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Sonic Boom – The Best Bass Guitar Amps For Any Budget

by | Gear Reviews

Owning your practice or performance amp is a key factor in any bassist’s development of their skill, talent, and ear. Unlike guitars, basses generally have to be plugged in and played through an amp for players to achieve their optimum volume levels. It’s highly advantageous to understand how bass amps enhance your guitar’s sound, and even more so if you know which amps and guitars work best together. In today’s article, we are going to list a few amps that are well worth investigating. The list includes budget-friendly models and some rare and more expensive builds for the dedicated gear junkie.

Budget/Beginner Guitar Amps

Laney LB1 Bass amp Combo

With just 15 watts of power packed into this compact unit, it’s easy to underestimate the LB1’s power and quality. However, this microwave-sized bass amp provides an evident and full tone and is perfect for beginner players or anyone who needs to practice in smaller spaces with noise constraints. The amp has a built-in kickback stand so that you can face it towards you for better monitoring during practice or performances. The Lb-1 also features a three-band EQ that lets you adjust your low, mid and high-frequency ranges to get closer to your ideal tone. Even though this amp probably won’t find its way to any significant recording studios or stages, the LB-1 is a phenomenal entry-level amplifier that is well worth its asking price.
Ashdown 12- Studio

For the budget spenders who might need an amp that they can use for bigger gigs or even studio recordings, we recommend the Ashdown 12. Possibly the most significant bragging point about this amp is the fact that it produces a very reliable tone and power and weighs just above 10 kgs. Bassists usually have to put up with lugging around the heaviest amps, but the Ashdown is an absolute breeze to travel with, and the lightweight casing is made with very durable rubber. With 110 watts of power charged out of a 12″ speaker, there is plenty of volume and dynamic for players to utilize, and to top it off, the amp also comes with a five-band EQ to ensure that you can calibrate your bass tone according to the surrounding environment or music style you’re playing. There’s also a tube-style overdrive on hand to add some vintage textures to your overall tone. For all the bells and whistles it carries, this amp is an absolute must-have for beginner or budgeting players that need a sturdy workhorse.

Mid-Range Models

Blackstar Unity Combo UB500

There are so many extended fs and switches on the UB500 it seems like the amp is having a bit of an identity crisis. But for players looking for an app that offers versatility, there are few current choices as popular as the UB500. The amp hosts three preamps that each provide a unique bass sound – Classic, Modern or Flat. In addition to the preamps, users are provided a three-band EQ q and a basic compression control so that they can accurately calibrate their preferred tone and dynamics. Blackstar has gone all out to build as many useful add-ons into this amp, and the backside of the amp reveals inserts for a footswitch, an effects loop, and it even has a USB connection to use directly with your DAW. The Blackstar UB500 may not find favor with purists who favor more straightforward analog gear, but that does not mean this amp can’t match the performance levels of its predecessors.

Mesa/Boogie Subway TT-800

You can’t compile a reputable list of bass amps without featuring the legendary Mesa/Boogie brand. The company has built top-flight boutique amplifiers for decades now and has become a favorite amongst some music’s greatest players. The TT800 is a shining example of the company’s intense attention to detail and signature manufacturing prowess. The amp has two primary input channels, both with pristine and distinct tube-style capabilities. Each channel comes with gain, volume, and EQ controls to give users extensive tonal shaping options. Mesa/Boogie has included a footswitch to let you toggle between input channels for increased tone vocabulary during performances to sweeten the deal. The amp comes with a dizzying list of additional controls, including a Bright and Deep switch for an extra kick around the sub or top end of your bass playing.

Top Shelf

Aguilar DB751

Bassists that like to make a stern statement with their tone and playing need to look no further than the DB751. With 975 watts of intent crafted into this beast, it is the most powerful amp on this list. Three user preamps are routed through a set of 12 MOSFET processors to generate a sound that can only reasonably be described as monstrous. Users have a three-band EQ at their disposal with this amp and gain and volume settings for basic tweaking. The DB751 also comes with a handy pad button to help dampen any harsh signal peaks, as well as Deep and Bright switches for quick access to tonal switches. The amp has XLR and speaker output to let you send it to multiple outputs simultaneously and would fit in very comfortably with a big stage rig. The Aguilar DB751 is by no means the flashiest or most diverse amp on the market, but it sounds heavenly when turned up and is a solid investment for anyone looking for a long-term buy for their studio or live venue.

Fender Bassman

Sometimes you come across a company that has built its entire empire around consistency, like the mighty Fender guitar company. The Bassman is an excellent example of their no-nonsense approach to electronics and manufacturing. Initially introduced in 1952 by Leo Fender himself, the amp does with a wide range of tone-shaping controls or effects add-ons. Instead, what users gain from this amp is a warm and unforgettable tone that has graced countless legendary recordings and performances. The 15-inch speaker has no problem pushing out the 50 + watts of power lovingly placed in its amp head. Ironically the amp was not a very popular choice amongst bass players upon its initial reveal. Instead, it found favor amongst guitarists, keyboardists, and harmonica players that enjoyed the weight that the amp’s top-end delivered. Many bassists would consider themselves very fortunate to play on such a pivotal piece of history in the modern era, and for the right price, you too can do just that.

Final Thoughts

There are no concrete rights or wrongs when it comes to the world of collecting gear, and bass amps are different. Getting the best bass amp for your needs will require some hands-on research and experimentation, and it’s essential to enjoy this process while you do it. The list above should serve as a simple guideline for looking for a reliable, high-quality amp that offers good value for money. The rest is really up to you. Thanks for reading through or coverage on the best bass amps for any budget. We hope this article was helpful and leaves you inspired to hunt for your next prized piece of gear.

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