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What should an amp be used for?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Fealach, Dec 28, 2005.

What's an amp for?

Poll closed Jan 27, 2006.
  1. Stage monitor.PA! You're a fool to think otherwise.

    5 vote(s)
  2. Amp make bass loud!No PA! See fool comment above.

    8 vote(s)
  3. Whatever works! I love my amp but sometimes, PA.

    20 vote(s)
  4. I should sell all my gear to buy more "enhancer."

    0 vote(s)
  1. Fealach

    Fealach Guest

    Apr 23, 2003
    Gone to a better place
    Stupid question, right? Well, I got to wondering what the consensus was. It just struck me that apart from a few old timers (set in their ways? nostalgic? senile? Or experienced?) and likewise a few young newbies (poor, so they must use what they can get cheap? easily impressed? stupid? Or, because they haven't heard much advice yet, they go with what sounds good?) There's a pretty big sect that espouses the "amp as stage monitor" school. The audience hears only a DI into the board, whether you use a $5000 boutique setup or a $129 Behringer combo.

    I've noticed that when someone is wondering what cabs to use, if they want more than a 4X10 they are told they should not, and directed to the next meeting of the Sansamp Sect. I was more than a little ticked off when one person responded to someone's question - 2 410s or 1 410 + 215 - with a comment that anyone who likes a rig that big must have a small "wee wee."

    So, as someone suffering from atrophied "privates" (it must be true, I was told I needed a "male enhancer" drug in another thread because I have used huge rigs) I am wondering where most people here stand. If I am the only one here who has more than a Sansamp and a Walkman as my main rig, I will humbly take my tiny privates elsewhere.

    And why is it not OK to bash someone's love for an extended range bass while it's great sport to ridicule someone personally because you don't agree with their speaker choice? If you can make that 11 string bass work for you musically, great. If Shleppy can get a killer sound with his SVT and 2 810 cabs, and his band is happy, and the people are happy, is that so bad?
  2. Personally, in my hardcore band I need a full stack. I never get PA support around here, so I need to move some air.
  3. In our band, if we need an amp for a nonconventional purpose, be it serving as a monitor, PA, or causing involuntary rectum evacuation in our audience members, that's the job it's doing for that show!
  4. Fuzzhead


    Sep 26, 2005
    Depends on your stage volume. One cab is probably enough volume for many average level bands.

    If you are playing heavier music, then you are competing against loud drums, distorted guitars and perhaps samples and screamed vocals. The defacto standard I've noticed for this is either 2 4x10's, one 4x10 and 1x15, or one 8x10. Or similar 2 cab setups.

    I'm sure some people would consider this excessive, however in the real world drumfills and foldback increase the on stage volume considerably. More speakers also give you a bigger, better sweet spot, and more headroom also. 500 watts seems to be the minimum in these situations if you don't want your amp to clip, I'd recommend more. This would suit 400-1000 capacity clubs.

    A big wattage lead sled would be fine into a single high powered cab like an El Whappo also.
  5. I think it's because alot of the members of these boards are either semi-pro or professional musicians, or people who want to fit in with that crowd (not that there's anything wrong with that). In alot of the venues people with that kind of role play, there is plenty of expensive PA support and a large rig isn't necessary. It's possible that since alot of these same people play almost exclusively in this type of setting, they assume that everyone else is, and in that situation a big rig can be overkill.

    However, there are also some of us who don't play in those types of venues. For members of a more DIY crowd (read: playing in church basements and places like that), a big rig is necessary because you're lucky to have a PA loud enough to let everyone in the audience hear the vocals.
  6. Crockettnj


    Sep 2, 2005
    North NJ
    "a big rig is necessary because you're lucky to have a PA loud enough to let everyone in the audience hear the vocals."

    not having a powerful PA is all the more reason to tone down (er, turn down) your rig.

    The point of the original post is valid, of course, and jsut illustrates the tremendous variety in our bass playing realities.
  7. In retrospect, I wasn't clear. I was attempting to imply that, in general, you're using a cheap, underpowered PA system, which if you did DI instruments into it, would probably make them sound horrible.
  8. MichaelB_71


    Dec 24, 2005
    I would say that whatever works for whatever you are doing. I have done some "semi-acoustic" stuff and used a 2x10 and a 200watt head and then I have done some stuff where I was pushing the upper range of my big rig (which used to be a 4x10 & a 1x15 with a rack setup pushing around 2100 watts).

    It really depends on what you are doing, where you are playing and who you are playing with - and of course, why type of music you are playing. My personal preference would be a rig with enuff balls to make the sound guy cry cause he doen't have enough pa - hehehe. I would hope that it has nothing to do with my genitals or whatever, I just like to play loud and keep it metal...but that's just my thing.
  9. Kronos


    Dec 28, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    Hmm...can't really vote with the options shown above. I think it's a combination. You need your cab to act as a monitor AND as a way to convey your sound, depending on the situation, and whether or not your cabs give you a good sound.
  10. The 0x

    The 0x

    Aug 24, 2003
    Timonium, MD
    There are a few situations where I can see my band playing someplace with a P.A. But most of the time, we're not gonna have much P.A. except for vocals. That's why i'm going to be using two 60 watt heads & 4x15" speakers biamped.
  11. fdeck

    fdeck Supporting Member Commercial User

    Mar 20, 2004
    Madison WI
    HPF Technology LLC
    For most of my gigs, if there is a PA, it is only sufficient for vocals and perhaps a horn player. An example would be one of those little Fender Passport rigs. Thus I am dependent on my own amp for everything. But a GK MB150E combo is what I most often use, so we are not talking about loud gigs.

    I once played in a venue that had a PA and a sound guy, and he mixed my upright bass so that his woofers were bottoming out every time I played a note on the E string. I made a mental note to add a low cut to my DI output.
  12. nysbob


    Sep 14, 2003
    Cincinnati OH
    For my way of thinking, I want my amp to work well in most any situation I find myself in. My gigs range from small to medium clubs with vocals-only systems to fully equipped larger venues. I use the same gear (SVT & 2 single 15" s) for all of them, and pretty much set at the same level...it will fill any stage with lows whether or not there are decent monitors, and has no problem pumping to the back of a reasonably-sized bar without help. ;)
  13. I should have chosen whatever works...but me like Big Bang so to frighten people with tone of "Thor"!
  14. georgestrings

    georgestrings Banned

    Nov 5, 2005
    Yeah, I've thought along the same lines when I hear things like:

    "That 210 oughta be plenty"

    In MY mind, I'm thinking NO WAY would that work for me... I'm currently using two 115s, and am about to add a 410... Now, I'm thinking that 1 of my 15s and the 410 would be just fine, but that both 15s with the 410 would have to be great... Probably the only way I could get away with one cab is if I played in a band other than a metal band... I'm thinking we're already moving a fairly large PA, large drum set, and my guitarist plays through a full stack Marshall - so what's another bass cab or 2???

    - georgestrings
  15. ezstep


    Nov 25, 2004
    north Louisiana
    It always depends on the size of the crowd, the building, etc.
    For small gigs (up to 200 people dancing) I usually don't run through the p.a. system. My rig is plenty loud enough.

    In a concert setting (we do about 10 times a year), I can use a single 1x15" and it is plenty for that setting. Not running in the p.a.

    In the outdoor settings or larger crowds (300 on up, dancing), I use my rig as a stage monitor and DI directly out of the head.

    You have to be flexible and you have to know what equipment to use for each gig.

    I do find the comments about p.a. systems amusing. I have noticed that keyboardists will have $5000 in equipment, bassists $2-3000, guitarists $1-2000, drummers - $2-3000, singers - maybe one microphone with a short in the cable. It seems that the guy with the vocals quite often expects someone else to provide a p.a. system so that he will not have to. If I relied solely on my voice to get gigs, I would definitely get a killer p.a. to have control of "my sound" wherever I played. :( I don't understand singers.
  16. MORE POWER. I play three different venues where the PA supports kick drum, vocals, and some guitar into a pretty large room, and the bass is basically left to fend for itself. These are the kinds of venues where a combo won't cut it. I've also experienced being overpowered by the stage monitors and been unable to hear myself on stage. A combo won't always cut it, unless you're playing acoustic rock or are in a soul/motown type band where the bass is laying a groove for some horns in a banquet hall.
  17. bigbajo60


    Nov 7, 2003
    Laredo, Texas
    I voted Whatever Works... BUT... in my experience, my one rig does anything I need it to do.

    It consists of two Acme Low B-2's pushed by a Stewart World 1.6, which is itself driven by an Avalon U5.

    At most of our "band" gigs, the air that the Acme's move supplements the mid-size PA that we ourselves carry.

    For the "unplugged/coffeehouse" gigs where everything BUT the bass is pumped through a couple of Mackie SRM-450's, the balance is just right!

    And when we've played large ballrooms and small arena-sized venues where very large PA systems are set up for us, this rig is perfectly sized to let me hear myself further out on these (usually) much larger stages.

    I may end up in the minority, but my rig is a "one size fits all" deal!
  18. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    +1 to this. As a freelancer, I never really know what the PA situation will be until I get to the gig, so I always need to be prepared to 'rock the house' with my backline rig. Even when there is PA support, many times there are only a few (or less!) monitor mixes available, and I usually do not get my own mix or even much input on the mix I'm sharing... which sucks if you don't have backline. Also, the sound coming out of the monitors is not always the sound coming out of the mains anyway.

    Most of the time, I have no PA support, but as mentioned above, even if I do, I prefer to have 'my own sound' behind me. Even if that isn't the exact sound the audience hears on the limited number of gigs where I have PA support, it helps me to play better and to have more fun on the gig when I can hear myself with the tone I prefer, and if the soundperson is a good one, it helps him/her get an idea of what I prefer my bass to sound like out front.