Can I Use a Guitar Amp for Bass? Why or Why Not?
Learning to play the bass requires commitment, and that includes committing to invest in the necessary equipment.
Then again, if you’re new to the scene, you might be wondering, “Can I use a guitar amp for bass?”
In theory, you’d be able to connect your bass to a guitar amp, but it may not be the best idea in the long run.
Get to know your equipment more by reading through this quick guide.
Bass Amp vs. Guitar Amp
A guitar amp and bass amp produce two distinctive sounds.
A bass amp is designed to emphasize low-end frequencies, while a guitar amp focuses on mid-range frequencies.
Therefore, using a guitar amp with a bass guitar will make the sound more mid-focused with tones and thick low bass.
Basically, you can expect the sound not to be the same as if you were practicing on a bass amplifier.
Four main differences set a bass amp apart from a guitar amp.
The primary two are the speaker size and the power output. The other two are the amplifier’s features and the frequency range.
A bass produces a very low frequency compared to an electric guitar, so a bass guitar amp compensates by using a larger speaker.
They are generally 15 inches and use a lot more power to help produce the sound.
Basically, the frequencies produced by bass amps require more movement than your standard amp.
As such, the cone’s movement will be more prominent, and you will visually see the difference.
An electric guitar amp uses a high-frequency range compared to a bass guitar amp.
They are also much smaller, the biggest being 12-inches while the smallest ones are only eight inches.
Also, the inner cones are thinner and won’t be able to handle as wide of a dynamic range.
The frequencies produced are generally in the medium to high range.
However, if you crank the volume on high, the sound can become unpleasant.
Some signs of the too high volume include bad sound fidelity and rattling.
Can I Use a Guitar Amp for Bass?
A bass guitar is very much different from a standard guitar and is, therefore, not completely compatible with a guitar amp.
Even so, you will still be able to produce sound if you use a guitar amp for your bass.
The downside is that you may end up damaging the amp if you pump the bass too high.
You can expect it to produce sound because these guitars have the same lead.
However, the electrical wiring is a bit different, so it won’t be able to support the same output.
Using a guitar amp with a bass guitar comes with high risks.
For one, there’s a good chance that you will blow out the speaks if you crank up the volume too high.
This is because a guitar amp cannot drive the speaker as a bass amp can, so you’ll be pushing the tech beyond its capabilities if you do try this out.
Another major concern is that the low frequencies of the bass guitar won’t register the same on the guitar amp’s speakers.
And while they will try to compensate, they physically don’t have the capacity built in to do so.
As mentioned, bass amps have to move a wider distance or vibrate more to produce low frequencies.
Because a guitar amp cannot handle such low frequencies, it won’t be able to move very far when vibrating.
As a result, the sound produced will begin to clip when you crank up the volume.
The clip will be an evident audio distortion that can damage the interior components of the speaker.
If you want the perfect practice, you will need to invest in a bass amp for accurate sound.
That said, if you have nothing better to use, then a guitar amp will suffice for practice.
What To Expect if You Use a Guitar Amp With Your Bass?
If you keep the volume low, you should find no problems using a guitar amp with your bass.
However, the danger lies if you crank the volume higher, and you could end up totally ruining the amp’s speakers.
It is still much better than the alternative, though, which is not using any amp at all.
If you don’t have any other choice, you can connect your bass to a guitar amp but make sure you watch out for sound distortions while playing.
The minute you hear any distortion in sound is when you should turn the volume down.
Here is a quick breakdown of how the bass will affect the guitar amp:
- Low Volume
A low volume will sound normal with a little bit of amplification.
There is no danger playing at low volumes. This setting is suitable for practicing, as you will still hear the music without any distortions.
- Mid Volume
Mid volume is where you will start to hear distorted sounds and some rattling.
The distortion will be audibly noticeable and won’t be enjoyable to listen to.
You can safely play at this volume, but you still have a small risk of damaging the amp.
- High Volume
At high volumes, the risk of damage to the speakers increases significantly.
Also, the audio will clearly be distorted and will sound unpleasant to the ears.
Anyway, you will never need to go this high unless you are performing.
By that time, you won’t have any other choice but to invest in the correct type of amp.
Can I use a guitar amp for bass?
Using a guitar amp for your bass guitar isn’t a good idea unless you are going to stick to low and mid ranges.
Anything that exceeds that will end up causing the sound to distort and break.
When you hear distortion, turn your amp off and don’t go back to that volume level.
That said, it’s not impossible to use your guitar amp for a bass guitar if you take precautions.
After listing the differences between the two, we recommend checking to see if you have the correct type of amp for the instrument you’re playing.