Was just asked what amp I'd like for a contract gig - help needed

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Dkerwood, Jun 14, 2019.

  1. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    Okay, so the short version - I'm about to start rehearsals for a six-week evening theme park gig. Outdoor open stage. I had assumed that I would run direct in a situation like this using a wedge monitor and set up an appropriate patch in my HX Effects. Today I got an email from the park asking what specific amp I'd like them to source for rehearsals and performances (they also asked me to bring my own amp to rehearsals until they can get in whatever I'm asking for, which is certainly a bummer).

    I was in the middle of replying that I was intending to go DI and would (begrudgingly) happily bring my own powered speaker when I realized that I honestly wasn't sure if this was the best option. So I bring it to you all - what would you request as a "backline" for a show? It's a mostly Latin 30-minute medley-heavy show with a dozen singer/dancers, full horn and rhythm sections, performed 3+ times nightly. I'm assuming the PA can handle the bass and that any rig I'd use would be purely for monitoring and maybe in rehearsals. I can't imagine trying to fill a huge open area - 3/4 acre just in front of the stage, according to a calculator I found online - with one bass amp onstage. ESPECIALLY with no walls to contain the sound and almost a full acre of empty space behind and to the sides of the stage...

    I'm honestly at a loss, especially since I figured this was already taken care of. I was told weeks ago we'd use house amps, but I figured that just meant whatever it meant. Lol. Should I just go ahead and tell them just to make sure I have a good monitor wedge (12" has been fine for me recently, but would 15" be wiser for an outdoor show?) and a DI box? Or should I request a legit amp (I'd love to spend six weeks in front of a Tone Hammer)?
  2. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011

    I think you need to get some clarification. Will the PA carry the bass or is the bass amp expected to do it? Normally the PA does the job unless the production is really amateurish.

    Your idea of using a DI and monitor has merit, but the monitor has to be capable of doing the job, and often your better off with a bass amp. So you could ask what sort of monitors will be provided and if they are capable of supporting bass without an amp. Unfortunately you will still be at the mercy of the audio tech when you run this way, and I have been burned by monitor engineers who decided to mix the monitors to their taste rather than to what the musicians required. With an amp you have more control over your stage sound.

    As far as which bass amp to ask for. Everybody will probably just tell you their favorite bass amp, which is really not going to help you much. When performing outdoors, bass tends to require a bit more volume than when indoors. If your current rig is being pushed, you need to ask for something with more headroom.

    If the stage will have monitors, it's likely that you will be able to run an amp and also ask for bass in the monitors. I normally prefer to have a more powerful bass amp and avoid putting the bass in my monitor as sometimes the two speaker systems will fight with each other instead of integrating and making a big beautiful sound.

    Since you mentioned it, a Tonehammer would be a great choice. Either 500 or 700 with a 212 or 410 cab would probably be plenty. You might even get by with a 210 if you don't need excessive volume.

    Do you live near the park? Can you visit the tech staff? At the very least, give them a call and have a good conversation or two.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2019
  3. What's your preferred tonal path to the PA? Do that. Use whatever they provide as monitor but take your own until you see what theirs amounts to.

    These guys seem very disorganised for what should be a full monitor setup already hired in or permanent. Makes me wonder if they are in the business of over promising and under delivering.
    Koala of Doom likes this.
  4. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    I know this is just the second year of doing this main stage evening show - the first year didn't have a bassist or guitarist. They have traditionally had singers with prerecorded tracks in indoor theaters, but are really investing in their live entertainment. I really think this is just a case of trying to provide exactly what the talent wants. I've just done very few big outdoor bass gigs (usually I'm playing jazz combo stuff or musical theatre when I'm on bass) and wanted to double check with those with more experience before I sent back a response.

    As a bassist, I'd always prefer an amp on stage, but it's been a while since I've had that privilege. I was going to go with my plan A (cab IR's at the end of a preamp/multiband compression/effects chain), but just wanted to double check before choosing a direction.
  5. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses

    Also a GK1001RB head with either a Neo 410 or a Neo 212 would also be a solid choice, IMO
    alexgeddy, MattZilla, Ampslut and 3 others like this.
  6. Jim C

    Jim C I believe in the trilogy; Fender, Stingray, + G&L Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    I think the better question is what amps are available for backline?
    Clearly they are not going to go buy you an amp which means, what does the rental company have to offer.

    Don't be so sure that you have to put the bass in the PA if the group is not super loud.
    I played Tuesday night outdoors with a rock band at a kid friendly outdoor event.
    Huge concrete ice skating rink and about 200 people.
    PA was vocals only alhtough we did bring some extra stage monitors since it was outside.

    Drummer brought a bigger than normal kick drum, small guitar amps, GB 2x12 bass cab eith a 500 watt head.
    It was plenty loud on stage and out front.
    We had a buddy that does FoH at sound check to get a decent balance.
    Sounded very good.

    OTOH, we usually play this same event with a stage, full PA and lights.
    It does sound fuller.
    Latin band with a dozen singers.
    How many people will you play to?
  7. If backline is going to be provided by a local sound company, your choices will probably be limited. I don't know if the venue realizes that. In any event, an SVT with a 4 or 8 cab is pretty standard issue for those types of companies, so it's something you could request that will probably be available. You won't be unhappy with it.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2019
  8. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    I'll always take an SVT and fridge. Especially if I don't have to carry it. But yeah, find out what the amp source is and find out your choices.
  9. BogeyBass

    BogeyBass Inactive

    Sep 14, 2010
    Yeah just use the monitors......

    Cough cough

    Get the biggest cab on the
    Planet Planet Planet Planet planet

    Maybe instead just get nice 2x12
    TNCreature likes this.
  10. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Central Ohio
    Unfortunately, the bass amp on the live stage no longer exists in a vacuum. Your first reaction actually reflects this. The most important questions are what kind of FOH, monitoring, and sound engineering the Park wants to invest in. I don’t believe there is a sensible bass amp suggestion in the absence of that information. Are they going to go with IEM’s? OK, probably not. But, still, you need to know the sound engineering and monitoring support.

    All that said, any current high performance 212 and top tier Class D bass amp would be durable. The recent Mesa stuff with that company’s stability and history of product support should produce a really good tool. GK stuff would be less expensive and probably ok too. Part of the deal is you’d be best to know something about their budget.

    Sounds like you are working off of some well intentioned but not well defined project information.
    Ampslut and Wasnex like this.
  11. MIMike


    Jan 1, 2013
    West MI
    What are you most familiar with? You mentioned a powered speaker; is this what you usually use as an amp? I would recommend requesting something that you have used before and will sound as close to what you are accustomed to in order to mitigate any learning curve with the gear. But first, make sure the PA will be supporting your sound FOH. If not, that changes things and your requirements and options just increased significantly.
  12. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    That's sort of what I'm thinking as well. There are only a couple of places in town that rent gear, and if you're talking pro level gear, that number gets cut in half.

    That said, the show runs six weeks. If you have an $1800 bass rig, that would divide out to $300 per week or less than fifty bucks a day. I feel like fifty bucks a day or $300 a week is super cheap for a rental, perhaps unrealistically so.
    I guess the question is this - would it be cheaper to rent a Tone Hammer/Avatar rig for six weeks every summer or to just buy it now and own it for every bassist going forward? This is just the second year of doing this outdoor show, and there was no bassist last year. The production assistant didn't really give me any parameters, so I guess we'll see.
  13. Element Zero

    Element Zero Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2016
    Ampeg SVT and 2 810 cabs. Go all out. Live a little :)
    backin82, dralionux, REV and 7 others like this.
  14. I think you need to find out what the FOH situation is, what's in the budget, what is available, and go from there.
    backin82 likes this.
  15. Bodeanly


    Mar 20, 2015
    I would talk with the rest of the performers. Perhaps they would have more insight. Do you have a way to contact them?

    Also, I would have finished the initial email. IME, outdoor gigs are more reliant on the PA. Find out what’s going on with that before making a decision.
  16. Ask for an amp you are familiar with.
    I use GKs normally, which I find to be simple to use, readily available, and simple to get good, normal bass tone out of, but any kind I can plug in and get a sound close to what I know and use are fine.
    When an amp is provided, I hate walking to find something with tons of controls, and options I'm not familiar how to use. Too many EQ options with too many push buttons does not make the gig easier
    Redbrangus likes this.
  17. Omega Monkey

    Omega Monkey

    Mar 8, 2015
    Man, bass players must be the most self hating group of musicians. You always "have the privilege", unless the person who cuts the checks literally says "you cannot have an amp on stage or I will not pay you or re-book you". And even then there's some wiggle room. Does the guitar player have an amp? Do the singer or drummer have wedges? Yes. Ok then, there's your answer. The only real exception to that would be if you HAD an amp on stage and abused it, volume wise, to the detriment of the band sound.

    For a one off, a rental makes sense. For a 6 week thing that will likely happen every year, for a large commercial entity? Buying makes WAY more sense. They can write off the initial expense, and THEN write off the depreciation every year, AND have the thing on hand to use whenever they want. Even if it WAS just the 6 week thing, they could still just sell it at the end and probably come out ahead

    Then just ask for what you actually want and think you'll need, with the caveat that you are flexible, but this is what you would feel most comfortable with and think would perform the best.

    For me, coming from a sound guy's perspective, as well as a bass player, I would be looking at a high quality (like GK or better) 8x10 equivalent (let's be real, a 1x12 is going to be completely pointless in a situation like that), and probably 600-1200w. Once you're over 300-500, watts are less critical, but you do NOT want to underdo it on the cab, especially for that kind of music and that kind of show. So 2 4x10s, 4x12, 2x15, etc... whatever suits your fancy, but it should be enough to be embarrassing if you brought it to a coffeehouse gig. The GK NEO 412 is a great cab, easy to move around, and not crazy expensive, and readily available brand new. Likewise, the GK RB series are great (the MBs never really did much for me). Mesa is putting out great stuff right now. Ampeg has some great stuff. Markbass is probably what you'll end up with, since they're ubiquitous, but frankly, although I don't really dislike them, they are kind of overpriced and overrated.

    I mean, if you didn't have to pay for it or move it, what kind of amp would you get for yourself right now? Surely you must have some ideas. If you don't, just get a 1001RB and NEO 412 and call it good. That and your HX should be a platform for plenty of volume and a wide variety of tones.
  18. fabubass


    Jan 13, 2006
    GK 1001 RB and a 4-10 Cab, Gk, Hartke, Fender, Line that Gk Head, Oh My God, great Power all the Headroom you'll ever need.
  19. Wisebass


    Jan 12, 2017
    Lost in Space
    Hi Dkerwood :)

    The obvious answer is an SVT and two fridges (one for the sound, one for the beer :D)

    Without kidding: Ask them what they have! (the backline company) Get something big.

    You like a Tonehammer? Ask for one and be a happy camper! :D

    Nobody will force you to crank a big amp, but it' s always better to have more than you need.

    have fun

    may the bass be with you

  20. hennessybass

    hennessybass Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2008
    Bayou City
    Sounds like the plan is everyone on amps along with PA support. My guess is that you will probably have a DI (like a JDI) placed before your amp provided by the production company. You can dial in your amp, and they will dial you in our front. I would also guess you will have one wedge monitor, and they will just ask what you want in it (including drums, vocals, guitar, etc).

    At least IME with this kind of back lined thing.

    An SVT / 810 would be pretty standard stuff. Maybe more common an Ampeg 410 / what ever solid state head in the 300-500w range would be pretty standard.
    GK or maybe Aguilar. An DB751 with DB 410 might be available.

    Not sure that micro heads and light weight new super cabs are standard back line stuff.

    I would go in thinking less about “your sound” and what you might be used to, and more like what is standard for this type of production gig. IME, that’s you, with your bass, a clean DI, and “classic” bass rig. Plan on making it work and not being fussy - let the sound guys do their job. Your job is just to play good not worry so much about “your tone.”

    All IMO if course.