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Do *I* really need a bass amp?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Texican, Aug 9, 2018.

  1. Texican


    Aug 9, 2018
    Hello everyone! I’m back after a 10 year hiatus from bass (I also sing, play the drums, and guitar). I used to make a lot more money and had decently high end bass gear, but now I’m broke and trying to scrounge together a setup. Just picked up a Fender P bass clone and need an amp...

    ...however, I already own a 100 watt line array powered speaker, and a Fender Frontman 25r guitar amp. I live in an apartment, so I can’t crank what ever I’m playing at home anyway. Would I be better off NOT investing in a good practice amp, and saving for a gigable rig instead? I’ve never owned a bass amp smaller than a 112 Aguilar cab and 350 watt Mesa walkabout head, so I don’t know how much better a small combo would sound than my 100 watt line array setup. Let me know what you guys think. Thanks!
    jamro217 likes this.
  2. Eric ER

    Eric ER

    Mar 22, 2015
    Seattle, wa
    Previous: Dusty Strings harp/dulcimer building
    I would save for the gigable amp. You can practice unplugged or use headphones with the guitar amp. It won’t be the best sound, but it’s also serviceable and just for home use. Once you get a head or amp, they might have a headphone out for practice (the rumble series works well for this).
  3. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    Fix whatever caused you to get broke before you buy any gear.
    mikewalker, APGP, JeffC23 and 28 others like this.
  4. Texican


    Aug 9, 2018
    So get a vasectomy before an amp? :thumbsup:
  5. BogeyBass


    Sep 14, 2010
    Lol sorta

    But I've seen alot used practice amps for 30 to 60 bucks.

    But usually practice unplugged anyways
  6. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    Depending upon who you gig with and the type of PA they run, you may not need an amp at all. Some people like the Mesa Bass DI-Preamp for this purpose. Mesa Boogie Subway Bass DI Preamp | MESA/Boogie®
    Bassbeater likes this.
  7. Texican


    Aug 9, 2018
    I had considered trying the preamp/DI route since I already have a powered PA speaker. Maybe I’ll finally try that $30 Behringer DI pedal.
  8. Texican


    Aug 9, 2018
    I guess I’m really just wondering if spending $30-$60 will get me much better of a sound than I already get making due with a guitar amp or active PA speaker.
  9. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    When I use an amp on stage I am happy to go with just a basic DI as I set the tone and volume of my stage sound with my amp.

    If I were to run ampless on a regular basis, I would want some sort of preamp so I could quickly dial in a sound and have some degree of control if things go haywire in the middle of the gig. I have run ampless with just a DI several times and never been very happy with the results, even when I had a dedicated monitor engineer. Even worse, when monitors are run from FOH, the EQ should be optimized for the audience, which can really be counter to what you need on stage. Often the best case scenario is if the FOH audio tech will reconfigure your channel so your monitor send is pre EQ (I.E. flat).

    Consider what your ultimate goals are before buying the Behringer. If you get a good amp it will probably have a built in DI. If you go ampless, you will probably want something more capable than the Behringer.
    JeffC23, mbelue and Texican like this.
  10. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Save for giggable rig.
    birminghambass, LoTone, ELG60 and 6 others like this.
  11. Texican


    Aug 9, 2018
    Those are good points. I used to gig with an SWR Goliath II 410 cab and never had to deal with monitor mix issues. On the flip side, I HATE a muddy or crowded monitor mix when singing or playing acoustic guitar...

    ...Again though, I’d be using my PA speaker as a home practice amp and I’d likely run an amp at a gig anyway.
    Wasnex likes this.
  12. NOVAX


    Feb 7, 2009
    Do I really need toppings on a sundae? Yes, otherwise it's just ice cream.
    SactoBass, pcake and alanolynn like this.
  13. magnaton


    Dec 12, 2013
    Ampeg SCR-DI. Sounds *awesome* and you can use it for practice/ live.
    Bonus distortion pedal included
  14. You could always purchase an audio interface and practice/record at home using that paired with either your PA or headphones (I'm sure you have a computer of some sort, right?).
    As far as DI's and/or gig-able rigs are concerned with a tone to really look forward to (considering you want to go the amp-less way), there are quite a few options at your disposal. I've listed out my favourites below.

    Noble Tube Preamp
    Preamps : Noble Amplifier Company

    Shift Line Olympic MkIII Tube Preamp
    OLYMPIC MkIII Tube bass preamplifier with IR-based cabinet simulation

    Two Notes Le Bass Tube Preamp
    Two notes Audio Engineering - Le Bass Preamp Pedal

    ...and then there are the usual suspects - Tech21, MXR, Ampeg, Radial, Mesa and more.
    Wasnex likes this.
  15. Adienn7


    Jan 26, 2007
    voodoo labs iso power supply.. turbo tuner.. sans amp..ampeg pedal for starter.. Headphones

    Or just get a power strip and plug in each wall wart.. Use a piece of cheap wood.. Mogami pancake chords. I'd screw them to the wood.. Just get longer screws.. They won't move.
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2018
  16. fauxtoe

    fauxtoe Supporting Member

    Apr 20, 2018
    Murrieta, California
    The absolute best setup for practice I've used over the years is simply with a small mixer and some good headphones or in ear monitors. If you're learning songs it's the absolute easiest I've found to dial in a nice mix. You really don't need a direct box on some of them since they have multiple options for inputs, but I do with my setup so I can use my pedal board and get the same tone. I use this one made by Alto, but you can go smaller even.

    If you need rig to gig, then I would suggest finding something with an aux input and headphones out if at all possible so you can condense it all into a do-it-all setup for practice.
  17. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007
    You do not need to spend any money on a bass amp for playing at home. I would use the guitar amp at low volume for practising.
  18. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    Get yourself a Sansamp pedal.
    They are simple, yet effective. I have one on my board and sometimes play through a powered PA cab, which works fine. When on gigs, I get 'compliments' from FOH - meaning they get a good, strong-but-not-too-strong signal and when they turn it up with the EQ flat, it sounds fine.
    It feels like the swiss army knife of preamps. It might not be the perfect tool for the job, but it'll get any job done.
    bulldean and Drifter_Bass like this.
  19. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Supporting Member

    As some already suggested, I'd get a decent preamp/DI for practice that you can always plug into the PA if needed.
    I see many bass player of the younger generations that don't even own an amp.
    Axstar likes this.
  20. Axstar


    Jul 8, 2016
    East of Eden.
    I'm in this camp, pretty much.

    When I practice at home I use a Yamaha THR10 for about 95% of the time. I have a 100 watt Fender Rumble combo just to get me out of trouble if I'm ever gigging in a field somewhere.

    I take a Tech21 VT:DI to every gig, and use this either as a DI box or as an all-in-one preamp and tone shaper going into the house DI box and amp. Usually an amp is provided, and I simply use this as a personal monitor (it is never usually more than 100 watts of 115 Peavey combo), boosting the mids just so I can hear what I'm doing.

    Sound engineers always seem to love the tone of the Tech21 unit. Lugging along a heap of bass amplification, when there is a PA system already provided, seems a bit like 'having a dog and barking yourself'. Older bass amps had to do the PA work, whereas I can get the tone I'm after from a glorified pedal.

    YMMV, but I'm in a wee band usually supporting other bands, and if I turned up with a bigger amp the sound engineer would be sticking a nasty DI box between me and the amp. For the size of venue I'm playing the bassist is usually the first to suffer as I'm standing out front hearing a cleanly DI'd bass from the other bands. At least the VT:DI has a speaker sim and dirt function, so I can get a nice amp tone at this level of gig.
    bulldean likes this.

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