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Author Topic: Stacks!
scott

Posts: 5
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Post Stacks!
on: August 5, 2012, 00:59
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At work the other day (Seymour Duncan), we had an artist's Les Paul in the office to do a pickup swap.

Right after the last solder joint took hold we wanted to test the guitar in our sound room to make sure everything was good to go. I'm not sure if it was because of the artist attached to it or just that it was a dual humbucker guitar (which I never play), but I automatically turned on a mid '80s Marshall JCM 800 half stack to do the test.

I haven't played a Les Paul through a loud Marshall stack since I was 18, but after years of preferring small wattage combos and single coil equipped guitars it was a huge rush to play a powerful instrument through a cranked 50 watt head pushing a big 4x12 cab.

I'm trying to figure out where along the lines stacks fell out of fashion and why there's such a negative connotation towards them. I have some ideas in my head, but I'm curious as to what everyone else thinks!

joe
Administrator
Posts: 224
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Post Re: Stacks!
on: August 5, 2012, 10:05
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Hey Scott! Thanks for stopping by. (Scott is one of the coolest guys from Seymour Duncan, and he's also a Fender veteran. He knows his stuff!)

Great question — and I'm probably a pretty good representative of the stack-averse player, so let's fight to the death discuss! 🙂

Yeah, no question, Paul + 50w is an amazing adrenaline rush — and a really great sound! But for me, some of the decisions about whether to use a large amp are similar to ones about when to use amp modeling: If you're gigging and/or recording, how it sounds to your ear in the moment is a lot less important than how it sounds to the microphone.

Sure, how your sound makes you feel in the moment is crucial, and we all crave tones that give us inspiration and confidence. But when you focus on what the tape/hard drive/audience hears rather than what you hear, the balance starts to tip in favor of smaller amps, IMHO. Well, IMHO doesn't matter — but Jimmy "No Marshalls in the Studio" Page's opinion does. 😉

In a sense, big-ass amps are an artifact of a time before adequate live sound reinforcement. In the ’60s, they WERE the PA! But with a halfway-decent modern PA, you can gig anywhere from the corner bar to Yankee Stadium with a 2-watt amp if you want.

So yeah — a Paul and a stack kick ass! But is said ass-kick worth the weight, the hyper-directional sound dispersion, and the potential ear damage? Your call! 🙂

Schrodinge-
rsgoldfish

Posts: 105
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Post Re: Stacks!
on: August 5, 2012, 11:49
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I know that I would never get to turn an amp that size up enough to do it justice anywhere I gig. All of my performing mates would have similarly little use for such a monster. Gigs are too small, and the presence of good PA's makes the small amp more versatile. (and way easier on the back for those of us without roadies) Something not to be discounted is current popular style. Much of today's non-metal music favors the small simple amps over a screaming stack.

All things considered. Noone can say it isn't a rush to plug in to a stack and inflict copious amounts of hearing loss on yourself. Loud is fun.

bear

Posts: 153
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Post Re: Stacks!
on: August 5, 2012, 15:32
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It's largely about inconvenience. Beyond volume concerns, weight, size, and portage concerns (stairways and how big is your car's trunk) add up. For some sub-genres they still carry a cachet and give an imprimatur of being legit, but the rest of us try to figure out what's enough to get by.

My solution is a TL-806 Thiele cab with an EVM-12L, a fairly good work-alike to a 412 in a more reasonable package. Still heavy as heck, but a small enough footprint that a lot of heads are too big to stack on it.

Other guys like 212 cabs, and diagonal 212s seem to give something closer to the big cab knock than the horizontal or vertical arrangements. Some weight and bulk, still, but typically lighter, a bit easier to move around, and a bit more trunk friendly.

Oinkus

Posts: 236
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Post Re: Stacks!
on: August 6, 2012, 06:16
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Now that making small and loud is so hip and current etc.. My new Hughes and Kettner Tubemeister 18 combo is about as spiffy as my first Marshall and multiple 4x12s was in the 70s.Oh yeah it is the actual size of a breadbox! Things like power soaks and cabinet modelling emulations have improved about a million %. It all comes down to money in the end.

Jeff_H

Posts: 47
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Post Re: Stacks!
on: August 9, 2012, 08:52
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Well, for me, I have a small stack. An Egnator Tweaker-15 with a 1x12 cab. I still have to use an attenuator on it! Anything more would have me driven from my house!

Double D

Posts: 195
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Post Re: Stacks!
on: August 9, 2012, 23:45
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When I was in my twenties and all the gear mostly lived at rehearsal studios between our (hopefully) monthly gig and I was trying to be a rockstar, the half-stacks were sweet. Playing several times a week in multiple band/duo scenarios in venues that range from tiny to reasonably large tends to take the bloom off the rose. Also, in smaller venues open back cabinets provide more spread and less beam-like directionalism than their closed back brethren. And then there's the age factor: I don't like carrying those things up stairs. I do like getting two guitars, my gig-bag and amp into the club in one trip.

mwseniff

Posts: 149
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Post Re: Stacks!
on: August 13, 2012, 06:46
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Quote from Jeff_H on August 9, 2012, 08:52
Well, for me, I have a small stack. An Egnator Tweaker-15 with a 1x12 cab. I still have to use an attenuator on it! Anything more would have me driven from my house!

Egnater Tweakers are fantastic amps(I bought 2 of them). I usually play mine thru a pair of 2-10 cabs from an old Gibson GSS-100 amp. They also sound fabulous thru my old Trainor 4-12 cab but it is very heavy and doesn't leave my studio. Best of all is my 1-15 cab with a JBL D-130 alnico spkr, but I tend to conserve it for recording these days. I never use an attenuator they sound fake to me and use up output tubes too fast. Speakers are essential to an amps sound their reactance plus the artifacts of back EMF, response time etc. are impossible to duplicate any other way.

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