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Help - I'm skilled at bass but clueless with amps

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by BertBert, Nov 13, 2003.

  1. BertBert


    Nov 9, 2002
    I need some very general help on amplification here:

    I've been playing bass for about 12 years, but I'm largely self-taught and have until recently just played along with CD's for fun. So although my skill at the instrument is good, my knowledge of the technical side of the "gear" side of things -- especially amps -- is virtually nil. I've had no teachers or bandmates to learn technical stuff from, and so I have basically no real understanding of amplifiers beyond basic practice amps and combo amps, which are what I have been using all these years -- the kind where you just plug and play.

    But now I find myself needing to upgrade to something a little more than a combo amp. I'm involved now with two gigging situations: the worship band at my church, and another is a 3-piece outfit that plays at parties, church functions, the occasional homeless shelter, and some outdoor gigs. I've also done a few gigs where I've been the hired gun bass player (except these gigs didn't pay!). The worship band consists of myself, 1-2 guitarists, a keyboard, a drummer, and 4-6 vocalists and we run sound through a pretty big PA system at the church. The 3-piece band plays through our guitarist's PA but we like to have a separate bass amp on stage. The other gigs I am usually playing apart from a PA.

    My current amp, a 100W Crate 1x15, is very adequate for practicing and can feed a decent signal to the board at the church. But it is lacking in the power and punch department, and I am looking for something that will make my sound fuller and punchier.

    So as fas as I can figure, my needs for amplification are:

    1. Something portable (= fits in my car);
    2. Something powerful enough to be adequate without a PA present, but not overkill for situations where I am going through the PA;
    3. Something that delivers a full, punchy sound;
    4. Something not incredibly expensive (<$1500).

    I've posted several questions to this forum about amps, and I really appreciate the responses I've gotten, but some of the stuff I read is so technical that it makes no sense, and I've not seen an "idiot's guide" to choosing an amp out there anywhere. I don't want to drop a ton of money on an amp when I am only halfway sure of what I need or want. Every time I think I've figured out what I need or want, I read something else that makes me change my mind about it. I just don't have enough knowledge of amps to be sure of my choices. So I could appreciate any down-to-earth help you could give me in deciding what steps to take toward upgrading.
  2. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    Ampeg BA210. Can be had for under $700.

  3. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    hey bert,

    given you're mostly doing church/worship related gigs, i think 350-500 watts is plenty for you. the formula i use is 4x the wattage of the guitarists. so if you have one guitarist with a 50 watt combo, it'd be best to have a 200 watts in your rig. but that's only if he's cranking it ALL THE WAY. in a worship setting, prolly not. :p

    IMHO, i think any cabinet loaded with 10" speakers would be a HUGE improvement in the punch department. the smaller the speaker, the quicker the response and chest pounding tone. also, you'd have better cutting power to hear yourself over the din of the other instruments.

    there are a myriad of choices for you with $1500 spending cash. but i think:

    a nice Mesa Walkabout head, and a nice Acme B-2 2x10 would be a great start.



    the Mesa gets some great tube assisted tones with its tube preamp section, and its EQ is very versatile. its also small, lightweight, and easy to carry around @ only 13 lbs.

    the Acme cab is known for its relatively uncolored sound, and ability to hit your low B's natural 31 hz frequency with ease. its also one of the lighter 2x10's at only 49-50 lbs. sure, you could get an Epifani 2x10 ultralite that weighs 39 lbs., but that would be 4x the price.

    lots of fans on the board of these two little guys and IMHO, this rig would be a great place to start.
  4. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    Those suggestions above are definitely nice, and for sure way louder than the Ampeg BA210.

    However, I took into consideration requirement number one:
    1. Something portable (= fits in my car);

    The BA210 will fit in any car. The wheels are a plus as well.

  5. g4string

    g4string Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2002
    Melissa, TX

    I would reccomend 2 Aguilar GS112's. You can pick up a pair for $600. I think I saw a pair ob the board for sale? They are great sounding cabs, light weight, very portable (will fit in your car), and can put out some serious booty. That leaves you $700 for an amp.

    You could pick up a used Eden, SWR, GK, or Ampeg for well under $700. I would reccomend getting an amp with at least 500 watts. You would be OK with the 4x1 rule. But that's it, you would be OK. 500 watts would be OK for church, but when you get into a club/bar/lounge situation with a three piece 200-300 watts probally is not going to cut it. Good luck!

  6. id definatley go with that one ^^^

    ampeg rigs sound pretty damn good, and i think that B2R with a 4×10 cab should do you good. i got myself an 8×10 that kicks ass, but im in a band that plays clubs and the whole deal, so a 4×10 will do you good.

  7. I'd second Ashdown in terms of portability/weight, output and tones. Not sure what my rig would cost in the US, but I picked up my ABM 500 head, Mini 48 cab and Mini 15 cab for my rig. Loads of power, loveyl tone, and the heaviest part is the 4 x 8 cab, at about 25 kgs (55lbs)
  8. BertBert


    Nov 9, 2002
    Thanks for the replies so far everybody. Keep 'em coming.

    I just wanted to say to jokerjkny that I was actually really thinking about the Walkabout head and a Mesa 4x10. About 85% of the time I play I am going through somebody's PA, which is why I am not overly concerned about wattage. But those other 15% of the times are worth thinking about too.

    Question for you all while we're discussing this -- would you ever purchase an amp through which you've never played? (Meaning, if you've never played throug, say, and Ampeg, would you buy an Ampeg?) I see these deals on eBay but I am just skeptical of buying something I don't have firsthand experience with, at least with the same make and model.

    I told the guitarist in my band, I'm the kind of person who gets buyer's remorse BEFORE I buy something. :)

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    The Eden Metro is a REALLY nice combo. I am sure you could find one within your price range. They are really warm sounding and clear. Loud too. I think they push about 400 watts.



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