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.
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location: Portland, OR USA

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

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