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Just how many watts does one need?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Lower-Than-Low, Jun 16, 2007.

  1. Lower-Than-Low


    Jun 7, 2006
    Hey everyone
    I've been on the look for a head for a while now, and I was wondering, how many watts should a head have if I want to keep it for as long as possible and gig with?

    I read somewhere that I should have at least twice the wattage that the guitarist has, and if the band has two guitars, double what their total amount is.

    Is this true? or would I be fine with something between 280 watts and 400 watts?

    My band has two guitarists, and I want to be heard over them when needed.

    Thanks for reading!
  2. joegeezer


    Mar 9, 2005
    Northern Wisconsin
    Avatar Club#12 Eden Club Lucky# 13--USA Peavey Club#37 Carvin Club#5
    No less than 300 for a practice amp,a nd up to 3000 for gigs. Depends on what kind of music, and where you play. Small clubs I like about 800, for bigger clubs I like 1600. Thats with either 1 or 2 410 cabs. Gives you headroom, and the thump when you want it. Even 300 for practice sometimes doesn't quite fill the bill. Thats my opinion.
  3. I think the prevailing opinion is going to be "How much can you afford?". You can always turn down, even if the guitarist won't. That is why they make volume knobs.

    3,000 may be overkill, but I wouldn't mind having it. I am looking at the Carvin 1,200 watt head right now. That should carry me for awhile, or so I hope.

    BTW, where do you get 3,000 watts? Two 1,500s bi-amped?

  4. I would say at least a 400 watt amp...otherwise you'll be looking to upgrade soon. My rule of thumb is to go for as much as you can afford or twice what you think you need, whichever is more expensive! ;>). The watt size isn't the only consideration. How many speakers are you using? 8 ohm or 4 ohm? And the quality of these cabs. Also, another rule of thumb is that to get a noticable increase in volume, you need to double your wattage.
  5. Lower-Than-Low


    Jun 7, 2006
    Hmm... I'll have to find out what my current cab is rated for... also looks like I'll have my work cut out for me raising enough money! :D

    Thanks for all the help!
  6. I've got a 500 watt head running through a 4 ohm 4x10 and a 4 ohm 1x15. No problems being heard with two guitarists running 100 watt tube amps, and a drummer.

    Of course, we don't step over each other's frequencies, either. That makes a big difference.
  7. Jazzin'

    Jazzin' ...Bluesin' and Funkin'

    20W for practicing alone
    200W for a jazz gig
    600W for a rock gig

    I'm just pulling numbers out of my @$S
  8. Andy Brown

    Andy Brown Commercial User

    Jul 23, 2004
    Rhode Island
    Founder/Owner: Wing Instruments
    Actually, these number seem pretty reasonable. I for one have never experienced 1200~3000 Watts and probably wouldn't want to. My 500W rig is perfect for all.
  9. Lower-Than-Low


    Jun 7, 2006
    The last three posts have been very encouraging, I might actually be able to afford a proper amp by the end of summer.

    and unless I was playing a huge stadium, I dont think I will ever need 3000 watts.
  10. why dont you try a berry power amp and a pre
  11. Just get an efficient cab. Seriosly... go look at the Carvin stuff. Cab efficeincy matters almost more than the wattage of the head. The actual correct question is how many decibels will I have to achieve in order to do x. The SPL will depend on on wattage, cab efficeincy, and how ham fisted the drummer is.

    At cab with 97 db@1w/m is going to take 4 times the power than a cab that is rated at 103db@1w/m. For every 3db boost you need twice the power.

    This 4x10 is rated at 107db @ 1w:

  12. you sure thats right?
  13. Jazzin'

    Jazzin' ...Bluesin' and Funkin'

    Since you have two guitarists, I recommend something 400W or higher.
  14. Thats what they claim... "• Sensitivity: 107dB @ 1w and 136 dB @ 800w". The math works out too... why would they lie :ninja: . Don't forget... 2 speakers in close proximity supposedly add 3db boost as well. That would mean that the cab has to be loaded with 97db speakers.

  15. Lia_G


    Oct 27, 2005
    I was waiting for someone to mention cab efficiency! Finally, the 11th post in the thread does so ... ;)

    Watts by themselves don't mean squat. As OxJohnson points out, it's the output that matters. 1000 watts into an inefficient cab might sound quieter than 350 watts into a highly efficient cab. There are some gotchas here too, though: many believe that cab makers fudge on their sensitivity ratings, and many believe that amp makers fudge on wattage ratings. So it's hard to get a completely clear picture without trying things firsthand. It would be sooooo much better if every cab maker would publish the spl charts for their cabs, instead of just picking one 'number'. Bill Fitzmaurice is, to my knowledge, the only one who publishes charts for his cabinets (thank you Bill!).

    Also, a lot depends on your style of music, the drummer, and how often you have PA support. I do fine in the loudest gig I have at the moment with a Genz Benz NeoPak 3.5 head, 350 watts, into a Genz Benz Neox212t cabinet. For some guys, this rig wouldn't cut it, but it's plenty for me. But, this is a fusion trio with one pretty loud guitarist and a moderate drummer. Back when I was doing heavy rock against two Marshall stacks and a double-kick-drum, well, I'd need double what I need now, at least.

    Good luck!

  16. you forgot Rog Mogale
  17. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    Ah, the bassist's eternal question: How much power is really enough?

    The rule of thumb I've always heard re: dealing with guitarists is that you need at least three times as much total power as the combined total guitar power. But I personally think you need more like four times as much power, likely more. Remember: You need the extra power not just for the added quantity of output (volume), but also for the added quality of output (headroom) in order to keep the signal clean. Bass frequencies eat up power like you wouldn't believe...

    It's true: Cabinet efficiency can compensate somewhat for a marginally-powered amplifier. But the best of all possible worlds would be lots of headroom PLUS efficient cabs...

  18. seriously, why the mega wattage? if you're playing a venue big enough to demand it, that's why god made PAs ... what you want is enough to hear yourself whilst not going deaf ... perhaps the guitarists should play through something smaller ... it worked for rory gallagher.
  19. Lia_G


    Oct 27, 2005
    Didn't forget him ... never heard of him ... hence the 'to my knowledge' part of my statement ... ;)

    Just looked him up though. Cool stuff ... thanks for the info!

  20. Poop-Loops

    Poop-Loops Inactive

    Mar 3, 2006
    Auburn, Washington
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