Why Do These Work for Me, But Seemingly Not Others?

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by Leo Paul, Jul 31, 2021.

  1. Leo Paul

    Leo Paul TDPRI Member

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    This concerns amplifiers/amplifier wattage. I’m rhythm guitarist in a four-piece cover band (with lead guitarist, bass and drums) that plays 50s, 60s and 70s pop and rock. None of us mic our amps. The amps I use for gigs (only one at a time, I switch them up now and then): A Fender Blues Jr. (15 watts/12-inch speaker); a VOX MV50 AC head (25 watts into 8 ohms – I use it with a 2 x 10 cab loaded with older Carvins); a VOX Mini Superbeeetle (also 25 watts into its matched 8 ohm 10-inch speaker). The only pedals I use are delay (with all three amps), a reverb with the MV50, and an EQ with the Superbeetle.

    These three rigs are always more than loud enough to keep up with the drummer, and for any gig we’ve ever played, including outdoor ones with pretty big crowds where all can hear us fine, even at some distance from us. As a matter of fact, I’m never even close to turning them up all the way, and a few times, we’ve even been asked by venue owners to turn down a bit.

    I often see posts here and in other forums about needing much higher wattage amps than what I use for gigging and/or keeping up with a drummer. And that even they have to be mic’ed for those circumstances. My questions are: How are these small, non-mic’ed amps working for me, but seemingly would not for many others? Or, what am I doing wrong (right?)?
     
  2. Sparky472

    Sparky472 Tele-Holic

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    Loud enough for me means can I still get cleans at a volume that keeps up with a full band/drummer. I’ve had amps that could keep up but don’t have enough clean headroom for my preferences. So that’s one factor. Also, different drummers and styles of playing along with different drum kits, can generate vastly different stage volumes. A louder drummer on a bigger and louder kit drives the band to much higher volumes.
     
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  3. loopfinding

    loopfinding Friend of Leo's

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    my 5e3 (12-15 watts) with a 4+ person band, it can be heard, but i'm screaming dirty all the time (even with my relatively efficient emi in there). if i'm just playing some jazz or quiet-ish thing it's fine. i'm thinking about beefing up the transformers so i can use cathode biased 6L6s (like the early 5e5s) for about 20-30 watts when i need to in a pinch so i'm not screwed in any situation.

    basically it's just that i want at least 20-35 watts for headroom. if i need dirt i can always use an attenuator to cut power to half. two of the amps you stated are 25 watt, that's basically the clean rating. that seems pretty fine to me.

    second thing is how loud is your drummer? what type of kit do they play? one i play with uses a small jazz kit, isn't a hard hitter, and i can get away with my puny 5e3 for crunchy but not distorted rock, country-ish stuff, jazzy stuff, etc. the other i play with, forget it, heavy hitter + huge kit, but usually doing punky things with him, so i use a bassman. it doesn't seem like it'd be that big of a deal, but i've heard small jazz kits in heavy rock and huge rock kits trying to play jazz, and the volume/bass/cymbal hash/etc is all wrong mix wise when unmic'ed.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2021
  4. mexicanyella

    mexicanyella Friend of Leo's

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    In one band I had to run a rack preamp, 100-watt power amp and 4 x 12 cab pretty hard to keep up with the drums and the bass player’s 350-watt Hartke rig. Loud, hard-hitting drummer with a screaming bright piccolo snare was part of that.

    In a later band I could get away with one or two 12-15 watt amps, depending on the space we were playing in, alongside a much more relaxed drummer and a bass player with a 120-watt Hartke kickback combo. That band situation was nice while it lasted!
     
  5. guitar_paul1

    guitar_paul1 Tele-Holic

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    You and your band are doing something right!
     
  6. beyer160

    beyer160 Friend of Leo's

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    It's all about the drummer.

    In my band, our drummer is a heavy hitter. He's not a basher, but those drums ring out with authority. A Hot Rod Deluxe could basically keep up with him, but I had to run it flat out. That meant no clean headroom and there were no dynamics to speak of- it was just a mushy mess. Now I've got a Rockerverb 50 watt 2x12 combo, I run the master at about 2 o'clock and I have all the clean headroom and definition I could want.
     
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  7. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    My usual gigging amp is a 15 watt Vox Pathfinder 15R chassis, mounted in a custom cab with one 12" speaker. If that's not enough volume for a band, they're playing louder than I want to. BTW, I used a Blues Junior for several years.....plenty of volume, just wasn't happy with overall sound. The only more powerful amp I would consider would be if I got another Deluxe Reverb (22W) I truly regret selling the one I had.
     
  8. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    I'm guessing everyone in your band is a professional--which means they know how to moderate their volume when they play. Most bands play too loud because the musicians wants to hear themselves over the other players and that's bad.

    Lack of volume discipline is a rampant epidemic and has been for many many years.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. hemingway

    hemingway Poster Extraordinaire

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    You mean there are guitarists out there who routinely over-egg their power for no good reason other than they're embarrassed not to?? This is completely news to me!!!
     
  10. Maguchi

    Maguchi Tele-Afflicted

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    Different bands, different drummers.

    Another good question is, what is the drummer doing right, wrong?
     
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  11. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Poster Extraordinaire

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    You must not be a very loud band…which is very possible with that music. And, guitarists don’t need as much power as bassists, in general. 15 to 25 watt amps seem perfectly normal for the music you described.

    I do play in a loud band (on bass) for 14 years, playing hopped up covers of garage rock, hard rock, punk rock, and r&b (and a smattering of originals in the same vein). Our rhythm guitarist has used a tweed Blues Jr. the whole time. It is very distorted, and not very loud. The lead guitarist plays a 40W 1x12 combo (Egnater), a 50W 2x12 (late ‘70s Marshall), or a ‘65 Bassman with a master volume and five position gain switch added, through a 1x12 cab. For 11 of those years, I played a 100 W 1x15 bass combo…pushed to the limit, and still not cutting it most of the time. I finally upgraded to a 400 W amp (or 800 W through two cabs, which I never need). My tone is now much cleaner and more controllable, and never lacking in oomph.

    It comes down to the style of music you are playing, the volumes at which it is played, and how the band members, and their equipment, all work together.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2021
  12. horseman308

    horseman308 Tele-Holic

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    As all have said, the drummer the key, followed by style of music, and how you set up. In my previous band, the rhythm guitar was acoustic, and the drummer was quite reserved. I gigged with a VHT Special 6 running through a V30. I wound set it up on a table at waist-height and never needed all its power. I used the same rig for a long period of open-mic blues jams where there were 2 guitars, bass, drums, keys, harp, and often horns. Again, I never needed all of its power.

    Fast forward to my current band, it's a 7-piece rock cover band with a hard hitting drummer, and the bassist runs a 1200 watt Gallion Kreuger. That 6 watt won't touch it, but a 5e3 is perfect IF I only ever played really dirty. Since we play enough stuff that I need a full range from crystal clean to high-gain, I run a Fender Prosonic with Greenbacks set at 50w.

    Bottom line, most of the really high watt stuff isn't needed unless you're playing super clean. But there's a big range.
     
  13. Harbinger77

    Harbinger77 Tele-Meister

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    I have never gotten the impression that members of this forum wrongfully think that they need excessive amp wattage or lead others down such a path.

    In fact I would say that members here much more frequently sing the praises of smaller amps that are easier to transport.
     
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  14. JRapp

    JRapp Tele-Holic

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    I play CLEAN with P90/HB guitars, not 'hint of breakup'/sorta kinda clean. 50 watts through 2x12" speakers is the usual minimum I will gig with. Outdoors, a Twin Reverb, or preferably a VT40 or VT22. It's not for sheer volume, it's for headroom. I tried using small amps for years and they just didn't cut it.
     
  15. dsutton24

    dsutton24 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    A lot just has to do with whatever is common practice. Way back in the mid 1840s we never miced amps, or used stage monitors. But, with a Twin, a Super Six, and a Bassman on stage, there was always enough sound. The challenge was getting a reasonable balance. Given the lousy mix I've heard from live music in recent years, the balance issue still exists. Hint: Tell your lead guitarist to turn down, and throw a blanket over your drummer.
     
  16. Wrighty

    Wrighty Friend of Leo's

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    I had a ‘68 deluxe reverb, 22 1/2W valve amp. Too heavy so I just got a Tone Master Twin Reverb solid state. Attenuator on the back’s set to 40W. Seems about the same as the deluxe. The twin is rated at 200W to give the same perceived volume as the original, i.e. 85W.

    The ‘loudness’ of an amp, though relative to the wattage, isn’t directly related to it. Across different makes and models it will vary. Your amps clearly give a ‘good’ 15W and 20W.
     
  17. Frodebro

    Frodebro Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I always gigged with a rack rig with a 100 watt power amp. I did this because I wanted enough headroom to play either crystal clean or very dirty at any volume level. Our nights always started out fairly mellow, but it wasn't uncommon at all to have that rig pegged by the end of the night when the room was packed. Tried running a smaller amp, but it got just a bit too hairy when I needed very clean and very loud. And we could be a very loud band when the situation called for it.
     
  18. bendercaster

    bendercaster Tele-Afflicted

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    I'm with you. I try really hard to keep the stage volume down--I wish I still had my Pathfinder. I think it would have been great for that. I currently am using a DR, but I've never turned it up higher than 2.5 on a gig.
     
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  19. supersoldier71

    supersoldier71 Tele-Holic

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    I used to be able to get away with a 20 watt EL84 112 combo, but like others have experienced, I never needed cleans.

    Our drummer isn’t heavy handed, but now that I need cleans, I needed more watts.

    And an efficient speaker.

    Even unmiked, I haven’t hit a situation where my Mesa DC3 isn’t enough, and that’s only 35 watts.

    TL;DR - The musical context and the venue factor into the amp choice.
     
  20. codamedia

    codamedia Poster Extraordinaire

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    I think it's great that you have found solutions that work for you regularly... but you need to consider all the differences.

    Different rooms, different bands, different members, different styles..... everything contributes. I am a member of two groups, and fill in with several others... they all require different volume levels. I always carry enough "clean headroom" to get the job done.
     
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