Well, South by South West (or should I say “South By…”) was even more full on that I had imagined, and I had imagined it being very full on. Oddly, the thing stuck in my mind isn’t a gig, it was looking across at a rig. It got me thinking about having back ups and avoiding bass disasters…
Two neatly stacked amps on the stage at the venue. Now, I’ve heard talk about Ashdowns (and other) amps failing, but no-one was taking any chances with this set up – one amp labelled “MAIN” and one labelled “SPARE”. Well, there were no failures at SXSW, but it got me thinking… What failures could I deal with during a gig? I usually have:
- A ‘spare’ bass – a little unusual, but because I play fretted and fretless, and have a double case, I always have both with me.
- Spare strings – this is a bit of a no-brainer. That said, I’ve broken one string on stage in 25 years.
- Spare lead – not much extra to pack, and it means I can bail out any clowns that don’t bring enough leads.
- A Bass Guitar Tool - for light repair work.
So that covers most of the front end. My usual big-gig cab has multiple drivers, so if one speaker blows, it should carry on, all be it at lower volume – a nice advantage of something like a 2×12, 8 x10, and the like. Most bass cabinets are wired in parallel or parallel plus serial, so as long as the speaker coil doesn’t short when it fails, the cab should carry on. To be really sure you could stack two cabs (i.e. two 4×10′s to give an 8×10) I guess. I haven’t gone down that road, yet…
That leaves the amp / pre-amp as the single point of failure. At a bigger gig, you just loose your monitoring – you can still go through the main PA, and have some bass in a near by wedge. At a smaller gig, you might well be stuck. It seems pretty expensive and laborious to carry around a second amp, but if you want to be 100% backed up that seems the only option.