Marshall Bass Amp Equipment


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Top 10 Tips to Consider When Buying a Bass Guitar Amp

One of the first questions to ask yourself is what is main usage for the bass amp. For instance, are you a novice bass player or an experienced session musician? Is the bass amp for solo practice sessions or more for playing in a band? For whatever purpose is it wise to define the purpose of the amp first, so as not to overspend your budget.

1. Amp Head

The amplifier head consists of a pre-amp and a power amp. The pre-amp processes signals from the bass guitar and sound effects while the power amp provides power and volume.

2. Pre-Amp

When plugged into the amplifier, the guitar signal is first received by the pre-amp The pre-amp manipulates the signal and can make subtle or drastic changes to the characteristics of the sound.

3. Power Amp

Electrical power and volume is managed by the power amp, housed inside the head. A higher watt specification gives more volume range. A bass guitar produces sound at a lower frequency compared to other guitar types, so a bass amp requires more power energy.

Watt capacity overview.

> 50-100 watts, ideal for solo practice sessions

> 200 watts suitable for jam sessions with other instruments, for example, an electric guitar or keyboard

> 300-400 watt capacity is good when a drummer is part of the jam mix

> 400-1200 watts is required when playing performances with a band

4. Configurations

Combination amplifiers, commonly referred to as combo amps, are a bundled unit that house both the amplifier and speakers.

A stack configuration comprises: a stand-alone amplifier unit, amp head, and speakers housed in a cabinet. One of the benefits of a stack arrangement, is it allows the musician to configure different heads and speaker cabinets depending on their sound reproduction preferences.

5. Speaker Cabinet

The output from the amplifier goes to the speaker cabinet that contain speakers. Most quality cabinets are of timber plywood construction and well sound proofed to preserve sound reproduction quality. Speaker cabinets are found in many different dimensions and house one or more speaker components.

6. Speaker Size

Larger speakers do not directly mean better sound reproduction. A decision about speaker size will depend on the type of sound projection you require. For instance, several smaller speakers configured together within the bass cabinet tend to produce a more distinct and accurate sound when compared to fewer large speakers. Large speakers produce a heaver sound. There is no right answer to the question of small or large speaker size, it really depends on personal preference and the purpose of the amp. Some situations require the heaver sound of larger speakers, for example.

7. Sound

All amps and configurations produce different sound qualities, so taking the time for testing is important to ensure you get the right amp for your needs. Another consideration is the music genre you plan to play with the bass amp. Is your music genre a softer style or more heavy rock? Amp component brands and models tend to be designed to favor certain music genres.

8. Equalizer (EQ)

The equalizer settings allow you to raise or lower specific sound frequencies, namely: bass; mid-range; treble. These adjustments affect the tone of the bass sound. These controls give the user scope to customize the sound output. Pre-amps generally have three EQ control knobs, while five and more are also common.

9. Gain

Bass pre-amps also feature a gain knob. This is essentially a volume control knob. For instance, by adjusting the gain know up distorts the sound producing heavy rock effect. Before you purchase a bass amp, test the gain knob to explore its effects on sound output.

10. Price

A big budget is not a requirement for finding a quality bass amplifier configuration. Combo amplifiers are generally a cheaper option compared to stack configs, separate amp head and speaker cabinets. So for the novice bass musician, a combo amp is an ideal first amplifier.

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