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Bass head as power amp for modeling or external power amp to drive cab?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Mazian, Dec 11, 2018.

  1. Mazian


    Oct 26, 2018
    I have a quick question concerning power amps and modeling gear.
    I recently picked up bass coming from guitar and am playing through my Helix modeler atm.
    I would like to be able to play through an actual bass cab so I thought about getting a power amp and going Helix->power amp->cab.
    I searched around and all the power amps I found where a little over what I would want to spend right now, around maybe 3-400 $.
    So I thought about getting a head instead and just go with the fx loop return to bypass the preamp, something like a Hartke maybe.
    I don't gig atm but I wouldn't rule it out at some point, so having something that would be gigable would be a plus.
    Should I go with a head (which I technically don't need, but would be a backup if the Helix broke) or fork over the cash for a power amp, and if the latter, any good suggestions?

    As a side note, could I also power a guitar cab with a "bass" power amp?
  2. Skybone


    Jun 20, 2016
    There is an argument that even going straight into the power amp > cab, it will "colour" the sound anyway. You do loose a touch of top end, but it still sounds pretty decent. Of course, a lot depends on your settings and the sound you want to achieve.

    How do you use the Helix with your guitar setup?

    If you already have an FRFR setup for your guitar, I would advise just using that with your bass setup as well.

    I wouldn't use a guitar cab, as the speakers may not be up to the same power ratings, and not have the same bottom end response.
    Mazian likes this.
  3. Mazian


    Oct 26, 2018
    I go into two FRFR monitors for guitar and bass right now.

    I mean, it sounds good, I just thought I could recapture a bit of the "amp in the room" feeling with a "real" cab.
    Plus the monitors are just 8'' and not really meant to reproduce the bass thump.
    So if I ever want to play out or jam an upgrade is in order anyway, that's what gave me the idea.

    I didn't mean a guitar cab for bass, sorry if that wasn't clear, I meant use the heads power amp to power a guitar cab for the times I actually want to play guitar, for bass I'd use a bass cab.

    Thanks for your help!
  4. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    All of the above will work just fine.

    One potential issue is that if you're using any stereo effects on the Helix you would probably lose one side or the other when you plug into the effects return on a mono amp. If you plug into the 1/8" aux in on a bass amp that has one you'd have both sides of the signal summed to mono.

    Don't know if that's something you care about, but it's something to consider.
    el murdoque and Mazian like this.
  5. Zbysek


    Mar 23, 2017
    Czech Republic
    Yes. It will be cheaper probably
    Mazian and Wisebass like this.
  6. Skybone


    Jun 20, 2016
    In that case, maybe look at upgrading your FRFR's to a larger speaker, say 10" or 12", and maybe one's with a bit more output.

    I'm currently debating whether to use a bass amp/cab setup, or get an active PA speaker setup (FRFR). There's pluses & minuses to both, I do have a bass amp/cab setup just now, and use an amp/cab setup in the rehearsal room by plugging my HD500x into the Effects Return. It works fine, and like I said, you do lose a bit of the top end, but generally, it sounds fine.

    Theoretically, you could use the bass amp into your guitar cab, but if your cab has say 4x 30w rated speakers (120w total) and your bass amp head is rated at 250w total, then you will have to be careful how much power goes into your speakers by using the Volume dial with care. As you are putting the Helix straight into the power amp, you're bypassing not only the Gain & EQ, but the Volume as well, so the Helix's Volume control will then regulate the signal into the power amp. Start with the Volume at zero, and go up slowly.

    There again, assuming you have a guitar head as well as the guitar cab, then you can do exactly the same thing, and plug the Helix into the Effects Return and bypass the pre-amp. That way, if the guitar amp is matched to the guitar cab, the power amp's output won't exceed the cab's handling capability. So say your amp is rated at 100w, and your cab is rated at 120w, then the amp's output doesn't exceed the safe loading limit of the speakers, whereas a 250w bass amp is rated higher than the 120w cab, and so could cause some damage if you weren't careful.

    Upgrade your FRFR. ;)
    Mazian likes this.
  7. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    FRFR has become a dangerous term since guitar players and PR discovered it.
    A guitar FRFR cab/amp often means giving FR to the FR of a guitar, not the audible spectrum.
    A cabinet that produces a flat response from 20-20k Hz is more or less overpowered for guitars, since they only use a small portion of that spectrum, so a lot of money can be saved by shaving off those lower frequencies a bass players wants/needs.
    Mazian likes this.
  8. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    So here's the thing. It all centers around weight. If you are willing to get a somewhat heavy power amp, it can be had for dirt cheap right now. As can a heavy bass cab.

    You should be able to find a Peavey 410TVX and a 15 year old power amp for the few hundred dollars you want to spend on just power.

    If you want lighter, you'll pay for it.

    Roughly where are you? I only ask because some of us have become quite adept at sifting through Craigslist ads in seconds. :cool:
    Mazian likes this.
  9. Mazian


    Oct 26, 2018
    I'm in Germany, so no Craigslist I'm afraid.
    I've been looking through the used gear sections here and there's the odd Peavey and Trace Elliot head to be had for not very much...
    Thanks for the offer!

    I mean, I thought about it, but that would probably be the more expensive option.
    I've got studio headphones because at night my girlfriend can apparently hear a fly cleaning it's wings three rooms over and that's when I realized you get what you pay for with FRFR, because they sound a good bit better than my monitors.
    So if I upgrade I'd want to get something good.

    I realize that this is quite the luxury problem and I'm in no rush, I can wait for a deal I've I've decided which way to go.
    two fingers likes this.
  10. Skybone


    Jun 20, 2016
    Partners do tend to develop bat-like earing at night, especially when you want to work on some music. :D

    Trawl your local For Sale Ad's / Sites (eBay.de, etc.) for any used, reasonably priced bass rigs, or head to Thomann / Muziker / etc. for new FRFR / Active PA Speaker options (currently scouring Thomann's selection for options myself - certainly before Brexit hits anyway! :D ).
    Mazian likes this.
  11. BogeyBass


    Sep 14, 2010
    Just a 1x15 peavey TNT or a older ampeg ba115 would be fine really for having fun

    Both go used for around 200 bucks

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