There are a few different ways to think about how you can carry heavy amps around without causing any damage to yourself or your gear.
Throughout this article, we will consider the different options you have available to consider. Between wheels, ramps, and people and gear, this article will give you some very useful ideas about how to carry heavy amps.
A Dolley is a small platform on four wheels. The general practice is that you place your heavy amp on top of the Dolley, and can then easily roll your amp from one location to another.
If considering a Dolley pay attention to the size of the platform making sure it is big enough to hold your amp, and also think about what type of wheels you want. If you have hard rubber wheels, this can be quite hard to get around on rough surfaces or even when concrete and pavement get a bit bumpy. However, dolly’s with pneumatic wheels (inflatable) can perform a lot better on a variety of surfaces.
Hand carts, or hand trolly or sack trucks are two-wheeled structures on a steel frame with a small lip at the bottom you can use to get underneath a heavy object and then tilt it back resting on the upright part of the frame and either pull or push with the two wheels.
Hand carts can be great but they are not perfect. Many an accident has happened trying to wheel heavy guitar amps on a hand trolley causing damage to the gear. This can be alleviated with the use of straps, and multiple pairs of hands, but it is just important to try and be as careful as possible.
Think about the type of wheels on a hand trolley. Inflatable wheels will perform better across a greater range of surfaces than solid rubber wheels.
Specialized Hand Cart
There are some companies that have made specialized carts solely designed to transport music gear and can be configured for multiple different purposes. Take some time to look at both the Rock Cart Pro, and the Rock’n’Roller Multi-Cart to see what is possible. It might give you ideas of how you could use a standard cart differently.
Friends, Fans & Roadies
The biggest help in all aspects of your gear transport process will be another set of hands. If there is any way you can encourage a friend, or family member, as an aspiring rock star to help you as a roadie in return for a favor from you, this will make every aspect of loading and unloading much easier and safer, and minimize potential damage to your gear.
Add Castors To Your Amplifier
Adding castors to your amplifier can be a great way to make your cabinets and speaker boxes easier to move. The type of castors will be important though. Small castors could easily get stuck in doorways and on little bits of debris on the floor. So make sure the castors are big enough to get through the usual conditions you will encounter and will be able to roll over a few bumps and uneven ground.
Ramps are the oldest known source or leverage humans have been using for thousands of years. Mostly relevant for the load and unload phase in your vehicle, a ramp covered in a slippery cloth can make it much easier to get your amp from your vehicle to the ground safely, without damage to yourself or the amp, and likewise help you get your guitar amp from the ground back up into your vehicle. The longer the ramp the better but of course, it needs to be able to fit inside your vehicle.
It is also good to include some kind of hook on one end that hooks onto your vehicle somehow so it won’t fall flat while sliding the amp up and down.
Side handles on your amplifier can make it easier to carry, and also make it easier for you to get someone to help you.
Side handles can be more ergonomic when trying to get upstairs as you can pick it up and hold it against your chest rather than trying to haul it up one-handed.
General Tips For Carrying Heavy Things
In addition to the help of equipment, there are some timeless practices you need to keep in mind when hauling heavy amps and music gear.
Do More Trips
Get there earlier, and do more trips with less gear to save your body and minimize the chance of damage to your heavy gear.
Side to Side Balance
As much as possible have a similar amount of weight on both sides of your body. If you have something heavy on one hand, try and carry something heavy in your other hand as well.
Lift With Your Legs, Not Your Back
Anyone who has ever done any kind of manual labor would have received this timeless advice. But I’m saying it again anyway! Always make sure your legs are doing the hard work in lifting, not your back.
A back brace can be great to have in your kit just to wear when you know it is a particularly strenuous part of the lifting. This will usually be the load/unload stage in your vehicle and also if having to navigate stairs.
Park As Close As Possible
A lot of the venues don’t have parking close to the entrance and don’t allow parking on the street out front, but if you really push the case they will usually let you in a back alley, or let you know of any loading zones close by. Even if you can halve your distance, it will save HEAPS of time and effort.
The best way to deal with carrying your heavy amp up a set of stairs is not to use the stairs.
Make sure you have sourced all other possible avenues (disability ramp, elevator) before embarking on the stairs. But if there is no way around it, try and get someone to help you. If you cant get someone to help you, then use all the good advice we gave you about safe lifting and do your best, step by step.
Some hand trolleys are equipped with three-wheel designs that are made to navigate stairs and essentially ‘roll up’ and ‘roll down’ them, so you might want to look into these if you want. But regardless, carrying a heavy amp up a set of stairs is going to be tricky, no matter what.
Get Different Gear
All of the above tips are valid ways to move your heavy gear more easily, but there is something you can do before all of those things that will make the most difference. Think about getting different gear.
Back in the day, huge amp cabinets were required both for the volume they provided and the tone they provided. But so much of both the tune and the volume can now be carried through other parts of the PA system.
There are amazing amp simulators you can get that can produce the sound of a massive amp without needing the actual bulky cabinet.
In this way, you can get the sound you want, with a much smaller amp, as a result, I strongly recommended you think about downsizing as much as possible.
Even though it might be a bit of an outlay to make the change, you will then be able to make do with a much smaller vehicle and can save heaps of money in another way, let alone to savings to potential injury to your body from carrying heavy amps.
So even though you might be very fond of your amp cabinets, I really encourage you to consider whether you could get a similar sound out of a smaller amp. Your body is the most precious thing you have so you need to look after it. The risk of potential injury from carrying a heavy amp for a few decades is not worth the potential cost.
Thanks to technological innovations, we can reproduce the same sounds we love with much smaller gear, so I think it is a good idea to embrace that if you are able.