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How much watts do I need?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Harris2016, Dec 2, 2013.

  1. Harris2016


    Oct 14, 2013
    I apologize for a noob question, but I'm new when it comes to finding an amp more powerful than my little crappy practice amp which I haven't plugged into for a year because it sounds bad.

    I'm on the hunt for a new amp, but I have absolutely no idea what to look for in terms of watts, ohms, 2x10 and 1x15 size stuff.

    Its confusing to me, can you give a brother a hand with the explanation?

    Thanks all,
    - H
  2. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY

    It sounds like you've got more than just a 'how many watts' question, since you're puzzled with some other basic terms and concepts. You should start with the Stickies at the top of this forum and familiarize yourself with things.

    In the end 'watts' mean nothing if taken singularly and in a vacuum. All those other terms and concepts work together to help the 'Watts' give you a picture of how loud your setup is, or at least how much headroom it can provide.

    You probably also need to tell people here what kind of music you're trying to play, if you're playing with others, what kind of venues you're going to be doing.
  3. lundborg


    Apr 8, 2008
    A 200W 1x15 combo will do just fine with a decent rock band.

    For acoustic (small combo up to big band) one of those tiny cubes with 50 W and a 1x10 speaker will suffice.

    Anything louder will just help kill your hearing (ask your bandmates to turn down!)
    Anything bigger will just be a PITA to haul around.
    Anything with a fancy tone will not be appreciated by the audience anyways.

    Then it is up to you to exceed these (IMO) minimum specifications, to chase "your tone", crack the outside wall of your house (like a friend of mine did), kill your hearing or whatever -there are as many opinions on bass amps as there are stars in the sky.
  4. jehhorton


    Nov 29, 2013
    Mansfield, TX
    All of this is true, but for basics, if the amp is solid state, even if the preamp is tube, you need at least 200 watts imho to get solid bass. Another general rule is: add the watts of all guitarists in the group's rigs, and double it. In other words, if you're playing with two guitars using 50 watt amps, you need 200. I've usually found that these are "rules of thumb" but cabs, style of music, etc. are all factors
  5. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    This must be why I play a 3000w amp.
  6. jehhorton


    Nov 29, 2013
    Mansfield, TX
    I also agree with this. Go with the 200 watt 115 combo, then turn down if it's too loud. That way, you have plenty of presence and bass response, even at lower volumes. I once had a sound man ask me to turn up. I told him to turn it up in the PA, it was loud enough where I was standing.
  7. CL400Peavey

    CL400Peavey Supporting Member

    Nov 7, 2011
    Grand Rapids Michigan

    Watts mean little with out a cab to produce sound.

    IMHO combos are a waste of time. I have yet to see one that doesnt compromise way too much to meet size/weight concerns.

    To the OP, I suggest you look around at local used gear. A 300-500 watt amp, and a good used cab is going to be way better than a cheapskate combo that will leave you wanting in two months.
  8. cchorney

    cchorney Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2010
    Meriden, CT
    I got a lot of years out of my SWR Workingman's 15, which was a 160 watt combo with a 15" speaker. It weighed a ton and was bulky, but I liked the tone. If I wanted to go louder, my next logical step would have been to add an extension cab with a 15" speaker which would have doubled the air being moved and would have drawn a bit more juice from the amp (160 watts at 8 ohms means I would get 200 watts at 4 ohms).

    That combo alone was sufficient for many "acoustic drummer banging loudly with 2 guitarists trying to outdo each other" type jams.

    The 15" speaker combo with 200 or more watts is a great basis for a rig - adding a second cab with another 15" speaker makes it louder. You could do the same with a 2x10 combo, adding a second 2x10 cab to go louder, if you prefer a 2x10.

    Guitarists get silly loud
  9. spectorbass83


    Jun 6, 2005
    Two Ampeg 8x10's with a pair of SVT's should just about cover it.

    Seriously though, there is no right answer....It really all depends man.

    What kind of music does your band play?
    If you are in a loud metal/hard rock band with a heavy hitting drummer and a couple of guitarists that love to crank their half stacks and you guys gig in medium sized venues, my recommendation would be a 4x10 cab at the very least and a head that puts out around 500 watts or more. Having headroom is a wonderful thing, so even if you think you may not "need" 500 watts, you don't want to run into a scenario where one day you will but you don't have it. There are volume knobs for a reason.
  10. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once... Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    There is no upper bound - this is why there is a Volume knob.

    More watts (at equivalent distortion levels) weigh something and cost something.
    Clean watts are cheaper, lighter, and smaller than ever before.

    This tells you there are bargains to be had with "last year's model" that may be a little bigger or heavier.

    All integrated amps color the sound - some more than others. You may not like the 'baked-in' sound, so it's important to know what you want before heading down that path. Some amps add very little color - they may be more versatile but you may have to work harder if you want a specific color.

    You need to use care (i.e. LISTEN) if your amp can make more watts than your cab can handle, and the "Watt rating" of a cabinet is only a vague approximation of how many watts it can absorb before damage.

    A damaged cab can be replaced - damaged ears cannot.
  11. Biggbass


    Dec 14, 2011
    Planet Earth

    THIS^. I still use my old WM15 with 15 ext cab as a permanent rehearsal space rig. It's an old rig but fills this gap exactly as this post describes and sounds great. And the 200 Watts is more than enough. I've used the combo part of this rig countless times for pub and club gigs.
  12. BassCliff


    May 17, 2012
    So. Cal.

    There are lots of determing factors, from budget to venue size to portability to being heard with the other instruments. I've played with combo amps (all-in-one speaker cabinet with built-in amplifier) and various separate amp/cabinet combinations. For versatility and usability, my favorite all-around rig is a 300 watt amp and a 4x10 cabinet.

    Your needs may be different from mine. A lot of us own several rigs for different situations, but it can take a while to build your "collection". For your first gigging rig, always try to buy just a little more amp than you think you'll need.

    Thank you for your indulgence,

  13. Here's a recommendation for a rig I used to own that was really nice and didn't cost a whole lot. Watts are subject to vary.

    Used hartke lh500 - 200-250$
    Used ampeg svt-15e - 200-250$
    Plenty loud and sounded great.
    You could also add another SVT-15 if you wanted more volume.
  14. Harris2016


    Oct 14, 2013
    I forgot to mention that I want it primarily for jamming purposes, but if I end up joining a band I would kind of want enough power for small kind of gigs.

    I apologize for leaving this out,
    - H
  15. mpdd

    mpdd neoconceptualist

    Mar 24, 2010
    i don't know how much money you have, but people are pretty excited about the ibanez prometheans and the mesa walkabout scouts
  16. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    Where are you from Harris?
  17. Forrrest


    Mar 10, 2013
    I'd say this is pretty much accurate
    but be modest and start with one 810 cab, and one SVT head.

    Should he first upgrade and get a 2nd head, as a back up? or should he first upgrade to a 2nd cab since he can run both cabs with one head? What do the pros here recommend for upgrading if he can't upgrade to both at the same time?
  18. Woodstockz


    Sep 23, 2011
    San Diego, Ca
    [Hand to ear]...

  19. CL400Peavey

    CL400Peavey Supporting Member

    Nov 7, 2011
    Grand Rapids Michigan
    How loud are 30 100 watt lightbulbs?
  20. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    How bright are 100w lightbulbs?