Why aren't big amps more popular?

soundchaser59

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That's a pretty specific/unique situation...

Personally, I reach for an amp that cuts through a mix and carves it's own place in the tonal palette. It's not a "large iron" amp... it's more along the lines of a 30 watt single 12".
It may be unique in western Canada but not in all the larger USA cities. It's more common than you realize.

That 30 watt 1x12 will work if it's on a stand pointed at my head and I plant myself in front of it all night and don't move. That's what I do with my 40 watt, volume on 8, wearing Earasers, and it's the minimum rig that will work in this situation.
 

codamedia

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It may be unique in western Canada but not in all the larger USA cities.

.... That 30 watt 1x12 will work if it's on a stand pointed at my head and I plant myself in front of it all night and don't move.

What part do you think is unique for Western Canada? What are we missing from your "larger USA cities"?

The smaller "cutting" amp with it's own sonic space works fine for me in the situation you describe. I can move around and I never point the amp at my head, or anyone's head for that matter. I don't need a 50 - 100 watt amp for what I do, but I also don't dis those that prefer that route if that's what works for them. I'm just describing what "I do" :)
 
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soundchaser59

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What part do you think is unique for Western Canada? What are we missing from your "larger USA cities"?
You said it's a specific and unique situation. I disagree, and I further speculate that the situation you think is specific and unique is actually quite common in the states.

One man's civil rebuttal is another man's "I feel dissed." You feel dissed? Is that what you are implying? Interesting.....
 

codamedia

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You said it's a specific and unique situation. I disagree, and I further speculate that the situation you think is specific and unique is actually quite common in the states.

Well, if you do a poll on this forum I would venture to guess that most here "have not", and "do not" play in a 9 piece band (or larger) that includes a 5 piece horn section. You asked the people on this forum what they would do, and on this forum I would suggest that is a "unique" situation. That's all I meant by that!

Since I have experience in larger bands with horn sections I posted what I use in those situations.
 
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Maguchi

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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.
Yeah I agree. Which cabinet emulators do you like best?
 

EXPLRGAB

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I AM OLD BY NOW......IN THE 90s and before....big amps were a thing. I got away for years playing clubs with a MESA BOOGIE MARK IV short head...85 WATTS INTO A 1960 4X12 SLANT CAB.....NO PEDALS EXCEPT FOR A WAH....Such was the culture of the times (PRETTY DAMN LOUD) and the practical versatility of three channels of 6L6 tube power ....I used the Scream Channel a lot for the cascading gain overdrive but the real deal IMO was the Clean channel..Rhythm One...think a more muscular Fender clean...I did play a gig at Cumberland County Arena to 1200 assorted bikers and the amps were mic'd by the sound folks. In clubs, the amps however, were not mic'd..stage volume was gig volume. For sure, I was guilty of playing loud. I still have the Boogie...but, now the 1965 Deluxe; Clark Piedmont; and modded Vibrolux are more practical.
 

JustABluesGuy

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I was actually in a rehearsal room with a drummer friend and bass player. He was new to drums and I thought that the bass player would have to carry the rehearsal. Nope, he just thrashed those things for the whole 2 hours. The amps provided were 20 watt Blackstars. I had the clean channel cranked and was running boosts into it to get it to an equal volume to the drums. I listened to the room recordings, and I can barely hear myself over the onslaught.

With a sane drummer, yes, 15 is probably enough, but its not a situation that I'd personally prefer. Minimum for me would be a Hot Rod or 3x10 Pro. 40 watts is my personal sweet spot.
I played once with a drummer and rhythm guitar player that were as loud as they possibly get in a one car garage. The drummer was the guitarists son, and wasn’t enjoying it so he beat them in anger.

My 15 watt amp, while plenty loud in all previous situations was impossible for me to hear. It was on the floor and the rookie rhythm guitar guy’s huge 4x10 was on a table pointed directly at my head.

I never played that garage again, even though I somehow passed the audition. I guess he was just glad to have anyone willing to play with him? I know he couldn’t hear me either. I have a recording.
 

northernguitar

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I'm incredibly cheap, so I've used a Mooer Radar, a random Hotone, and a Behringer one.
Same, I have the Mooer Radar. I really liked it when it was new; now, the headphone jack is kaput (and I rarely use it!) and the rotary knob is very jumpy. Ah well, I get what I pay for.

One thing is I don't use the Mooer cab sims. I've downloaded some cab IRs from OwnHammer, Celestion and ML Sound Labs. HUGE improvement over the stock IRs in the Radar and they don't need to be fussed over with the Mooer EQ. I just sample them in Garageband until I find the ones with the settings I like already baked into the mix. I load them on the Radar and turn off the EQ and power amp sims. Highly recommended!
 

joebloggs13

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I played once with a drummer and rhythm guitar player that were as loud as they possibly get in a one car garage. The drummer was the guitarists son, and wasn’t enjoying it so he beat them in anger.

My 15 watt amp, while plenty loud in all previous situations was impossible for me to hear. It was on the floor and the rookie rhythm guitar guy’s huge 4x10 was on a table pointed directly at my head.

I never played that garage again, even though I somehow passed the audition. I guess he was just glad to have anyone willing to play with him? I know he couldn’t hear me either. I have a recording.
How did your hearing recover from that? Yikes!
 

InstantCoffeeBlue

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Well, if you do a poll on this forum I would venture to guess that most here "have not", and "do not" play in a 9 piece band (or larger) that includes a 5 piece horn section. You asked the people on this forum what they would do, and on this forum I would suggest that is a "unique" situation. That's all I meant by that!

Since I have experience in larger bands with horn sections I posted what I use in those situations.

I've played in several bands with horns, sometimes latin percussion, Rhodes and/or a B-3. After graduating college I swapped the Roland JC-120 I had used for all my jazz playing for a 1967 Pro Reverb, and the 40W 2x12 Pro was barely enough to cut it in those situations. I mean, it was loud enough but never really clean, which can be a problem if you're playing a feedback-prone hollowbody. These days if I play a jazz gig, it's usually a small club trio thing where a Princeton is fine, or a western swing or outlaw country gig where it doesn't have to be 100% clean, and for better or worse I got sick of dealing with temperamental old archtops so I just use my tele for everything and don't have to worry about feedback anymore. I prefer something like a Princeton or Deluxe whenever possible. But, with horns and keys and a big band drummer, if you want to stay clean, you need a powerful amp.
 

gentrywhite

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I've played in several bands with horns, sometimes latin percussion, Rhodes and/or a B-3. After graduating college I swapped the Roland JC-120 I had used for all my jazz playing for a 1967 Pro Reverb, and the 40W 2x12 Pro was barely enough to cut it in those situations. I mean, it was loud enough but never really clean, which can be a problem if you're playing a feedback-prone hollowbody. These days if I play a jazz gig, it's usually a small club trio thing where a Princeton is fine, or a western swing or outlaw country gig where it doesn't have to be 100% clean, and for better or worse I got sick of dealing with temperamental old archtops so I just use my tele for everything and don't have to worry about feedback anymore. I prefer something like a Princeton or Deluxe whenever possible. But, with horns and keys and a big band drummer, if you want to stay clean, you need a powerful amp.
I am not replying to any specific post, but I have a question that has been nagging at me for some time. Thirty years ago, when I played out regularly, I had (over 15 years) a Peavey Studio Pro 40, a Vox Pacemaker, an SF Vibrolux, a Blues Jr, a Sovtek Mig50 with a 2X12 cabinet (closed back), and a Peavey Delta Blues (1X15). I liked (at that time the clean just on the edge of breakup sound, i.e. I want the leads clean but strong (e.g. compressed enough to sustain well) and chords to break up just enough for the notes to "bleed" together. The Peavey was loud enough but couldn't do what I wanted. The Vox sounded great dimed but was a one-trick pony (a great trick, but still). The Vibrolux I could never run hot enough to get there, the Blues Jr. couldn't get loud enough without the sound disintegrating into mush, the Sovtek could do it at some bigger venues, but I am sure sound men did not appreciate it. I didn't get to use the Delta Blues that much, but it seemed like it had potential, but I never really got the tone to my liking.
Fast forward to today, I am getting back into playing and reading posts about amp choices. The consensus seems to be that 15-watt tube amps are plenty for clubs and other small to medium venues, but you need at least 100 watts of solid-state power to play anywhere but your bedroom. This logic sounds a little off to me. I'm sorry, but the 15-watt Blues Jr could not hang with any drummer I ever played with, not for the sound I wanted, plus the stage volume was too low (monitors were probably a lot worse back then, I admit). The Sovtek was perhaps excessive, but the Vibrolux (I should NEVER have traded that, especially as I can't remember what I traded it for) and the Delta Blues should've been perfect in larger venues. The Studio Pro 40 was fine as far as volume over the drummer and stage volume but just had terrible tone. All of this leads me to conclude that: I am missing something, the definition of a watt has changed, or that in reality, 30-40 watts SS or tube ought to be fine for most venues. There can be large discrepancies in how manufacturers "measure" (i.e. how marketing labels) products, but is there really that much difference, or am I just completely off base?
 

soundchaser59

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How does everyone else hear themselves if you’re louder than all of them?
I am reluctant to reply because I can't get past my gut reaction that only someone who has never been on a stage with a 5 piece horn section plus an angry drummer, a stoned keys guy, a 500 watt bass, and no monitor would ask such a question. Did you read any of the other posts above?

They are the ones who kept telling me to turn up because they couldn't hear me. I started with a 25 watt Mesa and it was never enough. I switched to a 55 watt Rivera and they loved it. Does that answer your question?
 

northernguitar

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I am reluctant to reply because I can't get past my gut reaction that only someone who has never been on a stage with a 5 piece horn section plus an angry drummer, a stoned keys guy, a 500 watt bass, and no monitor would ask such a question. Did you read any of the other posts above?

They are the ones who kept telling me to turn up because they couldn't hear me. I started with a 25 watt Mesa and it was never enough. I switched to a 55 watt Rivera and they loved it. Does that answer your question?
Here ya go. I'm on guitar playing with a ten piece band. I used a VOX Night Train, 15W and it wasn't cranked, but it was mic'ed. I could hear myself (so could everyone else) just fine on a school stage, with proper monitoring.

 
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soundchaser59

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........and no monitor.

.......with proper monitoring.

And there is the critical difference.

Every gig we have ever done (Tower of Power tribute band) I have never had a monitor. My amp is all I get. it's all the whole band gets if they want to hear me, and it's the horn players who keep telling me to turn up. Maybe the sound people in Nebraska are a little bit more el cheapo than the sound people in Toronto. Or maybe our band is just so unpolished that they want the guitar to cover up the rest of the sound? LOL!!
 

InstantCoffeeBlue

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And there is the critical difference.

Every gig we have ever done (Tower of Power tribute band) I have never had a monitor. My amp is all I get. it's all the whole band gets if they want to hear me, and it's the horn players who keep telling me to turn up. Maybe the sound people in Nebraska are a little bit more el cheapo than the sound people in Toronto. Or maybe our band is just so unpolished that they want the guitar to cover up the rest of the sound?

That's been my experience playing with these types of bands as well. It's better now with the prevalence of digital mixers, but IME guitar doesn't usually get priority on a mixing board when there are horns, piano, bass, vocals, and a kit. Unless it was like a bigger outdoor festival or something, most of the time it was kind of just assumed that the guitar amp was self-sufficient as both a monitor and in the room mix. I gradually moved from the Pro to a BF Super Reverb and then finally a BF Twin for this reason. A smaller amp might have enough "cut" to punch through for solos, but it can be embarrassing when you have to comp under a solo or a vocalist and the sound is totally crunched out.
 

northernguitar

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

 




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