1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Can a guitar amp head be used with bass guitar?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by zycro, Aug 27, 2004.

  1. zycro


    Jul 28, 2004
    Can a guitar amp head be used with bass guitar? I know a guy who will sell me a Sunn guitar amp head for $50. Could i use this with my bass guitar? Someone told me that the low frequencies of bass guitar will harm the circuits of the amp head. A seller on ebay told me that this is not true but that only the speaker must be a bass guitar speaker.

    Thanks for your replies :)
  2. DubDubs


    Aug 23, 2004
    Los Angeles
    It won't harm the electronics. As for speakers I have a 2x12 Marshall guitar cab that I run witha 125w GK Backline 250 and play bass through (at low volumes) and it doesn't seem to have an impact on the speakers and it sounds really nice. You're better off with a bass amp though.
  3. From what I understand, it's OK to play bass through a guitar amp head, but make sure you use it with proper bass speakers if you intend playing at volume. You'll probably blow the speakers otherwise as guitar speakers don't have the cone excursion necessary for bass.

    I'm not sure of this, but I'd think that proper bass amps would also have superior power supplies etc.. compared to a guitar amp - to cope with the massive peaks in current draw that a bass can place on an amp, especially low B notes and slapping. If it can't take the punishment, it'll clip and distort and possibly blow your speakers anyway.

    A lot of bassists have used guitar guitar amps at low volume for recording eg: Fender valve amps, and they sound great for that.

    If the Sun is a valve amp, it may be ok as valve amps are a lot more forgiving of abuse than SS.
  4. Corwin81


    Mar 18, 2003
    Ames, IA
    there's some bass going through a Mesa Dual Rectifier halfstack
  5. Doesn't Mike Kroeger use a peavey guitar head in his live set up? It gives better disotrtion and overdrive or something. So yes, I think it'll be fine.
  6. Joey3313


    Nov 28, 2003
    Yes, however he is in Nickelback.
  7. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    Using a guitar head is fine - no it probably won't have enough power
    just use bass speakers - sooner or later you'll blow guitar speakers - they arent made to amplify bass or pa program material
    a lot of tube guitar amplifiers sound great on bass, if a bit distorted at times
  8. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Sunn guitar amp "head"? Sounds like a tube amp, right? If that's the case, you're perfectly fine using it for bass. As others have mentioned, just make sure you're using good bass speakers.

    If it's a solid state head, be careful. Most of them are okay, but some of them don't respond well to bass dynamics. Basses generally have stronger signal peaks than guitars do (relative to the average level). This would be especially true if you're slapping.
  9. Andrew Jones

    Andrew Jones Banned

    Feb 28, 2001
    Northampton Mass
    When I was young poor and Funky I used a marshall 100 watt head though a sunn 215 cab. Great Tone!

  10. lbanks


    Jul 17, 2003
    Ennui, IN USA
    Get it!! NoW!!:hyper:
  11. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    oh shoot, i forgot the price
    no dont get it...........it will burn your house down
    just send me the seller's # and address so i can paypal them
  12. Sunn did make some solid state guitar heads, you know...like the Beta Lead, IIRC....

    Perfectly fine to use this head with a bass cab. Probably the EQ won't be optimum for fiddling with the low-mids, but it won't hurt the head...as long as you don't turn the amp waaay up until it's constantly clipping! (Of course that's true for any amp).
  13. quallabone


    Aug 2, 2003

    I love this post.
  14. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    Most of the old Sunn tube amps were good for both guitar and bass. If it's tube, $50 is a steal so go grab it. If it's solid state, it will work but may not sound the best, but still, for $50 it's worth a shot. You could maybe trade it for a bass amp later on down the line. Always use bass speakers.
  15. CrazyArcher


    Aug 5, 2004
    I heard from one dude that he played bass through a guitar amp, and the amp got ruined in a month or so... Well, now I dont trust what he'd said much ;)
  16. Saetia


    Mar 27, 2003
    Quite a few bass players back in the day used guitar heads for bass. Quite a few used Hiwatt stuff which is a great guitar head but worked brilliantly for bass, let me go search around here and see if the pics were posted before or after the site being re-done.

  17. nonsqtr

    nonsqtr The emperor has no clothes!

    Aug 29, 2003
    Burbank CA USA
    Yep. Any "tube" head should work brilliantly for bass. I regularly use my Marshall Major for bass, that's probably comparable to a Hiwatt 200. 12ax7-type input stages, 6550-type output tubes. Very "ordinary" tube design. On the preamp side, most of the tube bass preamps are pretty much identical, stuff like the Alembic F2B is just a Fender Showman preamp stuffed into a different box. 99.9% of the tube type preamps are pretty much identical, and it doesn't matter whether they're used for guitar or bass, they're perfectly safe and can't be blown out by an instrument. On the output side, the story is a little different, some of the output transformers don't have great bass response so people tend to push the output stage till it's cranked to the max, and under those conditions it's possible to fry the transformer with too much heat. But usually in a "good" tube amp (where the trannies are spec'd correctly) it won't be a problem. The important thing to remember is to always use speakers with the correct impedance, when the match is optimal the energy goes into the speaker instead of transformer heat. When you mismatch the load and you crank the amp, some of that energy is going into heat and then the risk factor is a bit higher.
  18. Saetia


    Mar 27, 2003
    After a search I found that the pics were before the forum being re-done. But I did find a link here with a bunch of pros mentioned who use(d) Hiwatt stuff, check it out and with a search of the net you could find pics and sound clips.

    Click Here

  19. geddy2


    Aug 29, 2004
    Southwest Michigan
    I have been told that the power supply's on bass amps are heavier duty than guitar amps, therefore making it possible to fry the power supply. Makes sense I would say. You use more power on bass amps, there's more load.
  20. Power though is power. The Traynor YBA-1 and YBA-1A were bass amps and killed for guitar. Some ostensibly guitar heads, particularly old tube ones, can get a wonderful rude bass sound if you have proper speakers under them. If you don't, you will cook the speakers.

    This brings me back to my youth seeing REO Speedwagon play and their bassist running an SVT into two stacks of Marshall 4-12 cabs. Delightful period tone.