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The Fifth Course

Even at an Outdoor Gig, Power Ain't Everything

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Farmer's Market (Oakdale CA) gig in July. I was playing through my new Marshall G15R CD amp (15w solid state, 8" speaker). I would have taken the Ampeg J12T (15w, 2 EL84s, 12" speaker) but I was told the gig was "acoustic." I did not want to bring too much firepower to the gig and scare the organizers off, so the Marshall ended up in the back of the Prius.

The gig went really well, and the city of Oakdale hired us back for a late August date. The Marshall, as tiny as it is, did exactly what I needed it to do. It cut through the rest of the band without needing to be too loud. Everyone on stage could hear me easily, and everyone in the audience could too.

On the second date I brought the Ampeg. My Marshall had fallen 2 feet off the top of another amp, ceased to function properly, and was in the shop.

I thought the Ampeg would perform as well as or better than the Marshall, but it did not. The sound off the Ampeg was much more directional, and it left our bass player in an acoustic shadow stage left. But I could not turn up without overpowering the acoustic guitar, and neither could I rotate the amp to cover stage left without turning the output away from the audience.

The result was a much less coherent performance for Seņor Circus than we had given in July. I was a bit disappointed, though we all just grinned and bore it.

My guess is that the Marshall's speaker is the key here. The smaller diameter helped to amplify the mandolin's frequencies more effectively.

But it could also be power output. The Ampeg has much more, and I needed to keep a lid on it. I really couldn't let the Ampeg sing. On the other hand, I opened the Marshall up to 75% on the master volume and the sound quality was excellent. It lacked the warmth of tubes, but most of the audience can't hear the difference.

So the Marshall will get more outdoor gigs until we get a drummer.

****
I have a cool little Montgomery Wards or Sears single digit watt amp also in the shop right now. It has a moderately interesting story.

But that will wait until a future installment...

Daniel

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Updated Aug-31-2009 at 4:01pm by Daniel Nestlerode (short addendum)

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Gigging

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