Discussion in 'Odds & Ends' started by max, Aug 30, 2008.
What is the difference between a guitar amp and a bass amp?
Can you use both interchangeably?
Bass amps can sometimes be used for guitars, but guitar amps shouldn't be used for basses. Bass amps are frequently used for jazz gigs since they tend to favor lower frequency production and produce very clean sounds. Playing a bass through a guitar amp may damage the speakers, as they aren't rated for such tone production.
Guitar amps and bass amps are voiced differently. Guitars are midrange instruments. The bass inhabits lower frequencies. Bass amps can be decent for acoustic guitar, but playing bass through a nice guitar amp can tear it up. Also, as you turn a guitar amp up, you get a certain kind of distortion. Bass amps are meant to sound clean. It takes a lot more watts to get a good bass sound. My 100 watt bass amp isn't as loud as my 35 watt Vibroverb.
If you want an amp that can do both, get a Fender Bassman. Great amp.
Even better, get a Line6 POD and take both direct to the PA.
I'm a bass player and I've definitely learned about the difference in power needs for guitar and bass players to push their sound out into a space without help from a PA system. I use half of a 1,400 watt power amp to drive my two speaker cabinets at healthy volume if I need to make all of my own sound, but my guitar player can melt some faces with no more than his 50 watt combo. It takes a whole lot of horesepower in an amp for a bass player to project a big, clear sound and it usually takes several speakers, too.
One thing that bass players will sometimes do when they use some funky effects is to split their signal with a crossover. The idea is to send the clean (unaffected) lower frequencies out the bass amp and then use a guitar amp to project the higher frequencies that have been twisted around by the effects. This lets the bass master keep thumping along in the lower registers while also putting out some more flashy stuff up in the guitar range of tones. You can get away with practicing quietly on a bass with a guitar amp, but their speakers are typically not made to project those lower frequencies at much volume.
Do you ever get on the Harmony Central message board? It's very similar to this one, just about music instead of tennis. There are some experienced people on that board if you ever need a gear recommendation or help with a tricky PA setup.
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