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Apartment Guitarists: Your Rig

This thread on apartment guitar rigs was trending on The Gear Page. Most players seemed to be using their amps in their apartments.

Very challenging to get great tone from an amp at low volume levels. I tried. I bought this amazing Swart STR Tremolo:

Love this amp. Rated at 5 watts, it is still way too loud in small spaces. It is way too loud even on smaller stages. And most of my playing takes place on silent stages these days. So I switched to digital a few years back — Kemper, Fractal and Helix.

My indoor rig? The Helix paired with AKG K702 studio headphones. I can play at levels that would never bother anyone although I try to be careful not to damage my hearing by playing too loud.

The K702 headphones are described by AKG this way:

The K702’s are reference, open, over-ear studio headphones for precision listening, mixing and mastering. They combine an extremely accurate response with agility and spaciousness. This is achieved by using revolutionary flat-wire voice coils and a patented Varimotion two-layer diaphragm. A totally open design and a high-performance cable complete these reference headphones. The K702’s comfortable, specially shaped 3D-foam ear pads and a genuine-leather headband ensure a perfect fit. They provide a professional mini XLR connector for quick replacement of the cable. The K702s are individually tested and serial-numbered.

For tuning presets on the Helix, I find that I need to have an accurate playback system and I have to be able to get the levels up. The 702s are perfect for this application. I can play for hours without listening fatigue and I know that what I am hearing is what I will get when I use the preset live. I carry a pair of Genelec studio monitors with me but I prefer the 702s for personal practice. Less intrusive to those around me particularly when I practice the same set of songs over and over. I can also mix in other sound sources making it easy to play along with the rehearsal tracks without troubling those around me.

I can’t imagine using a small amp in an apartment setting unless the sound isolation between units was really effective. Even at low volume levels, the sound of a guitar can travel easily between most walls.

A Tale of Two Swarts

Swarts

The Swart AST Mk II on the left was purchased back in May of 2010. Considered to be a low wattage amp — it produces about 20 watts — the Swart AST is an incredible sounding 6V6 tube amp.

The Swart STR Tremolo on the right is a recent purchase. It is a small combo amp and it produces only 5 watts through a 12-inch speaker. It is also an incredible sounding 6V6 tube amp.

Most of the time my amp will be mic’d and presented to the audience through the sound system. All I really need is enough monitor to hear my guitar. I don’t really need to hear the amp on the stage. In fact, I prefer to hear what the mic is hearing through the monitor. Small changes to the mic position on the amp can make a significant change to the overall sound.

In smaller rooms, I may not use a monitor at all. I just point the cabinet to my ear and hope that the mic is picking up the great tone.

I was asked if 5 watts was enough to get on top of a drummer. It is for the bands that I play in and for the type of music that I play. The Swart STR is a particularly loud 5 watt amp. And it breaks up at a much lower volume than the Swart AST Mk II.

I did have one issue with the new Swart though. And that was with the logo:

SwartLogo

It looks as though the logo was bruised in transit. You can see the mark on the lower part of the letter “S”. I reached out to Swart to see if they could help me out.

And they will. They have a new logo on its way.

Awesome amps and great customer service.

Check them out here.