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do you need a really loud amp to play live?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Stu hamm rules!, Jan 9, 2003.

  1. ok, i have a 50W amp with a 12" cone. It is loud enough so that i can be heard in band practice and i am happy with the tone it gives me, but i am not sure sure whether i will need a bigger one if we ever get to play live.

    i believe it is possible to mic it up and send it to the PA, but will this reduce the sound quality?

    At some of the smaller gigs i have been to i have noticed that the support bands all seem to use the same amp, are venues likely to have their own amps/can i get away with this?

    i am i likely to crash and burn attempting to use this amp (carlsbro bassline 50) unsupported? we haven't really got much lined up except a gig in school in a relatively small room. I really dont want to spend £400-£500 on the cheapest amp i can afford, but i would also love to be able to perform, any advice welcome, thank you for your time.
  2. jobu3

    jobu3 Artist formerly known as Big Joe

    Feb 17, 2002
    Mountain Top, PA
    you don't even need an amp...

    you can get a direct box that will take care of it but you will need proper PA support and monitors...

    if you use a small combo make sure you can hear yourself in the stage mix. mic it or run it direct to the PA...
  3. FunkySpoo

    FunkySpoo Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2002
    Like it was posted above, you can always mic it. If your combo has a line out you could go to the PA with that. As long as you Like the tone the PA gives you then it all works out fine. In my band the PA speakers we have are terrible for bass. We only mic the vocals and the horns. That's why I use alot of watts(for headroom) and two 210 cabs. What you may have seen at smaller venues with the support bands was everybody using the last bands' gear. Most clubs and bars barely have enough electrical outlets much less a backline of gear. Hope this helps
  4. If you are playing a big place and only have 50W, you really don't have a choice. PA is required for your bass. When you do have a choice, it matters what sounds better and what can distribute your sound more evenly. At practice, we have a PA and monitors that make my bass sound kind of dull. I bring my Eden WT400 and Ampeg cab and everyone notices the dif. For $1200 I paid to amp it they should hear the dif!
  5. monkfill


    Jan 1, 2003
    Kansas City
    I would say that basically, you'll need an amp loud enough to keep up with your band if you don't have PA support.

    The rest of your band will establish a volume that you need to keep up with. If there is no PA, you need to be loud enough for the venue. If there is a PA, but no monitors, you need to be able to keep up with the stage volume. If you have a PA and monitors, all you really *need* is a DI box/preamp, assuming the monitors are capable of making it so you can hear yourself properly.
  6. monkfill


    Jan 1, 2003
    Kansas City
    One idea is to sort of "case" the places you're going to play. See what the bass player is doing, maybe even go talk to him during a set break if he looks like he's in the mood to be approached. Get his assessment of his own situation, look at what he's using, then plan accordingly.
  7. TRU


    Apr 12, 2002
    Northern Europe
    My experience has been, that 4x10" (2x12" might do as well) with ~300W is good for almost everything. You can usually get by with less, but then you probably have to make compromises with either sound quality or sound pressure. For a beginner I'd recommend a decent 1x15" combo with at least 150W.
  8. monkfill


    Jan 1, 2003
    Kansas City
    Tell that to my guitar players.

  9. PollyBass

    PollyBass ******

    Jun 25, 2001
    Shreveport, LA
    In a nutshell, you need to be loud enough to hear YOURSELF, along with the volume your band produces. now, it might be nice to have a little more power for really smal places that won't have the best pa,,, but during a big live show, the people are going to mostly hear your bass by way of your miked, or directed signal to the PA.
  10. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    most of the gigs I do (both bg and db) i use a GK combo.

    Sometimes tho when playing a larger room i will take the combo or my GK head, a 12" cab and a 2x10" cab. The 12" usually ends up being my monitor because I end up using the direct out on the amp to the board.

    but like i said that is usually in situations where i am playing with other electric instruments
  11. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Even if you get your guitarist(s) to be cooperative in keeping down the volume, there just isn't a volume knob on a rock drummer's snare, and depending on his/her style and disposition, this can keep a band's minimum volume up. I'm currently working with a drummer who is one of the very best I've played with in over 20 years. He is also unapologetically loud. He's good enough to make me happy to deal with it. ;)

    50 watts would not cut it in this outift, unfortunately :( If it's adequate for Stuhammrulz! in practice, then there is probably hope...
  12. fclefgeoff

    fclefgeoff Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2002
    OR, if you like to feel your teeth vibrate. :D
  13. This is an excellent point.

    The PA is nearly always cited as being the thing to fall back on to make up for low wattage amps or whatever in everyones feared loud band competition scenario. (Sometimes I wonder why bassists don't just carry PAs and forget the amps.) But what if the PA sucks? What if it is like the above that doesn't handle the bass well? Then what? Is the answer that you sound terrible--but at louder levels?
  14. top028


    Dec 14, 1999
    Lancaster, PA
    Jazzbasser, thats a great point. before I started finding good deals on "bass stuff" I was going to buy a JBL eon 15 and matching sub (powered PA speakers) and use that. Then I could also sub my self out as a sound guy. It seemed like a logical idea at the time. In reality 2 years later I work for a company that has them and I tried the setup....tone sucked. May have been good with a decent preamp though.
  15. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
  16. BruceWane


    Oct 31, 2002
    Houston, TX
    As long as I absolutely know I can get by with it, I take a small rig, but I often use a Cerwin-Vega 1x18 (front loaded) and a 1x15+tweeter from my PA gear. Be prepared!
  17. JayAmel

    JayAmel Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2002
    Carcassonne, France
    For a very long time, I was sure I needed a powerful rig. And I had some : vintage SVT, SVT-CL, SVT-2 Pro and Ashdown.

    But after looking closer, I realized I had essentially to play in two distinct situations :

    - either in small venues (< 250 persons), and a combo like a B-100R (which is what I own now) is enough,

    - either in outdoor situations, and in any case a powerful PA system is required, so I can be miked without any problem.

    That's the way I realized that a 500 W (and 250 lbs) rig was useless for me.

    Finally, and unless you use a mid-power PA when you play live (which I never do), the only situations where a powerful bass amp is useful is... rehearsal. There again, I'm this kind of guy who prefers to rehearse at low level, thinking that a good song will sound good at low level.

    Of course that was just my very personal opinion.
  18. RichBriere

    RichBriere Guest

    Jan 1, 2003
    Upstate NY
    OK.....great topic, great threads......more food for thought. When I started playing in the mid 60's we used to play in a lot of gyms and pretty big halls. The gigs were routinely from 7-11....not 10-2. I used a Premier amplifier with a single 12" speaker for my bass. We used a 35 watt Bogen PA. We mic'd NOTHING! Guess what. We had people lined up three hours before the show began, we had more work than we could handle, we made more money than most "club bands" make today, we had packed houses every night and the fans all said the same thing: "You're really good but you're kind of loud!" You old farts remember those days??!!

    Yes, times have changed.........but did anyone else in this forum make a lot more money on their investment than the bands do today? I know young bands who practice in a living room...........and feel the need to MIC the stuff!!! We've taken a wrong turn here folks.

    Think I'm taking it too far?? All those who are over 40 please climb into Mr Peabody's "Way Back Machine" and draw a straight timeline as to when attendance began to drop DRASTICALLY in the clubs. You'll probably find that it corresponds EXACTLY with the arrival of the BIG gear and the 20 minute drum solo and the fact that men and women could NO LONGER converse while listening to a band. Was that not THE main reason why folks used to go out??-----to "meet someone" or to go on a "date" and get to know them?

    Bottom Line.......As you're just beginning to get gigs, be happy with your 50 watts (wattage envy is just another GUY thing) and start a NEW fad.....use common sense! It might actually catch on. :D


  19. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I envy the fact that you have PA support. I never do, so while I try to speak softly, I always carry a big stick just in case.

    With PA support your 50W amp might just be loud enough, but as secretdonkey said, that depends on the stage volume of the other musicians, drummer included.
  20. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    I've gone from a big rig (two Ampeg 4x10s, 2x400W) to a small one (EBS Drome 12") and now back to a mid size (400W, 15"+12"). I was for a long time convinced the Drome was fine for any gig, and advocated this mini setup, but after going back to a bigger setup I'm now solidly in that camp. I don't play overly loud on stage because we do have PA support and try to keep the volume down, but the difference is the sound quality and the low end. I was fine before because I could hear the combo, but the other band members were not. They now say they think it's much more fun to play when they can hear and feel the low bass. And it's more fun for me too now that the sound is good on stage as well as out to the audience.

    So my answer is YES - now for volume per se, but for a full frequency range and good sound quality.

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