Cart before the horse...?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by rzamites, Jul 5, 2020.

  1. rzamites

    rzamites Total Bass Hack

    Jun 27, 2020
    Good morning all,
    Being new to the bass guitar world, I’m tryIng to do as much research/legwork before diving in real deep, and spending my money on things. That said, I know what my needs for an amp will be, and have narrowed down my choices.
    My question is if I’m getting too ahead of myself in choosing/buying an amp while the body of my bass is still a 2” thick slab of cherry - the bass specs are on paper, and parts are starting to come in, so the bag is definitely being built.
    Would the prudent course be to wait the 4-6 months for the bass to be finished, then test it on different amps (I’m lucky to live where there’s several music stores conveniently located), or just plow ahead with picking an amp and buying?
    For the record, I don’t plan on gigging, maybe jamming with a friend in his music room, and doing some recording at home with a small mixer and Garage Band. 40-50W is all I expect I’ll ever need, so the amp choices are pretty narrowed down.

    mods: if this is in the wrong forum, feel free to relocate or delete.


    teh-slb, MCF and Highroler79 like this.
  2. dbase

    dbase Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2008
    South Jersey, USA..
    Whatever your choice for your 1st bass amp, it will not be your last purchase, believe me ... just another tip from your old uncle Dbase. ;) Welcome to TB
    Hstock, Chris76, jhfishn and 29 others like this.
  3. Discount Bassy

    Discount Bassy Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2020
    Right Here.
    Set aside the money for the amp. Finish the bass.
  4. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Welcome to TalkBass!!!!

    @dbase is correct. You'll go on a journey of sorts. So I wouldn't sweat the first amp buy. Basically, that amp will serve to teach you a few things about what you do an don't want in an amp. If you get lucky, and you're right on the first try, great. If not.... "....and so the journey begins".

    But the journey is fun too. So no harm done.

    The "Luthiers Corner" section if our forum is filled with incredibly helpful and knowledgeable weirdos. Even those if us without those talents love to follow build threads with lots of pics....even ones that take 6 months to complete. Hint, hint. ;)
    zon6c-f, Thegrandwazoo and rzamites like this.
  5. rzamites

    rzamites Total Bass Hack

    Jun 27, 2020
    Well, someone else is doing the build (I used to build too, but the apartment manager busted me trying to sneak a 16” bandsaw into my 3rd floor abode - a story for another day...) - so I was going to just hoard all the documentation until the bass was done then post it all.
    Regarding the amp, I suppose I can wait it out and keep researching until the bass is ready to go.

    Thanks everyone, for the feedback and welcoming words!


  6. Getting a custom bass built as your first bass to me is a much bigger leap than getting an amp before your bass arrives. I'd say snag a 40-50 watt amp (there are plenty out there that would work) and put some money into a super cheap beater bass to play in the meantime. That way when your new bass gets there, you'll be practiced up and ready!
    Balog, Ed Byrnes, Gabbs and 11 others like this.
  7. Texican


    Aug 9, 2018
    As I told someone else this weekend, if you can afford it I’d go with the Genzler Magellan 350/Bass Array 10 combo. If that’s more than you want to spend, then the Fender Rumble 40 is a solid choice.’s a crazy thought though: how about grabbing one of those Squier packs that come with a Squier Affinity P bass and a Fender Rumble 15. You’d have a decent sounding practice amp and a decent starter bass to “get your feet wet” with. I think the pack is around 2 or 3 hundred bucks.
    DTRN, Ggeorges, rzamites and 2 others like this.
  8. agedhorse

    agedhorse Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 12, 2006
    Davis, CA (USA)
    Development Engineer-Mesa Boogie, Development Engineer-Genzler (pedals), Product Support-Genz Benz
    One issue with a custom build is that you really have no idea how it will sound or play. I would have suggested an off the shelf bass that you can play to determine if it was suitable, AND that you could then try with some different amps to see what migh (and might not) work for your needs.

    Because nobody knows what your bass may be or how it might sound, I can't see how any suggestions could be anything more than rough guesses.

    So yes, buying an amp is putting the cart before the horse imo.
  9. JW56789

    JW56789 Guest

    Feb 18, 2017
    You have to look at it that [(bass guitar + amp) + effects] = your sound.

    Right now it's anywhere from an educated guess to a SWAG (that is, a Silly Wild-Ass Guess) as to what your under-construction bass is going to sound like. Of course, any of us could say buy this or that and it would probably work out OK (and my first suggestion is 50-100 watt bass amps make great door stops in most cases, especially with fives or sixes). How much do you want to spend? Any speaker size preferences? Anything in particular feature-wise you require? Lots of boxes to tick off.

    But this is all very subjective and the smart thing would be, indeed, to get the horse, THEN try as many amps as you can and see what hits you.
    Wasnex and rzamites like this.
  10. Texican


    Aug 9, 2018
    I should have asked... are you already a musician that plays other instruments?

    More specifically, do you already have (or have access to) a high quality powered PA speaker? If so, a whole other world of possibilities are open to you because you can use different preamp pedals to get different amp sounds.
    rzamites and Gearhead17 like this.
  11. bherman

    bherman Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2009
    Grand Junction, CO
    If you’re not even going to have a bass for months, why rush out and buy an amp? Wait until
    You have your bass then take it with you to try out amps.
  12. Gearhead17

    Gearhead17 Supporting Member

    May 4, 2006
    Mount Prospect, IL
    Lots of great information already posted here! 4-6 months with no bass? I will echo the suggestions of others and say "Get a cheapo bass to learn on for the time being". Also, if your landlord is "watching you" and is concerned about you making noise, wouldn't a NICE set of headphones be a better purchase? (That's what I gather from your posts. Let me know if I am off base)

    Also, thinking you will ONLY need 40-50 watts is setting yourself up for disaster. As soon as you play the 100 watt or 200 watt version of that combo, you will ONLY need 100-200 watts. Chill out in the meantime! Try out some gear, listen to others play, learn more about bass. Good luck!
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2020
  13. Thegrandwazoo

    Thegrandwazoo Supporting Member

    Sep 8, 2013
    West Virginia
    Recording or no, 40-50 watts isn't going to be enough unless it's all-tube, and not even then if your guitar player buddy plays a tube amp. I second the 'get a cheapo bass and cheapo amp for now' sentiment, and say take your completed bass with you to try out some 200-350 watt combos or head/cab rigs once it's complete. There's no knowing how it'll sound til you have it.
  14. RayWithFlats


    Mar 22, 2020
    on the 1
    Again, I’d agree with those that have said get a cheapo beater and practice amp just to get started. There should be plenty of those starter packs available used, either from beginners who give up or from ex-beginners who are upgrading to their first ‘serious’ rig. Remember, the cheaper you get now the nicer your custom will seem when it’s ready! Also, if you’ve got a few months in you’ll be in a better place to assess the custom when it arrives and have a head start on knowing which sounds you’re looking for. Make sure you post pics of the custom here when you get it, TB loves pics! Good luck and welcome to the world of bass.
    Texican, rzamites and SidNitzerglobin like this.
  15. BassmanPaul

    BassmanPaul Inactive

    And he would know! :D

    MYLOWFREQ Supporting Member

    May 13, 2011
    Wait for the bass. You don't know what your bass will sound like really, You don't know what amps will be on the market in 5 months, and - last but not least - you can't play an amp w/ out a bass.
    Al Kraft, rzamites and BassmanPaul like this.
  17. SidNitzerglobin


    Feb 12, 2019
    IMO, getting an amp now wouldn't be putting the cart before the horse so much as ordering a custom bass as your first, provided you're going to have something to play through it while you wait & you don't overdo it. 50 tube/250 solid state watts w/ a moderately efficient cab seems like it's been enough for small band practice/stage volume if those you're playing w/ don't feel the need to be as loud & broad spectrum w/ their sound as possible IME so far, but mileage may vary.

    For me it's a process of discovery of what I'm looking for w/ any gear. You can't really depend on a youtube video or anecdotal review for any given piece of gear to accurately represent how it will sound & feel to you when you get it home. The only way to know that for sure is to try it for yourself IMO. Getting a general first hand idea of what a couple/few options do for you might make it easier to get to the "one" in the end, it seems like it has for me anyway (although it's more of a "few/many" than a "one" ;) ).
    rzamites likes this.
  18. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    Got me off balance. Normally I'd say go buy a bigger amp than you need because bigger and louder is good for you. But since it's your first bass I'd agree with all the smart folks above. You'll be better off waiting for it to be built so you know what will be most complementary. Plus, an amp without a bass is just furniture so unless you need a place to set your beer you might as well wait it out. Those amps will still be there.
    rzamites likes this.
  19. logdrum

    logdrum A person! Supporting Member

    Custom bass for a first bass. Wow. I do not think I'll ever get to that place ever.
  20. rzamites

    rzamites Total Bass Hack

    Jun 27, 2020
    Sage advice from all of you - I really appreciate the time taken to respond. Yes, I do play other instruments (guitar, bouzouki, trichordo and pennywhistle) - by no means a master, but constantly practicing and learning. I have lyrics written and decided that creating music for them would be a nice pastime for me. I decided to get a bass to go with the other instruments - partly GAS, partly because I’d rather invent music on a bass than try to do the same with the Garage Band software.
    I did play (for a couple of hours) the builder’s guitars and bass, they were well made, solid and played nicely, so I have confidence in his attention to detail; that said, I think I’ll look around for a cheap beater and experiment with my mixer and headphones.

    FWIW, the builder is a custom framer by trade, and this is his foray into luthier work. Take a look at his current stable of instruments below - the bass is a short scale and was a blast to thump on :). Thanks again, so much!



    mikewalker likes this.
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