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A 15 watt combo amp is very loud when driving a full-sized cabinet

On 11/18/98, S. Mac wrote:

>In response to your excellent articles on tube and speaker saturation; I have been getting what I consider a great live tone in medium to large clubs with a 15 watt Blues Jr.(classic rock & blues) playing in fairly loud bands. Many other players have experssed suprise, even astonishment.

I have owned the Pro Jr. and played it at full volume, just enough to see how very loud it is with its single 10" speaker in the small combo cabinet. That is when I found the power/loudness relationship. A 15 watt amp is almost as loud as a 50 watt amp. The reviewers call these "small amps", but that is mostly due to the bad convention of putting 15 watt heads into undersized combo packages. Even a 5 watt amp is very, very loud; far louder than people assume. They think it will be 1/10 as loud as a 50 watt amp, but it's actually a good *half* as loud, *when* driving the same, full-sized speaker cabinet. Speaker effciency (93 vs. 108 dB) also makes a huge difference. So I am not at all surprised. Many times have I read "this little amp blows down the walls!" That's wonderful for those guitarists, when on stage, but they don't understand; the goal for control of tone while jamming at home is to *not* be loud. Thus I am calling for a *thousandfold* decrease of power, down to 50 mW. Even 1/2 watt, driving a large cabinet, is too loud, for 3 A.M. in an apartment.

>I plug a Strat (volume on 10) into an effects pedalboard with the preamp turned up almost to the saturation point ( i use the eq master ) into a volume pedal (for control) into the amp (imput voume at half or less, master at 3/4). Here`s the critical part. The speaker is a 300 watt ElectroVoice! It won`t cut it with the stock speaker. I found this combination by accident one night and was amazed. The tone reminds me of a vintage mid-sized Fender cranked up; clean warm natural distortion. I can control the amount by slightly changing the relationship between the two volumes on the amp.(more imput, less master if I`m having to play a quiet set. It works better at higher volumes, though).

>Sincerly, S. Mac (35 years experience)

I played the 5 watt Crate VC508. Its preamp is crummy and lacks features, and its cabinet and speaker are flimsy and undersized. That new product is now the cheapest way to get ahold of a new tube power amp, but the only way I would run that amp is using an outboard preamp, and driving a full-sized cabinet.

Thank you for encouraging guitarists to go further down that route, of combining a small tube combo with a full-sized cabinet, yielding full-sized Tone.

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