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Powerful, yet lightweight bass amp?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by jerryburke, Apr 16, 2020.

  1. jerryburke


    Apr 16, 2020
    Getting back into playing after several years... What is the most reasonably priced powerful, yet lightweight bass amp available? (if such a thing exists!) Thank you for your advice.
    alanloomis1980 likes this.
  2. AstroSonic

    AstroSonic Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2009
    rural New Mexico
    Are you asking about a combined amp and cab (combo) or separates? What is the highest reasonable price you are willing to consider?
    MarkA likes this.
  3. DeadheadSteve


    Mar 14, 2019
    Best light weight, powerful and budget priced bass amp head i have heard is the Peavy MiniMega.
    1000w @ 4 ohms, dual cab output, decent EQ and light enough it comes with its own shoulder bag.
    sears likes this.
  4. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Everyone has different definitions of reasonable, powerful and light.

    What's your budget, wattage requirement and weight limit?
    MarkA and imabuddha like this.
  5. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    +1 to both of these. If you are looking for a head and know what cabs you'll be using, please indicate those as well. Any other info you might care to provide (styles of music, what sort of sounds you like, what you know of your volume needs -- maybe even amps/rigs you've liked in the past) might be helpful, but those are the basics.

    Meanwhile, @jerryburke, welcome to Talkbass! I hope your journey back into playing is a fruitful and enjoyable one!
  6. pcake

    pcake Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    Los Angeleez
    i'd get this
    Hartke TX600 - 600W Lightweight Bass Head
    i love the sound, same as the LH500.

    i believe that peavey sort of fudges their wattages claims, but they wouldn't be the only ones reporting peak instead of RMS or something more useful.
  7. jerryburke


    Apr 16, 2020
    Thanks for all the replies! Would like to stay under $500.00. Weight is my biggest concern, as I remember some of those back breaking amps from the 60s & 70s. Regarding power, I am planning to play with some other old guys (like me) in a blues band, B-3, Sax, Guitar, Drums. I recall that years ago, the preferred speakers were usually 15 inches. Does that still hold true? Thanks again for all the helpful info!
    PS: Forgot to mention, a Combo type amp is preferable.
    alanloomis1980 likes this.
  8. pcake

    pcake Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    Los Angeleez
    i used to play through an 18" cab plus a 2x10. these days, i'm a fan of 12" cabs or the right 2x10.

    i don't think you're going to get tons of power at $500 in a combo, but you can do okay.

    if you like 15ers, here's a 200 watt combo at your top price at a lightweight 34.5 lbs. it also takes an extension speaker if you need to be louder later.
    Fender Rumble 200 1x15" 200-watt Bass Combo Amp

    i'm a fan of the rumble series, and if you can stretch $100 or go used, here's a 500 watt combo with a 2x10 at 34.5 lbs.
    Fender Rumble 500 2x10" 500-watt Bass Combo Amp
  9. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    This question is asked a lot, (which is fine) and the answers vary a lot. BTW, 15" 12", and 10" speakers are all fine. Driver technology has advanced, as has the quality of speaker cabinets from the olden days—which for me were the 60's but for you might be more recent, LOL.

    For $500, I'd suggest you look for used gear. How loud is your band? How do you feel about heavy amps or cabinets, like 80 lbs?

    A combo is only one of the ways to go, and it typically comes with its advantages and disadvantages.

    To cover just about anything, 500 watts @ 4 ohms and a pair of 8 ohm speakers of good quality will cover just about anything.
    If you have two identical cabinets, you can decide when to take just one or both. Furthermore, you can buy one now, and look for the other one when your wallet permits.

    In addition, having a combo is advantageous in that you don't have to plug in a speaker cable—which for some reason lot's of people find tiresome, LOL. In any case, newer combos are lighter, and older heavier ones are often cheaper.

    A separate head and cabinet rig will let you add things as you need them, and switch things up as time goes on and your wants and needs change. However, if you start with a combo, that's fine—but it is a little harder to upgrade and used combos are often harder to sell for much return, IME.

    Which continent are you on? If you fill out your profile a little more, TB folks may be able to be more helpful.

    Welcome to Talkbass!
    Brad Johnson likes this.
  10. groove pump

    groove pump

    Oct 24, 2006
    I'm 54 and I've started trending toward lighter equipment. Step one was a lighter alternative to my hefty old Jazz bass - found two of those so far :cool:

    My pair of 2x10 cabs are conventional - not the super light neo's - but they're a LOT more manageable for me than my old 100 lb. 4x10 cab. No need to replace these for now.

    I decided to try a lighter amp, so I picked up a GK MB-500. This is about 30 lbs. lighter than my older head (phew!!) and although I haven't gigged it yet, it puts out some very nice sound and also seems more than eager to pump up some volume. I haven't been through an ocean of gear, but this is my recent story of relative success.

    Since I'm liking this GK head, I'll suggest a look at the GK combos. The MB-212 new is above your price range, but I've seen these here and there in the used market priced at $450-$500.

    All sorts of preferred speakers out there, including 15's. Let your ears render the verdict. The variables that will contribute toward "powering your sound" will include having some wattage along with enough speaker to push the air. Several hundred watts could have trouble producing enough volume through only a single 10" speaker.
  11. lug

    lug Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
    Peavey reports both, RMS and Peak.
    pcake likes this.
  12. pcake

    pcake Supporting Member

    Sep 20, 2011
    Los Angeleez
    good to know - thanks.
  13. A great light weight combo amp that is powerful enough for practice and small venues (without PA support), is the Hartke KB15. Its 550$ new. It 250RMS watts but claims to have 500 watt peak power. Comes with a 15 inch speaker and a direct out for PA. And it weighs 35 pounds! I use it for band practice and smaller venues. I dont usually have the volume much past 1 or 2 oclock on it.

    Hartke KB15 Kickback 1x15" 500-watt Bass Combo Amp

    If you already have a cab and are looking for just an amp, I recommend Markbass heads. Specifically the Little Mark 3 Bass head. Weighs around 6 pounds. I have the Little Mark 800 I just got on sale for 600$ and the thing is a beast.
    Zbysek likes this.
  14. jerryburke


    Apr 16, 2020
    Thanks again to everyone for all the great info! I'm just amazed at all the gear choices out there today. After quite a bit of browsing online, I'm sort of closing in on the Fender Rumble Series as I've always had good results with Fender. The Hartke combinations are also very appealing. As in my original post, weight is still a deciding factor. At some point soon, I hope to get it all worked out.
    pcake and alanloomis1980 like this.
  15. Just my 2 cents, I tried both the Fender Rumble 500 and the Hartke KB 15 and found the Hartke to be much more powerful and louder. The only reason I would pick the Fender Rumble 500 is if I wanted to add another cab to it to make it a true 500 watts. The Hartke only allows you to use another 4 ohm cab if you unplug the built in speaker.
  16. jerryburke


    Apr 16, 2020
    Dardas, Thanks for input. Yes, I saw the Hartke products and they are a possibility.
  17. MarkA

    MarkA In the doghouse. Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    For my taste (others will disagree) the Rumble combos can get a little boomy and uneven, though they can also sound quite nice in a good room. The new series of Peavey combos (forget the name) isn't quite as light, but, played side-by-side with the Rumbles in a store, I thought they sounded more even and more natural (if also a bit more "boxy" and a little light in the low end, comparitively) to me. Note: The Rumbles I've heard and played live on a few occasions, the Peaveys just that one time in the store, so I can't make a very good comparison beyond that or say how loud they'd get or how they'd hold together at volume.

    Among the more recent GK cabs and combos, I've preferred the sound of their 12s. Their 10s sound boomy to me, their 15s middy and a little harsh. The 12s strike me as the most balanced. I'm not saying that this is the tendency for 10s, 15s, and 12s in general but, for whatever reason, it seems to be the case with the recent GK stuff, at least to my ear. Their 1x12 combo doesn't sound bad, but I'm not sure how far it would go with a band -- would depend on volume and venue. If you can score a 2x12 in good shape, used, that could be a good way to go. The GK Neo 12 cabs aren't bad, either -- one of those with a lightweight head could be good. Two if you want to go bigger.

    Used, you might find a Genz Benz Shuttle 6.2 combo with a 12" cab. A bassist who plays in the house-band at an area jam uses one (with an extension cab for bigger stuff) and it's a pretty capable little amp. I'd put it a notch up from the Rumbles, Peaveys, and GK combos (and I've played through it probably 20 or 30 times). There are some older, Shuttle 6.0 combos (12" and 2x10). They are not bad, but the ".2" combos sound a little more full and warmer while still being pretty articulate. Also hold together a bit better at volume/handle low end better. A Genz Benz Contour combo might be worth checking out, if you can find one used or NOS.

    You might also find a used Markbass combo -- either the CMD 121P or their (larger) 2x10 combo in the $500-$600 range. Both are pretty capable. Here's a very nice deal on the 121P with an extension cab (no affiliation with the seller): For Sale - Markbass CMD 112P Combo / NYC 112 Cab -- a little above your range for the cab and extension -- and you'd have to arrange shipping unless you're local to the seller, but it should be a potent little stack.

    Different tack:

    If you want to extend "lightweight" beyond "micro" and pair it with a reasonably efficient cab, there have been a few GK 400 RBs and similar amps for sale in the classifieds around the $250 mark. I picked one up recently, to explore the sound of my youth (into Flea, but never owned a GK as a kid). So far, I dig the overall sound quite a bit but am not a fan of the EQ (though I know many are). I've found, interestingly, that it pairs really well with the budget, DIY 110 I have (one of these: Low-cost DIY practice/coffeehouse tweeterless 110 [long], but with a Deltalite II 2510 subbed for the Basslite), and that cab, while not fancy or hi-fi, is surprisingly capable for a little 1x10.

    Two, with the 400 RB, would make for a potent little modular setup that you could put together for $600-$700 total. Of course, the DIY cabs would require some assembly, but the 400 RB with any similar (and reasonably efficient) cabs might do all right.

    That's all I've got around your price range at the moment -- at least off the top of my head.

    Good luck!
    alanloomis1980 likes this.
  18. Papuzzo


    Dec 11, 2017
    Milan, Italy
    I would look into a used combo with a 15" or a 2x10" from Fender, GK or TC Electronic. This will get you going and when your needs become more apparent you can sell that combo for just about what you paid for it and invest in modular gear.
    alanloomis1980 likes this.
  19. I played through a friend's GK MB112 combo, and it was really good. Loud and ridiculously light. I played an outdoor gig with no PA support and had no probs with it. I think in the States they're just over $500. Well worth it though
    alanloomis1980 likes this.
  20. Weight and dollars are one thing.

    Amp and cabinet are two different things that both cost $$

    Get with the Q&A program otherwise can't give proper advice.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Feb 24, 2021

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