“Can you turn down?” has to be the four most irritating words we can hear as guitarist. It seems like no matter what we do, we either compromise our tone or become number two on our sound engineers most wanted list (second to the drummer).
Getting good tone at a manageable volume can be difficult and frustrating, but not impossible. Lucky for us there are some very useful tools in helping us to achieve this sometimes allusive goal.
GETTING GOOD TONE AT LOW VOLUME
Low Wattage Tube Amps
These little tanks of tone can produce a lot of sound. Both good tone and loud volume. Some of the best tone I have heard has been from little low wattage tube amps. Because they are using a low amount of wattage you will able to push the tubes more giving that great alive tube sound.
These handy little devices are placed in between the amp and the speaker and allow you to push your tubes without blasting a lot of volume through the speaker. Great for situations when you want great tone at lower volume.
KEEPING VOLUME UNDER CONTROL
Point the amp right at your face.
This sounds overly simple, but can make a big difference. If you are not playing at a church with an Aviom system and you use your amp as a monitor then pointing the speaker at your ears can go a long way towards allowing you to hear yourself clearly while minimizing the volume you need to use.
Enter the Amp Stand. You can get one at just about any music store (ironically enough, the Guitar Center closest to me never seems to have these in stock).
If you use it right you will be able to hear your glorious tone without inspiring any tension between you and the sound engineer.
For those of you who use Aviom systems, a sound dampening box that encloses the amp is one of the most effective ways to keep your amp’s volume in check. I know some people and churches that have built these for themselves and they work great (of course, they put space in the box for microphones).
This thing is pretty cool. It is a fully enclosed speaker cabinet with a microphone built into it. It is not the most pretty thing on the market, but it works. Originally it was designed for people who wanted to record quality tube amps at low volumes, but it can also work great live. Take a look at Marc Seal demoing the AxeTrak
It was created by a guitarist named Jeff Harris who plays mainly for his church.
Solving this problem is worth the hassle. It will help provide a great mix for your congregation while giving them the best guitar tone possible.
Keep it up and keep sharp.