It’s nice to look at gear you can’t afford though especially when there’s tons of it onstage.
But take a look at this…!
This is death metal band Immortal performing at the Hellfest a few years back. Note from the top picture the band publicly like to say “we use Marshall stacks!”. But this photo calls “bullshit!” to that. The Marshalls are hollowed-out props giving the impression that the band needs this kind of power.
What’s even more strange is that the band is using a couple of ENGL amps. I guess they had the “Marshalls” bought for them!
It’s hilarious to think that so many of us have been wowed by this sort of thing. When watching The Big Four DVD, I found it strange that more and more Marshalls were appearing onstage – so much so that when Slayer came on there were 24 on the stage! Strangely, headliners Metallica had a much smaller backline hidden under their stage ramps. I’m not saying that Slayer or Megadeth (the other band on the bill with a lot of Marshalls) use props like the above. Theirs is no doubt proper gear, just not “plugged in”.
From reading other blogs and messageboards, this sort of thing has been commonplace for years. People simply expect it – and anyway, it looks cool.
You’d be surprised what most people use in their backline. Some guitarists’ rigs consist of a couple of FX pedals going straight into the PA, some are a tiny practice amp that’s miked up to a PA. Personally about ten years ago, I used FX pedals into a Marshall half-stack and cranked it high (that is until the soundman would come over, turn my volume down and shove a microphone in front of one of the speakers). It’s a posing contest for us guitarists – like when Spinal Tap posed with cucumbers down their trousers.
You do find bands that do genuinely don’t even bother with the PA for guitars. The heavy metal band Manowar is one claimant of the title of “loudest band in the world”, citing a measurement of 129.5 dB in 1994 in Hanover. However, The Guinness Book of World Records listed Manowar as the record holder for the loudest musical performance for an earlier performance in 1984. Guinness does not recognize Manowar’s later claim, because it no longer includes a category of loudest band, reportedly because it does not want to encourage hearing damage. Manowar achieved a Sound Pressure Level of 139 dB during the sound check (not the actual performance) at the Magic Circle Fest in 2008.
Marshall, the most popular choice for rock guitarists, don’t really care whether the artist is actually using their amp or not, as long as the logo is on the stage. Otherwise you wouldn’t be able to buy their logo plates direct from their online store!
Point I’m trying to make is that it’s usually the PA system that brings the power. These days I, like most guitarists, use Guitar Rig loaded onto a laptop. You get all the guitar sounds you could want and it’s a lot cheaper and easier to carry than a wall of Marshall stacks… real or not!