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Is 100 watts enough to play out? ... mmmmmmnope.

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Munjibunga, Nov 12, 2000.

  1. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I went to a party tonight where my band was asked to play, but our lead singer and lead guitarist couldn't make it, so they got another band. They were pretty good, played mostly classic rock ... Tom Petty, Stones, Neil Young, Hootie and the Blowfish ... HOOTIE and THE BLOWFISH? Well, anyway, the guitarists played Strats, one through a Fender Twin Reverb and the other through a Rocktron pre-amp with a Crest power amp into a Marshall half-stack. The bassist had a funky Kramer/Ferrington electric/accoustic playing through what? A Hartke 120-watt Kickback. He had to turn it up so high that it was distorting most of the night, and you could barely hear him. There certainly was not any real bottom to the groove.

    So what? Well, it just reaffirms my belief that you need at least 300 watts to sound worth a crap, no matter what the gig. These guys were playing in a CLOSED GARAGE! So quit asking if we think a 100 watt bass amp is going to cut through the mix when your guitarist has a 50- or 100-watt amp. It won't. It just won't. I'm sorry, but that's just how I feel.
  2. ulf_kurt


    Feb 10, 2000
    Umea, Sweden
    I totally agree with you. A 100 w amp wont cut it on its own. But i think a 300 w amp will struggle at times too. Thats why many bassists (including me) are using the DI or line-out into a PA when playing gigs.

    I think its almost lying to people, when saying
    -No, a 100w amp wont do it.
    Most(at least younger)players cant afford a big head+cab setup. Thats why I think its important to always push for the possibility to use the PA when playing live.

    A 100-150w amp, will certainly (in most of the time) do it in a rehearsalroom, at decent levels. Maybe not in a super-heavy-band, but I would say it will do in the standard rock-pop-group.

    I feel that, after following the forums here for about half a year or so, that the wattage-hysteria is quit spread in here. And many new basists will get the impression that they NEED 400+ w to play in a band. Thats not true!

    Thats my thougts anyway.

    cheers Ulf/
  3. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    As ulf kurt explained there are many factors. I use a Hartke 140w combo and it struggles sometimes. Luckily the guitarists I play with use 30-60w combo's. As a rule of thumb the bass player needs 4x the wattage than the guitarist. So if your guitarist insists on a marshall plexi half stack and wants saturation. Yes its the 400 watter for you.

    So the answer to can I play out with 100w? is Yes/No/Maybe/Depends.
    maestrovert likes this.
  4. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    It also depends on the style of music you're playing. I suppose that you need 400 watts to play rock and metal, but with Jazz it's a different story. I've used my Hartke kickback in a large room with a keyboardist, a guitarist and a drummer and it worked just fine.

    Moral of the story: Spare your back, switch to Jazz!:D

    Will C.:cool:
  5. I agree with BW that the rig should fit the gig, but for a R&R gig a 140 watt 2x10 ain't enuff it's just plain lazy. I play a gig with 2 guitars using twins and use 400 watts 2x15 + 100 watts 1x12 (mid & hi) plus send a bit to the PA.. On the other hand I played a jazz gig last nite with a 80watt 1x15 Polytone MiniBrute on 4 that was plenty. I also play a gig with sitar, guitar, tabla and hand perc and the PolyTone is almost too much. So it really depends on your situation(s).
  6. Matthias


    May 30, 2000
    Vienna, Austria
    Munjibunga: was there a PA or not? If not, it's no wonder, even in a garage.

    Generally I agree with Ulf.
    For rehearsing at decent levels 100-150W is enough, depending on the efficiency of the cab, number of speakers and so on.
    If you have a PA and are playing at decent stage volume, it will also be ok. (yesterday I played a gospel/pop/rock gig in front of almost 500 people with a 150W/212 setup, wich was just enough, but not overpowered. On stage I usually don't dial in too much bass anyway, because this often causes acoustic problems, besides it saves amp power)
    But I have to admit that I feel better with my 400W rig :)

  7. I played with a couple of my friends at the school talent show last year using an SWR Workingman's 12 and I was as loud as the rest of the band, and it was a rock band with 2 guitars, so the 100 watts worked fine for me....
  8. ihixulu

    ihixulu Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2000
    South Shore MA
    Really depends on the cab. I don't think the problem was the wattage so much as the fact it was 100 watts going into 1 12" speaker. I've heard 100w bass amps do fine in surprising situations (Ampeg V4B into an 810 or my old Trace head pushing 140W into the 810 over 2 100 watt guitar players for example).

    More power is nice but it will never make up for the lack of a proper cab.
    4-stringB likes this.
  9. I played out for years with no PA support with a 100 Watt V4B running through a 4'x2'x2' single 18" sugar-scoop cabinet. I even played outdoors with it a couple of times with no problems. Super efficient speaker cab + Ampeg tube 100 Watts = enough power.

    "Yeah, back when I was a kid, a Watt was really worth somethin'. We didn't need none of that kilo-watt Class H bullcrap. Hell, 50 Watts was a lot to us......" :D

    You know how it goes. Alright.

  10. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Ummm, I think what you push with the 100w (speaker efficiency)is fairly important. What you play is important, too.

    I've used my Ampeg 100w combo live with room to spare in fairly large rooms. I always have a PA available but don't always use it. This is mainly with 5 strings.
  11. JazznFunk


    Mar 26, 2000
    Asheville, NC
    Lakland Basses Artist
    A lot depends on your tone. I use an SWR Workingman's 12 and run a very midrange-heavy tone and 100 watts is fine in most rock, jazz, whatever situations... I used to use a Fender BXR 100 with the same type of tone and the same was true. 100 watts can cut it if you do it right.
  12. akajuve400g


    May 22, 2000
    When playing gigs a lot of people run their amp through a pa. And just use the amp as a way to monitor their own playing, I guess that is why some amps are called self monitoring systems. So you can play through a 100 watts, but you better hope the gig has a pa. That is why you may need around 300 or more watts. Having a powerful amp does help the sound out though............
  13. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    They had a PA, but the bass wasn't in it. I'd have DI'd into the PA. It's interesting though. This band has the opposite problem of mine. I wish our guitarists would upgrade their equipment a bit. Our rhythm guitarist plays through an 80-watt Peavey 112 combo. Our lead plays a 23-year-old Peavey 212 combo, and our acoustic guitarist just plugs direct into the PA (usually through my SansAmp Acoustic DI). The guitarists in the band I heard last night had good equipment with a ton of headroom. (They were using a little too much headroom though ... they were too loud.) They just had much better tone than our guitarists. I guess I'll just have to buy Mesa, Marshall, and Fender rigs for our guys. I'll put the Harley off for another couple years.
  14. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    The problem was not wattage but speakers. One guy had a pair of 12" and the other had FOUR (and how big was that Crest he was using?). The bass player had ONE so he started out with a huge disadvantage right there. If he had that Kickback driving an SVT cabinet he would have done a lot better.

    Please don't say you can't gig with 100 watts, rock bassists did so for YEARS when you couldn't get anything bigger than that! I played through a 75 watt Traynor, a 50 watt Bassman or a 50 watt Sunn for about ten years and they all did the job.

    Am I happier today with a more powerful amp? YOU BET!!!!! But that doesn't mean everyone should never buy anything less than 300 watts just to go play in a garage. Get bigger, more efficient speakers first, 2-15" or 8-10". 100 watts into THAT will get you heard over those guitarists.

    Of course, the guitars could have TURNED DOWN, I'm through competing with guitarists and drummers who can't bother to try to blend with the rest of the band.
  15. MikeyD


    Sep 9, 2000
    I agree with brianrost. For example, if you run 100 watts into a big horn-loaded cabinet with a 110 dB sensitivity, it will be as loud as a 2500-watt (!) amp into a cabinet with 96 dB sensitivity! Speaker efficiency is very important, especially when one needs a lot of volume. I'm running a Carvin rig right now, pumping about 600 watts into Carvin speakers, and it is just barely enough to balance with the drummer (because my cabinets are not very efficient). I remember playing through a Fender 400-PS tube amp into a big folded horn cabinet, and it was far more powerful than anyone needed. This amp was rated at 145 watts into that one speaker (440 watts if 3 speakers were connected). It was an earthquake generator with only 145 watts!

    I think what's happening in recent years is that bassists are moving to smaller, generally less efficient cabinets because much more powerful amps are available now which can make up for the reduced efficiency, and smaller speakers are easier to transport. In my opinion, if you find you're needing much more than 1000 watts to heard - in any reasonable on-stage situation, your speakers are not efficient enough or your band mates are hellbent on destroying everyone's ears!
    - Mike
    Noot likes this.
  16. noweapon


    Feb 10, 2000
    A 100wt amp could push a super effecient speaker(s) and make them sound like your at a concert. But the reality is that the super effecient speaker would be soooo expensive! This is the big thing with driver manufacturers right now, getting more out of less power. Right now I woukd say that 100wts is good for a cafe' acoustic gig or if your main sound is going through the PA.
  17. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Actually efficient speakers are CHEAP. Big cones and big boxes are all you need, no high-tech design.

    Here's some specs from Ampeg, these ratings are in decibels at 1W input measured at 1 meter (probably at 1KHz):

    SVT 8-10" 100 dB
    SVT 4-10" 96 dB
    SVT 1-15" 100 dB (surprise! louder than the 410 cabinet and just as loud as the 810)
    SVT 2-15" 103 dB (surprise! twice as efficient as the 810 cabinet)

    Here's some Eden specs:
    1-15" 100 dB
    4-10" 105 dB (wow! a lot different than Ampeg's 410, eh?)

    and some Bag End:
    1-15" 103 dB
    2-10" 100 Db
    4-10" 103 dB

    Now some of the more esoteric boxes:

    2-10" 102dB
    1-15" 100 dB (hmmm, is there a pattern here with these 15" cabs?)

    B-2 2-10" 93 dB (whew, that needs over *4* times the wattage to match volume of any of the 15" cabs)

    Euphonic Audio
    2-8" 99 dB
    1-10" 97 dB
    2-10" 100 dB

    So in terms of efficiency, the biggest bang comes from using 15" speakers. Guess what, they tend to be way cheaper than other cabs. That's because the cost of a raw speaker doesn't vary much from 10" to 15", but if the cab needs twice (or four times) as many speakers, that boosts the price big time. Mars sells Ampeg's 1-15 for $430, the 4-10 is $600, the 8-10 is $900. Then compare that $430 with the Euphonic 2-10 at about $900. For that matter, the Bag End 15" is a mere $399 at Bass Northwest (cheaper than Ampeg!!). Cheap used cabs abound, right now Bass Nothwest has 1-15 cabs as low as $179 and 2-15 cabs starting at $199.

    By the way, most of the classic bass amp designs of the 60s and 70s used 15" or 18" drivers in large enclosures.

    So what do the more esoteric designs give you? Well, smaller, lighter, wider and flatter frequency response...along with lower efficiency.

    Mike A likes this.
  18. Damn straight. Testify!!

    Bigger is better, baby. If you are willing to put up with big size, you get a lot more sound, at a lot cheaper price. It rules.

  19. phil_chew


    Mar 22, 2000
    You know what? I always remember that scene from "Back To The Future" where Michael J Fox was auditioning in front of this guy (played by Huey Lewis). After some fancy guitar riffs, Huey Lewis stops Michael J Fox. "You're just too damn loud" he says.

    Guitarists must learn to turn down the volume.
  20. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I have to say I'm pleasantly surprised at the thoughtful responses to this thread.

    I agree that the bass player didn't have enough speaker to compete with a total of six twelves and hundreds of watts of guitar power. (I forgot to mention that the Crest power amp was a 900-watt doodad.) But that's kind of my point. Yes, the guitarists could have (and should have) turned down. If this group had been in a bigger venue, though, the bassist would have been even more underpowered. And when I say you need at least 300 watts of power, I agree that 300 may even be too wimpy. I ride the cusp of getting a WT-800 for the power and headroom and burdening my already challenged spinal column. I just sat there at the gig thinking about how much better a hi-fi rig and electric bass would have sounded. I'm with throbbinut on this one.

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