Bass and keyboard amps share this characteristic of having pristine clean tones that you can’t get from other amps.
Bass and keyboards need these clean sounds to get the natural tones of basses and keyboards. Particularly for keyboards and synths, you want to capture the tones programmed by the manufacturer.
Sometimes, you might need a keyboard amp available at a venue. However, if there’s a bass amp available, you may want to consider in such a situation.
Can a bass amp be used for a keyboard or synthesizer?
You can use a bass amp for your keyboard or synthesizer, as bass amps have pristine clean tones. Bass amps, particularly those tweeters, were designed to emphasize wider frequency ranges. Considering this characteristic, bass synths gain an advantage with these amps.
While your mileage may vary here, modern bass amps make suitable substitutes for keyboard amps. They might have emphasized low frequencies more, but their clean tones are more pristine than a guitar amp. Their gain channels are also not harsh, bringing interesting tones to a mix and keyboard sound.
What is the difference between a keyboard amp and a bass amp?
Sound-wise, keyboard amps have a more neutral sound profile than a bass amp with rich low-end frequencies. When plugging a keyboard into a keyboard amp, your sound comes out precisely as programmed in the modules of your keyboard or synthesizer.
Since bass amps emphasize low frequencies, anything you plug into will have a boost in the low end section. If you’re familiar with how Eric Clapton used Fender Bassman amps before, you will notice that his tone tends to have a little less treble because of this. The same can be said when you plug a keyboard amp into a bass amp.
Is it better to plug a keyboard into a bass amp or a mixer?
If you want to connect your keyboard to a set of speakers to amplify it, it will help if you plug it into the mixer. A mixer has characteristics similar to a keyboard amp, making it more neutral than a bass amp. However, your limitation here will be the monitors in the event.
Plugging into a bass amp, however, will be easier to hear, unlike stage monitors, which can drown you out when there are too many elements. While you can request more keyboards in the mix on your end, it can still be a problem, especially if your signal is clipping, leading to distortions on your monitors.
Between the two options, consider plugging into a bass amp instead. Modern bass amps have DI outputs that let you plug into the front-of-house mixer. You can send your mix to the front-of-house while maintaining a monitor for your setup.
What are bass synths?
A bass synth is a synthesizer that plays around the low-frequency spectrum. It’s a good substitute for the traditional bass guitars and works well for pop, hip-hop, and dance music. Bass synths work perfectly with bass amps, especially if you intend to avoid the usual bass rigs.
A bass synth is common in bands that don’t have a bass player, with a keyboard player taking over the low-end duties. This instrument combines bass and synth, which introduces interesting things.
Can you plug multiple keyboards or synthesizers into a bass amp?
Unfortunately, you can only plug multiple keyboards and synths into a bass amp with special tools. Keyboard amps have numerous inputs that let you run a consolidated mix to your speakers or monitor. A bass amp typically has a single input and a line input, but that’s it.
One solution is to plug your keyboards and synths into a mixer and route the line output into the bass amp. But remember that line-level signals, such as those coming from a mixer, are hotter than instrument-level inputs, such as those on bass guitars. You need to ensure that you deliver a signal that isn’t too loud to prevent damage.
It will work, but it’s not necessarily advisable, considering the potential damage in the long run, with repeated use. At the end of the day, consider getting a dedicated keyboard amp if you want to connect multiple keyboards.
How do you plug a keyboard or synth into a bass amp?
Plugging a keyboard or synth into a bass amp is relatively easy and doesn’t need many adjustments. All you need to do is have a compatible cable for both ends and plug the keyboard’s output into the input of the bass amp. If you’re running effects, make sure you have enough cables.
The nice thing about using a bass amp is the access to the eq section and gain stage of the bass amp. You can introduce subtle overdriven tones that add grit to your sound, which makes your keyboard or synth stand out.
Despite having more pronounced low-end frequencies, a bass amp makes a good substitute for a keyboard amp. Considering the amount of cleans a bass amp has on tap, you can still get grit and clarity at the same time while introducing interesting tone combinations.
On top of that, many of the modern bass amps have XLR or DI outputs that let you route the signal to the front-of-house. Many keyboard amps also have this feature, which makes bass amps at par with the former.
John Narciso is a guitar player and music technology hobbyist. He loves exploring guitar effects processors in pedal and plugin format and free music applications. His music preferences tend to be diverse, listening to genres spanning from metal to alternative rock and a little hip-hop.