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Really stupid question that's going to have you all wondering about me....

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Joe Nerve, Oct 23, 2004.

  1. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Alright. I'm playing bass for the better part of my life, and I've always thought I knew about this, but if someone asked me I couldn't answer them difinitively. I've never really cared about amps, have my Peavey all my life, bought a couple of other cheap combos here and there... but never, ever got gas for an amp like I have for a bongo.

    Yeah - I'm serious about this....

    Arrrgh... this is rough...


    What's the difference between an amp and a preamp, and whats the purpose? If preamps don't have any power (which is what I think it means) how come I don't see any power amps without the preamp advertised. Why also would seomeone pay lots of money for an amp with no power?

  2. Why'd you whisper?
  3. DubDubs


    Aug 23, 2004
    Los Angeles
    A preamp has a tiny bit of output and feeds the power amp it also usually has a EQ and some other stuff. There are plenty of poweramps that are just sold by themselves. Some made specifically for bass (SWR power 750, Aguilar DB 728) and most are for pro audio use but are perfectly acceptable for bass (QSC, Crown etc.). Preamps are exprensive because the preamp has most of the sound of the amp. It has the EQ it shapes the sound, the poweramp just supplies the power to the speakers. You can't use a preamp without a poweramp though. A head is a pre and power in one and a combo is a pre, power, and speaker in one unit.
  4. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City
    Joe, you ignorant slut
    (hopefully most of you are SNL fans, if not that was not intended to offend) :)

    Seriously, my understanding of pre-amps is that they are the what is used to color the tone of the instrument as it is sent to the speakers. There are power amps without a preamp built in. I use a Crown XS500 power amp that has no preamp settings or controls. I feed an Alembic F-1X into it. All of the tone control is in the F-1X. I used to use an SWR 500 that had a combination preamp and power amp. Sounds like that's what you're used to using.

    Hope that helped.


  5. thejohnkim


    Sep 30, 2003
    regular bass amp = preamp + power amp

    buying a preamp with a seperate power amp lets you have flexibility, like buying very powerful poweramps, or switching preamps if you want a different sound

    you dont see many bass-specific poweramps, there are a few, but i think the vast majority of guy just buy regular poweramps from pro sound companies like qsc, crest, crown, peavey, stewart, etc...
  6. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    a quality preamp is expensive and generally sounds like it. bass preamps can run you from 300 - 1400. think that's expensive? good mic preamps go from 2000 and up. stand alone power amps generally get much nmore powerful than what you'll find in a head. the pre/power combination is much more flexible as well as you can change preamps, upgrade your preamp or poweramp, bring just your preamp to the studio, etc.
  7. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    What the hell is with you, man?
  8. flaghard


    Oct 17, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    you can still you use a preamp with a head....right?
  9. Tim__x


    Aug 13, 2002
    Alberta, Canada
    Short answer? Yup.
  10. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    uh, yeah.
    you can use it in front of the head in which case both the external preamp and the preamp of the head will both be used or you can use it in the effects return or the poweramp in of the head in which case just the external preamp will be used.
  11. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Terrific Twister

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA
    Yep Joe....this thread has me wondering. You obviously can't be a good bass player since you don't know this. I was going to buy your album, but not now. :)


  12. Mike Money

    Mike Money Banned

    Mar 18, 2003
    Bakersfield California
    Avatar Speakers Endorsing Hooligan
    Joe, the Preamp is for tone shaping. The preamp then sends that signal to the power amp which amplifies the signal sent by the pre amp to your speakers which provide the sound.

  13. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    yeah me neither...............
    wow and i really liked your music and all. Next thing you know you're going to tell me that you don't get superstring theory. I mean what kind of musician doesn't understand theoretical physics?
  14. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    yea, and forget about going to one of your shows. i mean, you're not even using a EpiDemeKernAggie-o-matic 5000!!!