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Re-evaluating amp watts I need at live shows

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by bass4u, Feb 25, 2020.

  1. bass4u

    bass4u Supporting Member

    Jul 7, 2007
    I have been playing bass for many years and have owned all types of bass amp/cabinet combinations.
    Currently own three 500-800 watt class D amps and one SVT head and a Tech 21 RBI in a rack with a 1000 watt crown power amp. I have multiple cabinets, SVT 8x10, SWR 8x10, GK Neo 2x12, Eden 4x10,
    EA Whizzy 10 and Trace Elliot 2x8, I play in 4 different bands playing different styles of music and use whatever gear I feel is appropriate for the gig for each band.

    Last week at one of my band's rehearsal I was in a rush and grabbed my pedalboard case (which also houses one of my D class heads) and headed out to rehearsal. Open up the pedalboard case and the class D head isn't in the case. I had played a gig a few nights before at a venue that has an excellent backlne,(brand new SVT full rig as the backline) so I had taken my class D head out of my pedalboard case. So I'm screwed. At this particular band's rehearsal there are two guitarist who both use tube amps, Orange head/cabinet, PRS combo amp. The drummer is a ROCK drummer and the band plays guitar based rock music, Its loud but not crushing.

    One of the guitarists says he has something I can use. He hands me a 50 watt 4 channel PA head. I'm thinking this is going to suck but it's better than nothing because the PA at the rehearsal space is really only for vocals. There are two Peavey 2x10 bass cabinets at the rehearsal space I stack vertically and I connect the no-name PA head to the speakers and proceed. The PA head only had bass and treble controls for each channel as well as a gain knob (no clip light on the channel to set the gain). No master eq just a master volume.

    I turn the bass and treble halfway up and and the gain halfway up too. I use my preamp pedals on my pedalboard to shape my bass sound so wasn't looking to use the PA tone controls. Next I turn up the master volume up hoping for the best. I tell the band to play a song while I make some adjustments.
    So... with the master volume turned up to the 1 o'clock position I'm amazed that the bass fit in the mix just fine with this low wattage head! At rehearsal my bandmates do not play quiet. The rehearsal room is 20x40 which is a decent size and not dampened in any way.

    Now I'm thinking it's time to completely re-evaluate my amplifier needs. I wish there was a commercially available class D power amp in a super compact form I could just mount to my pedalboard. I think something in the 200-300 watt range would be able to address most of the gigs I do. If playing an outdoor show I could use one of my higher powered heads.
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2020
  2. Been there. I thought I needed 1000 watts until I stopped trying to push huge low-end onstage and got away from the 'Madison Square Bedroom' tone. Took far too long to figure that out.
    SwitchGear, murphy, retslock and 8 others like this.
  3. Matthias


    May 30, 2000
    Vienna, Austria
    20200119_113010.jpg You should consider the Trace Elliot ELF: smallest head in the market, 200W @ 4Ohms, 3 band EQ, no thrills, great tone.
    And it was plenty loud through a 215 we have sitting in our rehearsal room....

    Attached Files:

  4. bass4u

    bass4u Supporting Member

    Jul 7, 2007

    I tried one and didn't really like the eq, sort of a scooped sound. It also sounded sort of compressed when pushed.
    murphy and Matthias like this.
  5. Ashdown Ant is exactly what you are looking for. I think I saw a thread here not too long ago. It is a new product from namm 2020
    Zbysek, superheavyfunk and bass4u like this.
  6. Warpeg

    Warpeg Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2005
    Maybe try Quilter?
    Zbysek, Mushroo and Frank77 like this.
  7. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru..........

    Apr 11, 2006
    Be patient. Mesa is working on just what you are asking for, the Subway D-350 amplifier.

    Mesa Subway D-350!
  8. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it.

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Zbysek, Oddly and bass4u like this.
  9. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    Madison Square (Gardens?) Bedroom tone! Yeah baby.


    Which rig did you have to cover that? Should I get one? ;)
    My wife was once in a event there, lol. Really bad room.
    David Jayne likes this.
  10. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    Assuming that PA head (which one?) was only 50 watts RMS (4 or 8 ohms?), isn't it likely you handled it well was because the two 210 Peavy bass cabs were fairly efficient, the PA had a good fixed HPF, and the cabs bought you the familiar 6 db bump via the the vertical array?

    Remember, 500 watts is only (theoretically) twice as loud as 50 watts.
    Rabidhamster, nomadh and lomo like this.
  11. Ken Morgan

    Ken Morgan

    Jun 14, 2014
    Midland, TX
    I understand this completely. When I was a youngster the most powerful amps peaked at 300 watts...now I’ve got more than that in my gig back pocket.

    maybe we should all turn down?:D
  12. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru..........

    Apr 11, 2006
    ^^^ THIS!!! ^^^ :D
    Dr. Love, dan1952, murphy and 16 others like this.
  13. Timmah

    Timmah Supporting Member

    May 19, 2011
    I’m always blown away by TB users’ obsession with megawattage. Either most people here mix their bands very differently than I do or they just love overkill. I’ve rarely run out of gas with a 300w amp and 4x10, and that’s light-duty cabs. I’m curious as to what the guys here are doing if they need a super-212 and 900w in a bar. That kind of volume would get me fired SO fast.
  14. Kevorargh

    Kevorargh Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2013
    West Bethel, Maine
    It's that I need the wattage, I like the headroom, and I like having less space and weight.
    DJ Bebop likes this.
  15. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's

    Something to consider - because of the way our ears work, you need TEN TIMES the amp power to sound TWICE as loud to your ears (with the same speaker)
    However, if you double the cone area (more speakers or cabs) it sounds twice as loud at the same power.
    The advantage of the high powered amps is the capability of running lots of speakers.
    You need only a moderate amp, choosing your speakers to suit your gig. Watch the sensitivity ratings - a speaker that is 3dB more sensitive than another will be twice as loud with the same power.
  16. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    I have cabinets that are pretty inefficient, but are light and easy to move. They sound glorious for anything from old school gospel with an 8 member group (active 5-string), Reggae (4 or 5), Rockabilly slap (upright), Jazz (upright), or blues (upright or electric).

    Having found that a 600 watt at 4 ohm head will clip when driving a 15/6/1 fEARful, I went to a used 900 watt Carbine M9. Better, but clipped when I used two cabinets (OK, not that often). A Crest ProLite 3.0 (one channel) is clean for one cab, and handles two bridged very cleanly, as well.

    Don't forget that an 800 watt head like a Mesa D-800 is only (theoretically) twice as loud as an 80 watt amp.

    Anything with a volume control is not too loud, unless the person controlling it decides to make it so.

    And don't forget: "Moderation in all things, including moderation."
    SwitchGear, Bassdirty, murphy and 2 others like this.
  17. Eddie LeBlanc

    Eddie LeBlanc

    Oct 26, 2014
    Beaumont, Texas
    Got a Berg B|Amp running into two Schroeder cabs, a 12 PL and an older 1212L. Three twelves in all and present a 4 ohm load to the 700 watt amp. Deals easily with a hard hitting drummer, Keys, Rhythm Guitar, a Lead Guitar with dual stacked Mesa Lone-stars (eight 12s), various percussion, trumpet on some, harmonica on others, and 3 to 4 vocals. And the rig is not even pushing hard.

    But the Berg is a super versatile amp, that includes a variable HPF. And can do more than any rig I have ever had. And can play any gig from in your face to mellow. That HPF does some amazing stuff.
    Stumbo and SteveHeissner like this.
  18. Treblefree


    Apr 8, 2016
    Umm, uhh, ....; am I the only one here that's completely jealous? ;-)

    I mean I'd love to know what I might like better cab and head wise, and waited my whole life to put my current "dream" rig together and my brother here has back-ups to his back-ups. I'm starting to wonder now if my rig is really my "dream" rig and I need to start buying more heads and cabs to find out....

    Oh boy, I'm heading straight for a divorce!
    DJ Bebop, Chris Y and dramatwist like this.
  19. I still think that 500 class D watts into a 2x12 (good quality gear, not cheap junk) will give 99.5% of us as much volume as we will ever need - and most likely a bunch of headroom. If you are playing a venue that needs more - or outdoors, etc - you are more than likely going to have significant FOH support and at that point your amp becomes an onstage monitor (if you aren't 100% iem).
    GuitarJay, dwade, whero and 6 others like this.
  20. Greyvagabond

    Greyvagabond Supporting Member

    Aug 17, 2007
    Los Angeles
    Hell I gig with a 100 watt amp all the time. Its a tube amp, but still, it is fine with a drummer and two guitarists with 2x12 tube combos.

    I think Orange makes a 100 watt class A/B poweramp designed to be driven by pedals alone; hook up a decent pre like a SansAmp to it and it would be a fine bass amp: Pedal Baby – Orange Amps

    EH also makes a 44-watt pedal (into 8 ohms), which would be OK for a lot more situations that we think: Electro-Harmonix 44 Magnum 44-watt Power Amp Pedal
    Tottery, DJ Bebop and dramatwist like this.

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