How Much Power Do You Need?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by docsmith, Feb 10, 2012.

  1. docsmith

    docsmith Member

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    All,

    How much power do you need with your amp? I've been playing for close to 30 years. And I've never once been in a musical situation where I needed a 100 watt amp.

    That being said, I HAVE been in a situation where I was playing a low powered combo amp (a Mesa Boogie Studio .22) and didn't have enough clean headroom to tame a fairly loud drummer. The lead channel was rockin', but the clean channel was going into overdrive 'cause I had to turn it pretty much all the way up just so I could hear myself. [side note: The studio .22 was one of my favorite amps of all time. I just wish it had more clean headroom].

    From my experience, I think 30 watts is the minimum amount of tube power I need for most musical situations. The exceptions would be if I was recording. Or if I had access to a mic & a PA system. Barring that, I really do think 30 watts is the minimum amount of tube power I'd need.

    What are your opinions & thoughts on this? I'd really like to know how others think about it.


    Thanks,



    Doc Smith
     
  2. sharpshooter

    sharpshooter Member

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    Totally dependent on the situation. Used in a medium sized room,(~100 people), my 22watt combo, placed against a wall, worked just fine. Then in an outdoor setting, with no back wall to reflect against,,it was useless.
    I believe that speaker cabs make a big difference,,if a cab can put most of its sound out where it's needed, you can use less watts. The typical, mostly open back combos have poor sound dispersion in many cases. If you mic the amp,,then, of course, the options are greater.
    Sometimes using a closed back extension cab, along with an open back combo can solve an issue.
     
  3. pbmw

    pbmw Member

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    Completely depends on the situation.
    I've gigged with my SFPR and done just fine. I've also played rooms where it wasn't enough. Same with my JTM45 into a 412...
    I play a couple of outdoor gigs a year. I take my JTM and mic it.
     
  4. riffmeister

    riffmeister Gold Supporting Member

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  5. Miles

    Miles Member

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    I play heavier rock originals in all kinds of theaters, clubs, and dive bars. Some with the best PAs you could want, some unmic'd gigs.

    I've never been in a situation where I've needed more than 30 watts. Most of the time, I can get away with 15. Occasionally on stages where the soundguy wants you ONLY in the PA and my amp is my monitor, I've done gigs with 8 watts and heard myself with ZERO issues.

    Even when your amp isn't mic'd up, 30 watts really working is WAY louder than your kick drum. If you're louder than your drummer's kick drum and toms, you're too loud for the mix.

    100 watt amps - though great sounding, were the key tools of the days when vocals and maybe drums when through PA but you were responsible for providing your own amplification.

    I'd much rather get my amp working and sounding a little wound up. I cannot achieve this with amps over 30 watts in any venue any more.
     
  6. Knuckles

    Knuckles Member

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    How much wattage do I really need? Not all that much.

    How much do I like? 50-100 watt heads. Don't need it, but prefer the way 100 watters with big iron respond. I probably play too loud for the venue as well.
     
  7. Tone_Terrific

    Tone_Terrific Member

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    Of course it depends on lots of factors, but running out of clean headroom when you really want it is a horrible thing.
     
  8. Tread

    Tread Member

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    Enough for fur and clean head room on the guitar volume roll off.
     
  9. OrganicTimbre

    OrganicTimbre Member

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    For playing live, at least 1000W. I don't take sh*t from nobody. I will replace that wimpy 200W EVM with a 300W EVM to make my cab rated for 1kW. My Carvin DCM1540L is rated at 1500W.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  10. mesa/boogieman

    mesa/boogieman Senior Member

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    I've wrestled with this for a year now. I have a lovely-sounding Mesa Stiletto that I can't even get past ONE. As a good friend of mine said, that's like driving a Corvette in 5th gear going 25 miles per hour. I just don't play in those venues that need that much punch anymore. I play at church every sunday morning and 12 watts is way too loud (using a Bugera V22 set to Triode mode). Right now I'm in the contemplation stage of pulling the trigger on an Orange Tiny Terror trade. I would really like to be able to cook the power tubes a bit. Clean headroom means nothing to me anyway :)
     
  11. mesa/boogieman

    mesa/boogieman Senior Member

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    Damn that's a lot of power!!!!

    [​IMG]
     
  12. pbradt

    pbradt Senior Member

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    If I need more power, I resort to the trusty and bulletproof SM57.

    I use a shield in front of my Super to keep the stage volume down and keep from beaming folks at the front. Let them get it all from the PA.
     
  13. FenderBigot

    FenderBigot Supporting Member

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    15, 18, 22... 40 max. That's all I need.
     
  14. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    Times have changed a lot with amps being miked up and going into PAs.

    Back in the late 60s, early 70s, you'd put only the vocals through the PA, the drums were never miked, and yet we'd bring a Twin, which is what, 85 watts (?), and play it cranked up!

    Back then, I couldn't imagine playing through a small amp (though I did find an AC30 did great, damn they're loud!).

    My last gig with a band, I borrowed a 35 watt Mesa Blue Angel (because I thought my 50 watt TR would be too loud), but 35 watts wasn't loud enough; I couldn't hear it on stage. So I think it depends on the amp. And the band. Also, it was a very large room, and that had something to do with it. BTW, this was not a metal band, it was alt-rock and we didn't play all that loudly.

    Also, damn, I'm old!
     
  15. Dark Helmet

    Dark Helmet Member

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    I take a 30 and a 50 with me wherever I go....
     
  16. HoboMan

    HoboMan Silver Supporting Member

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    I have two 50 watt combos and a 2x12 that I take to the gigs.
    If we get mic'd thru the PA then I keep the volume low but sometimes we play places where we only mic the vocals & bass drum.
    That's when a 50 watter comes in handy.
     
  17. 335guy

    335guy Member

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    I've played gigs where my little 15 watt PR was loud enough. And on some outdoor stages where a twin at 85 watts wasn't quite cutting it ( because sound guy didn't run it into monitors ) Generally, my Fuchs modded DRRI at 25 watts equiped with a R,W & B speaker is plenty loud. I'm found of micing the amp when needed to keep the stage volume down so everyone can hear each other better. I had a Ampeg V4 head back in the day, conservatively rated at 100 watts, and even then, that was seriously loud. But talk about clean headroom: a twin couldn't touch it, nor could a Marshall 100 Lead. Now a Marshall Major? yeah, probably.
     
  18. rhinocaster

    rhinocaster Supporting Member

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    I need about 100 watts.

    I only play 10 - 12 watt amps but I run it through a PA. I find that the spread from the PA sounds better than a big amp straight out to the audience, but I need power for the guitar and that can come from the amp itself or from the PA.

    I let the PA do the heavy lifting. :)
     
  19. Thinline_slim

    Thinline_slim Supporting Member

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    Standard rock/blues gig? Anywhere between 15w and 50w.

    35 piece outdoor big band jazz band? I could have used 60(Fender)-100w and been good.
     
  20. BEACHBUM

    BEACHBUM Member

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    Exactly this much. Remember you can always add dirt but you can never add clean. My deal is that I absolutely refuse to play with a mic through a PA because I want to be the only one adjusting my tone and this or something like it is the only way I can assure that. If I ever get so hot that I'm playing venues that require more than this I guess I'll renegotiate but after 64 years I don't see that happening soon.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2012

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