If you’re a bass player who rolls a heavy speaker cabinet to the gig, and once the cab is on the stage, you turn the cab on its side, or remove pop-out casters. This could be just what you have always done, or it could be to make the cab sit onstage with more stability (ever played on a slanted or uneven stage?)
However, once your bass cab is on the stage, there is one good reason to keep the casters on -- to avoid a condition called floor coupling. When you place your bass cab directly on the floor, the sound from your cab will be transferred directly to the floor, thereby increasing the overall boominess and bass response. The floor essentially becomes an extension speaker reflecting your sound.
At first glance, this may seem like a good thing. Who wouldn’t want more bass response? While it certainly may work for some people and in some locations, as having an amp coupled directly to the floor often makes your bass tone feel more powerful -- in the context of a live performance, decoupling your rig by getting it even a few inches off the floor provides many benefits.
Aside from using casters or a dolly board, you can also eliminate the floor coupling effect by using an amp stand or your milk crate of cables. Anything that creates space between your amp and the floor will work just fine. Stacking multiple cabinets instead of placing them side by side can lower the coupling footprint to the floor, and it increases the height to hear yourself.
There are some players who enjoy the increased bass response that coupling provides, and have learned to EQ their amp to adjust for it. There is no right or wrong way, as long as you are getting the sound you want. Understanding floor coupling is important for those who want to avoid its unwanted effects.
Do you keep your amp on the floor or raise it up? Let us know in the comments!
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Even if you’ve matched your bass head and cab properly impedance wise and set your amp for clean sound, sending simply too much power to your bass cab can result in blown speakers. This often happens when you are using a rig you are unfamiliar with, as we tend to know the limitations of our own equipment and have chosen that setup for a reason. Borrowing another bassist’s amp or using a backline rig only to blow it up is definitely not a great feeling.