The WalkaBout is a percussion instrument with a lot of tonal nuance and a wide frequency range. Depending on where you play it, which part of your hand or fingers you use and how hard you hit it, you can go from chest-thumping lows to tom-tom, timbale or conga mid-range sounds to nice crisp highs. Naturally, the best kind of speaker to use with it is a full range speaker—one that can produce a solid, even response across a frequency range from, say, 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz.
Amps are generally tailored to the frequency range of the instruments or purposes they serve. Electric guitar amps are designed to adjust and highlight the tones that will enhance the sound of an electric guitar (between 80 & 800 Hz.) Likewise with bass amps. So, the bottom line is that some amps are better for the WalkaBout than others. However, you may be called upon some time to plug your WalkaBout into any kind of amp—we don’t always get to choose, do we? With that in mind, we thought it would be helpful to give some starting points for settings on various kinds of amps. You will want to dial your own sound in as best you can in each case. Here are the kinds of amps we tested in descending order of their quality in reproducing the complex tonal range of the WalkaBout. You can see photos and several videos of us trying out amps here (thanks to Guitar Center.)
#1- The Best- Full range speaker systems:
This is an easy call because you can start flat and EQ to taste. These speakers are made to handle every frequency from bottom to top, so they’re going to give you the very best sound for your WalkaBout, remembering, of course, that the quality of these systems can vary. The LRBaggs Synapse is an excellent choice (https://www.lrbaggs.com/speaker/synapse-personal-pa-system) as a personal PA.
#2- Keyboard Amps:
Keyboard amps are, in effect, full range speakers only smaller and/or outfitted with features useful to the keyboardist. If you’re tight on space, these are a good choice.
#3- Acoustic Guitar Amps:
We were a bit surprised to find a marked difference in range between acoustic and electric guitar amps. The acoustic amps—say, by Fishman or Acoustic—gave a very nice range, though their “low” tone knob tends to have a bump in the low-mids more than in the lows. If you have the choice (ie., you have sweepable EQ that will ‘sweep’ through a range of frequencies to set your mid-point), you might want to kick up the lows in the 50-75 Hz area rather than at 150-200 Hz. The mids and highs were pretty satisfying flat but a little high-end sizzle never hurts! If the acoustic amp has an effects control a little judicious use of reverb can also add some space and pizzazz to your sound.
#4- Electric Guitar Amps:
As is the case with the acoustic guitar amps, the “low” knob on an electric guitar amp isn’t really that low, so when you kick it up with a WalkaBout plugged in you’ll probably notice more low-mid “woof” than anything else. The high end is going to crackle very nicely in an amp like this but you won’t get that booty-busting low end the WalkaBout is producing. We suggest that a slight increase in the lows will probably be as good as it can get. Increasing the high end will make the snare really snap and stick out in the mix. Also, try a few gain/master volume combinations to get a dirty distorted sound which may make up for the lack of bottom end and could be interesting.
#5- Bass Amps:
This is by far the weakest amp for reproducing the fullness of the WalkaBout. In fact, even the lows don’t sound that good! But, if this is all you have, then crank that treble knob to 11 and play to emphasize your mid tones.
Here are some more hints to help make your WalkaLife easier and more enjoyable.