I want to go ampless live... best methods without IEA?

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by RodneyMac, Sep 20, 2016.

  1. I play bass in an Electronic/Ambient improv band, tired of dragging my amp around. We play venues with fairly sophisticated sound systems and talented sound persons, and I would like to set my tired old back free!! Limited effects pedals, six-string basses. Suggestions from players who have been doing ampless with success appreciated.
  2. twinjet

    twinjet Powered by GE90s; fueled with coffee. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2008
    Direct Injection. Get a nice DI so your signal goes directly into the board, then your engineer can tweak your sound.
    RodneyMac likes this.
  3. cableguy


    Jun 4, 2009
    North Bend, WA
    I still like my trusty old BDDI. Rock solid and gets a great sound for me. I also have one of the new Bass Fly Rigs, jury is still out on that....

    Anyway, lots of great DIs used on TB for under $200. If one doesn't do it for you. flip it and try another.....
  4. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    wait, you're asking for no backline and no IEMs?

    that means you're depending on the monitor wedges. if said wedges are massive and awesome then you're good, if not, not.
    RodneyMac likes this.
  5. Yeah, sounds kind of terrifying but usually the sound systems are awesome....I know I'll hit that gig with puny wedges, so I'd like to know how to be prepared for that.
  6. BDDI is a great tool...thought about the Fly Rig tho' - let me know how it works for you.
  7. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    know your parts well enough that you can do the gig even if you can't hear yourself?
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  8. Bufalo

    Bufalo Funk in the Trunk Supporting Member

    Jan 6, 2005
    Harrisburg, PA
    And it's not just you - will the rest of the band be able to hear you to lock into a groove if you land a puny-monitor gig? I would have a small/light amp available in the van - they make those now, have you heard?
    buldog5151bass and two fingers like this.
  9. jimfist

    jimfist "Cling tenaciously to my buttocks!"

    Mar 28, 2011
    Boston, MA (USA)
    I do this, but I rarely do I go "ampless" unless there are extenuating circumstances. As a hedge, I carry stage amplification (in my case, full range PA-type cabinets) in case the stage monitors crap out or for other on-the-fly stage tweaks as the night progresses. I'd only rely on stage wedges if I knew 100% of the time that they could keep up. I find this to not be the case most of the time. Unless very compressed, bass guitar can be very demanding on your average vocal-oriented stage wedge, which has almost no use for frequencies below 120hz.

    You have some choices here with respect to your "bass sound" via direct feed. Some players like the pure, unadulterated tone of their bass and use their instrument's controls to tailor their sounds. Clean, Clean, Clean! Other players require something that either lo-pass filters the tone or has some sort of cabinet emulation to tame high frequencies. This is the case especially if you have fuzz or overdrive in your tone. There are many choices for this in DI boxes or cabinet emulators, or, you could kill a few birds with one stone and roll the dice on a multi-fx pedal with amp/cab simulation. (This is what I do, and it has made setup and teardown quick and painless to carry.)

    Speaking for myself as someone who has only gone direct feed to PA for many years now, I'm no worse for the wear having ditched my SVT 8x10 cabinet (among other things) in favor of amp modeling with multi-fx, and using smaller, lighter, full range PA-type cabinets for my stage rig (size and number on an as-needed basis). Sometimes, for quiet restaurant and pub gigs, I'm totally ampless. Works fine. Most shows I'm performing in some sort of rock genre (everything from R&B to Metal), and I'm usually carrying one or two cabinets. I find the tone I'm getting to work fine for me vs. a traditional bass rig. Either can have their up or down sides. (I will throw in the disclaimer that I've spent many years mixing FOH for bands, and thus carry that mindset with me as a bassist on stage. In other words, I've got a full appreciation for what is happening with the bass tone in the PA as well as on stage, and I've adjusted to how bass guitar sounds different coming from a PA system vs. a traditional stage cabinet....and they ARE different animals.)

    One thing I've come to really appreciate is that most bass frequencies below 80hz really contribute nothing good to the stage when you have a worthy (loud) FOH rig and complimentary stage monitors that can keep up. I'll commonly place a speaker on a tripod stand up close to head level, which means I'll hear it very clearly at low/moderate volume levels. This has the benefit of reducing low end sonic clutter on stage (singers love this), and because I'm not turning up too loud to hear myself, the entire stage mix is more articulate in general. Much of the time, frequencies from the PA subwoofers will provide enough radiation of sub-low end to fill in the gaps, so to speak. Nobody I play with on stage seems to miss it. Actually, to the contrary. On the flip side, I find myself much more at the mercy of the FOH engineer to properly place me in the mix, both in terms of tone and volume.

    Good luck!
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  10. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    I would bring a decent monitor cab at least, and keep it in your vehicle, in case you need it.
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  11. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
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  12. iTzPrime


    May 30, 2016
    If you really want to play ampless and without iem's.
    I would recommend a laptop with ableton live, and audio interface and a behringer midi pedal to switch sounds.
    Weights barely 5kg.
    RodneyMac likes this.

  13. I’ve also been “ampless” for years, or at least technically, from the “traditional bass rig” standpoint. I put together a rack with a pre-amp, compressor and low-powered one-space amplifier. The pre has both house and stage sends. The stage send goes to the amp, which powers a small EV ZX-1 full-range cabinet for monitoring, sitting on a stool in front of me and aimed at my head. Since it only has an 8-inch woofer, it only gets down to 60 Hz or so, but it’s all I need to play my parts. I can hear the house subs for the low end.

    Wayne A. Pflughaupt

    Administrator, Pedulla Club #45
    Administrator, Tobias Club #133
    Fretless Club #943
    Big Cabs Club #23
    My Rig: Stage and FOH Friendly
    My Basses

    s0c9 likes this.
  14. DavC


    May 17, 2005
    Tallmadge , Ohio
    go wireless ... sit/play at the bar .. !
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  15. XLunacy


    Nov 28, 2013
    All you've got to do is recreate an amp+cab vibe with much lighter gear.

    I use a comp, an EQ, a dirt pedal and a tweakable cab sim (OmniCabSim) to get me there.

    It's super light, compact, modular, tweakable, and I can carry my tone everywhere, I know it'll be consistent from one place to another.

    That way, no need to bring your stack, just use what's available for monitoring purposes, and tweak it however you want since it won't bother the FOH engineer / sound guy.
    RodneyMac likes this.
  16. To be truly prepared, you need to advance every gig with their production crew (not the booking agent or the bartender) and provide them a stage plot, so that you will know what they have and they will know what you need. Without this communication it will be a total crap shoot. Small wedges, limited mixes, insufficient channel count, etc. Some places just aren't set up to do that. You're better off knowing long before you set foot in the doors, so that you can make an informed decision on what you need to bring. Personally, I'd be bringing a rack with a pre-amp, DI, wireless and tuner at minimum anyway, so to add a small rack mounted amp would not be an issue. I could then choose whether or not and which cabinet I might need for a given gig, once I've advanced the show with the venues production crew... Not the guy checking IDs or the cook operating the deep fryer, the production guys!
    RodneyMac and Calebmundy like this.
  17. Calebmundy


    Apr 5, 2007
    Endorsing Artist: DNA Amplifiers
    I wouldn't want to plan on it without in-ears. I have shredded some monitors on gigs where I couldn't travel with an amp and found by surprise that a promised backline amp wasn't available. Great monitors are great. Not-great monitors have basically been like playing with no monitor for me.
    RodneyMac likes this.
  18. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    I've played at least two venues where the sound guy will not put bass in the monitors. They expect you to provide a bass amp as on stage monitor.

    So I would at least have a backup amp in the car.
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  19. john m

    john m Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2006
    Amp in car.
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  20. DonaldR


    Mar 26, 2012
    I'm playing without an amp and without IEM for years. I use an Avid Eleven Rack (Ampeg SVT model), it has many effects, parametric eq, a good DI,, midi recallable patches and fit in a 2U rack case where I can also put my cables, my mic and my tablet (for partitions). Guitar player also use Eleven Rack and drummer plays Rolland V-Drum. We put 2 Yorkville NX55P monitors in front of us and with the subs from PA we don't miss amps at all and we all ear each other very well. Setup and soundcheck is 30 minutes and 15 minutes to pack back in the (small) car after the gig. At home I have an EV ZLX12P with EV ZXA1 sub and I'm very happy.
    RodneyMac likes this.