Notwithstanding the current world situation, it’s clear that there are less and less music venues to play in. however those that remain still have the standard level of awkwardness with regards load in. Because of this, lifting a full stack plus pedalboard and carrying it into a venue can often be beyond soul and back destroying, but not as bad as the load out when all you really want to do is chill.
So, is there a solution in hand that can remove this burden and yet still provide room filling sound? The biggest amount of mass for your rig resides is really is down to your amplifier and cab choice but I believe so.
Orange kicked off the lunchbox amplifier trend when Ade Emsley designed and released the Tiny Terror, this was a game changing bit of kit and since then there has been a plethora of compact but hugely versatile amps released in this format from brands such as Mesa Boogie, Victory, Orange, PRS, Dover and many others.
A lot of these smaller lunchbox heads offer loads of output. The Orange Rocker 15 springs to mind as a 15W 2 channel amplifier (clean and dirty) in a tiny package. If you combine this with a compact 1x12 Ported Cab with a lightweight Neodymium speaker, you can achieve a much larger sound than its diminutive size would suggest. Another option would be the tiny 1x10 from Barefaced cabs that can handle 60W and spreads sound like a closed back 4x12.
But an amplifier is only one part of the puzzle, if you take the time to build a small but functional pedalboard, say 5 pedals that fit on a tiny Pedaltrain I think it will surprise you what you can achieve. Starting with the drive section choose one fuzz and one overdrive with the requisite level of gain. These should obviously meet your needs and match your amp. If possible, choose fuzz and overdrives that are as versatile as possible. Something like the ThorpyFx Peacekeeper Overdrive is ideal and the Fallout Cloud or Field Marshall on fuzz duties. If you need a wah pedal, then the Dunlop Mini cry baby is perfect and is tiny. For Delay and Reverb, choose a digital multi-unit like the Source Audio Super Collider. Finally, the last space should be allocated to either one modulation pedal (Camoflange or Deep Oggin fit the bill here) or if you have the need for a unit that can run two modulation algorithms then the GFI Synesthesia is a new but really powerful offering to the effects market.
In isolation these pedals offer a lot of bang in a very small package… but if you couple them with a programmable midi switcher such as the Morningstar MC6 then it makes them infinitely more useful. Indeed, this pedalboard will surprise you with how much ground it can cover. Remember though pedals are perfectly designed to be interchangeable so if you need to rip up a pedal and swap it for a specific gig… then DO IT!
Finally, lots of people are now going either without an amp and cab or leaving just the cab out of the equation. Mixing the above pedalboard with say a Two Notes CAB M you can plug directly into the front of house and have a really rocking emulation of an Amp and cab that works with your pedalboard. Personally, I’d prefer to use the Two Notes Captor X or the BOSS WAZA in conjunction with my amp head and pedalboard. That way you get the interaction of your pedals with your amp but emulate the CAB into FOH. For me this would be the perfect lightweight and functional setup.