Advice on how to play "loud" 😁

Here is my dilemma: in the rehearsal room, where I now have the pleasure to play occasionally, there is an Ampeg SVT450H, which - I take it - has nominally 450 W of output power. Still, I struggle to hear myself over the guitar and drums. The guitar plays through a Marshall while also slaving a Roland guitar synth through a small PA (not exactly sure what this is really called in English - it is usually for singers). And the drums… well, are drums!

So, my active bass has the volume all the way up, on the amp the gain is fairly high (3 o’clock) and the master is almost on max (4 o’clock). Most of the tone control knobs are in a neutral position (also on my bass). The graphic EQ is in a “scoop” position most of the time.

So, what can I do to “get through” a bit more? I don’t want to increase the gain, as that would just increase the distortion, I guess!? Cranking up all tone knobs (on the amp and the bass) would probably give some more power, but at the expense of an ugly tone (and lot of string scraping etc). So, those are not really good options…

Using an extra pre-amp is not doing anything, if I understand this whole thing right… a pre-amp wouldn’t somehow lead to increase of the output power of the SVT, correct!?!

Are there some hardware tricks I could apply? Something obvious that I just don’t know about? Some little gadget to boost the bass perhaps?

I have asked them whether they could take their volumes back a notch, but they don’t seem to see the problem… Maybe it is just me, who after years of only listening to nicely mixed and mastered recordings on his Hifi stereo now just can’t “stand” a muddy, soupy sound in a rehearsal room anymore?!?


That should be plenty of amp. What speaker cab is it driving? It is possible it is only driving 225W depending on the cab.

You could try bringing the mids up a bit to get a little more punch.

If you are maxing out a 450W Ampeg head in a practice room and still can’t hear yourself over the guitar I would seriously consider hearing protection too :slight_smile:


Yeah, the problem is probably a lack in the “available” frequencies, most probably the low-mids, where your bass will have some punch and find its place into the mix.

Marshall guitar amps usually have a lot of high-mids but not so much bass and low-mids.

and, agree with @howard, the acoustic pressure must be pretty high : don’t take too much risks with your ears !


@joergkutter - I have played with many guitar players (I myself was one) who would NEVER throttle down!! Always playing at 10 and looking for 11…!! Good Luck, and as @howard and @terb suggested,… protect your ears!!

Keep on Thumpin’!


Don’t know exactly - will check next time! Something seems off though, because, yeah, I’d think 450 W would be plenty. And while they play loud it is still not where my ears start bleeding…

So, in any case, it appears I can’t fix this with just another gizmo :slight_smile:

Thanks for your input, guys! (@howard, @terb, @Lanny)


On the humorous side…

You can do what Eric Clapton did during a Cream performance where Jack Bruce had his bass amp so loud, that drummer Ginger Baker had to beat on the drums harder in order to compete. Bruce kept turning the amp up, and Baker kept beating the drums even louder. In frustration, Clapton quit playing for several minutes, but the bass and drums were so overpowering that nobody even noticed he had stopped playing.
The feud between Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker was legendary, and they continued throwing hateful barbs at each other right up to their deaths…
RIP Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker.

@joergkutter sorry, I can’t give you any advice, but I love sharing music trivia.


Haha, you know, I had contemplated that… but, the other two claim they can hear me well (especially my mistakes, I would guess)… go figure!

But, your little story reminded me of something I forgot to mention: in order to play along with them, I have to pluck the strings MUCH harder than when I am practicing at home, and that compromises precision, I feel.


that’s it, if you don’t ear the bass player, it means that he/she plays the right thing :joy: (or maybe he/she does not play at all, who knows ?) :joy:


That Ampeg SVT450H head should be enough to play comfortably to a medium sized venue of about 1,200 people. However, there is the limitation of the cabinet. You have two options…

  1. Run at 4 Ohm into a single cabinet at 450 Watts. Probably a 410 cabinet.
  2. Run at 8 Ohm into two different cabinets at 225 Watts per cabinet.

If you are running at 8 Ohm into a single cabinet, the specs on the Ampeg site say you will max out at 275 Watts. From what you are describing this is what it sounds like is going on.

I don’t know what’s available near you but in the US you can generally get an 8 Ohm cabinet used for a $100. Not top tier equipment but it should help.

Trying to get enough watts to be heard and get a clean tone starts to get pretty pricey real quick. Good luck @joergkutter. I’m looking forward to hearing how all this turns out.


Thanks, @eric.kiser! I will check this out some more tomorrow when I am again in the rehearsal room. The equipment there is not mine, it is provided by the people renting out the rehearsal space (and shared with other bands). So, I am not prepared to buy a new cab :smile:

My initial thought was that I might be able to remedy the situation by bringing (my own) pre-amp stompbox, or a pedal board with a pre-amp, but I guess that is not really a viable option.



@joergkutter I have this dream where I own a selection of pre-amps (Ampeg, Tone Hammer, Darkglass, just the necessities) and a light weight 1,000 watt power amp that all fit nicely in a gig bag. In this dream I also have 700+ watts of cabinets and a really helpful old chap that drives me around.

My reality is that I don’t have any of those things and I’m not in any position to be dropping cash on extra gear.

I’m just really excited for you! You’re doing exactly what I hope to get to do!


Thanks - I feel quite fortunate that things have developed in this way for me :smile:

And, not just by the way: keep on dreaming - without dreams we are standing still!


have you tried to set up the EQ flat ? (pots + graphic EQ)


I will try that tomorrow in the rehearsal room, but I don’t think it will make much impact. I suspect it is more likely the reason @eric.kiser suggested… will find out!

Thanks, @terb


maybe … but I compare to my Ampeg which is a 220w : I never have any problem to be heard even when playing heavy psychedelic stoner/sludge one meter away from the drummer :grin: and I never need to crank the volume pot all the way up, so the EQ settings might be an easy thing to try !


That’s it!

What speaker cab are you playing through?

The terms “gain” and “distortion” are often associated, but gain on an amp is just a volume control, the distortion only comes past a certain threshold.

I’m guessing this is your primary problem. Too much sound in a room = mud that you can’t do anything about, no matter how you tone shape.

BUT, while I agree with @howard about experimenting with a mid boost, you may also want to try doing some subtractive EQ, see if you can identify any boominess and roll off a little lows (maybe in conjunction with a mid boost) so there’s more room for clarity overall.

Also, maybe you can talk you guitarist into rolling off his bass EQ? Boomy guitar amps make me homicidal. That and poorly EQ’ed floor toms (especially hit by drummers who play too loud), sucks all the bass guitar off the stage.

And yes to everyone who suggested ear protection! Spending $250 on custom molds and swappable filters was one of my best gear purchases ever.


Being in construction I’m familiar with ear protection in the form of the little foam ear plugs and “headphone” style ear protection, but are you referring to something that kinda looks like a hearing aid when worn? And would swappable filters be used to be able to hear more or less sound/tone?


Yes, to both questions. That are a lot of different looking models. The custom molding is supposed to give a more comfortable fit for long wear. Also, makes them easier to insert and they should stay in place better.


Will find out today and report back to the forum :grinning:

Yes, I learned that now, and that is also what I had in mind in my original post - I didn’t want to increase the gain any more for fear of risking the onset of (unwanted) distortion.

Will indeed do some experimenting in the rehearsal room today.

Very good point also. The guitar player is considering bringing in a keyboard player as well, but I already told him that I don’t think there is enough “room” for a keyboard, neither in his compositions, nor, in fact, in the sonic space. And there, I hadn’t even considered him already infringing on bass territory also :grin:

I’d be very curious to hear more about these. Naively, I would have thought these were just pieces of rubbery foam, but for USD 250 it must be something entirely different. From the word “filter”, I take it they can do some sound-shaping along with the attenuation!?!

Thanks for the input, @JoshFossgreen!


@eric.kiser: as mentioned in my reply to @JoshFossgreen in this thread, I’d be very interested to learn more about these “devices”, which must be way more than just pieces of porous foam…