Essential Amp Accessories
By Phil O'Keefe |
Sometimes the right accessories can make all the difference
Most musicians are familiar with the variety of accessories that are available for guitars and basses, but did you know there's also a large variety of useful accessories designed to go along with your amplifier? Some of these things provide extra convenience while some serve as back ups and extra insurance in case something goes wrong, but whether you play guitar or bass (or any other amplified instrument) many of these accessories will be useful to you - and there may even be a few things on the list you've never considered before. Ready? Let's dig right in…
Amp Shield - Clear plexiglass amp shields go in front of your amp and reduce the direct sound that fires straight at the audience. They're very popular in churches and other situations where you need to watch excessive volume levels.
Amp Cover or Road Case - Want to keep your amp safe and protected when traveling to gigs and rehearsals? Then a case or cover is a necessary accessory. Covers are less expensive, but they provide less protection than cases.
Casters or a Moving Dolly - You'll especially appreciate having one or the other if you have a very large and heavy amp, a bad back, or both. Casters are especially necessary if you're transporting your amp in a heavy flight or road case.
Spare Tubes - Nothing sucks as bad as not being able to finish a gig due to a dead tube in your amp. Carry a spare set and you'll be able to avoid this potentially show-stopping disaster.
Oven Mitt - An oven mitt? Yup - because if a tube does die, it will come in handy for quickly changing the hot, dead tube for a new one without burning your hands.
Clip-On Guitar Hanger / Amp "Guitar Stand" - These clever devices are a great space-saving invention. You don't need extra floor space for a traditional guitar stand if you attach one of these to your amp or speaker cabinet instead.
Microphone and / or Speaker Emulator - Sooner or later you'll either want to record, or need to send the sound of your amp to the PA system to cover larger venues - and one or the other of these tools is what you'll need to accomplish that.
Spare IEC Power Cable - They don't die very often, but having a spare on hand can't hurt - especially if you misplace one right before showtime.
Spare Guitar Cable - Guitar cables do go bad from time to time. Plus there's always the forgetful bass player who frequently asks if he can borrow one of yours.
Amp and Case Cleaner - Yes, now they make cleaners designed specifically for Tolex-covered items like your amp and guitar cases.
Spare Fuses - Something as simple as a power surge can pop the fuse in any amp, leaving it dead and useless. A few dollars spent on spare fuses to keep in your accessories bag is a wise investment. Always make sure you use replacements of the recommended type and rating!
Spare Speaker Cable (for head / cabinet style rigs) - You can't use a guitar cable as a speaker cable substitute (using one risks frying your amp if the cable melts down), so it makes sense to always carry a spare.
Tube Converters - Do you have a 6L6, EL34 or 6V6 equipped amp and long for that classic British Invasion sound that comes from EL84 tubes? Grab yourself a pair of converters like the Yellow Jackets and you'll be able to run the smaller bottles in your amp.
Power "Soaks" and Amplifier Attenuators - These reduce the amount of volume that hits your speakers, allowing you to run the amplifier "flat out" (or turned up high) to get it distorting, but while controlling the overall volume levels coming from your speakers. Many also have built-in direct recording features too.
Replacement Speakers / Speaker Extension Cabinet - Not all amps have a extension speaker that is designed specifically for them but many do, and adding an extra cabinet can give you extra projection and dispersion and a bigger and beefier sound, while changing the speakers in your amp can totally change its sound, and can even can have an effect on its perceived loudness.
Well, there you have it - a list of several very useful amp accessories. Are there other items you consider to be essential amplifier accessories? Want to discuss this article? Then make sure to stop by this thread in the Harmony Central Amps forum!
Phil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer / producer and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central. He has engineered, produced and performed on countless recording sessions in a diverse range of styles, with artists such as Alien Ant Farm, Jules Day, Voodoo Glow Skulls, John McGill, Michael Knott and Alexa's Wish. He is a former featured monthly columnist for EQ magazine, and his articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard, Electronic Musician and Guitar Player magazines.