Do Guitar Amps Work for Basses?
The bass guitar may not have the same fanfare as a standard guitar, but it’s an essential part of making music for avid musicians.
Guitar players starting to diversify their expertise might get curious and ask, “Do guitar amps work for basses?”
The answer may not be that straightforward, making it necessary to elaborate on some aspects.
With that in mind, let’s look at the relevant topics about these pieces of musical equipment.
Guitar Amps vs. Bass Amps
To address the question of “Do guitar amps work for basses properly?”, it’s essential to be aware of the distinctions between these two amps.
Generally, these speakers have their unique EQ signature, which means they’re all designed to give a somewhat distinct sound.
Listed below are the most prominent differences that may give you a hint if it’s a good idea to use a guitar amp for bass.
The speakers in bass amplifiers are considerably bigger than those in electric guitar amplifiers because larger speakers are designed to amplify the low-end bass signals.
Bass frequencies, compared to treble, are more difficult for the human ear to catch.
Bass amplifiers may produce power up to 500 watts to enhance the frequencies.
Also, bass amps can withstand high-volume settings.
In contrast, smaller speakers are used in electric guitar amps since the tone is more defined, which requires less power and volume.
Electric guitar amplifiers typically include speakers rated between 50 and 200 watts.
Since guitar amps have shorter recoil periods, the speakers are more prone to blow out than bass amps.
Not all of the settings on bass and electric guitar amplifiers are distinctive.
In fact, both types of amps have settings for treble, bass, and mid and certain adjustments like EQ, contour, and tone.
These controls enable you to change the sound frequencies emitted by the speaker.
However, one key difference is the lack of distortion channels in bass amps, which guitar amplifiers usually have.
Bass and guitar amps are built for specific musical equipment.
They produce a distinct type of tone, which is referred to as the amp’s voicing.
As the name suggests, bass amps are made for emphasizing the bass and lower frequencies.
This feature gives a bass guitar a softer, less crisp sound when compared to an electric guitar.
On the other hand, guitar amplifiers are built to amplify frequencies in the middle part of the audible range.
Using Guitar Amps for Basses
Considering the various significant differences, many wouldn’t even attempt to play their bass guitar with an electric guitar amp.
However, if you’re still up for it, you should adhere to the recommendations strictly.
The volume must be low if you’re playing a bass guitar connected to an electric guitar amp.
Adjusting it to low volume will protect the speakers from damage.
When you dial up the volume, you will hear a horrible tone with a lot of static noise.
These unwanted sounds are caused by the additional vibration that causes the parts to become loose and rattle.
On higher settings, most probably, the speakers will malfunction until they’re out of service.
If the volume is low, speakers are less likely to move too much.
The last topic states that guitar amp speakers are smaller, so they need to work more to provide the same low signal output.
Given that you’re limited on volume adjustment, using guitar amps for bass while gigging is never a good option.
If playing to a large crowd, increasing the volume is inevitable, and you can’t do that with a guitar amp without ruining the speakers.
Type of Guitar Amp
Using a solid-state amp with a bass guitar and not a tube or valve amp is highly recommended.
Since they are comprised of glass tubes, valve or tube amps are very prone to damage.
When the volume is up, the rattling effect caused by the vibration will be the reason for the tubes to crack or break.
Good luck trying to repair the damaged tubes, as they have small and complex parts.
Also, because tube amps are more expensive than solid-state, pushing them to their limits is never a brilliant idea.
You have to use passive pickups because they produce less power than active pickups.
The battery in active pickups enhances the signal, which will cause the speaker to produce high-volume sound.
In short, you might blow out the speakers if you utilize these pickups.
Several bass guitar models have passive amps, which are preferable for guitar amps.
Still, it’s good practice to verify the pickups you’ll use to make sure they’re safe.
While preventing the speakers from blowing out is essential, it’s equally important to make the proper tone adjustments.
Otherwise, there’s no point in using the guitar amp since it won’t give you a relatively similar sound experience to a bass amp.
Guitar amps are usually designed to have controls for treble, bass, and mids.
These three will be the key in transforming an electric guitar amp for a bass guitar.
For treble, keep it between one and two only.
The bass needs to be on the highest setting. Choose from four to six for mids.
It may not be perfect, but these settings will provide you with a warm and solid tone that befits a bass guitar.
If you want an amp designed to handle both electric guitar and bass guitar, you might want to check hybrid amps.
These are known as modeling amps, and they are meant to generate high-quality tones for these two instruments.
Since the effects are produced digitally, they offer more versatility than standard amps.
You may select models that are appropriate for bass and guitar.
There’s no need to make tedious and potentially dangerous adjustments if you’re keen on using a single amp for both.
However, the tone hybrid amps can produce may not be up to par with high-end bass and guitar amps.
You can also expect that they are significantly more expensive compared to the other amps.
Do Guitar Amps Work for Basses?
The only times you should consider using a guitar amp are during practices and low-volume sessions.
Otherwise, get a proper bass amp because the dangers and inconveniences associated with this can lower your music experience.
You can take advantage of many inexpensive bass amps instead of limiting yourself with a guitar amp.