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unexperienced, need gear advise from experienced bassists

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by scrappybadger92, Apr 20, 2021.

  1. scrappybadger92


    Mar 31, 2021
    I'm looking to upgrade to a rig capable of gigging and decent for recording bass.

    -my current rig is an Ampeg BA-115 combo. It's been mediocre. It's a pain to carry, sounds bad (imo), and doesn't have the headroom I want. It claims to run at 150 watts, not sure how true that is because can't hardly play with my friend's marshal origin 50 without him turning his amp way down.

    -I'm looking to spend anywhere between $1000 to $1500 for a head and cab(s), preferably closer to 1000 if possible at my criteria

    -currently looking at GK legacy heads, darkglass heads, ashdown, but I'm open to suggestions. And I have no clue what I should go for with cabs to maximize volume and quality at reasonable price

    -I need a rig that has enough headroom to gig and jam with people without a sweat, isn't to hard to move around, and generally sounds good and gives good tonal options, and is reliable.

    I generally want advise about good or bad brands, how many watts I need, best cab configuration for my price range, what's important or not important. Anyone who wants to help thanks a lot!
    Rip Van Dan and Mr Cheese like this.
  2. jeff7bass


    Apr 9, 2009
  3. jeff7bass


    Apr 9, 2009
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2021
  4. jeff7bass


    Apr 9, 2009
  5. Ampslut


    May 15, 2017
  6. scrappybadger92


    Mar 31, 2021
    so do you think it's better to go the under $800 combo route? I've always figure once I get the money to immediately get a stack in the 1000-1500 range. will a fender rumble 500 for instance, last long and get the job done? if so I guess I can't argue that price. As long as it's good in the studio, the stage, and can take pedals, I'll keep that at the top of my list. My only thing holding me back is that doing all that for only 600 dollars seems way too good to be true, I just don't know what the catch is you know?
    EatS1stBassist and Mr Cheese like this.
  7. scrappybadger92


    Mar 31, 2021
    dang the fender rumble 500 seems to get lot's of love indeed. Does it reach 500 watts on it's own or does it need an extension cab to reach peak power?
    EatS1stBassist and Mr Cheese like this.
  8. jeff7bass


    Apr 9, 2009
    Extension needed for full 500 but still loud. The Hartke HD508 is full 500 into the combo. No output jack.
  9. Lesfunk

    Lesfunk Supporting Member

    You’re going to get lots of specific brand advice bases on individual’s favorite products.
    To keep it general, you’re going to want a 500watt solid state head that will deliver 300/350 watts at 8ohms (one 8ohm speaker cab) and 500 watts or more at 4ohms (two 8ohm cabinets)
    You’ll probably want at least a 2x10 cabinet. There are many options,(2x10,2x12, 4x10, 1x15 etc)
    you can also choose a combo and add an ext. cab for more volume

    I personally use a Markbass 2x10 combo with a 1x15 ext cabinet. I can play any reasonably sized stage with that and can opt to use only the combo for small gigs. New price will be higher than you want to spend for that particular setup, but many companies offer similarly spec’d products.
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2021
    SJan3, Mr Cheese, Aqualung60 and 5 others like this.
  10. scrappybadger92


    Mar 31, 2021
    ok thanks for the solid answer. After reading about the fender and hartke combos I've concluded the hartke won't supply enough headroom especially since (as far as I know) it doesn't take an ext. cab. And I don't want to be limited by the vintage tone of the fender rumble. I want a cab that is a do it all so I think I'll sink most my budget there. I'm liking the GK NEO IV 2x12 800w 4ohm cab, although it's $900 bucks. and I'm looking at 2 heads: The agular tone hammer 500 or the dark-glass microtubes 500. This takes me to about 1700 dollars. Is this over kill or worth it? And which head do you all think would serve me better?
    HolmeBass, Mr Cheese and bassface69 like this.
  11. Lesfunk

    Lesfunk Supporting Member

    I’ve played the Aguilar and I liked it very much
    The Bergantino Forte was also very nice

    I think that it’s ok to go over budget to get the best sound as long as you can safely afford it.
    This is a purchase you will hopefully have for a long time.
    A little more investment will probably wind up saving you money in the long run by not having to buy twice

    I also think you’re spot on in you’re assessment of the Harte and fender
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2021
    stumblebee, SJan3, Mr Cheese and 2 others like this.
  12. Bob Clayton

    Bob Clayton My P doesn’t have flats or tort Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 14, 2001
    Philly Suburbs
    If you're down with combo amps and can dig the GK sound, GK MB212 hands down. You get the full 500 watts into 2 12" speakers unlike most other combos where you need an extension cab to get the full power. It's been my amp for years. It's easily held its own in a 6 piece party band, and a 4 piece 90s rock band. I never even have to get close to 50% of the volume knob.

    And as a bonus, it comes in below $1000.

  13. Chain_Lightning


    Sep 8, 2014
    Dude, I believe you already answered your question,, I have been giging for 25 to 30 years & this has worked for me... just ask the guitarists to lower the Volume on his amp. It will save you a lot of money. Go ahead try it. Unless you are a semi Pro with lot of bookings. Your money is going to be siting in the garage or your room when it could be in the bank. Good Luck
  14. el murdoque

    el murdoque

    Mar 10, 2013
    Not gonna recommend anything, but I'm gonna give you some generic advice:

    1. Your combo is totally okay for quite a few people. It's not the upper crust, but solid. It will help a great deal if you describe what improvements in sound you desire and what it is exactly that you don't like with the sound you get out of it. Be as specific as possible.

    2. It'll also help when you tell us what bass you play and what genres you plan on playing in the foreseeable future. You'll get different recommendations for Metal than you will get for Jazz.

    3. You can't translate guitar watts to bass watts. Your combo does 150 of them, but sometimes, even a 500w bass amp will struggle to keep up with a 30w guitar amp. It's not fair, because guitars use all those frequencies that are easy on the watts and hard on the ears while bass does the opposite.

    4. Your total volume will depend more on the quality and surface area of your speakers than it will on the watts the amp produces. With some 350 watts you will have enough juice to drive a metal band, provided you have a very good stack of two 410 cabinets. You will hopelessly drown with a 600 watt amp played into a 112 cabinet (that is, if you find one that can take 600 watts)

    5. Bass cabinets that are loud, light and cheap don't exist. You can pick only two of these three properties.

    6. The watts that are advertised differ greatly from brand to brand. Many of the cheaper brands boast numbers that are firmly anchored in the realms of wishful thinking from the marketing department while the more premium brands rely on the numbers they get from their engineers. Use your common sense. If there is only one 210 cab that has a 1200w rating and it is among the cheaper models, while the more expensive ones cap out well below half of that, it's not too hard to conclude that this might be exaggerated in some way.

    7. As long as you use your common sense, you can combine any head with any cab, regardless of the watts.
    My own home rig is a five watt head that plays into two cabinets that will take 600w each, which plays fine.
    I've also gigged a head that does more than twice of what the cab can take. Use your ears to determine how much your system can take and stay within the comfort zone of the weakest link in your chain. Don't leave a 1500w poweramp connected to a 200w cabinet in a room where others might try and use it, though.

    8. If you're not familiar with Impedance ratings, read the sticky thread here. Ohms is all you need to really care about when coupling a head with a cabinet or multiple ones. It is confusing at first, but not that tricky.

    9. As a general rule of thumb, I'd say if you want headroom, get a class D head with a 'real' 500w rating (see #6). Pair that with: A solid 2x12 cabinet for rock, if your band members can keep their total volume in check.
    For metal and really loud rock, go with a 410 or more.

    10. Unless you're willing to experiment and maybe miss a crapshoot or two, don't mix drivers.
    There are some combinations of drivers that are generally approved, but the rule of thumb is to find the one driver you like the sound of and then use as many of that as you need. So if you find a 210 that sounds fine to you, and you want the whole thing louder, get another of this exact model.

    11. There are some brands that claim their cabinets can do more than the average one. Audiokinesis, Barefaced and fEARful / fEARless come to mind (from the top of my head, there are others). These play in a league of their own (sometimes referred to as supercabs) and most of what I said earlier does not apply here. These people sold their souls to the devil and can now ignore the laws of thermodynamics when building bass cabinets. It might be worth looking into them, because you could fit one of those into your budget when you manage to get a good second hand head - this could build you a rig that's compact and super light, yet obscenely loud.

    Have fun navigating the jungle!
    stumblebee, DaDo625, DrMole and 21 others like this.
  15. Pulverizor


    Jun 14, 2018
    New Zealand
    Dang obnoxious guitarists, sounds like he'd rather play alone!
    Please wear earplugs.
    If I had that coin and needed a rig from scratch (and assuming you play some style of rock music) then it'd be a Rumble 800 or PF-800 and two CX210s.
    Fender Rumble 800 - 800-watt Bass Head
    Ampeg PF-800 800-watt Portaflex Bass Head
    Gallien-Krueger CX 210 400-watt 2x10" Bass Cabinet
    OR finance a Legacy 800 and a NEO IV 212.
    Gallien-Krueger Legacy 800 - 800-watt Ultra Light Bass Head
    Gallien-Krueger NEO IV 2 x 12" 800W 8-ohm Bass Cabinet with Steel Grille and 1-inch Tweeter
    OR the Rumble/Portaflex with the GK NEO IV 212
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2021
  16. Avigdor


    Aug 23, 2018
    +1 on the hearing protection. I get it - you want loud. But hearing loss is a real danger. Good earplugs are cheap and ubiquitous. Your guitarist may also want to consider a hotplate for his amp to get "his tone" without quite so much volume.
  17. tothemax


    Nov 1, 2013
    Annapolis Area
    I use a BA-115 as my gig amp, we're a 5 piece with a drummer and percussionist. Our drummer is a medium hitter and the blessing is that we don't have an "arena" guitar player with a Marshall stack. I feel for you on that level. I usually run the amp at between 2 and 3:00 volume and it does OK. In hindsight I wish I had gone for a BA-210 as I find the 15" speaker to be more of a "thud" than punch tone. But it moves a lot of air and and seems to cut through the mix OK. In the short term while your on the amp search, a quick fix might be to use the amp on the angled side (monitor style) so you can hear yourself and check with someone in the room to see if you are in the mix. Might be a working band aid.

    I still like Ampeg gear, because it's affordable and well made. That said, I just upgraded my studio practice Rumble 40 to a Rumble 100 - it's got a great tone and very punchy (and 22 lbs). So I would definitely consider trying out a Rumble 500. Fender has really hit the mark with the v3 series. Sounds like you have a good budget.

    Good luck on the hunt...
  18. musicman556

    musicman556 Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2019
    Smyrna, TN
    Some great advice here already. I will just weigh in with a philosophical idea: I always prefer separates to combos. To me, modular flexibility is really nice. It sounds like you're really getting into playing, and may be playing out more in the coming years. Also, you have good money to spend! That's the perfect storm for a basement full of bass gear, haha!

    Anyways, as you go along you'll probably end up getting a few different cabs, and maybe multiple amps. Get good, medium/high powered heads and you can use them with any cab combination. Also, stand-alone heads generally have better/more input/output flexibility and overall controls. Not to mention more power!

    I like your idea of the GK Legacy head. I think 500w would be plenty of power all but the biggest of gigs, especially when you add a second cab. I also wouldn't overlook the Hartke LX5500 head. Great solid unit. A little more simple than the Legacy, but it does leave more budget for cabs.

    I find that in general, I spend 2-3x as much on cabs than I do the head for each rig I have. Do NOT cheap out on cabs. I fully believe quality cabs have more impact on your sound than the amp.

    Personally I am a big Mesa and Aguilar fan, but I am planning to add a GK Legacy 500 or 800 to the family soon as well. While I l9ve my Aguilar Tone Hammer, I will admit it is somewhat narrow in the tones it offers. Listen to lots of demos to see if you think that jives with your style. It happens to absolutely give me what I want in a rockin' amp for my cover band. It even works great in my church setting, backing off the gain and pushing more low mids for a fat and warm tone that just feels great!

    Let us know what you choose! Rock on! :)
    Sprout, Mr Cheese and scrappybadger92 like this.
  19. 9Thumbs


    Jul 3, 2013
    Near Boston
    Try to find good reputable gear, especially cabs, used. This whole rig was $430 from Craigs list and GC used, If I was in a louder band, I might have gone for more that 350 watts, but with 2 15s, this has never let me down.
  20. MTN.bass72

    MTN.bass72 Supporting Member

    Jan 9, 2010
    Blue Ridge, Ga
    If you want to sink most of your cash into a great cab that'll do it all...

    I'll suggest the Greenboy Audio fEARful 15/6... it'll slay with whichever head you chose..
    You'll have to contact one of the authorized builders.. @popgadget (Paul)
    On here, Runs Scabbey road... he built every Fearless cab I own, but also builds the fEARful line as well.. I currently run a Fearless F112 with a Mesa D800... it's handles everything I throw at it with ease...he's a great guy and won't steer you wrong just to make a sale...
    You'll never need another cab with it. It's a beast.. :thumbsup:
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2021
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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