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New Guy Question about Bass Amp Power

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by joesnewmatch, Oct 28, 2018.

  1. After 20 years of guitar, I took up bass a few months ago and love it. Currently, I'm using a Yamaha THR10C lunchbox amp with headphones to practice at home, which is fine for late night practice without disturbing the family. My instructor has a 30 watt bass amp that I also use during weekly lessons and I rarely turn it up past 5.

    I also play electric guitar in a four-piece band that include two acoustic guitars (through amps), harmonica, bass, and multiple singers -- no drummer. At rehearsal, the bass player uses a passive Jazz bass and an Ampeg BA110, which sounds fine.

    This past week we performed in a large room with about 75-100 people and I couldn't hear the bass at times. I realized afterward that he was using his home practice amp, a Rumble 25, not the larger practice amp.

    I've been thinking about getting a dedicated bass amp. Aside from reading posts that often suggest 500 watts of class D or tube amps, and the foregoing experiences, I really have no idea how much power is "enough" or "ideal" for my applications.

    I'm interested in an amp I can use for practice that will sound good without headphones, rehearsal, and potentially playing out (if I continue to improve enough to carry the bass role). Right now, I don't see us ever having a drummer, but you never know in the future.

    What do you guys recommend? Is there a basic primer on bass amps that you can direct me to? All of the online store information is non-committal and I can't make heads or tails. Any sage wisdom would be greatly appreciated!
  2. Kro

    Kro Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    New Jersey
    It's entirely dependent on the situation, but the fact that you said you wouldn't be playing with drums is a pretty helpful point.

    Almost anything will put out more than a Rumbe 25 though, obviously including larger rumbles. There are a few ways that this can be approached - do you have a max budget? Given your drummer-less situation, you could probably get by with something as small as a 2x10 or 1x12, though matching amp power to cabs is a balancing act. The more efficient the cab, the less watts needed for the same volume, with the reverse also being true (if the speakers can handle it).
  3. mmbongo

    mmbongo Five Time World Champion Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2009
    First thing to figure out is a budget..how much do you want to spend?
    Element Zero likes this.
  4. The larger issue is... you don’t have a drummer to fire. ;)

    But yeah. What those other guys said.
  5. I'm really not sure about budget. I'm lucky enough to have some really nice guitar gear and I have no problem spending for good quality gear. As far as bass though, I'm just playing an awesome Squier CV Jazz, so far, that I got really cheap, but it's great. I'd also like to add a P and/or JMJ mustang at some point.

    I played some Rumbles, the 200 and 500 at the stores and they seem okay, but really big. I also liked an Aguilar head I played, but no idea about cabs. I don't see playing out on bass in the immediate future, until I'm better at it.

    I guess what I'm really trying to say is that I would prefer not too spend a ton or go to big for now, but also don't want to shoot too low and then maybe need something more later.

    For context, I use a 1966 Princeton Reverb which is amazing for my purposes, without a drummer, and I also have some nice tweed amps that are 8 and 20 watts.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2018
  6. Kro

    Kro Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    New Jersey
    If you want to stick with a combo for convenience, maybe a ~300w 1x12 combo that has the ability to add another matching 1x12 extension down the road?
  7. 35 years ago, a 50w/rms Peavey combo amp with a single 15" was always plenty for me in most jazz gigs. Big and heavy, but it got the job done. These days, there are plenty of smaller and lighter options. I'd want something with about 100w/rms into a single 12" or 15", or a pair of 10" just for the headroom. I used a 130w Peavey TNT with a 15" when I was playing a 15-20pc big band, and I never pushed it hard.
    Relsom, saabfender and joesnewmatch like this.
  8. mmbongo

    mmbongo Five Time World Champion Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2009
    I would...and did...go this route. GK MB112 combo, add the powered MB112 cab. Use one for practice, both when needed..like if you add a drummer. Add a second powered cab if you want to play large/outdoor shows.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2018
  9. wizerd


    Jan 5, 2012
    Prone to ranting, episodes of moral outrage.
    Consider starting with at least 300W and 2x10 in a combo or head and cab. As you describe you may not need the juice but one day that drummer will show up and you'll be glad to have it available. Don't shy away from the older and heavier stuff, if you're not going to play out much you won't have to schlep a heavy cabinet very often.
    dbsfgyd1, lermgalieu and joesnewmatch like this.
  10. There are your needs now and then what you might need to play with a Princeton on 11 and drums.

    300w (properly rated) going into 500w worth of basic cabs like a couple of 210 stacked vertically, will provide ample to keep up with a dynamic drummer. Any louder and the whole band should be in the PA and you should all be taking it easy to stay under it.
  11. 9Thumbs


    Jul 3, 2013
    Near Boston
    The Rumble 200 and 500 combos are ridiculously light, and tiny for a bass amp of just a few years ago. I'm considering selling my big Ampeg stack and going with the 200, maybe with an extra 2X10 cabinet if I need it.
    dbbltime and joesnewmatch like this.
  12. This is helpful, but also causes me to scratch my head, because to me it seems like there is a huge difference between 200 and 500 watts.

    Another newbie question... In guitarland I understand the differences in tone between say a Marshall, Fender, Vox, and Mesa amp. But with low tones, overdrive aside, are there significant differences in tone between a Fender, Aguilar, Ampeg, GK, Trace Elliott, etc.?
  13. The 500 has two 10s. The 200 has a 15.
    Fender makes both external 2x10 and 1x15 cabs in the Rumble line.
    joesnewmatch likes this.
  14. Kro

    Kro Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    New Jersey
    It's the same in bass-land. :)

    Each have their stereotypical tonal profiles that they're most closely associated with, but most are also pretty flexible with a few turns of the knobs. You'll have to test them out to really see which you prefer.
    joesnewmatch likes this.
  15. 2tonic


    Dec 22, 2015
    On paper the difference between 200 and 500 watts rms is about 3~4 dB spl, with a 3dB change being the smallest amount that most people can reliably detect.
    In reality, the difference is whether the amp goes into clipping or not. If the level you're trying to achieve requires an rms value of 300, well then your 200w amp is probably crapping all over itself. Arguments about tube watts, solid state watts, soft clipping, mean levels, peak !evels notwithstanding, the fact remains the 200 watt-er ain't gettin' it done!
    Meanwhile, the 500 watt amp is cruising along contentedly with nary a care. For a small penalty in weight you get a large reward in versatility.
    SVT's aside, headroom reigns supreme.
    And yes, bass amps all have their own aural signature, some quite remarkably so!
  16. Madhouse27

    Madhouse27 Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2016
    Joe, I'd get yourself a drummer, a powerful amp and a stack so you can really give this bass thing a proper go. If you need a little toe stubber amp to practice with, that can be a relatively inexpensive separate purchase.
    2tonic likes this.
  17. JGbassman

    JGbassman Supporting Member

    May 31, 2011
    Cedar Rapids, Iowa
    I generally don't need more than a 200 watt amp for rock gigs. I will add more speaker cabs as needed based on the size of band and stage.

    I would suggest a modular system over a combo that could grow with your needs. I've been using a Trace Elloit ELF for a majority of my rock gigs and I'm pretty impressed. It's 200watts at 4 ohms, and fits in the size of your hand. Various makes of micro cabs like a 1x10, 1x12, 2x8, etc can help you Taylor your needs to the gig.

    I'm just using the Elf as an example in the micro technology. There are many smaller amp/cab systems that work wonderfully and would suit your needs.

    The tiny ELF....


    My favorite rig. The ELF into a Gallien Krueger 2x12" cab.

    The ELF with the 10" cab. One cab would cover your needs. Two would be plenty I would think. They are rated at 300 watts.

    Last edited: Oct 28, 2018
    ctmullins, dBChad and joesnewmatch like this.
  18. Thanks for all the info and help. I can't say that I understand all the technical stuff, but I'm following your meaning.

    As for the aural signature, can someone give me a general idea, or direct me to something that gives a description of the differences? Are some more suited for styles, as opposed to sound?

    For context, I gravitate towards mellow rock, blues, nu wave and college alternative, and a dab of outlaw/alternative country. No metal or anything too heavy.
  19. TheRealKong


    Mar 17, 2011
    12 years earlier I played with a SWR Redhead Combo, who gave 280 Watts @ 4 Ohm into a 210" - cab @ 8 Ohm, with a extention cab with addittional 4 10" speakers. So the surface of the speakers gave me more loudnes than an amp with lets say 500 Watts into a 210" would have given me.

    If I was in the same situation today, I would get me a 500 Watt Class D - head with a single 12" or 15" - cab, maybe adding a second one later.

    To be honest, I need and use my big stacks, still have some massive Solid State - and Tubeamps - and two 810" and a 215" - cab. i need this gear for the Heavy Metal-bands I play with.

    But my rig with the most gigs is my beloved Genzler Magellan, together with two 114"+5"-cabs. Yes, 14" - woofers, paired with a 5" speaker for the high end. This cabs are able to consume more than 500 watts @ 8 Ohm thermally, and with both I am as loud as I want to get. I use this rig often in a 80's Metal cover band. Because this is the band with the most gigs, this rig is what I use the most. Its a killer rig, with a small footprint, and it helps me in any situation. I love it.
    HolmeBass and joesnewmatch like this.
  20. SpruceApple

    SpruceApple Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2003
    Minneapolis, MN
    The Rumble 200 will cover your current situation and is perhaps the best, ultra light, lowest cost option. The Eminence speaker in that cab gets a lot of compliments, and the Rumble preamp has a lot of useable sounds.

    I own and like GK 12 inch cabs and GK MB amps, but they are more limited IMHO.

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