The Best Bass Amps - Combo Under $500

The Highest Rated Bass Amps up to $500

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Bass guitars require dedicated amps that can handle lower frequencies.

And to make the most of your instrument, you also have to consider volume, tone shaping, portability, DI connectivity and more.

Here we look at what the market considers as the best bass amps in the sub $500 price range, updated for November 2020, all of which cover many if not all of the important considerations mentioned above.

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.

Hartke HD15

96
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$100
Hartke HD15 Bass Combo Amplifier

At publication time this was the Highest Rated Combo Bass Amp Under $100.

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 an amplifier.

Features

  • 15-Watts
  • 6.5” Speaker
  • Controls: Volume, Bass, Mid, Treble
  • AUX-In and Headphone-Out
  • Weight: 16 lbs.

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 at 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.

Fender Rumble 15 V3

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 750+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$100
Fender Rumble 15 V3 Bass Combo Amplifier

The Fender Rumble Series continues to be popular in the entry to mid-tier price range, and the Rumble 15 V3 is their most affordable offering. Aside from being the cheapest, this is also the lightest and smallest in the range.

At 15 Watts, and having an 8" speaker, the Rumble 15 V3 is ideal for low-volume practice or for small venue jams.

The controls are more streamlined compared to its bigger siblings, with a singly volume knob and 3-band EQ knobs positioned on the top.

Finally, it comes with a vintage style exterior design, based on classic Fender amp models.

Features

  • 15-Watts
  • 8” Speaker
  • Controls: Volume, Bass, Mid, Treble
  • AUX-In and Headphone-Out
  • Weight: 16 lbs.

Pros

General opinion of the Rumble 15 V3 is quite positive, with most users describing it as a great value practice amp. Many are happy with how easy it is to get good tone with its streamlined controls. It is also often commended for being light and portable, and for its vintage style appeal.

Cons

Given its low power rating and small 8" speaker, don't expect this amp to have enough power for loud jams. A few users recommend extending your budget by a bit to get its bigger sibling, the Rumble 25.

Overall

If you're looking for a nice looking and nice sounding practice bass amp, then definitely checkout the Fender Rumble 15 V3.

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.

Fender Rumble 25 V3

96
GEARANK

96 out of 100. Incorporating 1850+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$120
Fender Rumble 25 V3 Bass Combo Amplifier

At time of publication this was the Highest Rated Combo Bass Amp between $100 and $200.

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
  • Weight: 21 lbs.

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 it's 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 more powerful option.

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 HD25

95
GEARANK

95 out of 100. Incorporating 200+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$130
Hartke HD25 Bass Combo Amplifier

The HD25 is another compact and portable bass amp from Hartke, a company known for affordability. The main 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 25% louder (if that).

Features

  • 25-Watts
  • 8” Speaker
  • Controls: Volume, Bass, Mid, Mid
  • AUX-In and Headphone-Out
  • Weight: 28 lbs.

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 do 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 volume.

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.

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.

Fender Rumble LT25

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 125+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$230
Fender Rumble LT25 - 25-Watt Combo Bass Amplifier

At publication time this was the Equal Highest Rated Combo Bass Amp between $200 and $300 along with the Fender Rumble 100 V3 and Kustom KXB100.

The Fender Rumble LT25 expands on the success of the Rumble series by adding Digital Sound Processing (DSP) to the amp. This opens up the available tone that you can get from a single amp, allowing you to choose between 15 amp types, 20 effects and 50 preset sounds, 30 of which are customizable.

The amp section is rated at 25-watts, with a straightforward single channel design that features gain, volume and 3-band EQ controls.

It drives an 8" speaker and is housed in a 5/8" wooden cabinet with vintage style textured vinyl covering.

Other notable features include having a built-in tuner and USB recording.

Features

  • 25-Watts
  • 8” Speaker
  • 30 Customizable and 20 Hidden Presets
  • Controls: Gain, Bass, Mid, Treble, Master, DSP
  • AUX-In, Headphone-Out, Footswitch, Micro-B USB
  • Weight: 19.2 lbs.

Pros

The Fender Rumble LT25 is often described as a fun practice amp, and deservingly so with its amp modeling and DSP features. A big reason of why it's fun to use is its sonic versatility, which many users appreciate. While this amp is not meant for loud performances, those who own it are satisfied with its tone when played at reasonable volume levels.

Cons

Speaking of volume, there are a few who aren't too happy with how the sound tends to distort or muddy up when driven too hard. But this is more of a physical limitation given the amp's small 8" speaker.

Overall

With the flexibility brought about by its built-in DSP, the Fender Rumble LT25 is a good beginner friendly amp that can still meet the needs of students as they improve their playing.

Fender Rumble 100 V3

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 950+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$300
Fender Rumble 100 V3 Bass Combo Amplifier

At publication time this was the Equal Highest Rated Combo Bass Amp between $200 and $300 along with the Fender Rumble LT25 and Kustom KXB100.

The Fender Rumble 100 V3 is an affordable stage amp with reasonable portability. And while it does carry the Fender clean bass tone, it does allow for a bit more tone shaping with its contour, bright and vintage controls.

Speaking of vintage, this setting results in warmer bass tones that work well with Americana and folk music. This works on top of Fender's renowned clean tone which is easily the main reason why most users are happy with the Rumble 100 V3.

At 1000W and with a 12" speaker, this bass amp is capable of handling small to medium size venues, and can fill up closed door venues even better. There's also a DI output for venues that require more volume.

Features

  • 100-Watts
  • 12” Speaker
  • Controls: Bass, Low Mid, High Mid, Treble, Gain, Drive, Level, Master, Contour, Bright, Vintage
  • AUX-Input, Headphone-Output, Footswitch, Line Out
  • Weight: 22 lbs.

Pros

Being an owner of a Fender Rumble myself, I am one with the market in commending the Rumble 100 V3's power to weight ratio. It really is surprisingly light for its power rating and actual volume. Tone is another big reason why many rate this bass amp highly, along with the versatility afforded by its vintage switch and contour knob. It also helps that it has a premium vintage appearance.

Cons

Being light caused a few to wonder about the amp's durability, but they are outnumbered by those who describe the amp as a solidly built.

Overall

For fans of Fender's classic bass tones, the Fender Rumble 100 V3 is a no brainer. But even if you're not a fan, its great balance of quality, affordability and portability makes this a very likable stage amp for bassists.

Kustom KXB100

94
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$300
Kustom KXB100 Bass Combo Amplifier

At publication time this was the Equal Highest Rated Combo Bass Amp between $200 and $300 along with the Fender Rumble LT25 and Fender Rumble 100 V3.

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 a 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
  • Weight: Not Specified

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.

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.

Hartke HD150

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 125+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$400
Hartke HD150 Bass Combo Amplifier

Hartke is well known for great value bass amps, as exemplified by the HD150 combo bass amp. For the price, you are getting a 150W amplifier with a 15" speaker and a 1" tweeter - a feature that is hard if not impossible to find in its price range.

The addition of a tweeter and the use of paper and aluminum cone on the speakers give this amp a bit more high-end emphasis which works with many styles of bass playing.

For more control over your sound, Hartke equipped the HD150 with a 7-band EQ.

Other features include built-in limiter, effects loop and it even has built-in rolling casters for added mobility.

Features

  • 150-Watts
  • 15” HyDrive Speaker, 1" Tweeter
  • Controls: Volume, Bass, Mid, Treble, 7-Band EQ
  • AUX-In, Headphone-Out, Line-Out, Effects Loop
  • Weight: 66 lbs.

Pros

Value for money is the strong suit of the HD150, as reflected in many reviews. Owners are pleased with its projection and sound quality given its price. Thanks to its built-in tweeter, the resulting sound is often described as clean and detailed. Many also appreciate the extra tone shaping options provided by its 7-band EQ. Finally, it gets a lot of kudos for being solidly built and reasonably portable.

Cons

It's quite heavy - can require two people to load in and out. Not everyone is happy with its brighter tonality, but this is more of preference issue.

Overall

If you're looking for a good value 100W and up stage amp, then do check out the Hartke HD150.

Fender Rumble 200 V3

95
GEARANK

95 out of 100. Incorporating 300+ 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 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
  • Weight: 34.5 lbs.

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 amp's almost perfect ratings.

Overall
If portability is important to you while having an 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 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 controls 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 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 can 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.

  • Portability

    With their big woofers and cabinets, combo bass amps are generally heavy. Thankfully, many manufacturers do put careful thought in designing their amps to be portable. Some do it by utilizing lightweight materials, others focus on improving the handles, while some even add rolling casters on the amp itself. If you're planning on playing regularly on different venues, you will have to balance your volume and tone requirements with sensible portability.

Best Bass Amp Selection Methodology

The first edition was published during July, 2017 written by Mason Hoberg and the latest edition was published on November 6, 2020 written by former bass guitar teacher Alexander Briones with contributions from Mason.

This 2020 update had us select a short list of 57 combo bass amps priced under $500, all of which can be readily purchased from major online retailers in the USA. More reviews, ratings and recommendations were also gathered and analyzed, including the most recent ones up to November of 2020, summing up to over 11,600 rating sources. All these data were processed using the Gearank Algorithm to produce the rating scores out of 100 which we used to feature the best in each of these price ranges: sub $100, $100 to $200, $200 to $300 and $300 to $500. For more information about our methods please read How Gearank Works.

Comments

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.

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:

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