View Poll Results: Amp or DI?

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  • I want my own amp

    64 83.12%
  • A preamp into the PA is fine for me

    9 11.69%
  • I just plug into the mixing desk

    2 2.60%
  • I couldn't care less

    2 2.60%
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  1. #1

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    I wonder why the topic of just plugging through some kind of preamp into a PA-system isn't discussed more here. Most of us prefer a very clean tone anyway so why isn't that easy solution more common? Or maybe some do it and just don't bother to talk about it?

    I just received my "big" fender amp, a Vibrolux from a repair and de-hissing measures and schlepped it onto my music room to hear the success (it worked). So I was able to compare to my DI / in-ear solution. Honestly, apart from the punch of the 2x 10" speakers I didn't think the difference would be worth the hussle (schlepping and maintaining the amp, discussions with mixing engineers and club staff – yes, some waitress told me not to play too loud before I even plugged the amp in) so I think I'll go ampless whenever there is a PA and monitoring available or I can use in-ears.
    In both of my bands we switched to headphone / in ear rehearsals recently also so the only situation an amp would be needed are jams and very small clubs without PA systems.

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  3. #2

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    I think you're on trend. However, many players still like the dynamics, tweaking and amp-in-the-room feel of an air-pushing speaker within their reach. If there's just one band with a solid act, in-ear monitors apparently grow on you. But if you're playing in various ensembles and locations, jam sessions etc., the amp is still a must. It doesn't have to be huge and heavy anymore. And when gigs resume, I think small venues are the first to open up.

    Edit: It seems that not every jazz club even in Mecca, i.e. N.Y., has a PA system. Many are so small they don't need it. Even if it exists, mic'ing a small amp is always an option. The amp can then be positioned as your personal monitor.
    Last edited by Gitterbug; 04-03-2021 at 11:44 AM.

  4. #3

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    for me it’s horses for courses

    ive got a band backing up singers doing
    old school standards to modern pop and
    soul tunes , for this i have gone DI
    through a harley benton american
    pre-amp and it has worked quite well

    in fact might get one of these ....
    fx , delays and amp/cab modeling
    all in one box for £100 !
    bargain
    https://m.thomann.de/gb/harley_benton_dnafx_git.htm?o=3&search=1617454154
    they seem to review quite well ....
    —————-
    for a straight ahead instrumental jazz gig
    i would deffo prefer an amp next to me

  5. #4

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    My number one reason for bringing an amp to a gig is sound (cause I prefer them), number two is convenience. No matter what the backline, sound mix, sound guy, room etc are, I'm going to be able to hear myself the way I want. So win win!

    I play (used to play.. before covid ) lots of conventions, events, marriages, etc, mostly jazz music, gigs where you want to carry light, just enjoy yourself, and don't really need the ultimate guitar sound to do the job So many times I'd even just take a venue di or sansamp blonde and play through that with a monitor (or even without a monitor).

    But ever since Zt Lunchbox came about, it has been my go to solution for such gigs. No worries about anything, just throw it in a backpack and you can handle any inconvenience. Walk 200 meters to the gig and the difference between that and say an Aer becomes noticeable..

  6. #5

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    My guess, if we tightened the poll even more, is that jazz guitarists playing a jazz gig will want amps, and when the same players do other "styles" of gigs, they are more flexible with the gear they use.

  7. #6

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    I prefer an amp. That being said, these days I run my Brute preamp pedal into the PA. It's just simple.

  8. #7

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    You guys play places with a PA? COOL.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    You guys play places with a PA? COOL.
    LOL! I've been wracking my lil' pea brain for an occasion when there was a house PA. Once, very early on, there was this outdoor gig. On a flat bed truck on which our 7-piece band was spread out the full length of.* One small hitch - no @%#%$& monitors. It was one of the Worst Gigs Of All Time.

    I voted amp but gigged for several years amp-less, as detailed in the Impressionism thread. TL;DR: I found all that pre-processing was feeding into my habitual laziness and eroding my technique. It was great while it lasted. I think the fundamental question is, Do I need a near-field monitor? And my answer is Only if I want to play in tune. Which I really, really do.

    * I had a joke for this, but I forgot to put it in, and now I've forgotten it. I won't sleep tonight.**

    ** Something, something, up with which I will not put, or something....
    Last edited by citizenk74; 04-03-2021 at 06:59 PM. Reason: addition

  10. #9

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    Assuming we're talking about playing live with other people, I have played thorough PAs many times but it never sounds good. I bought a small light amp for bringing to jams where there's no guitar amp.

    For recording, it's the opposite. I almost never mic an amp. Given my "studio" and "engineering" limitations, DAW plugins sound better and are much less hassle. On the rare occasions when I do sessions for others, I haven't used an amp in probably 10 years.

    John

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by citizenk74
    And my answer is Only if I want to play in tune. Which I really, really do.
    oh you’re into that whole playing in tune thing .... ok !

  12. #11

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    Looking at the products made by manufacturers like Brunetti, Fender, Supro and Rivera... I definitely want to call myself an owner of one of these beauties (Brunetti Singleman 35) one day. Or better one of each brand.

  13. #12

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    I’ve never heard anyone who went ampless sound worth a good goddam. The playing may be great but the tone always sounds bad.

    Many, many, many years ago I did a gig on bass using a sans amp direct into the PA. I couldn’t hear myself at all and was at the total mercy of the inattentive sound man. I swore after that I’d never play another gig without my own amp.

  14. #13

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    I'm in the amp crowd. I have ran my electric hollowbody guitars through a pa a few times through the 25 years or so via LR Baggs Para DI or the K&K Pure XLR DI which sounded great on those stages with a competent sound person. Most of the gigs I've played are small cafes so its the Mini Brutes, Yamaha G50-II or Ultasound AG-30 for electric hollowbody. For acoustic guitar gigs its the Ultrasound AG-30 or AG-50.

  15. #14

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    Listening to myself play through PA speakers always sucks—at home with a modeler or on stage via the wedge monitors (back in my rock and roll days). I much prefer the sound of my guitars through a cab loaded with guitar speakers. But then again, I can’t recall a live performance I’ve attended and thought “that guitar sounds like crap through a PA.” For me as the performer it’s the specific aural “feedback” that an open-backed guitar cab / speaker provides that I need for things to sound right.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    You guys play places with a PA? COOL.
    Or a JC120, same thing

    For band playing and convenience, I'd definitely look into a Lunchbox + reverb pedal. Solo, not so sure.

  17. #16

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    Bra-less now amp-less, where will it end?

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by fep
    Bra-less now amp-less, where will it end?
    Gig-less.*

    * Sorry! It was just laying there.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by fep View Post
    Bra-less now amp-less, where will it end?

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    You guys play places with a PA? COOL.
    That's always my thought too. It's happened a few times but not enough to make a conversation about.

  21. #20

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    An amp is your monitor and also has a connection that going direct doesn't have.
    Feel and interaction. Although it's tremoundously improved, for live performance I still like having that connection.
    Studio is a bit more forgiving since your amp is in another room already. So plugins generally work fine for me.

    If I was on a high profile gig where the soundman was great at his job, I would probably be okay with a Kemper or the like!

  22. #21

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    I remember years ago, I think it was Tommy Tedesco, the legendary session player, said "when you get a gig, always bring your own amp, it's part of your sound. And you never know who will be listening". Or something like that.

    I have never done a gig where I didn't have my own amp, except just once. In NYC back in the '80's I did a recording session for MTV at a converted church that was a world famous recording studio. They had a great old Marshall there, perfect for the gig. Only problem- I was completely unfamiliar with Marshall amps then, so my sound was awful! The session was a failure. I felt terrible, like bye-bye career awful.

    Luckily I got a do-over a few months later, and recorded with my amp (Deluxe Reverb) in the studio I was most familiar with. Completely different results. That session completely jump started my subsequent career.

    So I learned my lesson, the hard way! If your amp is not a crucial part of your sound, maybe this doesn't apply. But I have yet to see a top player for whom that's true. Sure, Robben Ford can get a good sound out of anything- but he records with his Dumble.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    You guys play places with a PA? COOL.
    It's going even further. I do my own in-ear monitoring mix with an app in the smartphone. It's easier than I'd thought. That's in an 8-piece band and I think I never heard such clean and precise monitoring. I hear everything that anybody plays.

  24. #23

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    I can think of something else that may be an advantage for the DI-solution. I had a beautiful solid carved wood eastman archtop like 15 years ago. Great tone, but going through an amp I always had trouble with feedbacks in the lower registers which is very limiting artistically as I never could play sustained bass notes. And that was in a trio with double bass and drums, not excessively loud.
    My solution was playing the tele, then I found the GB10. If I'd played ampless and in-ears there would have never been a problem I guess.

  25. #24

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    I played gigs where there was no PA. Small bands without drums. It was ok, I only used the amp.
    The PA and the amp are necessary when there is a drummer in the band.
    You can then control the sound of the band.
    I like to play guitar with nylon strings via PA.This is my experience.

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by kris
    I played gigs where there was no PA. Small bands without drums. It was ok, I only used the amp.
    The PA and the amp are necessary when there is a drummer in the band.
    You can then control the sound of the band.
    I like to play guitar with nylon strings via PA.This is my experience.
    You no doubt know what you are talking about, Kris. I once took an electric nylon-string to a jam session, because the idea was to play Latin stuff with a swing band. No matter what I did, the guitar played through my amp (which does not have horn for the trebles) just got lost. Playing through the PA would probably have worked out better. Cutting through the drummer and horns apparently requires sharper, more articulate trebles than what a nylon-string offers. When opportunity knocks, I'll repeat the experiment with a 6.5" Metro FR cab, which seems to offer enough top-end punch. Some modeling/IR guys actually use it as a stage monitor when hooked to PA or mixing console.

  27. #26

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    Boring answer is; depends.

    I like the fly rig concept. It’s not the 1970s anymore. A lot of working pros use Axe FX and Kemper.

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gitterbug
    You no doubt know what you are talking about, Kris. I once took an electric nylon-string to a jam session, because the idea was to play Latin stuff with a swing band. No matter what I did, the guitar played through my amp (which does not have horn for the trebles) just got lost. Playing through the PA would probably have worked out better. Cutting through the drummer and horns apparently requires sharper, more articulate trebles than what a nylon-string offers. When opportunity knocks, I'll repeat the experiment with a 6.5" Metro FR cab, which seems to offer enough top-end punch. Some modeling/IR guys actually use it as a stage monitor when hooked to PA or mixing console.
    Getting a good workable acoustic tone with a band could fill a book or two. I used to work with a bandleader who absolutely frowned on electric guitar for swing rhythm guitar. So that was a ‘journey’ as the yanks say. Learned a lot though!

  29. #28

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    I can understand and happy for yoos who are fortunate to be playing in such a pro situation where a big pa is provided. The last time I did one of those (pre-covid) the house guy said he'd prefer to just mic my Quilter combo the way I wanted it set. A high-energy modern big band. Got some great personal comments after the perf.

  30. #29

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    At outdoor gigs with PA my easiest time has been with an amp with line out to the PA, and using the amp as a monitor. One time I went from the guitar to a Zoom MS100BT pedal (which does some basic amp modeling as well as multiple effects in the size of a standard stamp box) to the PA. There was a monitor for me so I could hear myself; it worked better than I expected and from the audience perspective might have been more satisfying. For a small indoor gigs, however, it's just easier for the horns and drums to play acoustically and the amplified bass and guitar to balance with them by ear. I prefer that to playing with sound reinforcement.

    I try- and fail- to detach my ego from "my sound" because you have almost no control over what the audience hears, anyway. If you're playing through an amp, where the audience member is sitting in the room profoundly affects what they hear. The audience does not hear what you hear because their location relative to your amp is different than yours. Someone sitting directly in line in front of your amp is probably getting a very harsh, trebly sound while you're hearing fat warm tones because you're off-axis and they aren't- and you will usually adjust for you. If you are using a PA with someone running the soundboard, you're depending on what they think you should sound like. If somebody in the band is running the soundboard, the odds are good that they're paying less attention to that than they are to playing their part.

    Really, as soon as you leave your practice room your ability to control what you sound like decreases dramatically. In the "Evening with Joe Pass" video he talks about his preference for going direct to the house PA rather than playing through an amp, admitting that he has basically given up control over his sound and that if it's a good system and a good soundperson he sounds good and if it's a bad system or a bad soundperson he doesn't.

  31. #30

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    I've always had an amp. When there has been a PA either I mic the amp (draping a Sennheiser 609 from the handle, or letting the soundman, if there is one, mic it) or run a line from my pedalboard to the PA.

    Best result I ever had was a PA in small venue. I brought a Crate GFX15 (12w, tiny and cheap, but sounds good) and mic'ed it with the venue's mic. Might have been the best tone I ever got on a gig.

  32. #31

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    I've grown to prefer a modeler with a full range flat response (FRFR) speaker. I would still prefer my own FRFR at a performance since so many PA's completely and absolutely suck but if it was something decent the PA would be fine.

  33. #32

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    While I won't go ampless on the gig, recording is another animal altogether. I've heard some really good recordings using DI methods, and have done a few myself.

  34. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Sound
    I can understand and happy for yoos who are fortunate to be playing in such a pro situation where a big pa is provided. The last time I did one of those (pre-covid) the house guy said he'd prefer to just mic my Quilter combo the way I wanted it set. A high-energy modern big band. Got some great personal comments after the perf.
    Mic-ing an amp, or using a line-out is almost always a better way to get a good, balanced, widely-dispersed guitar sound out to an audience. Guitar amps are beamy by nature (that's what makes them great monitors) and the more speakers involved, the beamier they get. My evolved method was to tilt the amp towards me and the ceiling, play at a low level, and let the PA do the work. If there were no PA for instruments, tilt the amp away from me and toward the ceiling and play somewhat louder according to the room. IMHO the most troublesome players to get into a room mix are those who refuse to turn down. PAs are designed to disperse pretty evenly and should be taken advantage of when available.

  35. #34

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    Almost all my jazz performance has been as a mostly 3, occasionally 4 or 5 piece, in venues or events where the level is low, no vocals (but if there were, no PA would be needed), with the drummer using brushes... so no mic'ing, no PA, no monitors, no console, no sound man.

    I use big Fender tube amps turned down low and played gently.

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by pauln
    Almost all my jazz performance has been as a mostly 3, occasionally 4 or 5 piece, in venues or events where the level is low, no vocals (but if there were, no PA would be needed), with the drummer using brushes... so no mic'ing, no PA, no monitors, no console, no sound man.

    I use big Fender tube amps turned down low and played gently.
    heaven !

  37. #36

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    Amps are swell, but I always pack one of a couple of pretty basic but highly functional devices that can take advantage of a PA, and put them between the instrument and the amp if necessary or appropriate:
    -Carl Martin 3 Band semi-parametric
    EQ/pre-amp - has a DI, can act as a simple boost. Great for any acoustic instrument as well as electric.
    -Koch '63 OD 2-channel tube preamp pedal
    - has a DI, can act as a simple boost. More of a guitar-specific thing.


    Attached Images Attached Images Going ampless?-carl-martin-3-band-parametric-preamp-eq-main-jpg Going ampless?-koch-63-od-jpg 

  38. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammertone
    Amps are swell, but I always pack one of a couple of pretty basic but highly functional devices that can take advantage of a PA, and put them between the instrument and the amp if necessary or appropriate:
    -Carl Martin 3 Band semi-parametric
    EQ/pre-amp - has a DI, can act as a simple boost. Great for any acoustic instrument as well as electric.
    -Koch '63 OD 2-channel tube preamp pedal
    - has a DI, can act as a simple boost. More of a guitar-specific thing.


    The Koch pedal is reinforced with titanium rebar so that Hammertone can stomp on it but good when he’s feeling extra-juiced midway through an Autumn Leaves chorus.

  39. #38

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    For my needs, the perfect ampless Swiss army knife would be a pedal with:
    - clean-to-break (Fender-like?) preamp and power amp/speaker simulation. I don't need IRs, a good SansAmp would be enough
    - a decent reverb (not necessarily footswitchable)
    - footswitchable tuner with mute
    - balanced XLR (or at least TRS) and phone outputs
    - maybe - but not needed - footswitchable boost
    I still haven't found something that ticks all these without going overkill with features (Ampero, HX Stomp and so on), I'd like to keep it simple.
    The AMT Pangaea Ultima U-2 and Tech 21 RK5 v2 are probably the closest to my expectations.

  40. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by whitefang
    For my needs, the perfect ampless Swiss army knife would be a pedal with:
    - clean-to-break (Fender-like?) preamp and power amp/speaker simulation. I don't need IRs, a good SansAmp would be enough
    - a decent reverb (not necessarily footswitchable)
    - footswitchable tuner with mute
    - balanced XLR (or at least TRS) and phone outputs
    - maybe - but not needed - footswitchable boost
    I still haven't found something that ticks all these without going overkill with features (Ampero, HX Stomp and so on), I'd like to keep it simple.
    The AMT Pangaea Ultima U-2 and Tech 21 RK5 v2 are probably the closest to my expectations.
    Milkman The Amp 50, a lead with a killl switch and a clip tuner.

    Me, I've got a Joyo American Sound, a Quilter Microblock, a TC Hall of Fame, a lead with a killl switch and a clip tuner. More parts to assemble, but does the job just as well.

  41. #40

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    If we all went ampless we’d put a lot of amp builders out of work.

  42. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by whitefang
    For my needs, the perfect ampless Swiss army knife would be a pedal with:
    - clean-to-break (Fender-like?) preamp and power amp/speaker simulation. I don't need IRs, a good SansAmp would be enough
    - a decent reverb (not necessarily footswitchable)
    - footswitchable tuner with mute
    - balanced XLR (or at least TRS) and phone outputs
    - maybe - but not needed - footswitchable boost
    I still haven't found something that ticks all these without going overkill with features (Ampero, HX Stomp and so on), I'd like to keep it simple.
    The AMT Pangaea Ultima U-2 and Tech 21 RK5 v2 are probably the closest to my expectations.

  43. #42

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    Going ampless?-q-jpg

    The closest I know to a superior quality "all in one" unit is the Carl Martin Quattro.
    Has a fine compressor/boost, two over drives, chorus, tap controllable echo/delay.
    It has the external loop to add a tuner/whatever; pair of pro line outs (not stereo).
    Built in regulated 12V power supply; 4 lbs. and kind of small - only 16 inches wide.

  44. #43

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    For over 10 years (I think) I've had a Behringer GDI21 in my cable bag to use straight into the PA if my amp fails.
    Tempting fate now but I've never had to use it so don't know what it's like.
    I like my Musicman combo mic'd into the PA if necessary - mainly for rock, which has lead to almost total deafness in my right ear now.

  45. #44

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    I'd want my own amp. But I'm not coming from the "acoustic archtop jazzbox/lets get it to sound as acoustic as possible" camp, but from the "the amplifier is an integral part to electric tone- it is an instrument unto itself" camp.

    I like guitars, but I LOVE guitars WITH AMPS.

  46. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by whitefang
    For my needs, the perfect ampless Swiss army knife would be a pedal with:
    - clean-to-break (Fender-like?) preamp and power amp/speaker simulation. I don't need IRs, a good SansAmp would be enough
    - a decent reverb (not necessarily footswitchable)
    - footswitchable tuner with mute
    - balanced XLR (or at least TRS) and phone outputs
    - maybe - but not needed - footswitchable boost
    I still haven't found something that ticks all these without going overkill with features (Ampero, HX Stomp and so on), I'd like to keep it simple.
    The AMT Pangaea Ultima U-2 and Tech 21 RK5 v2 are probably the closest to my expectations.
    The fly rig v2 or fly rig RK v2 ticks all of these boxes + decent drive and delay. I had a version 1 flyrig cali and upgraded to the RK v2 because of the tuner and DI – just for the convenience to not cable up an extra tuner and DI-box. Then the additional drive/fuzz and also the option to switch the delay to be a leslie came in handy. I use them for one song each and wouldn't have bothered if they weren't already there.

  47. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by guavajelly
    The fly rig v2 or fly rig RK v2 ticks all of these boxes + decent drive and delay. I had a version 1 flyrig cali and upgraded to the RK v2 because of the tuner and DI – just for the convenience to not cable up an extra tuner and DI-box. Then the additional drive/fuzz and also the option to switch the delay to be a leslie came in handy. I use them for one song each and wouldn't have bothered if they weren't already there.
    I thought the FR V2 was more Plexi/Cali oriented, but I see it has a Blonde/Tuner footswitch, so it should be ok.

  48. #47

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    Bose Compact on every gig. Has a direct out for going to PA, and is self-monitoring in that you set it up behind you (no feedback) and most of the band can hear it without going into the monitors except for a touch on a big stage. Light, dependable, affordable. No effects, so a good pedalboard or, in my case, multi effects pedal is a plus. Also has a very good mic input for sax or vocals, or, in my case, GR-55 synth. Good bass response from built-in subwoofer, excellent tool for solo gigs as well. Throws sound in 180 degree semi-circle, so no hot spots for listeners. Haven't used a conventional amp for over 20 years, and I play nylon and arch top 7-string guitars. The guy who engineered all my CDs came to a couple of gigs, said it was the best live guitar sound he ever heard besides the big acts like Steely Dan.

  49. #48

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    For most show-type gigs where I'll need overdrive, fx etc. I take either my Line6 Stomp or the bigger HELIX board. Both have excellent DI signal quality, VERY convincing + amp-like dynamics and more than enough choice/flexibilty re FX of any kind. The Stomp unit, coupled with an extra footswitch lets me toggle between presets without any fancy tap-dancing and if need be fits into my gigbag, when I carry my Strat or Tele. The ONLY drawback for going this route is that I have no direct control over my stage volume. For that I'd need a powered monitor that is fed via a separate signal from my board. Not always possible ....
    I played a duo gig once where my saxophonist partner brought his BOSE system (we used his backing tracks, too) and I plugged my Stomp directly into the little mixer - it sure sounds great for small rooms where you want to spread the sound without getting loud.

  50. #49

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    I think I'm generally a fan of having an amp on stage. But there are situations where this isn't possible for logistical reasons and the FlyRig has done very nicely in a pinch.

  51. #50

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    I think I'm generally a fan of having an amp on stage. But there are situations where this isn't possible for logistical reasons and the FlyRig has done very nicely in a pinch.
    I like to use my amp wherever possible as a personal monitor. My Vibro Champ would be sufficient, but your Princeton would be better. I mic my self-facing amp and send it to FOH when possible. Otherwise, I just turn the amp away from me, tilt it toward the ceiling, and hope for the best.