http://lamkins-guitar.com/music/article/weight-reduction
David Lamkins picked up his first guitar a long time ago. As best he can recall the year was 1967: the year of the Summer of Love. Four decades later David has conjured up an amalgam of folk, rock and jazz solo guitar music for the occasional intimate Portland audience.
location: Portland, OR USA

Facets: AER, amplifiers, effects, philosophy, set-up, @musings info
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Weight reduction

As you may have noticed, I stopped drinking the "tube-amp cool aid" about a year ago. I bought a digital modeling processor, sold my tube amps, and didn't look back. That was the first step on the road to reducing the mass of gear I have to lug.

My old rig (guitar in hardshell case, Vibro-King, guitar, small pedalboard, small gig bag and a luggage cart to carry all that) tipped the scale at about 110 pounds. The luggage cart made the load just barely tolerable; steps, curbs, and uneven ground were still challenging.

The digital rig (same guitar, GT-8, stereo DI, and gig bag) weighs just 40 pounds. Half of that is the guitar in its hardshell case. When I play at venues where I can rely on the house sound system, I can walk in with my guitar in hand and the gig bag over my shoulder.

When I've had to provide my own amplification, I've had a selection of small powered speakers to pair with the GT-8. That powered speaker added 30 to 35 pounds to my rig and made it more difficult to carry in one trip. What I really needed is a 20-pound amp with effects.

Of course a 20-pound weight limit rules out any tube amp of more than 5 watts. A low-powered tube amp may be sufficient for playing single-note lines or distorted chords in a mic'd venue, but has limited headroom and low end. It was clear that I'd have to stay with a solid-state amp for the power to weight ratio.

My first "hand-carry" amp was a Roland Cube-30X. With its amp models and built-in effects, this is a good amp for rock. It'll hang with a disciplined drummer and could be used in a mic'd venue. On the downside, the low-end response and effects quality are not suited for solo guitar gigs.

To cover the needs of solo guitar performances I bought an AER Compact 60. This is an acoustic instrument amplifier with built-in effects. The frequency response and effects quality are far superior to the Cube-30X (should be, for the price); the amp comes with a carrying case with pouches (good substitute for a gig bag for the essentials) and a shoulder strap.

Now I can walk into any gig with just 40 pounds of gear. That's down from 110 pounds just over a year ago - a significant weight reduction.

April 07 2008 05:27:39 GMT