Bass Amp advice

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  • Bass Amp advice
  • Now then. A quick question for bass players and aficionados out there. I’m looking for my first bass amp, I need one around 100w for pub/bar gigging and have found a few second handers here and there but could do with a little advice. I don’t know much about the issue so any help greatly appreciated.

    The choice is between a SWR LA15 and a Fender Rumble 100, both around 200 notes, assuming similair condition. Also, would it be worth shelling out 50 notes more for a Rumble 150w or a Fender BXR 100? One final question, what are the things to be on the lookout for when buying second hand? Any surefire indicators that an amp is on it’s last legs?

    Cheers again in advance.

    Size (not speaker size, the size of the whole enclosure) matters more than wattage in most cases. The best bang for your buck is likely to be an old Peavey or Trace Elliot ~150W 15″ combo. An elderly one of those will cost no more than the combos you mention secondhand and will do a much better job of getting you heard! Or indeed the Laney here:

    Amps last a long time – electrolytic caps eventually die but can be replaced, solder joints fail but are fixable. Speakers last ages if treated well – if abused they die quickly. If it makes farty or fuzzy or rattly noises once it’s at loud speech/shouting levels then it’s knackered.

    Great link thanks, but unfortunately i’m not in the UK and would have to sell a kidney to get it shipped!! Ho hum, the search continues…



    what sort of music you playing?

    my mates 4×12″ always sounded a bit more punchy and tight compared to my 1 x 15″. by preference i would have 12″ for a more ‘funk’ type sound. also smaller speakers seemed to handle effects better.

    you playing with a drummer? are they loud my 100w was almost drowned behind our drummer. (loud kit loud drummer)

    thomthumb: playing quite a range of music, the whole idea started out as doing some covers for a birthday party, covers turend into versions and now I’ve taken to the bass (love it, it’s only been four months but I love it) and want to continue playing. Drummer can be loud, that may be a problem (along with minimal cash/flat space).


    Personally i’d go for 200-300w if your playing with a drummer.


    According to my son, a talented bass monkey, it’s all about Gallien Kreuger. Bit pricier, but pack a punch, are smallish and weigh bugger all. he uses it in stuff from rock to jazz and makes enough noise.

    Anyone giving you advice on tone based on speaker sizes doesn’t know what they’re talking about – it’s the oldest and most enduring myth in the book! 😉 If you can try both those combos then choose whichever sounds best and/or which goes loudest (ignore knob position) before breaking up. If you can’t then just buy one and get on with playing bass and try to avoid obsessing over gear.

    Thanks for the input so far.

    Chief, that sounds like good advice (the not obsessing bit) just don’t want to buy an amp to find out that I’m lost in the drums…


    I play rock / blues/ punk stuff. Like the OP I started 6 years back planning to play a party and got totally hooked on bass! I have a Fender bassman 250, plenty of power and tone. My old amp was a line 6, 150 watts and nowhere near loud enough, had to crank it up to full, and even then felt quite outgunned in some venues. Though to be fair our drummer at the time had 2 volume settings , v loud and not playing!


    our bass player has an old bass combo, it claims to be 100W but when he brought it into the rehearsal room to “road test” it in time for our first gig, he quickly discovered that it was nowhere near loud enough to be heard over me 😉

    his previous bands had all had drum machines so it had never had to compete with a real modern drum kit.

    rehearsal room comes with backline included in the price if you were wondering how he’d never noticed it before. They have a number of different amps (mostly separate head & cab jobs) including Laney, Ashdown, Marshall & Line 6 so we tend to get pot luck on each rehearsal. But for our first gig, after discovering what he did about his own amp, he borrowed a Marshall bass stack from a mate. A Trace Elliott stack might have been an option but I think its owner was using it that night

    You’ll generally find that although it’s the drummer that tends to set the loudness of the band it’s the guitarist that tends to stop the bass getting heard – get them to turn their lows down so you’re not fighting over the same sonic space, point their speaker at their ears so they can actually hear it and always place your own amp near a wall (or corner) to get you extra output in the lows from positive reflections.

    Premier Icon Andy_Baz

    I started gigging with a 150W Ashdown which was only just adequate to cope with a fairly loud drummer. I eventually traded up to a 300W 4×10 Ashdown which did the job well. SWR make good solid amps and speakers which should stand being pushed quite hard. The other option with a smaller bass amp is to put some through the PA although this does lose some of the directional focus. May be an option to get you going. The important thing is to play and enjoy it. Best of luck 🙂

    Premier Icon leffeboy

    More wisdom in 4 lines of a chiefgrooveguru post than many bands ever seem to learn in years 🙂


    indeed. and some drummers just whack the bloody things as hard as they can regardless, when it’s just not necessary if the kit is mic’d up for a live show. “dynamics, whassat then guv?”
    rehearsal room is a different beast though

    Yeah, that’s part of the problem. Only ever played in a fully backlined rehearsal room with a 3ft tall bass stack, sounds great and all but can’t afford that, or put it anywhere in my flat. Rental could be an option I suppose, we’ll see how it pans out. Cheers again all.


    our rehearsal room will rent us the backline we use in rehearsal for £20 a day per piece. It certainly is an option

    You’ve also got to remember that the kit won’t be mic’d up in a typical pub gig scenario, kick & snare only at best, so the drummer will be playing just that little bit harder just to be heard… but then again, for gigging, you might be able to DI the bass into the PA. Not perfect but sometimes it’s the only choice you have. That or not be heard. And that’s not a good thing for a drummer either.

    Remember, the drummer & the bass player have to work together; the noodler can do his own thing and as long as it’s in time, WGAS? 😉

    Right chaps, quick update for anyone interested. Due to the dearth of decent second hand, I finally plumped for a Gallien Krueger mb112, 200w and light as a feather. Currently in the post, will give an opinion when I finally get to play the thing.

    Now to sit back and wait for everyone to tell me the error of my ways…

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