Bass Guitar Amp Topics:
» Which is better, Solid State or Tube?
» Should I get a combo amp or a head and cabinet?
» The benefits of modeling explained.
» Speakers: Does size matter?
» Bass Guitar amps for live, studio & practice.
» What to Look For... Bass Guitar Amps
Get into the groove with a bass amp from Sweetwater! This Sweetwater Buying Guide includes information that can help you choose a Bass Guitar Amplifier for your needs. Since there's so much to consider when purchasing a Bass Guitar Amplifier, don't hesitate to call 1-800-222-4700 for more information.
Which is best, Solid State or Tube?
If you are looking for a high-power amp that won't break the bank, a solid state will probably serve your needs perfectly. Tube amps are costlier (sometimes by a great amount) and tubes are, as you might expect, somewhat more fragile. The difference is really in the way a solid state amp overdrives compared to a tube amp. Solid state amps will play loud, but once they reach their upper limits, the distortion produced is generally not particularly musical. Meanwhile, like almost all analog gear, tube amps will produce a much more pleasing overdrive. However, keep in mind that most quality solid state gear is built with enough headroom to avoid overdriving them, so it's an issue to be aware of, but not necessarily one you need to be concerned about.
Should I get a combo amp or a head and cabinet?
Just as with standard electric guitar amps, you'll have to determine if you really need a high gain unit. If you will be playing studio gigs and small clubs, you certainly can get by with an "all-in-one" unit. In the 1960s and into the 1970s, there really weren't many "combo" models - the "piggyback" Fender Bassman with 2x12 cabinet pretty much set the standard, though you historically-minded players will recall that Fender's first bass amp, the original 4x10 Bassman of the 1950s was considered revolutionary.
Today, however, manufacturers understand that a properly-designed amp/speaker combination with a closed back (with or without a reflex port) will play loud enough for all but the larger venues. Most allow players to add an extra cabinet to reinforce the lowest octave.
For large halls, auditoriums and open arenas, high-powered heads matched with a single or double cabinet will be required to get the job done. These mega-watt monsters can play loud and clean right down to the low E-string. If you need a rock-solid foundation that will be felt as much as heard, nothing beats a high powered amp driving two 1x15 cabinets or a single 2x15. It's worth noting, however, that both Fender and Hartke offer closed-back 4x10 cabinets, which, when matched with a 1x15 will produce a wider frequency response, which is favored by bass players who have active tone shaping capabilities on the instruments.
The benefits of modeling explained.
Modeling offers the best of all worlds. You can buy a basic "practice" amp today that will deliver almost any tone or effect you might need or want, and it will pull double-duty as a great studio amp. These budget-friendly models provide everything from clean tones to a full-out overdrive along with all the "must have" effects that bass players look for. There is no longer any need to compromise your sound, just because you're just getting started playing guitar.
Even more impressive are the "does everything" amps that are sonic chameleons. They can deliver the sounds you need, without adding something you don't: NOISE! But today, thanks to modeling, all effects - even multi-effects like chorus and delay plus reverb - are designed to be amazingly quiet. What's more, modeling frees you from the constraints of having to "make do" with a particular amp's tonal range.
For some players, modeling is simply no substitute. And since a player's individual tone is critical, we concede that each guitarist will decide for his or herself whether modeling is simply a fad or the future of all guitar amplification.
Speakers: Does size matter?
Is BIG always better? Not necessarily. Modern bass cabinet designs can reinforce low frequency response in a properly built 4x10 cabinet and actually allow them to handle a low B-string (which produces frequencies even lower than a 42Hz E-string); something previously deemed unthinkable.
A larger 15-inch speaker will still move a room with lot of low-end rumble, so we still see a number of 1x15 or 2x15 combo amps and cabinets - great for smaller gigs and practice rigs.
What's best for you? Well, it's subjective. However, many successful bass players are relying on great cabinet design and spending less time worrying about the size of the speaker itself. When in doubt, you can count on your Sweetwater Sales Engineer to provide you with dependable, accurate information that will allow you to make a well-informed decision on what's best for your needs.
Bass guitar amps for live, studio & practice.
In general, there are fewer small, bass practice amps. The reason is simple: Most bass players would rather invest in a higher quality amp suitable for all applications, rather than paying for two amps. No matter what type of bass amplification you choose, the odds are very good that it will be perfect on stage or in the studio. Some engineers prefer to run the bass signal through a direct box (DI box) so they can use their existing pro-quality processors to compress or smooth out a bass for recording purposes. Another option is to use both a DI box as well as a mic on a cabinet, as the combination can produce outstanding bass tracks that sit well in a mix.