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How big's your rig?


Phil O'Keefe
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BACKGROUND:

I gigged live around Ohio from about 1990-2001 or so in several well paying cover bands and a couple of original bands, finishing up as bassist for singer songwriter Fred Haring on his 3rd and final album. I have not gigged since 2001, and am now working on my own material quietly at home.

 

BASSES:

My main bass was an (expensive) custom built Chandler 5 string that I had done for me in the early 90's, which I later broke the headstock and had to take up a Squier MB-5 I got for $129 at Music Go Round for the larger part of my gigging career, lol. I still miss that Squier - I actually really liked it, although it was neck heavy.

 

RIG:

My mainstay rig was a Nady wireless transmitter > Zoom BFX 708>ProCo DI splitter>Carvin PB400 head in SKB Rack Case>1x15 + 2x10 Hartke Cabinets. I experimented with 2x210 cabs (portability) then a 4x10, then settled on the bi-amped 1x15+2x10 combo.

 

I played venues ranging from weddings and corporate affairs to large bars and clubs to outdoor "festival sized" settings such as the Columbus Crew soccer games, the Ohio State Fair, and others, sometimes up to 70+ gigs a year. The key for me was that my rig was really only for myself/ drummer/rhythm guitarist as an on-stage monitor - the tone to the front of house came from the ZOOM! It had this "soft tube" bass preamp preset that I had modified for my basic "tone" and then we played a few songs that required either chorus (James "Say Someting" or some 80's alt pop tunes), wah (Kravitz "Fly Away"), or bass fuzz (Blur "Song 2") etc. - in the "non effects" preamp patch, the treadle worked as a volume control, and it had a built in tuner. I almost always had a mic on the 1x15 as well so the FOH could mix in a little pure low end miked cab sound with the ZOOM'd DI sound.

 

I also worked with good MUSICIANS in the cover bands, once we got the guitarists to turn their amps either to the side or toward themselves, more in FRONT of them, they turned down because they could hear themselves (lol) and the FOH sound was MUCH more controllable. The real trick was getting them to get past the LOOK of having the amps behind them like they had seen from the beginning of time - but the crowd was really getting the FOH mix from the PA, and it was better for us as a band to have the amps within arms reach of the guitarists and at a sane volume level and pointing in toward the band in some way.

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Here's my rig:

 

YBA100-BBQ.jpg

 

It's a Yamaha YBA100 which includes the 2 channel head and at least one powered bottom. This came out in the late 60's as their "SVT Killer". I remember drooling at Yamaha's showroom window when the series was first released. They were stupid money - like $2,000 in 60's/70's money.

 

It was designed as a "system" comprising one or more passive heads and multiple powered bottoms. The cabinets were designed to be stacked - there are plastic indentations on the top that coincide with either the bottom of the head or bottom of another bottom. The idea being that if you needed more power, just add more powered bottoms.

 

The head has 2 channels with different EQ options. Both have High and Low inputs. There are 4 outputs on the back so each head was designed to drive at least that many bottoms. With each bottom having 2 input jacks, bottoms can be daisy-chained allowing endless connections. Channel 1 goes through the series of "radio selector buttons" to dial in some pretty period correct bass flavors. Both channels have 3 channel EQ.

 

The bottoms are both their strength and weakness. Each contains 100 watt RMS SS power module driving 3 x 12" 75 Watt 8 ohm speakers in parallel. The outside cabinet is built very well of plywood. But here's were it starts getting weird - the baffle is made of MDF.

 

The combination of 100 Watts into 3 x 8-ohm speakers in parallel is equivalent to something like a 300-325 Watt RMS amp because of the loads, impedances and such.

 

Needless to say, this thing is LOUD!

 

The combination of 3 x 12" 75 watt drivers attached to an MDF baffle inside a plywood box without any insulation gives them what was called a "hi-fi" tone that some liked, others didn't.

 

It took me a few decades before this one found its way to me. By then it had been rocked pretty hard, so I didn't pay much as jacks and pots needed work and the cosmetics were pretty grungy. The head of the volume slider on the 2nd channel is broken off and I had no luck finding a replacement when this picture was taken. I've since scored another head, in much better condition, so everything is now as it should be.

 

I replaced the baffle with void-free ply and put some nice Marshal grill cloth on it. The speakers are now a 15" JBL K-140 on the bottom and 2 x 10" 400 Watt Peavey Neodymiums on the top.

 

Still has tons of volume, but the hi-fi tone is long gone. The 10" Neo's give it a nice, fast attack and sizzle while the 15" JBL provides a wonderful, low frequency bloom underneath.

 

More than enough to hang with a really heavy-handed drummer and I can move it myself, if I have to.

 

The bass is a Yamaha BB-405 with Q-Tuner Neodymium pickups.

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Bryan' date=' what did you do with the Chandler 5? A broken headstock can be fixed with relative ease. Note that Chris Squire's famous Ric 4001S had the headstock snapped clean off, was repaired...many years ago, and continued to be his mainstay until his recent demise.[/quote']

 

I had the Chandler repaired by Phil Maneri at 5th Ave. Fret shop in Columbus. He also did a re-fret, as that bass had seen some serious gigging time. Unfortunately, the truss rod is stripped, but the neck is pretty good. It just sits in a case these days and I mostly program my bass lines via MIDI, it keeps them simpler than if I start noodling with the bass and I like the variety of timbres I can switch off on using midi and Kontakt or other VSTi's, although I've got my eye on another bass...

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I play in a folk band, so I don't need a lot of volume. My rig is a Hamer SB4 with GHS Brite Flats going through an MXR M87 bass compressor and Ampeg B100R amp (Made in USA, 100W, 15 inch speaker). For the coffee shops we typically play the Ampeg is plenty loud. I rarely go past "3" on the master volume. On the rare occasions we play some place larger, I either mic the cab (preferred) or run a line out to the house PA. I have to keep the stage volume down since I'm performing with two acoustic guitars.

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I think there's an assumption sometimes that you need a huge rig but not everyone plays big venues with loud drummers. I have a 60 Watt SWR 1X12 combo for practicing but it would be fine for smaller acoustic gigs.

 

I think I have that same SWR... and it is just fine for small coffee shop / house gigs. It can almost hang with a drummer, but it's a bit under-powered; it can hang with a cocktail kit, no problem.

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I think I have that same SWR... and it is just fine for small coffee shop / house gigs. It can almost hang with a drummer' date=' but it's a bit under-powered; it can hang with a cocktail kit, no problem.[/quote']

Yep, the LA12. We've commented on owning the same amp at various times. In my experience, it's not extremely loud but it stays clean all the way up to max volume. Since I use it for at home practice with a 4 string, it suits me fine. Over the years, Peavey made a number of amps for studio/small club use and sometimes that's all you need.

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I used to have a Peavey Combo 300 that was a very solid and reliable amp. Great EQ on it too - it was a good sounding and really rugged workhorse. If I was playing live more often, I wouldn't mind owning one again. Good amp IMO. They're discontinued now, but I think the Max 115 is probably the closest thing to it in their current lineup, although the EQ is not as comprehensive.

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If I were doing small to medium gigs as a bass player, there's an Eden Nemesis N15 on the local CraigsList right now. 200 Watt SS combo, 1X15 with a tweeter, 45 lbs. It was nominally made as a "practice amp" but 200 Watts should be adequately loud and the light weight is a plus.

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If I were doing small to medium gigs as a bass player' date=' there's an Eden Nemesis N15 on the local CraigsList right now. 200 Watt SS combo, 1X15 with a tweeter, 45 lbs. It was nominally made as a "practice amp" but 200 Watts should be adequately loud and the light weight is a plus.[/quote']

 

I love my Ampeg B100R, but at 65 lbs. its not really light. I can still carry it around, but eventually I might have to get something lighter. At least it keeps me fit as I get older.

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If I were doing small to medium gigs as a bass player' date=' there's an Eden Nemesis N15 on the local CraigsList right now. 200 Watt SS combo, 1X15 with a tweeter, 45 lbs. It was nominally made as a "practice amp" but 200 Watts should be adequately loud and the light weight is a plus.[/quote']

 

I've played lots of gigs with a borrowed 200W Eden Nemesis that belongs to a friend of mine. It's a solid sounding amp, and should be able to hang with a band with no problems. His is the 2x10 version, but it sounds like it's the same basic amp outside of the speaker difference.

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