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How much power do I really need?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by J McKenzie, Aug 4, 2000.

  1. J McKenzie

    J McKenzie

    Mar 7, 2000
    I am in the market for a new bass amp. My Fender BXR 60 just doesn't cut it anymore. My guitarist plays a 100W JCM900. I'd like to have enough power to be heard in our practice space (public storage) and in gigs at small bars and clubs. Outdoor gigs are a possibility also. The Carvin R1000 (1000W)with an 18" and 4-10" fits my price range, but I don't want to waste money on headroom I won't be using.
  2. J McKenzie

    J McKenzie

    Mar 7, 2000
    In addition to what I just posted:

    Is the 600W model a better idea? We play early 90's rock and alternative with a little bit of classic rock. Some people say we sound like Pearl Jam, but I don't buy that. The size/weight of the amp are not really important.
  3. Get McKenzie speakers!!!!

    Seriously, there's a speaker brand name called McKenzie. It's distributed by a German company named Monacor.

    As to the original question: I dunno.

    Sorry for the lame joke.

    I play really bad. I'm just a guy with a lotta stuff.
  5. mljohn


    Jul 16, 2000
    10,000 watts or you're not a real bass player. Just kidding. That does seem to be the opinion of some people in this forum. I like power also, I just can't afford overkill yet.

    Some say 2-3 times what your guitarist is running. I think this is a little low unless your are running through a good PA or doing just small gigs. Some are sure to dispute this though.

    I'm running 500W through my rig. I like being able to blow my guitarist away. Pisses him off. smile. Plus it lets my drummer play really loud which he totally digs.

    Watch out for Carvin's wattage ratings. They can be misleading.
  6. White_Knight


    Mar 19, 2000
    Ditto with what mljohn said, I think that 2-3 times should do it. In your situation I'd probably get something around the size of 300-400 watts. Maybe more depending upon your budget. Also, though this is just my opinion, if your going to get up around a few hundred watts, you might as well go the head / cabinent route instead of the combo route, though that's just personal preference. I only say it because it seems that most combos in that wattage tend to run fairly high dollar-wise.
  7. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    There is no such thing as headroom you won't be using. It may not be audible to your ears, but even at moderate volume there is a noticeable difference in headroom when comparing 600 watts vs. 100 watts.

    For example, at 10% of rated power(60 watts of the 600 watt combo vs. 100 watts of the 1000 watt combo) RMS you will have transients which peak at 10 times the RMS power.

    So, if you're running at 60 watts, that run where you dig in hard or that popping part with the mid scooped and the bass & treble dimed will eat up 600 watts at the peak, albeit for a fraction of a second.

    If you push the 600 watt amp up near 50% of it's rated ouput, you have considerably less headroom than a 1000 watt amp pushed at 25 - 35% of it's rated output.

    The 2-3 times guitarists wattage is a good starting point, and while Carvin delivers good bang for the buck, I've heard from several current and former Carvin owners that they are a little 'liberal' with their power ratings, for example I've been told that 600 Carvin watts = 350 SWR watts = 300 Eden watts, YMMV.
  8. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    Like a few other people have put 2-3 times the power of the guitarist. If u hav the money get the 1000watt rig cause if i had the money I'd have it 2 but I'm 14 no job & playing though a 45w so i can't say much. I tend to try to get around 4times the amount if i can. [when i use other peoples equipment] well hope ya find what u want/need
  9. Get as much clean amp power and as many speakers as you can afford. Your rig should be like a Porsche.. you may never drive it 160 MPH, but it's nice to know you could if you had to. Like Embellisher said, there is no such thing as headroom you won't use.
  10. VicDamone


    Jun 25, 2000
    I'm not sure if anybody has mentioned speaker sensitivity yet.

    Most quality speaker systems give a specification for load, (in ohms) and sensitivity, (in dB). This rates the systems ability to produce sound pressure measured in dB when driven by 1 watt at one meter. The higher the number the louder the system. This isn't anything to worry about unless your cabnet doesn't specify a sensitivity or your cabnet is rated below 98dB.

    EBS rates some of there systems at over 110dB which would make them a great match for lower powered tubed amps.

    I personaly enjoy the flexability you get from seperate amp/preamp. A high powered amplifire has the ability to grip and move the motor (magnets) like no intergrated (head) can. The result is clear deep tone you'll notice right away. Most are stable down to 2ohms which is one less thing to worry about. Some have frequency and clip limiting along with multipal in's and out's which make full range or large systems a snap to wire up.
  11. Hey, I wonder about sensitivity, too, as VicDamone wrote.
    U see, I'm about to buy a Eden CXC Combo which runs at 175 Watts normally (8 ohms speakers). The 10+15 cab has a sensitivity of 100 db/1Wm but the 410 configuration delivers 105 db/1Wm. So should i look on the watts which seem to be NOT enough (may guitarist plays through a Vortex 100 watt stack) or should i consider the sensitivity more ?

  12. VicDamone


    Jun 25, 2000
    Johannes: I'm looking at the Eden CXC one page brochure and the sensitivity is not given. Anything over 100dB is concidered very efficient. The more important impedance figure of 8ohms allowes you to add an extention cabnet for more power and loudness if you need it.

    Take a very hard look at the weights of these systems. While 100lbs may not seem like alot, when it's in the form of 40"x20" package you may be looking at truck/van and dolly for transportation.

    You might want to think about the flexability of the CXC-210C3 with the 400 head and any of the D-115T through D-118XL all 8ohm extension systems. But beware none of these large driver systems are subwofers. Their responce only goes down to 50-42Hz.

    Have Fun Vic
  13. rcrimm

    rcrimm Commercial User

    Jun 20, 2000
    Meridian, MS USA
    Customer Service, Peavey Electronics
    I agree that you can never have too much headroom. Of course eventually it gets down to how money you have, or how much equipment you are willing to carry.

    Efficiency/Sensitivity is an important issue, but to me it is not a primary concern. One reason is that as efficiency goes up, power handling and reliability tend to go down.

    I have found that in order to have sufficient headroom and hear myself with the average Rock drummer, and a guitar player or two with your average 60 or 100 watt combo, you need at LEAST 300 watts (500 is better). That will vary depending on the stage volume of your band. If the guitar players use stacks, I would say you need 700-1000 watts.

    Guitarists just don't seem to realize that the PRIMARY instruments (ie; Rhythm Section) should be the loudest!!!:)

  14. DaveB


    Mar 29, 2000
    Toronto Ontario
    If you're competing with a drummer and a 100 watt Marshall you'd better think about 500 watts or so.As a point of interest why on earth does your guitar player need 100 tube watts for small clubs? My band plays lots of diffent size venues( including some pretty large clubs) and his 38 watt Mesa Boogie Blue Angel has no trouble being heard over my 500 Eden, a loud, miked drummer and a highly amplified harp player.
  15. Matthias


    May 30, 2000
    Vienna, Austria
    Just one more thing to consider:
    Have a look at the volume knob of your guitarist's Marshall! Does he really use all his 100W?
    I think many guitarists are seriously overpowered!

    Another thing:
    Guitarists who practice a lot without band, tend to use way too much bass with their sound. If this should be the case tell him that he will sound better in the band mix with less bass (and that it's YOUR job to provide low end)

    Last but not least:
    How much power you need, depends on how much low end you want. Low end eats up a lot of power! In other words: Shaking the ground is expensive (but very nice, hehe).

    My current situation:
    guitarist: 50W tube head w/ 212 cab
    me: 400W solid state head w/ 215 cab
    drummer: one of the louder kind, but not insane

    With our amps, we both have enough headroom!

    [Edited by Matthias on 08-10-2000 at 03:58 AM]
  16. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    Theres one time when they do realize it, when your bass is so loud that you can feel the sound waves hitting you then you still need to turn up [put in ear plugs] & show the crowd & your guitarist how bass feels. good feeling kinda scary @ times though. ;)
  17. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson SUSPENDED Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    reedo35 "1 watt of power per person that you plan to play for. It sounds a little silly, but it actually works."

    I guess it would work, 300w for 300 people, 2000w for two thousand people but the latter seems like overkill, unless you're playing for 2K people with no PA.

    There is no formula for wattage needed, there are way too many variables. Sensitivity is often overlooked. One of the reasons I don't use EA speakers is their sensitivity. I have no desire to change my amplifier just to get the same volume I get with the cabs I use now with my AMP BH-420 head. An amp purchaser must take into consideration what they'll be pushing, whether it will be used with or without a good PA and whether they really, really want to carry around a bunch of stuff. It gets old as you get older;)

    I don't get basing an amp purchase on what the guitar player owns, I know guys (guitarists) who play way too loud with a 50w amp and others who are subdued with a 100 watter. How loud I'll need to play in a band is a consideration. Base it on how you plan on playing.

    You can't have too much power or headroom. You can however "overbuy" gear. I used to carry around what amounted to a PA system (and a pretty good one at that!) for my bass rig.

    I was: Young, stupid, single and had money burning a hole in my pocket:D I outgrew that, thankfully.

  18. pedro


    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    >Guitarists just don't seem to realize that the PRIMARY instruments (ie; Rhythm Section) should be the loudest!!!


    Theres one time when they do realize it, when your bass is so loud that you can feel the sound waves hitting you then you still need to turn up [put in ear plugs] & show the crowd & your guitarist how bass feels. good feeling kinda scary @ times though.

    Actually the real problem is that most guitarist forget that they ARE part of the rhythm section (Technically speaking, so is the piano. After all it is a percussion instrumen).

    The great guitarist like Steve Cropper and Cornell Dupree seem to understand this and are very adept at blending in and pushing the groove along. However, sometime in the mid to late sixties with Hendrix leading the pack, the rank and file guitar players of the world walked away from their rhythm chores and dropped the whole thing on the bassist and drummer.

  19. Well, in the practicing room the guitarists play both through a tube preamp/trans poweramp halfstack 4x12. I'm fighting against that with a borrowed cWarwick 2x10 somewhat 220 watts combo. Actually it delivers the power, but quite comprssed in a way (speakers and p.amp just don't do it very good). Another problem is that i`m playing 5 String (active) and so some serious bass is waving around !


    (PS : The guitarists play at about 7 at the volume knob in the full gain od. channel. I always tell them to toggle the bass to an average level !)
  20. I'm of the opinion that most guitarists play louder than they should and use more distortion than they need to. and, unfortunately, most guitarists I know like to take up the space the bass would occupy as well by cranking their lows up.

    as for the guitarists who set their gain to full on in the OD section...they wouldn't even notice any loss of distortion or sustain if they backed off to half.

    anybody got any good suggestion on how to get guitarists to turn down when they just won't listen? I know somebody has to have a good story...

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