can you use a guitar amp for bass

Can You Use a Guitar Amp for Bass?

Let’s cut to the chase – can you use a guitar amp for bass?

Well, the straightforward and simple answer is yes, you can play bass with a guitar amp. Although guitar amplifiers do not accommodate bass input, they will work. However, there is a chance that using the bass at an excessive level will damage your guitar amp.

Yes, we know what you’re wondering – how? We thought exactly the same thing. It is why we have dedicated this informational piece to bass and guitar amps. Read more and read until the end so you can know everything you need to know.

What is a Guitar Amp?

A guitar amp is a sort of electronic device that amplifies a low electronic current from the pickup on an electric guitar, bass guitar, or acoustic guitar to be played through one or more speakers housed in a wooden box.

It can be a “stand-alone system” wood or steel box that comprises the boost converter (and precursor) circuitry. It requires the use of a distinct loudspeaker panel, or it can be a “pack” amp that includes both the amp and one or more loudspeakers in a single plywood box.

can you use a guitar amp for bass

Size of Guitar Amp

Guitar amplifiers are available in a variety of sizes and supply voltages, ranging from small, inexpensive practice amps with a single 6″ loudspeaker and a 10-watt amplifier to large combine amps with four 10″ or four 12″ loudspeakers and a powerful 100-watt amp, powerful enough for use in a nightclub or bar.

Is it Possible to Use the Same Cords for Guitar and Bass?

Yes, guitar and bass guitars can be connected to an amp or console with the same connections. The capacitance, on the other hand, is a minor technical distinction. According to some, most players won’t notice a change. Passive pickup basses may sound thicker with larger capacitance wires.

Differences Between a Bass and a Guitar Amp

Often, people confuse bass and guitar amps. While they both might sound the same, there are significant differences in their features. These include:

  • Size of the speaker
  • Amplifier qualities
  • Frequency range
  • Power output

Below, we have explained these differences in detail. Let’s have a look!

Bass vs Guitar Practice Amps

Speaker Size: The base amp has larger speakers, whereas guitar speakers are small.

Pushing low frequencies moves a lot of air and necessitates using the proper speaker. As a result, many model bass amps employ larger guitar speakers than guitar amps, often a 15-inch speaker. However, because of their crisper response, 10′′ speakers are equally popular. Regardless of the size of the speakers, a speaker/cabinet made exclusively for string bass guitars is required.

Power Output: Wattage is the second major difference among both amps.

Bass amplifiers typically produce more power. They can range from 100 to 400 watts and higher, with some exceptions.

Bass amplifiers often contain standard controls like volume, mids, highs, and lows, and gain and contour control. They do not, however, frequently feature distortion or reverb.

On the other hand, Guitar amps have smaller and more vibrant speakers, can handle higher range crisper sounds, and normally have less wattage, which can range from 5 to 100 watts.

Frequency Range: Bass guitars have a fundamental frequency variety of about 30Hz-400Hz. 

Bass amplifiers are designed to accentuate and support these low-frequency ranges, whereas guitar amps support their whole frequency range of 80Hz-1.2 kHz. The entire frequency stable of each instrument influences everything about the amps that follow.

Sound: To properly understand this, we must first distinguish between two sorts of guitar amplifiers:

Bass amps are known for their concentration on low-end frequencies.

Amplifiers for guitar amplifiers emphasize upper mid-range frequencies. Keeping this in mind, we can confidently conclude that combining a bass with a guitar amp will offer us more mid-focused tones and less deep and fat low bass tones.

How to Tell a Bass Amp from a Guitar Amp?

Knowing how to tell a bass guitar amp from a guitar amp is simple once you know what to look for. The easiest way to find out is to look up the model’s name on the internet.

The size of the speaker and the amp’s features distinguish a bass amp from a guitar amp. Bass amplifiers often feature more prominent speakers and fewer settings than guitar amplifiers.

When comparing small bass and guitar practice amps, distinguishing between them cannot be easy.

The word ‘Bass Systems’ is emblazoned on the front of the amp, indicating a bass amp.

Many bass amplifiers have Bass inscribed somewhere on them or have a ‘B’ in the model number.

If you look at the number of knobs and dials, you’ll see that the guitar amp has significantly more. This is frequent since compact bass amps typically have only a few knobs for volume and EQ.

Small guitar amplifiers typically include more functionality, such as numerous channels, dedicated gain knobs, and built-in effects.

can you use a guitar amp for bass


Can You Play Bass With a Guitar Amp?

A Bass amp uses a lower frequency as compared to a guitar amp. Also, upon hearing the bass at a gig, you would feel the air move more than you hear it.

This is why plugging a bass amp into your guitar amp poses a risk. Guitar amps are really not designed to push the speaker in the same way that bass amps are.

Though small bass practice amps employ small speakers (for example, 8 inches), they are intended to drive the speaker differently from a guitar amp with the same speaker.

Subwoofers and bass speakers should venture out a significant distance to play low frequencies.

Consider a guitar amp endeavoring to vibrate similar to this. Guitar speakers aren’t intended to move extremely far when they shake because they don’t have to deal with super low frequencies.

If you increase the volume on a guitar amp and attempt to play a bass through it, the sound might cut (unfortunate sounding contortion), and the speaker might be harmed.

How To Use Bass with a Guitar Amp?

The truth is that you can securely connect a bass guitar to any guitar amplifier. This isn’t going to break the amp because they’re all the same in terms of structure.

Using a guitar with an amp built for a different type of guitar, on the other hand, implies you’ll be sacrificing sound quality.

A guitar amp can be used securely for practice and to hear how you sound. There is one caution, though: it is best to keep the volume low, otherwise, the speakers may be damaged. Still, you can practice effectively and hear your blunders at low volumes.

Why Are Bass Amps Louder Than Guitar Amps?

Guitars are exceptionally comfortable at a frequency range closer to the human voice. This means that our ears are specifically trained to hear that frequency above all others. On the other hand, a bass amplifier must drive the lower end forward, vying or supporting the drum kick in the best-case scenario.

There is no rule because the instrument makes a significant impact. However, a bass amp should be double the size of a guitar amp in watts to be ready to handle the loudness. Furthermore, moving a 15′′ speaker requires more power than moving a 12′′ speaker thus, the power amp section must be more powerful.

Can You Play Bass Through a Tube Guitar Amp?

It would be a crime to play the bass guitar through a tube-powered guitar amp. Even standard guitar frequencies may cause tubes to snap, so think of the damage that a speaker trying to keep up with bass frequencies would cause.

Tips for Using Bass Amp for Guitar

If you want to use a bass amp for guitar anyway, here are a few tips that you can best utilize to make the bass amp safe for guitars.

By adjusting tone control on Bass amp

As the name implies, tone control regulates the tone of the signal entering the amplifier. The tone control on amplifiers allows you to increase or diminish specific frequencies until you find a tone you like.

This is significant because bass amps were not designed for guitars. You might not like how it sounds right away. So you want to spend some time adjusting the tone control knobs to get the bass amp to chime well with your guitar.

Many bass amplifiers simply have two-tone control knobs. Simultaneously, some bass amplifiers include up to five-tone control knobs. As a result, you get more control over the tone.

You can adjust it until you are satisfied. Don’t worry about whether experimenting with controlling tone knobs would do any harm to guitars.

By Using an EQ Pedal

Many guitarists do not own an EQ pedal. That’s because they don’t think it’s important. On the other hand, EQ pedals are among the most versatile pedals one could have in their guitar rig.

Using an EQ pedal is a specific technique to gain even more control over the tone produced by a bass amp. You may change the frequency response of the bass amp with an EQ pedal. You may remove some of the muddy frequencies from the bass amp and increase others to make your guitar sound even better through them.

Activate the Overdrive/Distortion Pedal.

As previously stated, bass amps cannot drive or distort your guitar. They are not intended to be used in this manner. If you want an overdriven or distorted sound, you’ll need an Overdrive or Distortion pedal.

These pedals will assist you in obtaining the muddy and gritty tone that you would typically get from a guitar amp through a bass amp. I propose that you acquire an overdrive or distortion pedal appropriate for the genre you perform.

Use a Multi-FX Processor/Guitar Amp Modeler.

A guitar amp modeler or multi-effects processor is a beautiful method to imitate your favorite guitar amps and guitar sounds, even when utilizing a bass amp. While they may not sound precisely the same when run through a bass amp, you may get very close to your desired tone by combining them with EQ and tone control.

Traditional amps and pedalboards are being phased out in favor of amp modelers and multi-effects processors. If you don’t already have one, you should get one soon.

When is it Okay to Use a Guitar Amp With a Bass?

It is fine to use a guitar amp with a bass:

  • At a low volume
  • With the help of a passive bass guitar
  • Using an active guitar with a low output
  • For casual noodling, practice, and skill development
  • Recording for casual and practice purposes

However, playing guitar amp with bass is not safe when:

  • On a medium to high volume
  • With a bass guitar that is actively playing
  • With tube amplifiers
  • For your main stage gigs, loudness
  • With pricey amplifiers

What Amp Do I Need for Bass Guitar?

While plugging a guitar into a bass amp or using bass pedals with a guitar is low risk, the opposite is not valid for plugging a bass into guitar amps. Guitar amp speakers, especially at high levels, are not intended to handle the frequency range and air movement that generate bass.

You risk destroying the amplifier when you play a bass through a guitar amp. Going for a solid-state or tube hybrid amp is preferable, or a high-powered amp made specifically for bass guitar. Many bass amps also feature DI capabilities that run different the bass straight out to the front of the house when performing.

can you use a guitar amp for bass


Is an Amp Required For All Bass Guitars?

Not all bass guitars require an amplifier. There are acoustic bass guitars that work just like any other acoustic guitar. You can also hook Electro-acoustic bass guitars into an amp or PA system.

This could be an exciting option for people who want to get their hands on a bass guitar but don’t want to commit to the entire package.

There is, of course, the double bass, the traditional acoustic string instrument that is so well-known in jazz circles, but it is not a bass guitar.

Is it Possible to Find Amps That are Suitable for Both Guitar and Bass?

If you’re searching for an amp that can handle both guitar and bass, the Peavy Vypyr VIP 3 is a good option. This is a digital amp with a bass preset and a guitar speaker capable of producing lower frequencies. However, the power output is insufficient to make it a feasible gigging alternative.

We heartily recommend it if you’re searching for nothing more than a great practice amp. However, if you’re searching for something that would produce the best tones or be ideal for gigging, you should pass it up.

Unfortunately, no amp can produce superb guitar and bass tones, primarily due to speaker limitations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Bass Amplifiers and Guitar Amplifiers the Same?

The power output and size of the speaker are what distinguish a bass amp from a guitar amp. The bass amp must be more powerful than the guitar amp. The bass amp also demands a bigger speaker, so it might reflect the sound of the bass guitar successfully.

How Can You Improve the Sound of the Bass Amplifier?

Obtaining the ideal bass amp settings begins by adjusting the gain control. Increase the frequency range for more distortion, and decrease the frequency range for a clearer tone. Alter the volume control to the appropriate level. Increase or reduce the treble depending on if you want a primary definition or not.

Is it possible to use a practicing guitar amp for bass?

Yes, you can plug a bass into a guitar amp. Although guitar amplifiers are not meant to accommodate bass input, they will work. Since both the bass and guitar utilize the same leads, plugging in a bass guitar to an amp is simple. Simply putting your bass into the guitar amp’s input will work.

What types of guitar amplifiers can be used with a bass?

There are several kinds of guitar amplifiers that you can use with bass including:

  • Guitar amplifiers on the cheap
  • Solid-state guitar amplifiers
  • Combo amplifiers
  • Digital amplifiers
  • Guitar preamps that do not include a speaker
  • Peavey Vypyr hybrid guitar and bass amps

Final Thoughts

So, the answer to can you use a guitar amp for bass is yes, you can use your bass amp with your guitar without any problems or damage. Bass amplifiers are powerful enough to handle easily and playback a guitar signal.

Some guitarists prefer them over regular guitar amps because of the distinct tone with a bass amp. However, remember that you will not attain your perfect guitar tone from a bass amp unless you employ effect pedals and amp modelers or simulators. Also, consider utilizing the tips mentioned in the content above so you can play bass with a guitar amp safely.

If you want more information on this topic, please check out: Electric Guitar Amps for Beginners: What to Look For.

Thanks for reading and happy playing!

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