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Amplifying a Double Bass?

Discussion in 'Amps, Mics & Pickups [DB]' started by TenorClef, Dec 21, 2004.

  1. This question has likely been asked before, but i did'nt see a thread.

    Does a double bass require a specialised bass amp or will it work ok through a standard bass guitar amp?
  2. Adrian Cho

    Adrian Cho Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2001
    Ottawa, Canada
    It will work but it probably won't sound very good but there are some amps that work OK for both. There are a lot of variables when it comes to amplifying a double bass. The thing about EBG amps is that they usually color the sound. EBG gear is designed to get a nice tone out of something that effectively has no tone to begin with since it has no real acoustic sound. On the other hand, withe a 2xbass, you are in many cases, trying to get a good acoustic sound to begin with (so you sound good even when you play without an amp) and then you want to reproduce that sound with amplification - so that it sounds the same - just louder. That usually means gear that is more transparent than typical EBG stuff. However, not everyone follows this strategy. Sometimes people intentionally want a different amplified sound or the acoustic sound is not that great to begin with. Fundamentally, are you trying to recreate or reproduce the sound or create something different?
  3. My main interest is knowing whether it will increase the volume without any harmful side affects to a bass guitar amp. Also I should have thought tonal colour to some extent could be altered with the type of pickup used and onboard EQ system that comes as standard on bass guitar amps.

    The other thing i noticed is that bass guitar amps are much cheaper and accessible than double bass specific amps. I'd love to know if any one has had any success playing their uprights through what is essentially a 'slab bass' amp system.
  4. mcbosler


    May 12, 2000
    Plano, TX
    First thing is to decide what you're going to use on the bass itself. There's a wide array of both attachable microphones and piezo pickups. Do your research to decide if one or the other would be better for you (or both).

    Once you've figured out what you're going to use to get the sound electronically transported from your bass, do some more research and decide if you need a preamp to go with the pickup/mic of choice. Bob G's site has good info on this: http://www.urbbob.com/preamptalk.html

    Also, keep in mind that since the instrument itself resonates, there is a much stronger chance of feedback (that's another technical issue). Double bassists tend to use smaller cabinets (many suggest a 2x10 or smaller speaker configuration) since the bass itself is a hefty piece to lug around. As far as how much power you want the amp to have, keep in mind that many venues where you would need a lot of power to be heard have their own house system which you can plug into, with or without your own preamp, DI, etc. More power = more headroom, and tends to decrease the feedback by allowing you to keep the gain lower while turning up the volume.

    Take all of this into consideration and compare it to the size of your pocket book. There isn't one right answer to the amplification question; if you think your EB rig will work, give it a try. You will either like it or not. If not, then the search continues.
  5. JonB


    May 27, 2003
    Running an upright through a bass guitar amp won't hurt the amp. I agree that usually, smaller speakers work better for upright. Nothing over 12".
    Generally, most piezo pickups require a preamp before running into a bass amp. The reason is to match input impedance. However I sometimes run a Full Circle (piezo) pickup straight into an old Ampeg B1 bass combo amp without a preamp. It sounds very transparent and is wonderful for duo/trio gigs. I don't think a B1 would be found on any bassist's list of great amps, but it works. You just have to experiment and find what works for you and your bass.
    What a lot of folks do is gradually build different systems for different gigs. The approach I use is a good preamp with a powerful, light weight power amp, and then various speaker cabinets which can be combined for different situations. It takes some time to figure out what works well where, but there is a great deal of flexibility.
  6. Glad to hear i won't damage a bass guitar amp if i use one! So what i'm hearing is that a bass guitar amp will work, add volume but perhaps be a little different in sound to what i'm hearing now acoustically, depending of course on what type of pick up system i use. Popular choice from what i've researched so far are the transducer types that attach to the 'bridge' either in one or two places. I see both Bob and Upton sell these types with favourable feedback. Lastly 12 inch or less speaker/s.

    Great help guys, this forum is great!
  7. dvmweb


    Apr 20, 2002
    Atlanta MI 49709

    my 2c. I have begun to use a electret condenser mic (shure 381, I think) attached to my mic stand, like you would for an acoustic guitar, to add the Pizz string tone and the snaps and slaps of my hands. It adds a percussive sound that is not picked up by my pick up. We play low level "Coffee House" type gigs usually. Modest sound levels.

    Merry Christmas
    Walt MI/US
  8. Ike Harris

    Ike Harris

    May 16, 2001
    Nashville TN
    Some of the best sound I've gotten was on a friend's rig - GK400rb and 1-15 Hartke Transporter - the tones were set up kinda weird, but sounded great. This was when I played a small very old German bass with an old model Fishman. Haven't tried that combination with the present bass, though. The amp/speaker combo used should run about $500. The GK w/a older GK 1-15 sounds good also(like a big GK 150/200). Otherwise I mostly use a small 200mb.
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I'm surprised by this...:meh: ...I've never seen an amp advertised as "Double Bass specific"..?

    OK - "Acoustic Image" - sounds like it's aimed at acoustic instruments, but I've never seen a specific mention of DB - there are Acoustic Bass Guitars and the advertising I've seen, mentions that it's suitable for any instruments and even has a vocal mic input.

    Euphonic Audio are often cited here as good for DB and the small GK 150 combos are what I've seen Jazz DBers use most frequently at gigs - but neither are designed or marketed specifically at DB and I've seen many BG players use them as well - EA's ads feature Leland Sklar with BG.

    So - what are these DB-specific amps? :confused:

  10. Not sure really, i'm reffering to amps that i've seen on specific Double Bass web sites which seem to start at about $800 up over. That would be about £400 Uk i think, i could likely get a nice bass guitar amp for probably half that again and then from what i've learnt from this forum attach a pre-amp and i'm good to go. However at the moment the only amp used in the quartet i play with is used by the guitarist. The bass has always been acoustic, as has the tenor sax and conga/percussion player. Just lately though we are having to deal with loud christmas crowds and its tough for the bass to come through with any definition just a low dull thump thump thump. We don't play large venues just local restaurants and usually acoustic works just fine. The guitar was also acoustic at one stage but then the sax decided he wanted a break from all the solos so this meant adding an amp to hear the guitar when soloing. I actually preferred it when we just had a spanish guitar comping the chords and no amp but at least now the conga player can sing the odd Bossa and swing number through the spare mike input in the acoustic guitar amp.
  11. I'm a bit late for this party, but in some amps, you can plug into the "Effects Return" and completely bypass the preamp section of your amp, thus creating the transparency needed for double bass. Possibly...

    I know that Mike Pope does this with his electrics, and quite possibly his DB.
  12. SLivinghouse

    SLivinghouse Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2004
    Meadow Vista, CA
    Unless you've got a gig with Wynton Marsalis tonight, a decent quality bass guitar amp should be fine. Some bass guitar amps are designed to color the sound by overdriving the tubes (which some DB bassist like as well if subtle.) This is adjusted by turning up the preamp gain to create a "warm" sound (think Motown). The sound however is not colored if you keep the gain at a modest level (depends on brand and model of course.) I've seen many DB players use GK and SWR amps witch are also BG amps. Don't get too hung up boutique amp manufacturer's marketing (oh DB player, it was design just for you, yeah baby, you're special, that will be an extra $700 :rolleyes: ) - spend the money you save on lessons.

    What will affect you sound much more is:
    Your playing
    Your bass
    Pickups vs. mics - which you choose will affect you sound much more than amp electronics
    Size of speakers (10 or 12s are generally preferred for db)

    Also, I would not suggest bypassing the pre-amp as previously suggested unless you have another device performing its function. Although the preamp can color the sound, often you will get poor results because of impedance mismatches between the effect return and the pick-up and/or mic. The preamp also provides tone controls.