Is 20 Watts Loud Enough?

The short answer is yes.

I have several amps in my collection: A 22-watt Fender DRRI, a 30-watt Mesa Boogie Lonestar Special, a 38-watt Dr. Z Maz Senior and a 20-watt Swart AST MkII. I have been doing a lot of gigging with the Dr. Z and I love the tone of this amp. However, it is L-O-U-D loud. And most of the time I am playing in rooms for 300 or so people. Too hard to control the Dr. Z in smaller rooms.

I recently purchased the Swart AST MkII Head and Cabinet. A beautiful sounding rig. But I was worried about whether it would have enough “push”. I took it out this past week-end and my worries proved groundless. A 20-watt amp is more than enough for gigging in smaller rooms. The Swart AST MkII Head has a master volume control which I do not use. This control can be bypassed. I was using the channel volume to set my level. I had it set to “2”. Lots of headroom for my application although I tend to play with a delay and light overdrive most of the time. I use the volume on the guitar to push the amp harder into distortion and the Swart responds effortlessly. If I needed more volume, I had a lot more available from this amp. I can definitely gig with a 20-watt rig. Which should not surprise me. I used to gig heavily with the Fender DRRI and I would often set the Mesa Boogie to the 15-watt configuration.

So much easier to control my stage volume with the Swart. I will fall back on the Dr. Z for larger venues. And the Dr. Z is an amazing amp for recording. I will always keep the Fender DRRI for sentimental reasons. The Lonestar, which served me well for about 7 years, will probably go up for sale.

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