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Thoughts on Volume, Wattage and Rigs

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by UconnJack, Jan 9, 2006.

  1. UconnJack

    UconnJack Member

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    Scott's recent thread on the entire rig and my last gig got me thinking about what is really required to play guitar and cut through in a band setting. Specifically, in my situation, a cover band which goes from funk to classic to modern rock to acoustic irish tunes.

    Our last gig was at a 200 person bar. I struggled to keep my volume low enough to not over power the band. I played through my Pittbull 45 into a 2x12 Avatar open back. I am always miked and we use a sound company. I'm the only guitar. We play fairly loud and always get compliments on our sound/mix from the FOH.

    It seems strange to have all this great equipment, amps, guitars, pedals and then have to play with the amp volume barely cracked. I have used attenuators in the past with varying results. (I actually think I play louder in my basement studio).

    Is it possible to gig with these 5-8 watt amps available? Do I need the extension cabinet. Would an 18watter do? It seems to me like everything else is overkill (maybe temporary insanity?). I do like the chuga-chuga feel, and I wonder if that's the sacrifice for going smaller? Last summer we did a few large outdoor gigs and my 100 watt head was barely cracked. Am I missing something? Can I gig with a Fender Blues Junior?

    Sorry for the rambler but I'm a bit confused on which direction to take my rig.
     
  2. mainsale

    mainsale Member

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    For me, Maven Peal has the answer with his controllable output wattage and sag. Check his products out at www.mavenpeal.com. I just got RG-88 serial number 001 and I could not be happier. I wanted sweet, syrupy, thick Fenderish tones and boy did I get it with a selectable pair of 6V6's and KT-66HP's.
     
  3. UconnJack

    UconnJack Member

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    Thanks for the heads up. Maven Peal has been on my radar screen as well as others. But I'm not so much looking for amp recommendations as I am an approach to a versitle rig with controlable volumes. Also interested to hear oppinions on what amp wattage is acceptable, given my cover band criteria.

    To me it seems like all these great amps played with the volume barely cracked, is like having a governor on a Ferrarri (Sorry for the lame analogy)!

    Thanks
     
  4. theHoss

    theHoss Member

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    I am curious as well. I have a 45watter, and I really don't know what venues people are using that type of volume for (granted I wanted good clean head room since I use pedals for dirt). 200 person bar you could get a away with 20watts I think, and anything larger seems to have house sound you are are micing it anyways. I would love to hear what seasoned, gigging, musicians are using and why in regards to higher watts?
     
  5. Gumby

    Gumby Member

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    Maybe a "How many watts do you gig with" thread will get you more definitive answers.
    My guess is you’ll get a range of responses all dictated by the variables of venue and music type; One watt and a P.A. or 100 watt straight and everything in-between. On paper, everyone should own on a Maven Peal. I have not tried one.
     
  6. 59burst

    59burst Gold Supporting Member

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    I have found that class A watts - Matchless, Top Hat, Z are examples I've used and gigg'ed with - are much louder than class AB watts in my experience. I've gigged with ~18-20 watt versions of the above brands and had no problem being heard, and had decent clean headroom. My old TH Club Royale was easily as loud as my Marshall JTM45 reissue if not louder.

    I don't think I could gig with a 6 watt amp though - that just seems too low to play with a drummer in a venue, un-mic'd.
     
  7. fakeox

    fakeox Member

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    I've been thinking about this.. Experts welcome. How about 3 25 watt resistors in S/P (or P/S) of same impedance as your box on a switch in your cab. It should turn your 45 watts into +/- 10 W. with similar sound.
     
  8. mad dog

    mad dog Silver Supporting Member

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    It sounds like you can control volume dynamics in your group. That, plus the ability to mic up, does open the door for smaller amps. A lot of this decision comes down to how you want to sound. If strictly clean, bigger amps can work well. If you want clean with an edge or some decent OD, the 20 to 35 watt class has some great choices. The other tradeoff I notice is multiple vs. single speakers. The added punch and presence of multiple speakers makes it at any volume level. A smaller amp -- say 35 watts or so -- with 2 or 3 10s is just about perfect. More punch than a single 12, with OD at useable volume levels. A single 15" works too!
     
  9. Dave Orban

    Dave Orban Gold Supporting Member

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    I gig with a 5-piece band. My main gigging amp was, for several years, an 18-watt Aiken Invader 2x12 combo. We are seldom mic'd, and I NEVER had the beast even up halfway.

    Nowadays, it's a Matchless Chieftain, but using the master volume to get a good sound at a reasonable volume. I could just as easily do my gigs with my 12-watt Alessandro Beagle.

    The key for me, at least, is that we attempt to be a very dynamic band -- quieting down when someone is singing or soloing, and listening intently to what each player is doing. Of course, there are times when we rock out, but even then, we are very conscious of what everyone is doing, and try to manage the volume ourselves.

    On those occasions when we ARE mic'd, sound guys love us. ;)
     
  10. Ogre

    Ogre Member

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    This line of thought is what is behind the 65Amps London. Peter Stroud wanted an amp that had enough power to stay up with Sheryl Crows band, but be able to get some tube distortion at lower sound levels. As long as you are miced, I think an 18 watt amp would be enough. It all depends on how much headroom you need. I like around 25-30 watts, since I do require some clean sounds.
     
  11. bluesdoc

    bluesdoc Gold Supporting Member Gold Supporting Member

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    Unfortunately, that doesn't work right. If it did, attentuators wouldn't cost hundreds of dollars. It's not a 'reactive impedance' load and would destroy your tone, I'm pretty sure. I'm not an expert, but I occasionally act like one:RoCkIn ....

    jon
     
  12. Leonc

    Leonc Wild Gear Hearder Gold Supporting Member

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    If you're playing guitar-distortion-based music, there's nothing as satisfying as playing through an amp (and cab) that's juiced up. That is...assuming you're not willing to play with a master volume amp.

    Of course, some amps work pretty well with attenuators, as long as you don't need "bedroom volume".

    One option to MV and attenuator is use the amp of chioce with a load bearing device and then re-amping through a clean power amp. This may be the next best thing.
     
  13. r9player

    r9player Silver Supporting Member

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    Because of headroom needs, I'd go 18 W minimum, for lots of clean I prefer 50 + W and good Wattage/Sag control (yes I love Maven Peal) or Power Scaling or a good Master Volume (my Sommatone and Koch both have excellent Mastervolume)
     
  14. waxnsteel

    waxnsteel Member

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    If you're micing, and have a good PA, low watt amps are great. You can really get a lot out of them without starting volume wars. And give the sound guy a chance to create a mix, rather than deal with your volume war. I like Geetarpicker's rig. That would work anywhere with a decent PA, and some places without one.
     
  15. fakeox

    fakeox Member

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    thanks Bluesdoc.
     
  16. Scumback Speakers

    Scumback Speakers Gold Supporting Member

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    For me it depends on the size of the venue. I find that a 10 watt Class A amp with two speakers can be heard at a club in the 2500-3000 square foot range if the amp is about 3/4 turned up (no attenuator).

    If I play a bigger place, like say the Arcadia Blues Club out here (LeonC & I went there about a month back), my 20 watt Class A Major Crunch was more than enough to handle that venue, which seemed to be in the 5000-6000 square foot range. Our setup was two guitars, bass and drums, levels were pretty good, although we made sure we turned up enough for the right tone (around 1:00 for my amp and playing style) but could still hear each other. With the amp I was using (20 watts clean, at a volume of 2) I figure I was right in the 25-30 watt zone for that size club, while LeonC played his Ampeg Reverberocket w/4 10's (not sure of Leon's volume settings as his amp is around 40 watts or more).

    It's going to depend on whether your amps "cuts" through the mix, of course, no matter what wattage you have, and then you need to gauge the amp wattage for the conditions your playing under, but the guidelines above are pretty consistent I think with what most "live" players need for a jam/gig/etc.
     
  17. Magic Twanger

    Magic Twanger Member

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    I agree that finding your amp's sweet spot makes life easier for everyone - sound guys, band mates, singers and patrons of the establishment.

    I mic my amp at every gig and if I can't hear it - I'll point it at my head or get it up off the floor closer to my ears - the back of my kness don't hear so well....

    My main amp is '69 Deluxe Reverb (22watts) or a Victoria 20112, but I've been using a Blues Junior for a lot of "quick set up" gigs lately. I don't really enjoy the tone - but it does a pretty good job of getting me through some of the smaller gigs. It actually has more clean headroom than my Victoria!

    I usually baffle the front of my amp with my pedal board case - I just stand it up right in front of the speakers to try to prevent the audience from getting my guitar's volume right in the face. This also allows me to turn the amp up just a tiny bit more into the sweet spot.

    As much as I love to play with an awesome tone - to me, it is about the overall mix/blend of the group that will get you more work - today's environment is a lot less volume than I used in the 80's with two 100 watt JCM 800's running 4 cabs....those days are over.
    :dude
     
  18. Bullhonky Deluxe

    Bullhonky Deluxe Supporting Member

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    I play in both an original band and a classic rock/country/blues/hard rock cover band. I have a monkey of a drummer that hits VERY hard. Here are some scenarios from some of those gigs:

    Outdoor Battle of The Bands Festival with a 75 foot stage, I played this with a Bad Cat Cub (on about 5-6) with pedals. I set the amp on a roadcase and sidewashed the stage, and proceeded to enjoy the hell out of the gig, I could hear myself very well (unless I ventured too far from my stage area). We won "the battle".

    2000 seat club with a 50 foot stage ... Dr. Z Maz Jr., sidewashed and on 4-6 with pedals. Again, a great gig, no worries. It does look a little funny with a small combo on these huge stages, but I'm not one to care. I do enjoy watching other bands roll in the big guns only to be smacked around by a small combo of a brand name they've never heard of ... in fact it's reason enough for me to leave my big stuff at home! :Devil

    Small 100 seat clubs, I've used the Cub, VoxAC15, Dr. Z Maz Jr., and a DRRI on about 5 with pedas and had great gigs. Played the same club with Victoria DD, Vibro-King, Vox AC30, Bogner Shiva ... and couldn't crack these amps to the point of slight break-up without deafening the crowd, and upsetting the soundboy ... er, ah man. I bought a plexiglass panel for in front of these amps and everyone was happy.

    That said, I think as long as you have a PA at your disposal, a small amp will suffice ... unless of course we're talking about having clean headroom in your amp. That would be another story.
     
  19. UconnJack

    UconnJack Member

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    Thanks for the input so far, please keep them coming. As far as clean headroom goes, I used to use a 65 Deluxe Reverb with my LesPaul. That combo started to break-up around 3 on the volume. That is about as much clean headroom as I have ever needed. Clean enough and loud enough.

    I do need clean and dirt though. I love the tone of the PB45. I like getting my distorted tones from the amp and I like sag.
     
  20. r9player

    r9player Silver Supporting Member

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    Deluxe Reverb break up at 3 that is fairly early but still that is pretty loud from what I recall ...
     

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