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Newbie ??? on amp sizing/brands

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by BayStateBass, Jan 27, 2012.

  1. I'm hoping to get some input here. Here's my situation. I'm basically a "new" bass player, converted over from guitar. I love to play my bass and it has become my main thing and what I love to play. I'm not great, but not terrible, and I can hold my own for the most part.

    I have an audition with a local guy setting up a trio. I have no reservations about my ability or my bass; I love what I am playing. I have a Schecter Raiden 4 that is all OEM except for the strings which are Rotosound Nexxus strings. If you're not familiar with this bass, it's your basic no-frills bass with passive humbuckers, a vol control for each pup, and a tone knob with a coil tap.

    But my amplification sucks big time. The only bass-specific amp I have is a Squier BP-15 practice amp. My guitar amp is a Crate 4x12 cab with a Blackheart BH15H tube head. I discovered that (no surprise) the guitar half stack doesn't carry bass well. So I need to look at buying a better bass amp.

    Now I know this question is like asking what strings are best. But if I describe what I am playing and what venues I am looking at, I was hoping to get some suggestions as far as where to look and what to buy.

    First of all, this trio will be playing blues covers and some jam-type improvs. Maybe some classic rock covers. All of the potential shows that are lined up will be open-mic type venues with no PA system and no amplification other than what is dropped on the floor. The drums will only be mic'ed on the kicker and the guitarist is running through a Fender 65W amp.

    So I'm looking to have enough power to carry thru the (minimal) mix, but not be overpowering. My bass teacher is recommending a Carvin Microbass rated at 250 watts (15" single with a horn). I called my cousin Chris who is a professional recording bassist and he tells me that I should buy an Ampeg BA115 for what I want to do, which is rated at 100W.

    Big difference. Both are roughly the same price, though.

    My bass teacher told me that if I bought the Carvin and didn't like it, he'd buy it off of me.

    I'm looking for some suggestions. I don't have a fortune to spend, so brands like Markbass are kinda out of my range, but I can swing the Carvin or the Ampeg pretty easily.

    Suggestions? I've been reading a lot and I'm not very tech-saavy or looking to do mods, so the best "out of the box" amp for what I'm going to do (suggestions) would be greatly appreciated. Remember, I'm a relative newbie, so please don't think my question is stupid. I just want to play some music, have some fun, and show up prepared.

    I put myself in the capable hands of Talkbass........:)
  2. To keep up with 65W guitar amp you need real horsepower, not overgrown practice amps.

    I'd lean on the cousin. If he can't hook you up with some good used gear he's going to have to help you go shopping for some. Used rules. Far bigger sound for less money.
  3. seansv


    Jun 19, 2011
    Philadelphia PA
    I would go with the carvin. I have it's bigger brother and love it (the bx500). I suggest that you get the head instead o the combo in case 1) you should decide you would rather play through a 2x10 or 3 way any other 4 or 8 ohm cab or 2) you do find yourself on stage with a 4x10 cab for backline or something. You will have enough power and have your familiar sound mostly together.

    I have had to play the ampeg ba115 a million times. It is ok, but never wowed me and I don't like the eq section. The style knob is like a pre shape but it never sounds like want. FWIW I like and own ampeg cabs. Some of their cheaper amps are cool too. Even the b2re is a fine sounding amp to me. But between those two I would go carvin every time.
  4. I'm in Massachusetts, he lived in Los Angeles, CA. So we really can't get together.....:bawl:

    But his recommendations are important to me. His band has played the Viper Room, the Whiskey, and they've had a couple albums produced, no to mention he's been playing about 25 years or so. But I can't get my head around a 100W bass amp hanging with a 65W guitar amp, really.....

    In this case, I'm leaning toward the Carvin because it looks good, is priced right, and it's guaranteed resale if I don't like it.

    Thanks for the suggestions.....please keep 'em coming....:bassist:
  5. Holliwood


    Sep 13, 2011
    For the price of either of these amps you could get 400 watts and a 15 or 210 used.

    Failing that, get the higher powered amp. You'll never regret havin the headroom.
  6. coreyfyfe

    coreyfyfe Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2007
    boston, ma
    +1 to shopping used, much more bang for your buck. I'd also agree that getting a head and cab setup will save you money/time in the long run. You can find some cheap micro head and cab for around $400 and it will give you more options for upgrading changing out parts later. You might want to browse the classifieds here on TB or check craigslist.

    For example - this used GK RB400 with a rack case for $200 http://boston.craigslist.org/sob/msg/2821338829.html
    and all these cabs for $250 or less:

    As far as the ampeg, he may have meant the BA115HP which is 220 watts but it's also $500 instead of $350, so features are closer to the carvin but the price is higher. Either way, I'd err on the side of more power as long as it has a tone you can work with.
  7. G-K 800RB $300, Ampeg 810E $300. Done for the rest of your career. Cheers.
  8. mwig


    Aug 6, 2005
    fresno, ca
    whats your price limit? I like Carvin bass gear and the price is reasonable. I tend to agree with going the used route. You'll get more bang for your buck. I'd say 250watts is a minimum and something in the 400 range would be ideal. If you want to go with new, then get the Carvin. You can add a second 115 underneath at some point and that will help your volume significantly. You don't need a huge system for that type of music/venue.
  9. Thanks for all the replies! I knew you people would help.

    As far as price, less money is great...but I also know that you always get what you pay for. As it stands right now I can do something in the $300-400 range, I'm not against used but I'm one of those guys who's luck is usually bad with that stuff. Other people buy used and it's great, I buy used and within a week I'm fixing something.....go figure.

    So if I can score something in that price range, I'm ready to pull the trigger.....
  10. I use a lot of Carvin gear, and I love it. Shop used if you can. What you will need depends on how loud the rest of your band turns out to be, and whether or not you will have pa support. I personally play with a VERY loud band, and I use a Carvin BX 1500 for 900w @8 ohms into a 15/6. Headroom is priceless. You could probably get into a loud upgradeable rig by looking for some used "heavy" power amps, and a used eq for a pre amp. Then find a used 4/10. I think the BX250 is probably a great amp, and surely sounds good, as well as being light. If your band can keep it stage volume to a reasonable level, it should be great. If you need LOUD, you're gonna need more than that.
  11. JonnyAngle

    JonnyAngle Dropping Acid Pedal Etching .com Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 24, 2008
    Maple Grove, MN
    You could get a gallien krueger mb115 or mb210. I owned a 115 and I have nothing but good things to say about it. I just couldn't swing the idea of only owning a combo, so I bought an mb500 and 2 neo 115s, which is a little bigger than the combo, but with only one cab the difference is marginal.
  12. Umm....I gotta get serious now.

    Scored the gig this afternoon using just a BP-15...:D

    I have like two weeks to be ready to go.......:eek:

    Luckily this is primarily a band that plays mostly 12 bar 1-4-5's and they liked what they heard....seems the other guy they tried was a root player only.....

    Very cool people, no pressure, really.....but a lot of fun
  13. Balog


    Mar 19, 2009
    Mukilteo, WA
    If you need to "keep up" ie compete with high stage volume from a 65w guitar amp, you need lots of speaker area more than lots of wattage. Not getting into a volume war would be better, but may not be possible if you have no pa and have to carry the room.

    A good pedal pre > PA amp > cab rig can be hadin your range, and will be plenty loud and sound acceptable for playing bars. Let's face it, the craptastic acoustics in most of those type of venues will have more of an effect on your sound than you'd like.

    Even if you don't want to get the electronic side used, I'd definitely go that way for cab(s).
  14. Seems you missed out on a couple of really nice Trace Elliot heads in the classifieds.

    There's a XTI 1000 in there, it's got full parametric EQ and filters with limiting. You could make that work with your guitar cab and a 50 dollar mixer or preamp by EQing for bass and filtering out the 80 Hz and below. It will sound kind of oldschool lacking in deep bass but it won't hurt the guitar cab if you keep the limiter on.

    Sounds crazy but it would get you through some gigs just fine.

    Add better cabinet. Talkbass regular

    Get better preamp. Pro bassist.

    Add another cabinet. Rock god.

    Go back to one 2x10 cabinet. You cracked the big time.
  15. lomo

    lomo passionate hack Supporting Member

    Apr 15, 2006
    What's your budget? If I was in your shoes, I'd get a decent head with at least 300/500 watts at 8/4 Ohms and an 8 Ohm 210. This will leave room to expand to another 210 if you need it, and if you decide down the road, as you develop your own tonal taste, that you want to replace either the head or cab, you won't have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The best rig IMHO, is a modular setup that allows you to shed weight for the coffee house or controlled practice, and bring the thunder for a larger venue or louder drummer/occasion. Buying used is definitely a plus.
  16. cchorney

    cchorney Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2010
    Meriden, CT
    I want to say "+1" on this because this is what I've essentially done, except I did it with a combo - the MarkBass CMD102P. This is more expensive than you are talking so yes to the concept but probably no to the specifics I have just based on the price criteria. HOWEVER, you probably will be coming close to the "too loud for the 210" line if your guitar player or drummer like to get loud and you like to boost the bass freqs of the EQ or run distortion. This can be managed by not boosting the bass freqs, not running distortion, elevating (I use a small storage box) and standing the cab on its side (vertically aligning the drivers), and listening to what your drivers are telling you. Bit eventually you will probably want the second matching cab. So keep that in mind.

    Also, don't be shy about running your DI out to the PA if the band sound is louder than your rig is happy with for the tone you need. That's what its there for.
  17. I want to thank everyone for the suggestions, you guys (and maybe gals?) are awesome.

    Right now I'm leaning toward a cab/head setup. More modular, has a lot of advantages, and a lot of options.

    Got a link to an Eden setup from another TB'er at a good price........

    I'm going to read thru all this again, try to decipher some of it, and go shopping this week....

    Again, it's much appreciated! No such thing as too much info.....
  18. I was told by an old salt that a good rule of thumb is a bass rig needs to be 8 to 10 times louder than what the gui**** amp is. i run a mb800 and my gui****ist uses a hot rod deville 4 x 10 so i am overkilling it but the headroom is great! i am sure i could cover it with 500.
  19. T. Alan Smith

    T. Alan Smith Guest

    Sep 9, 2001
    Personally, I would give serious consideration to a GK 800RB atop a pair of BagEnd compact 1x15" coax cabs. You'd have just the right wattage in the most reasonable & reliable package, and you'd be pushing the air you'd need for your playing situation. It's an easily schlepable rig and you could always keep one cab at your rehearsal space & the other one at home for practice; only carrying your amp to and from...making life that much easier.

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