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Amps in Series?

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joe k
Jan 21, 2010 2:26 AM GMT

Hi Gang,

Odd question so, naturally, I thought I'd ask it here.

Has anyone tried connecting smaller amps in series to get more volume with same tone? (Not even sure it's possible.)

I ask this for many reasons but the primary one is that I already play through my beloved Blues Junior and have a line on another great quality BJ. (Careful.) I'm planning on a Bassman later this year but I wondered if it would be possible, or functional, to connect the two Blues Juniors - if this would create more volume with the same tone.

My regular gigs are with a C&W group and I sit in with a number of Blues groups. I usually pipe the Junior through the PA and it works tolerably well. Some venues the PA is not accessible and I hate depending on somebody else for my volume. As we've all faced, if I'm on the Junior only, every lead guitarist in the world is going to drown me out by the third chord.

Just wondering if this works or if anyone has tried it.

Best,

Joe K



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Comments (11)

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Jan 21, 2010 3:57 AM GMT
BlowsMeAwy Greg Replied:

To hook amps literally in series would mean taking the speaker output of amp #1 and running into the mic input of amp #2. This won't work, and would probably blow something up in Amp #2. However there ARE ways to use two amps. It can work very well to "move more air" provided, of course, that the two amps remain "in phase". (This means than when the speakers in amp #1 are moving forward, so are the ones in amp #2 - otherwise the bass frequencies tend to cancel each other out.)

1) You can use a passive "Y" cable or "A/B/Y" box to split the signal from your mic to two amps. This is straight forward and cheap - however it divides the input impedance in half, which increases the load on your mic and can suck tone, particularly if it is a crystal element.

2) You can use some sort of "active" (powered) pedal that has 2 outputs. In most cases, this pedal will "buffer" the input and pass it to both outputs without the impedance -lowering problem of #1 above.

3) You can run a "line out" from amp #1 to amp #2. The "cool" kind of line out is a very simple circuit run off of the speaker wires (i.e., the output of the output transformer.) The signal is attenuated back down to mic/line levels so it won't fry amp#2. This also solves the impedance problem. I have used this approach several times and it sounds great. I've used a Kalamazoo into a Sonny Jr Cruncher, and I use the Cruncher into my Super Sonny when we do an outdoor gig. You can hear the Kalamazoo into the Cruncher on the recording of "Early In The Morning" on our CD if you care.

One note about solution number 3 is that the total volume is raised, but so is the total system gain - so you will have more feedback. Usually lowering the volume a little on both amps from where you might set them alone seems to work fine.

Another thing about solution 3 is that, unlike 1 and 2, you get the tonal characteristics of the 1st amp amplified by the second. This is a cool thing - always use your best sounding amp first in the chain.

/Greg

BlowsMeAway Productions
Bluestate
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Jan 21, 2010 8:50 AM GMT
Boris Plotnikov Replied:

I really like to split signals. I love to mix different amps. I got 4 different pedals that can split the signal: 1) Boss HR-2 Harmonist has 2 outputs, both work when bypassed or active (you can add different interval to outputs), 2) Boss PS3 - pitch shifter/delay, 3) Boss LS2 line selector - you also can adjust volume of every output, 4) custom made active splitter/AB Box. I like to split signal to amp PA or tube amp solid state amp. It give me more tonal variants and enough highs. I also can add different effects to different amp, and I don't loose tone. If you buy two identical amps you will have much volume with the same tone. I dislike BJ tone itself, so I can't advice to buy you the second ((:

I'd advice you to buy different amp (10'' speaker would be better I think) and mix them.



Jan 21, 2010 1:09 PM GMT
John P Replied:

On a Fender or a Marshall with 2 inputs on the same channel you can go into one input of the first amp, and then connect the second input of the first amp to an input of the second amp. Used this way, the second input of the first amp will act like an output.

You can also bridge channels this way as well as bridging amps. Now, if one of the amps or channels has reverb and the other does not, they may be out of phase with each other, since the reverb channel has an additional preamp tube, in which case bridging probably won't sound as good, I don't know if this is strictly considered connecting amps "in series" but it can be pretty cool.



Jan 22, 2010 4:40 AM GMT
BlowsMeAwy Greg Replied:

"On a Fender or a Marshall with 2 inputs on the same channel you can go into one input of the first amp, and then connect the second input of the first amp to an input of the second amp. Used this way, the second input of the first amp will act like an output."

Yeah, I used to do this, until I started working on amps.These inputs are in parallel; each has a resistor to ground and another to the preamp tube. Using this method works, but will lower your input impedance even more than a Y cable. You will suck tone from just about any mic this way.



Jan 30, 2010 3:01 PM GMT
Boris Plotnikov Replied:

Greg

You forget one more great way of using amps in series. It doesn't work for all amps, but it works good.

You have to take line output or FX send from yourfavoriteamp and is seems better to plug it to FX return (or Power Amp In) of the second amp. You'll have much closer tone on the second amp (not altered by second amp preamp

Unfortunately not all amps have FX return, but if you have small amp you like with you and damned marshal solid state stack it'll sounds much better if you plug to it's FX return.



Jan 30, 2010 4:17 PM GMT
BlowsMeAwy Greg Replied:

Good point, Boris

I've never owned an amp with an FX loop so I didn't think about that.

/Greg



Jan 30, 2010 5:42 PM GMT
BluEyes Replied:

Thank your Boris for the suggestion and thank you Joe K for the post. I have a wonderful Kalamazoo and a smaller amp that has a lot of effect on it. I was thinking of putting them together and see how that works out. I play at an open mic and at little get togethers, so buying a big rig us too much for me. Plus im not that good I just have great friends that love me. I would rather have the money.. No I don't meat that.

abner (BluEyes, I learn so much from you guys. )



Jan 30, 2010 6:55 PM GMT
Boris Plotnikov Replied:

Blueyes

As far as I know you got Kalamazoo and small roland microcube. I don't recommend you to use line outputs of any of one. Just try splitting signal before amp. You can buy some pitch shifter or delay with two outputs and work with both tones independent. Try adding effects on microcube all way up to be heard over Kalamazoo.



Jan 31, 2010 12:41 AM GMT
BluEyes Replied:

craps i'm glad i'm sick, and did not try that. Thanks Boris. I should make a trip to Radio Shack and pick up the gears. I probably have some in the gararge but that's a death trap.

abner (BluEyes, eight more years and we're even)



Jan 31, 2010 2:30 AM GMT
John P Replied:

Per Greg: " These inputs are in parallel; each has a resistor to ground and another to the preamp tube. Using this method works, but will lower your input impedance even more than a Y cable. You will suck tone from just about any mic this way. "

Yes. BUT depending how hot the signal is and how high gain the amp is it can be a way to cool out the input signal to control feedback. How it sounds depends on the gear.



Jan 31, 2010 5:13 AM GMT
Boris Plotnikov Replied:

John

It can be the way of reducing gain if you're using some big marshall amps, but this reducing is hardly controllable if you don't use the same amps every gig you hardly get what you wont.

As I have no car I have no ability to have my amp always with me, I usually take me pedalboard and I have more mays to produce good sounds from most amps (I can reduce the output gain too if everything feedbacks).




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