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Real World vs. Heavy Metal Delusion: 400 watts enough?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by bdahlmann, Jul 28, 2003.


  1. bdahlmann

    bdahlmann

    Jan 21, 2003
    Boston, MA
    I am in the process of purchasing a new system. I have pretty much settled on a Mesa Strategy 400 which delivers 200 watts into two channels by means of 12 6L6's.

    I play in a stoner/doom metal band with one guitarist through a hundred Marshall watts. Our drummer, oddly enough, is not particularly loud. My intent is to run two 4X10's in stereo with one effected channel if needed and one more or less clean (as an aside, recommendations for efficient cabs would be appreciated). Our venues are not halls or gymnasiums, but rather dingy basements/parties and the like. My intent is to get a wall of sound which is totally thick, but not deafeningly loud. Contradiction? Different thread perhaps...

    Anyways, I keep telling myself that this should be way, way more then enough for any real world situation, but I still have lingering doubts when I see casual mentions of kilo watt amps on a regular basis.

    As always, your thoughts are valued tremendously.
     
  2. It sounds like it should be fine. I don't know if your Guitarist is running a solid state marshall or a tube marshall, but with your tube head should offer enough room. I've played my 210 Watt 2x10 against a 100 Watt half stack solid state amp before.
     
  3. Obsolex

    Obsolex Guest

    Nov 17, 2002
    Yeah man, you'll be fine. I remember when I took my friends place in his band, just for a little jam session on his amp... The guitarist had a Marshall 120 watt half stack with a tube head, and dude, the drummers set it loud as a bi%ch!
    I was on his SWR Workingmans 15 combo, 160 watts, and I didn't even use the whole 160 watts...
    You should be fine, unless the amp or cabs suck... lolz...
    ||_-soto-_||
     
  4. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    The only reason to have kilowatts of power is to get a LOT of clean headroom.

    In the real world, playing in small spaces you can't use the volume those rigs make possible.

    The more you make use of distortion and/or compression the less headroom you'll need, anyway.
     
  5. ihixulu

    ihixulu Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2000
    getting warmer
    I could be wrong but I thought the Strategy power amps were designed for guitar use not bass, meaning that their output transformers aren't geared towards the reproduction of lower frequencies. (I am not a tube head but I remember reading a thread where someone explained wht a guitar tube head won't necessarily make a great bass head). You may get 200 tube watts but they may sound like 200 watts worth of nuclear farts.

    I could be wrong.
     
  6. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    Sorry, ihuxlu, but I believe you are wrong, sort of. The Strategy series were designed for guitar and bass, so I imagine the transformers were designed with that in mind. Mostly they were geared towards bass players back in the day, with Michael Anthony and Paul McCartney among it's users (Sir Paul still uses his).

    I personally use a Bass Triaxis (hence the name), with a Coliseum 300 power amp through a Boogie 2x10 and 1x15. In theory: crazy loud. In reality: stupid loud. I did a gig in a small club with a metal band with it once and I'm sure a few people went sterile. Have no fears with the Stategy. And if you don't buy it, pass the deal on to me! Seriously!
     
  7. Jow Bdahlmann,

    I also play in a stoner/rock/metal band. I play a SVT-3 Pro into an 8 ohm Peavey 410 TVX (So the amp drives at 275 watt). My power is at 45%-50% when I play. The gain is at 50% wich gives me this nice amount of overdrive/grit all the time; a sound that I really really love.

    I have to 'compete' with a JCM900 halfstack (100 watt fulltube). Since a few weeks we have a second guitarplayer and he plays on a 80W solidstate Marshall Valvestate combo... now I have two guitar sounds and a loud drummer to compete with... and guess what? I had to turn down because I was too loud and too 'cut-through' hahaha I love my rig.
     
  8. ihixulu

    ihixulu Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2000
    getting warmer
    basstriaxis, sorry about what? I said that I could be wrong so I'm not bothered if someone points it out. It's all good (well, most of the time).

    On that note, hate to nitpick but Sir Paul is a staunch user of the Bass 400 not the Strategy.
     
  9. bdahlmann

    bdahlmann

    Jan 21, 2003
    Boston, MA
    On the Bass 400 note, I am still a bit torn between the Strategy 400 with two 200 watt channels and the 400+ with one 500 watt channel.

    In the end, with the addition of a pre for the Strategy, the cost would be roughly equivalent.

    Disregarding the whole effected channel issue... comments on potential issues concerning two lower powered channels versus one higher? Flexibility with cabinet choices perhaps? Could it be more desirable to have the option of running just a single channel on the strategy but still be able to push the tubes into overdrive (kind of like guitarists taking out a few power tubes when playing at lower volumes)?

    Phyrexian-does your band have a site...mp3's?
     
  10. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    Sorry, ixhulu, didn't mean to sound rude there. And yes, you are right about the Bass 400. My buddies at Mesa also tell me he uses the Strategy as well.

    As far as the Strat versus the 400+, I think it would behoove you to look at the 400+. The power difference between the two when you have two cabs is negligible, but if you are only taking one cab out your power would be cut in half with the Strat (although it would still be stupid loud). You will still have the same cab flexibility with the 400+, but it wouldn't be as easy to push into clip. That being said, I have to be loud as hell to get just one side of the Coliseum 300 to clip.

    It's hard to say which one to get; the 400+ is a workhorse, but the Strat has a legendary "otherness" to the sound that is hard to describe (some audiophiles use them in their home stereos). You could do what I'm planning to do, and just get both!
     
  11. Just a note on the 400+. It's a 300W amp not 500W. Mesa quotes the peak power output not the continuous output in the spec. Peak power is a pretty useless spec. Also, pretty much any 300W amp with a halfway decent power supply can deliver momentary peaks of 500W. While M/B aren't actually lying about the 400+, it is a bit of a dirty trick.

    That being said, the power spec doesn't matter; the 400+ is a massively loud amp and sounds amazing. I can't think of a situation that it wouldn't be loud enough for with the right cabs. You can run 2,4 or 8 ohm loads off the 400+ I believe, which will give you lots of cab options. It will also develop its full power into any of those loads unlike a solid state amp. The only real reason (other than tone) to get the stereo amp would be for the option of running one side clean and one side effected. I don't think you'll go wrong either way.
     
  12. bdahlmann

    bdahlmann

    Jan 21, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Interesting regarding the power output. Is the Strat actually 400 RMS or peak? The PDF manual doesn't give the performance specs in detail at all.

    Can one assume that identical power and pre tube compliments should deliver roughly similiar outputs?
     
  13. I did a quick search on the Strategy and couldn't come up with anything. What type of and how many power tubes does it have?
    It's a reasonably safe assumption to say that two amps with the same number of identical power tubes could produce about the same amount of power. As long as the power supplies can deliver enough juice so the tubes can reach their maximum power and the class of power amp is the same. Most tube power amps are the same class (AB ).

    6L6s are good for a maximum of 25W per tube and often less than that depending on the make.
    KT-66s are good for about 30W each
    6550s are good for about 50W each.
     
  14. bdahlmann

    bdahlmann

    Jan 21, 2003
    Boston, MA
    The Strat and the 400+ both use 12 6L6's and 4 12AX7's.

    My slide rule would seem to indicate that 300 watts RMS would be the most output either would deliver.

    Would anyone know wether the 400 has the same output as the 400+?

    As an aside, I am a little surprised that MB uses this peak power tactic. I expect it from lesser manufacturers, but not from a solid name like Mesa.
     
  15. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    The 400 used six 6550s (like an SVT). I think they went back to the 6L6 for the 400+ because 6550 supplies at the time were poor.
     
  16. They beefed up the power supply in the 400+ as well. It doesn't sag as much as the 400's did. Makes for better transient behaviour...

    I think Mesa uses the peak number as a tactic to compete with the huge power specs quoted by other companies for their solid state amps. it's a marketing ploy.
     
  17. bdahlmann

    bdahlmann

    Jan 21, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Is the 400+ clearly superior to the 400, or just different?

    Could you comment on the different sonics of the 6550 vs. the 6L6?
     
  18. Both are kickass amps. I prefer the tone of the 6550 equipped 400, myself. Sounds more like an SVT:D
    Either type is certainly loud enough for pretty much any situation. I think there are more EQ options on the 400+, but I'm not 100% sure of that.
     
  19. ihixulu

    ihixulu Supporting Member

    Mar 31, 2000
    getting warmer
    Sort of off topic but:

    basstriaxis, I didn't mean that you were rude, at least I didn't read it that way. It's just that if I already said I could be wrong, the person who does me the favor of setting me straight shouldn't feel the need to apologize for it.

    Then again people are so hypersensitive around here, I suppose apologizing for everything is a wise precaution.