The Truth About Marshall Stacks (there, I said it)

UncleMonkey

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I've got a Marshall, Fender, and an ?Axl? practice amps that I've been thinking about how to tie together into a "cabinet" with foot switches to switch between the different amps on the fly.
 

dbb

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I've got a Marshall, Fender, and an ?Axl? practice amps that I've been thinking about how to tie together into a "cabinet" with foot switches to switch between the different amps on the fly.

I've heard of rigs that have several amps and an A/B/C or combo switch. SO you get your clean or dirty tone from one amp or the other, or mix them.

Great concept, too complicated for me for the gigs I play.
 

gibsonguitar1988

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While I never have used Marshall stacks, I always use high wattage stuff. I need the headroom they provide. That's why I LOVE Twin Reverbs. Even at 10 they are ear bleeding loud and not hardly any breakup. Or a Super Reverb in smaller places still has quite a bit of headroom.

I use pedals for gain and always have - it sounds just as good as cranking to me with the great pedals out there. I like having an amp be a clean platform and not so much where my tone comes from. I prefer pedals to give me the flavors and tone and the amp just to simply put the sound to the speakers. Hence why I love Blackface Fender amps. Just clean pure tone that I can sculpt with pedals. It's a great tone and more and more are going to this setup of clean platform amps + pedals for gain/color.

So for me high wattage high headroom amps are the way to go. I'm not against cranking at home or in the studio, but for me live it just isn't versatile enough. For an amp to do what my pedals do it would have to sound like a Blackface, Tweed, Plexi, JCM800, AC30, etc and have 10 different voicings. That's a tall order for ANY amp to do and not really possible. I need to be able to recreate tones from records (that's my niche along with playing everything note for note) and I am NOT into hauling 10 different amps around to every gig nor do I like multichannel amps. So for me I take one or two clean amps, my huge @ss pedalboard, and about 4 guitars and it gets the job done. Mind you I don't play clubs or bars, I only play events, parties, festivals, fundraisers, benefits, etc. Mainly outdoor big stages so stage space is not an issue. Most smaller backyard parties and events I just take my Super Reverb (40watts), and in the bigger outdoor places my Twin Reverb (85watts). In the big 2 festivals I play every year, I take both (for a total of 125 watts). The other guitarist usually uses either a Peavey Delta Blues or a Deluxe Reverb. He's more into amp gain, and so we don't step on each others toes. He does his thing, I do mine. We both play lead and we both play rhythm, just depends on the tune. I like tapdancing on pedals, he does not. He likes to ride his controls on his guitar, I do not. I prefer to use pedals to do all of that. He's more just guitar > cord > amp but does use about 4 pedals live (Tuner, Compressor, TS9 for lead boost, Wah). I'm the color guy, I bring all of the colors from the originals into the mix.

So for me while I don't do the stack thing, I'm all about high wattage Fenders and in particular, Blackfaces.

This is my stage rig:

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I did just get a little 65 Ventura which I mainly use for solo shows, jams, and home cranking though. I do like small cranked amps, just not with the exacting cover party band I'm in. I come from being in a tribute band so for me I'm all about exact-like-the-original covers and no improvisation.

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Tah-lee

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Hey Guys,

I love to feel the air pushing from the cabinet of a half stack. Power attenuators let you saturate your tubes while maintaining reasonable volume levels. I use a Tom Sholtz Power Soak for the JCM 800.

SGsandamps.jpg
 

paradox

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I am only playing out now at 'jam nights' and they are rare as the times have been going. Everytime I use my 40w Marshall DSL401 combo (1x12), its my goto and it usually winds up competing with larger amps and hanging in there just fine.

My current problem is its about 10 years old now and I know it needs to be retubed, but the yugo el84's that make this amp sound great are unavail (I've tried others in it, just not the same at all) and I don't know what I'm going to replace it with!!! I guess I'm going 50w, but then the 50w is just not going to saturate as well at lower volumes.

On another note, Half-stacks can still be found in clubs around town causing sound guys trouble as kevy notes....

Nice amps vox, u need a few more!!!
 

70GibsonSG

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all the small and large venues I've played in and out, There is a dead spot at every venue, unless one turns that amp up so he can hear it from the edge of the stage... I believe now they are wearing ear monitors, I've never wore any, but does that take that dead spot out of the stage area???
 

dbb

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I believe now they are wearing ear monitors, I've never wore any, but does that take that dead spot out of the stage area???[/I]

Not exactly, the sound is what it is in the room, but the musicians with in-ear monitors have custom mixes with no dead spots and they can move around with a consistant mix in their ears. It does not change the stage nor house mix, the monitor mix is another feed from the board.
 

oldrockfan

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I know there are always exceptions but in general the places I go always prefer to allow the sound guy to mic amps so they can get the balance they want. I'm still a huge fan of the marshall stacks but given how i don't gig much anymore and high volume just isn't practical, I traded mine for an orange thunder 30 and am loving it. in fact, my son also loves it and has talked me into letting him use it at a big gig they have tonight in fort worth. I am looking forward to hearing my amp in action on stage!
 

happy_tom

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Well, it's true that you don't need a huge amp nowadays.

I spent most of my musical 'career' as a drummer and almost all the guitarists I played with, sooner or later got small combos, mostly for logistics reasons...

But lately I've returned to my original theory that the energy is simply not the same unless you get some air pushed from the speakers right into the back of you ass. :thumb:

There's another reason: I mostly play in '2nd league' bars, clubs and festivals, and you simply can not rely on the sound guy to get the balance right, so I wanna have enough power at hand, should I need it.

If the sound guy is a pro, then I'll let him do his job. If not, well, we in the band have since figured out how to set up our gear to at least get half decent sound.
So, a 100w Fender red knob twin + an OD pedal it is.
I also use a fuzz on two numbers, and when I hit it, I want everybody to notice. :fingersx:
 

Tenafly Viper

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Laney...I've heard they were well made, I never played on one.

Who has?

I have the same setup as the bottom picture in Lou's post. Cross a Marshall with a with a Vox or maybe a newer Fender HRD and you have the Laney GH50L.

Different enough from a Marshall to get great complimentary tones if you play n a two guitar band and the other guy has a Marshall.

Regarding Kevy's OP. If you are talking about volume wise, it is true. Most guys don't need the Full stack or maybe even a half stack. But if you are talking about tone not all small combos work as well as you make it out. The problem with combos, especially one speaker combos is that pushing air is a big part of the sound. Ever hooked up an Orange 2x12 and then a 4X12? Notice the difference? Fullness of tone due to the extra air being displaced. Maybe what people need more of is 20 ish watt amps with bigger cabs. This way you get the best of both worlds. Power tubes pushed a bit more through bigger cabs.

Also 90% of the clubs around here don't run the guitars through the PA. Maybe that is just Boston and the Northeast, but 50 watts works pretty well for me, most of the time.
 

oldrockfan

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I'd say it is the exact opposite at clubs around DFW. About 90% of them run guitars thru the PA and maybe 10% don't. I still love the sound of a marshall half stack but these days, there is just not alot of need for them.
 

Kevy Nova

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I have the same setup as the bottom picture in Lou's post. Cross a Marshall with a with a Vox or maybe a newer Fender HRD and you have the Laney GH50L.

Different enough from a Marshall to get great complimentary tones if you play n a two guitar band and the other guy has a Marshall.

Regarding Kevy's OP. If you are talking about volume wise, it is true. Most guys don't need the Full stack or maybe even a half stack. But if you are talking about tone not all small combos work as well as you make it out. The problem with combos, especially one speaker combos is that pushing air is a big part of the sound. Ever hooked up an Orange 2x12 and then a 4X12? Notice the difference? Fullness of tone due to the extra air being displaced. Maybe what people need more of is 20 ish watt amps with bigger cabs. This way you get the best of both worlds. Power tubes pushed a bit more through bigger cabs.

Also 90% of the clubs around here don't run the guitars through the PA. Maybe that is just Boston and the Northeast, but 50 watts works pretty well for me, most of the time.

But the whole thing about moving a lot of air is moot the instant the amps get mic'ed because the mic is up close on one speaker, no matter what amp/cab you are playing through. I've seen bands where one guitarist had a stack and the other guitarist had a small combo and when you hear them coming out of the PA system, the small combo ALWAYS has a much bigger sound and better tone. But of course, if I were to take my 15 watt 1x12 combo and go up against a guy with a 100 watt 8x12 stack side by side without mic'ing, he blow me away.
 

Tenafly Viper

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But the whole thing about moving a lot of air is moot the instant the amps get mic'ed because the mic is up close on one speaker, no matter what amp/cab you are playing through. I've seen bands where one guitarist had a stack and the other guitarist had a small combo and when you hear them coming out of the PA system, the small combo ALWAYS has a much bigger sound and better tone. But of course, if I were to take my 15 watt 1x12 combo and go up against a guy with a 100 watt 8x12 stack side by side without mic'ing, he blow me away.

Right but your point is that there is no need for them any longer because of PA systems, but in the Northeast amps are rarely miced. Bigger clubs, yes but still stage volume is a necessity in order for the drummer to hear well. Even the bigger clubs have dodgy monitors.
 

mikeystool

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ive played for years using a 100watt peavey half stack, which i love..but i got tired of hauling it around, for places that there is no need for it..the places we play are on the small to medium, so i got a Fender Hot Rod Deville 2x12's 60 watt(still maybe overkill lol)..which is just perfect for me...i dare say, it seems to be louder at 3 than my 100 watter! but, if i want, i can always plug in a 4x12 cab to it if i feel i need it for certain rooms..its nice in big places, not mic'd, to have the tiltback amp hitting my airspace, and a halfstack back behind my drummer..we played a outside gig under a pavilion saturday afternoon, and a lot of bands had 100watt marshalls,and other monsters, i played with no extention cabs, and sounded just as full according to the listeners i asked..i could have gone with a hot rod deluxe, but i admit, id rather have more than just one speaker, though i know 30-40 watts in those babies is plenty...thats why i went with the 60 watt deville..
 

Tony M

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A DeVille is a loud amplifier.
It also sounds better turned up past 5.
It seems to come into its own when Unleashed.

I work concerts with a NYC based sound company.
Large venues, big stages, wedges everywhere.
A lot of the "big guys" (No names allowed) have a couple
of stacks on stage and a small combo back in the wings.
The small amplifier is the one with the SM57 or E609
in front of it.

1- It sounds better that way.
2- It is the only way to isolate the guitar channel from the
rest of the cacaphony on stage. The bass and keys are
DI'd before their amplifiers but the guitar amp is mic'd.
If that mic was on stage it would be impossible to
isolate and mix the guitar properly.

You are not hearing those stacks through the PA.
It's the Fender Deluxe or the old Ampeg Super Echo Twin
or the 18 watt Marshall head plugged into a 1 X 12 Cab
that is feeding those 19,000 watts out front and those
5,000 watts in the wedges.
 

dbb

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18 watt Marshall head plugged into a 1 X 12 Cab
that is feeding those 19,000 watts out front and those
5,000 watts in the wedges.

The Marshall 18's...nice amps I understand.
 

Tony M

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Yes. I don't own one but I can tell you from
personal experience that they sound nice,
especially mic'd through a large PA.
 

Col Mustard

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I'm with Kevy... I just sold my beloved Fender Bassman Compact 1/15 which is an 80s solid state bass amp which I carried around for more than twenty years. I sold it to my step daughter's boyfriend.... a young guy who doesn't mind carrying it. As a bass player, I always felt like I wanted the security blanket of a 15 inch speaker behind me. The old fender wasn't a tube amp, but weighed about forty pounds and did everything I wanted. I considered it a minimalist rig for my bass.

But after playing through at least three small bass amps with 10" speakers in the last year and a half, I bought a Roland 60W 1/10 bass amp and love it. New technology really seems to have given amps a revolutionary shakeout. The key to the 'little' stage amp is its XLR out. The sound man gets what I hear, he mixes it for the audience and my amp is just a stage monitor that sounds really good.

Following the same logic, the first amp that I bought for my new SG back in 2008 was a Roland Micro Cube. I wanted it for its 'JC Clean' model (which I still think sounds great) and would always send the signal to the soundman and mute the tiny speaker. When I wanted my SG to scream, I'd stomp my blues driver and grunge up that JC Clean.

So I'm not a tube amp nut. Lots of guys are, and I can't disagree... because I listen to their sound and admire it. But I play a number of instruments onstage and logistics are a very real concern, so I love the small amp idea, and the simple pedal board. My stage setup now boasts a Vox VT-30 1/10 for my electric guitars, and the Roland Bass Cube for my Fender. I like the sound, it isn't overwhelming onstage and it works well with the sound crews at the venues I play. I bought both of them because they sound good at low levels, for the reasons Kevy brought up. The most important people in the room are the audience. If your sound sucks for them, you have no future.
 

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Col Mustard

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well it especially works for me because I don't have to stand next to a drummer. so I don't need all that volume and all that weight. Guys that play in loud rock bands with drums and keys and couple guitarists and screamer vocals might need something more authoritative. for me, finesse is best.

But I too love the image of the big stack behind the back line... it was always the dream of the young kernel. but for me, it just isn't practical. And truly, I love the sound I'm getting out of those new amps with the ten inch speakers. And I love picking them up with one hand to walk out of the gig. *grins
 


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