Should I invest in a PA system or amps?

greenstar323

Senior Member
Hi all,

So I play in a band with some friends that literally lived around the corner from me. We've always played at their house and I use their kit.

I am moving about 45 minutes from where they live. We plan to still play at their house, but every other week (or weekends perhaps) they plan to drive to my house to play to share the commute. The thing is I only have drums... no guitar amps, no PA, nothing. I wanted to get some equipment so they could easily just bring guitars and plug in. My thought was the less they have to bring the more likely they are to drive to me.

LET ME FIRST SAY I PLAN TO BUY EVERYTHING USED REGARDLESS OF WHAT I PURCHASE. At first I considered buying two guitar amps and a bass amp, but I would still need something for vocals (lead singer + 2 backups). I could see even buying used, basic gear running about $1k minimum.

My thought was... if we are just playing in the basement why not forget the amps and just buy a decent used system with like 2 speakers, unpowered mixer (I found some cheap used 12 input yamaha mixers), a power amp, some mics and call it a day? Can't the guitars plug into the PA the same way we would live? (P.S. I am a total newb with PA systems)

I wouldn't need to mic my drums in the basement obviously. I feel like I could use a better PA system for more things whereas guitar amps will just sit there until people come over since I don't play guitar.

For reference we have 3 singers (lead + 2 backup), two guitars, and a bass. I wouldn't mind dropping like $1k for everything being that I could see this being used for multiple purposes (helping out with sound at my church, using it for my electronic drums/sample pad, live gigs we needed to provide small PA for, etc.)
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
A guitarist should own a portable rig (combo), and be familiar with its transportation and operation. Same goes for a bass player.

A singer should own their own SM 57/58, because using a public mic is so incredibly gross.

For rehearsals, you don't really need a full PA, you need a two-sided powered mixer and three floor wedges. Lead vocals out of one side, backups out the other. Alternatively, the make powered monitors now that have a mic input (no need for a mixer).

I hope that helps narrow down what you're looking for.
 

Blisco

Senior Member
Years ago when I hosted practice at my house, which was between 20 and 50 miles for the members to drive, I had a small PA set up with 2 15" mains and 2 12" wedges along with mics, booms, cables etc..

The bass and guitar each left a cabinet at my house and just brought the amp head and guitar/pedals etc...

It was ideal to have a "ready to practice" room, um, ready to practice. I had collected most of my gear over the years piece by piece, including an 8 channel Peavey mixer and a couple of Crown amps. It won't be cheap to do it right but you should be able to piece together a workable solution for your budget if you really scour the local want-ads.
 

greenstar323

Senior Member
Anything can be portable if you want it to be (my entire drum set up) but the point is that I think it would be better if they only had to bring guitars/pedals.

I fear that if they have to bring too much stuff I will end up having to always do the 45 minute drive instead. If I had to bring my whole rig to their house every time I probably would invest in leaving a kit at their house for my convenience. I don't necessarily want to ask them to buy something and leave at my house.

Alternatively, I could invest in getting the amps which I really wouldn't mind (again this is for my convenience of enticing them to come to me lol).

I just didn't know the best way to go.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
Alternatively, I could invest in getting the amps which I really wouldn't mind (again this is for my convenience of enticing them to come to me lol).
I agree with what you're trying to pull off, as I have the same setup myself. I have an JMI era AC30 and a 78' JMP50 set up for guitarists. I have a Rumble 500 combo with extension for bassists. It's wonderful. The down side is that it's ~$4000.

You're looking at $1000, and are going to have a difficult time obtaining a reliable and compelling backline for that. On the bass, a Rumble200 would be sufficient, but sub-$300 guitar combos are a joke.
 

Reggae_Mangle

Silver Member
If your guys are using amps, don't bother with expensive PA systems. Get a couple of cabs that they can use with their amps (check the ohm requirement).

You can just get something like a keyboard monitor for the use of the vocalist. It will also have additional inputs in case you should ever need to plug something else in.

If they are using processors, a PA system is ideal, since they can plug in directly and it can all be balanced very easily. I would look into something like a Bose L1 system, those things are very loud and quite flat. Not a lot of inputs, so you would need a basic mixer to go with it. If you get two, it will be wonderful in stereo and you will all be able to hear things very clearly, no matter where you are standing in the room.
 
M

Matt Bo Eder

Guest
Let's keep it simple. Get a small PA system. You will always need that anyway and can use it if you ever stop being a band. The guitarists should bring their own amps, since that's considered part of their own sound. If they didn't have a kit, you'd be moving yours anyway, which is usually how it works out for everybody else. But I suppose buying some tiny Peavey amps wouldn't cost much either on top of the PA.
 

greenstar323

Senior Member
I agree with what you're trying to pull off, as I have the same setup myself. I have an JMI era AC30 and a 78' JMP50 set up for guitarists. I have a Rumble 500 combo with extension for bassists. It's wonderful. The down side is that it's ~$4000.

You're looking at $1000, and are going to have a difficult time obtaining a reliable and compelling backline for that. On the bass, a Rumble200 would be sufficient, but sub-$300 guitar combos are a joke.
My bad.... didn't mean to imply my budget was only $1k or that I would be buying it all at once. I was trying to say that instead of spending the money on the amps I'd rather invest that same money in a better PA instead. But it seems really stupid now for them to plug guitars directly into the PA. Thanks for the responses!

Think I will go with getting some of the PA equipment first little by little, then the amps. I think its kinda crappy to ask them to schlep all their crap to my house when I show up to their house and they have a kit ready for me to play (the entire kit belongs to them btw). Just seems like a common courtesy to my friends.

Also we are limited to playing hours at their place whereas at mine we can now play as late as we want so I can see having a ready to play spot as something that will benefit us and waste less time setting up and breaking down.
 

wildbill

Platinum Member
What kind of stuff are the guys using now? And what would they be willing to use?
Make sure to get their input on it before spending money.

In my experience, they will be wanting to control their own volume.
So if you go the PA/mixer route, there will probably be some conflicts about how it's set.
If they bring their own guitars and pedals, there shouldn't be a tone issue.
Setting volumes shouldn't really be a problem either if they're mature enough to deal with reasonable settings.

If I were paying for it, I'd go the PA/mixer route, and I'd be the sound guy too.
I can't deal with real loud music anymore, so if I had to supply amps,
I'd get everyone a 10 watt practice amp - LOL
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
Think I will go with getting some of the PA equipment first little by little, then the amps.
I think that's a good idea. My only tip is that you want to take care of the band first. Large PA speakers are for the audience to hear the band. Near-field wedges are for the band to hear themselves. Band first.
 

greenstar323

Senior Member
What kind of stuff are the guys using now? And what would they be willing to use?
Make sure to get their input on it before spending money.

In my experience, they will be wanting to control their own volume.
So if you go the PA/mixer route, there will probably be some conflicts about how it's set.
If they bring their own guitars and pedals, there shouldn't be a tone issue.
Setting volumes shouldn't really be a problem either if they're mature enough to deal with reasonable settings.

If I were paying for it, I'd go the PA/mixer route, and I'd be the sound guy too.
I can't deal with real loud music anymore, so if I had to supply amps,
I'd get everyone a 10 watt practice amp - LOL

Right now we only practice at their place since I still live around the corner, but I'll be moving in about a month. I don't think they will be picky knowing I am paying for it. I definitely plan on getting their input since I know nothing about amps. One guy in our band knows a lot about gear and offered to come with me to some pawn shops. He asked what my budget would be so he definitely is willing to help work with what I've got.

I was sort of wanting to go the PA route to avoid buying gear I won't personally be using for the long run. However being that a few people in the band went to school for audio stuff I can see them sort trying to take over and controlling the sound, but I am 100% with you that it would be awesome to be able to turn them down! Lol the one guitar player tends to play way too loud (typical guitarist!)
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
Soundwise it will be better for each guitarist to have one speaker which their own sound comes through. So they can each hear their own playing clearly. If its mixed through a PA system they will constantly turn themsekves up or complain that they can't hear their part.

My recommendation would be 3 or 4 powered wedges (one per player/singer) which could also be used as foldback or FOH for gigs one day. Bass guitar might not work so well - they'd need a bigger wedge, or an extension speaker, or you could try placing theirs in a corner for a bass boost.
 

JustJames

Platinum Member
Any guitarist worth his salt won't want to plug into a mixer. He (she) should have a portable amplifier/combo. For rehearsals, a 15W valve amp is plenty, and some 5W amps will do the job.

For a long while my band ran vocals through a Peavey KB-something keyboard amp/mixer combo, which did a surprisingly good job.

FWIW, I play guitar in "my other band", and I see no issue in taking a combo amp to rehearsals.

I'm not sure of the costs, but that same other band uses a small Fender Passport system for vocal amp/mixer duties, and it works pretty well.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
Have the guitar players bring their own practice amps.
My guitar player uses a small fender amp 18w. My bass player leaves a cabinet with a 15" speaker and he brings a 200w lightweight head.
Here is what I use for a home studio PA.
https://youtu.be/nUL_buF8Ojg
I have added 3 more powered monitors to the PA system in the video since it was made.
 
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