Other Amps

Chaining amps


Well Clapton at one time .. played thru 2 Marshall stacks... Brian May played thru 4 AC-30s, etc. So is this usually done just by taking a cord from the 2nd input jack and going into input jack of the next amp?

For all my years in this, I don't think I ever played thru 2 amps at once...


I have. But not that way. The Rickenbacker 360 series guitars have a split output whereby you can use a splitter cable sending the signal from the neck pickup to amp A, and the bridge pickup to amp B. Pretty cool that way.


In the Good Ol' Days that was the way...

When you daisy-chain, you give up the few dBs of gain, usually 3 to 6, as when the second input is utilized at the same time on most dual input amps you are paralleling through a resistance.

It is like the effect of using the low impedance "2nd/MIC" input by itself...

In High School, to fill the auditorium, anyone in a band would bring their gear and start plugging everything together for guitar, keyboard, etc.

We would chain amps all different ways to make more volume and disperse sound.

It helps if they are the same make, but not really an issue most times if not.

Today, everything goes through the PA...



Does the name Tommy Bolin ring a bell?

Died young...great natural player. Sideman with a lot of great players.

Always remembered this story...

Joined Deep Purple for a short while in-between trying to get his own career on track. For the audition, he arrives with guitar and girlfriend, says "Hello", looks at their gear, takes a minute to daisy-chain 4 Marshall stacks together, full Volume, then proceeds to roll through 10 minutes of power chords, jazz runs, and blistering solos. They then jammed for hours.

The others forgot about Ritchie Blackmore after the first 30 seconds (as the story goes).


I played thru. Marshall 25 watt 4x12 w effects and then ran my musicman thru one 12" Celestion w 20 microseconds of delay. Supposed to give a "bigger" sound in the hands of the sound man. I picked this up from Brian May. I ran my effects through a Boss ME-30 effects box that had left/right outputs. So I split the signal thru it.


Well Clapton at one time .. played thru 2 Marshall stacks... Brian May played thru 4 AC-30s, etc. So is this usually done just by taking a cord from the 2nd input jack and going into input jack of the next amp?

For all my years in this, I don't think I ever played thru 2 amps at once...

– DCBirdMan

At last count, Mr. May was up to NINE Vox AC-30's at once: 3 for his "direct" Red Special output and 3 ea. for the left and right stereo effects outputs. BTW - they were all dimed. You can check out his Rig Rundown on YouTube.


When playing through two amps I use an A/B box.


Still not explaining how to daisy chain a couple of amps....... Which input of which channel going into the other amp's input .......?


Any input into any other input works. There may be some different sounds by plugging into one input or another, like jumping channels on a tweed, but any channels will do it. I've heard some magical combinations with my 5E3 Deluxe, in particular. For years, I gigged a silverface Pro Reverb with the much-maligned ultralinear circuit. I was young and bought a Fender amp...how could it NOT sound good? Well, it didn't. But chaining it with the 5E3 made all the difference. I also chained the 5E3 with a Vibroverb RI for years. It's not just this amp and that amp...something happens where the whole is different from the sum of the parts. Try this: Link Alex said he got this tone from a chance chaining of 2 amps...a Matchless and something else...I forget. If you're already taking a spare amp to gigs (I'm buggy about spares), you might as well take a pair that sound good chained. You can also put one on the other side of the stage...that way you don't need monitors to annoy the keyboard player.


Daisy chaining a couple of small amps is great for spreading sound around at a bar gig. Lots of scope for sonic variety.

Can someone advise about whether it's a problem with the amp sizes? Guessing it's advisable to go from say a 5w into 20w rather than the other way round? Or is that a dumb question due to my head cold?


It's safe to do it any way you like. Experiment! If you go from big to small (or vice versa), it's still only a very small unamplified signal going to amp #2...it's not like you're putting the speaker output into the guitar input. I used to plug my guitar into the 70w Pro Reverb and run another cable to the tweed Deluxe. For whatever reason, he overall sound was more like the Deluxe than the Pro.


I didn't think of a few other pointers earlier...

To best keep the grounding path with minimal hum, plug the amps being chained into the same electrical outlet or terminal strip. When mixing brands of amps, be aware they might be out of phase by half a cycle, it will change how the volume fills the room if allowed to cancel.

Never ever lift a ground switch to get rid of hum...

Generally less hum, sounds better, when the amps are spaced apart versus stacked.

I never had need for the Y splitter, but I believe back in the day that would give you back the 3-6 dB gain that would have been lost plugging into both inputs on the first amp.


I did it exactly one time, in 1969 when I plugged my curly cord from the Coronado I was playing into a Y-cord taped to the floor into two "extension" curly cords from said splitter to a pair of Traynor combos which were lifted up onto wooden chairs. The result was satisfyingly ear-splitting, and I've had a small flat spot in the curve on my right ear's chart ever since.

It was one night only, and I haven't done it since.

In fact, the outright loudest showband I've worked with was also the first place where we could actually converse onstage while the 5000W mains carried the bulk of the sound. It even had the drummer behind plexi and miked.

I prefer that.


The amps have to be the same, or at least have the same number of stages. Otherwise you just make lots of phase shift and they cancel at certain frequencies. Side by side cabints sound pretty swishy on stage anyway. Jimi didn't plug them all in, and half of his cabs were empty or mic storage. When I met him, he had 3 full stacks on stage, but was only using two heads and two bottom cabs. That was in a large ballroom with only vocal mics and one drum overhead. Nobody plugs in the top cab in a full stack. You'd go deaf. Johnny Ramone once told me he lost about 40db of hearing before Thunders told him that.


Sort of defeats the purpose of a full stack, doesn't it?

There also has to be the "law of deminishing returns" involved. Sooner or later, the very small signal from the source will run out of oomph. Even with pedals and preamps, the output from the source won't have enough strength to really drive a wall of amps well.


It is quite noticable how the half stack started to appear...Players ears above, Crowds ears mainly in line...

Only the Metal Heads continued with the Wall of Amp look.

And with certainty more for looks with many missing watts and connected speakers.


Did SRV do this with his supers?

He liked his volume.

I saw him once and was about deaf afterwards.

To me linking amps is for a completely different level of gig. That kind of volume is just off the charts and the amount of work to get it done as well. You need roadies and tech guys to make it all work.

The tweed deluxe seems to stay in style for a reason.


I used to use two amps for gigs on large stages (outdoor festivals and such like). One was for me, the other was so the guys on the other side of the stage could have one that they could hear well. They could turn the volume up or down to suit. Worked for both guitar and keyboards.

More recently, though, any gigs I've done with stages that big have had good sound systems with monitors, so I haven't had to schlep the extra amp. Every little bit helps!


I've had this pic around for a while....

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