You may have found the perfect bass guitar, but you still need to complement it with the best bass amp that will elevate your sound for the stage. As a bass player, groove and rhythm is everything. In order to achieve top-notch electric amplification, it’s important to have the right gear. Our guide will help you choose the best bass amp for your specific needs both on stage and in the studio.
Start With a Good Practice Bass Amp
Every bass player needs a good practice amp for the house, studio or to simply warm up back stage. Most small bass amps under 25 watts are very similar. Thanks to today’s advanced technology, even a small bass amp can give you a powerful sound that’s loaded with sheer volume and clarity. Hartke and Ampeg both provide great practice amps at an affordable price. Many big name bassists – including Metallica’s Robert Trujillo and Megadeth’s David Ellefson – rely on these brands for live performances, too.
Recommended Practice Bass Amps:
Ampeg BA108 (20 watts)
Hartke HD25 (25 watts)
Hartke A35 (30 watts)
Bass Amps for Gigs Need Power
When you’re playing a gig, you never want to worry that your amp isn’t cut out for the job. For your own peace of mind, it helps to have either a large amp or several small bass amps. While you may get by on the road with just a single 100-watt amp, you surely won’t regret having more to work with. It really comes down to the style of music you’re playing and what type of venues you’ll be performing in. If you’re playing in a hard rock or heavy metal band with wailing guitar solos and hard-hitting drums, you may need to upgrade to a bigger rig so that you can keep up with the rest of the band.
But to start, it’s best to have a good, powerful bass amp with versatile options. Consider buying an amp that you think can handle all situations and give you an appropriate sound for most of your gigs. Later on, you can add multiple amps for bigger venues so you can have the flexibility to play in a variety of different settings, big or small.
Recommended bass amp heads for gigging:
Hartke LH500 (500 watts)
Ampeg PF500 (500watts)
Hartke LH1000 (1000 watts)
Selecting the Right Speaker Size
At one time, it was common for bass players to look for the biggest bass speaker they could find. Today, more sophisticated players understand that the biggest speaker does not always do the best job.
Big speakers often cover long distances well, but they do not always sound as good at close range. Selecting the best bass amp size mostly depends on the types of venues you normally play. Many bass cabinets and combo bass amps use one or two 15-inch speakers. Even at this smaller size, you could still end up overpowering the sound of your bandmates, and at the same time, you may struggle to hear yourself when you’re standing near the speakers on stage.
One solution is to use cabinets with several 10-inch speakers. This will drop your sound wave a little lower and diffuse the sound over a wider space, so the sound is thrown at the crowd’s ears and gives you that satisfying thump in your chest. Plus, 10-inch speakers tend to provide better stage volume so you can hear yourself while you play. They also have the tendency to tighten your sound so that the bass line is clear, strong and not too muddy.
Recommended bass speaker cabinets:
Bass Speaker Placement
Beginner musicians often don’t realize the importance of speaker placement and the affect a room can have on sound. If you place a bass speaker cabinet in the corner of the room, it usually results in more sound coverage and volume. The nearby walls will cause the sound waves to reverberate and diffuse, which in turn helps build the sound pressure levels to create a pleasing tone for the audience.
Since bigger speakers and subwoofers need more distance than a small bass amp, speaker placement becomes even more important. If you place large bass speakers near the back of the stage, facing straight ahead, you will get the volume you need and the sound will effectively spread throughout the room.
Use of Multiple Bass Amps
You can get great volume at a distance and great sound up close by using multiple bass amps. Many players make the mistake of trading in an amp that sounds good just because they need more size and power. They think a bigger amp will give them more of what they want without realizing that it will also change their tone.
Instead, consider running more than one of your favorite amps at a time or supplementing your favorite amp with another that has different characteristics. If one amp has a 15-inch speaker and another has four 10-inch speakers, you can get the best of both worlds. You can also use two amps together with an amp-switching pedal. That way, you can activate only one amp for normal playing and then kick on the other amp when your guitar player boosts the volume for a solo.
Recommended amp-switching pedal:
There’s a vast selection of gear out there for bass players of all levels. Of course, choosing the best bass amp depends on a variety of different factors. The style of music you play and the various rooms you perform in all come into play when it comes to bass tone – not just the amp itself.