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How many watts? 20+ years ago?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Mcrelly, Mar 15, 2006.

  1. Mcrelly


    Jun 16, 2003
    Minnesota, USA
    or 30,40,50 years ago? is it just me or does there seem to be a greater and greater demand for more and more watts in an amp or bass rig?

    If you played bass 20+ years ago how many watts seemed to be enough for bar or club gigs? How many and what size speakers did you use?

    just curious if people downsizing to a 410 or 212 ONLY is causing a rise in amps?

    for my situation: 100db stage volume at church with PA support, I feel I COULD get away with a BARE MINIMUM of 300w into 112 cab, but I do use two to keep from working one cab too hard.
  2. sedan_dad

    sedan_dad Supporting Member

    Feb 5, 2006
    20 years ago?
    svt with 2 svt cabinets.
  3. Mcrelly


    Jun 16, 2003
    Minnesota, USA
    and that was...how many watts??? tube? 2-810s??
  4. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    By the time I was old enough to play club gigs, I was playing jazz. But I remember from talking to a lot of people that 200 Watts into one or two 15's was considered to be pretty powerful. I don't even remember the music stores having bass amps with more than 300 W. Now 300 W is where a lot of amp brands begin.

    IMHO it's the combination of cheap gear and easy credit that has driven the arms race in amp power. Guitar amps have gotten more powerful. There's also a tendency to chase the bang-versus-buck ratio, the last-amp-you-will-ever-need, and beliefs in the magic elixir of "headroom," towards amps with more power than anybody ever needs.
  5. RevGroove

    RevGroove Commercial User

    Jul 21, 2002
    Burlington ON Canada
    Manager, Account Services: Long & McQuade Ltd. (Burlington); MTD Kingston Basses International Emerging Artist; Bartolini Electronics Emerging Artist
    20 years ago? 15, church youth group... Traynor YBA3 Custom Special (not the super, drat the luck) into I can't remember which Traynor cab...I think it was a 2x15, by the weight...LONG before I worked for L&M/Yorkville...
  6. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    OK 30 years ago it was SVT and 1 bottom. Then I spent time running front of house mixing with amps like the 360 / 370 and SVT. When I went back after thatit was with the early, early Gallien Krueger 400B driving a pair of 1x15 JBL's. Deal was those cabs were super efficient so those 200 watts went a long way.
    No 5 strings back then either. That B takes a whole lotta power.

    My take on it is that power has gotten less expensive to produce, the demands for extended frequency range and compact size drove down the efficiency of the cab's and those two things combined have driven up the power requirements. Not necessarily overall loudness though.

    At the same time that power requirements have gone up, the cost has come down. Way down. My old 1x15 JBL's (4625B's ) were somethng like $500 a cab the GK 400 was about the same. So today you can buy a 1x12 rig with 2 semi-booteak cab's and a GK 1001 for about the same dough, to do about the same thing.

    Or you can buy a couple of Avatar 2x10's, the same head and move the walls back a bit while pocketing the difference.
  7. scottbass

    scottbass Bass lines like a big, funky giant

    Jul 13, 2004
    Southern MN
    My first "HIGH POWER" rig was a gently used Kustom model 2-15C. A 2x15 cab and a 200-watt solid state head. Both pieces were covered in the "ultra groovy" blue metalflake tuck-n-roll naugahyde. This would have been about 1973, so the amp was probably made in 1969 or 1970. At the time it was considered overkill.

    My current rig is 600 watts, and I'm just about to replace it with a preamp/power amp rig and a Schroeder cab. I'm thinking 1,200 to 1,500 watts outh to be enough!
  8. Mcrelly


    Jun 16, 2003
    Minnesota, USA
    in my "visual GAS" thread I posted a link to a John Entwhistle website that said at one point he was running 4-75w 12" speakers with a 50w (tube?) amp???? somewhere in the mid sixties I think. The highest "number" I saw for amp wattage was 200w amps x 2 running some 215 cabs. I'm going back for another look....

  9. peter G

    peter G

    Sep 28, 2004
    ohio's northcoast
    I bought my first real rig in 1978 it was a carvin Bass Master 2-15" jbl cab SS 125watt amp cost abit over $600. 2 weeks take home pay.never did get it on stage because life happened, I sold it about a year latter cause I had to quit playing.

    how many seat is your church ? right I play a hall with about 300 seats for a praise band with no drummer I use my GK 700 DI to PA and an aggie 1-12" as my monitor and they won't let my vol go above 10 o'clock. we are going to move into a new church with a 20x40' stage and 50x90' room about 650 seats, I'll still DI to the PA maybe add another cab on stage
    (by then we should have a drummer) I just assummed the amp would be enough but now after your comments I'm wondering ,what do you think ?
  10. DAcat

    DAcat Supporting Member

    Jun 14, 2005
    I was recently talking to a sound man who used to do PA systems for big Rock shows in the mid west in the very early 70s-and I think he said the biggest amps they could get ahold of then for PA were about 150 Watts and he had to link many of them together. When our band played clubs we played pretty loud in the late 60s and I used multiple amps-often a Fender Dual Showman and at least one or two Fender Bassman(for bigger shows I had another Dual Showman and a Twin Reverb with various home made speaker cabs I would power with it)-I can't even tell you the total number of watts there(my memory isn't that good). In 1970, I traded this mess in for an Acoustic 361 Preamp and two Acoustic 361 powered cabinets(I believe these were about 240 watts each(RMS ) -480 Watts total, but I usually only used one cab in a small club but usually brought both to a larger one-it was a little over kill since these were one of the loudest bass amps made for a long time...but it gave us a great authoritative sound with no bass distortion. But these were huge refrigerator-like cabs -over 150 lbs each... and wisely now we have moved to easily portable cabs that sound even better ...but its always taken a higher level of amplifier wattage to put the bass sound in you face and to feel it in your chest instead of simply hearing it...which IMHO this has always made bass sound cooler:D when its played at this wattage level...Peace...DAcat:cool:
  11. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    i'm gonna take a total shot in the dar, but, IMHO i think its cause there's a greater realization that more watts = more stout and punchie low end frequencies.
  12. Eric Cioe

    Eric Cioe

    Jun 4, 2001
    Missoula, MT
    20 years ago, the standards were GK 800RB and Ampeg SVT. 300-400 watts was all that was needed. It seems that people used efficient 15s and weren't overly concerned with headroom.
  13. Mcrelly


    Jun 16, 2003
    Minnesota, USA
    recently I used a eden wt300 (300w into 4ohms) with two gs112s and it was usually loud enough. occasionally I'd see the "limit" light blinking. I'm getting a wt550 and will probably use it with two 12's most of the time, but for some reason ONE aguilar sounds great being pushed abit hard by the eden. don't get me wrong two sound great in its own way, but ONE 12 straining a little sounds nice :D

    BTW the room I'm is a about 30'x60' (suspended tile ceiling) with 100-200 kids. on stage I'm 3' from drummer, 3' from keys (lead instrument), 8' from electric guitar, 10' from singers, 12' from acoustic or second guitar. my amp volume is usually good for me, keys and drummer the rest is carried by the PA. what I mean is THEY are the ones who hear my amp directly. I don't run THEM through my amp :rollno:
  14. ghindman


    Feb 10, 2006
    Super efficient, and super colorful/imprecise. I believe that generally the more faithfully a speaker reproduces a signal, at volume, the less efficient it is, due to stiffer cones/larger magnets, etc.. The more hi-fi speakers produced today simply require more power to drive the same volume.

    'course I could be talking outta my ass, but that was what was explained to me on several occasions when super-precise stereo speakers were all the rage.
  15. jgsbass


    May 28, 2003
    Floral Park, NY
    Thats why we as bassplayers like it. 50 years ago, the audience was lucky to hear the bass, acoustic or the newfangled electric. Rock and roll brought on the phenomena of feeling the bass. Audiences became used to hearing a concert and the room filling sound of low end intoxicated them ( well that and a few other things). That takes watts. As recording technology evolved and gave us the squeaky clean bass sound, it took tons of watts to have the headroom to replicate that sound live. Bass needs 2 to 3 times the wattage live to be felt and heard. A little more for headroom doesn't hurt.
  16. :D :D
  17. sedan_dad

    sedan_dad Supporting Member

    Feb 5, 2006
    20 years ago a SVT was the 300 watts all tubes.
    A SVT cabinet was 8 10's.
    Ampeg didn't call everything they made a "SVT" like they do now.
    You had V4B's and V4B cabinets and the little fliptops.
    When you said you had a SVT then people didn't ask "what kind ?"
    There was only one kind.
  18. Mark Reccord

    Mark Reccord Supporting Member

    You guys realize that 20 years ago was 1986, right? :p

    The heyday of the old SVT was well before that....

    There were all kinds of GK 800rbs, Traces etc kicking around in 1986.

    For me, I'm using the same amount of power they were using in 1969, but with a lot less speaker.... One 610 as opposed to 2 810s....

  19. That is the way I think about it. Thirty years ago, I was playing loud gigs with 200 watts and a couple of JBL 15's... plenty loud... my guess... very little definition or punch. Things are much better today IMO with full range cabs and what seems to be a sweet spot in SS amps of around 500 clean watts into 4ohms.

    For tube amps... not much has changed, with the original SVT design then and now being able to knock down a wall if desired!
  20. bigtexashonk

    bigtexashonk Supporting Member

    In the late 60's and early 70's, a 50 watt Fender Bassman head and 2x15 Fender JBL cab.

    Bass amplification has had such incredible advances over the years. (just the reverse of guitar amplification in my opinion) If you listen to the bulk of bass playing from years ago, it tended to be a bit "woolier" with more natural tube overdrive. As time has gone on, headroom and the ability to deliver clean power has become more desirable .

    I love the fact that I now have a rig with 10 times the power, is 1/3 of the size and weight and will fit in my trunk as well.

    All hail Dave Funk and Jorg Schroeder!!!

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