What makes a great amp specifically for playing live?
The difference between a studio amp vs a live amp
The answer comes from the opportunity presented in each case. You get 1 shot to play a song in front of an audience when you perform live. You get 99 shots or more to record it right in the studio.
Effectively, any amp is great for the studio you can play with the e.q. as much as you want, double a track, even change settings for pedals so that they don’t suck out top end.
In a live setting you can’t. You have one opportunity to captivate your audience. There isn’t time to change settings worry about pedals sucking out top end, or running back to change settings in the middle of a song.
At this point great tone is a given. If the amp doesn’t sound good you aren’t going to use it. Period. What matters now are a set of features that allow effortless playing. So that you can focus on your audience and not running back to your gain knob.
The list of features needed for a great live amp :-
- Channel E.Q.’s – a must. No amp can share an e.q. On a clean and drive channel reason being what works for one won’t necessarily work for another.
- Noiseless channel switching – Popping noises aren’t acceptable when switching between channels.
- Fx loop with send and return levels – put a delay pedal In front of the amp vs the back and you will instantly know the difference. So many amazing players prefer an fx loop for their modulation effects.Send and return only help its cause giving players an even larger dynamic for their effects. Some even use it as a trick for boosting their signal.
- True bypass of fx loop – a rare feature to find on amp and a crucial one too. Plug a pedal that isn’t on into a passive loop and see the top end get sucked out. It’s painful and a pity that a tone must lose its luster when pedals aren’t switched on. A bypass is a priority that must not be ignored.
- Foot switchable controls – no one should be running back to an amp to change channels it’s just wrong.
- Line out – useful for P.A.’s