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Guitar stacks - is bigger always better?

An RP visitor questions the value of big guitar stacks - can a better and more manageable sound can be achieved using a 30 watt amp?


Comment from a Audio Masterclass visitor...

In relation to the line array of guitar amps article.

I have to agree with the guy that wrote in, the problem with guitar amps is they behave differently to most other amplification systems in that the guitarist 'wants’ them to distort and a large part of there sound is from that very distortion, the fact is to distort an amp you have to run it between 75% and 90% of volume depending on whether you are going for light or silly distortion. However if you do this with a 100 watt amp it means you are running at a very loud volume. At the end of the day 75% of 100 watts is 75 watts, 75 percent of 30 watts is 22.5 watts, a significant drop even considering the exponential nature of the humble watt measurement system. Nowadays even Eric Clapton uses a 30 watt amp and mikes it, although that might be his equivalent of starting to have bonfires and doing DIY.

The point here is that you can get all the tones you want at a manageable volume and then reinforce them with the PA as needed, rather than fight for control, the key here is control. If you want impact I suggest that the easiest solution would be to use a smaller amp, and mock up the speaker rigs, so that they look real, this would mean they would be lighter less hassle and no health and safety impact, you would get your flash, but retain the smash.

FREE EBOOK - Equipping Your Home Recording Studio

Equipping Your Home Recording Studio

However this all rests on 1) having a good PA (not really an issue nowadays) and 2) and this is key, having a good sound engineer, this is something that is getting rarer and rarer especially live, the amount of guys who cannot set up a convincing mix live, and do not even have the faintest idea on how to use EQ to control the relative volumes of the instruments is staggering, so if your stack is an insurance policy against this, then I am all for it lol.

Enjoy your articles and have found them very informative over the last 18 months I have been getting them, keep up the good work.


Gordon Russell

By David Mellor Wednesday November 16, 2005