When we're listening to music, we barely pay attention to bass guitars - and that's because, while humans can hear the bass frequencies (60Hz - 250Hz), our ears don't necessarily focus directly on them in a soundtrack. Instead, our ears rather tend to 'feel' these bass frequencies. Even the highly trained ears of a music producer don't necessarily hear these frequencies unless they specifically sit down to notice the micro-detailing that goes into bass tracks. That's why it's important that you do your due diligence before buying instruments that can bring about or dim down the overall tone of your bass instruments. This article solely focuses on the Best Bass Guitar Amps in 2021 as well as a detailed buying guide to help you choose an amp that will best suit your playing style!
If you’re serious about being a bassist, there are a few things you'll need to consider to channel your inner Charles Mingus - a good starting point would be a quality bass guitar amp. Having a good bass amp by your side will not only make your jam sessions sound richer but it'll also allow you to improve your playing skills when you're not with your band.
Finding the right bass amplifier for your rig is essential if you want to get the most out of your investment. That means choosing the correct wattage, sound quality, and other features that will make your playing sound as good as it can be! This section lists everything you will need to get your hands on the right bass amp!
Things To Consider When Buying A Bass Guitar Amp
The sound of a guitar amplifier plays a vital role in the overall tone and character of your track. Whether you're playing live or recording, with proper setup, you can achieve a ton of different sounds from your bass guitar, from the bright, punchy sustain of rhythm to the warm, fuzzy tones of lead lines and melodies.
While the average listener won't notice the bass playing, in particular, it's exactly what will be adding life to your sound. Without ample bass frequencies, a track normally sounds dull, non-exciting, and empty.
If you're planning to buy an amp for your bass guitar specifically, you'll need to look for the following things in your ideal amp:
Most bass amps you will get your hands on will provide you access over middle, treble, and bass frequencies. This can give you ample control in addition to the effects on the bass guitar itself. However, some of the amps out there will allow you to further split the sound into more frequency bands - this can include brightening up the sound or perhaps adding clarity that includes contour and shape circuits. Nonetheless, the more these controls are, the higher room for customization you'll have. Allowing you to come up with cool retro bass sounds or match certain music genres.
Most amps will have two or more channels - overdrive and clean sounds for instance. However, there will be amps out there, mostly the speaker cabinets options that will allow you to bi-amp or tri-amp the sound, splitting the signal into two or more separate frequencies, each designated to one speaker.
This is a cool thing to have if you plan on doing solo bass shows!
The footswitch jack is what allows you to change the guitar effects through your amp, without having to stop playing. This is a cool feature to have, especially if you have an excellent, versatile sounding amp and you're not using guitar pedals.
The built-in tuner is another cool thing to have in case your guitar decides to start sounding like a duck accidentally. Instead of taking your mobile out or finding the chromatic tuner device, your amp will let you tune your guitar in seconds!
The mute switch comes in handy when you're tuning your guitar and the buzz sound just won't stop. It's an excellent feature to be able to mute your amp without having to turn it off - everybody learns it the hard way.
If you're a hardcore bassist and go for multiple basses with passive and active pickups, this is a cool option to have by your side.
This output feature allows you to direct your guitar's sound directly into a mixer or your recording gear, mostly through an XLR input. It's an excellent feature to have when you're able to get that desired sound through your amp. Instead of amping it out and mic-ing it into your DAW, use the direct output into your audio interface, straight into your DAW!
There are three primary types of amps out there and the verdict about "Which one's the best?" has always been there. In addition, there are amp heads, amp stacks, amp speaker cabinets, etc. that allow you to build even more interesting setups when you're going all in!
Here's our advice about all this; the world of music gear is highly scalable, there's just a lot of room for investment out there. You need to find what you're comfortable with, what doesn't break your bank and still lets you enjoy being a musician! We'll break down our thoughts about the different types of amps in a while.
What Is A Bass Amp Combo?
So, a bass amp combo only refers to having your amp effects as well as a speaker in a single package - which is generally the norm as well. They're portable, all-in-one solutions for bassists, all kinds of guitarists for that matter.
You can find a wide range of amp combos out there in the market - the aforementioned products in our list are bass amp combos.
The Classic Debate: Tube Amps vs. Solid State vs. Hybrids
Before the 1970s, most bass amps used tube amps - some of the top-notch, high-end models still do! When overdriven, the tube amps produce a very pleasing, old-school sound that musicians have always loved! Also, with similar power ratings, tube amps are significantly louder than solid-state amps.
In the 1970s, solid-state bass amplifiers started building their roots in the market - thanks to their weight, size, and cost benefits. However, the distortion created by these amps when overdriven wasn't really much loved by musicians. However, these amps were capable of producing high-wattage output, essential to drive bass through at louder volumes.
Now, we also have hybrid base amps - they have a tube-based amplifier section and solid-state output system. They can produce a warmer and louder sound, however, help maintain the warm distortion sound that was introduced by tube-based amps.
Now you know what to do.
How Much Does A Bass Amplifier Cost?
Your beginner bass amp's price starts below $100 and things can take you as high as $100k as you level up! As we mentioned earlier, it's highly scalable, you can make your setup as powerful and as unique as you want.
Therefore, check your bank, find a sweet amp, and try to not break your bank.
Best Bass Guitar Amp FAQ
Q: What are amp stacks?
A: There are manufacturers offering amp head and speaker cabinets separately, designed to give you an even better, fuller sound. They're normally full-sized stacks 10" - 12" high and they're loaded with a classic configuration of multiple speakers.
Q: Should I go for Combo or Stacks?
A: The combo amplifiers have the frills but they're normally lesser than stacks. Stacks give you versatility with your setup and give you an excellent, enjoyable tonal effect. They're loud enough for both rehearsals and concerts so we're going with the latter.
However, if you're looking for settling down under a budget, combos are what you need!
Q: Can I play bass on my regular guitar amp?
A: Absolutely! There's no reason as to why you shouldn't be able to do that. However, if you're looking to practice and planing to get more out of your tune, you can start by investing in a beginner bass amp. Especially if you're planning to practice on larger volumes, you may not want to expose your existing amplifier's speakers to any damage.
There's no traditional right or wrong answer in the audio industry. Whatever sounds "great" is right.
Jack has been a touring guitarist for almost 20 years, playing in a number of country music and rock bands. Jack loves the road and defines himself as a never-ending student of the guitar and other important instruments or tools that make a musician.