Best Method to Compare Amps

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by PoorePlaysBass, Jul 15, 2013.

  1. I'm seriously considering buying a new amp with money from my summer job, and I'm wanting to go to my local GC to really sit down and play through several amps. I'm currently considering both Acoustic and Ampeg's mini stacks, but who know what will come up. I've heard two different schools of thought as it comes to what bass to use to compare amps though. One being "An entry level bass will show only the amp's power, while a higher end bass will improve the performance of an amp and skew judgement.", and the other being "An entry level bass will not do the amp justice, and a higher end bass will show the amp's true power." So which should I go with? Or just take my own bass to get a feel for amps using exactly what I use?
  2. bigsnaketex

    bigsnaketex Guest

    Dec 29, 2011
    Down South
    your ears are the only way to compare bass amps!
  3. Key is to play YOUR bass with the rigs, and also swap heads and cabs, especially if you dislike a rig, so you know if it is the cab or head that is causing you trouble.

    Also, make sure you understand the tone controls/front end of the amp. Lots of missed opportunities for guys trying stuff out, thinking it sucks, and then finding out that they thought (for example with Markbass) that 'filters at noon' meant 'flat':D

    Finally, careful what the GC salesperson tells you. Most are clueless, and are more interested in making the sale than helping you find your sound.

    Have fun!
  4. groooooove

    groooooove Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    don't be too technical about it. the amps your looking at can be perfectly suitable for any of us (said the guy with a multi-thousand dollar bass rig)

    whats important is not the bass your using to see what the amp can do, but the bass you actually own. bring it with you to GC or use something similar. as long as you understand what a given instrument is likely to bring to the table, i think you can judge any amplifier just fine, as long as you keep it in mind what your plugging into it.

    i would never try and amp and think "im limiting this things capability by using this P bass"

    another note- try as many amps as you can, in your price range or not. get an idea of what you like. be open minded. try different speaker sizes and listen to the sound closely. do you like 10" speakers? 15? a lot of 10s? just one 12"? they all will have their own flavor. pay attention and have fun.

    best of luck to you.

  5. Heard that on the GC salespeople. I don't fool around with them.
  6. I came off a little more negative than I meant to. However, most GC sales staff that I've experienced are nice guys who really don't know much about gear. I'm sure there is the rare 'bass gear head' working at some of them, but I've not run into one myself!

    Have fun... bring your own bass:D
  7. TC.65


    Dec 20, 2008
    Carbondale IL
    You definitely need to use your own bass. That can make all the difference.
  8. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    There are a couple of them at my favorite GC. They do exist.
  9. beans-on-toast


    Aug 7, 2008
    Yes, bring your own bass.

    Play your riffs and listen carefully. At some point, I like to simply play a single note. Let it ring and listen to the quality of the tone and how it sounds as it decays. Repeat adjusting the tone controls.

    It helps to have someone else play while you adjust the amp controls and listen. Go through the full range of tone settings. You can get a better indication of what the amp can do if you aren't distracted by playing.

    Take your time. Try everything that you want to. It is your money so don't let them rush you. It helps if you can go when the shop is less crowded and the jerks aren't there.
  10. RockNRollAl

    RockNRollAl Guest

    Feb 2, 2008
    Hood River, OR
    The best way is to go down to GC, find two amps, plug them both into the same cab and wail away.

    The GC staff will appreciate it! :D
  11. bluewine

    bluewine Inactive

    Sep 4, 2008
    Depends on how your going to use. An amp for the guy in a "for fun" basement jam band should be different from an amp used for the giging play for pay bass guitarist.

    Personally I don't think GC is the place to buy from or to try out amps. The amp is not going to sound the same as it does in the store to how it sounds wherever you will be using it.

    Personally I don't like GC's inventory and the sales staff is marginal at best. But it might be your only resource.

    Make sure you know what type of sound you want and the volumes you will need.

    I bi-amp through a GK rig which I use for large fesitval and small bar gigs. I knew the sound and power I needed before buying.

  12. will33


    May 22, 2006
    +1 to using your own bass. If that isn't practical, grab the cheapest, crappiest bass you can find in there. Reason being a good amp and good speakers will make a cheap bass sound pretty darn good. A crappy amp or crappy speakers will make even the finest bass sound crappy.

    Turn it up loud and crank the mids, you'll need those at real gigs so see that they sound musical or at least tolerable and not all harsh and honky. Don't scoop it out and make bedroom tone...other than to crank the bass and see when/if the speakers bottom out.

    If it's an Ampeg Pf amp you're trying, hook it up to 4ohms and crank the snot out of it and hammer away....see if you can get it to shut down.
  13. rockamimjazz


    Sep 10, 2011
    If you are not limited to GC, check out some other shops. They often have other brands or models not carried by GC.
  14. Use your bass! The issue is that there are no absolutes, it can be much more of a "rock, paper, scissors" game than you might think. A low-end bass might just match the high-end amp really well, and not match the low-end amp, and vice-versa for the high-end bass. So there really can't be an absolute rule like that.

    You want to use your bass, or basses, to test the amps. I'd say the most important thing to make the comparison equal is to try and get both amps as close to the same volume as possible. Our ears will often fool us where the louder thing sounds better, but only because it's louder.
  15. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Big guy, you are smack in the middle of Nashville and Knoxville. You live in one of the most fertile grounds for used gear on the planet. I own an amazing Mesa Walkabout Scout stack that I bought from a fellow TBer in Knoxville. If I were you I would shop the craigslist in both of those towns. Times are hard and people switch gear like changing their underwear all around you. There are deals to be had. I would spend your money on an upgrade rig USED. If you have any questions about something you see, please come back and ask. Between all of us we have played pretty much every rig in existence.
  16. The best way to compare is to actually check the amp out of the store and try it in real life.

    In store head auditions don't tell much.
    In real life the in-store sound may not hold up.
  17. Poison_Whiskey

    Poison_Whiskey Guest

    Sep 1, 2012
    Take your bass, cords, and any effects you might be using.

    That is exactly what i did when pro am went outta Buisness. They had a few really nice Trace Elliot bass heads for sale. I brought my whole set up and compared my AH300SMX12 to the newer AH600SMX12 stereo, and the Trace Elliot all tube V4.
    The V4 won! Hands down!

    Always do your homework!
  18. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    Ya, it's really as simple as playing a few amps and seeing which one in your price range makes you want to play the most. Ampeg Micro VR and CL do rock, though...