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Using a guitar cab for distortion.

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Brendan, Mar 23, 2005.

  1. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    So, I'm chatting up DRC here, and we're started talking about using a guitar 4x12 for distortion. This isn't entirely unknown, but I'm curious about the actuality of it.

    I mean, would there be a volume issue? Supposing you got a dedicated guitar head or equivalent poweramp (lets say 150 watts, either way), and put on your distortion, would it be loud enough to compete with your "clean" rig, or the band in general? Or would it just melt the voice coils?

    Would trying to play a 5 string through such things shred the speakers regardless of wattage at said volume, or any volume, really? Would you need to mic it into the PA to try to get the distorted volume up to spec without destroying the cab? Or would the lower wattage keep the cab from melting down?

    It's something I'm vaugely curious about, because I can never leave well enough alone. I know Amy from Clatter uses a Mesa guitar rig, but I'm not sure about the particulars of such things.

    Enlightenment? Chastisement?
  2. Minger


    Mar 15, 2004
    Rochester, NY

    Guitar amp through bass cabs is good

    Bass through guitar amp+cab=BAD IDEA
  3. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    This has been established. Numerous times. However, I'm talking sheerly for distortion purposes. Which is not unknown, or even all that daring a move. I was inquiring as to the nuts and bolts of bi-amping a rig in such a manner. Thanks for playing.
  4. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    I did it through the 80s. Kustom 4x12 with 100 watts and a tube screamer for the high end and 300 watts into a yamaha 1x18 PA sub (not unlike JT's hartke/yamaha deal).

    Amy from Clatter.com runs her Mesa 1/2 stack full range ...gear page

    Steve Harris used marshal 4x12 cabs with EV drivers forever
    Chris Squire
    John Entwistle
    Jack Bruce

    ...roll the clock back and most the classic rock monsters used a guitar rig at some point.

    Do it, if you fry a speaker, replace the driver
  5. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    I believe Lemmy uses Marshall guitar setups as well. "Trick question!"

    How about the volume issue (or nonissue) I was curious about?
  6. BillyB_from_LZ

    BillyB_from_LZ Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2000
    Trying to force guitar speakers (and a guitar amp for that matter) to reproduce a distorted low B is going to result a pile of mush... Gobs of amplifier power will be wasted on frequencies that the speakers can't reproduce at respectible levels compared to higher frequencies.

    You'd be better off rolling off the low, low end and going from there...
  7. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    I'd be running a 4x10 with 1000 watts into it next to it, I think the mush could be compensated for.

    What about maybe a bass cab and a guitar head?

    The purpose of the cab would be to be nasty and distorted. I also have a 4 string in my stable, and if it couldn't cope with the low B... so be it.
  8. I did a session in vancouver where I ran my dolphin four string tune downed to c# through a framus guitar head and mesa 4x12. When the dry signal from the bass was blended with the miced cab it sounded amazing. Very cool tone, but it all depends on the type of song you are doing.


    Nov 24, 2001
    New York,NY
    dude, just do it! I recorded some fretless tracks with Evoken using my Fender Jazz & an Ampeg solid state(forgot which one) guitar head & a Randall 4x12 guitar cab with Jaguar spks(unavailable now, KILLER cab).

    Anyways, thru the distorted ch. it worked GREAT! Sick distortion & very defined. I think you might even have the cd...

  10. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    FWIW, i tried both marshall plexi and blockhead plexi "clone" heads thru my bag end S15 and S12 (one at a time, those amps only like 8 ohms or 16 oms), and it sounded awesome. i wouldnt use them with any cab with tweets as that tends to sound like crap.

    i've also used the bag end S12R cabs which contain a 75 watt speaker intended for guitar rather tha nthe usual 200 watt bass speaker. those sound great for bass in general, and have a nice breakup when pushed.

    if i was going to use a cab with guitar speakers i'd probably look at getting something like a 212 guitar cab and be prepared for the eventuality of breaking the drivers from time to time. I'd also use some kind of high pass filter or crossover to protect them from the lowest frequencies of the E and B string. i also would look into getting some kind of guitar head or preamp to supply some electronic distortion prior to overdriving the speakers themselves (i've done the mad scientist thing before, so this is the voice of experience - :p )

    as far as volume goes, for the most part guitar speakers seem to have much better sensitivity than bass drivers, and the midrange frequencies you're pronbably after won't require a lot of watts anyway. oddly enough, even though the BE guitar speakers are less sessitive than the bass drivers on paper, i've found them to be a shade louder in the real world. (actually, i dont think the BE's are goint to give you the kind of distortion you're looking for)

    a last thought, i'd look for something used that you could experiment with for cheep that you wouldnt cry about breaking and having to replace speakers. my 1st experiment was with a peavy bandit 65 watt 1x12 combo. (yes i did finally fry the driver). it kept up volume wise with a 300 watt amp driving a 2x15.
  11. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    His groundbreaking tone work with Yes was done using two amps driven in tandem, one a regular bass rig to give a clean bottom end, the other a Fender Twin driven with a fuzztone. If you want that kind of sound just add a guitar amp to your rig, with a distortion device driving it. But don't go with a 4x12, just use a small combo, with the bass EQ rolled off, because all the harmonic distortion you're looking to get is in the midrange anyway.
  12. Tosya


    Oct 11, 2002
    Well, I think using a guitar amplifier is a ridiculous amount of fun, and the volume I get from my Mesa, barely turned up to 9:00, is blindingly, crushingly loud and gorgeous. You just can't describe it–you have to be standing in front of it to really appreciate its glory.

    It's not for the timid… ;) :D
  13. CrackBass


    Aug 10, 2004
    use a crossover and keep the really low freqs giong to your 410. send the mids and highs to the guitar cab with distortion. mix the two signals to taste. that way you can keep a really tight low end and have your distortion.
  14. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Damn y'all for making this sound like a good idea.

    So, any word on the 4x12 vs. 2x12 bit? (Fortunately, I know some people, I could probably get into either cheaply).

    I've a small guitar combo I kept around from my early guitar playing days, and tried jamming through that....I'm thinking this might be a very, very evil idea in the best sense of the word. I indeed might need to go and do this.
  15. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Don't worry, Amy; timid is one thing I've never been accused of.
  16. The 0x

    The 0x

    Aug 24, 2003
    Timonium, MD

    *whistles innocently* :smug:

    clips in sig
  17. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Well, just procured a Peavey Ultra 60 tube head. Next up is going to be the hunt for a 412. Probably going to end up with an Avatar or something, as they generally have good components and decent construction.

    Doom to yez. And, depending on how this debacle shapes up, I might start adding effects to the distorted high-end part of the rig. You'd think I'd know what I'm doing.

    Or that I didn't suck on ice at bass.
  18. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    I still think 4x12 is a mistake. With bass you use as many/as large speakers as you can to minimize distortion. With guitar where you want distortion it should be the opposite. The main reason guitar players with stacks play too loud is that with so much speaker they have to play loud to get the speaker to distort properly. I'd go 1x10 or 1x12, remembering that you still want your regular bass rig below for clean low tones, the guitar rig above for dirty mids and highs.
  19. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
  20. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    So, a 2x12 might be a wiser choice?

    I've been thinking about that, since my 8" guitar combo (the impetus of this, after Neal) is pretty loud, I'm thinking a 2x12 would be more than enough to keep up with my 410, and the entire rest of pretty much any band I was with. If it got to the point where it wasn't I'd probably be in the wrong band.

    But, I mean, c'mon, a 4x12 would make that "Screw you" just a little louder a little meaner. Of course, I could always move up if it wasn't quite enough. We'll see where my wallet takes me.

    ...wait, nevermind. Sorry, I lapsed into reason. Coming from a guy who was putting 1000 watts into 2 410XLTs, what am I saying? I've even said myself "Go big or go home." I can always turn down a 4x12. But, I think you guys aren't in the correct mindstate here.

    I'm not after "Wow, man, nice distorted sound." I'm after "I just got my ears raped by the bad man with the Spector." Which, y'know, is totally metal.