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Can a bass head work OK for keyboards?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by ClumsyThumper, Oct 10, 2013.

  1. I am mainly a keyboard player, but also play bass. We play various sized gigs, never a big enough one for the house PA to carry either instrument. Often, very small gigs.

    What I'd like to do is use one head, and carry a cab sized for the gig. I like building cabs, not so keen on heads.

    I've never heard of a keyboard head. All it really needs to be is an amp with wide frequency range, limiting to avoid clipping and hopefully, cut off the low end in a way to avoid damaging woofers, like around 35-40Hz, maybe adjustable.

    If I use a bass head and basically turn off any effects, and flatten the EQ, will it work for that? Or do they usually include high freq rolloff since a bass doesn't deliver those tingly highs of a cymbal crash?

    I could readily see having two heads, one as a backup, and an assortment of cabs.


  2. I suggest you check out a power amp. That way you can run your bass with a pre amp, and your keys into a small mixer which will drive a power amp.

    Per building your own cabs. I think a fEARful 15/6/1 with true three way cross over is right up your alley. Plans are free.
  3. I think it would work just fine. There are plenty of bass amps that don't deliberately roll off the high frequencies: Eden, GK, Markbass, Carvin, etc. One of those and a neutral-sounding, full range cabinet, like an Acme B-1 for example, would handle bass or keybaords quite well, IMHO.
  4. From whence would you acquire a preamp? My bass claims to have active pickups, that's actually just a regular pickup plus preamp anyway, right?
  5. danielfnj96


    Jan 29, 2012
    NJ, USA
    Hartke HA heads are made to be used with either bass or keyboard so i'd recommend you get one of them.
  6. lots of them about. I use the Aguilar Tone Hammer.
  7. While the preamp in your bass is "pre" the amp it isn't the same thing. You can spend a little or a lot on a bass preamp. Search rackmount also. bbe, Behringer, Peavey, ART, at the affordable end. Various custom makers at the other. Sansamp, Aguilar in the middle.
  8. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    Previous band I was in the keyboard player used a Hartke 3500 and it worked just fine.
  9. I play bass and keys on a lot of gigs, and I picked up a MarkBass Tube800 precisely because I wanted a head I could comfortably run both instruments through at the same time, alternating between them without having to change settings, and get a good tone for both. The advantage with the Tube is that there are two 1/4" inputs on the front (one is a combo also allowing XLR) each with its own gain control. Also, MarkBass in particular has an extremely flat frequency response when the eq controls are set at 12:00. I typically will adjust the filter controls somewhat, as I find they work well with both instruments, and then use the eq to adjust to the cabinet and the particular room I'm in. Of all the heads I have tried to run these two instruments through at the same time, this has worked out the best for me, and I don't need any additional outboard equipment like a separate mixer, etc., it's all in the head.
  10. 1n3


    Sep 13, 2007
    Most bass and guitar amps are designed around magnetic pickups, and have some built-in coloration. If I wanted a head for keyboards, I'd buy a small powered mixer for PA. There are many to choose from, and a wide range of options in that category.
  11. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    I've played a couple of quiet solo keyboard gigs with my little Fender Bassman 25 combo. Did fine. Did a couple of band gigs using my ole Trace Eliott GP7-SM combo. Again, did fine.
  12. Steve Dallman

    Steve Dallman Supporting Member

    A bass head will work fine for keyboards. The big difference with keyboard amps is there is usually multiple channels. If one input is enough, then use it.

    Looking at bass amp and keyboard amp schematics over the years (I've been an amp tech for decades) there isn't much difference in gain staging or basic EQ. Any bass amp with active, boost and cut EQ will do fine. If the EQ is based on a Fender tone stack, then you have to deal with the inherent mid cut, but few bass heads use that type of tone stack.

    I did a stint playing bass for a musical a year ago. The piano player needed a small keyboard amp. I have an old Traynor Bloc 40 with a 10" and two piezos in a ported cabinet. It worked marvelously. In that line the only difference between the bass and keyboard model was the addition of a piezo. I did that to my bass amp years ago. The preamps and power amps were the same.

    Peavey keyboard amps used the same EQ topology as active channels in their bass heads.
  13. Jon Lord from Deep Purple ran his keyboard's through a guitar amp. So why not.
  14. Alex1984


    Jan 16, 2010
    A bass head should work for keyboards. If you're really worried about super low frequencies being filter out, you should look at SWR's SM-400, those things are notorious for allowing subsonic content to pass.
  15. BassmanPaul

    BassmanPaul SUSPENDED

    Not always. An active bass can have an onboard pre-amp and regular pickups. Most of them use active pickups that have electronics inside such as my EMGs.
  16. Sid Fang

    Sid Fang Reformed Fusion Player Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2008
    Yeah, but he was deliberately going for tube distortion on the Hammond, which was a big part of the Deep Purple sound. It doesn't sound as good for most other keyboards, though.
  17. boynamedsuse

    boynamedsuse Supporting Member

    Oct 13, 2010
    I agree. Although most bass players don't accentuate the high frequencies, they are still there and you can hear them if your cab has tweeters of some sort--and the bottom end is there too.

    This is also an important consideration. Although I don't gig with keys, I do play them at home and most boards sound a lot better in stereo so you would optimally use two amps (and two cabs).
  18. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    Yes. I play with a guy who's a touring player and he uses no less than 3 bass amps and stacks with his setup. He particularly likes using a Berg/Markbass rig for his lows with a Moog. For his clav he uses a Mesa combo guitar amp and he uses a few others for his Nord and Rhodes. Although he's used my Kern/IPR/fEARful some times as well.

    We sometimes use my LMII and a 112 for our keyboard player's Rhodes as well.
  19. mr.mow


    Feb 11, 2009
    Endorsing Artist: BBE/G&L Basses
    We play with band who's keys player plays into a bassman 100 through a 215 cab.. It sounds godly.
  20. The fussy player might hear a difference between a bass rig that is "voiced" (ala SWR scoop) compared to a "flat" rig.
    My Hammond generates C1 thru C6, so any bass rolloff in the electronics or speakers will be noticeable.

    Link to SVP-Pro Flat chart
    This link shows the SVP-Pro configured with controls and GEQ to flat response.
    Response appears to be about -2dB down at 30 Hz and 18 KHz.

    Link to SVP-Pro at Midpoints
    This link shows the GEQ disabled, and all controls set to their Midpoint positions.
    The response is approximately +/- 1dB, but it is different from "flat".

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