times. If your combo could suit your tone and volume requirements for the rest of your life, then by all means, stay with it! But most people's tastes change over time, and it is far easier to swap parts in and out then keep changing entire rigs.

    As for compression, it is a piece of hardware or a built in feature of an amp that takes a specified rate of attack, release, threshhold, compression ratio, etc and makes your bass sound constantly conform to those specified dynamics. Simply put, a compressor automatically controls the levels of your sound to make it more constant and even. Some interesting effects can be made with compression! Really important topic actually. Even if you aren't using a compressor (some argue that people tend to rely too much on a compressor for controlling their dynamics...I like the punchiness it gives me, plus my playing is all over the place right now :hyper: )

    Here is a cool article on compression:


    Best of luck!

  4. Transverz

    Transverz believer of the Low End Theory

    May 3, 2004
    Los Angeles, CA
    Darn my many words slowing down my posting speed. Ya beat me to it!

    Okay, back I go --> :bag:

  5. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    MOST of the time, using separates gives you more power, speaker surface area and overall greater output. There are some powerful combos out there, but for the most part, once you add the transformers and other electronics used to make a 600-700W or more power amp, it gets so heavy that it makes more sense to have it as a stand alone head.

    A tube head can easily weigh 75 pounds as can a cabinet with four 10 inch drivers. A 150-lb. combo is a little cumbersome for the average person.

    You also gain the flexibility of using all or part of the rig as the situation calls for.

    Compression is 'compressing the dynamic range of the signal. Very simply explained, an electronic compressor boosts the lowest signal levels and limits the highest ones to create a more consistent signal. depending on your style and/or technique, the need for one ranges from almost none to essential.

    Some heads and combos have limited function compressors built in. Others do not.

    A preamp is a stage in the amplification process that boosts the input signal from the instrument to a level that can be used by the power amplifier. All amplifiers whether it is a combo, head or racked components, have some sort of preamp.

    In short, the amplification process goes instrument ->preamp->tone shape -> power amplifer -> speakers. The only difference is whether it is all built into the same item or you have a unique box for each process.
  6. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    Thanks for all the help guys!

    Now to go find out how effects loops work and stuff ;-)