Amps...where to start?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by poof, Sep 28, 2004.

  1. poof


    Sep 28, 2004
    I want to start playing bass, specifically jazz bass, and I looked around/asked some people and I decided to get the fender american jazz bass. I have no idea what kind of amp to get, I'm still in high school so I cant really shell out a lot of money, but an average amp would be fine. I don't know where to start looking, there are a bunch of terms that I dont understand. Can someone explain the basics on amps? I dont know if this is in the right forum, but it looks right.
  2. NeedMoreBass

    NeedMoreBass unregistered

    Feb 14, 2003
    My first question would be what is your budget?
  3. poof


    Sep 28, 2004
    I don't really have a budget, my parents are paying for it as a gift, but whatever is the average price for an amp. i would assume around 400 dollars can get a decent amp?
  4. I would suggest you get a 20-50 watt combo amp.

    It'll get you by for practicing, and small jams/rehersals, whatever.

    Good companies to look for would be Ampeg, Galien Kruger, and SWR. They all make very solid combos.
  5. NeedMoreBass

    NeedMoreBass unregistered

    Feb 14, 2003
    First off to get the most for your money, BUY USED!!! For $400 bucks you came get away with a fairly nice rig that will serve you well. I don't recommend anything with less than 150 watts. Watch sites such as the classified board on TalkBass,,, and of course If I were you I'd be looking for a GK 400RB and a 1x12", 2x10", or 1x15" cab. Look for a quality speaker cab, don't buy junk. If you see something in your price range come back to TalkBass for opinions if you're unsure. With a little patience you should be able to find the head and cab for about $200 each and have something that will serve most of your needs for a while.

    BTW: There's an Avatar 2x10" BRAND NEW on eBay for $189. This would be a great start!!
  6. z00zibot


    Sep 28, 2004

    I'm a guitar player who got pressed into service playing bass with a band last week, so I'm in a similar situation. My advice is to go around to all your local music stores and play through all the bass amps they have using a bass as much like your own as possible. At first I had a vague idea of what I wanted -- a 20-50W combo, like was recommended to you above -- but after listening to what's out there (and talking to several salesmen, and particularly reading a lot of reviews at since I didn't know TalkBass existed) I have changed my mind and I really feel I better know what I want.

    I'm probably going to get an SWR Workingman's 15, but I want to audition it one more time against the SWR LA 15 and the Crate BT220. I've listened to a lot of other bass combos in the last week. The 20-50W combos would never cut it for rock and would barely cut it for jazz; I want more headroom. Lots of the amps I heard had aggressive, rock and roll voices, which is okay but that's not all I want to do. I listened to some Ampegs and a Boogie, a couple of Fenders, and so on. I'm thinking the Crate B220 will be too heavy and too rock-voiced for me as well, but I want to hear it again to be sure. It did have a strong low-bass response.

    The SWRs have a kind of honky tone with the tone controls all flat, but if you chop the midrange slightly it smooths out into a nice warm rich sound that will work for the jazz and Brazilian my band does. I think it will work fine for rock, too.

    If you're sticking to jazz and don't need rock volumes, you should check out the SWR LA 15. It has 100 watts and a 15" speaker yet weighs no more than most 60W/12" combos and doesn't cost much more either ($300). It would be easier to carry than the Workingman's 15, but I want to play rock as well as jazz, so I'll end up hauling around more weight because the Workingman's 15 is way louder.

    The main message though is don't just accept my opinions above: go out and hear stuff for yourself. The hardest thing about it for me was to feel comfortable playing reasonably loud through bass amps in the store when my bass chops aren't good yet. I got over it, because there were usually tons of terrible guitar players making way more noise. ;-) I could never work in a music store.

    Good luck!

  7. waxcomb


    Jun 29, 2003
    Martinez, CA
    Of the three you listed, go for the WM's 15. The LA series is LAme. You have to crank it to get volume and then it farts out before you even get there. Crate shoule be left in the crate it came in.

    Buy used after tyring out as much as possible. Ampeg amps can be found for good deals and so can SWR. Get as many watts as you can afford from a good company.

    Good luck!
  8. has a couple good combos for sale. I think an Eden Nemsis 2x10 for $400, Carvin 2x10 for $600. I don't think you could go wrong with either.
  9. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    used, absolutely
    for a combo the swr wm 15 is good
    for some info try here ohms info
    that chould keep your head spinning
    if you decide to go the head/cabinet route i would try to get as many watts as possible (200+) as you'll need them down the road
    bass frequencies take a lot of power to amplify, you'll need 4 to 10 times the wattage as a guitar player will to get to the same volume. That's not something you'll need to worry about right off the bat, but it is a consideration eventually. That's why i suggest used. You dont want to spend 400 bucks on an underpowered new combo now only to find out that you'll need to replace it in a year to be able to play in a band setting.
  10. Larzito


    Aug 1, 2000
    Dallas, Texas
    The SWR Workingman's 15 combo would be a good choice. Gallien Krueger is good for the money too and louder...why are we obsessed with loudness...nothing worse than not being able to hear yourself in a band setting. A GK 400RB is a good amp and gets mucho louder than any comparable wattage head on the market. Couple that with a single 15 and you will be fine. Maybe a 112 or a 410. Avatar (I've never owned but a lot of TBers do) makes some really affordable cabs. Take it from someone who's been there...if you REALLY get into playing bass, the more money you spend on good stuff at the beginning, the less you will spend later...its a drug.
  11. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    For around $400 you can get an SWR Workingman's 12, a nice 100-watt combo. Or try out a Fender Bassman 100. Nice amp.
  12. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    No. Absolutely not. Do NOT get less than 100 watts. 20-50 watts is useless in any situation. A number of folks have recommented the WM-15. It's fine. I like the less expensive WM-12 better.
  13. mgood


    Sep 29, 2001
    Levelland, Texas
    I have to agree with that.
  14. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    i second that about the watts...............
    and yeah, the WM 12 is really cool too, sounds better than the 15
  15. Hawkeye

    Hawkeye Canuck Amateur

    Combos are a convenient way to go but I'm personally not a fan of the Workingman combos. They're a little shy on bottom and power (IMHO) for what is pretty much a premium price. This is based on music store test drives and your experience may be different.

    However, another alternative is separates. How about a Peavey Max 160 (100 watts into 8 ohms / 160 watts into 4ohms and around $300.00 shipped) plus an Avatar 2 x 10 cab @ $268 incl. shipping. Together less than $600 delivered to your door.

    I have used the Peavey Deltabass head extensively (same as Max 160) and it is clean, pretty loud and above all, reliable. I currently use it with a Peavey 115 BVX BW cab. The Avatar speakers have many fans on this forum.

    The Peavey is an underrated head. I had to buy a 3x more powerful Ampeg SVT3 Pro @ 3x the cost used in order to better it in any significant way.

    The Peavey/Avatar rig would allow you to play at some more serious volume levels than most combos at a price point that is not much more $. These pieces are not heavy so are easy to transport plus you have an clear upgrade path for the future (add another cab, replace the head etc.).

    Just another view on the world.
  16. main_sale


    Apr 26, 2004
    Cape Cod
    Take a look at an Ampeg B-100R. Great retro looks and "Old School" tone. Well built, very reliable and holds its value well. A great starter amp.