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Help Me Choose Budget Amp for Home Recording

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Andy Mellor, Mar 23, 2019.

  1. Andy Mellor

    Andy Mellor

    Mar 22, 2019
    I'm setting up a home recording studio. I'm primarily a guitarist but bought a Bass because: a) Basses are cool, b) I think developing an understanding of Bass parts by actually learning to play them will make me a better musician and c) I want to record my own Bass parts rather than laying down a synthesised track in a DAW. So I am now the proud owner of a 1981 Aria RSB Performer Bass. Sadly I am lacking any sort of Amp / Combo / Cab etc for Bass.
    My Budget is about £200. I have a Focusrite Audio interface and can DI to that or use a variety of mics.
    E-bay / Reverb etc is where I'm looking. Old or new is fine, I'll probably never gig with it, looks aren't important, functionality and tone is.
    I play a variety of music from Folk and Blues through Rock to Prog
    I have many questions....
    Combo or Head / Cab?
    Wattage - I assume Bass gear of equivalent loudness is higher wattage than guitar amps?
    10" vs 15" ? - my Guitar combos and cab all have 12"speakers, I would naturally think that 15" would be more suitable for bass, what am I missing?
    Desirable onboard bells and whistles - Compressors seem to be useful?
    Any recommendations?

    Thanks - any advice appreciated.
  2. hbarcat

    hbarcat Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2006
    Rochelle, Illinois
    I always recommend that recording bass in a home studio is usually best done with a bass DI, either a standalone unit or part of the preamp section of an amp. Unless you have a real need for recording with a microphone on the speaker, I recommend you go straight into the recorder with a line level out. Micing a cabinet allows room noise to leak into the bass track and it makes playing to backing tracks much more difficult.

    If £200 is your budget, then I recommend getting a used DI box The Radial Stagebug is only $60 new. Anything by Tech 21 is a bid step up but they'll run $100 - $150 used.

    You'll need a mini mixer and some decent headphones (or an amp and speakers) so you can listen to bed tracks while recording the bass. Less than £100 for a mixer and phones.
  3. grimjim


    Jan 26, 2014
    Chicago, Illinois
    Endorsing artist;DNA Amplification, GHS strings
    You can get a software, instead of an amp. I have a line 6 pod interface and it came with podfarm. Lots of amp and cab sims, effects too and you don't need all the other things that go with recording an amplifier.

    If you really want to go the amp rout, you will need to try them out for your self. The small acoustic amps sounded good to me, but it's all personal preference.

    Just as an example I recorded my bass with my DNA rig. I used a darkglass alpha/omega, ran the through channel for a clean tone, the aux out for a distorted channel and put an AKG D112 kick drum mike about a foot away from the center of the speaker.

    Good luck and have fun with it.
  4. The VT Bass DI would be in your budget (£204.50)and is a good tool. I use it even to record guitar...
    Like the other posters before me, I would highly recommend to record the bass directly (the VT has a nice analog speaker emulation). Although I have more than one bass amp, I mostly play through my nearfield monitors and a DI box or mic-preamps at home.
    I'm more into music, where the bass is recorded direct to the board. But even if I wouldn't: as long as you don't have some Neumann U87s and a perfectly treated studio place and some old vintage B15s, micing a cheap amp with a cheap mic is most of the times not a good idea. Or it could be if this is exactly what you want...
  5. Kro

    Kro Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    New Jersey

    I do all of my bass tracking with nothing more than: bass to VTDI to interface.

    Things the VTDI is designed to emulate:
    - Amp, including EQ, preamp, and poweramp drive.
    - Mic'd bass cabinet. It may seem obvious, but it's meant to emulate both the cab, and mic's via multi-point mic'ing.

    Things the VTDI doesn't do:
    - Compression not tied to distortion. I like my bass tone warmed up a bit, so I find that it imparts enough compression for my taste, but for a pristine tone, one may want a more flexible option.
    - A variable HPF. Again, I like where it rolls off, but I could totally see the roll-off point being too low/shallow for some tastes.

    As others have noted, you can do all that stuff I listed above, including the things that a VTDI or other such devices can't do, with software. The bonus of using something like a pedal is that you can make use of its benefits live as well. :thumbsup:
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2019
  6. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    What they all said.

    I run straight into my interface and season to taste within the computer.
    Mister Boh and Bodeeni like this.
  7. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    A DI will should work great with your Focusrite.

    If you want to try a mic, just use one of your guitar amps/cabs. I have a 62 Princeton with a Celestion G10 Gold. I put an Electro Voice RE16 at the edge of the cone and aimed it at a 45 degree angle across speaker and it sounds fabulous with bass. Keep the volume low and it will be fine.

    Try blending the mic with the DI...or you can also record with the DI and reamp later if you like.
    Andy Mellor, MDBass and Kro like this.
  8. Kro

    Kro Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    New Jersey
    Definitely, I've seen that trick used a number of times - emphasis on the relatively low volume though.
    Andy Mellor and Wasnex like this.
  9. hbarcat

    hbarcat Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2006
    Rochelle, Illinois
    Others have recommended the VT bass DI and I agree it's a very good choice for home recording on a budget. I have one myself and used to use it all the time until I upgraded to some pricier gear. I still often use the VT for live gigs because it sounds so good going straight into the board.
    DirkP and Andy Mellor like this.
  10. BogeyBass

    BogeyBass Inactive

    Sep 14, 2010
    Yeah software is pretty amazing these days. Even plugins where you can either record your own IR response of a cab. Or load a few hundred already made IR responses of many classic speakers.

    And basically play away through any cab on the planet.

    But yeah just straight to the board and basic compression in your DAW will get great clean bass tracks.

    Otherwise any number of guitar plugins work great for bass. Or the actual Ampeg software from IK multimedia.

    Funny these cab Sims are so good at emulation of the room, mics, mic type , mic placement.
    It reminds me of all the annoying things of recording real cabs. And half the time. Off off off and off. Lol I end up turning half the cab emulation settings off. Then adjust to almost neutral settings. Go figure but all depends cause they are rather useful as well too.

    Far as cheap easy real amps. Solid state combos or expensive wise 1x15 and tube 50 watt bassman by far my favorite recording amp.

    But in a apt or house. 15" speaker has such high sensitivity. Literally just a watt of power puts you at 98 to 101dB lol. Smoking loud.

    But any of the older Ampeg BA series used will get you out the door for 100 to 200 bucks. Yep for sure. Great time to be alive lol. You can get a 1x15 100 watt combo for 200ish dollars or 20/40 watt 1x10/1x8 combos for usually under or around 100 dollars.

    Ampeg BA108 BA110 BA112 BA115
    There is newer class dumb versions of these amps. I'm talking the used older mosfet versions of these amps
    Andy Mellor likes this.
  11. wideload


    Apr 15, 2004
    Salinas, CA
    Raise your sights (and budget) some to a PF-20T and a 12 or 15 cab. You can record great tones with or without the cab as monitor, and you won’t be relegating bass to “what’s left over”.
    lowplaces and Andy Mellor like this.
  12. rashrader


    Mar 4, 2004
    Baltimore, MD
    I record bass direct with a Darkglass Hyper Luminal (or any worthy compressor) into a Focusrite LS56. You don’t need to mic a cab to get awesome results. Have fun.

    Here's a clip with my fretless...

    Last edited: Mar 24, 2019
    Andy Mellor likes this.
  13. vvvmmm


    Dec 6, 2016
    What works is always cool, what's more fun as well is always better.

    Me, I take a DI and use a amp because I like to feel what I'm playing, and I like to use effects which translate better.

    My DI's include a The Brick and I also use a VC3Q.

    My recording amp is an Ampeg BA-108, what is a 8" speaker I tend to mic with a Peavey 520i, what is similar to a Shure SM7B but just a tetch brighter.

    Lately, I skip the DI and use the above-listed from the mic in parallel (the Meek is taken from the The Brick's pass-thru).

    I get lotsa positive comments on my recorded bass sound, what you can hear below.

    The DI/pre's and mic cost what they cost, but the amp was about US$100, used.
    Andy Mellor likes this.
  14. MDBass

    MDBass Supporting Member

    Nov 7, 2012
    Los Angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: Dingwall-Fender-Bergantino-Dunlop-Tech 21-Darkglass-Nordstrand

    You'll get exponentially better results recording at home with that kind of budget by using plugins and your current DI.
  15. Bodeanly


    Mar 20, 2015
    +1 for DI/no amp

    But I guess it’s more like +10 now...

    Listen to any of your favorite records. I bet most of them did it the same way.
    ArtechnikA, Andy Mellor and Waltsdog like this.
  16. Another vote for going straight DI into the interface. I do have a bass amp (Fender Rumble 500) but when recording, I just take the DI output from the amp into my interface, and add effects in software. I use Presonus Studio One and it comes with a pretty decent amp simulator / guitar fx plugin.
    Andy Mellor likes this.
  17. basscooker

    basscooker Commercial User

    Apr 11, 2010
    cincy ky
    Owner, ChopShopAmps
    Channel strip. Some that are in that price range (used) have tube preamps and compression. You could do ok for like $50 with one of those Art tube Mic preamps also.
    Andy Mellor likes this.
  18. matante


    Nov 3, 2003
    Los Angeles
    The purpose of a DI box is to balance your signal so you can run a longer cable without noise interference. If you're recording at home you're presumably just a few feet away from your interface, so you can just plug straight in, no need for a DI box.
  19. vvvmmm


    Dec 6, 2016
    Mmmmmm, if you have a Hi-Z input. If you don't, a DI box will probably sound better.
    Andy Mellor and Wasnex like this.
  20. matante


    Nov 3, 2003
    Los Angeles
    Are there a lot of interfaces that don't have a high Z input? Seems like every one I've seen has one.
    funkinbottom and Andy Mellor like this.
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