Buy from MF and Support the Fret!


Musician's Friend Stupid Deal of the Day
Page 1 of 4 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 19 of 71

Thread: What's the point of 100 watt amps?

  1. #1
    Master Fretter Eric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Cleveland
    Posts
    3,876

    Default What's the point of 100 watt amps?

    I should start this out by saying that I've only ever played through one 100W half stack: a H&K tri-amp or something like that. It was OK.

    What I've been wondering about lately is what 100w amps are good for. Pretty much every amp I've ever owned has been too loud for me when I've turned it up to max -- if I ever even got there. I know sound is logarithmic or something, so that a doubling of volume requires 10x the wattage, but I guess I just don't understand the role of huge amps. Are they something you use when you want a lot of headroom? When you're playing outside and you don't have a powerful PA to mic the amp? When you want to feel your clothes flap around you? When you just want to feel like a rock star, playing in front of a huge amp?

    I'm guessing the answer to the above questions is yes to all of them, but doing that would miss the point. I'm curious what the primary motivation is for using big amp heads. I notice a lot of pros use them, and a lot of the time they use three 100w amps (Mayer, Bonamassa, etc.). Certainly there must be some reason they use three amps, right? They're playing mostly venues with as much PA as they need, and oftentimes I think they even use isolation boxes, so what is it that those giant amps give you that little ones don't?

    I think I've fleshed out this question enough by this point, so hopefully someone has some knowledge about it. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Contributing Member sunvalleylaw's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Sun Valley, Idaho
    Posts
    10,796
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    Not that I know for sure, but they used to be necessary before PA systems were used, for large concerts, etc. Nowadays, not sure they are necessary for anything. But they are part of the history of rock, so they live on.
    Steve Thompson
    Sun Valley, Idaho


    Guitars: Fender 60th Anniversary Std. Strat, Squier CVC Tele Hagstrom Viking Semi-hollow, Joshua beach guitar, Martin SPD-16TR Dreadnought
    Amphs: Peavey Classic 30, '61 Fender Concert
    Effects and such: Boss: DS-1, CE-5, NS-2 and RC20XL looper, Digitech Bad Monkey, Korg AX1G Multi-effects, Berhinger: TU100 tuner, PB100 Clean Boost, Line 6 Toneport UX2, Electro Harmonix Little Big Muff Pi, DuhVoodooMan's Rabid Rodent Rat Clone, Zonkin Yellow Screamer Mk. II, MXR Carbon Copy Delay


    love is the answer, at least for most of the questions in my heart. . .
    - j. johnson

  3. #3
    Regular Fretter
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Oregon US
    Posts
    462

    Default

    And some folks just like LOUD.

  4. #4
    Valar Morghulis Tig's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Clear Lake, Texas
    Posts
    5,208
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    So when it goes to 11, it ends the world.


  5. #5
    Regular Fretter mapka's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Eastern Penn's Woods
    Posts
    278

    Default

    I am sure there are many of Newbies out there that figure that more power means better. I have a 50W Marshall stack that I bought in the early 1990's. Back then there were lots of big rooms to play and the 50w was needed to fill them. Now small rooms only mean 30W max IMHO. Funny story about the Marshall.... Lent it to a friend who used it in a high school auditorium for a show he was doing with the kids. Had a pro sound man mixing. He had the amp up about half way and had to turn it down cause the sound man had everything else turned up so high to match it, it started to have all kinds of feedback. BTW the amp was not even mic'd!

  6. #6

    Default

    For guitar, that's all true. 100 watts will be overkill for most applications. Of course, that amph might sound awesome, so that's a reason to have one even if the power is unnecessary. Joe B. doesn't use all his amphs at the same time, much less at full blast. He also has plexiglass in front of his cab to keep the stage volume manageable.

    Bass, on the other hand, requires a ton of wattage. 100 watts won't be enough even for a smallish venue, unless you're going into the pa system. I used to use a 50 watt combo, but I had the only electric instrument and the drummer showed restraint. We never played any place huge either.

    When I tried to get a metal band together, you couldn't even tell I was there.
    Axen: Jackson DK2M, modded Squier '51, ESP LTD Surveyor-414
    Amphen: Jet City JCA22H and JCA12S cab, Acoustic B20
    Effecten: "Thesis 96" Overdrive/Boost (aka DVM OD2), Boss DD-6 Digital Delay, DigiTech EX-7 Expression Factory and CF-7 Chorus Factory, Danelectro CF-1 Cool Cat Fuzz
    "I don't need no instructions to know how to rock!"--Carl Brutananadilewski

  7. #7
    Regular Fretter Katastrophe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    All over Texas...
    Posts
    4,043

    Default

    Amphs started small, and wattage grew along with venue size for major acts. PA systems got louder, too, and folks started realizing that you could mike the amphs and keep stage volume to a minimum.

    Jimi Hendrix had a couple of full size Marshall stacks on stage, and soon everyone wanted to look cool (like him) with those big stacks.

    I remember in Austin in the early 90s EVERYONE that played rock had a half stack, even in some tiny clubs.

  8. #8
    Master Fretter Eric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Cleveland
    Posts
    3,876

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Katastrophe View Post
    Jimi Hendrix had a couple of full size Marshall stacks on stage, and soon everyone wanted to look cool (like him) with those big stacks.
    This is my general impression of why people use huge amps, along with marnold's point about how sometimes the best-sounding amps just happen to be high-wattage.

    However, I did see some interview with Joe Bonamassa once where he said amp manufacturers are always coming up to him, telling him he has to try out their latest 30 watt amp, and that he won't be able to tell the difference between it and a 100 watt amp. He goes on to say that he will be able to -- something like he'll take the Pepsi challenge and win. So that whole thing makes me think that there must be something about big amps that he specifically needs/wants, and that it's not just about the appearance on stage. Don't know. I could be wrong, but I guess I just feel like I might be missing something.

    Maybe if I get some big-*** amp at the other end of the guitar cable sometime, I might understand. Maybe someday?

  9. #9
    Regular Fretter Katastrophe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    All over Texas...
    Posts
    4,043

    Default

    One thing is cool, though, about a big amph through a 4x12 cab is the WHUMP. Turn that amph up, stand in front of the cab, and hit a power chord. The feeling when the sound hits you in the chest (the WHUMP, that's the best way I can describe it) is incredible. There really is nothing like it.

    Of course, there really is nothing like tinnitus either, so I like my smaller amph.

  10. #10
    Valar Morghulis Tig's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Clear Lake, Texas
    Posts
    5,208
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    Back in the late 70's and onward, bands like Van Halen as well as most hard rock/metal bands would put up a giant wall of amps and full stack cab's. As teens, we thought is was real.


    Sadly, bands like Slayer still do it.


    I'm not sure who this is, but it is pathetic:

  11. #11
    Master Fretter Eric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Cleveland
    Posts
    3,876

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Tig View Post
    I'm not sure who this is, but it is pathetic:
    I originally saw that photo over at The Gear Page. I think they concluded it was the band Immortal.

    On that note, when I saw Dream Theater, Petrucci had something like 3 full stacks of mesa dual rectifiers. My friend later said that they're all fake, and that he keeps one behind them that's actually mic'ed up. So I guess it's something that's not too uncommon.

  12. #12

    Default

    The purpose of 100 watt amps is to piss off bass players.

  13. #13
    Bronze Supporter deeaa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Finland
    Posts
    3,418
    Blog Entries
    23

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Katastrophe View Post
    One thing is cool, though, about a big amph through a 4x12 cab is the WHUMP. Turn that amph up, stand in front of the cab, and hit a power chord. The feeling when the sound hits you in the chest (the WHUMP, that's the best way I can describe it) is incredible. There really is nothing like it.
    Exactly.

    My Ceria can be halved 18/36W and the funny thing is, the 36W doesn't really sound any louder than 18W when played alone, BUT when I drop it to 18W, I just lose the bass punch and it won't cut thru the band no more.

    4 me the 36W is quite perfect, the volume is just right for a loud drummer/band on almost full blast, at the point after which it starts getting ugly overtones already. But I would not mind a 50W or 100W amp for leads; I can't quite get a sufficiently clean and powerful sound I'd want for single strings with the 36W, because there is simply too much power tube distortion going on already.

    Any amp, to me, should have at least 3 channels; cleaner, a dirty channel and a REALLY loud lead channel. Sadly, usually the lead channel just means more saturation which sucks. I like to play leads on a sound that is often cleaner than my rhythm sound, and it's a problem to get those to push thru the rest of the band, unless there's plenty of power in the amp.

    Thus the need for 100W amps is in that sometimes less just won't do...with a loud band 50W will certainly be enough, but going for 100W will only add some more punch and headroom even at the same volume - if that's what you like. For very clean, unsaturared sounds LOUD you do need all the wattage you can get. At least something like 400W for clean clean bass sounds, and 100W is just perfect for a really punchy metal guitar sound that oesn't rely on power tube drive at all.

    Furthermore, the usual speaker wattage is 75-120W still, making the classic Marshall 4x12" cab rated at about 400W, and it simply won't 'open up' with a lesser amp. I had a 60W Peavey tube amp and believe it or not, it failed to really open up the basic Marshall JCM800 cab when I used it in a studio! Hooked up a 100W JCM series and the speakers came alive.

    So wattage can be a bit like horsepower. A farm tractor needs very little horsepower really with its low gears(have you ever checked out, they can be like under 100hp easily), but there's a whole different sound and feeling blasting a 400hp hemi truck, even if it can't pull even as much weight as the farm tractor....
    Dee

    "When life's a biatch, be a horny dog"

    Amps: Marshall JVM 410H w/ Plexi Cap mod, Choke Mod & Negative Feedback Removal mod, 4x12", Behringer GMX110, Amplitube 3/StealthPedal

    Half a dozen custom built/bastardized guitars all with EMG's, mostly 85's, Ibanez Artwood acoustic & Yamaha SGR bass, Epiphone Prophecy SG, Vox Wah, Pitchblack tuner plus assorted pedals, rack gear etc. for home studio use.

  14. #14
    Master Fretter Eric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Cleveland
    Posts
    3,876

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by deeaa View Post
    Exactly.

    My Ceria can be halved 18/36W and the funny thing is, the 36W doesn't really sound any louder than 18W when played alone, BUT when I drop it to 18W, I just lose the bass punch and it won't cut thru the band no more.

    4 me the 36W is quite perfect, the volume is just right for a loud drummer/band on almost full blast, at the point after which it starts getting ugly overtones already. But I would not mind a 50W or 100W amp for leads; I can't quite get a sufficiently clean and powerful sound I'd want for single strings with the 36W, because there is simply too much power tube distortion going on already.

    Any amp, to me, should have at least 3 channels; cleaner, a dirty channel and a REALLY loud lead channel. Sadly, usually the lead channel just means more saturation which sucks. I like to play leads on a sound that is often cleaner than my rhythm sound, and it's a problem to get those to push thru the rest of the band, unless there's plenty of power in the amp.

    Thus the need for 100W amps is in that sometimes less just won't do...with a loud band 50W will certainly be enough, but going for 100W will only add some more punch and headroom even at the same volume - if that's what you like. For very clean, unsaturared sounds LOUD you do need all the wattage you can get. At least something like 400W for clean clean bass sounds, and 100W is just perfect for a really punchy metal guitar sound that oesn't rely on power tube drive at all.

    Furthermore, the usual speaker wattage is 75-120W still, making the classic Marshall 4x12" cab rated at about 400W, and it simply won't 'open up' with a lesser amp. I had a 60W Peavey tube amp and believe it or not, it failed to really open up the basic Marshall JCM800 cab when I used it in a studio! Hooked up a 100W JCM series and the speakers came alive.

    So wattage can be a bit like horsepower. A farm tractor needs very little horsepower really with its low gears(have you ever checked out, they can be like under 100hp easily), but there's a whole different sound and feeling blasting a 400hp hemi truck, even if it can't pull even as much weight as the farm tractor....
    So what I'm getting from this is a few points:

    1. If you want a clean lead sound that has enough punch to cut through when playing with a band, you'll need the added power.
    2. The sound/feel of playing a big amp is cool.
    3. Sometimes you need the extra power just to drive the speakers and have them sound good.
    4. The whole thing is predicated on playing with a band and without any extra monitoring to boost your amp volume

    I think the key for me is point 4, maybe a little bit of 3. I assume that if you have a PA set up, you'll just run through that to normalize the volumes. I guess a big amp might be warranted if you're not micing the amps through the PA and you want some extra headroom. I think.

    Did I miss anything? You had a lot of points in there.

  15. #15
    Regular Fretter Duffy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    W. Branch of Susquehanna River, Pennsylvania
    Posts
    1,014

    Default

    It can be very useful to have a big tube amp when you are playing outside and the sound man working the PA doesn't give a shi# about your sound and he keeps turning you down. You can turn up your amp and get to where you want to be.

    Also, you may "need" a big amp to drownd out a belligerent loud drummer. You also might be in a super loud band - the house is not going to let you blow up their expensive PA, as has happened many a time.

    A big amp isn't for everything, absolutely, but it is sure fun to crank one up once in a while and really roar, if only for your own pleasure.

    And believe it that Bonamassa has his reasons for needing big amps; like Deeaa was saying, and so on.

  16. #16
    Bronze Supporter deeaa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Finland
    Posts
    3,418
    Blog Entries
    23

    Default

    Yep Eric I think that sums it up pretty well indeed.

    Although the 'red knob' twin never was a greatly appreciated or lusted after an amp, it was by far the best Fender I ever played...it had the switches to turn it into a 100W, 50W or 25W amp.
    It had killer cleans, like any regular Twin, when on 100W, but when you dropped it to 25W you could get quite un-fendery, singing drive sounds from the thing.

    I would LOVE to have an amp that could do that with a footswitch...instead of just adding another more driven channel it would actually really double the wattage...that would be perfect.

    Because, despite how good master volume can be, the really really best guitar sounds for me will always come near the max volume of the amp, when the power tubes are already working hard hard hard. So if you always want to be in that zone, there is no way to effectively go any louder or quieter without destroying the sound...the wattage halving on the fly would solve that problem.

    Hm. Actually a switch to kick in an attenuator would do just about the same. Hm. I wonder how hard it would be to build one working on a relay.
    Dee

    "When life's a biatch, be a horny dog"

    Amps: Marshall JVM 410H w/ Plexi Cap mod, Choke Mod & Negative Feedback Removal mod, 4x12", Behringer GMX110, Amplitube 3/StealthPedal

    Half a dozen custom built/bastardized guitars all with EMG's, mostly 85's, Ibanez Artwood acoustic & Yamaha SGR bass, Epiphone Prophecy SG, Vox Wah, Pitchblack tuner plus assorted pedals, rack gear etc. for home studio use.

  17. #17
    Master Fretter Eric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Cleveland
    Posts
    3,876

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by deeaa View Post
    Hm. Actually a switch to kick in an attenuator would do just about the same. Hm. I wonder how hard it would be to build one working on a relay.
    I was thinking that two amps and an A/B box would probably be the easiest route for that. Would doing that with an attenuator adversely affect an amp in any way?

  18. #18
    Bronze Supporter deeaa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Finland
    Posts
    3,418
    Blog Entries
    23

    Default

    Yep, A/B would be best...but of course somehow incorporating everything into one chassis would be simple.

    But, it's true...attenuators & big tube amps aren't a very good combination at least in long run. Perhaps just a little attenuation would work, though...just a few dB would do I think.
    Dee

    "When life's a biatch, be a horny dog"

    Amps: Marshall JVM 410H w/ Plexi Cap mod, Choke Mod & Negative Feedback Removal mod, 4x12", Behringer GMX110, Amplitube 3/StealthPedal

    Half a dozen custom built/bastardized guitars all with EMG's, mostly 85's, Ibanez Artwood acoustic & Yamaha SGR bass, Epiphone Prophecy SG, Vox Wah, Pitchblack tuner plus assorted pedals, rack gear etc. for home studio use.

  19. #19

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Duffy View Post

    Also, you may "need" a big amp to drownd out a belligerent loud drummer.

    .
    I would take exception to this. If you feel the need to drown out another musician, then you are in an adversarial band situation where nobody is going to be happy and you won't be making good music.

    If you want to be a super-loud superstar, then forget about being in a band.

    When a guitar player drowns out my bass, then I figure my contribution is not needed and I pack up and walk. The only way I'd put up with that is for loads of $$$. Pay me enough and I'll smile and plunk root notes all day while you wank away at top volume.

Page 1 of 4 123 ... LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •