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Old 04-04-2013, 02:10 AM   #1
s.m.r
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Gear Needed To Play Gigs

I couldn't find anything about this. My band and I would like to start playing gigs but we know we don't have everything we need and we're not sure exactly what everything we need is.
So what is your basic gig setup, for the full band, when you have to bring your own gear? For amps etc, how powerful? What would you recomend? Brands to avoid?

Thanks in advance for the help, I figure this will probably be helpful to others besides me, as it can't be uncommon question.
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Old 04-04-2013, 03:03 AM   #2
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When I was a sound guy, I went with this rule of thumb:

1) Guitar amp should equal the drummer for volume, so it depends on the drummer's playstyle.
2) Bass amp should be four times the wattage of the guitar amp
3) Second Guitar amp should be a different model than the first guitar amp, each guitar should have a different amp to have a distinct sound, match output if possible.
4) Keyboard amp should be between 1.5x and 2x the wattage of the Guitar Amp (but never cranked, this wattage is just to prevent distortion/provide headroom for keys)
5) Vocals through PA, never a amp, match levels with Keyboard, or Drums.
6) PA should be no less than twice wattage as Bass Amp (if the bass amp is not mike'd).
7) If possible, mike drums and guitar, and DI bass.

So, if I need a 50w guitar amp to hear the guitar over the drummer, I need a 75w Keyboard amp, a 200w bass amp, a second guitar amp that's between 40w and 75w, and a 400w PA.

That's, at least, my system. YMMV.
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Last edited by kangaxxter : 04-04-2013 at 03:04 AM.
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Old 04-04-2013, 05:17 AM   #3
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I've written a series of articles in the columns of UG and you didn't look in the stickies in bandleading. Second one down at the moment. there's loads of detail there and you can ask any questions you want there.

I wouldn't disagree with anything kangaxxter said think in terms of matching the drummer first of all, he's the one without a volume control
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Old 04-04-2013, 05:31 AM   #4
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I'm not exactly sure about those power recommendations above, they don't take into account solid state watts vs tube watts, and even then I think if you followed the recommendations to the letter it may be overkill.

That said I will say there's minimums required to be heard over a drumkit.

I'd say:

Guitar amp: 80 watts solid state/15 watts tube
Bass amp: 100 watts solid state (if going through the PA), 300 watts otherwise depending on size of speakers
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Old 04-04-2013, 09:48 PM   #5
s.m.r
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80 watts for the guitar, through the PA or on its own?
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Old 04-04-2013, 09:51 PM   #6
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Why do bass amps have to be so much more powerful than guitar amps?
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Old 04-04-2013, 10:15 PM   #7
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s.m.i.: On it's own, if the guitar is mike'd through the PA then the power is irrelevant. You could gig with a 5w through a PA, though the guitarist would have to use a monitor to hear himself.

HotspurJr: Because the human ear doesn't hear every frequency at the same volume. Basically, the ear is tuned to hear mid-range and high frequencies louder than similar intensity low frequencies.
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Old 04-04-2013, 10:25 PM   #8
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^^^ Well I was thinking that a guitarist should have the option to use their amp as a monitor, especially at practice.

As for bass amps, perhaps Im also off. There's so many factors but I think we can agree the more the better. Ive done numerous gigs with a 15 watt tube combo and 100 watt bass amp without resorting to the PA, but for larger rooms, particularly those with lots of people in them, this wouldn't be enough. I opt to mic everything up when I can regardless.

As for "why" bass amps need more power, it's some complex answer about bass frequencies using more energy.
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Old 04-05-2013, 06:01 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlanHB
^^^ Well I was thinking that a guitarist should have the option to use their amp as a monitor, especially at practice.

As for bass amps, perhaps Im also off. There's so many factors but I think we can agree the more the better. Ive done numerous gigs with a 15 watt tube combo and 100 watt bass amp without resorting to the PA, but for larger rooms, particularly those with lots of people in them, this wouldn't be enough. I opt to mic everything up when I can regardless.

As for "why" bass amps need more power, it's some complex answer about bass frequencies using more energy.

Also you want the bass sound to be clean (not always of course). That's why you need more watts. It won't distort so easily at higher volumes. For guitar it doesn't really matter because many people are after power amp distortion and that's why they want the guitar amps to be pretty low wattage. A 15 watt amp will not stay clean at high volumes. And you don't even need to crank the volume to get some power amp distortion. So if you want your tone to be clean, you want your amp to have enough wattage so that you don't need to crank the volume to be heard.
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Old 04-06-2013, 03:03 AM   #10
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It's complex, but only a little complex. The thing is that watts only measure electrical power not volume. We usually use decibels to measure volume as this measurement works more in the way our ears work. The complication is that doubling the watts doesn't double the volume.

Doubling the watts only increases the volume by 3dB and you need 10dB to double the volume. This means that a 100W amp is only just louder than a 50W amp. In practice you can hear a difference but it won't dramatically affect the balance in the band.

Add in all the variables of 'clean' and dirty sounds, different music genres, valve amps, speaker efficiencies etc. and wattage is something you can only give a ballpark indication of.
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Old 04-08-2013, 10:16 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlanHB
I'm not exactly sure about those power recommendations above, they don't take into account solid state watts vs tube watts, and even then I think if you followed the recommendations to the letter it may be overkill.

That said I will say there's minimums required to be heard over a drumkit.

I'd say:

Guitar amp: 80 watts solid state/15 watts tube
Bass amp: 100 watts solid state (if going through the PA), 300 watts otherwise depending on size of speakers


80w solid state? Really? My 30w solid state can match a drummer at half its volume, it can fill a small gig easily and then go some.

The important thing is not to worry about it. If you just have a cheap practice amp, rent amps out for gigs. It's easy, and costs almost nothing. Besides that, if you've not started gigging, you'll be doing almost entirely support gigs where 90% of bands will let you run through their undoubtedly better gear.

Of course, that doesn't mean you should slack on the gear front. A tube amp loud enough to fill a small gig (say 15w) will go for £200 odd.

My advice to you - have a band kitty. Everybody chips in a small amount at each practice. You shouldn't be booking gigs until you're tight anyway, so if everybody chips in that little bit, depending on how often you practice you should have enough to splash out on gear.

Really, it's easy to view equipment as the most important factor when really, you should be concentrating on making good music. Don't worry about wattage or any of that business. If your amp is loud enough at practice and you've got headroom, it's more than likely going to be loud enough at a gig. And unless you're a mental blues virtuoso who needs to be twice as loud as the rest of the band, you aren't going to need as much volume as you think you do.
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Old 04-16-2013, 05:29 PM   #12
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Old 04-16-2013, 11:10 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andalus
80w solid state? Really? My 30w solid state can match a drummer at half its volume, it can fill a small gig easily and then go some.


Not all amps of the same power will have the same volume, and it's also going to depend on how loud your drummer, bassist and singer are. I have a 50 watt Peavey Valveking, and I have it at about half to two-thirds volume at practice. I also have a 60w solid state amp and I think it would be loud enough for a band practice - but I've never actually brought it to band practice. It could be worthwhile to do an internet search or look at some reviews on the volume of the particular amps you are interested in.
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Old 04-17-2013, 01:06 AM   #14
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Kind of depends on the cabinets for the guitar as well. You'd be amazed at how a 25 watt SS open back combo could drown out a 20 watt tube head through a closed back, in a small venue.

Personal experience on that one, with no PA, you have to consider things like that. My buddy was playing through a fender frontman and myself through my blackstar head...Couldn't hear myself at all.
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