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Wat watage of bass amp to use for small gigs?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Broach_insound, Jan 31, 2005.

  1. Broach_insound


    Jan 25, 2005
    New York
    I have been in a band for quite a while but we mainly are two people who do everything and we just release recordings to people , and now we have a drumer who can posibly do gigs with us and stuff. What I am looking for is a cab and a head suitable for small venues like cafes etc. what watage head $ cab would you recomend (obviously I can go as high in watage as I can but what would you say is the minimum?). I also would like to know if the head and cab each have their own specific watage? and also is a cab and a head the only thing I will need for these small gigs I speak of?
  2. the lowest you should go is probably about 300watts, beacuse you want headroom for good tone.
  3. R Briere

    R Briere Bass-ically Yours Supporting Member

    Greetings Broach,

    I've been gigging for about 40 years and I've run the gammet from using 2 SVT heads and 4 cabinets to doing "small gigs" with sensible gear. I generally use a 60 watt Sunn head and a 1x15" Sunn cabinet for those gigs. If need be, I'll use the same 60 watt head and a 2x15" Sunn cab. Enjoy the Music. :^>)

  4. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    depending upon your volume requirements you can get away with low wattage. 100 watts will cover a lot of gigs, even the aforemention 60 can cut a lot. it all depends. a lot of it depends upon the cabs you use as well.
  5. R Briere

    R Briere Bass-ically Yours Supporting Member

    Well said Mike. Far too many players rely on "how much power" an amp has, but completely leave out the efficiency ratings of the speakers and the cabinet design---both, as you know, are equally important parts of the big picture. :)
  6. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Nothing less than 300 watts, ever. Really I'd say 600 minimum, but for cafes, you might not need that much. But 300, yes. Try a used Eden WT-300 or WT-400 and a D-210 XLT or XST. There y'go.
  7. R Briere

    R Briere Bass-ically Yours Supporting Member

    I took one look at Munji's pic and thought long and hard about disagreeing with him. :eek: . But, since he's in the West and I'm in the East, I'll take a chance. Let's just say that everyone has a "personal opinion" and ours differ when it comes to power requirements for gigging. :)
  8. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    C'mon! I'm a good-lookin' guy with a sparkle in my eye. Anyway, there's no such thing as too much headroom.
  9. Selta


    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    Total fanboi of: Fractal Audio, AudiKinesis Cabs, Dingwall basses
    The volume knob DOES turn counter-clockwise.

  10. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Terrific Twister

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    If you are 100% absolutely, no doubt, totally sure you'll NEVER need more than cafe volume....then grab yourself an Ampeg B100R.

    However....I agree with Munji....start with 300 watts. I believe the Marines have a slogan of "Expect the best, prepare for the worst"......follow that advice when buying bass gear. If you buy a rig for one type of gig, you may get caught in bad situation if you need to play anything bigger. It doesn't hurt anything to have extra power. Purchase your rig once....not everytime your situation changes. It is much funner to buy new gear because you want to, not because you have to.

  11. Lowtonejoe

    Lowtonejoe Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Richland, WA
    +1 on the Monkey Man.


  12. R Briere

    R Briere Bass-ically Yours Supporting Member

    OK, here's my thing. :) Imagine that you just bought your first bass, or, even better, that you're THINKING about getting into playing or BACK into playing after being away from it for 20 years. (Closing your eyes while you imagine this IS optional--but fun). Where do you go to get information on your new-found desire? You come to the internet, of course! Right?

    Now, as you begin to look at the "requirements" of bassdom, you continue to see/read that you NEED a high-powered amplifier that costs, let's say, $1,000 or $2,000! Scary, eh?

    Now think about it for a moment; how many posts do you see where the Newbie actually makes excuses and apologizes for his or her worthless, crappy gear? It happens pretty often, doesn't it? My point?

    Instead of enjoying the music-making experience, the new player is often scared away--because of the "required" financial investment or they go back to playing computer games and find some other, more affordable hobby. :(

    So, the bottom line:: while having plenty of headroom is nice--if we look at it from a broader point of view, it's not "required" in order to go out and play music. I truly believe in my heart that we have a responsibility to those who read EVERY word we write in these forums, and they take it seriously. We need to make certain that we OPEN doors for them and encourage them to get out and play, not discourage them from following in our musical footsteps by setting the stakes too high. :D

    OK, you can open your eyes now. Whaddya' think? :meh:
  13. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    ya did good - i kept my eyes open
    95% of the time i agree with munji, i'm usually the guy advocating 400 watts or more, but this was a low volume gig thread.
    and as we already said, cabs playa huge part in all of it. i use a 12 and a 15 that get pretty darned loud. my 150 watt head can handle a good % of gigs with those 2. my 400 watter handled all but the most loud. my poweramp puts out 800 watts into those 2 cabs and thattakes care of everything
    still, that's only about 7 or 8 dB higher than the 150 watts of the lil head. no way i could play in my current "loud" band with that setup, but most other gigs i still can. i just like having the extra juice.
  14. Lowtonejoe

    Lowtonejoe Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Richland, WA
    If someone was telling a newbie that they had to go out and spend thousands of dollars to get started I would agree with you but noone has said that. You made the assumption that power costs big bucks. That's just not true anymore.


  15. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    I think 300 watt heads are readily available for under $200 new these days. It's simply false economy to buy anything smaller if you expect to gig with it, and have any uncertainty whatsoever about where those gigs might lead.

    I'll never forget the frustration of trying to use a B-15 at my first gig, an outdoor party with maybe 100 people. Sure, Jamerson and Duck gigged with 'em, but that doesn't mean I'd recommend it to someone without knowing a lot more about their playing style and venues.

    I play intimate supper club jazz trio gigs on EUB with a 500 watt rig. 250 was definitely not enough, for me. This, with one of the most sensitive cabs one can buy. I don't doubt that 60 watts works fine for your situation, and I dig your inclusive vibe. I've used the B100R in a metal quartet in a club, and it worked OK, that time, but only with FOH support. However, I wouldn't be comfortable giving that advice, personally. I think more people get discouraged with bad results than with a (perceived) high buy-in cost. I can't begin to count how many blown up amps I've fixed that were victims of unrealistic expectations, often fueled by salesmanly hype. Then things did get expensive, no doubt. My answer? Twice as much as you think you need.
  16. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Terrific Twister

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    When was the last time you bought some gear? You can pick up a nice, loud combo like the Peavey BAM for $700-ish, and Eden Metro's are falling down to that price now too. You can grab an Avatar 210 and a SWR 350 for $500-600. I don't think price is an issue it was years ago. Oh sure, you can drop $2K on an amp, but you don't have too with all the other options out there.

    I don't think of it as scaring people away, I prefer to think of it as letting them know upfront what they can expect. Why tell someone to go ahead and buy a 50 watt Ibanez combo since it is so affordable, and then have them come back here in a couple weeks or months and complain that it isn't enough power for their current band, and how they need something louder? At that point, you have just done that person a disservice. Advising them to purchase a small combo to suit their needs that day.

    In my post, I at least acknowledged the low volume option, and suggested the Ampeg B100R if they know for a fact they will NEVER need more volume than that. Heck, I play a low volume coffeehouse gig, and I still arive with 300+ watts. More than I need today, but what about tomorrow?

  17. thejohnkim


    Sep 30, 2003
    i've been throwing only 350 watts into my eden 210xst for a while now and with fairly loud music with rooms holding 100-200ish people i have good headroom (dont have to turn the master past 60% ever) it also helps that the xst is on the more efficient side of the scale
  18. andruca


    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    I regularly gig bars 100-200 of square meters with my Peavey TKO-80 (75W) at half volume.

  19. R Briere

    R Briere Bass-ically Yours Supporting Member

    Well, good morning all, :)

    Let's see, when was the last time I bought gear? That would be---yesterday. :^>) When was the last time I sold gear? About twenty minutes ago.

    A tiny bit of history.....not to come off as a hot shot, but just so ya' know that the "New Kid on the Block" has BEEN around the block a time or two. ;)

    I've spent 5 years as a consultant, rep and artist relations guy for SWR, Eden, Steinberger, EMG, Modulus, Spector, Michael Tobias and a few others. In that position I worked with a who's who of very talented bassists--many of whom are mentioned here on a daily basis. I've also spent 14 years as the Fender rep for 7 states in the Northeast. Currently I'm running the musical instrument division of Audio Classics in Vestal, NY. So, I'm intimately aware of what the industry is doing and where it's headed. Again, this is simply stated as background history, nothing more. :)

    300 watts for $300. Even though I fall squarely into the "Geezer" cazategory", I'll stick with the old adage, "You get what you pay for". When I ask what a companies warranty policy is and I'm told--"If it breaks, we give you a new one and throw away the old one", I begin to question where the entry-level amp market is headed. And more and more amps will be headed in that direction. Why? Because most people want "cheap". :eyebrow:

    I'd never recommend or sell a newbie a 50 watt SS combo that I hadn't used in that situation myself and tell them that it was gonna' cut an electric gig. I've never understood why manufacturers offer solid state amps in 25 watts, and another model at 60, then 100, then 200 , then 300, etc., it makes no sense to me. I KNOW why, but I've never understood it. I have, however, played gigs with a 5 string bass, a Bassman 25 and the very efficient Sunn 2x15" JBL cabinet that I mentioned earlier. It roared. :bassist:

    I usually recommend that a beginner get a 100 watt SS amp.
    After that, if you decide to stay in the game, get a serious amp...........and, IMHO, I prefer tube amps. Why? As a personal example I own two amps that I often use to compare and it is always a rather eye-opening experience. I have a Sunn 1200 and a Sunn 300T. Plug them both in and a suprising thing happens, the 300T-ube eats the 1200 watter for lunch. Why is that? Why do we see so many "big name", arena players still using SVT's--at a whopping 300 watts? Many big-name/small name but innovative and talented studio players use some of the wonderful boutique-type amps and make use of a single 12" or a 12 and a 10. Others go back to the single 15" Ampeg B15 or the Walter Woods or even the still present Polytone to get the sound they want. There are many wonderful choices, a plethora, in fact.

    In closing, my thought for the day. I always played IN bands and WITH other people. Today I often read, "I'm in a band and UP AGAINST a loud drummer and guitar player who has this or that" . When did this happen and what can we do to bring common sense and working TOGETHER back into the band business??? It's my opinion that if we can find the answer, we'll bring back the crowds that used to go to listen to live music.

  20. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    The same as I use for all gigs. I can't afford, nor do I want, multiple rigs. I have one rig that does it all - at least for me.