Choosing a bass rig

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Choosing a bass rig

Post by ef37a »

Yeah! One of DEM posts.

Son has has been asked by the bass player in the band what to buy. I don't even as yet have a budget but they meet this evening so I might know more the morrow.
The band, he says, is not overly loud. Drummer is musical and fairly restrained. Their music seems to be (keep asking for recordings!) 'Queen' influenced but they are not a covers band. Son says bassist is very much a 'background' guy, good player but never flashy.
Venues will be pubs, cafes and perhaps a small hall. My thoughts are 100W minimum and a head and cab configuration? Looking around you can pay AS much for a combo as a head and cab. Lot of overlap.

I suggested getting an amp with a compressor but do pedals do as good a job?

Even advice such as "FFS don't get a ^&^%£!" would be a start!

Sorry for the sneeze at the top! Maybe a Mod can adjust?

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Re: chhoosing a bass rig

Post by BigRedX »

For bass back line the rule of thumb is to add up the wattages of all the other backline amps being used (guitars/keys etc.) and double it.

These days unless it is all valve and your are going for that full-on valve saturation bass sound 100W will most likely not be enough. 300-500W lightweight class D amps are where you should be looking - unless you are on a tight budget in which case something old, big, and heavy, but reliable like TE or Peavey.

However, the other thing to factor in is PA support. If the majority of the FoH bass sound is from the PA then the rig is mostly for personal monitoring, and on bigger gigs will be almost entirely for show.

Neither of my bands play massive gigs (Nottingham Rescue Rooms and Leeds O2 are as big as they get at the moment), but for all of them what the audience hears of my bass comes from the PA. After a number of gigs where I was being asked to turn my rig down (in order not to affect the FoH balance) to such an extent that I could myself better from what was being put into the guitarist's wedge on the other side of the stage, than I could from my cabs directly behind me, I sold my big and very impressive looking rig and bought a Line 6 Helix and an RCF 745 power cab instead. For the last 30 years my bass sound has been mostly created by my choice of pre-amp and multi-effects units so it wasn't a massive change of direction.

The RCF cab gets most of its use at rehearsals, but it also has advantages for those gigs (where I don't know how good the foldback is going to be) as it can be placed in all sorts of locations on stage where there is either not enough room for a conventional bass rig or where it would look wrong. When I do use it at gigs it is often positioned firing across the stage, so the rest of the band also get the benefit, or I can sit it with the PA foldback pointing back at me.
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Re: Choosing a bass rig

Post by Murray B »

The Fender Rumbles seem to get good press and I've used one of the smaller combos in a school setting - I think it has a 12" speaker that was okay for what it was and ridiculously lightweight - I can't remember the model sorry.

Without a budget it's hard to give specific advice and I haven't actually used that many amps - I went for a buy well buy once approach when I took up bass playing and I am still very happy with my MarkBass Jeff Berlin Combo, but they are expensive even second hand.

The other way to go is look at a preamp / modeller thing and a powered speaker - works for a lot of folks these days and is my B rig when I'm doing a weekend where I'll be playing Bass and Guitar over the course of the same festival. It's got the advantage of being more disaster proof and once you go to bigger gigs the Bass is going through the PA anyway.

Edit - wrote this as Red X's reply came in - looks like we are of the same mind :-)
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Re: Choosing a bass rig

Post by Sam Spoons »

I'd suggest 250-300 watts as a minimum, loud, clean and full range is a good starting point for bass*. I'd be looking for something from a bass guitar amp builder rather than a guitar amp builder** but there are lots out there and they can be surprisingly inexpensive.

https://www.thomann.de/gb/tc_electronic ... _stock.htm

* It's easy to dirty up the sound a bit but impossible to clean up an inherently dirty amp.

** TC used to do a couple of reasonable bass amps/combos for not a lot of money, Ampeg have a mini amp of 150 watts IIRC which might fill the bill.

edit :- Same here...
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Re: Choosing a bass rig

Post by BigRedX »

Couple of things to bear in mind regarding specific amp makes.

The TC range of bass amps used to use a form of baked-in compression to achieve their supposed wattage ratings (have a search for TC amps on TalkBass if you want to read the whole hoo-ha). IMO if it sounds good then I don't mind, but not everyone will want or be expecting compression as your turn up the volume - especially not from a class D amp.

The class D Ampeg amps have had a reputation for unreliability especially when being run into speakers which approach the recommended minimum impedance. Also in the UK getting them fixed has proved to be difficult and expensive. Personally I'd only buy an Ampeg rig if I was looking for that over-driven valve SVT into a "fridge" sound, and then I'd buy an SVT and fridge (IME none of the other Ampeg rigs have the same sound).
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Re: Choosing a bass rig

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

I've edited out the sneezing... :lol:
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Re: Choosing a bass rig

Post by shufflebeat »

The band that I tech with became much more complete and integrated sounding when the bass player swapped his amp (Dynacord 2x12" [x2] or Ampeg combo) for a Mooer Radar IR loader using stock IRs. He monitors from a 12" Dynacord along with his own vox and other melody instruments with no issues.

The rest of the band are also happier, as are his back and his car.
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Re: Choosing a bass rig

Post by Sam Spoons »

BigRedX wrote: Sat May 28, 2022 9:51 am Couple of things to bear in mind regarding specific amp makes.

The TC range of bass amps used to use a form of baked-in compression to achieve their supposed wattage ratings (have a search for TC amps on TalkBass if you want to read the whole hoo-ha). IMO if it sounds good then I don't mind, but not everyone will want or be expecting compression as your turn up the volume - especially not from a class D amp.

That's interesting, I have heard a couple of TC Bass combos, one sounded great the other pretty poor, in that second case I don't think the player had much idea.

The class D Ampeg amps have had a reputation for unreliability especially when being run into speakers which approach the recommended minimum impedance. Also in the UK getting them fixed has proved to be difficult and expensive. Personally I'd only buy an Ampeg rig if I was looking for that over-driven valve SVT into a "fridge" sound, and then I'd buy an SVT and fridge (IME none of the other Ampeg rigs have the same sound).

Likewise interesting, and getting any of these Class D amps fixed is going to be a problem (or expensive) I suspect.

As Murray B says Mark Bass are fantastic, Thomann do a couple in the sub £500 price bracket and they also do an EBS which I haven't heard but have read good things about. I have a little old 60 watt 1x10 Warwick bass combo which sounds good and has been reliable* (apart from when I lent it to a keyboard player who managed to blow it up) but it's not loud enough for a loud stage. Thomann have a 15W 1x15 version that might be big enough and is only £250

* Apart from once when I lent it to a keyboard player who managed to blow it up, it's mosfet's in the power amp so was an easy and cheap fix.
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Re: Choosing a bass rig

Post by dpete »

It's the head /cab (or combo) details that matter. A lot of the power info is for a four ohm speaker setup. I use a class D amp rated at 500 watts, into a 200 watt 8 ohm cabinet for the kinds of jobs you described (mine are R&B/R&R, and the band knows how to balance levels). I've also used 200 watt heads for years and was comfortable, but the details are in the speakers. Bottom line is for bass you have to move air. In the US, at the mid-price range I'd look at fender rumble or Ampeg rocket series. I have not played the new Peavy stuff, but there old amps were always serviceable. Traynor out of Canada also makes good stuff, that I liked. Up the price range, and it becomes more about your feature set. Pedal board compressors are fine. I want good clean power.
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Re: Choosing a bass rig

Post by ef37a »

Thank you all so far. I have emailed son to press the guy for a budget.

I think some of the suggestions assume a grander, bigger band than I suspect them to be at the moment.

Sam Spoons, if you still have that MOSFET power amp, check the type numbers on the output devices and get a pair in. MOSFET power amps were a bit of a design 'blip' and the transistors could get very rare in a few years time?

I have a Maplin 150W (not) module I built 20+ years ago, still works. Must follow my own advice!

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Re: Choosing a bass rig

Post by resistorman »

My favorite great sounding workhorse rig for years was a dual 10" neodymium (beautiful sound and lightweight) Carvin cab with a TC electronic 400 watt mini amp with toneprint. Both are discontinued (Carvin is out of business) but I see the TCs have other amps like the BQ500 and BH250 which are very reasonably priced. I like the dual 10" design for enough lows and good definition for higher notes quite a bit, but TC also has a dual 8" cab I'd be interested to hear.
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Re: Choosing a bass rig

Post by Sam Spoons »

The bass player I gig with these days has an Ashdown Superfly amp (he has two actually) and the matching 4 x 8" cab. It has two 250 watt (presumably) Class D power amps and sounds great very loud and punchy. But both seem to be playing up at the moment, we got through Saturday's gig on one 250 watt power stage as one amp appears to be dead and the other only working on one output :headbang: Will get them here next week and see if it's something obvious before sending them in for repair (and not holding out much hope that they'll be repairable anyway).
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