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Recording bass with guitar amps

Discussion in 'Ask Justin Meldal-Johnsen' started by JimmyM, Apr 11, 2010.

  1. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Hey bro, a while back you mentioned in passing you'd like to hear more bassists record with guitar amps. always meant to follow up on that but forgot to until now.

    how do you like to use guitar amps in the studio? is it mostly for dirt? do you ever do clean tracks with guitar amps? do you ever just use a guitar amp and nothing else? do you ever buzzsaw through speakers because you used an open-backed combo and dimed it? ;)

    when you mentioned that, i thought about how carol kaye liked to record a precision through a fender concert with a mic on it, and how fat and rich it always sounded. but nowadays it seems anyone who uses guitar amps for bass blends them with a clean sound and uses them strictly for dirt. not as much need to mic a guitar amp for a clean sound as there used to be but i must say my super reverb does an excellent job of copping that carol kaye vibe, so i just wanted to see if you or folks you know still do it.
  2. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 25, 2005
    I don't use a guitar amp necessarily for dirt, it's good for just general cool-sounding recording. My Traynor BassMaster II head or Marshall JTM-45 with a Fender Tone Master 2x12 with vintage 30's sounds great. As do Magnatone amps, all kinds of other small combos like old Ampeg guitar amps, whatever.

    Fender Twin sounds great for bass. JC-120 sounds great for bass. Peavey Classic 50 4x10 is awesome. Fender Super, awesome.

    Those are the only guitar amps I've used, but I'm sure there's many more that would impart an awesome character.

  3. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    thx for naming off a few that have worked for you. i haven't done a whole lot of it myself, but what i have done recently i'm enjoying.

    and vice versa as well...you can get some excellent jazzy guitar tones with a b-15. and of course the fender bassman is way more known as a guitar amp these days, though it's making a comeback for bass.

    fun stuff, dude...thanks!
  4. freeman


    Feb 14, 2010
    I also came across JMJ's thread on trying guitar amps with bass. Since I am new to the bass and have no bass amp it was right on time. I was pretty surprised by the sound that came out of my Fender Acoustasonic Jr amp. It is an older 2 channel acoustic guitar amp with one 8 inch speaker per channel and a piezo tweeter. at low volume it puts out a full deep sound. The piezo kind of makes finger noise sound crazy loud but it is sort of good for practicing a smoother release. I did turn the bass tone down and turned of the chorus and reverb.
  5. I have a Vox AC30 combo with a Vox 2-12" extension cab. (4-12" total). I occasionally play my Ric through it (at low volume) and think it sounds really good.
  6. casio


    Aug 1, 2007
    I was the one to start the first thread, not seeking to flaunt here, but I mentioned I loved doing gigs with an old Marshall JMP I loaned for a while - great on bass!
    In the meantime I used an AC30 combo for an album now and it was awesome, although I used it for the aforementioned "dirt" portion of things, i.e. running effects through it!
    cool stuff, nothings too weird to try!
    unless you break it... :D
  7. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    sorry dude...didn't mean to step on your gig...i thought j mentioned it in that thread he started about playing that got him in dutch with all the coffeetable bass players ;)

    btw, i can't believe how much i missed the boat on the marshall sound for bass. of course, i don't own one so my marshall tones come from my tech 21 british pedal with a mod to add more low end to it, but man, that pedal is so good it makes me want to buy a marshall. i actually like it better than the vt now. of course, i'm married, so doesn't look like i'll be getting one any time soon. and unlike our host here, can't justify it by saying i play with nine inch nails ;)
  8. I did this for my bands demo. I used a Fender P with Seymour Duncan Quarter Pounders through a Peavey 6505 head and matching 4X12 cab.

    I didn't use it for a whole song, just the bridge, but I'm really happy with the final product... I'll probably do it again.
  9. Dark Horse

    Dark Horse

    Jul 31, 2008
    Austin, TX
    I've mentioned this before as well. I often use an old Marshall, Fender Twin, Bassman, Supro, or something similar for tracks. The reason I do this is because typically I'm D.I.ing as well as miking - and since the D.I. gives the clean signal, I want a signal with more "character" for the miked channel. It gives me a bit more leeway and flexibility with the sound. Sometimes it is "all amp", sometimes "D.I.+amp" when mixed - but it definitely allows for more flexibility. The typical "bass amp" has a cleaner type sound, so it would be semi-redundant when combined with the D.I. IMO.

    Cool to see other guys doing it as well.
  10. Uncle Snake

    Uncle Snake

    Jan 1, 2010
    My Carvin Vintage 33(1x12 open back, (5)12ax7's and (4)el84's)) records great "clean", with 4 string basses!! Not so much with a 5 string though.... ;)
  11. I use an Epi valve Jr in the studio quite a bit. . . they are so cheap I was thinking of getting a second for modding!
  12. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    how well does it really work for bass? the reason i ask is because i bought a little 15w airline guitar amp from 1962 thinking it would work for some dirt to mix in and it sounds like crap on bass. plenty of dirt, but none of the good kind. i blame it on the tiny transformers. never tried it, but can the valve jr actually sound good on bass?
  13. michaelnappi.com (or the myspace in my sig) check out "Gone" was done w/ it and a U5 both through distressors (fender MIA p/j).

    It is really nice! and in my home studio it doesn't knock the walls down either. Thing is, it's a really dark amp for guitar (which is great for pedals cuz they usually brighten up too much) but on bass it's a good thing too. . . usually just a single 57 up center on a cheapo 12 cab I have (or if I'm motivated to carry my gs112 up the 3 flights to my studio :D)

    are you running the airline through a bass cab?
  14. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    nope, won't allow for it without lots of alligator clips and stuff. but i'm pretty sure it's not the speaker. might be worth a shot, though. thx!
  15. Can't weigh in much, but my experiences with the only guitar amp I own.

    Recorded some clips a while back with my fender hot rod deluxe, makes my active jazz a little bit vintagey.

    Thom Yorke - Black Swan

    The Beatles - Come Together

    Air - La Femme d'Argent

    Just bear in mind I must have been jumpy that day cos all three songs are recorded way too fast :/

    Also tested the onboard reverb (i think its spring? never bothered to check)

    And the onboard overdrive when cranked, and then I broke a string mid recording.

    Seems to work well because the hot rod is a really bassy guitar amp, but I suppose if you were using a guitar amp to get a different character that might actually be a bad thing? Oh well!
  16. duderasta


    Feb 25, 2010
    Tampa, FL
    I am using a modded superchamp xd just a tube swap and I put it in an old SS 2x12 chassis I haven't tried recording with it, but I use it for practicing at home.. not too shabby on bass when the volume is kept in control...
  17. cvogel


    Dec 17, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    I am a big fan of a Twin mixed in with a B-15.

    Also, if you want to get technical the V-4 is a guitar amp.....
  18. I played a P Bass through an Epi Valve Jr. It has some bottom end loss... I didn't like it. While it isn't my sound, there are plenty of bass players who do like that dirty mid rangy kind of sound.

    I love it as a guitar amp. My strat sounded great on it. I would seriously consider one for both bass and guitar.

  19. rdwoody1


    Aug 23, 2009
    Jackson, TN
    I used an Ampeg Superjet combo while practicing a while back because I didn't have my bass rig on hand. I didn't use it for dirt or effects or anything, but with my Jazz, I got the best slap tone I've ever heard with it. It sounded good fingerstyle as well, but I've never been much of a slapper until that week. I heard the sound and spent the whole week honing my slap skills. I regret selling that little amp now. It would have made a heck of a practice amp for me. I actually contemplated changing out the speaker so I could crank it a bit and keep from blowing a speaker, but my endless desire to have something else, something different got the best of me (I know you all know what I'm talking about).
  20. mattq


    May 23, 2006
    Santa Cruz, CA
    a producer/engineer friend of mine once told me he uses a fender blues jr. for recording bass. don't know if it's for dirt or clean or what the specifics were exactly. when i said, "really?" he said, "yeah. it's tubes pushing a ten inch speaker. not like your miking the whole fridge right?" sorta made sense, but i've not heard the results

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