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Is a bass amp necessary in NYC?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Ethan93, Jun 23, 2019.

  1. Ethan93

    Ethan93 Guest

    Nov 30, 2017
    I’ve lived in Brooklyn for less than a month and I am trying to decide whether I need to purchase my own amp for jams/rehearsals, or if it makes more sense to simply rely on venues and rehearsal spaces to provide amplification?

    I play some jazz, but mostly funk and hip-hop. I plan to start a project playing six-string bass and acting as the “lead bass” of sorts. That may be an important detail!

    With that, if the consensus is that an amplifier will be essential out here, what are some recommendations for a light weight head that can fit in a sturdy gig bag?
    How about recommendations for a cabinet or combo that will fit on the subway?

    Thanks in advance for your feedback and advice!
  2. Wisebass


    Jan 12, 2017
    Lost in Space
    hi Ethan :)

    ...for the Subway go with a Mesa! :D

    may the bass be with you

  3. Bassist30


    Mar 19, 2004
    Yes you need an amp. Plenty of places you can try a nice combo to fit what you need and style.
    BasturdBlaster likes this.
  4. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    If you want gigs, you'll need an amp. Especially a head. RE a small light one, my suggestion is to look on Musiciansfriend at all the mini/micro heads available and get one that's at least 500 watts (you'll never need to go past that, but might be able to push it with some 300s), and has all the bells and whistles you think you'd need. As far as quality and sound go, I believe nowadays they're ALL decent quality - and what you like is going to be up to you. I've purchased heads off of people's recommendations here and returned them instantly. We all like something different.

    I've been using a Carvin head for the past decade (a BX500 and then a BX700). They don't make them any more so I can't recommend them :). Oh... and I say shop at MF because during any holiday (or pretty much any time lately), you can get 15%-20% - but you have to order by phone. Their codes don't work ordering online, but they prompt you to call. If you join their "Backstage pass" program, which is free, you get an extra 8% in store credit. That's 23% to 28% off the price that you'll pay in any other store online. And no. I'm not affiliated in any way with MF. Just tryin to help my fellow bass players save a few bucks.
  5. Omega Monkey

    Omega Monkey

    Mar 8, 2015
    Totally not necessary to have your own amp.

    As long as you don't care how you sound or if you can hear yourself.
  6. I never played a gig or a rehearsal in Manhattan where I had to bring my own amp. One was always provided. Anything from an underpowered Behringer up to an SVT stack. Outer boroughs and suburbs were hit or miss.

    I got a screaming deal on a Markbass LMII and GK Neo 115, so that was my amp. Yeah, you can bring a 15 on the subway. It sucks, but you can do it. If I were buying today, I'd get a micro head and 2x8 cab and call it a day.
    StyleOverShow and Redbrangus like this.
  7. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Rehearsals that my experience also, gigs - I rarely played a gig in Manhattan where I didn't have to bring a head. What venues are your talking about?
    Bassist30 and leegreenman like this.
  8. And I

    And I

    Feb 19, 2009
    Witchtown, MA
    Like anywhere else, you need to do some advance work with the venue to know if they have an amp for you to use and if there is PA support for bass. a small combo that can fit on a hand-truck is great for public transportation which will save you tons over taking cabs everywhere.
  9. Buncha places that aren’t around anymore. I guess the one that’s still there is Arlene’s Grocery. They had a nice SVT.
  10. dbase

    dbase Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2008
    South Jersey, USA..
    I would go with a battery operated combo so you can play bass on the street corner and beg for cash, or better yet, burgers. ;)
  11. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    I gigged all over NYC in the 80's and 90's. I needed my amp at 80% of the venues. I lugged a Peavey TNT130 to every spot that didn't have an amp provided. That was brutal. There are much lighter combos these days.
    Bassist30 and murphy like this.
  12. BassManKK


    Feb 1, 2016
    I can't imagine a bass player not having a rig.

    For compact and transportable I'd recommend a Mesa Subway 800 or Subway 800+ and a Phil Jones Bass Compact-4 Lite. In the Mesa shoulder bag I fit the 800+ amp, my preamp, a tuner and 1 effect pedal, the bass in one hand and PJB C4L in the other hand. It's my 'one trip rig'.
    Bassist30 likes this.
  13. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Columbia, MD Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Use a magnacart that you can pick up at Home Depot / Lowe’s / online. It makes transporting a cab easy, subway rush hour might not be ideal, but neither is carrying a cab without a cart.
  14. JDT36


    Mar 9, 2018
    New York City
    I've had good luck using house-provided backline gear for shows. In ~1 yr of gigs, have not needed my own amp yet. For jamming, we either rent studio rehearsal space (with gear included) or I carry my TE Elf head - plus or minus a small lightweight cab (I have either a barefaced one10 or an Ampeg SVT-210av).
    HelpImaRock likes this.
  15. The GK MB150 is sort of a dinosaur, but one context where I'd recommend it would be yours. Watch Adam Neely's gig vlogs, and you will see him carting around one of those GK amps through the subway. It's not the lightest anymore, but it's remarkably compact, even by today's standards, and it has a pretty neutral sound signature IMO, which is good for the styles you mentioned. It's also an amp with a good reputation that lots of gigging players in your situation have used over the years. A used Genz Benz shuttle 3.0 would be another great ultra-compact option, although they don't make these new anymore.
  16. heartily recommend the new TC BAM200. 200 w @ 4ohms, tiny, featherweight, ample power. small as a thick paperback book.
    hotrodjohn likes this.
  17. TNCreature

    TNCreature Jinkies! Supporting Member

    Jan 25, 2010
    Philadelphia Burbs
    You need an amp, even if you don't always need an amp.

    MYLOWFREQ Supporting Member

    May 13, 2011
    I've never needed an amp gigging or practicing in NYC, except for Staten Island. Even if I had one, I wouldn't bother carrying it as the places have decent backline.
    murphy likes this.
  19. EricMordus


    Aug 29, 2013
    MOST venues you may not need to bring backline, but check with the venues. I always have my SansAmp with me just in case
    murphy and MYLOWFREQ like this.
  20. dalo

    dalo Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2007
    Brooklyn, NY
    I've been playing in NYC over 10 years and your answer depends on the types of shows you play.

    For most clubs, such as Rockwood, Pianos, Bitter End, Red Lion, Shrine, Silvana, etc., house amps are provided and I think these venues would discourage a bass player bringing their own.

    I used to play the Sidewalk cafe a lot before they had a house bass amp. I went directly through the PA and it was fine.

    Usually when I have to bring an amp, it's for a smaller show for jazz or singer songwriters. In those cases, I use my small Markbass combo. For events at non-club venues, yeah I have to bring an amp. Sofar shows are pretty common and I bring an amp about 50% of the time for those. My rig is an Aguilar TH500 and an Aguilar SL112.

    Occasionally I only need to bring a head. For that, I'm happy to have an Aguilar TH500.

    I've never gone to a rehearsal where I needed to bring an amp.

    Hope this helps
    murphy likes this.