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Guitar amps for bass - beating the dead horse again

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by paolodm, Nov 6, 2013.

  1. paolodm


    Oct 10, 2013
    Hi guys, Im a new user but have been following for awhile. Sorry to beat this dead horse. Usually I find the answers for my searches, but this one still confuses me about guitar tube amps for bass.

    If I am not worried about volume since (I will be playing in the garage) just the tone it gives me, I can use a guitar tube amp IF I match the ohms properly to the speakers?

    So would a 15, 20 or 40 watt amp and a 2x12 or 1x15 speaker cab be ok, as long the ohms matching up? Obviously I assume some amps will sound better than others.

    OR is it a must that I have to change the tubes and do other electrical work??
  2. Hi.

    Welcome to TalkBass paolodm.

    As long as You pay attention to the speakers complaining, even guitar speakers can IME perform adequately on bass duty.

    Better always to use bass MI speakers though, but over-powering or over-excursing those can happen very quickly as well.

    Trust Your ears.

    The amp itself won't mind, nor does any of its components.

  3. nomadh


    Feb 6, 2008
    Ohms Is Always First. Then The Guitar Amp Can Work Ok. Next Is Be Careful Going Too Loud As A Bass Can Really Beatup A Guitar Speaker. Id Stay At 1/4 Vol.
    Then The Question Is If It Sounds Good. Guit Amps Tend To Roll Off Most Bass Freq.
  4. I would not go less than 40 watts if you have anyone other than an acoustic guitar playing with you. Bass guitar needs power as we don't hear those low frequencies even close to as well as guitar. The amp won't care you are playing a bass, but your ears will.
  5. Bassmec


    May 9, 2008
    Ipswich UK
    Proprietor Springvale Studios
    Quite a lot of Vintage British built tube amps where AP, All purpose suitable for guitar or bass.
    Hiwatt, Simms Watts, Roost, Marshall, Park, Matamp Orange and Laney.:bassist:
  6. paolodm


    Oct 10, 2013
    OK so thats my answer. The amp wont care as long as the ohms are correct. I can use any bass cab and just have to make sure that is sounds ok. And since I dont need huge volume, I can go under 40 watts. If I am playing with people, go over 40 watts I should be good.
  7. paolodm


    Oct 10, 2013
    Thanks, this is interesting as well, so now I can keep that in mind if I see any in my searches. My ideal is to find a used bass amp, but it not guitar is an option based on the information you guys have given me.
  8. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    Playing bass guitar through a regular guitar amp is no real risk at all to a head. It is far more a worry for guitar cabinet speakers.

    This assumes that you aren't pushing it too hard which may be easy to do as most are lightly powered compared to even a smaller bass head. For example, a 100w guitar amp is a monster while it would be nothing for a bass head.

    The EQ points will not be particularly effective either. But, it won't hurt it.
  9. Steve Dallman

    Steve Dallman Supporting Member

    I use an Ampeg PF-500 and in my practice room, plug it into a small, sealed 10" cabinet with a 150 watt MCM bass speaker. One day I plugged a Strat into it. It was the most glorious clean tone I've gotten with that guitar, and I have a LOT of guitar amps.

    From this I could heartily recommend an Ampeg combo for guitar or bass. Gauge the power to your bass needs. No tweeters (except for maybe bass or acoustic guitar.) The frequency turnover points for the EQ work well with guitar. If you need distortion, use a pedal.
  10. Steve Dallman

    Steve Dallman Supporting Member

    I've tried some of the bigger guitar heads I have with bass...plugging them into bass speakers, usually a 4X10. I tried my Mesa Dual Rectifier and a 100 watt Sunn Beta combo (bypassing the speakers, and plugging into the 4X10.)

    I was not happy with the tone of either for bass. There was a lack of low end headroom and the character of the low end was lousy. The highs were harsh and strident. Not good.
  11. I have played my basses on my sister's Crate FXT30 guitar amp. The difference I have noticed is that there is less bottom end and more noticeable finger noise.
  12. paolodm


    Oct 10, 2013
    It would only be the head, the cab would be a bass cab. Also, what makes me want to consider a guitar amp- if I am correct- is the low watts would allow me to get a good growl out of the amp at the lower volume and not worry about shaking the windows out.
  13. bkbirge


    Jun 25, 2000
    Houston, TX
    Endorsing Artist: Steak n Shake
    I use an old Fender Princeton amp for bass practice all the time. Sounds great.
  14. René_Julien


    Jun 26, 2008
    I often use a Blackstar 20W head through an Ampeg PF115LF at home and small practice spaces. It can "shake windows out". ;)
    And sounds heavenly.
    I don't know if I am able to gig it... but come to think of it I never played in a quiet band.

    In the past I've used a Marshall JCM900 100W head with a 4x10 bass cab on several gigs in loud rock and metal bands.
    It had that typical gritty Marshall tone I liked back then for use on bass. Not many bassists might like such a rig considering the tonal options.

    You just have to experiment. As long as you don't go below the impedance of your head not much can go wrong.
    It's all a matter of taste.
    Between guitar amps themselves are so many differences and will give varying results.
  15. paolodm


    Oct 10, 2013

    Thats what I was thinking, a 1x15 or 2x10 Ampeg, something I can get here ( Mexico ). Did you notice the cab itself making much of a difference?
    BTW - anyone know if they would let you demo a guitar head through a bass cab in a music store??
  16. jim777

    jim777 Tarantula Lobbyist

    Aug 7, 2006
    South Jersey
    I will sometimes use my '80 Acoustic G100-112 guitar amp, but that has a 300w EVM 12" speaker in it that is damn near indestructible. I WOULD NOT use my 2x12 Celestion Vintage 30 cabinet with a bass though! :)

    As others have said, the head will be fine but guitar speakers could blow if pushed hard. If you have a guitar head and a bass cab, you should be set. As to whether you'll dig the sound, who knows?
  17. René_Julien


    Jun 26, 2008
    The JCM900 through a 4x10 cab was about 12 years ago, and I didn't used it on many gigs. So I can't go much into detail how it sounded. It was loud enough for clubs and my sound was never clean.
    (Me and a guitarist friend sort of had "joint-custody" on that amp, that's the only reason it ended up in my rig sometimes. Lots of gear swap among friends back then... and gear being loaned out that never returned.)

    The Blackstar 20w I bought 2 years ago on a whim. Just because I wanted a small tube amp for home use to use at low volumes and clean sounds. Just like the reason you are considering something like this.
    But to be honest, if I could turn back time I wouldn't have done it. It sounds great, but I would have spent the money toward something else.

    Cabs make a big difference. The first thing I find important in a rig is the cabs.
    My favourite cab now is the Ampeg PF115LF for my tonal goals now, which is clean and "dub".
    I have many amps to use with it. Although your amp is also important, I can get a desired tone out of each amp I own.

    I don't think you mentioned, what are your tonal goals? What style of music do you like to play? Wich famous bassist's tone you like?
    There is a lot to consider choosing a cab, and then an amp.
  18. Mr. Foxen

    Mr. Foxen Commercial User

    Jul 24, 2009
    Bristol, UK
    Amp tinkerer at Ampstack
    Lose the tweeter from bass cabs if using guitar heads into them, make distortion sound nasty.
  19. paolodm


    Oct 10, 2013
    Aside from the particulars of each technic and the way they play for their own tones, I would like to get 70's rock, like Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Zeppelin, Maiden, Rush. So from Butler-JPJ-Harrris-Lee. If I had to choose, its Butler/Lee as my favorite tones. I like Jazz and blues as well, but I have another practice amp, a little 10 watt that I would use. I use also a Korg PDX5. through the head phones its fine, through the speaker its not.
  20. DionClassic

    DionClassic Supporting Member

    Feb 15, 2012
    Love old guitar tube heads for bass! I just picked up a 1975 super twin head and made a nice 212 cab with some nice celestion ntrs for it. I think its been stated lots so far but the cab really is the make or break point so as long as you have bass or PA speakers and the right impedance you're laughing. It's always fun trying out different guitar heads because you never know what you might find. As long as it sounds good to you, that's all that matters. Let us know what you end up with as a rig