Multiple Amp Stacks for live event

I have been to a few concerts over the past couple of years (Yes only like 3, but don't laugh) and I noticed that on the main stage, the headlining bands have about 3 to 6 full stacks set up for each guitarist. I was wondering how you do set these up. Do you daisy-chain them together or just use a bunch of y-cables and 1/4" (m to f) cables or what? Please someone help me out.
Two things to cover.

First, don't believe everything you see. A lot of the huge guitar setups are fake. They set up dummy amp stacks to look impressive to the crowd. A guitarist doesn't expect a wall of amp stacks will fill the crowd at Woodstock. That is the job of the PA system. A mic in front of one speaker will put the sound into the PA.

But plenty of guys do use a two cab stack connected to one head. Simple enough to do. Most guitar heads have a couple of speaker jacks. SOme only have one, but I think the majority have two. They usually say on the panel near them, "Jacks wired in parallel." That means you can plug your speaker cord into either jack, they are just wired together inside. SO if you have two cabs, you can simply runs two cords - one for each cab - out of the two jacks. The speakers are in parallel now, and set the amp impedance appropriately.

But even if you only had a single speakr jack, a lot of cabs have two jacks themselves. And on those, you can run a single cord from the head to the first speaker, then another cord from that speakers remaining jack down to the second speaker cab. That is daisy chain wiring. The speakers are still in parallel though.

Whether to do it one way or the other boils down to practicality. I prefer two cords, so that if one cord fails it won't take out both speakers. It also allows me to locate the second cab across stage easily.

And if you still wanted to wire the guitar to two heads, many guitar amps (less so now compared to the old days) have two input jacks, the high and low gain setup. But if you plug into both, the signal will come out the extra hole. SO we can plug into amp A< then run a cord from the other input jack there over to the input of amp B.


Enzo i right, the big shows are mostly all fake. The fake heads and cabs all carry their own standard part numbers in the Marshall catalog.

That being said, I do believe I have seen at least one true "wall of Marshall stack" and that was at a Ramones concert almost 20 years ago. I think it was real because it was a small venue and you could clearly see the multiple 1/4" cable and gaffer tape holding the cables in place. I think he was running 1 Marshall head for each 4x12, with each stack being 2 heads and 2 4x12's, and it was the entire back wall of the stage. Mondo cool!
Slant cabs are great for hearing yourself, as long as you don't get carried away.

I used to haul those full-size empty cabinets for a band, and it seemed so phony...because it was. I have a lot more respect for bands that make the music a prioroity over the 'show'...

If the intruments are run thru the monitors, the size of the stage setup doesn't matter much, but pros usually have an entire alternate rig for each amp; after all, these are usually tubes! Many guitarists employ 3 amps for different sounds, with 3 matching backups. They usually do NOT run thru the backups, and rarely use them at all. Very often the actual speakers being used are inside a mic'd absorbent case. Personally I think it's ridiculous to use so many amps, but my opinion does not matter.

On the other hand, often outdoors the direct instrument amps will significantly supplement the front monitors for some additional coverage farther backstage. A bass in particular requires quite a bit of cone area, and monitors sometimes can't do it all in a non-reverberant space. Sometimes each musician adds a remote cabinet on the opposite side of the stage. But that's about coverage and not volume.

I'm not a good musician, but for bass I could use one good bass cabinet. Instead I use many of a particular "acceptable" cabinet which is relatively durable but unpopular because they were originally associated with a terrible head. I pick them up used for less than the wood would cost, with 4 serviceable 12's in each. That's strictly economics.


2010-12-23 7:15 pm
Massive stacks of fake cabs as stage prop ''wall background'', sets the mood of the corporate rock ''event''. And of course it's a huge advertising billboard for amp company. They shoulda made those fake stacks out of blow molded polypropylene that you could roll out like wallpaper. One slant cab with a hundred watt head is more than enough if you have a ''live'' stage sound (everybody is amped and not direct). More than that and your soundboard guy is gonna start unplugging stuff!
If the intruments are run thru the monitors, the size of the stage setup doesn't matter much, but pros usually have an entire alternate rig for each amp; after all, these are usually tubes!

I watched a program on television about Santana. Apparently during his earlier gigs (Woodstock etc), he'd have many (around 6, IIRC) Marshall stacks on-stage, all cranked up.
Of course, the valves (tubes to you guys over the pond) failed at an alarming rate, so there were teams of techies running around replacing valves in still-running amps!!

I wouldn't want to be on that stage - the volume level must've been bonkers.

I really respect Jeff Beck. At his most recent show, one little brown cabinet behind himself. One little brown cabinet behind the bass player. Two huge woofer boxes in front of and beside the stage, enough to make your guts jiggle. Probably twelve 15". A big box on each side, probably an 18" subwoofer, maybe two. Two horn boxes on top. Plenty of sound but not ruining the hearing of the musicians. Thats the way to do it, to quote Foreigner.
On the other hand I'm watching Soundstage on PBS REO Speedwagon tonight (2009 performance). 12 Marshall double stacks behind the musicians, radio monitors in their ears. I'm glad to hear they sell fake Marshalls.
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We know it is fake. The crowd? Well they are there for a show. A concert is a show. You want good sounding music, buy the album. The wall of amps LOOKS like what the crowds expect it to look like. If a big name band fills a stadium, the adoring fans won;t understand a Fender Deluxe and a fuzz pedal up on stage, even though the PA makes it sound huge. They want to see walls of amps - gives them something to take cell phone pictures of and tell stories at lunch the next day. "Wow man, you should have SEEN it, they had 17 amps and..."

Show business is about the perception, not the reality.
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Well, some *do* play real loud.
This is the stage setup of my customers "La Renga" playing at the Buenos Aires River Plate Football Stadium (48000 seats):
the guitar player uses 6 100W heads into 6 to 8 Marshall 4x12" cabinets, all plugged and miked as can be easily seen.
Different amps are used to get different sounds.
Differing speakers too, the modern ones stand 300W so 1 per head is fine, the classic ones need 2 per head.
This is one end of his backline.

Not surprising, since the Bass player uses 2 of my tube preamps, one of them driving a QSC900 into 2 8x10" "fridges" , and the other one an AB1500 into another couple 8x10".

FWIW those are my kids in the picture.
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