Walls of Marshalls - how

MikeMcK

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5,250
Those old huge rigs look impressive but sound horrible. Back in the days you couldn't hear Jimi Hendrix singing if he plucked the strings at the same time and you certainly couldn't make out how great his tone was from all that deafening roaring. ...and I can't even imagine phase delays of Grateful Dead's "wall". I am quite glad we have come forward from those days because you can actually enjoy and hear the music -clearly- now.

Last time I saw a doom band performing with cranked full stacks I couldn't even hear anything but LOUD screeching noise and windows rattling. Every second of every song sounded the same. Distorted mess that is. They probably thought they sounded great just because they were louder than every other act that night. I know not to waste money to their concerts in the future.
The "wall of sound" was an interesting example. When you see pictures from those days, every vocal mic was really two mics... one to sing into and another so the sound person could sum an inverted copy of the ambient to cancel as much of it as possible.

 

Benz2112

Memba?
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5,339
In the 70's, the active ones were either back ups or daisy chains. By the 80's, some of the gearhead inclined guys started bringing their w/d/w setup on the road, because the TC rack delay was more reliable than an echoplex. A w/d/w with redundancy, makes for 6 stacks, throw in some decoys, and you have a nice set.
 

BGLeduc

Member
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20
Watch some rig run downs. There are plenty of "secrets" shared.

Slayer's Kerry King runs multiple amps to multiple cabs in such a way it sounds right to him as he walks around on stage, without blowing his ears off.

AC/DC, has like a dozen amps going at once.
This rig rundown shows all the gear that AC/DC uses, at least at the time it was filmed.


To give away the ending, it's all used...nothing is just for show.
 

whatizitman

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1,027
Angus Young still uses a wall of working speaker cabs hooked up to a wall of plexis. Only one or two are mic'ed. But the rest are ON at jet airliner volumes. He's the last of that breed, though. And it's not like any stage crew anywhere is going to tell Angus Young what not to do with his amp setup.

Just as a reminder to TGP and the rest of the gitfiddle world, there is only one Angus Young. And there will forever only be one Angus Young.
 

whatizitman

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1,027
The craziest thing about Mascis’s rig isn’t the 4 full stacks - he also has a full Hiwatt stack to his right, but not pictured above. No, the craziest part of his rig is the Fender Twin at face-level and full blast that acts as his stage monitor for his rig. He’s gotta be pretty close to completely deaf at this point. Even with plugs in, Dino Jr are brutally loud live.
Yes, he's deaf as a doorknob. Heard him sing recently? Can't carry a note to save his life. He's got an NPR desktop acoustic performance a couple years back. It's not even listenable.

Angus doesn't have to sing. So there's that.
 

whatizitman

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1,027
With headphones. Not too shabby.

Just an acoustic without headphones?. Sheesh.

Gotta wonder how loud he needs to hear himself nowadays to keep pitch.

Don't get me wrong. I love the guy and the music he has given us. But he could have done that without being the lord of loud. Being utterly and ridiculously loud was never necessary once PAs caught up. And drummers have been faced with having to control volume long before rock was a thing. So did horns.

It takes no skill to play loud. In fact, once your ears compress due to high volume, it all goes to mud anyway. You would think guitarists of all people would work on the skill of controlling volume as much as they do on licks. Too loud and you can't hear them anyway.
 

JPH118

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3,173
My friend was stage crew at a local venue and said when Motely Crue played in the 2000s, Mick Mars had only one cab with one speaker in it. The rest were empty :dude
same with many nowadays, from Slayer to Skynyrd.

at some point in the 90s, the trend of incredibly loud onstage stacks gave way to better FOH and monitoring, thankfully. I think this had much to do with 80s arena headliners being forced to downsize into smaller venues and make due with less. You also had bands like Metallica just entering the stadium-headlining realm and doing away with onstage gear almost entirely (black album era).

But if you ever meet any of the guys who survived the 70s/80s era of arena tours, you’ll find they all have one thing in common... “WHAT???”
 
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Reno Chavez

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79
D5577EED-8D63-495F-A725-E157AD23B37D.jpeg
Kevin Shields was another one. The weird part was he would walk past listening to each cab while playing. It was just astonishing because he’s admitted he’s lost most of hearing currently, I mean appreciate trying to get “the sound” but damn.
 

j_el_jee

Member
Messages
1,425
I was watching the ACDC rig rundown again last night... answers the OP question precisely.

I was a student of the 80s & 90s thrash shows with lots of stacks. The AHA moment for me was the Rage Against the Machine Battle of LA show that sounded massive and Tom is out there rocking a single 4x12 like his life depends on it... sort of changed my perspective on amp requirements for the big bands.
 

scott

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,881
I saw AC/DC in the 90s for the money talks tour and it was loud but not bad sounding. They had way too many Mesa cabs to count. I remember they were on the stage but also under the stage facing out. It was kinda crazy. I think they were using wizard amps at the time.
It was a fun time in rock and roll. Never to be repeated.
 
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MBT74

Member
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2,457
Agreed, J’s Dino Jr rig is crazy loud. Bob Mould was up there for stage volume too.

Here’s J’s set up for his instore gig at Tym Guitars. Unbelievably loud in a small shop.
 

JPH118

Member
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3,173
I saw AC/DC in the late 90s for the money talks tour and it was loud but not bad sounding. They had way too many Mesa cabs to count.
I thought that was a typo for a second, but nope... they def played Mesa for a bit in that era, found visual proof. Had no idea!

(Although I always thought my old DC-5 rhythm channel could cop a decent Marshall rock tone, so go figure)
 

ZENTISH

Silver Supporting Member
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571
There are times when I go to see a concert and I wish they still did it this way.
I went to see Buddy Guy at the Smith Center in Las Vegas a few years ago, and my wife and I had to leave after about 20 min because the sound of his guitar coming out of the PA was soo distorted, sounded like the speakers were being badly over driven, you could not hear his amps except what came out of the PA along with everything else (vocals, bass, drums)
Too bad because I've always wanted to see him. Sometimes it seems that everything is coming out of the PA and its all garbled together.
When I went to shows in the late 60's to early 70's you could hear the guitar clearly because the sound came straight to you from the amps.

Old Boomer TISH:)
 

Fulldrive-1

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5,826
experiencemay69.jpg


For those who may not know, Jimi obviously is playing his usual rig of three 100 watt Marshall Superlead heads into six 4x12 cabinets.

Noel is using three 200 watt all-valve Sunn bass heads into six cabinets, each with two JBL 15 inch high efficiency speakers. This 600 watt rig may sound small compared to some of the megawatt solid state bass amps that came later, but it must be remembered that the latter were driving smaller cabinets (e.g. 4x10) loaded with very low efficiency, high-cone-excursion speakers. These had to have very powerful amps because the speakers were so inefficient. By contrast, Noel's are very high efficiency. That 600 watt setup would have been loud indeed.
 

Reno Chavez

Member
Messages
79
Agreed, J’s Dino Jr rig is crazy loud. Bob Mould was up there for stage volume too.

Here’s J’s set up for his instore gig at Tym Guitars. Unbelievably loud in a small shop.
Yeah Bob Mould is a sonic albatross for sure.
 

Geetarpicker

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2,904
Just a personal side note. I played for most of a decade of club gigs with a ‘68 Marshall plexi 100 full stack (with no pedals) though I had a method to the madness. For one I attenuated the amp down to abut 6-12 watts and miced the rig for FOH. That said, at that low wattage one cabinet was often hard to hear on a short depth stage, but raising the single cab off the floor compromised the low end. So, 2 stacked cabs fixed that with great clarity and low end. Since I played right on axis with the rig I was able to lower my stage volume much more than a single cabinet or combo at my knees. Another benefit was I could lean into the stacked cabs and get incredible controlled feedback, where as leaning into a half stack caused substantial oscillation off the amp head itself. Not exactly a story of playing multiple stacks, but worth a mention! GK
 
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scott

Silver Supporting Member
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4,881
I thought that was a typo for a second, but nope... they def played Mesa for a bit in that era, found visual proof. Had no idea!

(Although I always thought my old DC-5 rhythm channel could cop a decent Marshall rock tone, so go figure)
Mesa cabs but I think they used Wizard heads at the time. They definitely weren’t using Mesa heads. It was a Marshall sound without a doubt.
 




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