Comments Off on Do guitarists need to be so loud?
“These go to eleven….”
Its a common condition that many guitarists suffer from, they start off at a reasonable output level but as the gig/rehearsal goes on they get louder and louder. Stop it! I’m a guitar player and I use a 20 Watt valve amp with a single twelve inch speaker. It’s not a high end boutique amp, just an average run of the mill valve combo. It goes up to ten, but I’ve never felt the need to ramp it up that high. I might take it up to five occasionally but as long as it sounds good and I can hear it, then there’s no great need to deafen the rest of the band – leave that to the drummer!
It is usually the case that guitarists believe that to get Stevie Ray’s tone or Gary Moore’s sound, its got to be ear splittingly loud. Not true, that’s just annoying! My influences and tastes are singular and subjective and therefore my idea of great tone will be equally unique. My ear will appreciate different timbres so it follows that we will probably never agree on what is a great sound. Tone is genre specific and relies on the guitar you choose to play. There’s no point in trying to get Hendrix’s tone with a Gibson ES335 or Slash’s sound with a Strat. Whilst tracking down the “Holy Grail” of tone, over a number of years, I came to realise that its better to have an amplifier that produces two or three great tones, (at a moderate volume) than one with a hundred and twenty eight interesting but ultimately unusable tones. If you want more variety, buy a pedal, then another and another until you’re completely satisfied with your tone, which of course you won’t be – ever! That said, a good starting point is the amp. It doesn’t need to be loud though!
There will be a massive backlash against my contention that you don’t have to be loud to sound great. But hear me out, Status Quo don’t really use a wall of Marshall amps The four by twelves you see are just for show with a couple of VOX AC30s producing all the tone that is necessary. At the few larger gigs that I have done I have used my 20 watt Valve combo with the volume set to five-ish and the PA people have plonked a microphone in front of it, hey presto! Same great tone, loud enough out front and not competing with anyone else in the band.
John Mayer would disagree with me as I read recently that he believes that Stevie Ray’s tone was a volume thing. “Well, people who go for the SRV tone – it’s not distorted, it’s just loud. There’s a difference in something loud hitting a microphone, and something distorted hitting an amplifier: two completely different things. People would be really surprised, if you are going for that Tube Screamer thing, just how much it was a volume thing and not a distortion thing with Stevie.” There is something to this of course.
I watched a band a while ago who were unnecessarily loud – massive amps set to eleven. It was painful. Heres the kicker though. The band all had ear plugs in!!!
Strauss SVT-20R 20 Watt Valve Combo Amplifier
The Strauss SVT-20R 20 Watt Valve Combo Amplifier is a single channel valve amplifier with Reverb.
Strauss SRT-15-CRM 15 Watt Valve Combo Amplifier with Reverb and Tremolo$498.99 inc. GST
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Strauss Super Blues SSB-30 Guitar Amplifier
Strauss offer a 3 year warranty on all amplifiers
Strauss (Mouse) Classic SM-C5 5 Watt Valve Combo$248.99 inc. GST
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