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Do Point That Thing At Me

Did you know guitar amps are very directional? By that I mean the sound that comes out of them (especially the middle and treble frequencies) travels through the air in a straight line in the direction that the speaker is facing.


Once you realise this, it’s possible to make some adjustments that just might help you make the best of your amplifier.

Angle it

An amp stand is a pretty minor investment, but it can make a huge difference! Instead of having your amp flat on the floor, use a stand to point it up towards your ears – you will hear the clarity in your tone better and probably won’t need as much volume. If you don’t have a stand, even just tilting the amp back and sticking something underneath can help.

If your amp is flat on the floor, the bass frequencies will resonate through the structure (floorboards/stage) and the volume and tone will be hanging around by your ankles.

Stand in front

So often I see people with their amp on the floor, and they’re standing beside or even behind it. In a rehearsal room, this can lead to volume wars! Guitarist can’t hear themselves clearly so they turn up, then the bass player across the room is getting a faceful of guitar, so they turn up, so the drummer hits harder and everyone keeps turning up until everything is one noisy mush! The solution is to get your amp (ideally on a stand) facing you, so that it is you getting a faceful of time and the whole volume of the room can be brought down, making it easier to hear and saving your ears.

On stage

The same thing applies in a live situation – a medium combo angled up at you are all you’re ever really going to need. If you are one of those old fashioned guys that thinks you need a cranked stack, I’ve got news for you – it’s not going to sound as good as you think it is. The people directly in front of you will hear nothing but you, and the sound guy won’t have a chance of making your band sound good because there will be so much volume on stage. Your amp should be positioned and loud enough for you to hear yourself clearly, but no more – have it mic’ed up and let the sound man and his full range speakers do the rest!

 

By being aware of the way guitar amp speakers work, you might just improve your tone as well as going up in the estimations of your neighbours, band mates and audiences.

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