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18” no more?


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Never owned or played 18” until recently, any love out there for these huge things in the 12orless” world? They don’t come up so much used and they seem to be out of Thomann’s catalogue, are they still being made?

I picked one up a couple of weeks ago (90’s USA Ampeg, roadworn but working flawlessly, cost 100 including gas) and i’m loving it. I don’t mind the weight and size yet as i’m using it at home only ATM and it sounds great, even at low volume for the midnight noodle it has plenty of super silent and super deep fatness :)

So my question for all the experienced 18”ers: do this 18” hold it’s own live or is a 10 or 12” on top a must?

I know my back will say no, but i hope the sound will make it worth it... or will i start hating it after the first gig?

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1 hour ago, triplebass said:

...do this 18” hold it’s own live or is a 10 or 12” on top a must?...

Be prepared for a stream of replies; this has been hotly debated (and definitively answered...) several times over the last decade or so. You'll come across a few new terms, maybe, such as 'excursion' or 'heft'; I'll leave it to others to fill in the technical details.
Just as a clue, and assuming you have ear-buds (or at least a set of earphones...): do you hear bass through those..? Are they 18"..? :scratch_one-s_head:

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2 hours ago, triplebass said:

Never owned or played 18” until recently, any love out there for these huge things in the 12orless” world? They don’t come up so much used and they seem to be out of Thomann’s catalogue, are they still being made?

I picked one up a couple of weeks ago (90’s USA Ampeg, roadworn but working flawlessly, cost 100 including gas) and i’m loving it. I don’t mind the weight and size yet as i’m using it at home only ATM and it sounds great, even at low volume for the midnight noodle it has plenty of super silent and super deep fatness :)

So my question for all the experienced 18”ers: do this 18” hold it’s own live or is a 10 or 12” on top a must?

I know my back will say no, but i hope the sound will make it worth it... or will i start hating it after the first gig?

I used one for a number of years (it was an Acoustic 301 with a 1 X 18 reflex cab. One misnomer which can be answered immediately is it was plenty loud enough to hear what I was playing - the real issue was it projected a low mid range/bassy sound and all the upper end was lost (even though I could hear it fine). This was late 70s/early 80s and I really wanted a crisp tone. However it certainly rattled the optics on low notes (notably detuned to D) in one or two large pubs (with a 2 band Stingray and the 400 watt Acoustic 370 amp)!! 

I use a 2 X 10 now (or 2 X 2 X 10) live with a slightly more powerful but class D amp - there is no lack of heft and the tone is crisp and full (and plenty bassy and loud enough).

So I know which I prefer - but there again I prefer music with bass mixed a la 70s/80s/90s with plenty of mid range, bass and crisp top end. 

 

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My Vox Foundation was an 18". IMO 18's represent the old fashioned view, that a good bass tone was one that you felt rather than heard.

I never liked the Foundation and it took me a year to save up for a replacement.

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Not specifically bass guitar related, but when I was djing I went through a wide range of amps, cabs and speaker arrangements.

By far the nicest warmest articulate sound I ever had was a big 18 sub and x2 8" tops. It sounded so nice. Better than any high end 12s or 15+12s etc I had.

That was for the full PA for recorded music though. I'd imagine for a single instrument youd be fighting with a single 18 if you wanted a full range sound, or to clearly hear what you were playing. Plus it could cause havoc with controlling the foh sound.

Anyway, if you like it, and it feels good to you then keep on using it. Theres no right or wrongs.

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19 minutes ago, la bam said:

 if you like it, and it feels good to you then keep on using it. There's no right or wrong.

That's true.

I can if you want go into long and mind numbing detail on the science but as @Dad3353 says it has been done before

In the days when Jimi was still alive and Marshall stacks were the go-to for guitarists there was a reason for the 18. Sheer volume and efficiency. Valve amps were heavy and expensive and the early transistor amps under powered and unreliable. Speakers generally had low power handling, at one point 12's would handle something like 25-30W only. PA's available to most bands were incapable of handling bass so the back line was used to reach even quite big audiences. Lots of cone area increases the amount of sound you get per watt and big cones are not only usually deeper but louder. To get bass heard live over 100W of guitar through two 4x12's you needed big speakers, lots of 10's or huge elaborate horn designs. 18's have gone not because they were 'bad' but because we don't need them. A single 12 will let you hear yourself and the PA can do the rest, any more than that simply ends up going through the vocal mic line and messing everyone's sound. 

Huge speakers look good though :)

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40 minutes ago, Phil Starr said:

PA's available to most bands were incapable of handling bass so the back line was used to reach even quite big audiences.

Makes me think of the insane Ashdown rig John Entwistle used in his last years with The Who. Ashdown designed and built some huge 18" horns for him!

Note the stack of power amplifiers in that rack:

JohnBassRig1.jpg

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I owned this fantastic sounding (even close to it as it was designed this way) AudioKinesis Hathor 18134

You've got loads of answers here, by Duke Lejeune (AudioKinesis), on how difficult it is to make an 18 inches speaker that really works...

Worth reading the whole ad.

 

Edited by Hellzero
F*cking non working link, immediately...
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2 hours ago, LeftyJ said:

Makes me think of the insane Ashdown rig John Entwistle used in his last years with The Who.

When I chanced upon this webpage, I had no idea what a lengthy read I had embarked upon. Fascinating and slightly terrifying: History of JE's gear

Edited by Ricky Rioli
Correcting autocorrect 🙄
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57 minutes ago, Ricky Rioli said:

When I chanced upon this webpage, I had no idea that a lengthy read I had embarked upon. Fascinating and slightly terrifying: History of JE's gear

Interesting read. I owned the white '62 Precision that was sold by Christies, buying it from JE via the Bass Centre. It was my spare in the Pretty Things days and I had it refinished black. It was obviously refinished again, to match the JE colour. I hope the new owner was aware it wasn't the JE refin they bought.

image.thumb.png.70fd3cf7a09fb604289b632077970e67.png

Edited by Steve Browning
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2 hours ago, Phil Starr said:

That's true.

I can if you want go into long and mind numbing detail on the science but as @Dad3353 says it has been done before

In the days when Jimi was still alive and Marshall stacks were the go-to for guitarists there was a reason for the 18. Sheer volume and efficiency. Valve amps were heavy and expensive and the early transistor amps under powered and unreliable. Speakers generally had low power handling, at one point 12's would handle something like 25-30W only. PA's available to most bands were incapable of handling bass so the back line was used to reach even quite big audiences. Lots of cone area increases the amount of sound you get per watt and big cones are not only usually deeper but louder. To get bass heard live over 100W of guitar through two 4x12's you needed big speakers, lots of 10's or huge elaborate horn designs. 18's have gone not because they were 'bad' but because we don't need them. A single 12 will let you hear yourself and the PA can do the rest, any more than that simply ends up going through the vocal mic line and messing everyone's sound. 

Huge speakers look good though :)

I never experienced any problems using 1970s transistor amps - they produced (relatively) clean sound. Bands like Led Zeppelin used Acoustic, along with many R and B and reggae bands (eg The Wailers). Unless you're talking those early Vox transistor amps re reliability (1960s). It was only when I moved away from valve amps I could actually hear myself in a band situation with keyboards etc!!

A interesting thing about 18 in speaker cabs and technology, Jet Harris in the early 60s used an 18 in speaker loaded cabinet - the cabinet loaded with sand to dampen the sound - for recording!!! 

When did 4 X 10s become generally available? I don't recall them in the late 70s - they were a must to get a decent slap sound in the 80s and tweeters help as well. 

If you look at video of famous rock acts in the late 60s you will see bass players using 4 X 12s with large valve amps (eg Free - using Orange - with a phenomenal bass sound). Others used Marshalls (I recall particularly Leo Lyons used 2 X Marshall 100 or 200 heads, with 4 X 4 X 12). 

I think reggae acts particularly liked 1 X 18s as thunderous low end is a must in that genre. However 1 X 18 should be fine unless you want to project high end detail or nuance. 

 

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18 minutes ago, drTStingray said:

When did 4 X 10s become generally available? I don't recall them in the late 70s - they were a must to get a decent slap sound in the 80s and tweeters help as well. 

 

I think it was in the mid 80s with companies like SWR and Trace Elliot. Of course, before that there was the classic Ampeg 810 fridge. 

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1) Take one of these =

image.jpeg.dd9eb3eda4fb1d1f44249a8ee3aadb51.jpeg

image.jpeg.d1c2ecf8e7d469fe0382346146e95018.jpeg 2) Add two of these in the same box -

Put the two cabinets of this joy one on either side and play something gentle

like Cher 'Believe' at full tilt using a 200watt Ormat ...........

................ nice ....................

😎

(For the avoidance of doubt, the speakers are G18c Celestions rated at 100watt each and the horn is a 3cell Vitavox with a SR1 driver, rated at about 45watts)

 

Edited by taunton-hobbit
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14 hours ago, triplebass said:

super deep fatness

Definitely, I had 18s in the 80s and loved them, I only changed them to, HH 2x15s as I didn’t have the space at the time, all the reggae sound systems I knew only had 18s too, they might lack the definition but the bass was great 🙂

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16 minutes ago, Reggaebass said:

Definitely, I had 18s in the 80s and loved them, I only changed them to, HH 2x15s as I didn’t have the space at the time, all the reggae sound systems I knew only had 18s too, they might lack the definition but the bass was great 🙂

This. Anyone who has ever been to a Sound System Clash will attest to the chest crushing impact of 18" speakers

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I changed to full range cabs in the early 80s but up to that time and after a never ending gear quest for a decent sound, the Acoustic 370 paired with the 1x18 301 cab was streets ahead of anything else I had come across. Effortless, big sound and surprisingly easy to move with its tiltback castors and handles. Unless there were stairs.

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Currently I've a couple of Barefaced Dubsters (2x15) fed off a 300watt Matamp slave

(the green one with the Maltese crosses on Google images) with K120 bottles -

and an electronic crossover feeding an Ormat 100 to two Mackie C200 -

The weight saving is enormous and the total 'heft' alarmingly similar to the old set !

😎

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7 minutes ago, EMG456 said:

I changed to full range cabs in the early 80s but up to that time and after a never ending gear quest for a decent sound, the Acoustic 370 paired with the 1x18 301 cab was streets ahead of anything else I had come across. Effortless, big sound and surprisingly easy to move with its tiltback castors and handles. Unless there were stairs.

Absolutely!!! And they were around from the early 70s.

As I said, the only downside was they produced chest crushing bass and low mid some distance away and especially at the back of a theatre, but did not necessarily produce focussed higher end detail. These were expensive new though - mine was bought used. 

Prior to that I'd used the more affordable HH with a 1 X 15 Carlsboro - not as good as the Acoustic and far less powerful - a very good rig for the medium sided or small room was the Acoustic with the Carlsboro. 

44 minutes ago, peteb said:

I think it was in the mid 80s with companies like SWR and Trace Elliot. Of course, before that there was the classic Ampeg 810 fridge. 

Agreed - I remember trying out a new TE set up at Soundwave Bassplace, Romford - it had a built in effect based on a chorus IIRC. 

As a UK bass player, at the time of sourcing my Acoustic rig, the only Ampegs listed in classifieds (which usually meant the classified pages of the Melody Maker), the only Ampegs I saw were V4Bs. I don't know when the SVT/8 X 10 fridge became a thing but I guess they were fearsomely expensive - I would have though the 8 X 10 was a stadium type thing and from the 80s. I don't recall seeing them used in the UK in that era. Maybe they were a US thing at the time. 

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1 hour ago, drTStingray said:

A interesting thing about 18 in speaker cabs and technology, Jet Harris in the early 60s used an 18 in speaker loaded cabinet - the cabinet loaded with sand to dampen the sound - for recording!!! 

I built a pair like this for Chris Squire ................

😎

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