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Practice Amp for a New Player

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Skip, Oct 11, 2000.

  1. Skip


    Mar 22, 2000
    Bronxville, NY
    I am in the process of buying everything I need to learn to play (bass, amp, tuner, metronome, cables, etc. - See, I read the old posts. :)) My question for this forum is should I buy a small practice amp or is a larger combo the way to go?

    My first thought was to get a combo like a G-K 400RB112 or MB150E112; a SWR WM12 or basic black if I could find one; or similar combo in the $500-$1000 range.

    I re-thought about the power I'd need the cost of real pro sound and came up with smaller and/or cheaper practice combos like a Fender Bassman 25 or 60; an Ampeg BA112; or the SWR WM10 or LA12 (has anyone heard this one yet?). I figured if I could tone that made me happy for less, why not?

    Obviously there is a difference in these amps - but what I need to know is if I plan on playing in my house, occasionally with friends (mostly Jazz, mostly piano sax or trumpet) for the foreseeable future - will I be happy with the power?

    I know this a personal question only I can really answer, and a lot of it depends on how much I like the tone of the various amps. But I'm looking for input on how much bass the smaller/cheaper guys provide. I want to be able to hear the bass tone I want at decent volume. If a Fender Frontman does it for me at $150, that's all I'll spend. If spending and extra $600 brings a total change in the openness and fullness of tone, I'm willing to spend it. I think I'll practice more often and longer if I'm really happy with the sound.

    Sorry about the long post, but I wanted to be clear about my question.
  2. White_Knight


    Mar 19, 2000
    Ok, for a practice amp, it sounds like you're mainly interested in a good tone first and then power second, correct? Well, hate to tell you this, but yes, you'll have to decide for yourself what you like.

    However, here's a few links to what most people here consider to be good manufacturers:
    There's quite a few more links in the bass section here:

    As far as power goes, I'd go 100 watts minimum for what you described. As soon as you place either a guitar or a drummer into the equation though, I'd easily say that you should go with 200-350 watts. Remember: you can always turn the volume down, however if it's maxed out all of the time, you can't turn it up.

    From my experience with my Crate BX-15: I though it was plenty loud for practicing alone and it was. I still only put the gain on 3 for practice, however, as soon as you add a guitar player or a drummer, my measly 12+ watt amp was easily drowned out. In church I'm running my Crate BX-100 around 5 or so on the volume and around 6-7 on the gain (though I am working on keeping a really light touch here).
    While I've never used all of my 100 watts, we don't have a guitar player (well, we do have an acoustic guitar player, but he goes unmiked) or a drummer, so I'm just fine. at any rate, that's been my experience. You'll just have to wait to see what others have to say.
  3. Deynn

    Deynn Moderator Emeritus

    Aug 9, 2000
    I have an Ampeg BA-112 and think it would meet your needs perfectly. Or, for just a little more $$$$...you could opt for the BA-115. It gives you 100 watts and a 15 inch speaker. I think you will find these amps, highly recommended among the players here.
  4. MJB


    Mar 17, 2000
    When I started playing I bought a Peavey Microbass and it is a fine little amp. Two months into it and I found myself jamming with a drummer and guitarist so I bought an SWR WM15. Even when I'm practicing alone now I always use the SWR, the Microbass sits collecting dust in the corner. If I had it to do over again I wouldn't have bought the practice amp. :eek:
  5. How much power depends on who you play with. I play with small jazz combos and a big band and use only 25 watts. If you play with people who are in a power war plan to rack mount. Then you can buy a new amp each month. And never be drowned out be sure to wear ear plugs they will make your 2000 watt amp sound like a combo amp. The best plan is to keep stage volume as low as possible and let the PA system destroy the audiences hearing.
  6. Skip


    Mar 22, 2000
    Bronxville, NY
    OK - but nobody I know if going to show up at my house with a marshall stack - so the 2000 watt amp is right out. :)

    My main concern is that I'll end up like MJB - with a practice amp I don't use. I want to know if that is a common problem. Does the lack of headroom compress the sound? Does it just sound thin? Bassdude obviously gets by with 25 watts and likes it. Is that common? Do most of you move up the wattage ladder just to cut through the mix?

    My fear is that something that sounds OK when I play scales is going to crap out on me when I try to play music. My other fear is that tone will cost - that fear will probably be satisfied or proved by trying lots of combos.
  7. Phat Ham

    Phat Ham

    Feb 13, 2000
    If all you're going to be playing with is an acoustic piano and some horns you won't need more than 50 watts max. And you wouldn't even use all of those 50 watts. The Ampeg BA-112 is a great amp and is 50 watts. I have a Peavey Minx 110 that is 30 watts. Its a great practice amp and very reliable. It is definitely loud enough for an acoustic piano and some horns.

    Now if you are planning to play with other amplified instruments I don't think 50 watts will be enough.
  8. Bernie


    Dec 12, 1999
    I have the Ampeg BA-115.Its great!
  9. Acacia


    Apr 26, 2000
    Austin, TX
    i bought a Crate BX-25 and I thought it served it's purpose. I do believe if you bought the Ampeg combo, you'd only want more power. I would suggest buying a cheap lil practice amp or go straight for the jugular and get a full set up (if you're able to afford at this point). just my thoughts. That's the way I did it, what do i know? :D
  10. Newman


    Jun 6, 2000
    well about 4 monthes ago i bought a little crate 10 watt. I thought it was perfect for a beginner. Now im looking into a 100 watt already which made the money i paid for the 10 watt a big waste. Actually i was thinking about a 50 watt but im afraid if i buy that the same thing might happen again and i'll need more power. Basically, beginner or not, you'll want at least a 100.
  11. zweebee


    Sep 15, 2000
    What about the Hartke B series????
    They're quite good and not expensive
  12. Heres my $.02.. I say dont buy anything less than 150 watts if you want reliable tone with fundamentals. You can always turn down the volume, but as said before never go to more than 10 (or 11 ;)) Plus the watage is needed to get that full round bass sound when playing together woth other ppl. With a small amp you cant do anything but regret that you bought it. Trace Elliot GP 715 is a good choice I think, since I used to have one before and it delivers 150W RMS, which is a sufficient amount of power for most occasions.

    Well, thats my opinion anyway. Maybe it didnt help at all.. good luck anyway. :)
  13. Deynn

    Deynn Moderator Emeritus

    Aug 9, 2000
    My Ampeg BA-112 is 50 watts....and I have NEVER regretted buying it...not even for a moment. :)
  14. I agree with Deynn. For what you describe, I would have thought the 112 was perfect. I used to have one. I sold it to buy a Fender Bassman 100, becuase the Ampeg 112 would not quite cut for hard rock (!!!!).

    For my occasional piano duo stuff, I use a Fender BXR25, and it does the job.

  15. Matthias


    May 30, 2000
    Vienna, Austria
    IMHO in your case a 50-100W amp will do.
    I would not go below, but I would not recommend more. Even when you find yourself in a situation where you need 300W or more some day, you will appreciate having a better portable amp too. I use a 400W rig and a 100W combo depending on the situation - perfect for ME!
    But there's an important issue: Wattage is NOT a measure for volume - there are other important factors like efficiency too.
    An example: I have the MB150E wich is rated at about 100W without external speaker. But as it is a sealed cab design, it is not very loud. I haven't tried this yet, but I guess a 100W combo with ports will simply blow it away.
    So there is no way round trying different amps, to find out what actually suits your needs.

    Hope that helps,
  16. Steve S

    Steve S

    Jul 26, 2000
    If you are playing with a drummer and a loud guitar, you need at least 100 watts. I have a Peavey 110 Minx that puts out 30 watts and it doesn't work if I play with a drummer.
  17. zweebee


    Sep 15, 2000
    Trace 715
    Ampeg B3
    Peavey TNT 115 BW

    what's the best?
  18. An interesting topic. I also think about bying a practice amp. I probably don't need an amp for gigs or normal rehearsals as I'm gonna use rented equipment there. My main need is to play at home. And maybe - very seldom - jam with somebody not very loud. So how do you think, what wattage is threatening to neighbours in a condominium flat, and what wattage is enough to play with a drummer, if he tries to be quiet?
    And if I decide to go with 25-30W combos, what would you recommend: the new Fender Bassman 25 or Trace Elliot Boxer 30?
  19. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    In my experience living in apartments: ANYTHING is too loud. Bass carries right through floors and walls. No matter how quiet I played (even with a litle 5 watt guitar amp!!!) I got complaints. Get a headphone amp for solo practice.

    Not wattage so much as the speakers. I used to have a Traynor combo that was only 15 watts but it had a 15" speaker. I used it not only at (loud) rehearsals but sometimes on gigs!

    As far as modern amps go, usually anything less than 50 watts will only have a 8" or 10" speaker, this is marginal for playing with drums. I'd say 50 watts and up and 12" or 15" speaker.
  20. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I tell people this all the time. Small amps become useless once you want to play with someone else. If you pay about $125 for one of these new, you could have spent say $150-175 on a more powerful used amp.

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