Amplification

Guitars

Initial 1966: Jack and Eric – Probably their existing rigs which for Eric was the Marshall 1962 45 Watt Combo with 2x12. Jack's was  probably a Vox T45 or  a Marshall 1962. Once they started serious rehearsals they moved to:

1966: Jack & Eric, each – Marshall 1959 100 watt Plexipanelled Superlead Amplifiers (3 switch), 1 1960 75 watt 4x12 Angle Front Cabinet + 1 1960B 75 Watt 4x12 Flat Front Cabinet (extra tall version which is some 6" taller).  PA System was a pre-production 200Watt model housed in an enlarged Super P.A cabinet with 2 4x12 1969 Column Speaker cabinets.

Late '66: Eric – Amp as above but 1 1982 100 watt 4x12 Angle Front Cabinet + 1 1982B 100w Flat Front 4x12 cabinet (extra tall version) (left - note: flat cab lying on its side). Some photographs show Jack or Eric with a '2' switch Super Lead and Jack with two angles or two flat cabs so I assume they had purchased an extra amp and stack as a spare ( a mere 280gns, 304 pds, $US1,000 in 1966 money which would be equivalent to, at the very least, $US10,000 today!!!).

Feb '67: Eric moves to two Marshall 1959 100 watt Plexipanelled Superlead Amplifiers (3 switch), and two stacks comprising 1960 75 watt 4x12 Angle Front Cabinet + 1 1960B 75 Watt 4x12 Flat Front Cabinet (extra tall version).    Jack also adopts two stacks but uses a custom 200 Watt Marshall (1967 or 1978) Major and has his 100W as spare.  Note: around this time John Entwhistle also moved to 200Watt Majors.

By the time of the US tour they had accumulated extra amps as spares.  Jack now has two 200W Marshall Majors and uses the 200W  PA in emergencies.

FILLMORE 67:

fill67jbstacks.jpg (17004 bytes)
Note the extra deep cabinet of the 200W Marshall Majors (1967 or 1978)
with Jack plugged into the right amp and the left not even on.  These are unique
amps - cabinets of 200 Watt Super PA's with Superlead panel layout.

fill67ecstacks.jpg (8383 bytes)
The thinner cabinet of the 1959 Superlead, Y cable, both on

1968 US Tour: as above but cabs 1982 100w models including standard size 1982B ( angles and flats the same height).  Due to the demands of touring the States they  purchased a second set of gear on the East Coast.  But this involved only 100Watt amps for Jack so he moved to using two.

wintersoundcheck.jpg (45858 bytes)
Winterland Soundcheck - plugged into one 200 Watt Marshall 1967 (or 1978).
These are now production models

fill68stacks.jpg (28521 bytes)
Being Recorded on March 7 1968 at the Fillmore
Note the cable arrangements and the Y splitter.
It seems EC unplugged from the WahWah and plugged in the Y cable or they had
some sort of switching circuit on top of the amp (controlled by the roady?)

Late 1968 on the farewell tour  – Jack uses two 100W Marshall amps.  Two of these would be louder than the single Marshall Major thus the relative increase in bass presence on the final tour.  At the Farewell concert Jack has added a 'bass' stack comprising a Marshall 1992 100 Watt Plexipanelled Superbass Amplifier (2 switch), 1 1935 75w Angle Front cab + 1 1935B 75w flat cab but one stack is not interconnected and is clearly just the spare. Also, at the Farewell Concert, one of Eric's amps is an 8 knob tremelo 1959T Superlead (Pete's preferred model).

DID EC USE BOTH STACKS?

Comments on the Equipment

Eric & Jack were not technology freaks. They just looked for the sound they wanted.   Because of their reputation they had direct access to Jim Marshall's factory.  They, like the Who, were provided with the latest equipment - usually pre-production models.  They were also able to get them customised to their own requirements.  What that was is really a matter of conjecture but Jack's 967 200 Watt amps are unique.

The upgrade to dual stacks meant a bige increase in volume - it must have been incredible in the small UK venues.  But the evidence is that they did drop to single stacks depending on the venue and PA size

Eric has stated that he didn't use dual cabs and that one was just an onstage spare. That is not correct because the '67 Fillmore concerts were notorious for being incredibly loud - they dislodged a lighting rig! Hendrix had appeared there already, but with single stacks and The Who had used Vox's or Fenders, so Cream blasted the place. The bootlegs of that tour shows their more extensive and 'impulsive' use of feedback that needed the dual stacks to achieve the necessary volume levels in the big (relative to Europe) US venues.

The roadies probably decided what was to be 'on' based on the PA's power and or size of venue. The whole sound was totally based around the volume of the instrument's stacks turned up to maximum as there was no master PA for them to be miked through. General evidence is that they almost always used both stacks. They may have been more volume conscious in '68 because they were all suffering hearing damage. On the March '68 live recordings the guitars sound 'turned down' compared to '67 simply cause they were. Jack was turned down and Eric was using only one stack to reduce bleed through on the drum mikes

Special note from Jeff Aarons: at the 19th April 1968 gig at "The Electric Factory" in Philadelphia, Eric used a Fender Dual Showman Head on one of his Marshall stacks.  I have also been advised that he used two Dual Showmans at another gig.

PA/Foldback

In 1966-67 in the UK they were using a Marshall P.A. which was adequate for the size of those venues: 200w Super P.A. amplifier*, 2 (or 4) x 1969 4x12 P.A. Columns. When they toured the US in '67 they used the house P.A.s

PA was as provided at venues as the rock band travelling PA system was still being developed (principally by the Who and the Grateful Dead). Cream, as did Hendrix, suffered mightily from inadequate PA systems (Jack walking away from one venue when he saw the pitiful PA for the vocals!). But the big venues like the Fillmores, Winterland etc had very good ones for their day. Cream’s dual stacks was considered big for those days but it was comparatively modest compared to what was soon to come.

Foldback was only starting to be used in 1968. It usually consisted of a PA box directed onto the stage from each side. On the last tour Ginger had PA boxes behind him to hear the vocals (see top photo & Live Cream). Also, on that tour, the drums had basic mikeing through the house PA but only occasionally during the early '68 tour.

Putting those sound systems in today's perspective: my middle range surround hi-fi has almost 400 watts RMS of power available which would be about that of the  PA stack from the Farewell Concerts (right)

INSTRUMENTS

Comment: Cream’s and Hendrix’s Marshall stacks stunned America when they arrived, much to the chagrin of Pete Townshend for whom they had been originally created. In March and June 1967, The Who toured America with comparatively tiny Vox and Fender gear as they couldn’t afford to bring their Marshall stacks from England. Pete and John were each using double stacks in 1966! When they began touring the States with them in second half of 1967 people thought they were copying Hendrix and Cream. By 1969 the Who had the best touring sound system in the world and it was big!

The Who - August 1966: Dual Stacks but single (8x12) cabs
except for Pete's extra tall right stack

Major Update/Corrections: April/May 2000

2000 by Graeme Pattingale