Why aren't big amps more popular?

Joelski144

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Right, different AMP TOPOLOGY sounds different.
My sense is that you CAN build a 100w Marshall with four 6v6 that sounds like the 100w Marshall, but how do you compare them side by side if you don’t have the clone of your fave, and one is louder?

Ive owned numerous vintage four input Marshalls and they were not one sound. Many were actually brutally bright and clean if from 69-70.

Next take Nugent plugged into Eddie’s 67 Plexi 100 and not sounding like the amp.

Have you tried a Jim Kelley or one of the Dr Z 6v6 Plexi amps I think called the remedy?
What I find among modern Plexi clone amps is they sound more like JCM800 because most shoppers never played a Plexi and didn’t know those were kind of clean among Marshall dirty amps.

So it may be hard to find a ready made 20-40w 6v6 Plexi clone that’s not engineered to also do 800 dirt with PPIMV and cascading preamp gain.

Then I love Hiwatt too and monster cleans are not monster is low volume.
I‘d agree a mini Hiwatt should have 2xel34 yet a digital recording or a PA mix doesn’t include your room feel of a loud amp.
If youre just going to attenuate the Hiwatt, tone and distortion are the sound, not iron size and weight.

I Think the best lower wattage 1:1 clones of big amps are just not popular enough to find at a shop next to an old original hooked to an attenuator so you hear them in the room and are not comparing memories.
Stuff in shops like Marshall Origin is not clones of old amps.
Wasn't the Vintage/Modern series 6V6 based?

I got hip to small back in the day. When I was 12, I wanted a 100 watt stack; nothing else would make me the rock star I was destined to become. By the time I was 18, I'd scraped together enough for a 50 watt JCM 800 and a 1960A cab and I was on my way! a few years later, a buddy turned me on to his Mk IIc Combo and I done. I bought a Mk IV after owning a .50 cal for a minute and I've had it ever since. There's a reason the anvil road case has wheels on it; that 300 watt EVM 12L weighs a ton and so does the hardwood cab! It no longer leaves the house, but gigging with it was tone heaven. With the Marshall, I put the cab into an oversize case, tossed in a mic and had at it. That was the only way you didn't get the po shutting you down from 2 counties over, but that was fine; it was loud through the mains and the monitor!
 

InstantCoffeeBlue

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Mike Campbell was famous for using low-watt combos on festival stages.


I love Mike Campbell, and he’s a part of the reason why I’ve committed to being primarily a Princeton guy. I just know that if I were still playing big band or Latin jazz band shows where a clean comping sound was important, the Princeton wouldn’t come close to cutting it. Apples to oranges situations.
 

telemnemonics

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Wasn't the Vintage/Modern series 6V6 based?

I got hip to small back in the day. When I was 12, I wanted a 100 watt stack; nothing else would make me the rock star I was destined to become. By the time I was 18, I'd scraped together enough for a 50 watt JCM 800 and a 1960A cab and I was on my way! a few years later, a buddy turned me on to his Mk IIc Combo and I done. I bought a Mk IV after owning a .50 cal for a minute and I've had it ever since. There's a reason the anvil road case has wheels on it; that 300 watt EVM 12L weighs a ton and so does the hardwood cab! It no longer leaves the house, but gigging with it was tone heaven. With the Marshall, I put the cab into an oversize case, tossed in a mic and had at it. That was the only way you didn't get the po shutting you down from 2 counties over, but that was fine; it was loud through the mains and the monitor!
I do recall Marshall putting 6v6 in SOMETHING but I’m not sure about the vintage/ modern.
Id bet a Marshall producing 20w from 2x6v6 would sound more like a classic Marshall than 20w from 2x el34 where the power tubes are just making preamp dirt louder.

Funny about your other amps, I had a hardwood cab MKIV simul class and sold it to a buddy who had a 50 JCM800 Anniversary half stack and he couldn’t hear himself at live shows.

The MKIV was certainly heavy and loud but not a tool I related to or liked the sounds from enough to deal with the weight, knobs near the floor, and complicated user interface.
My favorite amp for a while was a road beaten Plexi 100 missing the front panel and knobs so I put old chicken head knobs on it and just remembered what they all did.
Stupid simple interface is my speed!
 

northernguitar

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I love Mike Campbell, and he’s a part of the reason why I’ve committed to being primarily a Princeton guy. I just know that if I were still playing big band or Latin jazz band shows where a clean comping sound was important, the Princeton wouldn’t come close to cutting it. Apples to oranges situations.
Right….but IMO, with adequate (and proper) monitoring, the Princeton would be perfect.
 

surfco

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I play my USA G&L S-500 through my pedalboard and then through a Fender Rumble 40.
The Rumble is very light, cuts through everything and the cleans are FANTASTIC.
Tone heaven for me.
 

InstantCoffeeBlue

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Right….but IMO, with adequate (and proper) monitoring, the Princeton would be perfect.

Eh. Yes, in a perfect scenario with a perfect PA and monitoring that I can't guarantee in a rider because I'm not Mike Campbell, it would theoretically work. I don't know about perfect. Big iron is a different feel and if you're playing a big band gig on something like an ES-175 with humbuckers it can be the difference between comping (especially with extended harmonies) sounding crisp or just turning to mush because every single overworked component in the amp is starting to cook. Especially since, as I mentioned before, for most of the gigs I've played with this type of band, saving a channel to mic the guitar amp wasn't even on anyone's radar.

Like I said, I love Princetons and amps in the 12-18W range in general, and for most things I do these days they not only work but are preferable, but they just wouldn't have been workable when I was doing more large group jazz stuff with a lot of horns.
 
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dmarcus30

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With modern technology, it has become possible to run a cranked Marshall at less than 80db easily, or just run it into a line-out. I can get a Harley Bentonville PA-100, load box, attenuator, and DI box, all for around $100. The OX is an incredible tool as well, and is incredible versatile. So, my question is, why aren't more people using bigger amps?

Every boutique amp I see on the market is 30-watts, or has an option to bring it to 30 or less from a maximum of 50. Vintage 50-100 watt amp prices are remaining steady. That would be a good sign normally, but due to COVID, vintage stuff in general has soared.

I've always loved big amps. With one, you can get as loud as you need, and as quiet as you need too. At lower volumes, put an OD in front, at higher volumes, turn a rangemaster on and let the tubes do the work. I believe that bigger amps have more of a bass response, and sound rounder in general, in experience as well as in principle. I've owned more 100 watt amps than amps below 50 watts at this point, like a Fender Roc Pro, a cheap Danelectro SS amp, a Fender FM100, a Fender Dual Showman Reverb, Ace Tone Bass 6, Carvin VL100, Fender Stage Lead 212, Carvin X100b, Kustom K250-1 and probably some more I'm forgetting. They had overall a rounder and fatter sound, even on clean channels, than their 20 watt brethren.

I know of weight issues, but carrying an OX Box and a head isn't as bad (imho) as a 20 watt combo with a 12" Alnico speaker. I've carried that Carvin X100b and I've carried a Hot Rod Deluxe, and the X100b was so much easier. The same people touting the Tonemaster amps seem to neglect that a 50+ watt head weighs less in 90% of cases. I guess that if your venue doesn't have any cabs, it'd probably be better to get a combo, but that's not a very common occurrence, for me at least. Anyways, you can just use a line out direct to the PA with a cabinet emulator, which has the exact same effect as the people micing their 20 watt combos.

Anyways, this rant has gone on long enough, if you have any other reasons, let me know in comments.
From a Twin with JBLs to a 15 watt Kendrick, weight and age issues but I miss the force of my TR turned halfway up. I sometimes run them together and enjoy the best of both worlds.
 

ReverendRevolver

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This thread could benefit greatly from PA experts. Without a mic, 50w is my ceiling and 20ish my floor.
I've recently discovered that you can find out if the speaker is good for the amp or not by running the (muting) line out into a PA and wanting to immediately switch back to not doing that.

If my acquaintance would sell me back my old AB165 Bassman (even at triple the $$) I'd jump on it in a heartbeat. And never need to mic it. I'd voluntarily mic it so I could hear it in the monitors and the sound guy could put it out (controlably) from the sidewash, but driving that 50w at 7ish into inefficient speakers is great. I'd need to run delay, but could probably get away with no other pedals.
But that wouldn't work great for smaller bars, so the Frenzel would pull those all alone.
A wall of Marshall's isn't needed in 2022, but class D amplification has advanced to the point where you can make your 5w tube amp that loud in the PA. Is it as fun as pushing a twin or JCM? No. Who wants to drive a Civic, regardless of upgrades, in a race when you can hop in a Maserati or Lamborghini instead? (Change analogy to Fierro with a rocket engine instead of Rat rodded Chevelle/Skylark combo if you build your own amps...)

But as far as controlability, it is certainly more consistent from venue to venue with small amp+PA compared to when I drug my Fender75 to every venue (thank God for low power switch...)

Im team big amps all the way (team 30w to 50w at least). But a good PA setup is a difference maker. In absence of PA, 50w, have a nice day.
 

Veltek

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In other words it's because the vast majority of us are not or no longer playing big amp gigs.
In general there isn't a need for 'big amps' You can go to a stadium with a Princeton and be fine. Most places have PA systems. Usually can't turn up a 100w amp, and theres no point in using that much power to have it attenuated out.
 

Chicago Slim

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It usually sounds better to play a small amp loud, than a big amp dialed back. It's like it's more fun to drive a slow car fast, than a fast car slow. The exception is cabinet size. Over the years as I've kept my favorite amps, I have gone to large combo's, running only 15 to 18 watts.
 
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Fiesta Red

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To add to this discussion of “why” smaller amps…

Daughter and I went to a big “cabin” (it wasn’t a cabin, it was more like a lodge) for a “Jam Retreat” up in Broken Bow, Oklahoma. It was an opportunity to play in-person with a group of musicians ranging in age between 18 and 52 (which is me—I’m now the old man of the group), from Texas and Colorado and Texas and New York and Texas and Iowa and Texas (and Texas). Unfortunately, the international members of the group (from Argentina and Mexico and Peru) could not make it. We’ve been meeting/playing on-line for the last two years or so, and it was the first time many of us have met in person.

Close to two dozen guitarists, and I was the only one that brought a tube amp and pedalboard. One guy brought a Fender Mustang amp (I don’t know which model, but it sounded good). A few of them brought amp simulators/pre-amps to be plugged into the mixing board.

I’m not saying this as “I’m an old man and my rig sounded best!”, but they all dug my sound and my equipment…until we started trying to mix it with the electronic drums (sounded MUCH better than I expected) and the other pre-amps/simulators (and the Line Out of the digital Mustang amp).

I’m not criticizing the guy who mixed the sound…it sounded very good, when he got everything together…he’s a great musician, a good producer (I’ve listened to his home recordings) and he’s an above-decent sound guy…he’s got “good ears”…

But when he asked, “Umm…is there a line out on your amp?”

I blinked for a second, and said, “Man, this thing was designed in 1963…no dice.”

I realized a problem—even with his (high quality) mixer and his (good) ability/experience:

He doesn’t know how to balance out a band with mic’d live amps and instruments.

That’s not a criticism, it’s just a fact.

Now, I’m my mind, my 2x10 40W ‘63RI Vibroverb (with an attenuator) is not a big amp…but I realize that in his mind (he’s in his 20’s), he’s looking at me the way I looked at the guys who used to carry 100W Marshall stacks to a small club or a rehearsal—too much firepower for the room. For ease of use, when we had the actual “show” on Zoom, including the friends and family members who couldn’t/didn’t travel with us as well as the international members of our “Jamily”, I just ran a line out of my pedalboard directly into his board and he got a great balanced sound out of it.

To be fair, this was a (relatively) small, loud, bright, bouncy room with concrete floors, a lot of hard surfaces and sharp corners, and I didn’t have any kind of shield to prevent the sounds of the amp from overpowering the room—even an experienced sound guy would have been flummoxed to a degree.

Now, in the days and hours before the actual performance where we were all just goofing around and jamming, every single one of the guitar players (guys and girls) were having a blast playing electric instruments through an old-school pedalboard into an old-school amp. One of them declared he was going to save up and put together a similar rig (previously, he’d only used amp simulator DI Boxes and multi-effect units) I suggested a slightly smaller amp with a line out, especially if he was going to play in small groups and rooms like this very often.
 

Ben Harmless

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Okay. My thing these days is just calling out cognitive distortions that come up. Ima do that.

We're not debating why people do or don't use big amps. The truth is that either we're judging each other's musical pursuits, or we're hopelessly clueless to the fact that different people play different music with different needs differently, and they make different amps to suit different sounds. Yes, people bring the wrong amp to some performances, but that's just screwing up. I was born with a Peavey practice amp in my mouth, and was excited when I got a big amp that could play punk shows that usually involved part of a low-powered PA. Now, I'm a grownup who can afford things, but my music is different, and I can do that with less. I'm the same person. Isn't that crazy?

For those who need more rules than that:
-Typical modern metal = big amps because thump thump chugga chugga at yo butt.
-Typical modern blues = lil' amps because guitar go waaaaaaaaaaaaahhh but you can clean if you want to chill out.
-Typical modern jazz or indie = something with headroom because the guitar needs to be guitar if you want it to.
-Typical modern country = whatever, because modern country, amirite?
-Atypical everything = whatever the heck you want - it's your funeral/Grammy. Just tell 'em you meant it to be like that.
-Typical garage = whatever '60s amp is hot these days and sounds awesome when Jack White uses it but when you find one used at the local music store and bring it home it just sounds broken and disappointing. Get a pedal. Borrow a different amp.
 

Tim S

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Okay. My thing these days is just calling out cognitive distortions that come up. Ima do that.

We're not debating why people do or don't use big amps. The truth is that either we're judging each other's musical pursuits, or we're hopelessly clueless to the fact that different people play different music with different needs differently, and they make different amps to suit different sounds. Yes, people bring the wrong amp to some performances, but that's just screwing up. I was born with a Peavey practice amp in my mouth, and was excited when I got a big amp that could play punk shows that usually involved part of a low-powered PA. Now, I'm a grownup who can afford things, but my music is different, and I can do that with less. I'm the same person. Isn't that crazy?

For those who need more rules than that:
-Typical modern metal = big amps because thump thump chugga chugga at yo butt.
-Typical modern blues = lil' amps because guitar go waaaaaaaaaaaaahhh but you can clean if you want to chill out.
-Typical modern jazz or indie = something with headroom because the guitar needs to be guitar if you want it to.
-Typical modern country = whatever, because modern country, amirite?
-Atypical everything = whatever the heck you want - it's your funeral/Grammy. Just tell 'em you meant it to be like that.
-Typical garage = whatever '60s amp is hot these days and sounds awesome when Jack White uses it but when you find one used at the local music store and bring it home it just sounds broken and disappointing. Get a pedal. Borrow a different amp.
So you “call out cognitive distortions” by creating more of them??
 

Ben Harmless

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So you “call out cognitive distortions” by creating more of them??
Really? This was with attacking me over?

If it makes you feel better, just read the first part, because I'm assuming that you're referring to the second, which is not what the term I used means. For what it's worth, cognition, meaning-making, and rhetoric are areas in which I have some experience and expertise, and I'm making observations about why we have had very similar threads throughout the history of this forum. I'm sorry that the humor at the end was so upsetting to you.
 

mikecorey

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With modern technology, it has become possible to run a cranked Marshall at less than 80db easily, or just run it into a line-out. I can get a Harley Bentonville PA-100, load box, attenuator, and DI box, all for around $100. The OX is an incredible tool as well, and is incredible versatile. So, my question is, why aren't more people using bigger amps?

Every boutique amp I see on the market is 30-watts, or has an option to bring it to 30 or less from a maximum of 50. Vintage 50-100 watt amp prices are remaining steady. That would be a good sign normally, but due to COVID, vintage stuff in general has soared.

I've always loved big amps. With one, you can get as loud as you need, and as quiet as you need too. At lower volumes, put an OD in front, at higher volumes, turn a rangemaster on and let the tubes do the work. I believe that bigger amps have more of a bass response, and sound rounder in general, in experience as well as in principle. I've owned more 100 watt amps than amps below 50 watts at this point, like a Fender Roc Pro, a cheap Danelectro SS amp, a Fender FM100, a Fender Dual Showman Reverb, Ace Tone Bass 6, Carvin VL100, Fender Stage Lead 212, Carvin X100b, Kustom K250-1 and probably some more I'm forgetting. They had overall a rounder and fatter sound, even on clean channels, than their 20 watt brethren.

I know of weight issues, but carrying an OX Box and a head isn't as bad (imho) as a 20 watt combo with a 12" Alnico speaker. I've carried that Carvin X100b and I've carried a Hot Rod Deluxe, and the X100b was so much easier. The same people touting the Tonemaster amps seem to neglect that a 50+ watt head weighs less in 90% of cases. I guess that if your venue doesn't have any cabs, it'd probably be better to get a combo, but that's not a very common occurrence, for me at least. Anyways, you can just use a line out direct to the PA with a cabinet emulator, which has the exact same effect as the people micing their 20 watt combos.

Anyways, this rant has gone on long enough, if you have any other reasons, let me know in comments.
100 watts solid state is not 100 watt tube amp.
 




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