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Buying a bass amp


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I don' play enough bass to justify a high-end SWR, Ampeg, Eden or whatever. I'm looking for about 300w in an all-purpose head for around $300. The list includes:

G-K Backline 600

Ashdown Mag 300

Behringer BX4500

Yamaha digital

Hartke 2500

I'll add a 4x10, or a 2x10 and 1x15 later.

Any thoughts.

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I currently have an Ampeg B2 that's been a real workhorse. It's never required any service and has always worked first time and all night long.

My next amp purcahse will probably be a power amp, and I'll then buy a small DI box like the Tech 21 by SansAmp. You could also get a stompbox that has a lot of effects or amp modeling capacity if you like that stuff. With the box, you can go anywhere and plug into a PA, and not have to carry your amp. But I'm pretty primative; I could use an amp that only has a volume and tone knob!

My band uses a Behringer PA head and it's been very reliable.

Good luck to you!

Jimmie ThunderLizard
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Yamaha. It's innovation, not just a simplified model or cheap labor copy of a better product. It offers you way more than one tone in a small, light, powerful package. GK would be my second choice.


Otherwise, check the online auctions and local dealers for a smokin' deal on high end gear.

- Matt W.
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Originally posted by gitfidler:

I'll add a 4x10, or a 2x10 and 1x15 later.

Certainly a 300W head with a 4x10 is going to be much louder than, say, a 100W 1x15 combo. A 4x10 is, in general, a pretty loud cab. I'm not exactly sure what the point is of a 3/4-stack (the 2x10 and 1x15) unless you're looking for volume. In either case it begs the question: is 300W going to be enough?


So it depends on your application.


Some guys are getting plenty of volume with a more powerful amp and a smaller cab.


The nice thing about higher-power amps is that they have plenty of headroom. If you're looking to be "loud" with a 300W head, you may be sadly disappointed. And if you decide to max the gains on your 300W head you're more likely to destroy your cabs than if you were to run them with a higher-powered amp with less gain. (Lot's of threads here on this topic from our resident sound experts.)


Maybe you can divert some of your cab funds to go towards a bigger head?


I think every head you've listed has some scary bad reviews in cyberspace. I'm thinking there's a quality problem in this market segment. But don't take my word for it; I really don't know.


Personally, I have two Hartke HA 3500 heads. I went with these instead of the 2500 because that head only puts out 180W when driving an 8 ohm load (cab). In order to have some flexibility, I have two 8 ohm cabs. When used together (in parallel), they become a 4 ohm load. If I had gotten two 4 ohm cabs I wouldn't be able to use them together, as most bass heads can't handle a 2 ohm load. (The Hartke's certainly cannot.)


For my church gig, the 3500 and one 4x10 is more than enough. (With an 8 ohm load the 3500 puts out 240W.) I have to keep my volume under an acoustic piano, so my master gain is at about 1 (from 0 to 10). For this gig I would be better off with a more portable ~100W 1xWhatever combo. (You begin to realize that a 65 pound cab really is heavy when you have to move it out of your basement every week.)


When I was in a 4-piece, one guitarist had a Marshall (100W tube) full stack (two 4x12 cabs), and the other had a Mesa Boogie (100W tube) full stack. Running the 3500 through both 4x10s (350W) was barely keeping up. Fortunately, the drummer didn't come with unlimited volume control, so he set the upper limit for the volume wars.


I'm not trying to say that the 3500 is a huge improvement over the 2500. You have to double the power, really, to get a noticeable difference. (What is it, 3dB for doubling power?) I'm saying maybe look at 500W and up for a head; you're likely to find better quality. (I realize the Yamaha BBT 500H on your list is a 500W head, but read the last reviewer's comments here as he replaced it with a 700W head instead.)


I think there are guys here running 1000W+ power amps (not bass heads) into 2x10 or 1x12 cabs. Since it's a power amp -- not a head -- they also need a preamp. It seems like a good idea to me, and I wish I had tried this out before buying my rig. Maybe nobody else mentioned this because $300 isn't going to get you very far down this road.


Another overlooked option is Carvin, because you can only buy them direct.

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I love my G-K Backline 600. Small, not too heavy, enough knobs, buttons and holes to put things in. I play it through an Ashdown MAG 210T Deep Cabinet, and this rig releases a lovely warm smooth tone from my Epi EB3, while pushing enough air to make the legs of our rhythm git's jeans flap.


I compared it against a Hartke 3500, a Warwick 5.1, an Ashdown MAG, and I just liked it better - can't say why - just nicer.

Epi EB-3

G-K Backline 600

2 x Eden EX112


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