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Recommended Small Combo Amps (~$200) & 12" Speaker a Must?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Ed_in_NE_Ohio, Nov 26, 2012.

  1. My first bass is on its way! It's an all maple 1984 Peavey Fury.

    The singer in our band is sure that I'll be able to play it direct through our PA (is this true?). However, even if I can, I'll need a small combo amp for practicing at home.

    I'm wondering which of the 20-30W solid state combo amps (say up to $200) are recommended these days. I checked-out the usual suspects today (Fender, Ampeg, Peavey, Acoustic, & Hartke) on-line, and they all seemed like decent amps.

    I'll go to my local GC when the bass arrives to test drive a few, but I'm wondering if there are any clear favorites out there?

    Also, I've always believed that a 12" speaker is pretty much a "must have" for a bass combo amp, even at low wattage. How do others feel about this?

  2. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    First off, I'd make darn sure your band's PA system will be adequet for bass guitar. My guess is, it's not. Either way, I'd skip the micro-sized paractice amps, and suggest looking for a used bass rig. Something with 300 or more watts, and most importantly, some good spkr cabs. An olde Peavey 2x15 would rock, and be cheap.
  3. That Peavey is a good deal for around $200. But check out the Fender Bronco 40 too, this thing rocks for a 40 watter.

  4. shackled


    Jun 25, 2009
    Western NY
    I like my Fender Rumble 75. It has a 12" driver and the tilt-back option. They go for $250.
  5. JxBass

    JxBass Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2008
    An Ampeg BA-112 can be had for ~$200 with some shopping around.
  6. shaginwagin


    Apr 2, 2012
    For 200 bucks you better go used. Get as much power and as many speakers as you can. Or, wait til you know if the pa will be sufficient, then make a decision. Then you can do the first sting I said with more money saved! Cause 200 won't get you much. And if you really just need something for at home a used combo is super cheap.
  7. uOpt


    Jul 21, 2008
    Boston, MA, USA
    Playing through the PA, even if it is powerful enough, can easily get you stranded not hearing yourself. This can happy either due to screwup on part of the soundman, or because of the directionality of the PA speakers.
  8. Interesting you should say this...

    I played our 'group bass' (a Fender Squire J-Bass [frankly not all that bad, but it needs set-up]) for the first time on a number of songs at rehearsal last night.

    I thought the sound through the PA was pretty decent, but at times I did need to get up and position myself in the center of the room so I could hear myself. With the PA speakers positioned toward an audience (like at a gig) I'm guessing it would be even harder to hear oneself.

    By the way, my first official go at playing bass was great fun! I mostly just played the chord root notes, pretty much lived on the A-string, and tried to stay in the groove. Had a blast! Our drummer is outstanding, and needless to say, that is a huge help.

    I'm really looking forward to getting the Peavey and working on becoming a serviceable bassist...The musical journey continues!

    Back on topic...I know that used amps are a great value, but I'm always leery of hidden problems and issues with used amps (more so than with instruments). What are some other folks' thoughts and experiences on this?

    Thanks again for all the great feedback. :bassist:
  9. uOpt


    Jul 21, 2008
    Boston, MA, USA
    Well there is one misunderstanding here, and that is the directionality of frequencies. We all know that lower frequencies are projected out from the speaker more or less in a circle and only higher frequencies "beam" in the directory the speaker is pointing.

    The problem here is that some assume that must mean that you can hear the bass from behind the speakers with no problems, but in practice what you want to hear from your own playing is a little higher than just those lows. You can easily lose your footing this way.

    Another problem is that limitations of either amplifier power or of suitable speakers might make the soundmixer decide to go for a more mid-based sound, picking it as the lesser evil for the audience over clipping, distortion or audibly flapping speakers. But then you are screwed, too.

    Having said that, a 20W solid state amp as backline might not solve the problem unless it drives a very high efficiency cabinet.
  10. Technotitclan

    Technotitclan Lurking TB from work

    Mar 1, 2012
    Rochester, NY
    My recommendations would be to go with a 12 or 15 speaker and a 100w + amp. plugging into the mixer is great and will help with balancing everyone but will leave you in the dark on what you sound like as you pointed out with practice. Nothing will change in regards to that. If you have your own combo or stack you can use that as a practice amp at home and a monitor at practice and gigs.

    I regards to lemons when buying used the key is to try before you by. If it has or will have problems you will notice them during your test drive.
  11. Hmmm. Just noticed that you have a drummer - too bad. With that little tidbit thrown in - I'd buy the biggest-baddest-most-Wattage-and-driver rig you can afford.

    Bass needs to be pushed H A R D out to the audience and that comes from Watts and square acreage in drivers.

    Even if you feel you don't need it now - you will regret buying a bedroom practice rig in the very near future.

    Q} Did you ever wonder why you see so many bedroom/starter rigs for sale all the time?

    A} Because they generally suck in a live venue where you aren't playing a solo - and by that I mean: so low that you can't be heard.​

    And I'd certainly not push for a 12" system - they are kinda the orphans of the bass crowd and as such - even though they MAY be fine - they are odd man out and not all that common.

    There isn't any perceivable difference in their 12-inch ability to move air and any esoteric/exotic values are lost in the mix anyway. It's CERTAINLY Not because it covers a mystical frequency range that goes into the "super-lows of a 15 yet has the clarity of a 10" idea either.

    Unless you want to just be different that is. Right now - as I see it - conventionality is a key part to being a starting bass player.

    Go with and stay with the somewhat conventional for at least a few years and then you can go all boo-teek if you like.
  12. I found a couple of local, used combos for sale.
    I'll be checking them out tomorrow.
    Laney HCM120B or Hartke Kickback 12?
    They are similarly priced. Thoughts between these two?
  13. Laney HCM120Bs have been roasted a bit lately.

    I know of one (and only one, personally) that has spent more frequent flier miles going to and from the repair shop that it's qualified for a free flight to Mars.

    The old Brit ones were pretty nice, but their newer stuff - and I'm not sure of the good-bad cutoff date - are pretty cr@ppy.
  14. Played both the used Laney HCM120B & the used Hartke Kickback 12 tonight. Both sounded quite nice, but I thought the Hartke was the clear winner, so that's the one I got.

    Between the two, the Hartke had better tone (especially at low volume), a simpler, and more useful 'shaping' control, a headphone jack, and it's smaller and lighter (a fact very important to my 53 year old back and knees).

    I'm confident the Hartke will meet my needs for the foreseeable future.

    I'm really looking forward to my bass arriving this weekend, and digging in!

    Thanks for the feedback.
  15. shaginwagin


    Apr 2, 2012
    Excellent choice! I had secretly voted for the hartke.

    How the heck are you going to handle having a new amp at home with no bass to play with??? I would go crazy!

    Good luck to you!