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Stick with Combo or buy a Head and Cab?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by BassPlummet, Feb 25, 2014.

  1. Hello Bassists of the world and from the universe! Don't want to discriminate or anything.

    Anyway, I have been playing Bass for a few months now and I have come to a decision that I am not sure how to make.

    I am currently playing through a Warwick BC20 and it's perfectly fine as a practice amp but there are one or two things that make me want to get a head and cabinet.

    1) I would like to start getting a better tone and having an amp and cab would help a lot more than 20watt combo amp that only has a 3 band EQ.
    2) I will be prepared for when I start playing gigs.
    3) Buying new shiny toys makes me happy.

    Now at the same time I feel like my skill level would just make getting a head and cab a waste as I wouldn't be able to use even a portion of it's potential anyway.
  2. I was in the same boat when I first started.
    I had a small Carvin combo which got me through practicing.

    For live situations, you can get away with some larger combos unless you need more volume.

    My suggestion would be to buy a larger combo so it will be still easier to plug in and play, that's if you don't need volume as of now, save up for some kind of half stack of your choosing. Best way to find your equipment is to try a lot of it at music stores.

    If you filter your needs as far as amps and cabs, I'm pretty sure we can offer advice.
  3. mrmills


    Jun 22, 2009
    Kent, UK
    Get a head and cab and if you need more volume, you can add another cab.

    It would not be a waste buying a setup ready for gigging, you will need to get use to what it can do and find your 'sound' with it.
  4. I thought about getting a larger combo, but I don't really need the volume and I don't need the extra weight. The BC20 is quite heavy already.

    I'm looking for sound quality and most of all tone above volume. Unless I buy an expensive combo, I'm just not going to get the "sound customisation" that a head offers.

    The heads I have been looking at are (in order of price, low to high):
    Warwick WA 300
    Ashdown MAG 300W
    Aguilar Tone Hammer 350w
    Orange Terror Bass 500w

    Out of all of them the Tone Hammer is quite possibly the one I would want the most, BUT it is also R9000 (about $830) where as the Warwick and Ashdown are R4000 (about $370) which is WAY more affordable and I won't be saving for the rest of the year.

    As for Cabs, I'm looking at the Hartke 4.5XL at R4000 (no idea how to pronounce that brand.) or the Ashdown MAG 210T SLIM for R2600 (about $240)

    As far as Cabs are concerned.. I have no idea. The 4.5XL looks pretty cool I guess?
  5. oerk


    Oct 16, 2009
    Have you actually tried any of your suggestions? My advice is to try anything you can get your hands on, this is worth more than any suggestion we can give you.

    The Tone Hammer is pretty cool, though.

    The Hartke is a good cab but not everyone's cup of tea. The aluminium speakers have their own unique sound. You can save a bit of money if you don't need a tweeter - the 410XL is basically the same (tuned a bit higher, AFAIK), but lighter and cheaper.
  6. I have played on the Tone Hammer, but it was with an Aguilar cab and a fancy pants one at that. I think it was the GS410. That sounded sexy as hell, which is probably why I am leaning towards the Tone Hammer so much.

    But I hear what you saying. Play with them all and see which one I like best. Then cry at the amount of money I need to save up xD
  7. tedsalt


    Aug 5, 2010
    Kansas City
    I believe you can pick up a new Fender Rumble 350 head from Sweetwater for $290, then look for a Fender Rumble 112 cabinet to go with it. You can add a 2nd 112 cabinet down the road if you want. This would be a very light rig with serious tone.
  8. andrklet

    andrklet Guest

    Ampeg´s PF series deserves a spot on your shortlist as well, if you ask me. Just got a PF350 myself and Im waiting for delivery of a SVT210AV cab.
  9. That's great and all, but I am in South Africa and shipping plus import duties kind of suck salty sack.
    BUT Thanks for the advice on pairing the Fender Rumble 350 with the Rumble 112 cab. I'll have a look around to see if I can get those.

    I have not seen the PF350 anywhere, what does it retail at?
  10. I meant to say have not seen it anywhere locally, my bad.

    Thanks for the link, but "We're sorry, but the product that you are searching for is sold out at this time, or is no longer available. For more information please contact customer service."
  11. andrklet

    andrklet Guest

  12. Dearthbass14


    Jan 7, 2014
    I would go with a head and cab, and if you're not ready to have a massive rig stick to buying a 4x10 or something. Also if you don't want to spend alot on a new rig, you can always try craigslist. It worked for me, i got a Gallien-Krueger Goldline 810GLX 8x10 very cheap and it works perfectly!
  13. Toptube

    Toptube Supporting Member

    Feb 9, 2009
    I wouldn't go with a combo unless it was the best tone I'd ever heard and I didn't fear for my back when I tried to move it. I think having a separate head and cab is a lot more useful and more practical for many reasons.

    My second ever amp setup was an Ashdown Blue 180 head and an Acoustic B115 15-inch speaker cab. Not the best thing ever, but it sounded about 12 times better than my first amp setup: a 35watt Orange Crush combo junk. I thought Orange was supposed to be a great brand but that thing sounded like doodoo and farted super easy.

    that head/cab setup served me pretty well. But the Cab weighed like 65pounds and I'm not super strong. I could carry it, but the physical size + the weight was pretty much just under my limit. The head's weight was fine (16.5 pounds), but it was pretty large.

    My third amp setup, which I still currently have, is an Gallien Kruger Neo 112-II, modded with an Eminence Basslite s2012 speaker (I changed the speaker because I personally didn't like the tone of the GK stock speaker. but I like the cab itself), and an Ashdown MiBass 220 class D head.

    Even better tone than the big 65 pound 115 and physically pretty large Ashdown head-----half the weight.

    The cab with the Eminence speaker, weighs 29 pounds. The head is 2.3 pounds and fits in the front pocket of my gig bags. If my gig bags didn't have extra pockets, I could easily put it in a backpack.
  14. dwjazz54


    Jan 21, 2003
    Jersey City, NJ
    Agreed that a head and cab arrangement can be really versatile and convenient - especially with lightweight heads and neo cabs.

    However, there are combos out there that can cut a pretty serious gig. My main gigging amp is a GKMB212-ii combo, and it works perfectly for my needs. No-nonsense, show-up-and-plug-in, 500 watts into a 2x12 ready to rock. Definitely an ideal (for me) one trip in, one trip out kinda set-up.

    Rule of thumb remains the same, though - go out and try as much stuff as you can. When you find what you're looking for, you will know!
  15. Thanks to everyone who replied. You are all a huge help and I think I know what to do now...... Go to the music store and make some noise xD

    But seriously, I think I am going to go for the head and cab. It's going to take a few months to save for, but at least it's time to get better at playing and understanding my instrument.

  16. Can't go wrong with the tone hammer... IME the TH-350 has heaps of volume into 4 ohms... I use both Hartke and Aggie cabs with mine.
  17. I actually completely forgot that it's 350watt through 4 and 175 through 8. Those cabs that I mentioned are both 8 ohms. I'm wondering how much more expensive 4 ohms will be.
  18. andrklet

    andrklet Guest

    Unless you are absolutely certain one cab will do the trick, get the 8 ohm one. Then you can add another later if u need. That´s where the real volume increase lies. Not in the watts.
  19. strictlybass_ic

    strictlybass_ic Mediocrity is a journey Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2014
    Northern Indiana
    I would recommend separate head and cab. There is a lot more flexibility and options to tailor your rig as you grow and learn. A combo is a combo, is a combo. Many of them don't even have add-on cab outputs. A separate rig allows you to build and expand cabinets, or just take your amp and use it as a DI. Plus, breaking up the components means more trips, but less smashed fingers and sore back. Start small and build accordingly. 300 or so watts is all you would ever need for most venues.