Is 40w amp enough for small shows?

BillK

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I have a band that plays metal covers that will start doing shows in few months and I’m having trouble deciding what gear to get to use.

I’d like to have both a direct in FOH and speaker option. FOH will be more convenient but not everywhere we play may have good PA to have that as option so it’d be good to have a live amp option.

I have 40w combo amp and some pedals that sound awesome so cheapest option would be to just use that and get a pedal like ampli firebox to go direct in with pedals.

But is a 40w going to be loud enough?

I thought about getting a modeler and neutral amp as that’d prob be easiest setup but I don’t think I like feel of modelers and hesitant about spending bunch of money on something I’m not gonna like.

I’d be cool to get a big 100w mesa rec. But it’s expensive and having a huge stack seems like overkill esp since I live on 3rd floor apt and we practice in place w amps (where I’ve been using rec) so I would never use except shows and even then might be using direct into pa when available… so doesn’t seem worth paying 3K for something that I’ll hardly use and be a pain to get around.

If I get mesa I figure I could also get load box to use direct, I could just bring head if place as speakers and I wouldn’t need pedals w it since I don’t use fx. But even so I don’t know if it’s worth money and can hold off if 40 w is loud enough.

If you can let me know if 40 combo would be loud enough for small venues that could help in decision and I appreciate any other insights you can provide.Thanks!
In my old band, the other guitarist had a triple rec 150 watt monster. At the rehearsals or some drunk jam sessions to blow some steam off, it was i.m.p.o.s.s.i.b.l.e to play it on more than 2-2.5 volume (through a 4x12 oversize mesa cab)... On live shows small to medium stages he just turned the volume on 0.5-0.8 on soundcheck and the sound guys were screaming ''turn that shit down''. Stages always with micked cabs (except for a couple of shows) and rehearsal room just straight up cab. Long story short, on today's micked stages anything more than 20-40 watts it's pure overkill. And some more examples Brian May 30 watts Voxes, Tom Morello 50 watts Marshall, Carlos Santana 20 or 30 watt mesa boogie and so on... and those guys played on the biggest venues around the world.
 

Bogner14

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10 watts can be enough even for a large show, depending on how you are set up. That said, nothing captures the muscular nature of a 100 watt plus head for rock and metal. Unless you go the modeling or profiling route. For tube amps, I have to have a 100 watt head. None of this is about volume, it's about character and vibe of the amp that gives what you need. For me, my 100 watt heads sound so much better than smaller wattage amps for my music. They all have great master volume circuits so when I look at thr amp's wattage, I'm not thinking about volume, I thinking of the overall character I want from the amp.
 

Guy_C

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IMHO, there's a far easier way to solve the problem... I am assuming you will be playing with a 'Live' Drummer ? If you have a practice space, set up your gear and try to get a good-sounding mix between the 'natural' volume of the drums (unless that will be mic-ed up through the venue's P.A.?), the volume of the Vocals (through a P.A.), and the volume of your Guitar and Bass amps. I've done a fair amount of Live Mixing, and it's quite usual for guitarists to want to play louder than everyone else, so with a friend or two along as referees and a bit of common sense, you should be able to get there... unless everyone is drowned-out by the drums... in which case, yes, you may need to get a louder Guitar amp... In my experience, 30-40-50 watts for Guitar works fine with 100 watts for Bass or Keyboards, but mainly to provide the extra headroom & clarity. Wish you luck !
 

ParanoiaEngine

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I went for 120 wattt. I'm no engineer but I think the bigger tubes and higher amount of them helps create different harmonic frequencies in the feedback I mean sometimes it sounds like a chorus of angels. not sure why that is but its my theory. Cheers mate a 40 watt should be fine for practice even small shows if you mic it into the PA definitely
 

kerryymm

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I used to gig with a 15 watt Orange Dark Terror. Sometimes mic’d up, sometimes just backline, but I never had the volume past about 6 and I was always loud enough, sometimes too loud.
 

Emperoff

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I've done a truckload of open air shows with a 20W 112 combo. A buddy even uses a Joyo Bantamp (20W solid state) live. Watts don't matter as long as you have a microphone on your amp and a stage/IEM monitor.
 

wheresthefbomb

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Any and all recommendations here are useless until OP comes back with whatever 40w amp we're talking about. Leave it to ss.org to answer everything with "go buy a modeller". :lol:

I'm here to be the voice of dissent and recommend crusty old high headroom SS amps for every situation
 

TakeNoPrisoners

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Any and all recommendations here are useless until OP comes back with whatever 40w amp we're talking about. Leave it to ss.org to answer everything with "go buy a modeller". :lol:
I have a 40w Marshall Dsl combo. By itself it can be ok for practice but tone doesn’t quite sound heavy enough by itself for what I want. I have tube drive I put in front along with ts or other od sounds huge I love it. But carrying around pedals can be pain. I had been planning to get a bigger better amp to ditch the pedals altogether. But then the cost of a mesa and size of a big cab got me thinking maybe I should look for lighter option maybe stick w small combo.

Just ordered Simplifier to model preamp and cab the other day … I figure that way I can go direct in-house and if need cab I could get frfr type cab or just stick w 40w I have ..Im sure I’ll still want a rectifier but I figure I’ll see how this all pedal direct in works. Main thing about getting a stack is I live in 3 rd floor apt so it’s impractical for me to have a big ass heavy cab. Maybe I could keep at band mates house and maybe places will have cabs so maybe just need head but hate being a burden on or overly relying on others. Id hate to go do a show and not have adequate gear because the stuff at place sucks or my 40w isn’t cutting it etc.

I was thinking about modelers but I’m not sure I’d like. Hx stomp is like $700 plus similar for def cab… so like $1500. That’s a lot for something I’m not sure about. I’m not really using any fx just gain. I could get a used rectifier head for that much I’d prob prefer that and just get a load box if I want to go direct.
 

James W Thomas

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I thought about getting a modeler and neutral amp as that’d prob be easiest setup but I don’t think I like feel of modelers and hesitant about spending bunch of money on something I’m not gonna like.
I had the same feelings about modelers (currently Neural DSP Quad Cortex) and FRFR amps to begin with, but I got used this kind of rig eventually and now appreciate what I'm hearing. I needed to rewire my head to hear not the boomy loud-as-hell kick-you-in-the-gut thump of a 4x12 getting all of the traditional metal abuse, but instead a nicely EQ'd balanced, less muddy, well-crafted tone that only great sound engineers would have the ability to shape. And while I love getting kicked in the gut, I would much rather hear what's coming out of FOH.

If I'm just using my 100w Line 6 Powercab as a personal stage monitor I have way more than enough volume. I don't know for sure how it would do on it's own (never actually tried it) but in that it's smaller gigs that are less likely to have decent PAs, I'm sure it would be fine.

Some players have put full range coaxial speakers in their 4x12s to get a little of that feel back. I'm sure looks played into that idea as well!

And to echo others on here: 40w tube doesn't equal 40w solid state in any way. I used to use a Carvin 60w tube combo with a 4x12 and played every size stage you could imagine with that rig and never ran out of headroom, so there's that bit of info.
 

TedEH

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I have a 40w Marshall Dsl combo
Well that answers the question in the thread title at least: Can a 40w Marshall DSL combo get loud enough to play most shows without PA support? I'd slot that in the "probably" category. I used to have a DSL40CR and it was plenty loud and sounded pretty good with a boost. I wouldn't have been worried about gigging with it except under the most egregiously terrible conditions.

That being said - if you want something like a Recto - do it for the tone, not for the loudness. Yeah, those rectos can get ungodly loud, but they're a whole different character from a DSL.

I maintain that swapping to all-digital stuff isn't going to provide you a better solution to the loudness problem - just change it. It won't be better, just different. You still have to, at that point, try out a bunch of cab + amp solutions for your on stage monitoring etc when at least with a traditional setup you know you can just drop it down and it'll do its job in almost any setting.

I've always been a big fan of keeping a tube head around for shows because most of the time some amount of gear gets shared and everyone just brings their heads.
 

budda

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Hence my fm3 + powerstage suggestion. Fits on a pedalboard and will run a cab plus foh.
 

Screamingdaisy

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I have a 40w Marshall Dsl combo. By itself it can be ok for practice but tone doesn’t quite sound heavy enough by itself for what I want. I have tube drive I put in front along with ts or other od sounds huge I love it. But carrying around pedals can be pain. I had been planning to get a bigger better amp to ditch the pedals altogether. But then the cost of a mesa and size of a big cab got me thinking maybe I should look for lighter option maybe stick w small combo.

Just ordered Simplifier to model preamp and cab the other day … I figure that way I can go direct in-house and if need cab I could get frfr type cab or just stick w 40w I have ..Im sure I’ll still want a rectifier but I figure I’ll see how this all pedal direct in works. Main thing about getting a stack is I live in 3 rd floor apt so it’s impractical for me to have a big ass heavy cab. Maybe I could keep at band mates house and maybe places will have cabs so maybe just need head but hate being a burden on or overly relying on others. Id hate to go do a show and not have adequate gear because the stuff at place sucks or my 40w isn’t cutting it etc.

I was thinking about modelers but I’m not sure I’d like. Hx stomp is like $700 plus similar for def cab… so like $1500. That’s a lot for something I’m not sure about. I’m not really using any fx just gain. I could get a used rectifier head for that much I’d prob prefer that and just get a load box if I want to go direct.
This is just my opinion, so take it for what it's worth...

The DSL 40 has an open back cab and (IMO) is a great classic rock amp. Assuming you're playing metal, I think you're going to be dissatisfied no matter what you do with it, unless you start dragging around a closed back 4x12 cab to plug into, and even then there's the chance you'll be running it so hot it'll be mushy. That said, if you want low budget/weight you might be able to get closer to the sound you want by throwing a closed back 1x12 under it to bring a bit more thump and tighten up your palm mutes.

IMO... if you want the Rectifier sound then going modeller just means you're going to spend a bunch on the modeller before deciding it still doesn't sound like a Rectifier, then spending money on the Rectifier. IME, it's cheaper to eat the cost up front and just get what you actually want the first time.

If you live in a 3rd floor apartment, do not buy the 4x12 unless you can roll it into an elevator. Personally, I'd get a 2x12 cab for gigs and a Mini-Recto 1x12 cab for rehearsal (although it sounds like your rehearsal space comes with a Recto, so that's a non-issue).

hate being a burden on or overly relying on others. Id hate to go do a show and not have adequate gear because the stuff at place sucks

This is why I still use fullsize rigs.
 

Kosthrash

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I have a 40w Marshall Dsl combo. By itself it can be ok for practice but tone doesn’t quite sound heavy enough by itself for what I want. I have tube drive I put in front along with ts or other od sounds huge I love it. But carrying around pedals can be pain. I had been planning to get a bigger better amp to ditch the pedals altogether. But then the cost of a mesa and size of a big cab got me thinking maybe I should look for lighter option maybe stick w small combo.

Just ordered Simplifier to model preamp and cab the other day … I figure that way I can go direct in-house and if need cab I could get frfr type cab or just stick w 40w I have ..Im sure I’ll still want a rectifier but I figure I’ll see how this all pedal direct in works. Main thing about getting a stack is I live in 3 rd floor apt so it’s impractical for me to have a big ass heavy cab. Maybe I could keep at band mates house and maybe places will have cabs so maybe just need head but hate being a burden on or overly relying on others. Id hate to go do a show and not have adequate gear because the stuff at place sucks or my 40w isn’t cutting it etc.

I was thinking about modelers but I’m not sure I’d like. Hx stomp is like $700 plus similar for def cab… so like $1500. That’s a lot for something I’m not sure about. I’m not really using any fx just gain. I could get a used rectifier head for that much I’d prob prefer that and just get a load box if I want to go direct.
The stock DSL40CR comes with a 16 OHM Celestion V-Type Speaker with 98dB sensitivity. If you replace it with an Eminence Swamp Thang (102dB sensitivity) you'll instantly get double the volume (equal volume increase like having a100watt amp).


By itself the Marshall is very easy to cut through the mix of the band/ live situation, so you'll most likely be heard without the need to increase the volume in insane levels...
Moreover, with an eq pedal in the effects loop, this amp totally gets transformed...

 


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