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action_panzer

Am I killing my amp?

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OK, I've been doing something slightly silly with my amp - an Ampeg combo - and been running my Stingray through the 'passive' slot, sounds fatter and punchier.

I thought I was getting away with it until last night - I've been reasonably sensible with it, running the gain at about 2/3 (or 9 o'clock) and the master the same. Been using quite a modern metal sound - cutting the bass a little and boosting mid and treble to cut through all the sludgey guitars. I also run a Sansamp Bass Driver into it and a Boss Bass Overdrive for an occasional spurt of hairyness. So far so good.

Last night I thought I'd try out a more Troy Sanders Mastodon kind of sound and went for a mid scoop, big low end. Sounded fine for about an hour then started distorting really badly, even with the Sansamp off.

Switched the the 'active' input, with its 15db cut, and to keep up with the band I'm now beginning to rag the poor thing - gain and master up midway, losing a lot of punch and without much left in the way of headroom.

So, in summary this post is twofold, poorly written and even more poorly edited:

1) Was I ruining my amp?
2) Is it just time for an upgrade?

Read around that really you need 300ish watts SS to keep up with a loud drummer, I'm running 220 and running out of puff...

Many thanks as always,

AP

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Having the gain at 2/3 means little in itself. If it was past clipping, then you could have done some damage. Whether the bass is into the passive input may not make any difference.
Or it could be driver damage. The driver may have run out of travel due to you getting those extra lows, causing it to bottom out.

Watts has nothing to do with the volume, that's SPL & it sounds like it may have been the drivers that's the limiting factor & not your amp.
Have a try of several rigs & see what you like. I'll suggest Markbass as a starting point as Lozz says they're similar sounding in a live situ to Ampeg.

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It seems unlikely that you'll be damaging the amp by using the passive input, I rather suspect there's something else going on. Also consider the position of the knobs on the control panel as it doesn't always tell the story of how hard the amplifier is actually working.

I think that by boosting the lows (a little too much possibly) you may have asked too much of the speaker causing it to move further than it was designed to. This usually manifests itself as a papery / fluffy type sound that gets worse as the volume is increased.

If you have hurt the amplifer electrically, it's probably in the power amp stage as by boosting those lows, you're asking it to make much more power. This in itself doesn't usually cause problems but if the amp is over-due a service or has a weak component then the extra stress may have caused it to fail.

220w or 300w or 60w or 1000w is entirely subjective for many reasons..

1: Different companies may have different standards to achieve their 'rated power' so aren't always comparable.

2: Speakers have different senitivities so one with 96 dB / 1w / 1m will take twice the power to achieve the same volume as one with a spec of 99dB / 1w / 1m. At rated power this may change with power compression etc but it makes the point.

3: Valve amplifiers always sound different too with their ratings not always being comparable to their SS counterparts.

Personally I've kept up with drummers using a 60w amp with lots of speakers. Normally I use between 60w and 300w and I rarely run out of steam. My 100w Trace and 300w Ashton are more than enough in every situation I've been in recently. For many years I used 300 and 400 watt SS Trace Elliot heads with no real problems albeit never in a metal setup.

Is it time for an upgrade? Isn't it always!? (I appreciate this comment ins't helpful, sorry!)

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If it was fine for an hour at those settings then started to sound bad, you've probably knackered the driver.

If anything inside the amp would've cooked itself you'd be more likely to be looking at a dead/smoking amp!

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[quote name='VTypeV4' timestamp='1400766532' post='2456789']
It seems unlikely that you'll be damaging the amp by using the passive input, I rather suspect there's something else going on. Also consider the position of the knobs on the control panel as it doesn't always tell the story of how hard the amplifier is actually working.

I think that by boosting the lows (a little too much possibly) you may have asked too much of the speaker causing it to move further than it was designed to. This usually manifests itself as a papery / fluffy type sound that gets worse as the volume is increased.

If you have hurt the amplifer electrically, it's probably in the power amp stage as by boosting those lows, you're asking it to make much more power. This in itself doesn't usually cause problems but if the amp is over-due a service or has a weak component then the extra stress may have caused it to fail.

220w or 300w or 60w or 1000w is entirely subjective for many reasons..

1: Different companies may have different standards to achieve their 'rated power' so aren't always comparable.

2: Speakers have different senitivities so one with 96 dB / 1w / 1m will take twice the power to achieve the same volume as one with a spec of 99dB / 1w / 1m. At rated power this may change with power compression etc but it makes the point.

3: Valve amplifiers always sound different too with their ratings not always being comparable to their SS counterparts.

Personally I've kept up with drummers using a 60w amp with lots of speakers. Normally I use between 60w and 300w and I rarely run out of steam. My 100w Trace and 300w Ashton are more than enough in every situation I've been in recently. For many years I used 300 and 400 watt SS Trace Elliot heads with no real problems albeit never in a metal setup.

Is it time for an upgrade? Isn't it always!? (I appreciate this comment ins't helpful, sorry!)
[/quote]

No this is helpful! And you are right, it is always time for an upgrade, hehe! Just need to convince the girlfriend...

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It's almost impossible to damage an amp by over-driving it. Were it otherwise guitar'd players would be replacing amps weekly. Damaging the driver with too much low end is common, especially with combos, where the cab is much too small to deliver deep lows and the drivers tend to be lower end models.

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Two very simple things:

It doesn't matter where the controls are pointed, it's the sound coming out that matters. Read Alex's article on gain at the top of this forum.

You haven't buggered your amp.

What has probably happened is that it got hot. You did two things, cutting the mids made it sound quieter because we hear mids well and bass poorly (damn those guitards). Boosting the volume to compensate and then boosting bass demanded extra power. Your amp can do this for a while (half an hour apparently) and then it starts to overheat, all your resistances rise with temp and protection circuits activate and the available power falls. the amp is protected but sounds s**t. You turn it off, it cools down and you are back to normal probably. I have no idea if the speaker will take this, it just depends.

If you want certain tones the cost is extra power and usually more or bigger speakers, or perhaps a bit of both.

Edited by Phil Starr

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[quote name='Phil Starr' timestamp='1400774729' post='2456898']
Two very simple things:

It doesn't matter where the controls are pointed, it's the sound coming out that matters. Read Alex's article on gain at the top of this forum.

You haven't buggered your amp.

What has probably happened is that it got hot. You did two things, cutting the mids made it sound quieter because we hear mids well and bass poorly (damn those guitards). Boosting the volume to compensate and then boosting bass demanded extra power. Your amp can do this for a while (half an hour apparently) and then it starts to overheat, all your resistances rise with temp and protection circuits activate and the available power falls. the amp is protected but sounds s**t. You turn it off, it cools down and you are back to normal probably. I have no idea if the speaker will take this, it just depends.

If you want certain tones the cost is extra power and usually more or bigger speakers, or perhaps a bit of both.
[/quote]

Ah that really useful (and good to know). Makes sense to me!

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Get a decent head and something like a barefaced cab. You'll scare the crap out of your guitards and you'll never run out of steam.

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For a cheaper option than buying loads of new gear, grab a screw driver, take out the old driver and then do some googling for a new driver with the same or compatable ohms as your existing one. You could "upgrade" your cab to somthing louder for not much money at all... (< £100)

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[quote name='Thurbs' timestamp='1400830457' post='2457274']
You could "upgrade" your cab to somthing louder for not much money at all... (< £100)
[/quote]

Yup. Peavey cabs are a good example. Dirt cheap second hand, and built to last!

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Does the 115 have an external speaker socket or can you unplug the internal and connect to another cab?
Easy way to test your, amp (which is almost certainly fine) is to run it into another same spec speaker.
You probably have overheated your driver, and a replacement shouldn't be too expensive.
Would be a good idea to un-Mastadon your amp first and have a good listen,you may have just dialled in a tone the amp can't do very well and gone too loud to compensate.

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[quote name='Monckyman' timestamp='1400834050' post='2457311']
Does the 115 have an external speaker socket or can you unplug the internal and connect to another cab?
Easy way to test your, amp (which is almost certainly fine) is to run it into another same spec speaker.
You probably have overheated your driver, and a replacement shouldn't be too expensive.
Would be a good idea to un-Mastadon your amp first and have a good listen,you may have just dialled in a tone the amp can't do very well and gone too loud to compensate.
[/quote]

It doesn't have this unfortunately.

I did un-mastodon the amp when i noticed the distorting and went back to the frank bello stylee one and it seemed to recover ok, although i haven't tested the passive input yet.

To be honest, I've been thinking about getting a new more portable rig for ages (this weighs 90lbs...), so perhaps this is God's way of telling me to take the plunge :)

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[quote name='action_panzer' timestamp='1400839501' post='2457387']
perhaps this is God's way of telling me to take the plunge :)
[/quote]

Oh my Gawd! For decades, we have been having discussions about how to tell the wife when we've bought new gear, and I think you're the first one to come up with a simple:
"God told me to, honey. :) You know I never disobey God... :rolleyes: "

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[quote name='Thurbs' timestamp='1400830457' post='2457274']
For a cheaper option than buying loads of new gear, grab a screw driver, take out the old driver and then do some googling for a new driver with the same or compatable ohms as your existing one. You could "upgrade" your cab to somthing louder for not much money at all... (< £100)
[/quote]Driver swapping is a far more complicated affair than just inches and ohms. You must consider all of these factors:
http://www.members.shaw.ca/loudspeakerbuilder.ca/thiele-small.html
Where low bass output is concerned the main limiting factor here is the size of the box, not the driver that's inside of it. Google 'Hoffman's Iron Law'.
You can get around the low sensitivity issue with a small cab by using a very long xmax driver (which you won't find for < £100) and an amp with sufficient power to drive it, but in the OPs case that means replacing the entire rig anyway.

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