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Tricks for making small amps sound louder?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Ralphthepainter, Nov 13, 2019.

  1. Ralphthepainter


    Nov 8, 2019
    Before some smarty pants says “Get a bigger amp” or “turn it up louder” that’s not what I’m making a thread about.

    I wanna see if there are tricks to get more from your too little.

    Say you have a little combo that’s close but just not there... How can you squeeze that last bit of DB?

    Looking for stuff like:
    Add a cab
    Get it off the floor
    Add compression

    Or even fine tuning of those.

    My 100 watt is just not enough when it’s a full size rock band. CANT GO THROUGH MONITORS. DOES GO THROUGH FOH.
  2. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY
    100 watt little amp is what it is.
    SwitchGear, lfmn16, Matt R. and 11 others like this.
  3. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    A high pass filter can help a little. If you chop off some super low frequencies, the speaker can handle it better, as well as the power amp. It takes more energy to shake that speaker more. Lower frequencies require more shaking of the speaker. (Way over simplified explanation. But you get the point.)

    If that's not in your budget, try backing off the lows a little in your EQ section. But the HPF will work better because the amp isn't even trying to produce those lower frequencies.

    Point it at your head. Sure, bass is more omnidirectional than higher stuff, but it still helps to get it nearer to your ears. I use a mixer stand to get my smaller rigs up where I can hear them better.
  4. Turn down low-end and turn up mids especially low mids. Works every time.
    BBQV, bpmben, herndonbassist and 34 others like this.
  5. abarson


    Nov 6, 2003
    Santa Cruz
    Do you need more volume for your own monitoring or are you trying to project more sound into the crowd? If it's the former, getting it off the floor closer to your ears is advisable.
    If it's the latter, can your combo support an extension cabinet? If so, add one.
    Regardless, 100 watts isn't enough when playing with "a full size rock band". That's a reality that you're going to need to face.
  6. If you are in the PA you can lift it up as high as you like or tilt it back. Whatever it takes to point the speaker at your head.
    Wisebass, MobileHolmes, BAG and 2 others like this.
  7. basscooker

    basscooker Commercial User

    Apr 11, 2010
    cincy ky
    Owner, ChopShopAmps
    If you have zero budget, the suggestions above are about it.

    If you do have a little cash, a more efficient speaker might be a solution. Its hard to track down detailed specs for most combo speakers, so there may be some gambling involved.

    What is the amp? If it's a 110 or 112 combo with no connection for an external cab; retrofitting it with an output jack and subsequent speaker input jack may be an option. That would allow you to hook up a larger cab, thus allowimg for more cone surface area and most likely an extra 3 or more dB.

    Just to clarify the adding connectors thing... You would need a short speaker cable to use it as a combo OR as a head. You would not want to use the combo and external cab at the same time if the designer did not provide a way of doing this.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2019
  8. Ralphthepainter


    Nov 8, 2019
    It’s in FOH, no problem there. But on a big stage, it’s not enough for stage volume. Can’t go through monitors.
    MobileHolmes likes this.
  9. Ralphthepainter


    Nov 8, 2019
    I’m actually am just a guitar player. So most of my gear is for that. This side project, I’m using an SWR LA15 that I like for a little trio, but it’s undergunned for this. No idea if the stock speaker is efficient or not. It’s a 15”.
  10. bassdude51

    bassdude51 "You never even called me by my name." Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2008
    Central Ohio
    Buy a Schroeder bass cab. They are about the most efficient bass cabs that can be bought. Efficient means more loudness per watt. Go to their website and you will see their cabs put out up to 104 db one watt, one meter. Your 100 watt amp will sound about 30% to 40% (IMO) louder. Schroeder is the way to go!

    About | Schroeder Cabinets | Bass Cabinets | California
    pachoate, MVE, Revolver and 1 other person like this.
  11. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass Supporting Member

    May 10, 2006
    Mic the small cab and send the signal through your PA.
    iagtrplyr and MynameisMe like this.
  12. And I

    And I Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2009
    Witchtown, MA
    High pass filter, point it at your ears. Don't expect blood from a stone. You can only get so much out of a small amp...
    JMV, Stumbo, Charlzm and 2 others like this.
  13. add a pre-amp pedal like a San Amp bass driver 2 or a Behringer BDI21 either one will get you there
    I used them with my 100 Fender Rumble in a Classic Rock 5 Member band
    sample time
    this is using my Fender Rumble and my Original Sansamp pedal
    Sorry for the video quality they were crappier back then ha ha ha
    CoffeeLove likes this.
  14. Zero budget tilt stand.

    View attachment 3546642

    Made from very heavy double laminate corrugate as found in box ex USA. Not so common here. If it had a slather of duct tape it would last a good long time.
  15. Earplugs will not only save your hearing but make it easier to pick yourself out of the stage racket.
    bpmben, andrus108, bbh and 2 others like this.
  16. Gravedigger Dav

    Gravedigger Dav Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Fort Worth, Texas
    You said it can go through the FOH, but can't go through monitors. Sorry, but I don't get that. Can you explain what you mean, please?
    dralionux, Wisebass, Lava and 3 others like this.
  17. 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
    Raising the box, compression, an external preamp (risky), and EQ/HPF tweaks will help less than adding a cabinet—but you cannot. There is no amp output for a second cabinet on your combo. That's a not-so-unusual "feature" of many entry-level bass combo amps.

    The sad reality is that you don't have enough power and you can't add speakers. Amplifier power is an odd thing. If you want to double the (theoretical) loudness of your amplifier, it requires 10 times (10x) the wattage. To be twice as loud (~10 dB difference) as a 100 watt amp requires 1000 watts. For real. That's why bass amps are often 800 watts or more at 4 ohms.

    There is no simple fix for the combo trap.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2019
  18. in ear monitor?
    Auspuff likes this.
  19. unless you already have hearing damage, as I do. ear plugs make me completely unable to function, sadly.

    I've recently been wondering if noise cancelling headphones as monitors would work, so it doesn't have to be all that dang loud. it'll probably have waay too much artifacts due to the sheer volume on stage/in rehearsal from the drums and from the guitarist. But I keep wondering....
  20. basscooker

    basscooker Commercial User

    Apr 11, 2010
    cincy ky
    Owner, ChopShopAmps
    Well darn, you already have a 115. I was thinking if you did the mod to add the jacks, just getting a fairly efficient 115 would get you there.

    Now I may be wrong here, but IIRC that amp has a baked in darker and scooped tone. You could try diming the mids and cutting a little bass. Also tipping it back like mentioned. Yeah, sorry combos are a trap often not apparent until it's too late. Especially when there is no connection for a cab.

    Maybe someone knows the approximate equivalent speaker that is in that amp. That way, finding similarly spec'd drivers with higher efficiency may be possible.

    Not sure there is a free way to get more loudness besides the suggestions already posted.

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