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Back up Amp - or nothing ?


BassAdder27

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I've had my amps fail on a few occasions. When this happens I just DI into the PA (RCF) and it sounds fine. In some really small venues I do that anyway and we use one sub as the desk stand. Having a good valve Di pre amp pedal would be my suggestion as it doubles up as a nice addition to your pedal board and can be used as a backup if your amp does go south. I use mine into my amp and into the PA at the same time and blend to taste (usually just for the subs) :)

Edited by skidder652003
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8 hours ago, Downunderwonder said:

Some find the 200w Elf quite adequate as a main amp while others sneer at it, all playing rock with guitars and drums. Ymmv. Having multiple cabs makes 200w go far so worth a look imo.

Absolutely this

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It’s like most people said it utterly depends on the venue and what kit is being used.

If the PA you have is vocals only, then the powered/amplified instruments need a back up solution.

Even If your amp is going through the PA, but is crucial to your tone/sound you need a viable alternative for failure which can come in all sorts of solutions.

Same with a bass for me - a double gig bag is barely anymore hassle than a single one - if my main one was active - I’d take a passive back up even though I check the battery just due to Sod’s law 

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Last time an amp failed me was in the soundcheck. It was a Markbass. I used my Orange Terror. 

I confess it made me nervous doing the whole thing (well paid dep gig) effectively with no back up. However, three amps is going too far even for me. 

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1 minute ago, stewblack said:

Last time an amp failed me was in the soundcheck. It was a Markbass. I used my Orange Terror. 

I confess it made me nervous doing the whole thing (well paid dep gig) effectively with no back up. However, three amps is going too far even for me. 

I go through the pa via a DI these days but when I used amps I always took a spare.  One time I'd bought a Mesa Boogie Prodigy Four:88 and was looking forward to my first outing with it.  Turned it on and a short while later during the sound check it packed up accompanied by an expensive burning smell!  It transpired one of the valves blew taking half the pcb with it.  Took my trusty Quilter BB800 out of the boot and the day was saved.

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1 hour ago, NancyJohnson said:

I think this sums things up succinctly enough.

What about the guys who have carried and used a back up?

It may be the minority, but I would prefer (as I think we all would) to have home insurance and it never be used rather than think it’s never going to be used, don’t have it and then something awful happens and you are stuck.

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In the days of passive speakers my back-up was a four channel Yamaha mixer amp from a Stagepas system. Four mic channels that is. If the PA went I had a mixer with me, if an amp went this was 170w a side and if the speakers went then the floor monitors would let us make some noise at least. I used to carry a full toolkit including a soldering iron. Modern kit is so reliable now though that I only worry about backup for really important gigs or if it is a really long way from home. I probably carry enough leads to set up for two bands though. Like Al our floor monitors are RCF 310's which at a pinch will do anything. Nothing has gone wrong or failed to function for years and in the end I decided redundancy was redundant.

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DI ing into the pa isnt as easy to do as you might think.

If you're unlucky, yes your foh will be fine, but you may not be able to hear yourself at all. And playing like that isnt an easy thing to do, when all you can hear is drums, guitar and vocal. Then theres the fact that others cant hear you and how do they get their cues off you?

Yes, if you use in ears or have great monitoring it can work, but it wont work for everyone.

DI is a great get out of jail card, but unless your confident it will work just take a cheap 300w class d for backup. Theres millions around second hand for next to nothing.

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11 minutes ago, la bam said:

DI ing into the pa isnt as easy to do as you might think.

If you're unlucky, yes your foh will be fine, but you may not be able to hear yourself at all. And playing like that isnt an easy thing to do, when all you can hear is drums, guitar and vocal. Then theres the fact that others cant hear you and how do they get their cues off you?

Yes, if you use in ears or have great monitoring it can work, but it wont work for everyone.

DI is a great get out of jail card, but unless your confident it will work just take a cheap 300w class d for backup. Theres millions around second hand for next to nothing.

Yes that's very true. Some of the micro amps available today are almost the size of a large pedal. It's horses for courses. If you have a decent PA and monitoring  (we have 2 RCF 315's for floor monitors) then that's great but if anyone is gigging these days with some dodgy old passive gear from 1993 then a back up amp is probably necessary!  😋

Edited by skidder652003
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I've had 2 amps fail on me. Both were valve amps. I've not had any issues in the last 20 years, after moving to SS and D class.

I never used to carry a backup anything. I didn't know anyone who did. We never had enough money for two of anything, and especially when my amp weighed in at over 40lbs. I can bring two now my amps are cheap as chips and weigh less than 6lbs.

These days I sometimes bring extra cabs so I can try out different rigs. Something that was impossible when each cab weighed close to 100lbs.

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Hah! In which case, when I upgrade my current amp I really should hold onto my existing SS amp as a backup, without feeling too guilty!

The comment about age / reliability of existing gear touched on is also an important one. And as Chris and several others have pointed out, to have nothing go wrong for 20 years with decent SS gear, which generally seems to be more reliable than some of the older valve amps, seems a long time to be carrying about a spare amp without ever needing it. 

I get that DI'ing via a PA may take a little setting up, but to hear myself I would simply step closer to the FOH and include a touch the bass in the monitor. After all, we are talking about pretty rare circumstances if we did an average of "amp-downs" encountered between us vs number of gigs we've amassed. 

Edited by Al Krow
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21 hours ago, BassAdder27 said:

Interested if you gigging ( when it returns ) guys always have a back up amp ? 
 

My only and current rig is new and I don’t know if when I get back to gigging what to have as a backup in case of issues arising 

My current need is 300 to 400w into a single 8ohm cab up to medium sized venues etc 

Or have no spare amp and just have a di pedal in my bag 

Ideas please .. if suggesting amps keep the cost down please to around £300 

 

 

I rarely take a back up, but when we have gone places where there's no PA support for the bass (our band PA is small and mostly just vocals and brass) I like to take another small head, but I don't always do it. 

However, there are some really tiny ones these days. I got a TC Electronic BAM200 which just fits in the gigbag so it is not hard to carry. I'd prefer something more powerful, sure, but my reasoning is I'd rather have this tiny amplifier than nothing, which is what would likely happen in most situations. The band will still be alright even if the bass is not as strong as I'd like, but it would be positively rubbish without bass at all. And it only cost around £120, so it's hard to find reasons not to, for me.

Incidentally, it's become my home amplifier, it doesn't sound half bad.

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25 minutes ago, Al Krow said:

I get that DI'ing via a PA may take a little setting up, but to hear myself I would simply step closer to the FOH and include a touch the bass in the monitor.

IME if you're going with a DI you need proper monitoring, for everyone on the stage.

I did a gig where we used a dep drummer, with an electric kit. What he didn't bring was any monitoring, so I spent the night with the drums being a faint sound in the distance, out of the PA and a drumless back line. It was one of the most miserable gigs I've done.

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4 minutes ago, chris_b said:

IME if you're going with a DI you need proper monitoring, for everyone on the stage.

I did a gig where we used a dep drummer, with an electric kit. What he didn't bring was any monitoring, so I spent the night with the drums being a faint sound in the distance, out of the PA and a drumless back line. It was one of the most miserable gigs I've done.

Agreed. I had the same experience with hardly being able to hear myself once and, similarly, it was no fun! 

But as we've observed, actually needing to use the insurance of DI/spare amp/spare FRFR etc should hopefully be a once in a blue moon event. 

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2 hours ago, Al Krow said:

Home insurance is a tiny cost in comparison to the cost of your home. In that rare emergency, you can always simply DI into the PA and job done. 

Had a feeling this would come out, or maybe second home cost etc.

As said earlier it fully depends on what PA you are using - if it is vocal only and Bass will not /cannot go through then you should bring along a safety net. If your safety net is an extra ‘x’ number of pounds spent on a PA system for this eventuality then you are fine, or it could be spent on a spare amp.

You are also protecting your brand, band, future bookings and the people you are playing to.

There are a myriad or Possibilities depending what the circumstances, but it needs to be right for your and the venue’s set up.

If you want to quibble the home insurance example, how about a wedding Photographer - would you risk that because your camera has never crapped out you wouldn’t take a spare? If your camera failed then you could use your smart phone, borrow someone’s smart phone or small digital camera, or would you take a second camera?

A few bad reviews even off one event can hurt.

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20 minutes ago, Al Krow said:

Or you could just DI through the PA

😁

Quite.........🤦🏾‍♂️

Even if I said go just PA no amp you’ll probably become Mary Mary and take the opposite view.

There are some posts on here outlining this is not always possible, that is the simple point being made

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20 minutes ago, Cuzzie said:

Quite.........🤦🏾‍♂️

Even if I said go just PA no amp you’ll probably become Mary Mary and take the opposite view.

There are some posts on here outlining this is not always possible, that is the simple point being made

Haha it's not all about you, even if you are talking baloney some of the time!

I mean seriously, who calls a P pup anything other than a "P pup"?

Edited by Al Krow
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