The Best Bass Amps - Combo Under $500

The Highest Rated Bass Amps up to $500

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You don't actually hear your electric bass guitar, you hear your amplifier, and this is even more true for your audience. As such, it will do you good not to neglect this critical component of your rig, which is arguably just as important as the instrument you play.

Here we feature the best bass combo amps in the sub $500 price range, updated to reflect current market sentiment up to November of 2019. Also included is information that you’ll need in order to make an informed purchase.

To make this guide a bit more useable, we’ve separated all of the amps we’re featuring by price tier, and for this 2019 update, we've included a sub $100 price range for those working with tight budgets.

Don’t think that an increase in cost directly correlates with an increase in performance. Sure, if you drop more money you can get more features, but the value those features add to you depends on what you’re looking for in an amp.

The Best Bass Amps

Best Bass Amps Under $100 - Great Practice Bass Amps

These are great amps to test the waters, so to speak. They don't cost much, and won't be confusing to setup, ideal for beginners. Experienced bassists can also benefit from these amps, since these are portable and are meant for providing good tone at low volume levels.

Fender Rumble 25 V3

95
GEARANK

95 out of 100. Incorporating 600+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$100
Fender Rumble 25 V3 Bass Combo Amplifier

At time of publication this was the highest rated combo bass amp under $100.

Fender is famed for both their guitars and their amplifiers, and like a lot of well-known companies the brand has extended into markets beyond the professional sphere; most notably pieces of equipment aimed at beginners.

The Fender Rumble 25 V3, while a beginner-level piece of equipment in every sense of the phrase, is powerful enough to be an asset to both beginning musicians and advanced bassists looking for a fully featured practice amp.

In this price range, the key selling point of this amp is that it has a contour switch. A contour switch changes the contour of a certain frequency range, generally the mid-range. Without getting too technical, this feature basically changes the voicing of an amp which in turn gives you a much wider variety of tones on hand. This flexibility is rare for an amp in this price range, though this feature does become more common in higher price-tiers.

Features

  • 25-Watts
  • 8” Speaker
  • Controls: Volume, Bass, Mid, Treble, Overdrive, Contour
  • AUX-In and Headphone-Out

Pros

The general consensus remains overwhelmingly positive for the Fender Rumble 25 V3, with many pointing to its sound quality (thanks to its contour switch) and portability as its best traits. Its simplicity is also mentioned as conducive to practice, while its compact profile makes it easy to position where it can be easily accessed.

Cons

While the Rumble 25 V3 is not exactly something you buy if you want a loud bass amp, there are still a few who are not too happy with its limited projection. If you’re looking to start playing shows or rehearsing with a band you’re going to want to invest in a louder amplifier

Overall

Still the Fender Rumble 25 V3 is good for what it does, which is to provide you with a compact and convenient grab-and-go bass amp.

Hartke HD15

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 100+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$100
Hartke HD15 Bass Combo Amplifier

Hartke is commonly regarded as one of the premier manufacturers of bass amplifiers, with products that go head to head with any in the industry. However, unlike a lot of practice or entry-level amps in this price range, the Hartke HD15 retains the quality of more expensive amplifiers produced by the company.

The key selling point of this amp is that it features a built-in limiter. This limiter helps to limit peaks in volume that could damage your amplifier. This is huge for beginner musicians who may not understand what levels of volume, or in certain cases playing dynamics, can damage in amplifier.

Features

  • 15-Watts
  • 6.5” Speaker
  • Controls: Volume, Bass, Mid, Treble
  • AUX-In and Headphone-Out

Pros

For the price point and intended purpose of the amplifier, the controls (while limited) are very functional, and many appreciate its simplicity. Its practice features also get a lot of positive mentions, including the AUX input and a headphone output. Many users also appreciate its overall tone and projection, which sounds good to their ears in lower volumes, allowing for quiet practice.

Cons

While smaller speakers are a concession to portability (which is incredibly important for a practice amp), note that when they’re less than 10” there’s a significant drop off in the representation of low-end frequencies. The amp also only has a power rating of 15-watts, so don’t expect to be gigging with this amp (unless you choose to put it through a PA). This amp does not come with any effects, and while that may be a limiting factor depending on the genre you play, it does help to keep price low.

Overall

All in all, the Hartke HD15 is a nice little bass amp on a budget or as a practice amp.

Best Bass Amps Under $200 - Also Good for Practice

While these amps are definitely aimed at entry-level musicians, don’t let their price fool you. When used for their intended purpose these amps are very powerful tools, particularly as practice amps. You’re getting a lot more amp for your money, though you’re still not at the point that you’re going to get amplifiers that offer a professional level of response. However, if you’re looking to gig at some point you may be able to do so with some of these amps.

Hartke HD25

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 100+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$130
Hartke HD25 Bass Combo Amplifier

At time of publication this was the highest rated combo bass amp between $100 and $200.

The Hartke HD25 is almost the same piece of equipment as the HD15, with the only notable differences being that the HD25 is slightly louder than the HD15 and that the HD25 has an 8” speaker as opposed to the HD15’s 6.5” speaker.

So, you’d be right for asking: “Is it worth it to pay a bit more for the HD25?”. The answer to that question really depends on what it is you’re looking for. The volume difference between the HD15 and HD25 is negligible, though there is a significant difference in headroom (how loud you can turn up your amplifier before it distorts). Wattage does not equal volume, and even though the wattage of the HD25 is significantly higher than the HD15 the HD25 is going to be less than 1/4th louder (if that).

Features

  • 25-Watts
  • 8” Speaker
  • Controls: Volume, Bass, Mid, Mid
  • AUX-In and Headphone-Out

Pros

Its good balance of sound quality and portability continues to keep this amp rated highly in the market. Some even describe the sound as being close to a premium amp, but at more bedroom friendly volume levels. Many also notice that build quality is really good, with some even trying hard to spot inconsistencies only to be impressed by how good the overall build is.

Cons

There are a few who wish for extra features like the ability to go direct recording, but for the price that maybe asking too much. Also it's not loud enough to keep up with a band, but it can be done in smaller settings where everyone dials down their sound.

Overall

If you're looking for a straightforward bass amp with good sound quality that you can use for small jams and practice, then check this one out.

Warwick BC 20

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 90+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$150
Warwick BC 20 Combo Bass Amplifier

Warwick is a company known for premium quality electric bass guitars, but they are not done yet because they have been making their presence known in the entry-level bass amp market with the Warwick BC 20.

With its low power rating of 20W and smaller profile with 1x8" speaker, this combo amplifier is meant for practice. It even has an Aux input for jamming along with your favorite tracks, while a headphones output allows for silent practice, as long as you pair it with good bass friendly headphones. Other features of this amp include dedicated inputs for passive and active pickup basses, a 3-way EW, and a built-in limiter which they call DDL (Dynamic Distortion Limiter), which limits the distortion effect and protects the speaker in high volume levels.

Features

  • -20 Watts
  • 8” Speaker
  • Controls: Bass, Middle, Treble, Volume
  • AUX-In and Headphone-Out

Pros

Many appreciate the Warwick BC 20's tone, describing it as nice and clean sounding. They also appreciate how it maintains its good tone even at low bedroom friendly levels. Portability is also one of its strong points and often mentioned in reviews.

Cons

This amp is a bit limited in terms of features, no built-in effects to play with.

Overall

If you're looking for a good plug-and-play clean sounding bass amp for practice, then this should be high on your list.

Hartke HD50

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 100+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$200
Hartke HD50 Bass Combo Amplifier

At 50 watts, the Hartke HD50 has enough juice for use in small venues and rehearsal spaces. Yet it can be soft enough for use in your bedroom, and can be used for quiet practice via its headphones output.

Feature wise, this amp is straightforward, with 3-band EQ and a volume knob for adjustment. But what sets it apart is how it reproduces Hartke's characteristic "zing" in lower volumes, this is thanks to its HyDrive speaker, which combines paper around the outside and aluminum in the middle of the speaker.

Features

  • 50-Watts
  • 10” Speaker
  • Controls: Volume, Bass, Mid, Treble
  • AUX-In and Headphone-Out

Pros

Clean and powerful are two adjectives that sums up how most users describe the sound of the Hartke HD50. Even Jonathan Herrera of Bass Player Magazine describes the amp as having "a strong sound that punches beyond its weight class". Build quality also gets a lot of thumbs up.

Cons

There are few who report buzzing sound when driving the amp. Also note that this is another one trick pony bass amp - which seem to be popular in this price range, not much in terms of effects and sound shaping to play with.

Overall

The Hartke HD50 is a bass amp that can go from your bedroom to rehearsal, to small venue gigs, highly recommended for those who want an all-around portable bass amp.

Fender Rumble 40 V3

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 375+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$200
Fender Rumble 40 V3 Bass Combo Amplifier

The Fender Rumble 40 V3 is a versatile bass combo amp with aux-in, headphones out and line-out - making the amp viable for quiet practice, and for use on stage.

It is just as versatile when it comes to tone, with its plethora of tone shaping controls which include contour switch, vintage voicing and bright voicing. Another distinct feature of this bass amp is its extended EQ controls, which divides the middle frequencies into Low-Mid and High-Mid. Finally, the Rumble 40 is surprisingly light for its size, making it easy to haul around the house or for gigs.

Features

  • 40-Watts
  • 10” Speaker
  • Controls: Gain, Drive, Level, Bass, Low Mid, High Mid, Treble, Master, Bright, Contour, Vintage, Overdive
  • AUX-In, Headphone-Out, Line-Out, Footswitch

Pros

A common theme among reviewers is that the Fender Rumble 40 V3 gives you quite a lot for the money. And it's not just about its versatility in terms of tone and connectivity, because there are plenty of reviewers who are genuinely impressed at the sound of this humble amp. Having used a Rumble myself, I can also among the many who love this amp's portable profile and weight.

Cons

There are a few who are concerned about the build quality of the cabinet, and some caution against driving the amp hard, as it affects tone.

Overall

With its portability and versatility, it's hard to wrong with the Fender Rumble 40 V3.

Best Bass Amps Under $300

The $300 and under tier is kind of an awkward price point because amps that occupy it aren’t quite beginner pieces of equipment but still aren’t meant for professionals either. With that being said, if you’re an intermediate musician and you’re not sure whether or not you want to gig regularly yet you may find that amps in this price tier will be the best way for you to go. They sound good, some are loud enough to gig with if miked (or if you’re performing in a small venue), relatively portable, and quiet enough to be usable in residential areas.

Kustom KXB100

95
GEARANK

95 out of 100. Incorporating 100+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$250
Kustom KXB100 Bass Combo Amplifier

At time of publication this was the highest rated combo bass amp between $200 and $300.

For the price, the Kustom KXB 100 gives you a lot of low-end oomph with its 100-watt power rating and big 15" speaker. This amp is more than enough for small to medium size venues, while its balanced line-out will allow you to go straight to the PA system for even more volume. But it can also be used for practice with its aux-input and headphone-out.

This amp follows a somewhat common theme among bass amps, and that is lack of any type of effects. But it does come with extended EQ for tuning the low and high mids. Finally, this amp is meant to be pedalboard friendly with its effects loop.

Features

  • 100-Watts
  • 15” Speaker
  • Controls: Gain, Master, Bass, Lo-Mid, Hi-Mid, Treble
  • AUX-In, Headphone-Out, Line-Out, Effects Loop

Pros

While it gets a lot of kudos for being loud, the Kustom KXB100 is also appreciated for its tone, which many describe as full sounding. There are plenty of reports of the amp doing well in medium size events, and there are some who are satisfied with the amp's performance in rehearsals and recording. It is also described as sturdy, and many are convinced that it is well built.

Cons

The only downside for this amp is its bulk and weight, which should be expected given the size of the speakers.

Overall

With the Kustom KXB100, you can have a good sounding 100W 1x15" bass amp combo at a very reasonable price.

Roland Micro Cube Bass RX

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 500+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$300
Roland Micro Cube Bass RX Bass Combo Amplifier

The Roland Micro Cube Bass RX takes everything that's good about the Micro Cube series of guitar amps and makes it available for bassists. This amp is designed primarily with portability in mind, hence its ability to run on six AA batteries for up to 13 hours.

Instead of having one big woofer, this bass amp houses four 4" speakers that work in unison, giving it a distinct voicing while still retaining the expected lows. Like other Cube series amps, it comes with built-in amp and effects modeling, a total of 8 amp models and 6 digital effects. It also has a nifty chromatic tuner and a rhythm guide, both of which add to this amp's already jam-packed features, and make it viable for serious students of the instrument.

Features

  • 5-Watts
  • 4 x 4” Speaker
  • Controls:
  • AUX-In and Headphone-Out

Pros

Commendations for this amp come from many different places, from professional bassists who want a good portable amp, to young up-starts and teachers who appreciate the amp's practice friendly profile and features. It helps that you don't get as much sonic flexibility in bass amps that are within the same price range. While portability is its strong suit, many are surprised at how good sounding the amp is.

Cons

Lack of projection seem to be a common complaint, but given its 5-watt power rating, this should be expected. There are a few who note that the amp has a bit of a hard time reproducing higher notes of the electric baas guitar.

Overall

With its practice friendly features and portability, the Roland Micro Cube Bass RX will make a good addition to anyone's bass guitar gear.

Hartke HD75

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 100+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$280
Hartke HD75 Bass Combo Amplifier

The Hartke HD75 is a powerful piece of equipment, well suited to musicians looking to produce demo recordings as well as gig in small venues. While not loud enough for dedicated gigging musicians, the amp comes with some powerful tone-shaping tools. We would say that this amp would be able to keep up with a drummer in rehearsals, though this really depends on the genre you play and how heavy handed your drummer is.

The key feature of this amp is its graphic EQ. Bass, mid, and treble knobs control sections of the frequency range. A graphic EQ controls a smaller section, which gives you more control when trying to dial in your tone. So, when you use both in conjunction with one another you have access to a huge number of tones.

Furthermore, the Hartke HD75 comes with a 12” speaker, which gives the amp a lot more depth than the smaller amplifiers in the series. Like other Hartke HD amps, the HD75 includes an AUX-in and a headphone-out. Additionally, the amp comes with a limiter, which is going to come in handy if you’re planning on pushing this amp’s volume. Another nice feature of the HD75 is its effects loop, which allows for more signal routing flexibility.

Features

  • 75-Watts
  • 12” Speaker
  • Controls: Volume, Bass, Mid, Treble, 7-Band Graphic EQ
  • AUX-Input, Headphone-Output, and Effects Loop

Pros

Most users are impressed with the sound that they can get from this amp, and that is saying a lot given its price. Value for money and reliability are two other traits that help keep the Hartke HD75 among the top amps in the market. Interestingly, even keyboardists and guitarists chipped in with their good reports of the amp working well with guitars and keyboards.

Cons

Ironically, the loudness of the HD75 turned off a few users, but with some tweaks, it can handle both bedroom levels and jam levels nicely. There are some reports of the cabinet rattling when driven hard, but these reports are very few and far between.

Overall

Hartke continues to dominate this list with their HD series of bass amps, get the HD75 if you're looking for a practice amp that has enough power for small venue gigs.

Acoustic B100C 100-Watt Combo Bass Amplifier

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 20+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$280
Acoustic B100C 100-Watt Combo Bass Amplifier

Jaco Pastorius, John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin, Robbie Krieger of The Doors, and John McVie of Fleetwood Mac are just a few of many professionals who have been avid users of Acoustic branded bass amps. These days, the company continues to produce amps with practical features, which appeal to professionals, and a great example of such is the B100C.

Right at the get-go you know that this is a pro musician's amp because it's cabinet allows for tilt-back position, which makes the amp viable for stage monitor use. Another noteworthy feature of this amp is its Frequency "Notch" which lets you fine tune the middle frequencies, this works nicely in conjunction with its adjustable overdrive with blend control. Finally, it has a host of connectivity options, including aux-in, headphone-out, XLR line out and effects loop.

Features

  • 100-Watts
  • 12” Speaker
  • Controls: Gain, Overdrive, Overdrive Level, Volume, Frequency Notch, Low, Low-Mid, High-Mid, High
  • AUX-In and Headphone-Out

Pros

The amp's tilt-back design seems like a simple addition, but it maybe its most appreciated feature. Reviews are very positive, with users describing the amp's tone in many ways, ranging from nice, to good to great. Even Premiere Guitar's Victor Brodén is impressed with its tone, describing it as having "Vintage highs with solid, modern lows." The versatility offered by its controls and DI controls add to the many reasons that makes this a crowd favorite.

Cons

There are a few who wish that the amp was a bit lighter, while some feel that the overdrive effect is a little to over the top.

Overall

Having helped many iconic bassists to craft their own tone, Acoustic is one brand that you should seriously consider.

Best Bass Amps Under $500

While most professionals aren’t going to play a sub-$500 amp, bass amps in this price tier are very useable for live performances, studio work, and practice. If you are looking to gig, even if it’s rarely, you’re best off purchasing an amp in this price range.

Peavey MAX 208

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 10+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$400
Peavey MAX 208 200W Combo Bass Amplifier

With its distinct angled baffle design and dual 8" speakers, the Peavey MAX 208 easily stands out visually when lined up with other conventional amps. And it's not just about looking unique, because the speakers inside the cabinet are actually angled like a tilted amp, so the sound is aimed towards player's ear. And unlike actual tilt back cabinets, the MAX 208 retains its stable grounding and helps get more of the low-end out.

In addition, this amp has plenty of other features, including onboard Overdrive effect along with tone shaping controls that include contour, bright and mid-shift. Moreover, it features Peavey's Kosmos-C, which enhances the lower frequencies including the harmonics and sub-harmonics. Other features include dedicated inputs for active and passive bass guitars, DDT limiter for protecting the speakers, and effects loop. Finally, at 32.2 lbs, this amp is relatively light for what it can do.

Features

  • 200-Watts
  • 2 x 8” Speaker
  • Controls: Gain, Bass, Middle, Treble, Volume, Overdrive, Contour, Mid-shift, Bright, Kosmos-C
  • AUX-In, Headphone-Out, DI-Out, Effects Loop

Pros

Common among the comments are owners who are satisfied with this amp's good balance of power and portability. Ease of use and tone flexibility are also highlighted by reviewers. Those who upgraded from smaller or older amps are pleased with its overall performance, and those who down-sized from bulky amps are just as impressed. There are plenty who vouch for the amp when used in small venues, and some have even used it on bigger venues while plugged into a PA.

Cons

There are some who caution that the amp may not be loud enough for musical styles that require deep thumping bass. Others worry about the finish of the amp and recommend getting a cover to protect it.

Overall

With Peavey's reputation for value for money and reliability, and the MAX 208's versatility, it's going to be hard to go wrong with this amp.

Peavey MAX 300

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 10+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$500
Peavey MAX 300 Combo Bass Amplifier

Being the bigger amp among its siblings, the Peavey MAX 300 is meant for those who need more low-end and to cover more space. It has the same angled baffle design as the other MAX series bass amps, which slightly raises the angle of the speakers so you won't need to tilt-back the amp to hear the sound better. The main difference for this particular model is that it is louder, thanks to its 300-watt amplifier and dual 10" speakers.

It carries over the same control options as its smaller sibling, which include knobs for adjust gain, volume and its 3-band EQ. There are buttons for enabling its built-in Overdrive effect, and for enabling its contour, bright, mid-shift and Kosmos-C features. Distinct to the Peavey MAX 300 is the addition of a Tune/Mute button along with a built-in chromatic tuner. To wrap up, the amp has speaker protection via its DDT limiter, dedicated inputs for active and passive pickup equipped basses, and it has send and return jacks for use with your pedals.

Features

  • 300-Watts
  • 2 x 10” Speaker
  • Controls: Gain, Bass, Middle, Treble, Volume, Overdrive, Contour, Mid-shift, Bright, Kosmos-C, Tune/Mute
  • AUX-In, Headphone-Out, DI-Out, Effects Loop, Speaker Out

Pros

Owners are generally satisfied with the amp's performance, with some emphasizing how they appreciate its volume per pound ratio. One user nicely sums up how most owners feel about the amp by describing it as loud and fat sounding. Many appreciate how easy it is to get their bass sounding good enough, even when they change venues often.

Cons

The Peavey Max 300 is new to the market, so its long term reliability is yet to be seen - but given Peavey's reputation for longevity, it would not be surprising if this amp outlasts your other equipment.

Overall

If you're looking for a loud bass amp that's still reasonably portable, then check out the Peavey Max 300.

Fender Rumble 200 V3

95
GEARANK

95 out of 100. Incorporating 225+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$500
Fender Rumble 200 V3 Bass Combo Amplifier

At time of publication this was the highest rated combo bass amp between $300 and $500.

The Fender Rumble 200 V3, while similar to the other amps in the series, has an interesting extra feature that's not found on other Rumble series amps, that is the inclusion of a tweeter.

Having an HF driver allows this bass amp to reproduce clear treble frequencies, resulting in a sound that's clearer than those with just a 15" woofer. Basically, it’s like a tiny speaker just for adding in some high-end sparkle. If you don’t want a brighter sound, you can simply turn the tweeter off.

In case you hadn’t guessed from the name, the Rumble 200 V3 packs 200-watts of power. Given the wattage, you have enough volume to play coffee shops, bars and other mid-size venues. It also has an XLR out in case you need to hook straight into a PA for bigger venues. Other features include an effects loop, AUX-in, and headphone-out.

Features

  • 200-Watts
  • 15” Speaker
  • Controls: Bass, Low Mid, High Mid, Treble, Gain, Drive, Level, Master, Contour, Bright, Vintage
  • AUX-Input, Headphone-Output, Footswitch, Line Out, Effects Loop

Pros

The Fender Rumble 200 V3 wins the hearts of bassists with its great balance of stage-ready features and affordable price tag. Amazing, perfect and excellent are just three of the many positive adjectives that bassists use to describe the amp's overall performance. Many are surprised with its thick tonality - especially with the tweeter on, while others appreciate the flexibility of its tone shaping controls. Moreover, there are plenty of users who are surprised by how light the Rumble 200 V3 is.

Cons

Given the bigger profile of this 200W 1 x 15" combo amp, there are some shipping issues that affected the amps almost perfect ratings.

Overall
If portability is important to you, and you want a bass amp that can go loud, then get the Fender Rumble 200 V3.

Things to Consider When Buying a Bass Amp

Every manufacturer uses a lot of jargon in their ads, which a lot of the time is purposefully obfuscated or exaggerated to make a product seem more attractive than it really is. In all reality, amplifiers are actually pretty simple. So long as you know a few simple terms you’ll be able to get a general idea on whether or not an amp will be a good fit for you.

  • Power Rating (How Loud Your Amp Should Be)

    Volume is generally measured in wattage, because the volume an amplifier will produce is closely tied to its wattage rating. Though with that in mind, volume is a funny thing. More volume doesn’t necessarily mean an amp will be more audible, and some amps may be significantly more audible than their wattage rating would imply.

    Though, as a general rule, a bassist is going to want double the wattage of the guitar players in their band if they’re playing larger venues (bars and clubs). For example, if you have two guitarists each running 100-watt solid state amplifiers you’re going to want 400-watts (100*2*2=400) to have enough volume to compete with the other instrument(s) in your band without your amp distorting. For smaller venues, like coffee shops, you’re probably not going to need more than 100 or 200 watts.

    Of course, how you EQ your amp, speaker size, and how the speaker(s) was designed will also have an impact.

  • Tone and Gain Controls

    Tone controls are a must have on any amplifier, so virtually every amplifier includes them. They also aren’t that complicated, so we’ve just listed them below for ease of reading.

    Treble:

    Treble control the high-end frequencies. More treble equals more clarity, because high-end frequencies travel through the air easier. However, use this in moderation so you don’t overcrowd the mix.

    Mid:

    Mid is the middle ground between bass and treble. It adds more body to the sound, but it also creates a clear voice. Be especially careful with how much mids you dial in because the guitar is a mid-range focused instrument. Too much mids in the bass will create a mix that feels flabby and unfocused.

    Bass:

    Bass makes a sound fuller, and because the bass guitar (obviously) is a bass focused instrument it’s an incredibly important frequency to have control over. While beginners may want the most bass possible, too much bass can still make your instrument sound muddy.

    Scoop/Mid-Shift/Contour

    Treble, mids, and bass frequencies usually get separated into three distinct groups. This is solely for ease of use, because these three grouping are constructs to allow us to manipulate sound more easily. For example, when you turn a treble control higher you actually boost a range of frequencies rather than just one.

    A scoop (which is sometimes known as a mid-shift or contour), changes the base frequencies that are altered when you manipulate the mid-range control. Don’t concern yourself with the technicalities of this right now. Rather, just know that if an amp has a scoop or mid-shift control you have more sounds available to you.

  • Effects

    More and more amps these days are coming with built-in effects. Some amps include a variety of different distortion models (based off of famous stomp boxes) and modulation effects.

    With that being said, there is a tradeoff present when an amp has built-in effects. When resources are spent on effects, other aspects of the amp suffer. This can either mean that the amp is built with lower quality materials, ships with a smaller speaker, or is more expensive than an amp of similar quality which lacks these effects.

    So, whether or not you should look for an amp with built-in effects really depends on what it is you’re going to be doing. Effects aren’t used with the bass to the extent that they are with the guitar, so while the added flexibility may be attractive don’t think you need effects to sound better.

    Should you choose to go with an amp without built-in effects, we would still recommend that you consider getting a tuner pedal and a compressor. Another option is to get a Bass Preamp with built-in effects.

  • Speaker Size

    At the risk of over simplifying the topic, a bigger speaker will produce more bass frequencies and give your tone more depth. A smaller speaker will have a more focused and punchy tone. A 12” speaker is considered to be a happy medium between the two extremes.

    When thinking about which speaker size will best suit your needs, you first have to realize that bassists get great results with everything from 10” to 15” speakers. It’s not a question of what genre you play, your technique, or even your instrument. It’s all about what you want to hear.

    Though with that in mind, should you purchase an amp with a speaker that is smaller than 10” you may find that your tone is a bit thin. This generally isn’t a huge issue, because amps with sub-10” speakers are generally for beginners rather than performing/recording musicians. However, it is something to keep in mind.

  • Built-in DI

    A DI (Direct Input) allows you to plug your amp directly into a P.A. console. This feature is useful because it allows the front-of-house sound technician / engineer to shape the volume and frequency response of your amplifier. The impact the inclusion (or lack) of this feature will have on your experience as a musician is largely going to depend on the venues you play.

    If you rarely gig, or gig at small venues exclusively, you’re not going to stand to gain much from this feature. However, it can be a life saver if you’re playing larger gigs because you don’t have to worry about miking an amplifier.

    A DI also allows you to plug your amp directly into a recording interface, which makes digital recording easier if you don’t have a wide selection of microphones on hand.

    Many amplifiers state that they have “XLR-Out”, or something along these lines. This also qualifies as DI, so if you see a manufacturer say “XLR-Out” or “DI” know that you can plug your amp into a P.A.

    You can also buy a separate DI Box or Bass Preamp with a DI built-in.

Best Bass Amp Selection Methodology

This guide was first published on July 28, 2017 written by Mason Hoberg and last updated on November 20, 2019 written by former bass guitar teacher Alexander Briones with contributions from Mason.

For this November 2019 update, we examined 57 combo bass amps with street prices under $500 which were available from major online retailers in the USA - you can see most of them in the Music Gear Database. Along with this long list of bass amps, we analyzed over 6,300 reviews, ratings and discussions from retailers, review sites, videos, forums and online music gear magazines. We used those data to produce Gearank rating scores out of 100 with the Gearank Algorithm and also to report on what bassists like and don't like about the ones we recommended above. Finally we broke the list down into separate price tiers to recommend the highest rated ones in each price range. For more information about our methods please read How Gearank Works.

Comments

Today we removed the

Today we removed the following amp from our recommended list above due to a lack of availability, but you can still read our analysis of it:

I really wish manufactures

I really wish manufactures would be forced spec the amp's SPL (Sound Pressure Level or volume) rather than watts. To compare watts you need to know the efficiency of the driver. Its like light bulbs, my 17 watt LED lamp is much brighter than my 60 watt incandescent, so now they rate lamps by Lumens.

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