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I'm wondering if it is OK to instead of having your guitar go through a high wattage amp that fills the arena up by itself rather have a small tube amp set to full blast and then maybe set it up and send it through a PA system or other cabs?

Could you still have a decent sound if you do this or will it sound weak?

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    1970, build a bigger amp. 1995 onwards, use whatever you like & mic it up.
    – Tetsujin
    May 29, 2015 at 19:46
  • ...and… the sound guy will love you if he's in charge of your mix level, not you ;)
    – Tetsujin
    May 30, 2015 at 6:42
  • But will it still sound good? As I understand it tube amps become tremendous when cranked fully.
    – Neil Meyer
    May 30, 2015 at 9:13
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    You can only rely on the sound guy/gal if you brought them with you. A small wattage amp cranked does not sound like a 50 or 100 watt amp. The transformers aren't as big. Plus you will have no true clean sound. The loudness of an amp has more to do with speaker SPL than wattage.
    – Jay Skyler
    May 31, 2015 at 7:41
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    Neil Young has for years used a (~15W) tweed Fender Deluxe, and I doubt anyone would accuse him of a weak sound!
    – jonrsharpe
    Jun 1, 2015 at 11:24

1 Answer 1

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Absolutely - use a smaller amp and mic it up. Check out pretty much any rock band these days. Sure, some will use the classic Wall of Marshalls (with one or 2 mic'ed up) at big venues, but the majority now use relatively small amps - often between 50 and 150 watts, and have these mic'ed into the PA desk.

This makes it very easy to define your on-stage sound, and gives the sound engineer the flexibility he needs to take that good sound and project it out through the PA.

If you use massive amps, it can be very difficult to tailor your sound to work in different venues, whereas a 50 Watt Marshall can be set to your liking for breakup and overdrive in even small venues.

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    Actually, chances are, the "Wall of Marshalls" is actually a "Wall of empty Marshall cabinets with a single cabinet behind the stage micd up". Jun 1, 2015 at 12:55
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    As a sound engineer, I can definitely attest to the "the smaller the amp, the bigger the sound" mantra. Jun 1, 2015 at 12:56

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