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Bass-ically Yours for the Beginner

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Rich Briere, Jul 20, 2000.

  1. Rich Briere

    Rich Briere

    Jul 5, 2000
    Greetings All,
    In the past month I've received a ton of Email regarding amplifiers. Topics range from "what should I get?" to "Why does my sound suck?" There also seems to be quite a bit of hesitation to post from the younger Talk Bass readers who have $200 in their pockets, come to forums asking what kind of an amp to get, and hear answers about $2,000 amps being "what they need". :-D

    IMHO, we might want to "qualify the customer" and see what's really going to help them enter the wonderful world of bassdom.

    Rather than try and answer each individual inquiry that I received, since they show up here every day as well, may I answer a couple of the FAQ's that I most often see?

    #1. Q.........."I don't have much money to get a first bass amp. Why does everyone keep telling me that I need so much power?"

    A: RB's Opinion: You don't. I don't know of a single "major" brand-name AMP company (Fender, Peavey, Crate, Ampeg, etc., ) that makes a lousy entry-level bass amp. Buy what you can afford...........not what someone else (including a sales guy) thinks that you need.
    I've heard 15/25 watt amps that will shake the walls when plugged into an efficient speaker cabinet. Many of the starter amps made today also have headphone jacks, CD inputs so that you can play along with your favorite recordings, external speaker jacks so that you can borrow your cousin's big bass cabinet to plug into when you're playing a party or a school dance, etc. When all else fails you can always rely on one thing-----"Keep it Simple Stupid!" Understand ALL of the amp controls BEFORE you leave the store and READ the owners manual..........again and again. :-D

    In closing: I've used a 60 watt bass amp for 35 years. I've owned and used dozens of gigantic mega-amps at the same time........but I still keep coming back to that 60 watt-er. It sounds great, it can get REALLY loud, and I've yet to find ANY gig that I can't cover.

    Bass-ically Yours
    Rich Briere
  2. Right on, brother! Testify!

    You've got a top notch web-site with cool info on Sunn amps.

    rock on,
  3. I can't agree more. I learned on a 15 watt amp combo going into a 8". Cost only $15 but hey I heard the notes. It obviously can't be used for giggin' but by the time I plugged into a big rig I did some research and didn't waste $2500 on some P.O.S..... Salesmen do one thing sell, I should know I am one in the real world. I only get to chill on the bass as a full time hobby.
  4. I gig with an Ampeg BA112, despite the fact that this is, apparently, a physical impossibility (it only being 50 watts). But it's either that or not gig at all! In other owrds I agree with you.

    One area I DON'T agree with you on is this - Marshall 'practice' level bass amps are abysmal. Definitely a 'bad ' amp. Actually, Marshall can't make bass amps, full stop ('period', in American, I think).

  5. danhei


    Jan 21, 2000
    I think you are in somewhat unordinary circumstances with your lack of access to decently priced gear! Most of the people on this board appear to be Americans and we are more fortunate than you.

    My first "real" amp was an 80W 15" generic combo. It wasn't great but it worked in a band with drums. So, for those on budgets, lowered powered gear CAN work. But it's nicer having ALOT more headroom than that amp provided.

    For those on budgets, used gear is a great way to go. More amp for less money. Just make sure you solicit advice (from other players, not the salesman) on the amp before you buy it. On a board like this, you can get someones opinion on most gear. Granted it is opinion but it's better than nothing.

  6. Rich Briere

    Rich Briere

    Jul 5, 2000
    Good Points Guys. :-D

    Another important factor to keep in mind is portability. When I first started playing (age 12)I used to haul my bass and my amp....by myself. We're talkin' about "walkin'" here folks. I started out with a 1x12 Premier Bass Combo amp. The other guys in the band had similar gear and there was only one problem that we ever ran into.....we were often TOO LOUD!

    The real point here is that we, as an industry, tend to eat our own young. We fill their heads (and Mom and Dad's) with visions of the gear that they "need to have" in order to get started, play out, etc. What's one of the main reasons that folks STOPPED going to see bands playing in club atmospheres, bars, etc. Too much gear, too loud to hear yourself think, too loud to "meet" people, etc.

    Bass-ically Yours,
    Rich Briere
  7. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    There are few things sillier than a newbie asking for amp advice and getting "Buy a WT-800 and two 410XLT's, they rock!!" Buy the best amp you can afford (I know, it's a dirty word wink. ), only if you're really serious about what you're doing. Otherwise a 50 or 100 watt amp may very well work for you. Also, don't expect someone else's dream rig to compensate for something you you can't do...that's what practice is for.

    I agree about amp quality. If you use an amp for what it's designed for, most are fine. The problems usually come in when you try to extend the limits of physics by trying (for example)to keep up with a loud drummer and guitarist with a 25w 8" combo. If only you had 30 watts biggrin.
  8. Bernie


    Dec 12, 1999
    Good post rich!I just got the Ampeg BA-115.100 Watts is plenty enough for alot of what i do and at 62lbs is VERY transportable.I no longer have to lug my 2x15 up/down stairs everytime we get together.The head alone on my old rig weighs almost as much as my new combo.Heres a present just for you.It DOESNT have an ext cab jack!After bustin your butt about that on the bassmans,that one sure came back and bit me in the a-- fast.How long till ill see the new Fenders(Preferably alder bodied P+HR-P,black or SB) down at Big Aplle music in New Hartford.Good luck!
  9. Rich Briere

    Rich Briere

    Jul 5, 2000
    Yo Bernie.....Nice new rig that you picked up sir. No extension jack??? Well I'll be. I promise that I won't tell anyone else or use the info against you. You're going to begin to see fewer and fewer extension jacks on pro series amps by the way. :-D

    RE: New Basses at the Apple---They've been shipped.

    Bass-ically Yours,
  10. Great thread, Rich.

    I own a bunch of gear (probably some of it is excess, but that's another story). Let's just say that I am ready for all situations !

    A common problem faced by many bassists, at least by me, is loud band members (guitars and drums). I'd love to gig with my 50 watt Basic 112, but it ain't going to happen.

    So I bring my rack as well as my 210 and 115 cabs. It's a lot to lug around but the real positive here is that I find my sound unbeatable (and, as importantly, so do my bandmates and the audience). I often have strangers come up to check my stuff out at gigs and compliment me on my tone.

    So there's my view for whatever it's worth.

    >You're going to begin to see fewer and fewer extension jacks on pro series amps by the way. :-D

    I guess that what your telling us is that the new Bassman series is setting the new industry standards !! :)

    Take care - John
  11. <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by danhei:
    I think you are in somewhat unordinary circumstances with your lack of access to decently priced gear! Most of the people on this board appear to be Americans and we are more fortunate than you.


    Well, in Turkey good bass gear is non-existant. But my main problem is transportation. I need small combos. I used to gig with a 130 watt Trace Elliot combo, with a 12" speaker. This was fine, but I just don't like the Trace sound. I A/Bed teh Ampeg BA 112 and 115, and just liked the 112 sound beter. I go for 12" speakers. I mike up the combo wih an AKG D112, and it works very well.

  12. Ok some advice, Don't borrow Home made amps!
    I should know i have one and on countless occassions blue sparks have run up the walls from out the back! redface.

    Plus when it dies you can't fix it because its not yours. been there done that too. Better to stop arguements. Needless to say its a cheap way, but transport is a prob.

    I run a 100 watt amp head into a 15" speaker cabinet. Try getting that into a ordinary commodore!

    I have a question. I have 200 dollars and my folks will match it. Is it better to buy secondhand from people my dad has worked with in the music industry for 20 yrs? or to trust some salesman?????
    And so what should i aim for, I am in a very loud Heavy metal band and cause my homemade amp is 20yrs old would something say even 200 watts be considerably louder because of newer technology????

    Del: ahh Woodstock, now that was a show.
    Garth: wow, you were at woodstock?
    Wayne:alright man, party on.What was it like?
    Del: Well it rained all morning and cleared up in the afternoon. I nearly remembered something else then....."
  13. heres what i plan on doing. i have next to no money and im a beginner/intermediate bassist. my band is doinf pretty well and its time i get a amp to get out louder. so what im going to do is use musicians friend and do monthly platinum payments to get me an swr 4004 head and 4x10 cab. sounds good to me. combined 36 a month. not bad

    The official John Turner wannabe
  14. danhei


    Jan 21, 2000
    JR, with any kind of payment plan like that, you have to be careful...you may end up paying ALOT more than the stuff is really worth using convenient monthly payments. This is especially true with "rent-to-own" appliance stores and stuff.

    So, how many months do you have to pay $36 a month? Maybe you could get your parents to lend you the money and pay them back with a 0% interest rate or something lower than you might be getting with MF.

  15. Mike Haines

    Mike Haines

    Jul 8, 2000
    OK, Here's my views on amps. Get what you can afford and get what works best for your personal situation. You do not need lots of wattage!! I used to have the big rigs too. But, now I use a small 25 watt Fender amp for practicing, and for gigging. When onstage,use a direct box or mike your amp and let the P.A. system do the work!! That's what it's there for!!! My amp is more than adequate for practicing(through the speaker or the headphone jack), and when placed onstage on an amp stand, makes a great stage monitor. And having such a portable setup is great !!!!
  16. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    This just isn't going to work in a large number of situations. A lot of the gigs I play, there aren't enough inputs in the PA for the bass to go through and it's really just for the vocals.

    Secondly in most cases - that is unless it's a really top-notch system- you can't really hear bass through the monitors and if there is enough bass to hear, it "interferes" with the other instruments causing distortion.

    If you have a lot of people on stage or one loud guitarist, your 25 watt amp is going to be drowned out and you won't be able to hear what you are playing, but the audience will still hear all the bum notes you play, because of this fact!!

    Now if I was in a mega-band who could afford stadium-quality PAs every week, then I could get away with 25 watts on stage, but in the real world, I have to rely on my personal amplification for projecting and monitoring my bass sound, in more than 90% of semi-pro gigs.

    In my own situation (fairly typical I would think), 150 watts is a minimum with a quiet band and 350 for anything louder. Anything else just wouldn't work with the band I'm in - I've tried it to my cost!! Standing next to our drummer, who always plays with earplugs, he can drown out a 150 watt amp on his own, without breaking sweat - and when he really gets into it...... and that's not including guitar keyboards and a 5-piece horn section!! wink.
  17. Doug


    Apr 5, 2000
    Buffalo, N.Y.
    Absolutely right Bruce. My drummer could easily drown out our guitar player and myself. I wish I could use a 25w amp. There aren't any good soundmen here that have an idea, on how to set up monitors, to get a good stage volume. I depend heavily on my amp and cab, to provide the stage volume for me.
    I've owned an SVT III and a IV and still had trouble cutting through. I've said it before, it all depends on the type of music, how many members in the band and their equipment, and how hard your drummer plays.

    Bruce, we'll have to start calling you Mr.Kilo II. Looks like JimK's got some competition. smile.
  18. Ah, there are SO many variables. One place we play, we have a 500 watt PA with 12 channel mixer. I mike up my 50 watt, and it works fine. Another place, the guitarist has difficulties hearing me when I go through the 300 watt house amp (a Fender BXR combo).

    Bruce is right about the distortion, but I find that a miked amp causes less than a DI'd bass. Why, I don't know. That'S why I mike.


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