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When did separate "bedroom amp" and "gigging amp" become a thing?

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by 3-Chord-Genius, Dec 14, 2020.

  1. tanplastic

    tanplastic Tele-Holic

    Mar 15, 2018
    I can see your house from here.
    Princeton and Harvard were amps for students playing at home.
    It's right in the name.
  2. bigben55

    bigben55 Friend of Leo's

    May 19, 2010
    Cincinnati, OH
    I play at home at gig volume. I generally don't plug in when I cant crank it up a bit. My amps aren't huge(16 & 22 watt 1x12 combos) but they are PLENTY loud. The quietest ill plug and play at home is my Z28 with the Brake Lite at 4(max attenuation), which still ain't "bedroom level quiet."
    Cali Dude and telemnemonics like this.
  3. glenlivet

    glenlivet Tele-Afflicted

    Nov 7, 2018
    I always had a small amp at home...just a little 20 watt Gibson.
    Big / heavy amps pretty much stayed where ever the drums went.
    This was especially true after I got a SF twin.
    driver8 likes this.
  4. Richie Cunningham

    Richie Cunningham Tele-Afflicted

    Jul 4, 2020
    Midwestern United States
    For the longest time I used a 100W Marshall MV tube half-stack in my small apartment. Now I wisely use 2x12 modeling and solid state combos at 100W and 150W. Much better.
  5. Chiogtr4x

    Chiogtr4x Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 29, 2007
    Manassas Park, VA
    All of my gig amps are small combos as anymore, I just do smaller/quieter gigs, Plus I just can't carry anything heavy.
    If I need bigger, I'll just stick a mic on an amp.

    But even my little amps are too much for my apartment- at best I can turn them on, at minimal volume, and that's it.

    So this little Roland Micro Cube takes care of that!
    Grest clean and dirty amp models, quality effects and all at whisper quiet volume when needed. Plus no pedals ( or tuner)
    Pretty remarkable, IMO.
    20201018_212006.jpg 20201018_211935.jpg
  6. basher

    basher Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

    Jun 7, 2007
    Washington, DC
    I've got a little Blackstar Fly 3, which sounds like I'm playing kazoo in a heavy fog but is useful for things like quietly jamming in someone's office. I never use it at home because my big amps sound better, even turned down. And honestly, if I have to play so quietly that the acoustic clanking of my strings is louder than the sound coming out of my amp, why bother? I'd rather read a book instead.
    SparkleFart likes this.
  7. fasteddie42

    fasteddie42 Tele-Afflicted

    Dec 10, 2016
    Tip of the Mitt
    what's not to get??

    I can crank a Princeton to 7 and play at home but I can't crank a Vibroverb to 7 and play at home?

    different amps with different wattage for different uses... ?
  8. JL_LI

    JL_LI Friend of Leo's

    May 20, 2017
    Long Island, NY
    Back in high school, I had a Reverberocket. When I needed a bigger amp, I got a Gemini VI. Playing in a basement (garage) band, the problem wasn't the volume. It was lugging it up and down stairs. After college, graduate school, a career, and kids took so much of my time that music went on hiatus. The hiatus ended 15 years ago. I bought a Telecaster and a "bedroom" amp. What a mistake. Not the Telecaster, the Super Champ XD. Too loud, thin, and farty. It sits in my basement. What solved the problem for me was a decidedly un-basement amp, a Mesa Boogie Express 5:25. I can use it indoors at a volume I can sing over without a mic. I can turn it up loud. I can get a nice crunch at 5W without risking further damage to my hearing.

    I'm not sure that there is a good way to differentiate between bedroom amps and a "real" amplifier. A good quality amp should be able to handle loud or low volumes and still sound good. Which is best? Which is the best car or guitar? Some may answer a truck and an LP. I've heard good guitars selling for under $500. A good do all amp will cost at least that and likely cost twice as much if it's a tube amp.

    One thing I'm considering as retirement approaches is a desktop (as opposed to bedroom) amp. I thought a THR 10 sounded pretty good. I live in suburbia so neighbors are within earshot. THR or a small Roland Cube might make a good "front porch" amp, an amp you DON'T want to hear 20' away.
  9. Pualee

    Pualee Tele-Holic

    Feb 5, 2014
    It happened with the proliferation of internet forum access.

    Prior to that, everyone bought just what they needed and made do with what they had.

    Now we spend all our time lusting after each others gear and justifying wild expenditures of money to acquire gear that makes us sound marginally closer to a studio recording.
  10. saleake

    saleake Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

    Oct 17, 2017
    In the 70’s, I played through a Fender Bassman, which I kept at the rehearsal space. I kept a Fender Deluxe Reverb at my apartment for practice
    Cali Dude likes this.
  11. daveIT

    daveIT Tele-Holic

    May 12, 2009
    PA, USA
    I have gigs in my studio at home. I use the same amps for all of that.

    Basically it's marketing and mostly just an excuse to buy more gear.
    tlp123 likes this.
  12. WireLine

    WireLine Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 23, 2003
    Midland TX
    I suspect this started when amp related distortion, overdrive, etc became vogue. To me a Twin Reverb on 5 sounds pretty much like a Twin Reverb on < 1, only a lot louder.
  13. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

    Oct 11, 2019
    Between the Raindrops
    Used to be--there were "professional" and "student" amps.

    Over time, the term student dropped to the wayside in favor of "practice" amp. Then in a stroke of genius, Peavey introduced the Backstage amp line; perhaps it allowed non-pros to imagine what it might be like to be a pro.

    I think the origin of "bedroom" amp comes from kids, because I cannot imagine there are a lot of adults that sit on a bed to make guitar noises. Perhaps there are adults still living with their parents. Now that I think about it, they are guitar players, so their main income is probably Pizza Delivery Guy. Yeah, they still live with their parents.
    aging_rocker likes this.
  14. LostTheTone

    LostTheTone Tele-Meister

    Dec 12, 2020
    Rochester, England
    That's definitely part of it. There are very few amps either now or then where a clean tones are so vastly different that most people wouldn't be satisfied, even if it took work.

    But there's a whole lot more factors, and a lot strong opinions, about overdrive and distortion and their various character.

    Of course, the arrival of overdrive tone being something important was the same time that rock and roll was exploding generally and becoming a million other things. Jazz and blues and country are very fine genres, but most of us only play guitar (as opposed to anything else) because of rock music played on overdriven guitars.

    And that's why this stuff all matters, in the end. Because the music is what matters to us.
    Cali Dude likes this.
  15. aeyeq

    aeyeq Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

    Jan 3, 2020
    Northern Gulf Coast
    I say this started with the appearance of the “acoustic” amp.

    On the other hand there has never been a greater variety than now.
  16. beninma

    beninma Friend of Leo's

    Mar 17, 2017
    I think a lot of it grew out of how popular non-MV amps still are and how much players want to continue to buy gear from back in the day because players who influenced them use those amps.

    You've still got a lot of the amp market building amps that have stage power, don't have master volume, and don't have any attenuation or power options.

    As long as those amps are still popular people are going to have a need for a second amp, regardless of whether you call it a practice amp or a bedroom amp or a student amp or whatever.

    If more people bought the amps that can split the divide better than we'd get more models that had more flexibility. E.x. if Fender really started to get punished for it they would figure out how to put power options and master volume in new designs that sounded like their classic amps but had more flexible volume options so that they could go from gig <-> practice more effectively.

    There are modern tube amps that easily bridge the gap from practice to reasonable sized gigs because they have new features & designs, just not from all manufacturers.

    There is probably a heck of a lot more profit in keeping the amp designs classic and pushing pedals though.. the average person with a pedal board intended to get gain sounds because they can't get their amp to do it at the volume levels they're allowed has probably spent a lot more money than they would of if the amp got them all the gain they needed, and the pedals can have a lot more profit margin built in.

    How many pedal boards cost as much or more than the amp? I'd bet a lot of them. I'm guilty even with having an amp that's very flexible in terms of volume.
    zephyrR1 and LostTheTone like this.
  17. naveed211

    naveed211 Friend of Leo's

    May 16, 2009
    Isn’t it more that the bedroom amp has become the gigging amp?

    Plenty of guys running Helixes and Iridiums and whatnot that you can just as easily play through a PA as you can headphones.
  18. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 21, 2003
    Near BWI Int'l
    Too funny, because I had a '72 Super Beetle from '87 until about '93 or so. I never had anything bigger than a 2X12 combo in mine. That's about all I could fit, along with a guitar and some other stuff.

    Before the Super Beetle, I had a '74 (IIRC) VW 412 - was basically a station wagon with a variation of the Porsche 914 engine in it. I can remember packing my rig, the other guitarist's rig, AND the bass player's rig in it.

    Anyway, I actually got the Super Beetle to try and get out of hauling everyone's gear around (except for the drummer - he was always on his own). The 412 also had a good bit of room under the front hood to stash lots of beer there. My bandmates and friends were a little pissed when I got rid of it.


    But to the topic of this thread, I never consciously remember having intentionally separate amps, years ago. I never really had 'bedroom amps'. I would use something like a Peavey Backstage 30, with pedals, for practicing. I then got some little Peavey Rage thing sometime in the 90's for the same purpose. And then a Vox AD15VT in '05, and so on. All the ~40 watt and up amps weren't really intentionally used in the house for practicing.

    ...I've now got a '67 Champ and a bunch of other similar amps that IMO aren't as good for practicing as something like the AD15VT is. I could possibly imagine using them for recording purposes, but I don't have any real urgent plans for recording at home.

    By the end of the 90's, it started to become a lot less often that I played anything close to what would be a conventional gig, but my desire to play never really went away. My last gig-approved amp purchase was in '06 - a 50 watt Marshall combo. It might get used 2-3 times a year now. IMO, it's just not much of a practice amp, at least not when I have the AD15VT, or even something like the Boss Katana 50 that I got a year ago. Modern 'power scaling', or whatever terminology they're actually using, is a pretty cool thing.

    Edited to add - I did do some home recording stuff from like '02 to '07 or so. But for that, I really just used some SansAmp products, along with conventional pedals and a Lexicon rack unit for reverb and some other effects. Point being that I never really got into the 'home recording amp' thing, either. The non-amp thing may have been a bit of a compromise tonally, but it was way more flexible, and I never had to bother with microphones or any of the related stuff that goes with that.
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2020
    ThermionicScott likes this.
  19. sfwhiteman

    sfwhiteman TDPRI Member Silver Supporter

    Nov 16, 2020
    Philadelphia, PA
    I can't speak to any larger trend in the past 20 years, but my personal answer is that an amp capable of "bedroom levels" became important as soon as I had young children. So... right now

    When the 3 year old and the 6 month old are asleep at the same time, in that golden window, there is no Master Volume setting that won't disturb nap time happening just down the hall
    Cali Dude likes this.
  20. USian Pie

    USian Pie Tele-Meister

    Dec 27, 2017
    North Texas
    Me. But I also play guitar in the living room, home office, kitchen, and bathroom.

    Although, to be fair, I only use an amp for a couple of those rooms.

    Not saying which ones.

    On a completely unrelated note, the sound of an amp on a tiled floor is really cool.
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2020
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