Do you want to know how to tell the difference between a bass amp and a guitar amp?
Can you plug a guitar into a bass amp?
What about a bass into a guitar amp?
In this article I will help answer these questions and more!
Bass Amps vs Guitar Amps – The Differences
Electric guitars and bass have amplifiers specifically designed for each instrument. Differentiating these two types of amps is easy once you know what you’re looking for.
The table below compares the basic specifications of Bass Amps & Guitar Amps
Bass guitars have a fundamental frequency range of about 30Hz-400Hz.
Bass amplifiers are designed to accentuate and support these low frequency ranges, whereas guitar amps support their fundamental frequency range of 80Hz – 1.2kHz.
The fundamental frequency range of each instrument influences everything about the amps that follow.
Pushing low frequencies moves a lot of air and requires the right kind of speaker to do so.
For this reason, many bass amps use larger speakers than guitar amps, typically a 15” speaker. However, 10” speakers are also common for their tighter response. Even with these smaller speakers though, you need a speaker/cabinet specifically designed for bass.
Using guitar speakers that aren’t designed for bass guitar can damage your guitar speakers.
Bass guitars require more power to amplify low frequencies. For this reason, bass amps can often be anywhere from 100 to 400 Watts! This may seem like a lot to guitarists who are used to seeing amps with power ratings between 5-50W, with 100W being the max.
With the exception of vintage tube amps, most bass amps are either 100% solid state, or a hybrid of solid state/tube driven. This makes it easier to make the amps more powerful and reliable.
Can Bass Amps Be Used For Guitar?
You may be wondering – is it bad to plug a guitar into a bass amp?
Using a bass amp with your electrical guitar poses little to no risk to your instrument electronically speaking.
It turns out, some of the best “guitar amps” were originally designed for bass. Two vintage tube amps originally meant to be used with bass include the Fender Bassman and the Marshall Super Bass. Adam Jones, the guitarist of TOOL, has used a Marshall Super Bass since the 90’s as part of his heavy guitar tone.
Modern bass amps are usually solid state and have a more bass-focused EQ, so trust your ear when considering bass amps for use with guitar.
What Amp Do I Need for Bass Guitar?
While plugging a guitar into a bass amp or using bass pedals with guitar is low risk, the opposite is not true for plugging a bass into guitar amps.
Guitar amp speakers are not designed to handle the frequency range and air movement that comes with bass, especially at high volumes. Playing bass through a guitar amp risks damaging your amplifier.
It is much better to pick out a solid state or tube hybrid, high powered amp that is designed specifically for bass guitar. Many bass amps also have DI capability so you can run your bass straight out to the front of house if you are gigging.
Recommended Bass Amps
Here are some great amps to consider for use with your bass guitar.
- Fender Bassman – Best Bass Tube Amp
- Orange Crush Bass 100W– Best Bass Amp Combo
- Ampeg BA-210V2– Best Bass Amp
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- A Comprehensive Guide for Mastering the A Chord
Davis Wilton Bader is a professional guitarist/writer based out of St. Louis, MO. He plays in the bands Lumet and The Outskirts.