#1
Hey guys,

Long time lurker, first time poster.  I've been searching trying to find info on a particular issue but just can't so wanted to sign up to see if you guys that play live can help me out.  Most people know that an amp will sound different depending on how it is pointed/tilted, etc. etc.  I always tilt my amps so they point towards my ears so I know exactly what tone is coming out of them.  With this said if I walk 5' to the side or a few feet closer/farther away the amp the amp tone/sound changes dramatically, most noticeably in that it becomes muffled.  When I play live and have a PA to mic up to this isn't an issue either obviously, but my question is about unmic'd gigs, where there is not room for a PA let's say.  What do you all do as far as placement when you are NOT mic'd.  I can find hords of stuff on placement when micing but not the other way around.  It makes no difference that I can see, where I place it as it will sound different at every spot in the sphere around me.  With that said how the hell do you all adjust your amps when you are not mic'd?  I guess I'm kind of a tone snob/freak and I dial things in exactly the way I want, but I just hate the fact that the people sitting to the left or right, in the back whatever will hear something different then what I want if I'm not mic'd through a PA.  I even have an open back cabinet that seems like it should help this issue but there is a dramatic change (at least to my ears) when walking around the amp while playing.  Thanks for any info/insight.
#2
The reason why micing to PA is so integral for professional sound quality is because there is no perfect answer if you are relying on just the amp cabinet's sound. My answer is to place it in the position where the most amount of people will hear it "properly". People on hard left or hard right will not hear it correctly, but you have to cater to where the most people are. Typically that will be center stage, as far up on the stage you can get, on an amp stand. A little bit of tilt back in the amp stand is beneficial so treble is not beamed directly at someone's head. If you have another guitarist, put his cab on one side and yours on the other, and point your cabs inward very slightly.

Putting the cab on the stage floor will likely mean that the sound is directed straight at the torso and legs of the front row of people, and anyone behind them will hear mush. The sound has to go over their heads.
Last edited by Will Lane at Apr 25, 2017,
#3
you need to get the amp off the ground and as Will said somewhere where it's likely to be heard by the most audience members. obviously there isn't a perfect spot and not all spots in front of the stage are going to sound good. the other thing is the room will sound different when empty than with an audience. bodies reflect sound differently that walls. 

how big of a room are we talking? 
#4
You can take the time and money to invest in a sound system. It's an investment but it really opens up a world of possibilities. From handling sound, to better shows, bar shows where you can make money, it's not an immediate fix, but in the long run if you're taking your career seriously, it is worth it. 
Splawn Street Rod
H&K Tubemeister 5
Line 6 G90 System

Gibson SG Standard
Godin Radiator
Dillion 653 GA/3CT
Seagull Coastline s6
New Music on Spotify
#5
If you've got something small (combo amp), put it up on a stand. I've used a tilt stand, specifically an OnStage RS7000. Folds up flat, puts your amp up pretty high. This was the traditional sock hop in the school gym setup when the wimpy PA was only for vocals. If you don't have the amp up on a stand, most of your sound will be sucked up by the first 10 rows of audience. With the stand, you get to maybe the 12th. The benefit of the PA system, of course, is that your sound goes up and over the crowd. 

All that said, you CAN use a speaker that has a "tophat" installed and put the thing up on a speaker stand. It's still connected directly to your amp, but it's up and over and provides pretty good sound right to the back of the room. 
#6
I have always set the amps closer to the back corners of the stage. Behind the drummer with a slight angle towards him so he can hear it. Basically lining them up in a very shallow "U" shape with the drummer in the middle. Bass amp near the middle. Gives a decent blend across the middle of the crowd when set up right and helps everyone hear each other.

I also stand more towards the front of the stage so as to try and get where the sound waves have spread a bit more and get as much of what the crowd hears as I can.
#7
Thanks guys, that is what I was afraid of, meaning their isn't $hit I can do about some people not hearing it right.  As I mentioned I use a lean back device (still on the ground) so the amp is almost 45° so it will hit my hears with the most "correct" tone, will this be acceptable as far as letting most people in the room hear something close to what I do?  I don't really understand why this amp seems so directional sense it is open back but it seems that it is.  I think the best thing to do is just mic it when possible, right now we have a 4 channel PA which seems to be the problem b/c we have 2 vocal channels and then a keyboard and sometimes a modulation effects doohickey and that leaves my amp out of the mix.  I'm in a duo and we just recently started adding the other things like a looper/keys/doohickeys etc. so my amp seems to be odd man out unfortunately.  I have 2 shows this week so I guess I'm stuck doing it this way, but I guess I'll look into a bigger PA mixer.

Edit:  Sorry thought I should mention that the amp is a Bogner/Line6 Spider Valve Tube Amp 1X12 Combo.  I use none of the effects, just the Bogner designed tube amp section.  
Last edited by cfiiman at Apr 26, 2017,
#8
The difference between standing 2 feet in front of your amp and being 15 feet away is significant.   Any small move when you're close will change the perceived tone quite drastically, but the same doesn't apply when you're 15 feet out in the crowd - they hear generally the same tone even as they walk around the venue. 

You're overthinking this - if a venue is small enough that you don't need a PA, the amp will get heard and the tone will be fine. 
#9
I'm really comfortable with NOT taking an amp to a gig at all -- I just take a preamp and run direct into the board. These days that's an HD500 or a Helix. 

The good news is that a reasonably good PA puts speakers up and over the crowd and the first 10 rows of the audience aren't sucking up all the treble and most of the amps that aren't bass amps. The audience in back is hearing the band as it's supposed to be, balanced and clean. One drawback to most of the PAs that I've seen that have only side speakers is that the down-front audience either gets blasted (if you're using amps) or can't hear vocals *or* amps (if you're running everything into the PA. We learned early on to put speaker systems down front facing the audience as well as monitors facing us. The other good news involved in NOT using amps is that the audience gets to hear a balanced mix. With amps not running into the PA, the folks on this side get to be blasted by the lead guitar, the folks in the middle usually get blasted by drums and the folks on the other side hear rhythm guitar, keys and/or bass and not much else. 
#10
Quote by reverb66
The difference between standing 2 feet in front of your amp and being 15 feet away is significant.   Any small move when you're close will change the perceived tone quite drastically, but the same doesn't apply when you're 15 feet out in the crowd - they hear generally the same tone even as they walk around the venue. 

You're overthinking this - if a venue is small enough that you don't need a PA, the amp will get heard and the tone will be fine. 

That makes me feel a bunch better, I didn't realize that since I'm always limited to the proximity of my amp due to the cable, thanks.