In today’s article, we’ll cover 14 of the finest Bass Combo Amps available for Gigging in 2023.
You’ll find that this article carries all the information needed about some exemplary Bass Combo Amps that we’ve hand-picked for you. Since we know there’s no single Combo Amp that’s the universal best for every individual, we’ve carefully articulated and drawn up this list, keeping diverse needs in mind.
The purpose of an amplifier is to enhance the source’s power output to your required level. While making a combo amp, the designers can fine-tune the response and tone of every element, creating a synergy between the speaker, circuitry, and cabinet. Combo amps also save you from the hassle of putting different elements together that may or may not be an ideal match.
We know it seems like a complicated world since there’s much to consider. The market is loaded with a variety of different options, and picking one out of the lot may prove to be very challenging. This isn’t something you can randomly pick either since every option out there offers its distinctive set of features, and you need one that suits you best. That’s where we come in. We’ve already narrowed it all down for you with a handful of the best options from the finest brands in the world, like Fender, Bugera, Hartke, Orange, Cort, Peavey, Ampeg, Boss, Gallien-Krueger, Phil Jones, and Ashdown.
By the end of this article, you’ll be able to choose the most suitable option for you. Let’s start the journey to find your best combo amp for gigging.
The 14 Best Bass Combo Amps For Gigging 2023
1. Fender Rumble 500
This Fender offering is one of the most comprehensive you’re likely to find in today’s market.
In 1946, Clearance Leonidas Fender founded Fender in Fullerton, California. The company is very well-known all over the globe, with its primary focus on providing exemplary guitars such as the Jaguar, Stratocaster, Jazzmaster, and of course, the Telecaster.
Several Musicians known the world over preferred the brand’s equipment, including Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, Ritchie Blackmore, Rory Gallagher, Jimi Hendrix, David Gilmour, George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Jeff Beck.
- Control Panel
The Control Panel of this model shares the same layout as several others from Fender’s Rumble lineup, including Rumble 40, Rumble 100, and Rumble 200. It starts with an “Input Jack,” a “Gain” control knob, and 3 smaller buttons for “Bright,” “Contour,” and “Vintage.” You’ll then find 2 Control Knobs for “Drive” and “Level” with an “Overdrive” button in between, forming the ‘Overdrive’ segment. Following is the panel’s “Equalization” segment featuring 4 control knobs. Then there’s a “Master” control knob and, finally, the “Rumble” logo with a bright red indicator just above.
- Overdrive Segment
The Drive control can adjust the preamp distortion to determine the amount of harmonical richness. The Level control knob sets the Overdrive volume so you can turn the knob to decide what combination of overdrive and clean tones suits you. The tiny Overdrive button between the 2 controls activates or deactivates the ‘Overdrive circuit’ and controls. When the circuit is activated, the dedicated LED indicator lights up.
- Equalization Segment
This segment hosts 4 control knobs for “Bass,” “Low Mid,” “High Mid,” and “Treble.” The 4-Band Equalization serves as an adjustment to compensate for the acoustics of the surrounding area. The size and design of the surroundings play a major role in determining its harmonics. The Equalization segments can, to quite an extent, control the difference in harmonics.
- Other Functionality
You can plug in your Bass Guitar (Active / Passive) into the jack located on the left side of the panel, and the “Gain” control knob next to it may be used to set the level of the input signal being received from the Bass Guitar. The small button labeled “Bright” enhances the upper frequencies adding shimmer; the “Contour” button cuts the middle frequencies and boosts the high and low frequencies to offer a pleasing fat tone. The ‘Vintage’ button adds a rich dark tone with natural-sounding compression and harmonics.
- Rear Panel
The rear panel hosts a “Power” switch, an “IEC Power Cord” socket, “Parallel Speaker Outputs” (Head connection), “External Speakers Output,” an on/off “Horn” switch, 2 “Send” and “Return” effect jacks, 2 jacks for “Aux in” and “Headphones,” a “Line out” jack with a “Ground Lift” button, and a jack labeled “FTSW” for “Footswitch.”
- Speaker & Power
This offering by Fender has a power requirement of 950W Max (150W Typical) with power and output of 350W into 8Ω and 500W into 4Ω. The power sockets and power button are located on the Rear panel. The 2 Eminence Ceramic Piezo Tweeter 16Ω speakers measure 10″ each.
This Fender offering comes with built-in effects, which is quite a rarity in Combo Amps. This allows for increased customization and combinations. A gain knob is present to make up for the loss of gain resulting from using the compressor. The unit packs 800W of power.
Although the Amp comes equipped with an impressive list of features, it carries a hefty price tag. Another issue that may be an issue for some is that of complexity. Some users want an easy-to-use, plug-and-play option with a much simpler interface.
2. Bugera BXD15A
This 1,000-watt speaker from Bugera has much to offer thanks to its innovative execution and features.
Concealed under the hood is a powerful 15-watt speaker that employs an aluminum cone, which, paired with the speaker’s wedge-shaped design, offers great projection and clarity of sound. Although big in presence, the amp is light in weight and keeps things comfortable during transportation.
In addition, this Bugera amp’s MOSFET technology keeps the overall sound nice and warm, almost like a tube amp. And if that’s not enough bottom-end, you’ll get some nifty equalizer controls to get things sonically just right for any situation or genre of music.
- Equalizing: Bass & Treble Controls
The BXD15A offers a ton of options when it comes to tone shaping. The three-band EQ is extremely detailed, breaking the barriers of conventionality. All three bands have decent controls to get the sound just right. You get a separate knob for Bass that helps cut or boost the lower frequencies, but that’s not all. For Further enhancement, the “Ultra Low” button will make things even more boomy and profound. The treble section also has the same layout. The main knob subdues or intensifies the upper tier frequencies, while the “Ultra High” adds immense brightness to the tone, making it ideal for slap-style bass.
- Equalizing: Mids
Bass and treble frequencies are important, but surely, you’ll want dedicated controls for dialing in the mids. The Bugera BXD15A allows you to do so with the utmost freedom. The “Mid Freq” knob will help set the frequency, while the “Mid” control will boost or cut the applied frequency point. The available options include 220 Hz, 450 Hz, 800 Hz, 1.6 kHz and 3 kHz. You can experiment with the frequency switch and stop when you’ve achieved a detailed, full-bodied tone.
There are lots of other goodies under the hood as well. You may notice how your raw bass signal has uneven peaks and troughs. This can make some sections sound shrill while others may be too quiet. If you want to smooth out your overall sound, the built-in compressor will help you do just that. Press the “Comp” button to activate compression and use the neighboring “Comp” knob to control the intensity. However, remember that compression can also elevate the noise floor, so you may have to fiddle with the controls to achieve the desired results.
- Gain & Other Controls
You may feel hard done by the compressor when some of the gain also suffers. But no need to worry, as you have a separate gain control to compensate for such a loss. Furthermore, transient sounds that you think are too sharp can be taken care of by pressing the pad button, which will instantly quell your sharp peaks by “-15dB.” Also on the control panel is a “Mute” button to kill the amps sound, a “Master” knob for volume control, and a switch to turn the amp on or off.
Apart from the main instrument input on the front panel, the back of the amp is where you’ll find all the other connections. There’s an XLR “DI Out” port that can be used to hook the unit with an audio interface to record directly onto your DAW. You could also use the DI out to connect to a mixer for bass tracks. Next is another multifunctional jack labeled “Tuner Out” that the bass player can use to connect a tuner or another on-stage speaker.
- FX Loop
The amp can also be made part of an effects loop thanks to the “Return” and “Send” ports on the back. The signal from the effects chain can be routed through the Return/Amp In port. You could also just as easily send the signal from your amp to the pedal chain through the Send/Preamp Out.
- Aux & More
The Aux section has a couple of RCA stereo inputs that you can use to connect any audio device to jam along. I’ve you’ve got some backing tracks you like playing bass over, you can easily do so thanks to the Aux feature. Finally, the footswitch input lets you control your effects loop or mute your signal. However, you’ll have to purchase an FSB 102B unit as the footswitch is not included with the amp.
The way this wedge-shaped amp is designed, you have it front facing on a stage or turn it towards you and lean it back to use as a monitor. The built-in compressor makes your signal nice and even, and the three-band equalizer on board is ideal for your tone-adjusting needs. Finally, the FX loop feature opens doors to more experimentation.
Although billed as a 1,000-watt amp, those who like to keep their amps cranked up will quickly realize that the BXD15A truly manages to dish out just 250 to 300 watts of power. You may also face clipping issues with high-output pickups.
3. Hartke Kickback 12
This unit packs quite the punch and is known for the power it brings to the table.
Samson Technologies was founded in 1980. Today, it has become the industry leader for professional as well as consumer audio equipment. The company comprises 3 distinct brands: Hartke, Samson Audio, and Samson Wireless.
The 3 brands, put together, share a product line that comprises more than 250 products, with a distribution network that spans over 140 countries. Musicians affiliated with Hartke equipment include the likes of Sal Italiano, Craig Martini, and Matt Hartke.
- Front Panel Controls Layout
At the left extreme, you’ll find a quarter-inch “Input” unbalanced jack for your musical instrument to be plugged in. Next, there’s a “Volume” control knob, a “Shape” control knob, and a “Shape In/Out” button. Following are 3 control knobs for “Bass,” “Midrange,” and “Treble.” Then you’ll find a “Direct Out” XLR connector that can be used to boost the Input “Gain” by an additional 6 dB. The neighboring quarter-inch jack is for “Headphone” connectivity. When the headphones are plugged in, the speaker output is automatically disconnected. At the right extreme of the panel, you’ll find a conveniently placed ‘Power’ switch.
- Front Panel Controls – Volume & Shape
The “Volume” control knob is used to regulate the overall volume. The tiny “Shape In/Out” button is a switch that can be pressed to enable an equalization curve that enriches the bass instrument’s sound. The “Shape” control knob allows you to customize the effect to your liking. This control is only active when the Shape switch button activates it.
- Equalizer: Bass, Midrange & Treble
The Bass control knob allows you to set low-frequency responses. Turning the knob rightward, a boost is provided to the frequency area. Similarly, if the knob is turned leftward, the same frequency area becomes attenuated. Just as the Bass control sets low frequency, the Midrange control knob allows you to set the mid-frequency response, and the Treble control lets you set the high-frequency response between boost towards the right and attenuated towards the left.
- Rear Panel Controls
The rear panel has a “Power” socket on its left side, with a “Fuse” holder just beneath, for protection. Next, you’ll find a “Voltage Selection” switch that allows you to change between 100V to 120V and 220V to 240V. There’s a heat-release vent to the right of the Power section of the device. “Caution and Attention” information is located in the center of the rear panel. The right side of the panel houses a quarter-inch “Output” jack, so you may connect a speaker if you wish to.
- Speaker, Power & Dimensions
The Amp has an “Output Power” of 500W (Peak) and 250W (RMS) and an “Input Level” of 77.46mv RMS (at 1kHz). The unit comes equipped with a 12″ Hydrive neodymium bass speaker, measures 15.7″ x 14.75″ x 18.14″, and weighs approximately 12.8 kg.
This Hartke offering is surprisingly loud for its size, and the angled back allows it to rest stably at an angle of around 45 degrees. The 12″ Hydrive neodymium bass speaker, along with the class D Amp technology, really make this a very impressive combo Amp.
The Equalizer section only covers 3-bands, High, Mid, and Low. Some other combo options provide 4 or even more control knobs that allow much greater adjustment, with more control over the mid-range. Although this combo unit holds great value, it is expensive.
4. Orange Crush Bass 100
This orange box of wonder can be your next practice amp, as it has all you need in a compact package.
The Crush Bass series includes several variants, including the 25-watt, 50-watt, and 100-watt models. Measuring 21.65 inches in height, 20.28 inches in width, and 13.98 inches in depth, the Crush Bass 100 is the most sizeable of the three options.
Employing analog technology of the solid-state variety, this Crush Bass amp comes with 100W of power. The speaker behind the grille is 15 inches in size and can deliver a ton of low-end girth for its size. This is partly because the reflex port offers an enhanced bass response.
- Equalizer: Treble & Bass
Onboard, the Crush Bass is a three-band equalizer with all the necessary controls to get a decent tone out of your musical equipment. If you want to enhance the upper tier frequencies by 20 dB to make your slap bass pop, you can turn the “Treble” knob clockwise. For the lower echelon, the “Bass knob can be rotated to get a maximum of 15 dB of boost.
- Equalizer: Mids
For the middle frequencies, however, you get two different knobs. The idea is to set the preferred frequency first before making adjustments to boost it. The knob marked with a curve lets you set the mids between 300 Hz and 2.7 kHz. The “Middle” knob can then be rotated to achieve the desired boosting effect.
- Gain & Blend
The “Gain” and “Blend” controls work together. The Blend knob combines your original bass signal with the set gain value. When the gain is turned up, you’ll experience less of the clean tone and more of the wet signal. However, the Blend control will have little to no effect at lower gain values. The neighboring knob favors the higher frequencies and dials in the gain level. At a higher level, the Gain control will cause distortion.
- Pad & Volume
A very useful feature on some combo amps is the “Pad” button. This comes in handy, especially when working with disturbingly shrill sounds. When the button is pressed, these transient sounds are subdued by 6 dB. Finally, the last knob on the control panel adjusts the amp’s volume.
If you can’t find your tuner or forgot to pack it all together for the upcoming gig, the amp has you covered. When you press the tuner button, the nearby LEDs will light up to assist you. The longer LED section indicates the note being played, while the other three lights depict if the pitch is sharp, flat, or in tune.
- Top Panel I/Os
The main input can be found on the top panel next to the Pad button. You’ll also find an “Aux IN” in jack for connecting an Mp3 player or any musical device to jam over. There’s also a quarter-inch headphone output on the top panel next to which is an XLR balanced output for connecting to a mixer or recording your sound on a PC. If you hear any hum, not to worry. The dedicated ground button will remove any unwanted low-end noise with good efficacy.
- Rear Panel
You’ll find more useful connectivity options on the back of the unit. Firstly, you can place the effects unit before or in front of the Orange Crush Bass 100 amp to make it part of the effects loop. You can use the “Send” and “Return” jacks to achieve this. Next to this is a quarter-inch input for connecting a footswitch that can temporarily manipulate the blend parameter. You’ll also find the main power switch here, just above the socket for the detachable kettle cable. In addition, the amp can operate on both 110/115/120V & 22/230/240V, so you can take it anywhere in the world.
This bass amp has all the controls you need when jamming in your living room. The Crush Bass 100 has a built-in tuner and a three-band equalizer to easily achieve the sound you crave. You’ll also get useful controls like ground lift and pad features, which help keep things nice and noiseless. The effects loop ports and footswitch connectivity make things even more interesting.
Being an Orange amp, the Crush Bass 100 is quite expensive as there are plenty of other options in the market that cost quite less and offer much more wattage. Furthermore, the amp can be a good companion for jamming at home but may fall short of your expectations when performing for a large audience on a grand stage.
5. Fender Rumble Stage 800
This combo amp is among the most powerful members of the world’s best-selling Amp series.
Fender’s Rumble series brings Bass Amps that are much louder, weigh lighter, and pack more power than ever before. These amps also pack unique bass tones and other features that make them hugely versatile and very popular amongst Bassists the world over.
Initially founded as ‘Fender’s Radio Service,’ in 1938, Fender grew to establish a solid footing in the world of music and has, over the years, acquired brands as well. The company owns Charvel, Jackson, Bigsby, Gretsch, Squier, and PreSonus.
- Control Panel Layout
The left side of the panel houses an “Input” jack for Instrument connectivity, followed by 4 smaller control knobs for “Gain,” “Bass,” “Middle,” and “Treble.” Next is a larger control knob labeled “Master,” with a “Display Window” beside it. This display denotes the preset currently active, along with all its parameters, contents, effects, and amplifier menus. It also shows functions such as a tuner and general functions. A large black and white “Decoder” rotary knob sits between 3 “Layer” buttons and 4 “Utility” buttons. Placed near the right-most edge of the panel are 2 jacks for “Aux In” and “Headphones Out.”
- Control Knobs
The Gain control knob is essentially a volume knob for each preset. The Bass control sets the Bass tone setting of each preset. The Midrange of each preset can be set via the Middle control knob, and the Treble control knob regulates each preset’s treble tone. All 4 of these smaller knobs are programmable and sit to the right; the Master control knob allows you to regulate the overall output level of the device. This knob cannot be programmed.
- Layer Buttons & Encoder
The device’s 3 Layer buttons are for “Preset Layer,” “Signal Path Layer,” and “Controls Layer.” The Preset Layer button accesses the preset layer allowing you to choose the preset. The center button for Signal Path Layer shows the signal path of each preset, and the third Controls Layer button takes you to the customization layer. You can customize the 4 smaller control knobs in this mode. The Encoder rotary knob is a multipurpose control that lets you select, adjust and view controls and presets.
- Utility Buttons
The 4 Utility Buttons beside the Encoder knob represent “X FX,” “Save,” “Menu,” and “Tap.” The first of these buttons, the X FX button, allows you to bypass all of the effects, and the Save button lets you save new or pre-existing presets after modification. The Menu button lets you access Bluetooth, WiFi, Global EQ, Tuner, and Cloud Presets. The fourth Tap button adjusts the delay time and the rate of modulation and can be pressed and held to activate the device’s built-in Tuner.
- Rear Panel
From left to right, the device’s rear panel hosts an “On/Off Power” button and a power socket. There’s a vent grill just above and then a segment hosting a “Speaker” Output with an “Impedance” switch, a “Horn” switch, a “Footswitch” jack, and a “USB” port. You’ll find the model and make details next, followed by another segment for “Line Outputs” and “FX Send/Return.”
- Speaker & Power
The Amp requires 1,500W (Maximum) and 150W (Typical) “Power” and has a Power Amp Output of 400W at 8Ω (internal) and 800W at 4Ω/2.67Ω. The “Aux Input Impedance” is 18kΩ, and an ‘Instrument Input Impedance’ of 1MΩ. The Combo Amp comes equipped with 2 10″ Eminence Ceramic 16Ω speakers. The unit measures 19″ x 23.7″ x 14″ and weighs 17.7 kg.
The Amp brings a whole heap of options. It has Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, storage space, and customization options. The device delivers exceptional sound quality and features solid build quality. The Utility and Layer buttons open a new world of customizable presets.
The Amp boasts a set of features, both impressive and unique, but this extra functionality leads to a hefty price tag. With additional features comes added complexity. Some users may instead prefer a much simpler, plug-and-play, straightforward combo amp option.
6. Cort CM150B
Most Cort products offer great quality at an affordable price, and the CM150B bass amp is no exception.
Measuring 17 inches in height, 17 inches in width, and 14 inches in depth, this 150-watt amp is ideally suited for small-sized stages or indoor jamming. However, one thing to consider is the weight. The CM150B weighs almost 17 kg and will put you in a spot of bother if you plan to move it around frequently.
Concealed behind the removable front panel is a 12-inch speaker that does a decent job of projecting sound, while the reflex port contributes equally by adding more lower end to your bass guitar’s tone. Furthermore, you’ll find all the usual controls present on a typical bass amp and a few unconventional ones that enhance the overall experience.
You’ll be happy to know that the CM150B comes loaded with a four-band equalizer. Apart from the treble and bass control knobs that help cut or boost the frequencies at both extremes, the amp also has separate controls for “Low Mid” and “High Mid.” This means that you can have adequate representation throughout the frequency spectrum. But remember, experimentation is key. You can boost the bass for smooth girthy runs or enhance the treble when slapping the strings for percussive nuances. However, the mids are equally important, which is why the CM150B offers the utmost control in that aspect.
- Gain, Volume & Other Goodies
The other two knobs on the top panel control the master volume and add gain to your bass signal. If you’re experiencing boxy and subdued sounds, pressing the adjacent “Bright” button will instantly open up your sound to a great extent. There is an additional “Mode” button that might arouse your curiosity when you first gaze upon it. This button will add a decent amount of saturation to your sound when pushed. Of course, this has many applications. For instance, when a lower gain level is dialed in, you get a warm low end. As you turn the gain up, the saturation will cause slight distortion, which sounds great, giving your tone some desirable character.
- Top Connections
Also, on the top panel, apart from the input jack, you’ll find a 3.5mm Aux input jack so you can play your favorite tunes through the amp from your mobile to practice over them. There’s also a 3.5mm headphone jack next to the aux port to facilitate silent jamming.
- Back Connections
On the back is the main power switch and port to connect the kettle cable for power. The “Send” and “Return” jacks are great for sending or receiving signals from external effects units. Below the FX loop section is the XLR DI output and a ground lift switch commonly found on bass amps to keep things nice and quiet.
The amp is quite versatile and will allow you to dial in various sounds just by fiddling with the available controls. You can add just the right amount of gain, and the Bright and Mode buttons provide exciting sonic characteristics to the overall sound. All this and the four-band EQ make this budget amp an exciting piece of equipment.
Although small in size, the CM150B isn’t the lightest of amps by any stretch of the imagination. There are also a few other minor annoyances, like the 3.5mm headphone jack compared to the quarter-inch variation compatible with more heavy-duty phones. Being a 150-watt amp, this Cort unit is only suitable for small venues.
7. Hartke HD500
The brand’s HD series never ceases to amaze, and this combo amp is no different.
Hartke Systems is a Privately owned business that was founded by Larry Hartke in 1984. The company’s headquarters is located in Bloomfield, New Jersey, USA. Hartke has a global distribution network and specializes in producing Amplifiers for Bass Guitars.
The company is among the leading Bass Amp manufacturers owing much to its unique products inspired by creativity. Many Musicians rely on the “HyDrive” series equipment, such as Billy Sheehan, Victor Wooten, Nate Watts, Frank Bello, and David Ellefson.
- Control Layout
The left side of the panel features a quarter-inch input jack for connecting an instrument via an instrument cable. The “Volume” control knob is just beside it, and this control knob can be turned on either side to set the overall volume of the unit. 2 segments for “Shape” and “EQ” are located next to the Volume control. The other half of the panel houses an “Aux Input,” 2 quarter-inch jacks for “Effect Send” and “Effect Return,” an XLR “Direct Output” jack, and a quarter-inch “Headphone” jack.
- Shape Section
This section hosts a “Shape” switch and a control knob. The tiny Shape switch can be pressed to activate or deactivate a “Special Equalization Curve.” This improves the sound of the connected instrument and adds a 20dB filter to the frequency selected. The Shape control knob allows you to select the frequency. If the knob is turned right, you can select a higher frequency, whereas turning it left will select a lower frequency.
- EQ Section
The EQ section hosts 3 Control knobs for “Bass,” “Midrange,” and “Treble.” The Bass control knob sets low-frequency response. The Midrange control knob allows you to set the mid-frequency response; likewise, the Treble control allows you to regulate the high-frequency response. Each of the 3 knobs can be rotated right to allow a boost, and as it is rotated leftwards, the area-specific frequency area will become attenuated.
The Aux Input can connect an MP3, MP4, or CD Player. The effect Send, and Effect Return jacks are unbalanced. The effect Send jack can send the signal from the device to an outboard effects processor. The Effect Return jack returns the low-impedance signal back to the combo amp. The Direct Output jack normally attaches an XLR Microphone or a DI (Direct Injection) box. Once a headphone jack is connected via the Headphone jack, the output for the speaker is deactivated.
- Rear Panel
The Rear Panel hosts a power switch that also serves as a power status indicator, as the red LED inside lights up when the Amp is powered on. An ‘AC Power socket with a ‘Fuse’ holder is located below. A “Voltage Selection” switch is also present, and it allows you to switch the Voltage between 100V to 120V and 220V to 240V. The panel also hosts some grill vents for heat to escape.
- Speaker, Power & Dimensions
The Amp hosts two 10″ HyDrive Series neodymium speakers. The Rated Output Power is 500W (Peak) and 250W (RMS), and the Rated Input Level is 77.46mv rms. The combo device measures 19.6″ x 12″ x 20.27″ and weighs 15.6 kg.
The combo am is built like a tank and has a unique appearance. The material used is of high quality as well. The device packs a lot of power. It provides nice tones. The sound is quite crisp. The device is easy to use and should be an excellent option for beginners.
This offering by Hartke is priced at the higher side of the spectrum, although it brings a lot of value. The EQ section features 3 controls, whereas some combo options at a similar or lower price range may offer 4 or even more controls for greater versatility.
8. Peavey Max 300
The Peavy Max 300, with its rounded top edge, looks as smooth as your bass-playing skills.
The well-built chassis houses two 10-inch ferrite speakers mounted on an angled baffle offering better sound projection. This also eliminates the need to tilt your amp back to lift it off the floor. There are lots of other controls and features that set this Peavy unit apart from the rest.
The company has also paid special attention to the various setups and needs of the bass player to ensure that their Max series has something to offer everyone. You can opt for any of these amazing variants, including the Max 100, Max 150, Max 208, Max 250, and of course, the Max 300 bass combo.
If you’re a seasoned bass player, chances are that you have bass guitars in your collection with active and passive pickups. The great thing about the Max 300 is that Peavey has installed it will separate quarter-inch inputs for passive and active instruments. Since passive pickups are not as hot as the other variety, this input is 10 dB hotter.
- Gain & Overdrive
Moving on to the controls section, the first knob controls the “Gain.” Marked with divisions from 0 to 10, the Gain knob helps you adjust the signal’s gain level through the preamp section. Below this is an “Overdrive” button. When pressed, this adds crunch/distortion to your signal (depending on where the Gain knob is set) without enhancing the volume.
- Bass & Contour
The first set of controls in the equalizer section pertains to the lower-tier frequencies. The “Bass” knob boosts or cuts your low-end frequencies by 15 dB. The knob is centered at a frequency of 50 Hz. Just below this is the “Contour” button which has useful applications. If you want to create a scooped graph with enhancement in the bass and treble regions and a profound cut in the mids, the Contour button will help you instantly attain this setting.
- Middle & Mid Shift
The mid-band also has a couple of controls. When centered, the “Middle” knob can be moved clockwise or counterclockwise to make 15 dB adjustments in either direction. The “Mid Shift” button is crucial when adjusting the mids. When the button is pressed, the center frequency is enhanced to 600 Hz. However, in its unpressed state, the center frequency is set to 250 Hz.
- Treble & KOSMOS-C
Finally, the “Treble” knob will work similarly and manipulate the high-end frequencies by +15 dB or -15 dB. When the knob is moved to the center, the frequency is set to 6kHz. There’s also a complimenting “Bright” button in the third band. When it is activated, you’ll achieve a boost of 10 dB to brighten up your sound even further.
- Volume, Kosmos-C & Tuning
Next to the three-band equalizer is the master “Volume” knob. The Kosmos-C button works by adding lower octave harmonics, which give way to a strong bass response. Finally, the Max 300 amp also has a built-in tuner designed especially for bass guitars. The tuner uses a display to show the name of the played note and three LEDs to indicate if the note is flat, sharp, or in tune.
- Rear Panel
The back panel is also very detailed. You’ll find a myriad of input/output options here, including the FX “Send” and FX “Return” jacks that allow you to use the Peavy Max 300 with a variety of external effects, pedals, and processors. Below this section is the DI Output, designed to send signals to a mixer unit or record directly on your digital workstation. Pressing the nearby ground lift button will make the signal quieter and noiseless. You’ll also find here an “Aux In” and a headphone out, both of which are configured on 3.5mm jacks. The amp also has a “Speaker Output” and a Foot-Switch input that allows you to control different aspects of your sound, including the mute and overdrive features.
The amp is uniquely designed with a grille that continues to the top panel and a tilted baffle that ideally directs the sound. Each band in the equalizer section has a useful button for further enhancements. Also, the built-in tuner is accurate and helps tune your bass within seconds. Finally, the separate inputs for active/passive pickups ensure your instrument is heard optimally.
The Max 300 is a great amp for small gigs or practice sessions at home. However, if one was to point a downside, perhaps the mid-band would’ve been better off with a knob to control the center frequencies rather than a button which limits this to some extent. Furthermore, the unit is heavier than most, as it weighs over 20 kg.
9. Ampeg Rocket Bass RB-210
The Rocket Bass RB-201 unit is a great example of the company’s technical dexterity.
Ampeg is affiliated with the Yamaha Corporation and was founded in 1946 by Stanley Michaels and Everett Hull. The company’s product line includes some remarkable Bass, Electric, and Acoustic guitars, guitar Amplifiers, and guitar pickups.
Global megastars from the world of music, such as Sting, Seye Adelekan, Juan Alderete, Emma Anzai, Wayne Banks, Jack Bates, Brian Allen, Hayley Jane Batt, and Chris Beattie, hold a preference for Ampeg equipment. Not many know that Ampeg was once known as ‘Michael-Hull Electronic Labs.’
- Top Panel Layout
There are 2 quarter-inch ‘Input’ jacks near the left of the panel for ‘-15 dB’ and ‘0 dB’. Next to the jacks is a ‘Super Grit Technology’ segment, followed by a ‘Volume’ control knob. This control knob is responsible for setting the device’s overall volume. Next are 2 buttons and 3 control knobs representing the device’s EQ controls. 2 small jacks neighbor the EQ controls, the upper of which is for ‘Phones’ and the lower for ‘Aux in.’ The Aux input can plug in a music source such as an MP3 player. Then we have a blue LED indicator denoting ‘Power Status’ and a conveniently placed ‘Power’ button to sum up the panel.
- Super Grit Technology
This segment holds 2 Control knobs for ‘Grit’ and ‘level, an ‘SGT’ on/off switch, and an ‘SGT’ LED indicator that lights up to denote that the SGT circuit has been activated via the SGT switch. The Grit control knob can be used to set the SGT Grit amount. The Level control knob in this SGT segment enables you to select the SGT Overdrive effect’s level.
- EQ Controls
The EQ controls include 2 switches for ‘Ultra Hi’ and ‘Ultra Lo’ and 3 control knobs to regulate ‘Bass,’ ‘Midrange,’ and ‘Treble.’ The Ultra Hi switch boosts the high frequency by 5 dB, whereas the Ultra Lo switch is capable of boosting the low-end output by 1 dB. The Bass control can reduce the Bass frequencies, while the Midrange control knob determines between a ‘contoured’ sound and a ‘cut-through sound. The Treble control knob allows you to set the level of the high frequency.
- Rear Panel
Near the top-right corner of the Rear panel, you’ll find a “Horn” on/off switch, a quarter-inch “External Speakers” output jack, a quarter-inch “Footswitch” jack, and 2 quarter-inch “Effects Loop” jacks for “Send” and “Return.” Below, you’ll find a ‘Ground/ Lift’ Switch and an XLR DI Output. 4 vertical strips of heat vents are at the back.
- Speaker, Power, Weight & Measurements
The combo amp has an “Output Power Rating” of 30W (RMS) and requires maximum power Requirements of 45W (100 to 240V/ 50 to 60 Hz), an input impedance of 500kΩ and a -15 dB Pad Input Impedance of 75kΩ. The Amp houses a single 8″ powerful speaker. The combo amp measures 17″ x 16.2″ x 12″ and weighs approximately 10.45 kg.
The SGT (Super Grit Technology) functionality that this Amp brings to the table allows a host of combinations to be made. Including Ultra Hi and Ultra Lo switches adds to the device’s overall versatility. The EQ controls are impressive, to say the least.
The combo amp comes equipped with a wide array of functions but at a cost. The Ampeg offering is priced on the higher side of the scale. Another problem with relatively more functionality is that it brings complexity which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
10. Boss Katana-210
The Boss Katana is immensely popular among electric and bass guitar players worldwide.
Knowns for its technical prowess, the Katana offers open sound, excellent projection, tons of controls, and built-in effects that can be saved and recalled easily. The series includes two versions, namely the Katana-110, which offers a 60-watt output, and the more advanced Katana 210 model we’ll discuss today.
The larger 210 model offers 160 watts of power and has two 10-inch woofers and a 1-inch tweeter for just enough representation of the treble frequencies. The amp measures 24 inches in height, 19 inches in width, and 14 inches in depth. The truckload of customizable parameters will make the 210 you go to bass amp for every scenario.
- Effects Management
Towards the far left is the input for your bass guitar. Next is a very detailed “Input EFX” section that offers a couple of buttons to choose the effects type and a knob to control the effect level. The Katana offers an effects storage section with two banks with three slots each.
- Comp & Drive
Returning to the Input EFX section, the “Comp” button can be pressed to cycle through the green, red, and orange compressor types. The types include “Boss Comp,” “Hi Band Comp,” and “Boss Limiter” in Bank A and “Light Comp,” “Mild Comp,” and “Fat Comp” in Bank B. Operating on the same principle, the nearby “Drive” button help select effects like “Booster,” “Hi Band Drv,” and “Bass Di” when Band A is active and “Bass OD,” “Bass DS,” and “Bass DRV” when in Band B.
A lot of cool stuff is happening in the “Amplifier” section. Firstly, if you’re working with an instrument with high output pickups, you can use the “Pad” button to subdue it by 10 dB. Below this button is a selection knob to choose between Vintage, Modern, and Flat amp variations. Next to this are the “Gain” and Volume knobs. The Gain knob is very responsive and can dial in various crunch and distorted sounds. The Volume knob will adjust the level of the amp and the output level of the headphones. A “Shape” button here allows you to experiment with three different tonal shapes.
The “Blend” controls on this amp are very uniquely engineered. Pressing the “Blend” button will help you select the equalizer band with which you wish to blend the original dry signal. Once selected, you can use the “Dry Level” knob to adjust the intensity of the original dry signal.
Another very detailed portion of the control panel is the “Equalizer.” You get found bands to work with here, including “Bass,” “Low Mid,” “High Mid,” and “Treble.” Here again, there are a couple of buttons for enhanced tone shaping. The “Low Mid” button will offer a different center frequency for the Low Mid band every time it is pressed (a total of three variations). The “High Mid” button mimics this functionality and offers frequency variations for the Hi Mid band.
- Effects: FX1 & FX2
The “Effects” sections give you even more modulation options. Again, the effects type can be selected by pressing the FX1 and FX2 buttons, while the leveling is done using the knob below. FX1 offers “T.Wah,” “Chorus,” and “Enhancer” effects in Bank A and “Heavy Octave,” “Phaser,” and “Bass Synth” when Bank B is selected. FX2 is all about reverb, echo, and delay. Bank A includes “Analog Delay,” “Digital Delay,” and “Plate Reverb,” while Bank B has effects like “Tape Echo,” “SDE3000,” and “Hall Reverb.”
- Tone Setting
This section allows you to switch between banks and channels to access all the effects in the Input EFX and Effects section. Pressing the “Panel” button switches the banks, and the three-channel buttons are there to recall each effect instantly.
- Master Volume & Power Management
The area below the Tone Setting segment includes the master Volume control and a button to activate or deactivate the 1-inch tweeter. If you want a brighter tone, for instance, when playing slap bass, turning the tweeter on will deliver all the percussive nuances with great clarity. The Katana 210 also features a “Power Control” section that lets you switch the amp to standby mode if you want to disable the amp temporarily on stage without adjusting any settings. The other two settings include “1W” mode and “Max” or maximum power.
- Back Panel
Towards the rear, a “Speaker Out” output links your Katana to another speaker on stage. The DI out has a ground lift button for hum removal and a switch to choose between “Post,” “Pre,” and “Direct” settings. The Katana works well with external effects and can be easily made a part of the effects loop thanks to the “Return” and “Send” connectors. The “Power Amp In” input is independent of the onboard preamp and is used to take in signals from an external preamp. The usual “Aux In” input can also be found on the back, along with a quarter-inch “Phones/Rec Out” port.
- Foot Control
The amp also allows the user to select certain aspects of the onboard controls using footswitches and expression pedals. The GA-FC jack allows channel switching and turning the effects on or off. The EXP pedal jack offers bank and channel switching if a footswitch is connected and volume control if you plug an expression pedal into it.
- USB Port & Bluetooth
The USB port is multifunctional. You can connect the amp to a computer through it and record directly or pair it with the proprietary software to make adjustments to the various effects on board. Furthermore, if you purchase a Bluetooth adapter, you can connect it to the rear panel and pair your mobile devices to the unit wirelessly for audio playback.
The Katana 210 by Boss is truly a monster of an amp, as it is loaded with a plethora of features. Compressor, delay, echo, chorus, phaser, reverb, overdrive, distortion, you name it, and the Katana has it. If that’s not enough, there are also 3 shape types and many amplifier variations. The four-band EQ will do the rest.
This powerful amp from Boss is well-endowed and has all you need for years. There’s nothing negative you can say about it. Perhaps there’s a slight chance that the interface may seem a bit hard to get used to for someone early in his/her bass-playing journey. Apart from that, a great amp for the money.
11. Gallien-Krueger MB410-II
Coming out of Mr. Gallien’s garage, there’s a fascinating story behind the first amp built by the company owner himself.
When he was getting a degree in engineering at Stanford, Gallien took a shot at creating an amp he planned to use as a musician. Who knew that days later it would be bought by the guitaring legend Carlos Santana for use on some of his earlier albums? Since then, the band has ventured into combo amps, amp heads, and cabinets.
Featuring a whopping four 10-inch neodymium magnet speakers with the horn right in the center, the MB410 is a great option for the gigging musician. With plenty of headroom, a great punchy tone, and the option to expand, this bad boy offers 500 watts of output, making it worth every buck.
- Input, Pad & Gain
Starting from the far left, the quarter-inch input jack accepts the signal from your bass guitar. There’s a “Pad” button next to it, which can attenuate instruments with high output pickups by -10 dB. The “Gain” control helps add crunch/distortion to your bass’s unprocessed signal.
- Contour & Equalizer Controls
The “Contour” button can adjust the amp’s frequency response instantly. When pressed, both the highs and the lows are enhanced, while the mids are scooped to provide the typical smiley frequency graph. Also equipped with a detailed four-band active equalizer. Some bass amps focus all their energies on the bass and treble frequencies; however, the MB410-II has separate controls for “Treble,” “Hi-Mid,” “Lo-Mid,” and “Bass.” Turning the mid knobs up will give you a full-bodied tone, and if you’re looking to add more girth, turning the bass level up will do the job well.
- Boost & Volume
The “Boost” knob comes into play when throwing GK’s signature “Growl” into the mix. The output does get compromised when Boost is engaged, so you’ll need to find the right blend of Gain and Volume to address the issue. Having the Boost control centered keeps things nice and articulate with a subtle amount of thickness in the tone. The “Master” volume controls the overall output level.
- Limiter & Horn
The “Limiter” is a great feature as it protects your speakers if your adrenaline is pumping and you decide to crank everything up and go all out on a live stage. Although the amp is extremely powerful and can manage high levels with relative ease, the Limiter offers good insurance and, if needed, prevents the speakers from getting damaged. The “Horn” button awakens the central Horn speaker, which because of its sparkle and brightness, is ideal if you plan to play some slap bass.
In the “Patch Bay” section, you’ll find a 3.5mm “Aux-In” port for jamming along. Besides, this is a quarter-inch port for your headphones. The “Direct Out” XLR output is next and helps connect to external devices like a mixer or a computer for recording purposes. You’ll also find a “Pre/Post” EQ button here if you wish to apply an external EQ to the output signal. Finally, the power button has a ring light around it which is red when the amp is turned on and turns blue when it is ready to go. The light will also turn red if there’s bad power, so you can switch off the amp in time to avoid any damage to the power section. The “Chain Out” jack on the rear allows you to connect to any available GK power enclosers to create an extensive and powerful rig.
While some amplifiers beat around the bush and fall considerably short of the billed power, with the MB410-II, you experience 500 watts as promised. The tone-shaping options are great, and the Contour and Boost features offer significant projection, allowing the amp to easily cut through the mix.
One thing to note about the amp is its excessive weight. Weighing almost 30 kg, the MB410 is not the easiest amp to move around from your house to a stage and back. The other more obvious downside is the big price tag making this unit one of the more expensive amps on our list today.
12. Markbass MB58R CMD 102
Like all Markbass amps, the MB58R, with its bright yellow speaker rings, looks great.
Featuring a couple of 10-inch neodymium speakers, and a tiny little tweeter that handles the treble frequencies well, you’ll get loads of projection and volume. Not only that, the MB58R’s external chassis is made of biodegradable material, which is very light.
The unit has a power rating of 300 watts by itself, but you can also hook it to another speaker to have a powerful 500-watt rig at your disposal. Also, weighing just 12 kg, this Italian amp is easy to carry around to and from your live performances.
Nothing exciting happens on the rear panel except a speaker out port, as most of the inputs and outputs are hosted on the control panel itself. Starting from the far left, the effects “Send” and “Return” connection jacks allow you to position the amp before or after your preferred effects units. Below this is the XLR line-out port for connecting with a mixer. You can also record on your DAW using this route. The corresponding “Line Out” knob helps control the signal level sent forth by the XLR port. In addition, the ground lift button next to the output will reduce hum instantly. Next is the input jack, where you can connect your bass guitar.
- Rotary Knob & Footswitch
There’s a rotary knob on the interface that helps select various settings. For instance, you can control equalizer settings, such as setting a flat response across all frequency ranges or having scooped mids. In its third position, the knob activates the footswitch. The MB58R is also equipped with a footswitch input on the far right of the control panel. Through an external footswitch, you can also mute the amp or take over the tone-shaping responsibilities of the rotary switch.
- Gain & Volume
There are two brightly colored knobs that can’t be missed. The “Gain” knob towards the left operates between -46 dB and +23 dB. You can dial in subtle crunch tones or more profound distortion by increasing the gain level. The knob is also accompanied by a “Clip” led, which lights up, indicating when the gain needs to be turned down to avoid clipping. The other bright yellow knob controls the master volume.
- Equalizer, Old School Filter & Mute
The MB58R also features a four-band equalizer. The bands are spread across the “Bass,” “Mid Low,” “Mid High,” and “High” knobs. The Bass and Treble knobs operate over a center frequency of 68 Hz and 10 kHz, respectively. The Mid Low is centered at 360 Hz, whereas the Mid Highs have a center frequency of 800 Hz. Each of these knobs can cut or boost by 16 dB. The final knob on the control panel is called “Old School,” which can further cut between 250 Hz and 20 kHz. Lastly, the amp has a switch that can be flipped to mute everything.
The amp is nice and compact, measuring almost 18 inches by 23 inches by 19 inches. Other pros include a four-band equalizer that provides ample tone shaping and a rotary switch allowing quick access to options like scooped mids or a flat response. The addition of a footswitch input enhances the ease of use.
A cooling fan on the amp dissipates heat well enough but can be heard in quieter setups. Also, strangely enough, there is no headphone output, one of the more basic features of standard bass amplifiers. Considering the hefty price tag, other options, like a compressor, would be great.
13. Ashdown Rootmaster RM500C210 EVO II
Like the company logo, Ashdown equipment is inspired by automotive design elements.
In 1997, Mark Gooday, a Managing Director and Chief Engineer at “Trace Elliot,” founded Ashdown Engineering. The company’s logo was heavily inspired by Gooday’s passion for cars. Today, the company is known for its Bass effects pedals, cabinets, and Bass amplifiers.
With its headquarters in England, the company started with powerful 50W and 100W guitar amps but soon introduced 20W and 40W models. Ashdown also started “Hayden Amplification,” a separate company specializing in making hand-wired guitar amps.
- Control Panel
From left to right, the panel starts with 2 jacks, with a brightly lit analog “ABM VU” meter to the right. You’ll also have tiny but hugely useful buttons for “Shape,” “EQ,” “Comp,” and “Drive.” The panel also houses 8 smaller control knobs and 1 larger ‘Output’ control knob. The smaller knobs represent “Bass,” “Input,” “340Hz,” “Comp,” “Middle,” “1.6Khz,” “Drive,” “Treble,” “Sub,” and “Line Mix.”
- Dual Instrument Inputs
There are 2 Input jacks for instrument connectivity, the first of which is “Active” while the other is “Passive.” The passive jack is ideal for Bass instruments (Passive) with high impedance and sensitivity. The active jack has a lower impedance and sensitivity, making it suitable for connecting active Bass instruments.
- Shape & Equalization
The ‘Shape’ button provides a significant boost and bass to the sound in fixed EQ. In order to mimic the older, more traditional amps, you can turn the Treble, Middle, and Bass control knobs until all three are in the 12 o’clock position. The 340Hz and 1.6Khz control knobs will allow additional freedom in adjusting the EQ.
Adding a minor compression amount produces the sound of a fat end. It also grants you greater amplification without worrying about peaks. The compression also enhances the definition and clarity. An increased amount of compression may be relied on as an effect, but it’ll reduce the dynamics by capping the volume of notes. It’ll also introduce sustain, which makes the notes last much longer.
- Speaker, Wight, and Measurements
The combo amp houses two speakers measuring 10″ each. The device has an Output Power of 507W into 4Ω. The Amp measures 13.39″ x 18.5″ x 23.82″ and weighs approximately 23 kg.
This unit is hugely versatile, with the sheer number of controls, compression, and overdrive. The detailed Equalization segment allows you to track back and get a traditional-sounding tone while allowing you the freedom to get exactly what you wish from your Amp.
Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as one best combo amp for everybody, and although this device packs quite the punch and offers a ton of versatility, it can seem like a bit of an overkill option. The unit is on the expensive side, and not everyone would like the extra features.
We’ve carefully included a wide assortment of bass amplifiers in today’s list to cater to the needs of bassists worldwide. These amps were chosen to cover various factors such as speaker power, tone shaping, sound projection, affordability, and of course, different-sized setups.
Starting from the smaller units, the Orange Crush Bass 100 and Cort CM 150B are great practice amps and provide enough power for smaller-sized gigging avenues. The Boss Katana-210 is an amazing amp that dishes out 160 watts of power and a wealth of controls. There’s hardly an amp on the list that can compete with it regarding the built-in effects the Katana offers.
Taking things a step further, the 300-watt Peavey Max 300 introduces an extended grille and an angular design which plays a vital role in sound focus and projection. The ever-so-compact Markbass MB58R provides decent controls and rotary switches to help dial-in settings for scooped mids or balanced frequency response.
There’s also a wide selection of 500-watt amps you can choose from on today’s list, such as the Gallien-Kreuger MB410-II, Ashdown Rootmaster RM500C210, Ampeg Rocket Bass RB-210, and Fender Rumble 500. Both amps from Hartke also fall in the 500-watt category and are worth considering.
Now on to the big boys. The Fender Rumble Stage is a big upgrade from the Rumble 500. It offers 800 watts of output and an intuitive effects engine that can be easily navigated to dial in some usable effects. Finally, the 1,000-watt Bugera BXD15A has a detailed equalizer on board and several other impressive features.
Furthermore, the BXD15A and the Hartke KB12 Kickback are the only two amps that come in a wedge-shaped enclosure, so you can have them forward facing on a live stage or lean them back and use them as monitors while performing.
Sultan Zafar is a guitar player from Islamabad, Pakistan. He has been playing music with various mainstream musicians for over 20 years. He is a song writer and music producer. These days he spends his time exploring different music genres and collaborating with fellow musicians on various projects. Read more..