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Gigging through a guitar amp


alexclaber

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Played a gig last night up in London and as my rig was both without power amp (though that was corrected at 2am when I got a QSC PLX 3002 off ebay, hurrah!) and 60 miles away in Brighton, and my friend organising the gig didn't have a bass amp I ended up plugging into his guitar amp.

 

I cannot believe how good it sounded - ok it didn't have the incredible depth and clarity of my Acme rig, but it was so much better than a lot of bass combos I've used. The amp in question is a bit of an oddity - it's a Burman Pro 502 Combo, 50W all-valve 2x12" dating from the early 70s. It weighs more than a Fender Twin, is totally overbuilt to military specs and has the biggest fattest clean sound I've ever heard out of a guitar amp let along an open-backed combo. The transformers look more like something that should be in an SVT than a guitar amp, and the speaker magnets are about 10" in diameter. Quality engineering, shame no-one famous ever played them and they went bankrupt in the early 80's (damn faddish hero-following guitarists!)

 

The gig ended with a monster jam that started off with some sort of afro-cuban I-V groove in D which morphed from style to style and got everyone up and dancing and by the time we stopped playing after 30mins of travelling the world's grooves we'd gone through latin, jazz, funk, rock, blues and reggae and my fingertips were ready to drop off. When we fell into playing reggae I cranked up the bass knob on my Warwick and (by this point everything had got pretty damn loud) the amp still kept up. Incredible!

 

And there I was thinking I'd be doomed to having an inaudible no-bottom tone by playing through a 50W guitar combo - just goes to show that conventional wisdom doesn't always hold true.

 

Alex

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Thank goodness for my BP200. I can hook direct to a PA if I have to, and not have to worry too much about blowing up gear. I could use a direct box to boost its somewhat anemic signal, though, but even then, I could carry a bass in a gig bag and have the cables and BP200 in my rolling backpack (has wheels like traveling luggage).

 

Why risk it?

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  • 2 weeks later...
Originally posted by jeremyc:

Just watch out Alex, you will blow those speakers sooner or later.

I'm sure you're right Jeremy, though maybe the LF roll-off of the output transformer stops them seeing too much bass and running out of travel. Just in case the transformer does go low I'm going to add a capacitor in series with the speakers to act as a first order high pass filter. I'll set this at about 100Hz and the 6dB/octave roll-off should help protect the drivers.

 

Alex

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I tend to date my bass playing days from a few years ago, but long before that I spent around 6 months playing bass in a "Commitment/Blues Brothers" type soul band. Situation was, we were playing mainly white 60's r'n'b and Atlantic soul with a line up that included rhythm guitar, one sax and lead guitar (me). We found lead guitar wasn't really necessary on the soul stuff, whereas the single horn was inadequate. On the white 60's r'n'b material the sax was often surplus to requirements.

 

When our bassist left, we thought I could switch to bass and we could add a couple of horn players and concentrate on the soul stuff. Meant we could have a full horn section while only increasing band membership by one.

 

The departing bassist showed me the parts, all Duck Dunn type stuff, I learned some new ones off the records, and I was gigging within a few weeks of having picked up a bass for the first time. I bought a Precision but as a poor student did not have the cash to buy gear as well, so ended up playing through a 100 watt Marshall guitar amp and Marshall 4 x 12" guitar cab. I can't even remember who this stuff belonged to. But the sound was quite nice, aggressive and punchy, although the set up was a little underpowered for a 7 piece dance band.

 

After 6 months we temporarily stopped playing and I immediately sold the bass. The band reformed with a different line-up and I was back on guitar. But we used to play a couple of times a week so I probably played around 50 gigs with the guitar amp and cab.

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