Further tales of the newb; cautionary
The quick and short: got a free 5 string bass that cost $160 at the only Eunice, LA pawn shop; got a PocketRockit earphone deally ($60) and practiced for a few months-- figured I like this bass thing. Through much research (mostly on TB), decided a practice combo was a waste of money; had got Sansamp BDDI for $120 on ebay and decided to get a power amp to drive my future cab. Bought GTD Audio T-4500 power amp through ebay for $150. NOW, I could test cabs, but NO! said power amp doesn't power up at all (have not contacted GTD about the one year warranty), but it will take the cost of shipping to Baltimore, and another $15 for return... If they return it within 3 months, I'd feel lucky, if it works.) Probably will take it to a local who is talented with amps rather than roll the dice that it will come back right from MD.
Silver Lining: desperate rookie GASSer was able to pick up a Peavey Basic 112 for a $100 and it gets along good with sans amp and my Johnson by AXL 5 string Longhorn. Kinda cool to get a 12 which is not muddy at all and has plenty of high end ring for me.
Beware of GTD.