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Playing out in clubs, low wattage amps?

teleman1

Member
Messages
14,865
What happened are a couple of things.

First, people probably got tired of losing hearing from those loud shows. I know I have. I never go to hear live music without a pair of Hearos.

Second, music has become, for many, a soundtrack for their social lives. While plenty of folks still go to shows to dance and mostly listen, there appears to be a growing number of folks who want to be able to talk to those around them while the music is playing.

Both of these situations call for lower volumes.
My brothers restaurant in Phoenix had live music. WE had one guy, a multi-instrumental bluegrass/appellation music wonder. There were strict instructions,NO TALKING WHILE DURING THE PERFORMANCE. He would shine the spotlight on the patrons and ask what they are discussing or why were they ruining the show for everyone else?, as the rest of the crowd stared at them. Those type of people won. they pay good money to enter and for food and expect background music, not a performance. Now, you have a performer playing for 30 people where they could easily play recorded music, it almost doesn't matter that they are there. Music is not where it is at for most folks under 35. They love it, as background music, not the main entertainment. And now, what going to happen?
 

Steve73

Member
Messages
4,927
Depends on the gig, do you need clean headroom or not? Even in a smallish room with a horn section, if I need a clean funk tone, I usually go with a 40 watt amp so it doesn't break up at all. Totally depends on what kinds of tones you are going for, right tool for the job!
 

chillybilly

Member
Messages
3,569
What gets me is that while our band may be loud to some, we’re nothing compared to the dj that comes on between sets and after we finish. Man is he LOUD!!
Can't tell if the DJs are deaf or think if the subs aren't shaking the windows loose it's not loud enough.

We played a decent-sized club with one of those little staircases off to the side made with 2x4s. 3/4 of the way through the set some idiot started walking up and down the steps, going 'backstage' (ie behind the amps), dragging a high-top bar table and stool and placing them stage left where they sat awkwardly in full view.

After a song concluded our bass player, who didn't suffer fools, turned and asked the person just what the f*** he was doing. He claimed he was the DJ doing a set later and had to get his set and his gear - which consisted solely of a laptop - in place. In a just world all three of us would have clouted him with our guitars at the same time.

Many clubs seem to have this setup now - live music til 12 then a DJ. The DJ imagines everyone is there to see him, um, play MP3s on a computer and swans around the place like Elvis.
 

DRS

Member
Messages
11,431
The OP thinks clubs should be loud and bone shaking but I haven't been to a stadium, arena, or large theatre (1000+ seater) concert in the last 15 years where the volume was loud. It was always just right. I used to pack ear plugs but I haven't needed them. If these international acts can create a sonic experience that is full and enjoyable but not too loud, why should we go back in time at smaller venues with lesser bands? I used to hate the ringing ears for days after seeing a big rock act. Clubs were worse as usually only 50% of them were good and worth the pain.
 
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TL;DR

Member
Messages
1,331
One of the reasons I quit gigging was that nobody really seemed to care as much. In the 80’s and 90’s the band would be the center of attention. People actually liked extended guitar solos and instrumental pieces. In 2013 the managers were always saying “the waitress can’t hear the orders, the customers want to talk, the cops will come, turn it down”. That, and the fact the smoking bans had half the bar in the parking lot took away a bunch of the fun of playing live. And I got old :(
That being said, the last thing I want to do if I’m out for dinner is yell over a band, so there ya go. It it was a dedicated “music club” that would be different, but that’s a dying breed
 

jumpnblues

Member
Messages
5,421
I remember in the bad old days, '60s, '70s, and '80s in particular, Twin Reverbs or a 1/2 or whole Marshall stack were the order of the day...regardless of the venue size. For the sake of my hearing, what's left of it, thank goodness those days are gone.
 
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COYS

Member
Messages
5,191
Venue owners get sick of the music being too loud and driving away customers. With ZSV they and their sound guy can control the atmosphere to their liking. Mic is a fine compromise and it's a better experience for the guitarist anyway. Unless you can't get over the idea that you need to have your pants flapping or you may as well not be there.

Maybe if you're playing a rock club (one of the 2 rock clubs that are left...) you can go ahead tear people's heads off, but most places want people to be comfortable and stick around to spend money.

This is Day 1 basic professionalism, volume control, but seems to be a lost art
 
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GulfportBound

Member
Messages
8,229
I've used nothing but a Fender Blues Junior (15 watts) for almost five years now, whether playing one of my Les Pauls or one of my two Flying Vs.

No matter the size of the club, and I don't play a lot of large rooms, that little box will fill it admirably.
 

Whats4dessert

Member
Messages
695
Before COVID, I started using a Vox VX50 GTV, the 50-watt modeling amp with an 8-inch speaker. It works well with my 4-piece band and I have it set up so I can run my Roland synth rig into the aux input and it sounds great! Thing weighs 9.2 pounds.
 

tiktok

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
22,490
I like to be able to clearly hear what's happening on stage when I'm playing, so given the size of the places and the level of PA support, smaller amps are the order of the day. I have small and medium sized amps that sound great (as well as large amps that sound great but that haven't been used in many, many years), so I use those and I'm happy.
 

chrisjnyc

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
6,304
99% of the clubs I play have the amps mic'ed for the FOH. I have seen guys play a Vox practice amp with a full band, and it sounds OK. For a long time I used an AC30, but found that an AC15 worked fine.
 

mikebat

Member
Messages
10,886
My go to is a 100 watt PWE into a 2x12. If you play rock, and you like to hear your low E string as a distinct note, and not a mushy blur, AND you play with a drummer who hits his drums like Bonham, you may not need ALL the volume, but you do need the headroom that in my experience a below 50 watt amp just does not have.

Now....I pay with a modeler, and a 2000 watt FRFR.... still stays tight at "2 guitar with Bonham drums" volume.....but is lighter to carry, easier to set up and preferred by soundmen.
 

MikeVB

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
7,444
I was asked more than once to turn down my Princeton Reverb by the “sound man” during the last club gig I played. It was on 4 and he was sitting directly in front of the speaker 10’ away.
 

sideman

Member
Messages
2,301
All through the '90s and most of the '00s it was a Super Reverb or Bassman on 6 - 8; those are the levels where I like a 6L6 amp. My bands lugged PAs everywhere. People seemed to party and drink harder (and smoke more) then (not unusual for someone to fall down drunk during the night). For the last 10 years it has been much lower volumes with 1x12 6v6 amps on about 1/3 (never used them before - now I have four), and soundmen running house PAs almost everywhere (they love smaller amps), with more moderate crowds. What's the world coming to?
 

Lucidology

Member
Messages
26,887
Clean tone is the issue...
Relevant only to how one desires their cleans to sound & feel at a low volume ...
High watts often have a big, wide clean tone at very low volume ...
 

chriskoz

Member
Messages
18
I love my Marshall 100 watt amp through a Blackstar 2x12, it’s my go to rig and the sound I get is effortless, but when we play in small bars I use a Fender Pro Jr. I like the way it sounds when it breaks up. Having both is a luxury.
 




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