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Low wattage amp/ A.T. vid

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Andrew T
Apr 24, 2010 7:07 AM GMT

I bought a new amp from a buddy I've been gigging with in WYO. It's a Blackheart (Crate is the parent company) 3-5Watt amp with 1 12" in it. At the 3Watt setting it's loud as heck in my apartment. With the LW Harp Attack pedal and a Boss Reverb pedal added it sounds pretty darn nice. But I recently played it for the first time at a Blues jam and I got feedback when i tried to push it and my sound was largely buried by the other players. The following is a video another Harp player took during the first tune before I had the amp mic-ed and before I turned the highs all the way down. My question is: how do I get good volume and tone out of a low powered amp and/or how do I increase the power while minimizing feedback?

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Comments (7)

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Apr 24, 2010 9:44 AM GMT
blogward Replied:

Low power valve amps are great, but don't have much 'spread' - you have to be sitting right in line with the cone to hear them in a live situation. I suggest you place the amp at least at chest level on stage and aimed at your head, possibly even from the other side of the stage. A volume pot on the mic is essential IMHO.

Apr 24, 2010 5:09 PM GMT
BlowsMeAwy Greg Replied:

An amp only goes so loud before it feeds back. That's just physics. And lower powered amps sound so freakin' loud in your living room you just can't imagine them being buried at a jam but that is exactly what will happen. To be heard at a typical jam you need a lot of speaker surface area (like, 250 sq. in. or more) and a lot of power (like 35W or more.)

Barring that, as blogward said at least you can hear yourself better if you can get that amp up and pointed at YOUR ears. Then mic it and pray. (There's only so far you can go with mic'ing.) Note that most guys will set every channel up the same way on the PA, including some signal into stage monitors. You want to start with NONE of your amp in the monitors as that will be a feedback nightmare. Sneak the smallest amount in possible if you still can't hear yourself.

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Apr 25, 2010 12:15 AM GMT
walterharp Replied:

strangely enough, wearing earplugs will help you hear yourself. i can hear my self unamplified playing with a full electric band with earplugs in. something about how the sound is conducted by your jaw to the ear.

Apr 30, 2010 2:56 AM GMT
BlowsMeAwy Greg Replied:

Man, I WISH I could play with earplugs. I am sure I will have premature hearing loss from being exposed to so much loud music. Earplugs do help you hear yourself for sure. But I lose all sense of how loud I am playing or singing relative to the rest of the band. Makes me very uncomfortable - just can't do it.

May 03, 2010 5:56 PM GMT
Boris Plotnikov Replied:


Stop using green bullet. While using harpattack turn drive and volume all way down. Then turn your amp to almost all way up (e.g. 7-8 from 10). Then slightly add volume and drive at your Harp Attack. Don't add too much drive (I use mostly 9 to 12 o'clock with SM57, the less drive the more stage volume, more drive for quiet playing). Add the volume at your harp attack to be at least twice quieter than bypass, you'll not overdrive preamp of amp and hae less feedback.

May 03, 2010 7:46 PM GMT
ron a Replied:

I use 2 12 inch speakers stacked vertically. The top one is my monitor and the bottom one gets mic'd if necessary. The bottom one couples with the floor for extra bass, but like Greg said...nothing in the floor monitors from my harp amp. Very important. I've found the vertical setup acts similar to a line array in some ways and dispersion is improved over a single 12. I noticed this when i was wandering around the room wireless during sound check. With the top speaker so close to your head...relatively speaking, you need to stand to the side of the array and let it all supplement the front of house mix from the sound tech. This also minimizes feedback issues at higher volume settings. I run a valve junior head unmodified and this setup works for me. My band also works hard to keep stage volume down. Having a sound guy in your band helps with Keep in mind, my mic is also very feedback resistant. Yours may not be.

May 03, 2010 7:50 PM GMT
ron a Replied:

On a side note, I have also run an open back cabinet to hear myself from the back of the cabinet instead of the front. The sound you hear is good enough for you to play, but it is out of phase with the sound you are putting into the mic, if everything is wired "correctly." This causes a dgree of cancellation that can be helpful in reducing feedback. As always, you need to experiment with speaker placement whenever you have feedback issues. every room is different.

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