What makes practice amps sound so good?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by fretlessman71, Jan 23, 2009.

  1. fretlessman71

    fretlessman71 Still beats havin' a job Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2005
    FoCo, NoCo
    Odd title, I know. I'm sure this has been discussed before, but I can't find it. Let me explain...

    I have a few small Fender practice amps. When I plug any bass into ione, low volume or high, there's this WARMTH that comes through that makes it sound much bigger than it is.

    I'm sure it has to do with limiting circuitry that protects the speaker from some hapless kid overloading it with power from 5 effects cranked up to 11, but I'd love to have a simple pedal that does just what that circuitry does.

    Hey, the amps are pretty cheap on CraigsList (plus I could probably spare one anyway) - would it even be feasible to find a way to extract/copy that circuit into a pedal?

    The amps are cheap - shouldn't a pedal doing a similar thing be just as cheap?...

    Jus' thinking out loud again. :)
  2. IvanMike

    IvanMike TTRPG enthusiast, Happy, Joyous, & Free. Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    usually some "shape" or "contour" tone circuit. more often than not it puts the smiley face eq on the bass (boost highs and lows, cut mids). sounds great. you can do that with any amp. Problem is, play with a band and you dissapear. mids cut through.
  3. Eublet


    Jul 28, 2006
    It's not unusual at all. They're usually small enclosures, which emphasize the low-mid which gives that nice round bottom. Also they typically come without tweeter, so you don't have the top end harshness which can really expose bad technique. End result is you feel better playing through them. Plug into a big stage rig that's designed to project your tone in the midst of other competing instruments and it's a different ball game. We see similar issues here all the time where some players have these big rigs but never gig. They've learned to EQ such that they get a nice sound when they're playing all alone and then wonder why it sounds so bad when they finally get a gig.
  4. fretlessman71

    fretlessman71 Still beats havin' a job Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2005
    FoCo, NoCo
    So it's also intended to sound great by itself, since you'll never be gigging with it anyway? Makes a lot of sense.

    So the big trick is to get that tone to be the "end result" to the listener, even AFTER you've had to battle your way through the rest of the band + EQ for the room and the crowd? Interesting way to think of it. :)
  5. SteveC

    SteveC Moderator Staff Member

    Good practice room/solo sound is usually way different than good band/gig sound.
  6. IvanMike

    IvanMike TTRPG enthusiast, Happy, Joyous, & Free. Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    sort of.

    do an experiment. listen to a bunch of your favorite recordings. look for ones where you can hear all of the instruments distinctly. after a while you'll notice that the tone of the instruments are not "full" sounding. each one is eq'd a bit to fit in cetain frequency ranges. not to the extreme, but enough to make it all work. you'll find the same thing in a (good) live mix.
  7. fretlessman71

    fretlessman71 Still beats havin' a job Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2005
    FoCo, NoCo
    Makes me wonder if micing a practice amp in the studio might yield some very good results, too...
  8. A ton of people do this for sure. A lot of guys play through a mic'd guitar amp too. The thinner cones of guitar speakers sound amazing, you just can't push them like you can bass speakers. For recording at moderate volume though, they're incredible.
  9. Eublet


    Jul 28, 2006
    In a lot of ways, if you start out just playing through these practice amps alone all the time, you will slowly learn to retrain your ear as you start playing more professional gigging equipment, and eventually you get to the point where you don't like the practice amps anymore. At least it goes this way for a lot of people.
  10. Gearhead43


    Nov 25, 2007
    I never thought little bass practice amps sounded very good at all.
  11. rpsands


    Jul 6, 2007
    Phoenix, AZ
    This is certainly the case for me. Since I got a decent rig, I've always practiced alone through that rig, with the same EQ settings as I use when I practice with the band. I just like that tone better now.

    Makes it frustrating to find a decent sounding practice amp though :)
  12. Even though I think my stage rig sounds good, the Genz-Benz Intro 50 practice amps I've had (3 total) are my favorite sounding amps I've ever played through. 50W, 12", tweeter. Love 'em.
  13. scootron


    Jul 17, 2007
    Moved to Texas
    +1 The only thing that matters is how you sound in the mix.
  14. RBrownBass

    RBrownBass Thoroughly Nice Guy Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2004

    My Workingmans 12 sounds great. I've had some amps that didn't, tho.
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