Playing a Show with Spark CAB

Playing a Show with Spark CAB

February 06, 2024By Joshua Fernandez 0 Comment

I've got a confession to make – I'm a certified Positive Grid junkie. Since the debut of the original Spark 40-Watt practice amp, I've been hooked. The freedom to plug into an amp anytime, anywhere, and access a plethora of amps and effects without lugging around a pedalboard felt as if it was a gift descended directly from the guitar gods. And like reliving my youth collecting pocket monsters through cards and games, with Spark series amps, I had to catch 'em all. The OG Spark, Spark MINI, Spark GO and even Spark Control…they all have a special place in my gear collection.

As one of the half-million Spark users worldwide, I know I’m not the only touring guitarist with roots in big amps, huge stacks, and even bigger pedalboards. To me, Spark series amps were fantastic for home practice, impromptu hotel jam sessions and last-minute warming up, but taking one on stage? Not a thought that crossed my mind – until Spark CAB entered the scene.

Spark MINI
That’s me testing Spark MINI in a park!

Now, let me clarify something upfront. I've been part of the Positive Grid family for over three years now, trying my hardest to keep my cool around the office whenever something new is getting made. However, this isn't a Spark CAB review; it's the story of how it became a permanent fixture in my stage setup. If you've been pondering questions like, "Is Spark CAB loud enough?" or "How does Spark CAB sound on stage?" or "How do I incorporate Spark CAB into my existing setup?" This article is for you.

My Guitar Setup

Let's kick things off by revisiting my old setup. I'm no gearhead by any means, and my tone is super straightforward. Playing in a punk rock band, anything beyond an overdrive or delay is overkill for me. I mean, my guitar of choice is a Les Paul Junior (because who needs more than a P90, am I right?) In the office, I’m known as “the guy with one tone.” Two decades ago, my go-to setup was a JCM800 head, any available cab, and a modest pedalboard. If there wasn’t a cab I could plug into, I’d probably lug around an AC30 or Twin Reverb. It wasn't until my stint at Positive Grid that I discovered the wonderful world of amp sims, realizing my gear could shed about 50lbs.

The Wonderful World of Amp Sims

Loading up my favorite JCM800 simulator onto my pedalboard with an amp sim pedal, I had a live setup I could carry in one hand. But, as typical with digital amp sims, there was no physical amp behind me. And for those who aren’t familiar with this type of setup – amp sims basically do away with on-stage amplifiers, and they plug directly into the console or house PA system. And this is where my problem started. The absence of the familiar vibration and total silence behind me made me realize I needed to not only sound good but feel good too. And yes, even with my guitar coming through the floor monitors in front of me, it still didn’t feel the same.

Spark CAB
Connecting to Spark CAB for live shows is incredibly easy.

In my quest to resurrect the missing vibration, oddly enough, Spark CAB never crossed my mind. It's not that I doubted its capabilities; rather, I had this notion that pairing a Spark series amp with a Spark CAB was almost a prerequisite. It had never dawned on me that I could just as seamlessly integrate Spark CAB into my existing pedalboard setup. After all, Spark CAB is a fully powered FRFR speaker. Anyway, the answer was upstairs all along and the hardware team graced me with a Spark CAB to try out. So, at the next gig in a small venue, I took the plunge, connecting my pedalboard directly into Spark CAB, dialing the volume to about 8, and just like that—the vibration was back. Spark CAB

In the snapshot above, you'll notice that Spark CAB wasn't placed directly behind me due to the cramped stage space. Initially, I figured I was in for my first hiccup, given our drummer's talent for hitting hard. I was concerned whether Spark CAB could hold its own against his mindless hitting, I mean, playing. Turns out that I had absolutely nothing to worry about. Spark CAB cut through effortlessly – giving that giant Orange cab behind it a run for its money. And instead of the usual mic setup, our sound guy opted for the direct out on the back of Spark CAB, feeding it straight into the house PA. This gave him more control upfront.

I Play a Whole Show With Spark CAB

Needless to say, our half hour of power went off without a hitch. The audience seemed happy, but more importantly, I was happy with what I heard on stage thanks to Spark CAB.

Spark CAB

And it was after our show that I had a revelation about Spark CAB – it's not just tailored for Spark amp owners; it's as much for true guitar enthusiasts and players seeking an alternative gigging setup. While it does wonders for adding some extra 'umph' to my 5W Spark GO, it goes far beyond that. Delve a little deeper, and you'll uncover all the thoughtful features the hardware team at Positive Grid packed into Spark CAB. They could have just added a 1/8" input for Spark amps and called it a day. But no, they went the extra mile, incorporating multiple 1/4" and XLR inputs, along with the added bonus of an XLR output, making it one of the most versatile FRFR speakers on the market.

So, what’s up next? I’m toying with the idea of elevating Spark CAB on a riser or finding a way to angle it up, redirecting the sound more towards me than straight into the audience. Scratch the riser; I'll opt for grabbing another Spark CAB, stacking it on top of my current one, and daisy chaining them together to create a full-on wall of sound. Well, maybe not a wall—I don’t want to subject anyone to that. Jokes aside, though, I’m seriously considering going full Spark and swapping out my current amp sim for a Spark GO. It's a snug fit on my pedalboard already, so why not? Or maybe I should just forego the whole pedalboard and cab setup and just bring the brand new Spark LIVE along for the ride.

If, for some reason, you want to check out my band.
All live photos taken by
Steven Vigar

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