1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Is 120 watts enough power for gigging?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by El Raro, Oct 26, 2009.

  1. As the title suggests, is 120 watts loud enough for, say, a stage gig? I'm being offered a Hartke HA2000 amp for cheap that cranks at 200 watts/4 ohms but 120 watts/8 ohms (which is what my cab runs at).

    To put things in perspective, the guitarist is playing through a Vox 2x12 combo, drummer plays on a jazz kit and I intend on plugging the amp through the 8 ohm 4x10 cab.

    Will it do me justice or will it serve me better as a prac amp?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    Yes, if you have the right speakers. A 4x10 might do it, if not another identical 4x10 above it will increase sensitivity by 6dB, and that's the equivalent of upping your power to 480w. But it's a costly solution in terms of pack space.
  3. I would say that your proposed setup should be fine, the drummer is playing a "jazz kit" so as long as the gui**** sets his volume accordingly, you'd be plenty loud enough.

    I gigged a 120w combo in a similar band setup for years.
  4. I should have mentioned, I'm not considering throwing in another cab at the moment. I simply don't have the room space or big enough transport to carry all that (my coupe can barely fit the 4x10 as it is).

    From what I've read and researched (personal opinions mostly) it seems that the general consensus is "200 watts minimum" for gigging bass players. But considering the gear the band uses and the general gigging venues played at (small - medium sized bars and showrooms) I'm wondering if it will even matter or not.

    Any thoughts on that?

    P.S on that note, hypothetically speaking what if the drummer were to upgrade to a full sized rock kit? I'm assuming that would naturally require the guitarist to crank his volume up...but will I be left in the dust with the 120 watt?
  5. richmoore1998


    Sep 11, 2006
    Niagara, Canada
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amps, D'Addario Strings, Planet Waves
    I have a 100 w all tube head that is great for small gigs. When I have to throw from the stage or when the drummer is laying into it it's just not enough before it starts to overdrive. 100w all tube is pretty close - it would be fine if you have monitors that you could feed some bass into but for all practicall purposes I'd go for more wattage - something that matches up with your cab.

  6. iriegnome

    iriegnome Bassstar style Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2001
    Kenosha, WI 53140
    I have been going back and forth on this issue myself. Bigger scale for me, but the same issue. It is enough if you will be able to hear yourself. That is when it is enough. I have 850 watts on stage and sometimes I cannot hear myself. I have plenty of headroom where I can turn my amp up a great deal without any issues. Will you have the same flexibility with your 120w amp? If you buy the amp and grab an extension speaker to bring your amp to a 200w potential, then would you have enough? I understand nothing for us is ever "enough" but you have to decide when you can hear yourself.
  7. Marley's Ghost

    Marley's Ghost Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 9, 2002
    Tampa, FL
    It depends on the following:

    1) Other members of the band and their power/volume
    2) Type of music played
    3) PA support
    4) Size/Type of venue

    My .02 is that 120 watts is low. I wouldn't gig with less that 500 watts for headroom.
  8. Greyvagabond


    Aug 17, 2007
    You should be fine. Even with a full rock kit, I doubt your guitarist would need to turn up very much; those chimey Voxes really cut through!

    If you have PA support, you're 100% fine. Sounds like its cheap; go for it. 850 watts is for blowing the eardrums out of the poor people who visit tiny bars with no PA support (or for hearing loss!)
  9. I don't know whether or not what size or type of kit the drummer is playing really matters. It's more about how loudly he/she plays.

    120 watts seems low to me. But I've been told watts aren't really a direct indicator of loudness even though we use them for that all the time.

    Do you have to crank the 120 watt amp when practicing with the band or do you still have room to turn up? If you've got room to turn it up, try it at a gig and see how it goes.

    Maybe bring some sort of backup just in case.
  10. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    Baloney. How much power your amp will deliver has no direct bearing on how loud your rig will go, so the only thing you can be sure of when someone says that you have to have a specific number of watts on tap is that they don't know how amplifiers and speakers work.
  11. georgestrings

    georgestrings Banned

    Nov 5, 2005

    I'd say you need more speakers, then - because I've never had a problem hearing myself with half that amount of wattage...

    - georgestrings
  12. ghostjs


    Aug 14, 2008
    Unofficially Endorsing: D'Addario, Lakland
    im playing 150W with 2guitarists and a loud drummer and i seem to be heard perfectly.
  13. if your playing nice(r) venues, youll have all the PA support you need, so really the size of your amp depends on how well you need to hear yourself. if its real small, but you stand infront of it the whole gig, youll be fine.

    theres also people gigigng with sansamps and just relying on stage wedges to hear themselfs.

    but, for me, i always gig a 2x12" with a LMII. perfect power to hear yourself on any stage, or even gig without PA support.
  14. I'll add to this..

    Where and how you position your rig

    I toured the world with 200 watts.. did stadiums.

    I own much bigger stuff.. contrary to what folks say there is a point of dominishing returns and more gear clutter.

    I commonly play clubs with a cheap 50 watt combo amp.. only really bring out the large tall biamp setup for outdoor that I'm not going into the PA.

    I can keep up with a 6 piece band and 6 vocals.. drum set with good cabinets and 400 watts turned up 1/2 way.

  15. JoshC


    Nov 19, 2006
    Lancaster, PA
    I've never had to come anywhere near maxing out my 200 watt 2x10 combo when playing with drums, two guitarists (sometimes playing loud twin reverbs) and a few vocalists. 4x10 is a lot of speaker surface and I'm thinking you'll be plenty loud with 120 watts pushing it.
  16. kdogg


    Nov 13, 2005
    It's very difficult to say how many watts a given bass player will need for his stage rig, because there are so many variables. For instance, many touring country acts don't have a stage rig for the bassist at all. They use in ear monitors and the bass is run direct into the FOH. Equipment needs for us bass players run the gambit from the above to biamped systems running multiple cabinets. For each gig and style of music, your needs may change drastically.

    Having said all that, I have personally found that a good 300 to 500 watt head and a 410 cabinet will cover most anything I throw at it. But then, I'm just a weekend warrior playing mostly $400 a night bar gigs. YMMV :D
  17. SBrown


    Dec 5, 2008
    Auburn, CA
    Just my experience, so take with a grain of salt. It sounds like you play about the same type/size venues I like to play. If you play a small/ med. bar with no PA, and you cant keep up w/ guitar and drums with your present gear-- they will be pushing the patrons against the back wall and the bartender wont be able to effectively do her job without yelling all night. Result, no follow up gigs. I use the volume of my 60w. tube amp/ 2x15 to TRY:)help:) and reign in the horses as the night wears on. USUALLY, a larger venue will have PA support and you will be fine there. Where my rig is lacking is outdoor BBQ/ ho-down type of stuff w/no soundguy. In that case I mic my cab and put it into a channel on the vocalists board/2 Mackies. That gives me enough help w/ the highs and mids. The lows seem to be ok. I would save your $$ and try to convince the band to stay in control. Be patient, there will be opposition.
  18. Jaco who?

    Jaco who?

    May 20, 2008
  19. not to start a flame pissin match.. there is a point where all should turn down.. stage noise must be compensated for
  20. bluewine

    bluewine Banned

    Sep 4, 2008
    You really have to know how to use 120 watts.this will involve working with the other band member to make sure you are working with each other and not against each other.And if there is sound support, spend a lot of time on thw sound check.Don't let them tell you you only have 10 minutes. Blue