*UPDATE* Krampera Tour Blog

BLOG: On Tour with Krampera’s KVB Bass Amplification System
Andy “Wal” Coughlan, Bassist for Shakin’ Stevens’ 30th Anniversary Tour

SET-UP

1 x Krampera KVB 800
1 x Krampera B1T
1 x Krampera B1B

20/01/2011

Due to travel to New York gig, but first a diversion via Neath Music to try out a new Backline rig called Krampera, for my good old mate Adrian.

Amazing – this rig made every single guitar in the shop vibrate and sing in harmony when trying out the double bass! Super power and clarity, it’s frightening!

31/01/2011

Fantastic! A super fast agreement has been made and I am now taking the Krampera Bass Backline rig on the forthcoming 2011 Shakin’ Stevens tour.

02/02/2011

Rehearsal in Acton, London. Initial impression – No shortage of power in a large rehearsal space. Taking a little bit of getting used to a single 12” driver/cab because I am used to my 4 x 10, but patience???

04/02/2011

Gig 1 St Albans Arena. The venue is a big “square box” and very dead acoustically. The Krampera system performs wonderfully and I suppose the hardest thing to adjust to is surprise and amazement after having Gallien-Krueger rigs for so long is just how tight the 15” driver/cab performs at the low end of things, very little sub waffling around?

I also am finding the contour feature and edge compression on the head a real plus when switching from electric to string bass.

05/02/2011

Gig 2 Cambridge Corn Exchange. This venue is a barn of a room, but the Krampera rig has a great focus about it and I now notice that I don’t have to fiddle at all to suit the room acoustics, it just cuts straight through.

Interesting that the PA guys are extremely happy! They like the quality of the DI feed from the head and we have now settled on the same output for the String bass with a few minor tweaks for input level.

06/02/2011

Gig 3 Cliffs Pavilion Southend, sold out! Now I get the chance to open the Krampera up! Rocking and no problem, the tuner mute feature and the EQ footswitch is absolutely silent, this is very handy because these rooms get very hot and tuning does become an issue.

WEEK 2 UPDATE
The rig has survived its first week, comfortably handling the different scenarios and environments with a “come on then” attitude.

We head to Dartford and, as is usual upon arrival, immediately check out the room and listen to what it sounds like: It’s a nice modern theatre with individual acoustic challenges. However upon firing up the band sounds clean tight and dynamic. The Krampera rig delivers the goods admirably with very few tweaks required and we all enjoy the show.

Next up is the Ipswich Corn Exchange. Another “barn” of a room but as the show start approaches it is close to a sell-out so very little sound bounces around. The Krampera rig is running like a pair of favourite Hi-Tech sports show (Showing my age now??)

From Ipswich we head to sunny Skegness for more of the same!! This time the venue is a big old Butlins style arena which offers further opportunity to open the rig up. Up she comes with absolutely no shortage of power. The rig is quickly becoming an intoxicating asset.

The next gig is the Buxton Opera House in Derbyshire. This will be interesting as from experience these venues were never designed and built for amplified music such as Rock and Roll but on the night all goes sweetly and smoothly.

I have to mention that Andy Austin-Brown of KV2 Audio / Krampera handed me a very small red DI box before I left for the tour and insisted I tried in with my acoustic double-bass. However, as previously mentioned the FOH engineers were more than happy with the feed from the built in DI output on the KVB 800 amplifier. Instead I passed the KV2 Audio LDA Line Driver on to guitarist Martyn Hope to use with his acoustic guitar. What can we say?? it is fantastic and has transformed the sound, feel, image and depth of his instrument. Martyn loves this little box of tricks and it is firmly on tour and I think he will be doing his all to keep hold of it!!

I have had a few of my Professional playing mates attend various shows and all have commented on how full, sweet and strong the bass sounds out front. Special credit as well to FOH engineer Gerry who is also a bass player!

FOOTNOTE
This second update may have sounded a little boring compared to Week 1, but we have all settled into a comfort zone and groove. The beauty of a great back line such as the Krampera rig is that you can confidently go straight to your next gig knowing that the system is consistent and that minimal fiddling is required.

Look out for next week. Anticipating some new challenges including standing only gigs and the O2 gigs which will allow me to really crank it up.

WEEK 3 UPDATE

We’re up in Holmfirth, land of ‘Last of the Summer Wine’. Interesting to have a look around this quaint but very friendly location, but before we know it, the fun starts and the concert begins. We are in a tiny standing only club, so this is a real good old fashioned Rock and Roll gig! The Krampera rig rocks all night (but my leg is stiff and hurting from standing/posing on the monitor!)

On to Rhyl, North Wales, and once again we are in a large Butlins style venue. It is a beautiful theatre with a big old stage that means I can wind up the Krampera rig once more, oh! – the power is intoxicating. There are a few anomalies with the venues PA this evening. Because the subs are underneath the stage everybody seems to be getting and feeling a lot more bass in their ‘in ears monitors’, add to that the fact that the drum kit has an acoustic screen means I am receiving a little less cymbals, possibly heightening the clarity further of the amp? In the end another great gig!

Back in Newcastle and again in a lovely old Theatre. I am constantly amazed at the Krampera rig because from previous experience, when playing in so many different kinds of venues, it is normal to have to re-set, change or tweek the backline, but the consistency of this unit is fantastic, – very little change required and I am thoroughly enjoying this apparent hidden talent.

Further North now and we are in the O2 Academy in Glasgow. I must admit that these are my personal favourite types of venue, and the Krampera seems to agree. The stages are small and more intimate and the sound always seems to appear tighter and more dynamic, probably because you aren’t miles away from each other? Anyway, a fun filled success!

Middle England –we are in Leamington Spa, in a square box in the Assembly Rooms. It’s the usual now the rig is absolutely rocking:

FOOTNOTE: The tuner mute and footswitch unit are now proving an essential part of this rig set up, for a couple of important reasons.

Going from Soundcheck in an empty room, to going on stage with the room full, the combination of people and hot lights, the bass succumbs to these changes and so the tuning can be a nightmare.

With the mute and footswitch control, the ability to have a quick glance and check tuning, as well as by the start of the second half, the upright double bass has usually sat hidden behind the backdrop curtains, keeping it nice and cool, then wham!-straight into the heat of the battle, all adds up to a super valuable feature that is quick and silent to use, without anybody knowing the difference.

Last week coming up…

WEEK 4 – The Final Week

Last leg of the tour and I am back on home soil. First night is St. David’s Hall in Wales and it does not pose the easiest of acoustic challenges. Home gigs also bring added tension and excitement but the show goes smoothly with the Krampera rig ticking over beautifully.

Next gig is at The o2 Academy in Liverpool. It is a strange feeling going from huge roomy stages to places that we can barely fit on, but this is the reality and joy of touring!

The gig began and the crowd are really up for it tonight, which presents another opportunity to test the rig and push it, RESULT – It just sits there and says “COME ON!”

The amp is starting to feel “run in” now and this week I had the chance to catch up on some practice and spent a little more special time with the system. I am constantly impressed and really cannot imagine being without this rig now!

Next up is Norwich UEA. Now we have entered student land and the sound check is a bit of a nightmare. The room is obviously empty meaning the sound bounces around making everything appear louder and messier. I don’t move far from the amp but find a sweet spot approximately 3ft in front where the system cuts through with super clarity and great top end and helps greatly through the difficult sound check.

In the evening with a room full of bodies it is back to business as usual.

On to Worthing next and another unusual venue (made more unusual by Howard Tibble buying a round!) The stage is two-tiered and our backline is stacked in the air of the second level creating a real kick in the small of my back from the B1B 15” cabinet. I questioned splitting the B1T and the B1B up but in the end decided to keep it all together. During the gig the performance is smooth and linear, however I cannot get the volume beyond 3 as it is just killer.

The smallest venue of the tour to date is next and we are in Oxford. The expected consistency of the Krampera Rig is evident once again. A lot of FOH adjustment is required for the overall sound, but non-whatsoever of the Krampera system.

London’s Shepherd Bush Empire is a blast. A lovely old room to play in and the fans are keen. I am determined to crank the system up, which I do and the sound quality stays in shape. It just keeps getting louder whilst staying clean with no distortion and there is plenty left in reserve. I am amazed with this and it gives you such a feeling of confidence. I am quite away out front this time, further away from the backline than normal but the sound is rock solid wherever I go.

We reach the finish line in Bournemouth and I cannot believe that this leg of the tour is wrapping up.

The Krampera rig has been an absolute delight to use, on the one hand so consistent, dependable and utterly reliable, yet on the other has demonstrated, on every single night of the tour, the ability to deal with and iron out the challenges set by different venues and stages.

The crew have loved using it too. So easy to move and lift, set-up and go. It has been in every acoustic scenario and I have been quietly waiting for it to trip up but it hasn’t. Did I mention 10’s????

A few days off for resting now the tour is finished then back to New York for a weeks recording. It is my intention to sneak just the KVB 800 Amplifier Head in my suitcase and use it in the studio, as well as letting many of my companions know about this great unit.

Next month I head out to Denmark with Shaky, but I am intending to take the rig out on the impending Martyn Joseph tour which will have a more acoustic vibe and it will be interesting to see how it performs. I know in my heart that it will be fine!!

A final word to Krampera and KV2 Audio, Andy Austin-Brown of KV2 Audio and Adrian Bamford from Neath Music for all their help in arranging this collaboration and for making it a huge success all. I do hope that my notes and observations have been of use for future users of Krampera. My best advice is to go straight out and try this equipment at the soonest opportunity – You will not be disappointed!

Wal

Krampera and KV2 Audio would like to thank Wal for all his thoughts and efforts in maintaining this blog.