A friend of mine and I were having a conversation a few days ago, and one of the things he mentioned to me was that a lot of the gear that I give great ratings to seem to be very versatile and able to be used in a variety of styles. Upon thinking about that, I had to agree. As I play at my church on a weekly basis, I play lots of different styles, from all-out rock to sweet, slow ballads, and my gear has to be able to deliver the tones that I require for those types of songs. Others might look down on playing at church, but to me, there are very few – if any – venues that are harder to play and sound good than in a church, and frankly, I haven’t found a better place to test gear.
Why? Of course, playing different styles is a great way to test the stylistic range of what some gear can deliver. But there are other concerns as well; especially volume limitations. In small- to medium-size churches, it’s completely out of the question to crank it up. But my trusty Aracom PRX150-Pro has helped me deliver on that front. But more importantly, because I can totally crank up my amps (my own or amps I’m testing), and still keep the volume at a manageable level, I’m able to test the full range of an amp’s capabilities. Sure, I test gear extensively in my home studio and use the attenuator there, but I feel the real test of gear is when it’s used in a performance.
For instance, yesterday was a real validation for me that my DV Mark Little 40 is simply the best amp investment I’ve made in a LONG time. Now granted, I’m known to be an Aracom Amp nut, but for sheer versatility, the DV Mark Little 40 is in a class all by itself. Normally, I choose songs for Mass that fall stylistically close, though of course there will be differences in tempo. But because I was gigging for consecutive days, when it came time to plan which songs we’d do yesterday, I drew a blank for half of the songs, so we picked them as a group during pre-Mass rehearsal. The end result was that we really varied in style, ranging from reggae to country-blues to ballad to rock. And on all fronts, the Little 40 delivered in spades.
When you can put gear through those kinds of paces; not just playing riffs specific to a style, but actually playing a lot of different songs you can push gear to its limits. So for all you church players out there, if you can, use your service to test out new gear. You’ll be surprised at what that’ll produce!