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How much Amp power do you need?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Jazzman23, Dec 28, 2005.

  1. Jazzman23


    Dec 23, 2005
    Hey all,

    I'm, a relative newbie bass player. I'm a little confused as to how much amp power you need for the following situations:

    1. Jamming with guitar(s) only.
    2. Jamming with drums and/or guitar(s).
    3. Performing live (with drums) in a small venue.

    Right now i have a Fender Rumble 60 (is it 60 watts? I heard it was 100...). How far will this take me?
  2. AxtoOx


    Nov 12, 2005
    Duncan, Okla.
    There are different opinions on this, and It depends on how efficent your amp is, but mostly people say a 3 to 1 or 4 to 1 ratio. I've always thought 4 to 1. Especially if it's a 100 watt Marshall.
    That is for every 100 watts the guitar has you need 400 watts. A 300 watt Tube amp will more that do it though. My Ampeg Hybrid is 450 watts.
    Now I'm really going to confuse you, I have a very efficent 250 watt amp that will handle small venues so the formula is not written in stone.
  3. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    Take four times the total guitar amp power, divided by the number of decades that the guitarist has been playing. There is also an old joke about guitarists and sheet music, the sequel to which is that sheet music is cheaper than buying a more powerful bass amp.
  4. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Terrific Twister

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    The Rumble will probably get you out of your bedroom and to the garage door, and that's it. :)

    Start with 1500 watts, and go up from there. Never, ever buy "just enough". It is much easier to turn down when you need to than to run your rig at full blast all the time. It really is lame when someone in the band asks you to turn up, and you can't.

    Shannon likes this.
  5. georgestrings

    georgestrings Banned

    Nov 5, 2005
    The 4 to 1 ratio is workable for me - although I'm currently using 600 watts against my guitarist's 100 watts - and having plenty of headroom...

    - georgestrings
  6. Mcrelly


    Jun 16, 2003
    Minnesota, USA
    well, from my own history/experience of playing in various situations....

    I started playing with two guitars and a keyboard (through my stereo) one guitar player had 30w combo, the other had a 150w bass amp but was playing guitar. the 30w guitarist was more of a problem because he had played guitar for about 20 years and was DEAFER than the rest of us. I was able to use a 50w 12" ampeg combo (b50r)

    later I played occasionally with the keyboard player at his house after he got a baby grand piano. again 50-60w 12" combo was great. we never really played anywhere.

    later when I started playing with other people AND a drummer, two different ones, I wasn't really happy (for the moment) until I was using my WM10 (80w 10" combo) with an extention 10" cab. the amp was then putting out 120w into 4ohms. that was great with drums and a guitar or two that were under 50w each. later I sat in with my drummer friends band practice. they had two guitars, two 212 100w combos. THEN my 210 120w didn't seem so loud.

    around this time I started playing at an old two story church downtown. at first I was only playing with a keyboard player in the PA. later we had drums, two guitars, a small choir. at that point I upgraded to 350w SWR bass 350 head and a swr pro 12" wedge for my personal monitor. this worked great for me, but I doubt I filled the room with just one 12". I was also in the PA, but that was only two two-way 12" yamaha monitors run by I think 1000w.

    AT this point in my post I will say I have decided NOT TO HAVE ENOUGH GEAR TO SUPPORT THE WHOLE ROOM, just enough to monitor myself in most situations. The crazy thing about that, in my opinion, is I think it would take AT LEAST a 410 with a 115 MINIMUM with about 2000w power into 4ohms. I'M NOT WILLING TO MOVE THAT KINDA GEAR especially with my back. for larger/louder rooms/gigs I think even twice that would be necessary if you are the only sourse of bass guitar (no bass through PA).

    My current thoughts on minimums or specs on the two rigs I'm trying to piece together...possibly three small-med-large.

    "big" rig: two 112 300w ea. cabs (42LBS ea.), preamp, compressor, 1200w into 4ohm amp.
    (rack about 40 LBS) This rig doesn't go places often, I usually keep it at church, my regular gig.

    "Medium" rig: one 112 300w cab (see above), 14LB EDEN WT300 head (300w into 4ohms) I don't have the eden, yet, but I'm still considering the WT550 (500w into 4) the wt300 seems on the edge of "big enough". I think I'd feel more comfortable with 400w minimum into 4ohms.

    "small" rig: which I don't have yet, but I've been thinking of a 50w combo either Yorkville xm50, eden cxc-110, or SWR baby baby blue. Probably the Yorkville for $280

    IN CONCLUSION it really comes down to...are you amplifying for you, the band or the WHOLE ROOM?? Is the band conservative on volume bursts or crazy volume fiends?

    if your on a tight budget like most of us and want to move up with maximum flexibility and price to performance options I'd suggest a yorkville XM200 $520new, $350-400EBAY (200w 15" combo with optional extra speaker attachment, like a 410 cab and you can run the 15 and the 410 at the same time!) The combo alone would cover about 80-90% of average situations. The extra cab for the extra 10-20%. EDIT: the owners manual actually says you can hook up, up to two 8ohm cabs!!! Extra cabs NEW (that I'd consider) start around $350 yorkville, but eden, swr, ampeg, aguilar some others are contenders. ebay cabs, avatar, start around $150, swr $100, eden $145, ampeg $200, aguilar $300...

    OPINIONS MAY VARY. :rolleyes:
  7. bill7122


    Feb 23, 2003
    Albany NY area
    As much power as you can afford. It's all about the headroom. Somebody had a post for a 35 watt combo amp! Ya NEED LOTS MORE. My gig rig's 1100 bridged or 550 one channel. My combo (at practice) is 200 but cranks!
  8. Ostinato

    Ostinato Guest

    Feb 7, 2005
    Toronto ON
    Truthfully, 400 watts is all you need for playing any club gig. Remember: an extension cab will solve more problems than a bigger amp will.

    I gigged for years with a 400 watt amp and an 8 ohm 410 = 260 watts. THAT was a bit low though and I always wondered why my bass disappeared onstage when the soundman D.I.ed my rig.

    400 REAL watts... :D
  9. Jazzman23


    Dec 23, 2005
    So, my Rumble 60 definetly isn't enough for say a club gig, right?

    So my best bet would be to buy an extention cab and use the rumble as an amp head?
  10. AxtoOx


    Nov 12, 2005
    Duncan, Okla.
    I don't want bum you out, but I don't think 60 watts will do it even w/ another cab. If your short of $$, you might want to rent one.
  11. Ben Clarke

    Ben Clarke Liquidating to fund a new business. Buy My Gear!

    Jan 6, 2005
    Western NY
    Watts don't equal loudness. System efficiency and SPL have to include speaker sensitivity in the equation.

    I gig small clubs with a loud drummer and a tube Bassman 135. For sanity's sake, we just run vox and kick through the pa, as we generally don't have an engineer. Master and pre Volume are both below 4, and the bass controls are not cranked whatsoever on my bass or amp. Last time we played one of the more savvy patrons in the back asked me to turn down just a hair.

    Your question is kind of like asking what gears you should put in a truck, without knowing what motor will be used.
  12. syciprider

    syciprider Banned

    May 27, 2005
    Inland Empire
    I'm pushing 1600 watts between two amps and can barely hear myself above the din. I recommend daisy chaining a half dozen Eden 800s.
    indodust likes this.
  13. bmc


    Nov 15, 2003
    If you're practising to work out songs and parts, vocals and harmonies, you can easily get by with 100 watts. If it's about making noise, get as much power as you can afford. And buy hearing protectors.
  14. Masher88

    Masher88 Believe in absurdities and you commit atrocities

    May 7, 2005
    Cleveland, OH
    1.21 Giggawatts...That's enough to send you back to the future!
    Shannon likes this.
  15. Ostinato

    Ostinato Guest

    Feb 7, 2005
    Toronto ON
  16. Joe Boom

    Joe Boom

    Jun 25, 2004
    I agree that an amp that will deliver 400 watts into an 8 ohm load will probably be enough to keep up with 100 watts of guitar. However, the cab configuration will greatly impact the volume you produce.

    The greater the surface area of your speakers, the more air they can move. The more air they move, the more sound you make.

    Here are some rough numbers. These numbers assume that the speaker surface is flat, which it is not but the numbers will be directionally accurate.

    A single 15" driver has about 177 square inches of surface area.
    A single 12" drive has about 113 square inches of surface area.
    2 10" drivers have about 157 square inches of surface area.

    The 2-10 cab will not be as loud, assuming that all other attributes are equal. This is not to say that the 2-10 would not be heard more because it will be punchier in the mids, which will cut through the guitar more.

    A 410 will have more surface area that a single 15, a single or double 12 but not as much as 2 15's.

    This probably has not clarified much but I hope it gives you some indication that you will have to spend some time determining what cab to run your amp through.
  17. GeddyisGod

    GeddyisGod Four on the floor and nothing more!

    Feb 4, 2004
    Moberly, MO
    If you are going to be outdoors or have no PA support then you can't have enough power.

    If you are going to be inside with some house PA to back you up you don't need all that much. I've been playing metal with two guitarists plus drums for years and the only two heads I've used are a 200 watt Hartke and a 220 watt Crate, using only one 8 ohm cabinet to boot. Never had a problem.
  18. Kronos


    Dec 28, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA

    What about cabinets that have dB ratings? I've seen some cabinets rated for similar dB levels but have different speaker configuration. How does this work?
  19. Daytona955i


    Feb 17, 2005
    Albany, NY
    The fact is, you do have 60 watts, but you also only have one speaker.

    To gig and fit your needs you need at least a 2x10 (or a 1x15)and 300 watts, but you'll soon be wanting more, I'd suggest a 4x10 and 400 watts of power, in general. Some exceptions will apply.

    Personally, I've never seen anyone with a drummer and at least one half stack guitar player play with anything less than a half stack (without PA support) and 300 watts, that I could actually hear and didn't feel bad for the stress they were putting on their gear.
  20. Mcrelly


    Jun 16, 2003
    Minnesota, USA
    I wish...

    My big rig: six WT800's, three 410's , three 115's