BIG R's Tone Tips - Direct Sound (Line-in)


Sometimes you might find yourself in these situations:

  • You are asked to play a wedding.
  • You are asked to play at a restaurant.
  • Your amp blows up.

    What to do? Your volume needs to be low, but you also want good tone. Try using a "line in" to the P.A. system.

    1. I had a lounge gig when I was stationed in Korea. We started the gig the first night with the full compliment of amps. After three nights of the Korean Secret police threatening to shut the place down due to volume, we had to change our approach. It was way too much money to lose the gig, so we did the following things:

  • Took our amps home. Then ran direct into the P.A. I had a Tech 21 Sans-Amp GT-2 that I ran straight into the board. San-Amps work wonderfully through a P.A., and the tone can't be beat. It allowed us to keep the volume real low, and we kept the customers coming back for more. The best part about this, the police disappeared! I've found that low volume is sometimes necessary to keep people happy and keep that money coming in.

  • Many newer amps come with a "line out" extension. This also works great. I recommend running from the amp line-out into a direct box, then into the P.A. Make sure to test this out on occasion to make sure the amp jacks stay clean.

  • I do recommend the Sans-Amp for P.A. and direct sound applications. It is also relatively cheap. I would suggest that you go to your local music store and try some different pedals or rack units to see which tones you can get to sound good through a P.A., not an amp.

    2. Have a backup plan. Have you ever thought you would do if your amp blew up during a gig? Has it ever happened to you? There is no feeling in the world than having your prized amp going up in smoke during an important gig (all gigs are important, right?)

  • I carry a Sans-Amp GT-2 and a Radial Tonebone Direct Box. Combined, they give me the flexibility to plug into any P.A. system if my backline suddenly goes down. And, it has helped me keep the show going in some pretty bad situations. I ALWAYS carry a spare amp as well. I know sometimes this does not SEEM practical, but believe me, it has saved many a gig for me. Always keep fresh batteries in your backup gear.

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