If you’re dreaming of your first bass head or want to switch to the stack, we can help you make your choice. This article will show you the Top 6 Solid State Bass Amps 2023. In short, here they are:
Choosing a bass amplifier can be quite a challenge. First, you need to figure out what you need based on portability, tonal characteristics, wattage, and budget. Luckily, we’ve got a list of great options for just about every wallet. But first, let’s understand what solid state bass gear is.
Why Are Most Bass Amps Solid State?
Solid State bass amps are more popular than tubes due to several factors. First, they are more reliable and less expensive. Second, such equipment is often more powerful and louder. As many people know, it takes a lot of power to produce low frequencies. Therefore, bass guitar playing, and especially performing, requires units with more watts.
Solid State bass gear is just more practical. Over the years, these heads have gotten smaller and provided users with more features. On the other hand, as for the tube ones, they can give a great tone. But they are often expensive and heavy.
As for the price, you can find a pretty decent solid state bass head for $200-300 dollars, while a good tube will start at $500 and more. If we are talking about high-end units in general, the price there goes over a thousand dollars.
Are Tube Bass Amps Better Than Solid State?
The tube bass amps are not better than solid state. They are just different. Many people think that tube bass amplifiers provide more natural and pleasant overtones when you turn the gain up. In turn, solid state is associated with a more digital and hiss sound.
Nevertheless, if you want a more transparent sound without any coloring, this is exactly what solid-state gear can provide. On the other hand, if you are a fan of old-school bass sound before the ’70s, tube amps are your favorite.
If the guitar community is more definite about solid state amplifiers, the bass community is more loyal. Many famous musicians worldwide use transistor equipment for bass guitars and get great results. So, it all depends on the taste of a specific person.
Top 6 Solid State Bass Amps 2023 (On Any Budget)
1. Ampeg PF-500 Portaflex
The Ampeg PF-500 Portaflex gives you many different features and legendary sound.
It’s probably hard to find a bass player who doesn’t know about the Ampeg brand. This company is one of the top manufacturers of bass gear, and its history goes back to the 1940s. Over time, the sound of these amplifiers has become a dream for many musicians, especially those who associate themselves with rock music.
Now we will talk about the Ampeg PF-500 Portaflex bass amplifier. As you can already understand from the name, it is a 500-watt Class D head. Its main feature is a pretty affordable price and various features, including a compressor, Mid-tone control, Balanced direct out, etc. Let us tell you about them in more detail.
- Mute or -15 dB Function
On the far left of the front panel, you will see two Mute and -15 dB pad buttons. With the first one, you will be able to mute your signal altogether. The second allows you to turn down the level if your instrument has a very hot signal in the first place. It’s quite a handy feature to adjust the level.
- Add Some Compression
Compression is a vital component of producing a pleasing bass tone, as it can provide a more consistent low-end to your instrument. This amplifier has a compression function, the amount of which can be adjusted thanks to a separate knob. The variable ratio is 10:1, so you can get both subtle and quite extreme compression.
- Ultra Hi and Lo Switches
Another pretty good feature is the presence of two buttons, Ultra Hi and Ultra Lo. The latter will give you a more pronounced bottom-end by cutting some midrange frequencies. The Ultra Lo button works similarly and will give you a bass tone that cuts nicely through the mix.
- 5 Position Frequency Selector
In addition to the usual Bass, Midrange, and Treble knobs, you will also have an additional Frequency. With it, you will choose exactly which area of the midrange you want to cut or boost. In general, this switch has five positions responsible for a separate area.
- FX Mix Function
Another knob on the front of the FX Mix will be responsible for the amount of signal from your FX Loop. This way, you can connect the effects pedals on the back of the amp thanks to Return and Send and fine-tune the ratio between Dry and Wet signals.
- Audio In & Phone Out
You can plug it directly into the amplifier thanks to the Audio In input if you must practice on the bass with a playback. Also, next to it is the Phones output, which will allow you to practice silently with headphones without having to connect the head to a cabinet.
- XLR Line Out
Also, an essential feature of this head is a separate XLR Line Out. You can split the signal and record it at ease, thanks to it. In addition, there is also a Post-EQ and Pre-EQ setting and a 0 dB and -40 dB function if it is too high.
Character & Sound:
The Ampeg PF-500 Portaflex will give you a pretty massive bass sound. However, you will have enough possibilities to improve it even more because the head has plenty of tonal possibilities thanks to, for example, the Frequency Selector feature.
An extremely versatile bass head with “that Ampeg tone.” For the reasonably democratic price of $400, you get a lot of options for extracting your tone, DI Out, playback and headphone connections, and the ability to tune the amount of signal from the FX Loop. Pretty full gear, as for its price.
Since this is a 500-watt bass head, it may be too loud for home practice with a cabinet. But fortunately, you can play it with headphones.
2. tc electronic BAM200
If you need a compact bass head ideal for home practice or small gigs, the tc electronic BAM200 is an excellent choice.
The following product on our list is probably the most little bass head we have ever seen. It is the BAM200 from tc electronic, designed by specialists in Denmark and manufactured in China. Despite its relatively compact appearance, you get a sufficient array of features and good sound quality.
In particular, you will have 200-watt power, standard 3-band EQ, gain control, and master. But in fact, this is not the end of its benefits. You’ll have an easy way to practice at home since you can plug your bass into the head even without a cabinet.
- Small, But 200 Watts of Power
Don’t be fooled by the size of this head – its total power is 200 watts. So it can easily rock a standard cabinet. By the way, the connection here is only 4 ohms. You can adjust the level thanks to two knobs – Gain and Master, which will be your primary volume control.
- The Usual 3-Band EQ
You don’t have to spend much time figuring out the settings because they are very straightforward here. You can dial up your bass tone thanks to the 3-Band EQ, which consists of Bass, Middle, and Treble. That’s all you need to get the sound you want as quickly as possible.
- Play Silently
Another cool feature is that the BAM200 has a separate headphone output. So you can practice at home whenever you want without disturbing your neighbors. By the way, the sound will be pretty pleasant because there is a built-in cabinet emulation.
- Easy to Record
You also get a separate DI Out, which allows you to easily record the parts, both in the studio and at home. You will find this output on the rear panel of the amplifier. Like many others, it is connectable with a balanced XLR cable.
Character & Sound:
With the tc electronic BAM200, you get quite a quality sound. Overall, it is dynamic and quite punchy. The low-end is also praiseworthy, which is quite round and solid.
It is a tiny bass head with enough power of 200 watts that will be pretty easy to transport to rehearsals or gigs. The other advantage is that it has a separate headphone output so that you can practice at home at ease.
Thanks to the built-in DI Out, it also comes in handy for recording. As for the price, it’s ridiculous – about $130.
At this point, we don’t see any drawbacks to this head. For more information, check out the user reviews online.
3. Trace Elliot ELF Basshead
The small but powerful enough Trace Elliot ELF will be a good option if you need the most portable bass head.
Trace Elliot is a well-known British company that produces bass equipment and acoustic instruments. You will recognize it by the characteristic green coloring of their equipment, which has managed to win the hearts of many music enthusiasts over the years. Now we will talk about one of their most miniature creations – it is a bass head called ELF.
All in all, this little box holds 200 watts of power. Of course, based on the size, you won’t have many features, but it’s there nonetheless. For example, there is a hidden signal compression function and even some grit.
You can also use this head for both home practice and small gigs. Let’s take a closer look at what’s here.
- Gain Possibilities
The Gain knob gives you plenty of tonal possibilities. For example, you’ll get a clean and massive bass sound if it’s up to noon. As soon as you turn it halfway up, you get the compression function indicated by a yellow indicator light. And finally, your tone will sound with a kind of grit at maximum gain, suitable for rock music.
- 3-Band EQ
The Trace Elliot ELF bass head equalizer is pretty familiar and easy to use. There are three Bass, Mid, and Treble knobs. It is worth noting that the EQ here is quite functional, and you can get both a more vintage sound with a pronounced midrange and a modern definition of the upper frequencies.
- Use Headphones for Practice
You’ll also find a headphone input on the front of this little head, so you can easily practice bass at home. Note that the Volume knob adjusts the signal level from the cabinet and the headphones. So if it’s turned up, make sure that the volume doesn’t dazzle you in your headphones.
- Easy To Record
If you need to record your bass lines – we have good news – this head also has DI output for XLR cable. In addition, this section here works as Post EQ, so you can use the head’s equalizer to sharpen the DI bass tone better.
- Extra Small Size
The Trace Elliot ELF is a tiny bass head and can fit in the palm of your hand. But, of course, it still depends on the size of your palm itself. To be more specific, it weighs only 730 grams and measures 3.4 x 17.1 x 10.4 centimeters. So it is elementary to transport.
Character & Sound:
You get both round and massive and a more midrange-driven sound at more extreme gain settings. All in all, this head is excellent with any bass cabinet. So if you are a fan of the Trace Elliot tone, you should not be disappointed with its sound.
The Trace Elliot ELF is an ergonomic 200-watt bass head that will suffice for rehearsals and small gigs. In addition, it has reasonably high-quality sound and not-so-limited tonal capabilities. By the way, you also get a small bag, which makes transporting the amp even easier.
The head is only powered by 220-240 volts, so we advise you to ask if it will fit your place before you buy it. Also, the speaker output here is designed only for jack cable, so there is no possibility to connect via Speakon.
4. Orange OB1-500 Bass Head
With the Orange OB1-500 Bass Head, you can get round, clean, and dirty overdriven bass sound.
Adding grit to the bass guitar has become standard practice, especially for rock and metal music. Because of this, the bass can cut through the mix better and generally get a powerful sound. The renowned guitar equipment company Orange has made sure that you can do this without the need for additional pedals, thanks to the OB1-500 amplifier alone.
We don’t know if the creators of this head did it on purpose, but its name sounds like the name of a famous Star Wars character. The OB1-500 is a 500-watt solid state bass amp that splits your signal.
One stays clean, and the other is overdriven. You can blend the two sounds and get a massive bass tone.
- Dial A Clean Tone
The left section on the front panel is responsible for producing a clean bass tone. Here you will find a volume knob and a 3-Band EQ with Treble, Mid, and Bass controls. Mid and Bass can be cut or boosted by 15 dB and Treble by 20 dB.
- Add Some Dirt
On the right side, you will find the Drive and Blend knobs. So, with Drive, you can adjust how much your signal is overdriven, and with Blend, you can change the ratios between the two. By the way, you will see the branded Orange icons on the whole front panel, which have become a trademark of the company.
- Use Active or Passive Pickups
Orange has implemented another feature here to help you set up a better interaction between the bass guitar and the amplifier. Under the Input jack, there is a button with Active and Passive modes. So you can use this based on what kind of electronics your instrument is equipped with.
- Balanced or Line Outputs
You can also use this head to play through the cabinet and record your bass parts. On the rear panel, you will find two inputs – a simple jack Line Output and Balanced Output via XLR cable. By the way, the latter is Post-EQ and has Lift and Grind functions.
- Footswitch Input
This amplifier also comes with a separate one-button footswitch. With it, you will be able to turn the overdriven signal on and off. It will be pretty handy for use on stage or in rehearsal.
Character & Sound:
With the Orange OB1-500, your bass sound can be clean, dirty, or something in the middle. It’s worth noting that even if you turn the Drive knob up, it won’t affect the low-end. Therefore, your sound will be massive no matter what.
The Orange OB1-500 is a straightforward yet versatile bass head. You’ll have a fantastic equalizer, clean and dirty sounds, and the ability to record parts thanks to Balanced and Line Outputs at ease.
The design of this amp also deserves special attention because it looks incredible.
This head is not trying to be compact and easy to transport. On the contrary, it weighs 10 kilograms and is quite large. Keep that in mind if you need an ergonomic option.
5. Markbass Little Mark 250 Black Line
The Markbass Little Mark 250 Black Line gives you the most features for a rather pleasant price.
Markbass is an Italian manufacturer of bass equipment, including amplifiers, cabinets, and combos. Now we will talk about a relatively budget model, which will please you with its tonal capabilities and pretty good ergonomics, and many possibilities – it is the Little Mark 250 Black Line.
It is a 250-watt bass head with a transistor preamp and an analog power amp. It also has an extended equalizer, vintage sound emulation, several inputs, and even a DI output. In addition, you get a separate output for the tuner and FX loop as well.
A pretty good number of features, isn’t it? Now let’s analyze them one by one.
- Two Inputs
You can see the familiar jack input on the front of this bass head. But there is another one above it, which is the Balance Input. It means that you will be able to connect your bass guitar with a balanced Jack/XLR cable. As everyone knows, these connections provide a minimum of noise.
- 4-Band EQ
Other than that, you will have a 4-band Equalizer consisting of Low, Mid Low, Mid High, and High knobs. It gives you two midrange control areas, which allows you to adjust the bass tone more accurately. All of the controls can cut or boost 16 dB.
- VLE & VPF Controls
In addition to EQ, there are two more VLE and VPF controls. The first one stands for “Vintage Loudspeaker Emulation” and allows you to tune a vintage or more modern sound. The second is the “Variable Pre-shape Filter,” which will let you control the area around 380 hertz.
- Separate Line Out
Besides the usual connection of the head to the cabinet, you can also get a separate Line Out signal. You will find this XLR output on the rear panel. Also, you will be able to adjust its level thanks to the separate Line Out knob on the front panel. So you don’t need to use the DI box here..
- Tuner Out and FX Loop
Another great feature is that you will be able to connect a tuner to your head. There’s a separate input on the back for that. In addition, you’ll find the FX Loop, which makes it easy to use the amp in combination with effects pedals.
Character & Sound:
With the advanced EQ and two additional VLE and VPF knobs, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to get any bass sound you want. It is especially true of the midrange manipulation. Overall, this head has its distinctive color and character.
With the Markbass Little Mark 250 Black Line, you get many features for the affordable price of just over $200. Also, this head is sturdy and weighs only 2.6 kg, so you can easily transport it just by putting it in your bag. The total output of 250 watts is good enough for rehearsals or small gigs.
Some users have noted that this head is quite large for its power of 250 watts. Also, some do not like the fact that the knobs are made of plastic despite the metal body. As for the country of manufacturer, it is Indonesia, which many also associate with questionable quality.
6. Harley Benton Block-800B
The Harley Benton Block-800B will probably be the most powerful bass head with the most features you can find.
Harley Benton is known as the brand of one of Europe’s most popular musical instrument stores, Thomann. These guys provide products at remarkably affordable prices. And one of them is the following amplifier on our list – Harley Benton Block-800B.
Here you get as much as 800 watts of power, which can provide play for a big performance. There’s also a DI Out, from which you can send the signal to the PA system. Besides, this head has an unprecedented number of features, which we’ll discuss below.
- High/Low Function
This small button called High/Low, located on the front panel, allows you to match the head to the electronics of your instrument. The difference between the modes is 1 dB, so if you connect different bass guitars, you don’t need to change the settings every time.
- 4-Band EQ
You’ll have as many as four equalizer bands, namely Bass, Lo Mid, Hi Mid, and Treble. So you’ll have your hands completely free to get the bass tone you want because you’ll get two controls in the midrange area.
- In-Built Compressor
In addition, the Harley Benton Block-800B has a built-in smart compressor that you can turn on and off, thanks to a separate button. There’s also a knob to help you adjust the amount of compression you want.
- XLR DI Out
As for the DI output, it is an XLR jack located on the front panel. In addition, next to it are the Lift/Ground switch and the Pre/Post EQ. The latter means whether your DI signal will be affected by EQ settings.
- Line In & Headphones Out
Harley Benton has made sure that you can practice with your playback. The head has a separate Line Input for that purpose and even the ability to adjust the signal’s volume. Also, the amp has a headphone output, so you can practice without disturbing others.
- Use Tuner and FX Pedals
Other features of Block-80B are a separate tuner output on the front panel. That way, you can connect it much more quickly. There’s also an FX Loop on the back of the head to use your favorite effects pedals.
Character & Sound:
The character of the sound of this amplifier is quite natural. However, you will be able to influence the bass tone yourself, thanks to the relatively advanced EQ options. As for signal heat, you can regulate it with the Input knob, which is essentially Gain.
The Harley Benton Block-800B is a mighty big gig-level bass head that costs only two and a half hundred dollars. It’s hard to believe, considering how many different features its creators have packed into it. Also, despite all this, it is pretty ergonomic, as it weighs only 2.9 kg.
Some users are not satisfied with the quality of the plastic knobs. Also, some people advise using a separate preamp in front of the amplifier to achieve precisely the bass tone you need.
Aguilar Tone Hammer 350
If you want a solid-state amplifier with tube sound, check out the Aguilar Tone Hammer 350.
The guys from the American company Aguilar are involved in producing everything related to bass equipment. Their product line includes pedals, pickups, bass heads, and cabinets. Next, we will talk about the amplifier, which can surprise you with a sound similar to the tube one despite its solid-state nature.
As you can guess from the name, the Aguilar Tone Hammer 350 is a 350-watt bass head. Its main feature is that despite its good power, it is pretty light and easy to transport. In addition, you will have a great equalizer, DI Out, pad, and several other features.
- EQ With the Frequency Selection
All in all, you get 3-Band EQ, but its capabilities don’t end there. In addition to the Mid, Bass, and Treble knobs, you will have another one called Mid Freq. You can choose which mid frequencies you want to cut or boost between 180 Hz and 1 kHz.
- Drive Feature
An excellent feature of this head is the separate Drive knob, which allows you to add grit to your signal. It will be responsible for how “tubey” your bass tone will be. This feature works in synergy with the Gain knob, so experiment with both for a better sound.
- Separate DI Out
Like many other bass heads, this one also has a separate DI Out, which comes in handy for recording and PA systems. There is also a Post/Pre function that will determine whether your signal will use the head’s EQ.
- Tuner Connection
Also, you can easily use this head in combination with a tuner. There is a particular input on the rear panel for this purpose. Just plug the pedal in to be aware of the tuning, both on stage and in rehearsal.
Character & Sound:
The main goal of the developers was to make Tone Hammer provide a dynamic, punchy, and sparkling sound. We can say that these guys succeeded. The head will provide you with a beautiful sound, the main accent of which is also clarity.
The Aguilar Tone Hammer 350 will give you a great bass sound with a tube flavor. In addition, this head has a reasonably functional EQ and a separate Drive knob that will expand your tonal capabilities.
The amp is also exceptionally lightweight and weighs only 1.4 kg, and can easily fit into a gig bag.
This head’s disadvantages are the lack of headphone output and FX Loop. Also, compared to other transistor bass amplifiers, it is pretty expensive and costs more than $500.
As you can understand, there are many good solid-state amps for bass guitars on the market. And the best part is that you don’t have to rob the bank to buy one. But still, what to start with when choosing such gear? Let us help you with a few tips.
First, decide if you need a portable bass head. If you are a touring musician or just want to have a small unit, great options are #2 on our list – the tc electronic BAM200 and #5 Trace Elliot ELF.
The best option from the category of “more features for less money” is number 6 – Harley Benton Block-800B. And as for the excellent bass tone, number 3 Ampeg PF-500 Portaflex, number 2 Orange OB1-500 Bass Head, and the bonus of our list – Aguilar Tone Hammer 350 can cope with this task.
No video or audio track can convey the feeling of playing the gear. Therefore, we strongly suggest that you go to your local music store and listen to the bass heads in person. It is the only way to get a feel for what you need. Good luck!
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Ilarion Ivanenko is a remote mixing and mastering engineer from Ukraine, a musician with more than 15 years of experience. Specializes in rock, metal, progressive and the other genres. He can’t imagine his life without music, as it is the biggest passion in his life