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Should I downsize?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by JasonNL, Jul 22, 2009.

  1. Ok, I'll try to keep this short.

    The last couple of weeks/months, I haven't been feeling as good about my set up as I used to. Not because the tone is insufficient, the tone I get and the tones I can get are absolutely great, but because everything I play is so darn expensive(and also big and heavy). Maybe you can call this some sort of guilt or something, but it all me makes me feel so materialistic and decadent.

    My current set up, or everything I currently own, is this: a Fender MIM Classic 50s P. a Squier VM fretless J, and an Ibanez GSR 190 (my first bass). I play these basses through my Marshall VBA400 and VBC412. The pedals I own are a EBS Valvedrive. a EHX Bass Big Muff and a Morley Dual Bass Wah. I also play a little guitar, I play a Dean ML79 through my Ibanez BSA10, usually with either the Valvedrive and/or Muff for distortion, which doesn't even sound that bad.

    If you got this far, I'll apologize in advance for not being able to keep it short, but I just have to get this off my chest:meh:.

    The things that bother me are numerous, but the main problem is the size, weight and not-funny-anymore overkill amount of wattage that my great sounding Marshall rig has. Other things that bother me are, the amount of basses that I have, and the fact that my only guitar doesn't have a whammy bar, because I only noodle on it anyway and that would add to the fun of noodling. I just don't want to chop it up, because that would ruin the appearance completely.

    Things that I'm completely fine with, on the other hand, are my P Bass, even though I paid over 600 euros for it, my effect pedals, except for the Morley because I don't really like its sound/options. And the fact that I own only 1 guitar.

    Some additional info: I play mostly (hard) rock and metal, currently I'm in 2 bands, 1 of them, a metal band, I just joined and they told me they have serious gig plans (and the necessary connections to get them) as soon as we get a decent set together. The other band, Mittens (kind of Tenacious D-ish), doesn't have heavy gig plans, mostly performances at our schools and stuff, and we might enter in a contest next year, but the venues we'll play at then will have house equipment available. I also once played as a bassist in the backing band for a school musical which had to fill an entire auditorium, and even then I didn't have to turn the master volume up above 10:30.

    The more serious metal band told me that when(or if) we start gigging, I'll need to bring my own amp, at least the head most of the time. Now, the head is probably do-able in most of their cars, because it's not that big, even though it's quite heavy, but I'm strong enough to carry it around and because of it's relatively do-able size I can also easily maneuver it in and out of the apartment I live in with my dad and into cars/vans and bars and such. The cab however, is a whole different story. It weighs almost twice as much as the head and is BIG. I can lift it on my own but carrying it around, hell no. Luckily it has wheels, but when trying to get it down or up a quite narrow and curved staircase (like the one in my house) is a real pain in the a.. and ideally requires 2 people. I can't do it alone, my dad can but he has some trouble with it so it's always better with 2 people.

    So all of this is why I'm thinking of downsizing to a smaller, more light weight rig, but, I have talked about it with my dad and he brings up the point that maybe I will regret it if I sell my current rig for something else and might not be able to get it back for whatever reason, and this is why I need your advice. I have some thoughts on what to replace my current rig with, but I'll first wait and see if anyone actually reads this monster and responds in the first place. My budget will be around what I sell the Marshall rig for, which will probably be around 1450-1700 euros.

    If you made it to end, I thank you for reading this thing and hope to hear your opinion.


    P.S. I've been playing bass for 2,5 years now, and I've had my guitar for a little more than a year, for those who want to know.
  2. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    Keep the big rig. If you want to add a small combo for ease of transport, and small jams, that's fine. But, you will miss the big rig. Everything that's a pain about big rigs is also what makes them great, the sound. Keep your head, maybe trade in the 4x12 for a pair of 2x12's. That would give you options. Good luck.
  3. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Let me get this straight...

    You play hard rock and metal and your rig is big and loud?

    You play hard rock and metal and you "feel so materialistic and decadent"?

    I'm not really understanding your problem here.
  4. BassMan7530


    May 2, 2009
    I would agree with RickenBoogie, that seems to be the best course of action (getting 2 2x12's). That way you're keeping the tone you want, and you make trasport much easier. That seems to make a lot of sense to me; it's probably what I would do.
  5. I get your point, and I have thought about that, too. The main thing about that is, though, that I'm only 17 and won't be able to drive a car for at least 16 to 20 months (I'll have to turn 18 first and then take driving lessons) so I won't be able to haul my own stuff around for a while. My dad doesn't drive a car either (because his employer pays for all his public transportation fees, and because of his Greenpeace past...), so I'll have to rely on bandmates, friends or my mum and step dad to transport my big rig, if I want/need to use it. Also, buying and additional combo would maybe make me feel even more materialistic, in a bad way, because I'll have even more stuff I don't really need or really want, it kind of feels like fixing a problem with another problem.

    Also, I probably should explain what I am looking at as a replacement, as I'm not exactly thinking about going all Markbass or something.

    For the head I'm looking at a Blackheart Hothead, which is a 100watt all-tube guitar amp, but it has a lot of options that are really usable for me in an amp, like the switchable full and half power modes, the dual channels, and the switchable pentode/triode mode also really interests me. I know that it's probably voiced primarily for guitar, but I don't think that's a problem actually or something that a 10-band EQ pedal couldn't fix if it is. Also, the soundclips that Mark Olson posted with his bass through an Orange Tiny (or was it Dual?) Terror guitar head, sounded really cool to me, and only a little bit too 'guitar-ish', but that probably also has to do with the settings he uses and stuff like that.

    For cabs, I am indeed looking at dual 2x12s, dual 2x10s or maybe a 2x10 + 2x12 or a light-ish 4x10. Of course I'm talking about bass cabs, not guitar cabs, because I don't want to run the risk of destroying my speakers.

    Also, I seem to have a preference for amps being pushed hard, even when they're solid state, because once when I played a gig with Mittens I played through a 35w Ibanez combo I could use from another band, and we needed to crank it to fill the room properly and it actually sounded good to me. (I have vids on youtube from this particular gig if you want to hear it).

    So downsizing in this case would be from overkill that I don't need at this point in time, to a medium sized rig that can probably fill all my current needs.
  6. On the first one, yeah I like it big and loud, but at this time it's just extreme overkill at this time, because I mostly play at home and small venues, and big venues should have a PA anyway. Also, I don't like carrying big and heavy down 2 staircases just to get is out of the house.

    On the second one, materialism and decadence are fun and all, when you have lots of money and it doesn't matter anymore when you spend it and on what. But now, I'm only a teenager, and I try to be a responsible one, and almost all of my money is in my stuff, and I have almost no income or real job, because school is hard enough for me as it is, so if I have to go somewhere by train, the question is always 'how am I gonna afford the ticket?' and when one of my favourite bands plays in my country, the question is 'where am I gonna get the money to go see them?', it always works out alright in the end but I hate having to think about how I spend my money so much just because I've spent it all on something ridiculously big I don't even use outside of the house that much at this point in time. Also, if something, anything in my rig breaks down thats more than a 9v battery or a cable (which I have plenty of) it's always the question whether or not I can afford the repaircosts at that point in time, and if it's more than a string or one of my basses, then I have zero back up and zero back up funds which would mean I'm totally screwed. There have been instances when my dad wasn't able to make dinner for me that day because he was away for business and I had to ask for money for food up front because I had no cash left. That made me feel kind of irresponsible and overly dependent because I couldn't rely on myself. I know I don't have to fully rely on myself yet because I still live at home, but I plan to move out in 2-3 years and then I'll have to rely on myself too, so I have to start learning now how to properly do so, you know.

    And another thing that makes me feel weird is that some of my friends that have inferior stuff to what I have play their instruments just as good/bad as I do or better, and that not so much makes me feel unworthy, but it makes me feel like I don't need all this volume I have. Most of it is just 'clean' headroom anyway, which isn't exactly what I look for in an amp.

    Also, read my previous post, I'm not exactly planning on going to a jazz-volume rig all of a sudden.
  7. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    OK...wait, I'm totally confused now.

    You're a teenager and you are trying to be a responsible one?


    Seriously, I'm only kidding...kind of.

    Rock music is decadent, selfish, loud, annoying, abrasive, anti-establishment, counter-culture, etc. Are you sure the music is reflective of your personality?

    In all seriousness, I often wonder why some people even bother playing or listening to rock music when the sound of it and the lyrics don't really jive with what they feel. It comes across as being insincere in it's delivery (and I include older famous rockers that keep playing stuff that really doesn't mean the same thing to them anymore).

    Having said that, by all means get something more lightweight but KEEP WHAT YOU HAVE. There is this whole fad of going to super lightweight rigs that has caught on (for obvious reasons) but that doesn't mean there is no place for the big guns when you need them. And having PA support does not mean it replaces what you have. Being loud onstage doesn't mean the crowd hears it that way "out there", especially outdoors.

    Only the big players get the HUGE PA with full monitors, IEM's and perhaps even sidewash. It ain't on their dime anyway. Most of those players still have a backline of some sort (though not all).

    So, yeah get something lighter if you must. But keep what you have and stop feeling like you owe anybody anything because of what you have. The only thing you owe anyone is the best you have to offer of yourself.

    And by the way, being a rock and roll father of two teenage boys, kudos to you for wanting to be responsible. And I mean that sincerely.
  8. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2006
    I think I understand where you're coming from. It sounds as though transportability is a big part of this. My free advice (worth all it costs, just like the rest) is to sell your rig and buy a pair of 112 cabs and a smaller head that goes down to 2 Ohms. You'll have modularity and more than enough volume for your current needs, and the flexibility to add 2 more 8 Ohm cabs to make a beastly wall of noise in the future if you so desire. You could also keep your current head and just downsize the cabs (maybe a pair of 210s).

    IMO there's nothing contradictory about playing rock and wanting to be responsible. It's just music; enjoy it as you see fit and ignore those who (have never met you) but may have snide comments.
  9. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    +1(post 7), Besides, think about it. Many who have gone with the trend of lightweight rigs, have come back to the big guns. There really is NO SUBSTITUTE for a big bass rig. Even if you don't need all the power, it's there, waiting to be unleashed. Small rigs sound small. Period. Sure, they're easy to carry, but in the end, they are what they are. Be thankful you have such a killer set-up at your age, and hold on to it. Trust me, (as crazy as that sounds), you'll soon regret not having that power if you dump that rig.
  10. Rock and metal definitely is reflective of my personality, as you would notice if you knew me in person, because I do feel like most of the things you stated, anti-establishment (the Dutch democracy really is a lie), counter-culture (we rockers and metalheads have our own community), I can be annoying :)p), loud = good, but to me, materialism is not counter culture at all in the western society, as everything in this consumer-oriented world is targeted at capitalism and consumerism, not that that's necessarily a bad thing, but I prefer to take a "use what you can afford and use it well" standpoint, and I feel like I'm a little out of my budget like I stated earlier because if something goes wrong I can't afford the repairs/back up and don't really want to rely on my parents.

    Also, I can definitely play the loudest and angriest metal in a convincing way, it's usually lighter music that I have a problem with playing in a way that it actually seems like I belong there.

    Thanks for the kudos, man. I'm trying to do a good job in making my life a success, and I feel like when I got my financial and all the other stuff figured out the right way, it'll be way harder for people who don't want me to achieve my goals to actually stop me from achieving those goals.

    P.S. please read post #5 too, as I think that kind of explains my own hypothetical solution and is a more middle-of-the-road, medium-sized (just lighter/more portable, mostly) rig approach.
  11. andyrennich


    Jul 16, 2009
    North Dakota
    I really like this idea. I just ordered an SVT15 and an SVT210. I have an Ampeg SVT-AV head that is selectable between 4 and 2 ohms. I am definitely going to invest in a couple of those new SVT-112 cabs for a "wall of sound" approach at some larger gigs. Great idea!
  12. Absentia


    Feb 25, 2009
    I was struggling for this for a while too. (also in a metal band)
    I never really used the full brunt of my 1000watt head and 6x10 and the entire rig took up a car and 160lbs.

    I bought a markbass combo the band made fun of me but after a few gigs they won't let me take the big ampeg rig...but I never sold the big rig because "hey I might need it someday".
    Well I just played a large outdoor show (PAless because the sound guy was mentally or chemically challenged) with the little guy and it held it's own quite well, in fact I no longer even think I need an extension seems the larger the room the louder it gets.

    still thinking of selling the big rig, mainly because it just doesn't sound as good.
    see if a shop will let you rent or borrow a smaller rig for a gig or two and see how it does.
  13. BassLand


    Mar 20, 2000
    Lost Angeles
    I have so far kept my big rig (18, 10, 3 or 6 tweeters with 2000w capability, 1200 watts bi-amped power) but haven't used it but once in the last decade and a half. I once tried to sell it but wasn't crazy about the offers I received. I weaned myself down (in size) over time.

    The biggest amp setup I would presently WANT to use is 500w EA CVL-110 and a 1-15 extension cab. On the small side of the amp thing I use an SWR WM-10 that has been beefed up with a Goliath 10 (from a 4-10 cab, cast frame rather than stamped frame and a bigger magnet/voice coil for better efficiency) replaced the 1 inch fiberglass insulation with 1/2 foam (lowers the resonant freq and smooths out the response at bottom end). The amp is rated at 80w. While it definitely lacks the definition of the EA rig (even without the extension cab) it is fine for most jazz gigs and all rehearsals (unless bringing a larger rig is requested) and weighs less than 40lbs.

    I am not into LOUD (for loud sake) and never really was. Having said that, I want to occupy the same space as the bass in recorded music relative to other instruments one might encounter in either a big band or smaller ensemble. There-in lies the rub, most bands today make you play louder that you would like rather than get lost. The (miss-use of a) Public Address System is another WHOLE kettle of fish...

    I remember rehearsing with a [famous] rock band in the mid 1980's and having to wear earplugs. Because I was the only one in that band that wore ear protection and out of curiosity the front man had his hearing tested. He was going deaf... and were it not for my wearing protection he would have not known it. That was both scary and a big wakeup call for me. I never go on any gig without having ear plugs with me. I had to use them recently. On one occassion I forgot the plugs and was johnny-on-the-spot with wadded up napkins. My hearing is too precious to me.

    I count myself lucky to have gone through that period with most of my hearing intact.
  14. rbonner


    Sep 25, 2008
    "It all me makes me feel so materialistic and decadent."

    Sounds like an attitude problem to me. Most kids struggle to get good gear for years. You've got stuff most would be honored to have.

    Stop whining and get to work.

  15. So because I'm not like most kids I'm whining? Geez, did I offend you or something? Did you actually read past the 'materialistic and decadent' part? Can't blame you if you haven't, though, but it does make you come across close minded to form an entire opinion about me based on just those words.

    Or maybe you just tried to offend me, not that it matters though, because I'm just a whining kid to you anyway. I think you missed my entire point about the 'materialistic and decadent' just because that one sentence comes across a little whiney, but I didn't really know other words for it because English is not my native language (even though I think my English is decent enough).
  16. paganjack


    Dec 25, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    if you read more of rbonner's posts you will realize he loves the BIG rigs. don't get too worked up about it. and as far as feeling materialistic and decadent... i know what you mean. Most of my assets at the moment are in bass gear, and I've come to terms with that.
    It's nice to have a smaller rig to take around. I have a 112 i use for smaller stuff and a 610 for bigger shows, and use the same hybrid head for both. All my bases are covered with those two cabs. Frankly, the 610 is more than I really need, but I like it and I found it cheap, so I can deal.

    The VBC412 might just be too wide/heavy. I have played through that Marshall setup in a store for a while. It's definitely a metal rig. That said, I think you could find similar tones in smaller setups, as long as you have enough speakers to go around.

    Someone suggested getting two smaller 8 ohm cabs, and keeping the head or something. That's a good idea. It sounds like your problem is more in the cabinet area than the head itself. I would suggest trying out [well before you even think about buying stuff] some more portable setups and seeing what you think.

    but on the other hand, with the rig you've got you can play REALLY LOUD. and that is a lot of fun.
  17. rbonner


    Sep 25, 2008
    OK good i now have your undivided attention....

    No I read the whole thread. I think somebody is seriously influencing you. Maybe its the Greenpeace parents? Somebody is making you feel guilty for having quality gear.

    I've been there myself 35 years ago... Get a handle on your guilt, figure out a way to transport your equipment if you need to move it. That is if your band starts playing out and keep your big stuff.

    When you DO get a driver's license, and do get a vehicle to drive, get a VAN or some sort of big wagon to move your band GEAR.

    I'm tired of hearing about people whining because their 810 cab doesn't fit in their YUGO... When I was 15 and still didn't have a DL, we played out every weekend and needed to move gear. The Guitarist was 16 and we had HIS MOM's station wagon and MY MOM's station wagon. We could get the whole band in those things with the seats folded down.

    My cab was a lot bigger than the one you are carrying. When I got out on my own I went right out and bought a brand new 1974 white Ford E150 cargo van... I currently drive a 2007 White Ford E250 cargo van and love it... I'd be glad to take pictures.

    SO you are in a perfectly good position to "DO IT RIGHT" but you are going to need to GET YOUR HEAD TOGETHER on this thing. Break through the guilt, get to the bottom of the problem... and achieve your musical goals.

  18. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Hang onto the Marshall and get a little combo for the small stuff. Be glad and grateful you're able to own such good equipment, and never apologize for having it.
  19. Your second post certainly cleared things up, rbonner. I think you can probably understand that just reading something about me being a whiney kid without the explanation got me a little on edge there. You definitely make a good point, though, and I am in fact planning on getting a van when I get my driver's license/own car.

    I guess I'll just work and save up for a smaller combo/rig for small stuff, just like I did for the Marshall rig. I was already looking at options a while back and a Warwick Take 12.1 seems like a good candidate.
  20. rbonner


    Sep 25, 2008
    My friend JimmyM is a little softer in delivery than I am, with the same message.

    You are thinking clearly on the get a second amp plan.

    A VBA-400 is a piece of solid gold, you should be buying a pair of VBC-810's to go along with it instead of ever selling it. Treat it like it is priceless and Twenty years from now you should still have that amp sitting around the house.

    It's really hard to imagine what will be the stuff to have around twenty, thirty, fourty years from now... For instance I have owned over 60 cars, 16 motorcycles, three airplanes and whatever else I can't think of to make my point.

    Of those 60 cars included just about every Chrysler Muscle car built during my youth. The car guys on here will go crazy... But those items were not antique and rare at the time so they were just comodities. Now my collection would be nearly priceless.

    Included were a 1946 Aeronca 7AC airplane, 4 1970 Plymouth Cudas including one Hemi and one 440 and two 340's with one an original AAR CUDA all owned at the same time. A 1969 Baracuda 340S that had been parked most of its life. 1970 440 Six Pack Road Runner, 68 Charger R/T 440 my first Dodge a week after graduating from High School... I've had my Mustangs and Corvettes, Mercedes and Caddys. Including a 1963 Lincoln Continental and a 1972 Dark Green Cadillac Eldorado Barritz Convertable with white interior and white top. That one got away about 12 years ago. What's in the garage now? Seven Harleys including my first a 1979 Superglide I bought the week I graduated from my undergrad program (I had to find an exact copy of my bike as I sold the original) and it's new mate I bought last week, a 2009 Superglide.

    That Marshall head will be one of those kind of items someday. Its already pretty rare. Regrets are something that are really hard to undo.