We explore his signature bass amplification rig and the sonic realities of touring massive venues.
The name Michael Anthony resounds as thunderously as the bass lines he laid down with Van Halen, in the process helping to birth modern hard-rock. More recent exploits include co-founding Chickenfoot, Michael’s supergroup collaboration with Sammy Hagar, Chad Smith, and Joe Satriani, and co-founding The Circle, formed with Hagar, Jason Bonham and Vic Johnson. As Chickenfoot got off the ground, Michael started a partnership with Peavey, ultimately leading to his signature bass rig: The Peavey Signature Michael Anthony VB-MA Bass Amp Head & Peavey MA-810 Cabinet.
A gracious host, Michael recently opened his cavernous warehouse to our video crew where we salivated over his huge bass collection; we even got a closer look at one of his venerated Jack Daniels basses! He’s also a car guy — the warehouse shelters his drool-worthy collection of rolling stock.
Michael Anthony’s relationship with Peavey goes back to 2009 when Chickenfoot was cutting its first album. Ready to explore new amp options, he took Peavey up on their offer to take their then newly introduced VB amps on tour. Michael liked what he heard and decided to road-test them.
Because he’d worked with similar amplification from other manufacturers, Anthony admits to being caught off guard when he first plugged into the VB rig in his warehouse. “I was really impressed with the fullness and bigness.” Onstage, he found the VB cabinet equally impressive with zero dead spots. Michael admits to “beating the crap” out of the tour rig, and his tech loved the Peavey gear’s lighter weight in comparison to other equivalent tube-powered setups.
After wrapping the Chickenfoot tour, Michael began a discussion with Peavey in which they talked about a potential signature model amp head based on the VB rig. As he details in our video clip, tweaks incorporated into his Peavey signature VB-MA head included more control over tone and attack on the overdrive channel as well as a blend control to mix both channels.
In our interview, we also get into the fundamental difference between amp setup for recording versus stage work. Years of playing vast arenas with their differing acoustics leads Michael to conclude that, “I’m pretty much at the mercy of whoever’s running the out-front sound. So you’ve got to make sure they know what they’re doing.” He also talks about his sound-check strategy, helping to ensure his bass sits well in the mix with adequate definition.
Michael also discusses the tendency of large-venue PAs to project over the top of the audience in the first few rows. The MA-810 cabinets overcome this problem by having, what he calls, “A nice big, full sound, coming right off the stage.”
Get all the specs and features of the Michael Anthony's Peavey Bass Amp rig.