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Old 01-19-2013, 12:44 AM   #1
Sliide90027
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The decline of the Amp

In a thread regarding Dem0n0us' quest for the best amp to run his Bass and His Guitar through, he found himself open to an idea that is really overlooked and not outside of the box, but is outside of our conventional images of Amplification.

Salesmen now seeing him in his quest probably think that he is going to use some products as 'a guitar amp', but what is this notion that we have of 'a guitar amp', and is it real?

What most guitar players had in their lives in the form of a tiny practice amplifier is a modern presentation of the first Lap Steel Guitar Amplifiers ever made and marketed in the 40's IIRC.

It has not changed much, save a trasistion to Solid State, but it is really the same function and volume levels as originally applied.

Leo Fender came along and made the next impression with some wild effects and 2 huge 12" speakers and shook things up with the Twin Reverb.

Save perhaps for the Introduction of Sunn Amps, which I believe were all about Bass, Amps, even the Fender Bassman, never were anything more than the RCA Amplifier designs as previously used for the Lap Steel Guitar.

You see, there was no such thing as 'a guitar amp', there were only amplifiers, and in musical instruments, the guitar came first.

Does that mean all Instrument Amps are Guitar amplifiers?

In some standards of thinking only within what was before, inside the box, yes they all are.

Things would have remained as they were with Fender's RCA designs until Kieth Moon. The Drummer for the Who.

He is really the guy responsible for the evolution of the Guitar amplifier. Had he not appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, or some TV show, with the Who and proceeded to strap a quarter stick of dynamite to his drum kit bowing it to pieces next to Pete Townsends Ear, Pete would not have had to make excuses for needing a louder Amplifier.

So the Story goes, Pete goes to the now famous Music Store in London where there is an EE in the Back who develops the Marshall for him. But alas, things are far from complete.

You see, Bass Waves take twice the energy to produce than High frequency. So by the time that the Son of Marchall (Hiwatt) was introduced, the man really responsible for the Stacked Backline was running Two Hiwatt Stacks opposite Pete's 1. That was Who Bassist John Entwistle, imagine that, a Bassist Running 2 Guitar Amps!

That is all that there were, in all reality.

It was not until a young American flew to England and was shown the available equipment for his European Tour did the first shot in the Stack War get fired by the Young Jimi Hendrix.

Pete told the story of meeting Eric Clapton incognito in a Theatre to tell him that he had shown Jimi the Hiwatt and the Marshalls, and Eric speaking dread asked Pete which one he selected. Pete told him Both, 2 of Both.

The rest now gets better. The golden age of Sound Renforcement kicks in.

The kids here do not know that it took an easy 15 years for Sound Renforcement to kick into gear. It was the Backline Stack Wars that drove them to technological necessity to produce THE POWER AMPLIFIER. High output Power Transistors really made that Technologically possible. The much venerated Crown DC-150's and DC-300's were the apex of reliable performance and in your face power.

The days of the Guitar Amplifier where long numbered then, the Bass Amp not so, as the guitar amps were making themselves necessary due to the tone that was being produced by the operators.

It would take Digital Technology and Amplifier and Cabinet Modeling to begin to close the door on the function and necessity of 'a guitar amplifier'.

There is no point in running an amp model of a marshall through a Fender Twin or anything else. The point is for recording, and while it might not be perfect, it can get the player in the neighborhood of the tone.

So in recording, what is playing the Guitar tones?

Headphones and studio monitors, 2-way and 3-Way, just like modern sound renforcement.

I experienced the first discard of my Bass Amp at Atlanta Soundstage, where they showed me to the DI Box. The Sound Engineers at the Studio where Kansas recorded Point of No Return and Left Overture had no idea what to do with my PB-1 with a Direct out on it. It even had a ground lift despite the protestations of the Engineer.

My second was where Clair Bros was running sound for Petra, and the 2 Meyers Cabinets per Side on the Side Fills was stunning. So, I shut my Micro-Tech 1000 down and ahd the Cabinet removed to the trailer.

The Guitar Amplifier and its Cabinet(s) is made pointless by Modeling because modern Sound Renforcement is so stinking accurate.

In Dem0n0us' experience, the guys who make a living selling us Guitar this and Bass that do not want to get it, the individual Instrument Amp is easily pointless, when a Powered 3-way Sound Renforcement cabinet is available to reproduce all of your tone and the nuances of the Digitally modeled Amp and Cabinet.

Never has a generation of Guitarists had so much availabe to them at their fingertips, that they do not NEED to transition from the Lap Steel Gitar Amp of Practice to a 150 Watt Head and 4x12, but can now go to Studio or performance quality 3-way Powered Cabinets, without even needing to buy that venerated item known as THE POWER AMPLIFIER.

So what Guitar of Bass Amp should I buy?

Don't buy one if you have your Digital modeling Preamp and have not used that to discover what inspires you and what to go after. Use the Practice Amp and run direct into the PA for performances until you can get your own little tower of power.

This is your generation. This is your time to add to the Revolution. In that process, you might find something better than your Grandfather and Great Grand Father's Guitar Amp Digitally Modeled.

As I was told in the 80's, Molly Hatchet was a Peavey Endorser with their wall of Peavey, but in the back were 3 Mic'd Mesa Boogie Combo Amps.

Like I heard the TBForum chatting up Anthony Jackson not using an Amp, but of all things as I learned, Powered Meyers Cabinets.

Like I was told a couple of Weeks ago by a ShowCo. Worker, Joe Perry has Marshalls behind him, but a little 1x12 Combo is Mic'd off Stage.

Stop looking at instrument amps, unless you are really smitten by one in particular.

Sound Renforcement has equalized the tempest caused by Kieth Moon's playing with explosives. Digital Modeling allows a new player to shop the sound that really gets him going.
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Old 01-19-2013, 02:06 AM   #2
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Minor point: Sunn made a number of guitar amplifiers; some of which were pretty cool. To this day, the Sunn Model T guitar amplifier is much sought-after by Doom Metal players. And of course, they made the legendary (and loud as all hell) Coliseum Lead guitar amplifier:



While I agree that digital modeling devices have yet to be properly explored by bassists (guitarists will never let go of their tubes), my problem with going direct - as so many bassists seem to do today - is that it forces you to put your tone and your level entirely in the hands of your FOH sound person. Now, if you have a good sound person and he or she works with your band on every gig, then this isn't a problem. but to leave your tone and your level to the not-so-tender mercies of some unknown person at a club, who may or may not know what he or she is doing, is asking a lot. A bad FOH sound person can ruin a gig with a few turns of a knob and a few drifts of a fader.

That having been said, I've currently got three D.I. boxes: a SansAmp RPM rackmount unit, a Hartke VXL Bass Attack and an MXR Bass D.I. They're all remarkably capable devices, and I have yet to use them to their full potential.

One thing that may hang up the whole D.I. Box / Digital Modeling revolution in the bass world is the advent of very good micro amplifiers with serious power levels. An 800-watt bass amp with great tone that weighs less than five pounds and fits in the zippered compartment of a gig bag is a mighty tempting way to go.
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Old 01-19-2013, 02:47 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FatalGear41

One thing that may hang up the whole D.I. Box / Digital Modeling revolution in the bass world is the advent of very good micro amplifiers with serious power levels. An 800-watt bass amp with great tone that weighs less than five pounds and fits in the zippered compartment of a gig bag is a mighty tempting way to go.


As an owner of an EDEN WTX 500 head, I have to say there is some merit in this statement. I literally carry mine in a backpack to most gigs and its able to comfortable get out there out in the mix.
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Old 01-19-2013, 02:56 AM   #4
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but but... toobs
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Old 01-19-2013, 11:17 AM   #5
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Fatal Gear,

Perhaps the story will get some to begin thinking outside the Box, that you do not have to have off the shelf Guitar or Bass Amp to do what you want.

Sound Renforcement Caught up, and we trust that equipment with our whole mix, it is now more affordable, it could prove to have fewer limitations.

Chatter Box here talks of using his Rumble only for the Power and Speaker sections.

I use all of my 300w Combo, except the EQ, I already have 4 others (if I had not gotten it right before I got to that last one, I am lost).

Anthony Jackson was pointed out as not using a Manufactuter's Amp Head. His Rack does not even have a Power Amp in it. He has a Tone Stack Rack, and Powered Speackers.

This is what one of the hottest Players who ever has played is doing. People ask about his tone, and they have no Amp company to look to.




SuperSac,

Yes Toobs will be a part of what we do. Even Digital gear sounds better through 1-3 12ax7 tubes.

There is plenty of Tube Tone Origin in older Floor MFX (Digitech BP8), Tube Stomp Pedals, and Rack Pre Amps and Channel Strips (Avalon, Neve, Urei, API). You do not have to even buy a Tone Stack, or a Manufacturers power section. You do not have to be inconvenienced by someone elses incarnation of what they want you to think you need.
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Old 01-19-2013, 11:52 AM   #6
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As an owner of an EDEN WTX 500 head, I have to say there is some merit in this statement. I literally carry mine in a backpack to most gigs and its able to comfortable get out there out in the mix.

+1. Compared to some of the more recent micro heads my Markbass might even be considered a little clunky, but I can still shove it in my backpack, grab my bass and go. Then it's just a matter of plunking it down on a buddies cab and just like that I don't have to haul a cab across town or up on campus to practice or jam. I know that's not everyone's situation, but for me it doesn't get much more utilitarian.

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but but... toobs

We don't need no stinkin' tubes!
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Old 01-20-2013, 03:48 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sliide90027
Sound Reinforcement Caught up, and we trust that equipment with our whole mix


As I said, it is not the equipment that I do not trust. I often do not trust the person charged with running that equipment. There are a lot of rank amateurs in the FOH business, as well as people with rigid, preconceived notions of how the mix should balance. And some of these types do not confine their incompetence and destructive fiddling with the board to the FOH arena. Some of them work in studios as engineers, and they wouldn't know how to process a good bass mix if you held a gun to their head. I've seen so-called "engineers" in L.A. who wouldn't know a crossover from a cross-dresser. Heaven only knows how they made it so far in the business.

I do not like turning over complete control of my sound or my level to someone else. There are too many ways by which they can screw with you. I had one gig in particular (many moons ago) where the FOH guy felt that the bass should be seen but not heard. The other people in the band couldn't understand it, either. When it became clear I could not reason with him and there were too many witnesses for me to just do away with him at that moment, I unplugged the microphone from in front of my cabinet, plugged in the other two cabinets and showed this guy what 1800 watts going into 8x10s and 2x15s can do. People actually applauded. This guy had ruined the mix with his "expertise," and the audience could tell it. Fortunately, my oversized and grossly overpowered rig allowed me to take all control of my sound and level from him. All he could do was sit there and fume. One of the guitarists soon did the same thing. Fortunately in those days, everybody played through really big amplifiers.

The whole digital modeling thing is interesting, but you have to ask yourself: "Why bother?" The only reason to switch to a different setup from the traditional amplifier and cabinets is if you get some significant benefit. So far, I haven't seen any. The affordable digital stuff doesn't sound very good, and the good digital stuff (think: Fractal Audio Axe-FX, DigiDesign Eleven, etc.) cost at least as much as a good amplifier, they don't appear to sound any better, and the myriad of digital effects they offer are of little use to the average bassist. The units are no lighter than one of the new Class "D" micro amplifiers, they don't sound any better, and a traditional speaker cabinet loaded with Neo Speakers is a hell of a lot easier to move than a powered speaker cabinet (and they don't have catastrophic overheat failures). So the question remains: what is the benefit?

The fact that (insert name of famous bassist) uses an unusual setup is of little importance to me, because what is good for him or her may not suit me, and because if I use that standard, then the argument is a dead loser. Far more famous bassists use and continue to use a traditional amplifier setup. Everyone needs to find what works for them. The other thing to remember is that famous musicians tend to switch gear like most people switch socks; particularly if there is an endorsement deal in it for them.

Everybody has to figure out what works for themselves. You are correct: there are non-traditional ways to proceed, but it all comes back to the question: "What is the advantage?" There is a reason that there is a traditional way for us. The traditional way works, and it works very well. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
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Old 01-20-2013, 02:39 PM   #8
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I have to chime in on the Anthony Jackson comment. It works for him for several reasons and I actually had the opportunity to hear him explain it before a performance once.

His rig is ideal for where he plays out mainly--small to medium jazz clubs, which are really attuned to upright sounds rather than electric basses. His setup really works well in that type of venue and is why quite a few upright players are adopting it as well. And in jazz clubs I can assure you the body behind the sound board tends to know what they are doing to work with that kind of setup. Anthony also joked that at his age and size, he had enough "baggage" to drag about without taking a huge rig as well.

I do think that for upright players, the elimination of the amp makes sense. While the Acoustic image 2 ten series comes close, I still am not happy completely with any amp I've played an upright through. So I am considering going the A. Jackson route for when I gig with the upright.
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Don't you mean "Why do we alcoholics keep taking about bass?"?


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Old 01-20-2013, 04:56 PM   #9
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It wasn't so much amp wattage in the 60s & 70 that created the need for the two 4x12 stacks.
Anyone in those days could make very high wattage amp without a problem, what they couldn't make back then was genuine efficient high wattage handling speakers hence the 4x12 stacks due to 25 watt 12s being the norm.
I had the highest watts handling speaker available in the UK back in 64, an 18" 50 watt Goodmans Audiom 90.
It wasn't until the latter 70s that the Fane 100 watt Crescendos and 200 Watt Gauss 15s appeared.
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Old 01-21-2013, 12:20 AM   #10
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I'm one that will probably never give up using an actual amp stack mic'd on stage or recording. I never liked the sound I get when I'm DI'd.
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Old 01-21-2013, 12:48 AM   #11
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Are you saying Hendrix was the first to use an amp head and cab?
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Old 01-21-2013, 01:14 AM   #12
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Nah, the amps will be around for quite a while.
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Old 01-21-2013, 02:24 AM   #13
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Fatal,

I agree about LA Venue sound men,

I do not recall hearing a local guy who ever did anything Right.

I watch them look at computer screens and performances, as if the equipment will plug mic in and turn them up, or they are just burnouts that can no longer play music as well as run a system.


Due to the products produced recently, there are good used High Quality items like Powered 2 and 3 Way Cabinets that are available for very reachable prices, to make a flexible Guitar and Bass System, just by switching the Preamp section.

Some are more powerful than others, and as you add units, there is never an issue of Ohm and Watt matching.

Nevertheless, the Bass Amp takes a huge hit and disappears when it is Studio time, as Direct Boxes take over.

Last time a Sound Co. worked with me the guy heard me tuning and directed his Hands to get a mic. I said, I have a direct out, You do not have to mic this amp. He turned to me and said, I have to mic this one!

It is nice to find sound engineers who appreciate an Amp.

There are not very many.
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Old 01-22-2013, 02:21 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sliide90027

Last time a Sound Co. worked with me the guy heard me tuning and directed his Hands to get a mic. I said, I have a direct out, You do not have to mic this amp. He turned to me and said, I have to mic this one!

It is nice to find sound engineers who appreciate an Amp.

There are not very many.

last time I went into the studio my amp/combo which I put together using an Ashdown RPM1 preamp with a BK 400 watt electronics power module into a 450 watt 15" Eminence Neo was placed in its own sound room so as not to interfere with anything else and mic-ed up not DI'd.
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Old 01-22-2013, 05:55 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Sliide90027
I agree about LA Venue sound men,

I do not recall hearing a local guy who ever did anything Right.


I sometimes think the only thing they consistently do efficiently is send you a bill. I haven't been in a studio in a long time, but I know plenty of people who have and they aren't impressed (most of the time, anyway).

I am reminded of an interview with Tom Scholz of Boston that appeared a few years back. When the band landed its record contract, he was very nervous about going into the studio because he thought the engineers there would stand head and shoulders above a self-taught recording engineer like himself. He was astonished at how many things these studio gurus did not know how to do, such as spot-erasing (before the digital days). Boston's first album ended up being almost entirely the recordings Scholz made in his basement.

If I were going to record a professional piece by going direct, I think I would insist on having a good speaker simulator (like a Palmer) in the signal chain. I am told that they make a world of difference.
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Old 01-22-2013, 07:05 PM   #16
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i can see bass heads/DIs taking precedence, but (as a huge supporter of the axe-fx) the modeling world isn't very big in the bass world just yet. the periphery guys got great results tone matching with a b7x with the ampeg models on there, but that's about the extent of its abilities.

plus, while the $2600 is very easy to justify for guitar - where the amps being sampled often incredibly expensive and the effects are innumerable - you could probably just buy the ampeg and 8x10 and throw in a solid bass for the same price (or, as above, just get a good micro head and DI it)

something i've been meaning to look at, also: redwirez IRs (cab simulators) seem incredible, has anyone tried them with a DI signal? once i get the budget up for my mini-studio, it's the first software i'm investing in aside from cubase 7.
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