This article showed up in my Facebook news feed today:

Guitarists: Stop Hurting the Audience at Small Gigs!

This is something I have long thought to be true. When I walk into a music venue and see the guitarist with his amp set up on the floor, pointing straight at his ankles, and straight the faces of the poor folks down on the dance floor, I think “uh-oh.”

When your amp is pointed at your ankles, you don’t hear how loud the amp is, and you don’t hear the treble frequencies properly. The tendency, then, is to turn it up, and to crank up the highs too much. This can result in ear-splitting sounds blasting the people on the dance floor. If your amp truly does need to be turned up to this kind of volume to get the tone you want, you need to find a way to aim it away from your audience, and away from the front of house engineer. Maybe even a couple of plexiglass baffles in front of it could do the trick.

I prefer to play through smaller amps, and at a reasonable volume. My current amp is a 22 watt, 1×12 Music Man combo amp. I am in love with this thing, and it’s about the size of a carry-on suitcase. I can get my guitar, amp, and pedals into the gig in one trip. And on stage, I put it on an amp stand like this:

OnStage Tilt-Back Amp Stand

There are other kinds available, but I like this one because it has a low center of gravity with little chance of getting knocked over by some drunk, and because it folds down to a cylinder that you can easily pack away into a duffel bag. It tilts the amp back to about 45 degrees, so if you put it 8 or 10 feet behind you, it’s basically pointing right at you. That way you can hear exactly what your guitar sounds like.

The added advantage is that it aims the sound AWAY from the guy mixing your show, giving him much more control over how your guitar sits in the mix. That way, the engineer will be more likely to mix your guitar appropriate to the room.