Why Do People Use A Separate Power Amp?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by guitargypsy, Oct 1, 2008.

  1. guitargypsy

    guitargypsy Member

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    I have been playing guitar for nearly twenty years and have always used some combination of combo amps, heads and cabinets and have never lacked for volume or tone in my opinion.

    However, I have noticed that some guitarists that I admire use power amps in addition to a pre amp, be it a head or some rack mounted pre amp thing. I think I also read that EVH would run his Marshall into an attenuator and then into a separate power amp.

    My question is this: why? is it purely for increased volume (which is hard for me to imagine with a loud 100 watt head), for running things in stereo, putting time based effects after amp distortion, or achieving a different sound tonally? Help me out...
     
  2. FrankieSixxxgun

    FrankieSixxxgun Member

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    They say that running an attenuator line out into a separate power amp yields better volume control and better tone. I think it's horse sh*t personally, I have plenty of power and volume control out of my 100 watt head with a Hot Plate on top.
     
  3. Mickey Shane

    Mickey Shane Silver Supporting Member

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    I believe that this was more popular before FOH PA systems were considered to be adequate for guitar sound.

    The guitarist would achieve the wanted tone, then run it into 2000W power amps to bring the dB level up to rock arena gig sound levels. This is why they had a wall of cabs on the stage.

    Now, the PA handles bringing up the level of the guitar. I still wonder how that works with smooth cones.:confused:
     
  4. MBreinin

    MBreinin Supporting Member

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    I did it to add wet effects to an amp with no loop. It worked quite well.
     
  5. Bussman

    Bussman Member

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    Not really. Running an amp into a load and then into a power amp is the precursor to the Ultimate Attenuator type gadgets. You do this for 2 principal reason:

    a) Volume control, i.e. running your amp close to wide open to get the tone you want while keeping stage/studio volume manageable. As mentioned, attenuators do this, but as evidenced by the popularity of UA type device, many players think this is a better way of getting lower volume while maintaining a "pristine tone". YMMV.

    b) Being able to run post-distortion effects and EQs with amps that did not have built-in effects loop. Again, an effects loop is the preferred way to do this by now but I suspect many players are unwilling to modify amps that lack them.
     
  6. guitarslinger21

    guitarslinger21 Member

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    I run a preamp and a power amp so I don't have to use a head.

    I like the versatility, and I like the sound of FX between more than the sound of most FX loops. I also find separate preamps to be more feature-laden in a good way than preamps in heads.:JAM
     
  7. Sniper-V

    Sniper-V Member

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    Only reason I ran power amps were to run effects in wet/dry, stereo, or wet/dry/wet.
    And,
    More often, it was the only way to run effects if your amps didn't have loops.
     
  8. guitarist58

    guitarist58 Member

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    In my case it's in order to run stereo (not wet/dry or wet/dry/wet, just stereo Left & Right).

    Not much of a choice for stereo combos or heads out there :D (at least not if you want tube and not modeling or solid state)
     
  9. sinasl1

    sinasl1 Member

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    there's two reasons why people do this- to rwanp a loaded down head

    either for volume control or so you can use effects and shape your sound post amp head and then send the processed result on to a power amp and cab

    Or to do a w/d/w rig. Power amp powers the wet cabs, this is the Evh, Steve Stevens, lukather method. I recently started doing this and I love it.
     
  10. buddaman71

    buddaman71 Student of Life Silver Supporting Member

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    :AOK

    W/D/W is incredible for adding a professional-sounding processed tone without losing the punch afforded by a dry tone.
    I have been using WDW in different forms for years and I love it.
     
  11. guitargypsy

    guitargypsy Member

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    OK, so can you describe to me in detail what the signal path would be in order to achieve a wet/dry/wet rig? Specifically how many cabinets, amps do you need to achieve this?

    Thanks!
     
  12. FrankieSixxxgun

    FrankieSixxxgun Member

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    2 heads, 1 cab as follows:

    Guitar -> Head 1 -> Attenuator -> Line Out from Attenuator -> Effects -> Head 2 -> Cabinet

    I'm old school and just wet my input to my head though. It easily fits my style of music, which is just raw rock and roll (actually punk & roll as it's been classified) and it works fine. I don't play with the gain wide out on my amp, so my delay/flange/tremolo doesn't get muddy. I also have tube-driven reverb onboard, and that works real well to wet up the signal.

    Edit - Shiznit, that's D/W/D I posted. I'd imagine W/D/W is the opposite.
     

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