I am a fan of large amps and while this does not always translate well in travel, there is something about moving lots of air to get your point across. The beauty of this ideal is the fact that most big events have a designated backline and this means that the air moving opps are EXCELLENT! The industry standard for many moons has been the Ampeg SVT with the 8x10 cabinet. I am ALL for this!!! There is nothing more exciting to me than being in front of a crowd playing and the bass is so intense that my pant legs are moving...(yes, this is sometimes a nightmare for the FOH guy but I digress...)
So what happens in the smaller setting? Is the 8x10 thunder necessary? Do you want to deafen the first three rows of people? Personally, I like memorable performances and this means at times that the big rig has to be scaled down. There are a variety of companies who have been very successful at diminishing the size of the amps/cabs while not sacrificing the sound and overall intensity. Companies such as Aguilar, Orange, MarkBass etc. have given options for smaller, lighter weight setups without losing tone. ( I am a personal fan of the new TrickFish amps, lotsa watts and clean clear crisp tone that will thump.....oh yeah, they make a 2x15 cab that absolutely knocked me over at winter NAMM....see them here... _..<<<.click that little line...)
Here is some info on the Trickfish Amp from the man himself, Richard Ruse...
It is also kind of interesting to play on a gig with back line and because there is something already set up, the venue/stage mgr etc will not allow you to change out the gear. I encountered this on a recent gig in LA where the backline was an Aggie stack with an Avalon U5, this is not a bad setup just not what I was planning on going through. Because the group I was with were part of the event, the sound company did not want to have to change out amps between artists and I was not able to bring in my favorites. This happens often and is not a real situation (unless your endorsement company has a written contract for media appearances.) Needless to say, I was looking for a certain tone and because that group was not the headliner, I did not have the option to change out the gear. In these situations, it is most important to take the high road and use what is provided. Of course, you ALWAYS want to treat the sound men/women with the utmost respect and courtesy, they are the ones who can make you sound amazing.
As always, feel free to comment and share your thoughts/experiences on the road! Here is a link to the Aggie gig in LA from last month....
go to the 3:57:36 mark and you will see the Aggie stack and the cool Pink Bluesman Vintage bass strung with Kalium Strings!!!