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Budget/bedroom bass amps?


Narcosynthesis
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I will have to start by admitting something shameful - despite having played for many years now, since I have only ever played at home I have been happy enough with playing through a guitar amp. Not perhaps the classical bass sound, but an interesting one none the less...

 

However recently I discovered the existence of the Markbass Micromark 801 combo - a tiny little low wattage bass amp with an 8" speaker, but from the reviews one that does a superb job as a low volume bass amp suitable for home playing. From there I may have gone down the rabbit hole slightly further and noted that compared to when I started out playing and budget amps were pretty much universally junk, nowadays there actually seem to be some pretty solid options out there, certainly enough to satisfy the home bassist.

 

So my question is really a request for help/information - what bass amps are worth looking at right now if I were to be looking for something on a strict budget (preferably much cheaper than the Markbass, and definitely no more expensive), low wattage suitable for home/apartment use, and of as small a size as is physically practical. If I could be as demanding as to put an additional request in, I will also admit a preference to more traditional amps, rather than modern digital/modelling kit.

I can see a lot of small combos like the Ashdown tour bus, Orange crush or EBS combos, but I guess I am still wary of such little (and cheap) amps based on memories of the dreadful little guitar amps I remember playing through years ago...

 

Any pointers would be greatly appreciated.

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I don't play bass out side of the home.

 

I looked up the price range of the Markbass to see your budget, and noted it's about 500 bucks.

 

 

Ampeg was a great company at one time, they the sold out. Way back years ago I was looking at a nice bass amp, and looked at the Ampeg stuff that was made in St Louis at the time ( Might even been Arkansas) . Back just about 10 years ago the stopped and moved production to Vietnam. I'm not sure the quality is even close to being as nice at it was back in the day.

 

I myself was messing around with a ton of tube amps, and the last thing I did was want to maintain another tube amp. I also looked at the Sunn stuff which was absorbed by Fender. Also tried some stuff by Mesa, Eden, Hartke, SWR ( now gone) and many more.

 

What I ended up with is a UK made Ashdown. The company was relativity new and there amps were designed by Mark Gooday who was originally from Trace Elliot. I heard that many life long users of Ampeg where switching over to Ashdown, for both recording and touring. I didn't skimp, but wanted a combo. I also traveled to just about ever shop within 100 miles of here.

 

Now with all that being said I ended up buying from a company called Bass Central in Florida. At the time thier were 2 companies I new of that catered to bass players, one was Bass Central and the other Bass Northwest in Washington, which is now go out of business.

 

Bass Central was spot on when I told them what I wanted for tones.

 

I see a lot of older Ampeg STV 300 on stage still, I also see a lot of Aguilar 750's on stage.

 

For your home needs and in your price range. I am thinking may the Ampeg Micro-VR Bass Amp Head and SVT210AV Bass Speaker Cabinet Stack ($ 599) or the Ampeg Micro-CL 100W 2x10 Mini Bass Stack Black ($349). They are both made in China.

 

 

There's some very solid reviews on both these amps. Some quality issues too.

 

 

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/amplifiers-effects/ampeg-micro-vr-bass-amp-head-and-svt210av-bass-speaker-cabinet-stack?rNtt=ampeg%20micro&index=3

 

 

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/amplifiers-effects/ampeg-micro-cl-100w-2x10-mini-bass-stack-black?rNtt=ampeg%20micro&index=1

 

 

Fender has there Rumble Bass series.

 

Just watch out for power rating, some companies will rate about an amp being 500 watts, and it's not, but only with the ext speaker plugged in. Some will rate there amps at a certain wattage at a 4 ohm load, some at a 8 ohm load, so it can be deceiving.

 

 

 

[video=youtube;KEnFFtLwRM8]

 

 

 

 

 

 

HC's Phill O'Keefe just did a review on the new SansAmp DI box. run that out into your mixer and use head phones.

 

 

I know many online dealers have specials, so always asked about discounts, and you can save 5-10-15-20 % and more at times, plus get free shipping.

 

In the used market Peavey is always a sold choice and there are many others too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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^ Mikeo, thanks for your comments but if you had checked the OP's profile you would have seen that he's in Aberdeen, Scotland. Prices and available brands tend to be a bit different over there. I normally check Thomann.de for European pricing. The Micromark runs about €400 and that's the top of the OP's budget. In addition to Ashdown, Warwick is another European brand that should be available, as is Laney, although I personally don't think of them for bass amps. I haven't heard great things about the Fender Rumble models but the current Ampeg line still sounds pretty much like Ampeg.

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Thanks for the pointers.

 

I will admit that size will be a big thing, so even if they fit the budget, head and 2x10" cabs are still going to be a bit bigger than I would ideally like and has me wandering how well the 8" speaker practise amps will handle for home play?

 

I see options like the Ashdown AA-30-8 and Tour Bus combos, the EBS classic session 30 or the (slightly bigger 10" speaker) Ampeg BA110. How do those sort of amps compare?

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anything with an 8"s going to have issues producing good tones on a low E string, mainly because there's a limited number of 8" speakers available and most are designed for guitars. I'd focus on an amp with a 10" sized speaker minimum. Since its just a bedroom amp, you'd be focused on sound quality not quantity. You do need a bit more wattage for bass however because bass takes more watts to produce something you can hear clearly. part of this is due to our natural hearing range, the rest is technical in how you need a certain amount of air in a box to produce good resonant tones.

 

You could get by with a 10~15W amp but given the quality of many combos and their components You'd probably be better off with a 20-25W amp. The component and build quality will be allot better.

 

As to which amp might be best, You'll have to see what you can buy locally vs on line. There is a UK Ebay too which is where I'd start. You can usually get double or triple the amp for the same money as new.

 

Personally I buy used and usually spend a dollar per watt on bass gear.

bass gear doesn't move as fast as guitar gear and you can find great deals on amps. I bought a 300W Ampeg Portaflex head about a year ago for $199. Its one of those new Class D heads that pack allot of power into a small box. Sounds just like an older tube head too. I'm probably going to trade up to a 500W version which would better match my cabs for playing live but I use the 300W in the studio all the time.

 

 

 

I saw these newer units on line. Not too many lower wattage combos with 10's out there. There's a bunch of cracker boxes with 8"s They sound pretty anemic for lows. I prefer 15's myself. I have a cab with a, 18" and 2X10's which is pretty ideal but a single 15" will usually match a drummer.

For practice I can simply play through my recording studio monitors. I don't have a big need for a small amp. I have a little Ampeg with a 10" that sounds good for guitar or bass, just so long as I don't crank it too high.

 

 

I saw these. You may want to check and see if they're available for you.

 

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/BA110v2

 

http://www.guitarcenter.com/Ampeg/BA112V2-1x12-Bass-Combo-Amplifier-1391534730619.gc?pfm=item_page.rr2

 

http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/HD50Combo

 

http://www.musiciansfriend.com/amplifiers-effects/fender-rumble-40-1x10-40w-bass-combo-amp?cntry=us&source=3WWRWXGP&gclid=COSQqYXcutACFdcWgQodAcAF8Q&kwid=productads-adid^156403583515-device^c-plaid^140837536101-sku^J06161000000000@ADL4MF-adType^PLA

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WRGKMC has it right in terms of speaker size. 10" and 15" are the most popular sizes for bass amps. My SWR has a single 12" but it's an oddity. One or two 10"s will suffice for modest needs. As for the amps you listed, I'd go up to the Ashdown AAA-60-10T or EBS Classic Session 60. Both have a 10" speaker vs. the 8" in the other models. The Ashdown has the advantage of being cheaper than the EBS, about the same price as the Ampeg BA-110, with half again as much Wattage.

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My SWR has a single 12" but it's an oddity.

 

 

12-inch bass speakers are only an oddity if they aren't in a bass combo amp. Otherwise, there are lots of bass combo amps with a 12-inch speaker, and these usually have 50 or more watts of power.

 

The number of 2x12 and 4x12 bass cabinets on the market compared to 2x10 and 4x10 bass cabinets is hugely lopsided towards the 10-inch equipped bass cabinets.

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I have a Kustom KBA16 that I quite like.

 

16 Watts into an 8" speaker with four band active EQ - aux input and headphone out - ext spkr jack that disconnects internal speaker when used

 

Sometimes I record with it in combination with a Sans Amp Bass DI.

 

https://reverb.com/item/61589-kustom-kba16-bass-amp?gclid=CIPfpP6hwtACFY9XDQodvl4IIA

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12-inch bass speakers are only an oddity if they aren't in a bass combo amp. Otherwise, there are lots of bass combo amps with a 12-inch speaker, and these usually have 50 or more watts of power.

 

The number of 2x12 and 4x12 bass cabinets on the market compared to 2x10 and 4x10 bass cabinets is hugely lopsided towards the 10-inch equipped bass cabinets.

I normally see 10" or 15" speakers even in bass combos. From what I can tell they're definitely the majority. Smaller amps tend to be a single 10" or smaller, medium and larger amps a single 15" or multiple 10". I haven't seen many bass amps, combo or otherwise, with 12" speakers. FWIW, my SWR is 60 Watts so you got that one anyway.

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I'm in the same boat. I've been a guitarist for decades, but I've been playing bass almost exclusively for the past year and a half thru my PC at home, and thru backlines and PAs when playing out. I finally broke down recently and decided I needed my own amp. I was looking for one that could serve double duty at home and in small venues, and it needed to be as portable as can be ('cause I'm old).

 

I picked up a Line6 Lowdown Studio 110 the other night in an online auction. On paper, it sounds like everything I'm looking for...75W, 23lbs., great reviews. Now, I just hope it arrives in working condition.

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. . . I picked up a Line6 Lowdown Studio 110 the other night in an online auction. On paper' date=' it sounds like everything I'm looking for...75W, 23lbs., great reviews. Now, I just hope it arrives in working condition.[/quote']

Our church owns one of those. It's fine for rehearsal and as a monitor so the bass player can hear himself and the XLR Out allows it to run through the PA. Actually better than you'd expect. Granted, a 12" cube isn't going to do super low but as long as your expectations are reasonable you should like it fine. Let us know what you think.

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Our church owns one of those. It's fine for rehearsal and as a monitor so the bass player can hear himself and the XLR Out allows it to run through the PA. Actually better than you'd expect. Granted, a 12" cube isn't going to do super low but as long as your expectations are reasonable you should like it fine. Let us know what you think.

 

 

Thanks, I will.

 

TBH, I don't think I've ever actually heard one, but I'm hopeful. How do you think it would fare in a small club (we're a pop trio)?

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Thanks, I will.

 

TBH, I don't think I've ever actually heard one, but I'm hopeful. How do you think it would fare in a small club (we're a pop trio)?

Well, it's 75 Watts and decently loud for its size. I've heard of folks using them for live work. As log as the club is small and you don't have an out-of-control drummer it should work. In a pinch, you can open it up and install an external speaker jack. Heck, it's not any heavier than some heads anyway. Be aware that it might be EQ'ed for the specific speaker and cab but a larger 1X15 or 4X10 cab would probably help.

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You should check out the Tech 21 VT Bass 500. Has great sound and is worth the price.

 

http://musicplayers.com/reviews/bass/2017/0117_VTbass500.php

Since the title of this thread is "Budget/bedroom bass amps?" a 300-500 Watt head and cab doesn't really fit the discussion unless you have a truly huge "bedroom" and deep pockets. We're talking $950 for a head and 1X12 cab: http://www.americanmusical.com/Item--i-TEC-VTB500-PAK?src=D1307BNGHAMS0000&scid=scbplp18087407&sc_intid=TEC+VTB500+PAK&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=SC%20Shopping-%20Desktop%20%24500%20-%20%241000&utm_term=1100505516319&utm_content=Shopping%20All%20Products%20%232. That's not exactly "budget" gear.

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Our church owns one of those. It's fine for rehearsal and as a monitor so the bass player can hear himself and the XLR Out allows it to run through the PA. Actually better than you'd expect. Granted, a 12" cube isn't going to do super low but as long as your expectations are reasonable you should like it fine. Let us know what you think.

 

 

I would say this amp perfectly met my expectations and even held its own at a recent gig in a small club without going through the PA (haven't used the XLR Out yet). I'm still experimenting with the sound, but I'd say I'm pretty happy with it overall. Definitely could recommend it for both practice and limited live gigs.

 

Strangely enough although the presets all seem to work, the Synth setting sounds wonky to me (as in the circuit is fried...although I don't know if that's actually possible). At first, I thought it was just the effect, but it seems to be definitely cutting out. .

 

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I would say this amp perfectly met my expectations and even held its own at a recent gig in a small club without going through the PA (haven't used the XLR Out yet). I'm still experimenting with the sound, but I'd say I'm pretty happy with it overall. Definitely could recommend it for both practice and limited live gigs.

 

Strangely enough although the presets all seem to work, the Synth setting sounds wonky to me (as in the circuit is fried...although I don't know if that's actually possible). At first, I thought it was just the effect, but it seems to be definitely cutting out. .

Glad you're enjoying the amp and that it met your expectations. Honestly, we just keep it on ''R&B.'' I think that's what it defaults to when you turn it on. A replacement PCB will run you $64 if you want to go that route: http://www.fullcompass.com/prod/233476-Line-6-50-02-0174. Or you could just not use the ''Synth'' setting. Good luck with it. :thu:

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I bought the little Ashdown tourbus combo a few years back strictly for home practice. Junk. Sad but true.

I'm inclined to think the new little Ampeg BA combo is a cut above that, but have not tested one.

Ashdown's site lists a Tourbus 10 and a Tourbus 25. I'm assuming you had the 25? A coworker gave me a little Fender Rumble 25 with a blown speaker in lieu of gas money a while back. I stuck a speaker in it and sold it. It was ''okay'' at best but that may have been the generic speaker.

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