A lot of it will also come down to the design of the amp circuit, and I suspect that a lot of the bigger amps are designed to give you some extra welly there... bear in mind that pushing more through the lower registers requires quite a lot of power (that's why you don't really get small bass valve amps), and so those amps with more power are likely to push more through the bass. You have to decide whether you need it or not.Yeah, they just mush out out lower notes IMO. Also the thickness in the tone just isn't there. There's a lot going on in a guitar sound above 100hz that is very important to a full sound. I can almost bet you analyzing the EQ plots of a 1w vs 30w amp would be very revealing. I'm guessing the 1w is way down in the 200-800hz range compared to an amp 15w or so and over. I'm just guessing, but that's what I seem to hear.
Jake also pointed out that there isn't much difference in volume terms between 30 and 50 watts, and that's true. However, a healthy 30 watt amp is ear-splittingly loud when run at full bore...
Only really relevant if you and the bass player are playing out of sync with each other... otherwise you're crowding each other's space.having more iron and bass will give you more punch for rhythm as well.
Really really contextual question.I want my amp to do the work and fill the room with sound. Not an SM57 and the PA. I play small- medium sized clubs and tell the sound guys NOT to send my guitar through the PA system. The only reason I mic the guitar cab in this instance is so that it can be run through the monitors for the rest of the band on stage.
Honestly, where do you want your amplification to come from, your amp or a shitty sound system?
Short answer - ideally, it should be a bit of both. An SM57 is pretty much ideally designed to pick up the frequencies you want to amplify, and I've never yet come across a PA system so dire that it wouldn't be suitable to provide some sound reinforcement to an amp.
OK, here's the scenarios / rationales...
CRANK THE AMP
+ You get the best out of your amp in terms of tone
+ You have plenty of volume on stage to hear yourself
+ Everyone else can hear the amp if you set it up right (eg. facing audience, open backed cab)
- Higher frequencies travel - disturbingly - only in a very narrow arc in front of the speaker, whereas the bassier frequencies travel in all directions. So the awesome tone you've dialled in is being heard by a limited group of people.
- Higher frequencies get soaked up by people. Unless your amplifier is raised above head height, some of the sound is going to be soaked up by the first few rows of the audience meaning that (again) the tone that you've dialled in isn't going to reach people at the back very well.
- Stage volume is potentially very high meaning that you have to balance the band around this, leading to a really high mix volume. If the venues you play are ok with this, it's not a problem. However a lot of them do have issues feeling - as they do - that keeping their punters happy is more important than keeping the band happy. This might involve turning down a bit. It's called customer service
So the advantages of having a good PA in...
+ You can balance the sound a bit, ensuring that the higher frequencies in your tone reach the back of the room and the sides too.
+ You can keep stage volume down a little, again, meaning it's easier to push a balanced level of sound to the whole room. You'll actually save your ears by doing this too.
The stereotypical mushy 'pub' sound you get is achieved by bands doing exactly what you describe... cranking it up and going at it. The problem is often bad spread of the frequencies, and frequencies competing with each other crowding each other out. You miss all the tonal nuances in the wall of sound. If that's what the punters and the landlords want, then that's what you deliver! However, as I mentioned, not all of them do, and you'll actually send a much better balanced band sound to the audience if you use PA properly. This is just factual. You can disagree, but you'll be wrong.
Remember, it's not either / or. You can get your amp cooking at a reasonable volume to squeeze some of the good tones out of it, but stop short of the pain threshold. Equally, the size of the venue you play might be small enough such that some of the advantages of using PA support will be eroded, and the extra hassle might not be worth it for you.
I would say it's worth thinking about as it's inevitably a bit more complicated a decision than, "i'll turn my amp up so everyone will hear it." Don't go with the rush of testosterone and and the "screw it, I can't be bothered" approach. If the sound man at the club has actually offered you an SM57 for your amp it's a reasonable indication that he's got some vague idea what he's doing.
If you're worried about the sound man, then bring your own small mixing desk and learn how to use it. You can plug your whole band into it at the stage, mix it properly, and then give him one cable as the output and tell him to just plug it into his system and turn up. You can then control everything from the stage. It's what I see a lot of bands do.
As ever, YMMV... my credentials... PA tech & electric guitarist who plays in bands with some pretty hard hitting drummers. So I see it from both sides of the fence!