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IsildursBane

Bass Speakers vs Guitar Speakers

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I realize that this may be better suited for the amp forum, but LS&P seems to have the highest concentration of knowledgable engineers...

 

 

I just got a bass for xmas and because I'm a poor college student, have been running it through my guitar rig. It's only at low bedroom levels, but I've read elsewhere on HC that I could potentially fry my guitar speakers by running my bass through them.

 

Is this true? If so, why?

 

From a physical design standpoint what is the difference between "bass speakers" and "guitar speakers"?

 

I realize that having speakers of larger diameter helps better reproduce low frequency sounds, but the speaker in my guitar cab has a diameter of 12", as do many bass cabs - heck, lots of bass cabs have 10" speakers, so I doubt that's the primary factor. What then?

 

-Dan.

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Originally posted by IsildursBane

I realize that this may be better suited for the amp forum, but LS&P seems to have the highest concentration of knowledgable engineers...



I just got a bass for xmas and because I'm a poor college student, have been running it through my guitar rig. It's only at low bedroom levels, but I've read elsewhere on HC that I could potentially fry my guitar speakers by running my bass through them.


Is this true? If so, why?


From a physical design standpoint what is the difference between "bass speakers" and "guitar speakers"?


I realize that having speakers of larger diameter helps better reproduce low frequency sounds, but the speaker in my guitar cab has a diameter of 12", as do many bass cabs - heck, lots of bass cabs have 10" speakers, so I doubt that's the primary factor. What then?


-Dan.

At low volumes,you should be fine. Just use some common sense and watch how far the cones move. You don't want them bottoming out,obviously. For the most part,the differences would be,heaviness of the cone and the amount of travel(x-max)of the voice coil.

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I've run a bass or two through my guitar amps a few times. Guitar speakers, especially electric guitar speakers, are voiced to make electric guitar sound good. This means that they lack a bit of lower frequency response as compared to a normal speaker. Many guitar speakers are good to about 75 hz, but the e string on a bass is around 40 hz, almost a full octave below that. They also tend to be designed for lower wattages than PA and bass guitar speakers, which means that it can't produce those lower frequencies as loud. And the rest of the amp isn't really designed to reproduce those frequencies either. All this can cause distortion, and if you're careless, you could potentially damage your amplifier or speakers.

 

However, in my opinion, at low levels, this setup should work. If you hear any distortion from your preamp or speakers, turn it down. My guess is that you won't be able to get it all that loud before it starts to sound strange.

 

Probably more significant than damaging your amp, there is no way to make this not sound like ass. A guitar amp just isn't made to do that. You will be happier with even a small bass amp. But if this is your only solution, I think you'll be OK. Just don't crank it.

 

Also, there's a good chance that I'm wrong about this, so don't take my word as gold. But I haven't ever hurt my Marshall by doing this, I just wasn't happy with the result.

 

Also, some guitar amps may be better at this than others, depending on their design. But I don't have an example.

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you should be fine, as long as you are real carefull.

 

don't try salp and pop. speakers WILL die

 

don't try and be loud, or even moderate for that matter.

 

don't try and crank the bass on the amp

 

don't try drunk. you will get tempted to turn up (you are a college student right;) )

 

DO learn to play bass. it is the best instrument:cool:

 

DO learn to accept you will never get any respect from anyone as an electric bass player (other than drumers)

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That's the problem most people will run into -- the speakers are highly inefficient at bass frequencies, and so most users will crank the amp louder and louder to get something audible... causing the speaker to die its premature death.

 

Guitar speakers don't have the excursion bass speakers typically do, either. Ever look at a bass rig and see the speakers bouncing? Now, ever see a guitar rig doing that? The speakers would tear.

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You could always get a 12" pa speaker and put it in your guitar cab. It may not sound great but it won't die.

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For years Chris Squire of Yes ran the bridge pickup output of his Ric bass into a 100w Marshall and Marshall 4x12 guitar cabinet. And he always had it on '11' to get that trademark overdriven tone.

 

The significant thing here is that the bridge pickup doesn't have to reproduce high string amplitudes..it's very close to a guitar signal.

 

For a good low-budget practice amp for bass, get a used Peavey Microbass. They run $125 new, so $75 or less used is reasonable. These amps live forever, and sound as good as you'll get for 15w and an 8in speaker.

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Guitar oriented drivers have a relatively stiff suspension and are constructed to accentualte the 150Hz - 5kHz (approx) range at relatively high efficiency.

 

Generally, they are constructed so that they do not depend on cabinet loading for controlling the maximum excursion. Because of this, and the need for mid-band efficiency, they are wound with short height voice coils. This means that if you put enough power to the speaker , you can drive the voice coil right out of the gap.

 

Most guitar speakers have a max power handling of about 50 - 75 watts RMS. If you play your bass within these limits, you will probably be ok.

 

Most guitar speakers are designed around thermak failure parameters, whereas bass speakers are designed around mechanical failure issues.

 

Most bass speakers are designed for use in ported cabinets, not open back.

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Ok, thanks guys.

 

Once I get a job, I might get a small bass amp, or at least a bass cab, but at this point I should be ok with what I have. I've got a Genz-Benz 1x12 running off of one side of my mesa 20/20, with the volume set at about 8:00.

 

And if there's anything making it sound like ass, it's my playing. :D

 

-Dan.

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I can't say this would apply to every situation, but 30 years ago my bass player had an Ampeg amp with refridgerator sized speakers, which he didn't always want to lug around. I'd let him plug is V4B into my 4x12 V4 cabinets. He played them loud and hard and never hurt them at all.

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