Best portable practice bass combo amp?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by bassbourne, Mar 16, 2020.

  1. bassbourne


    Nov 20, 2019
    Hey there,

    I currently live in a very small apartment and am looking for a quality practice amp. Just to give you all an idea, my other amp is a Fender rumble 40, but it's too big and loud.

    The point is that it has to be fairly portable so that I can move it around the apartment easily and possibly even take it round the corner to a friends (by foot) for an acoustic jam sesh.

    I've narrowed it down to the following, but I'm open to other suggestions:

    - Fender Rumble 15
    - Hartke HD15
    - Ashdown Tour Bus 15
    - Roland Micro Cube Bass RX

    So all my choices are 15 watts or under. That's mainly due to the fact they are smaller. If it's not worth getting a 15 watt amp I don't mind going up to 20-25 watts. Although portability is important to me, it also matters to me that the amp can produce some low end and doesn't sound like a toy. Do any of these fit that bill?


    PS I'm not looking to spend too much so a Phil Jones or Markbass isn't really an option. I'd buy the Roland with all the extra features if it's worth it though.
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  2. SwitchGear


    Mar 23, 2005
    Sunny Beach
    Rumble 100

    Small, light weight and has a volume knob
    BassBeginer64, TimboZ and Kukulkan61 like this.
  3. bassbourne


    Nov 20, 2019
    Thanks for the reply. For now though, I'm looking for a very small practice amp (that still has some low end) for practice at home. As mentioned in my original post, I currently own the rumble 40 and it's too big and loud for my apartment, so the rumble 100 will definitely be too much. I'm planning on selling my rumble 40 and buying the rumble 100 for gigs once we've moved to a bigger apartment though.
  4. Playbyear


    Nov 20, 2019
    Rumble 25 and headphones? Or just headphones with the Rumble 40...
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2020
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  5. bassbourne


    Nov 20, 2019
    Thanks for the reply. Rumble 25 is an option I guess. Do you know whether the 15 is good enough? As mentioned in my original post, the 40 is not only too loud, but also too big (I have a two year old running around and little space for anything), so the smaller the amp the better as long as it still has some low end (so not the Blackstar Fly 3 for example).
  6. Lately I was helping few of my students with choosing a very small home amp. We tried few, best result probably had the smallest Ampeg (called BA-110 I think). These cheap small combos usually have one common bad feature, you can hear a silent buzz with every note you play. I've seen this across the brands. I tend to think it might be because the manufacturers use the cheapest trafos and other parts, so the amp can't deal with worse than ideal power outlet conditions. (I'm no expert, just guess.)
    I liked the sound of EBS Classic 30. However, the buzz I mentioned above is there, and the DI out is also buzzing, making it almost unusable (at least in the electrical environment around me).

    I'd advice to buy a cheap head (great TC BH250 still on sale cheaply; lots of small heads on the market now) and some small cab (Trace Elliot Bassbox 110, or better, Mike Arnopol had a thread somewhere aound TB about a wonderous 6" cab he's developing right now). You'll pay more, but you can use this rig for everything amateur and professional alike. Most of my gigs follow the 'less and less money for musicians nowadays' trend, I use almost only small cabs now, so that I won't spend most of what I earned on car parking tolls.

    Separate head and cab are also easier for travelling than a combo. You can put the amp in your bass bag and have less to carry with in your hands.
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  7. bassbourne


    Nov 20, 2019
    Thanks for the tips!

    Did you try the Hartke HD15 and Fender Rumble 15 by any chance? I'm guessing these will have the same buzzing problem you speak of. Main thing to me is that I can get a clean sound with some low end and enough volume to play along to songs at home. It's unlikely I'll use it for anything else as I plan to purchase a bigger amp for gigging once I've moved apartments.

    Good idea to look at cabs and heads. Will give that a try too!
  8. Playbyear


    Nov 20, 2019
    IMHO, there is a big difference between the 15 and 25. The Rumble 15 sounds crappy. The Rumble 25 has a pleasing tone.
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  9. Nope, sorry. It was about four amps the students bought, I forgot the results except for that cheap combos are less practically usable than cheap head and cheap box combined. What @Playbyear writes above makes sense to me. Hartke was on my list, but noone tried it. I was also thinking about Ibanez Promethean. I don't trust new non-expensive Fenders much, which I feel sorry for, but can't help myself.
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  10. Playbyear


    Nov 20, 2019
    Rumble 25 is also about the smallest reasonably priced 1x8" combo at 15"x15"x11"
    bassbourne likes this.
  11. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    If even a Rumble 40 is too loud and inconvenient to move around, you’re going to have to consider using headphones.

    I’d suggest getting an Ampeg SCR/DI


    And a set of Sony MDR-7506 headphones.


    This combination is my super portable late night practice and composition rig.
  12. jpmcbride

    jpmcbride Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2009
    Phoenix, AZ
    I've had the Roland Micro Cube for many years and love it. It's small and easy to move around and has surprisingly good sound.
  13. bassface69


    Jan 12, 2020
    IMG_2282.JPG I like the SCR DI and headphones too ... but if you want to make a bit of a racket, the Phil Jones Bass Double Four is a tiny 70w practice amp with great tone! I love it!
  14. dhergert

    dhergert Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2018
    Blue Zone, California
    I'll add a voice for the Roland Micro Cube Bass RX...

    I've been using one for my double bass for a couple of years, for both practice and gigs, my son on BG has been using one for his bass for about 5 years, sometimes even preferring it for small-venue gigs over his GK. Remarkable power for 5w (total), using four special design 4" speakers.

    The trick with these little amps is to get them elevated up off the ground, where the sound is not getting shot out into peoples legs and feet. I bring a stool just for my Roland.

    Aside from power, size and weight, the Micro Cube Bass RX runs on 6AA batteries for hours (rated at 11 hours, but I commonly get 20 to 25 hours easily).

    Couple all that with a wireless RX/TX system and you're completely wireless. Remarkable ease of use.
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  15. kmon

    kmon Supporting Member

    May 11, 2009
    Marlton, NJ
    Too bad about the Rumble 40...I've come into possession of a few via trade etc and I thought it was a great balance of size, volume and tone.

    The Rumble 15 really doesn't buy ya much over the 40...a few inches, a couple pounds and you lose the 40's overdrive circuit which is a cool thing to have.

    I'd get some headphones to eliminate the volume issue in the apartment, and forget about going smaller. When you decide to expand the jam session to include a drummer you'll miss the 40.
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  16. I have a Peavey Max 126 that I use at my office (about 3x2.5 m^2). It does 10 watts through a 6.5" speaker. Doesn't have much ooomph but works perfectly for practice. It's not buzzy if you keep the volume low enough, and it has a "Vintage" knob that works more like an overdrive but also adds more bass. I also use it for small office jams with a couple of workmates playing guitars and/or cajon. Plus it's very cheap: I bought mine new for about $60; you could find one second hand for $40.

    There is also a 20 watt version with 8" speaker (Peavey Max 158), but I think the Max 126 would be fine for your needs.
    bassbourne likes this.
  17. bassbourne


    Nov 20, 2019
    Thanks for the tip.

    I actually really like the rumble 40, but there's 3 of us in a 1 bedroom apartment at the moment and even an amp as small as the rumble 40 takes up a lot of space when I get it out to play through, so I usually end up using my laptop and headphones. Ideally I'd like to be able to have a tiny amp I can just leave out all the time without it really being in the way.

    Also, I rarely play with drummers these days and if I do it's usually in a space where there's already an amp. I'm impressed with the rumble 40 though, so once we're in a bigger apartment I'll probably buy the rumble 100 (or 200) so that it's loud enough for gigs as well as jams.
  18. bassbourne


    Nov 20, 2019
    Thanks for all the suggestions so far! Lots of good stuff to consider.
  19. the federalist

    the federalist I think about basses a lot. Supporting Member

    Aug 10, 2014
    Another thumbs up for the Roland Micro Cube Bass RX.

    Others have pointed out the decent sound, (surprising) volume and portability.

    At low volume it's fine, if not great.

    Build quality is super solid.

    Plus you get a few effects, a metronome with a few drums, and a tuner.

    All in all, it's a nice package. Even new, it's not too pricey. Look for a used one at GC. They come up often.
    Sav'nBass, Artman, TomB and 2 others like this.
  20. Lunatique


    Nov 23, 2007
    Lincoln, CA
    Phil Jones has some lower priced models, and you can also get great deals in the used market.

    I've owned/tested a bunch of popular combo amps at different price points, including Fender, Hartke, Markbass, Peavey, Acoustic, Ampeg, etc., and none of them even came close to sounding as accurate, natural, articulate, and responsive as the Phil Jone Flightcase BG-150 I now use. I will never bother with the typical large driver speakers ever again--they're just too slow and colored compared to using multiple smaller speakers to achieve the same volume, frequency response, and move the same amount of air with the same visceral impact. I was a skeptic because it was hard to believe how little 5" speakers could do so much, but now I'm a believer, and I also understand the math behind it better.
    bassbourne likes this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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