Can bass use a guitar amp?
Before deciding if your bass should use a guitar amp or bass amp, you need to ask yourself what kind of sound do you want to achieve. Are you going for a higher fidelity tone? A satisfying enough sound that gets the job done? Or a distorted riff-ready tone?
Before the “how”, the very first thing you have to ask is: can I even use a guitar amp with my bass? If your bass has passive electronics (no battery-powered preamp), it most likely won’t be able to power up a regular guitar amp successfully. In most cases where there’s no built-in preamp, most amplifiers will just let out an unpleasant loud hissing noise from lack of amplification. On one hand, this is normal because an unplugged electric guitar will also do this. However, with a bass, it’s just not going to sound good.
But for those of you with an electric bass that has an active electronics preamp (usually powered by a 9-volt battery), you’re in luck! You can use any guitar amplifier you like without any adverse effects. In fact, some guitar amps have powerful enough wattage and EQ settings to give your bass tone a bit more “oomph” than if you were using a dedicated bass amp.
So the answer to “can I use a guitar amp with my bass?” is yes, but only if your bass has an active electronics preamp. And even then, it depends on what kind of sound you’re looking for.
Now onto the next question: should I use a guitar amp with my bass? There are some advantages and disadvantages to using one.
First, let’s start off with the pros:
1) You can get many different sounds from your bass without buying too many amps. You can easily swap between clean straight-up bass tone, distorted riffing sound or even a higher fidelity sound just by switching out which amplifier you plug into. So it would be advantageous for those of us who play multiple genres of music and would like a single equipment setup for all occasions.
2) Guitar amplifiers have become very advanced over the past few decades and have tons of built-in effects that can add on extra production value on your bass tone. Things like chorus, flanger, delay and even reverb can be easily dialled in to get the perfect sound you’re looking for without having to purchase any extra pedals.
Now for the cons:
1) Most guitar amps are designed for electric guitars which have a higher output than bass guitars. This can lead to your bass tone being drowned out by the guitar amp’s speakers or simply not sounding as good as it would through a dedicated bass amp.
2) Guitar amps often have more “presence” in the midrange frequencies which can make your bass sound too bassy or muddy. This can be remedied by using an EQ pedal to cut down on some of those unnecessary frequencies, but it’s still an extra step that you have to take.
So overall, whether or not you should use a guitar amp with your bass depends on a few factors: what kind of sounds you’re looking for, how much money you want to spend and what genres of music you play the most. If you’re happy with the tones you’re getting from your bass and don’t mind taking a little bit of extra time dialling in your sound, then using a guitar amp is absolutely fine. However, if you feel like your tone could use some more tweaking or just want something that’s ready to go out of the box, then using a dedicated bass amp might be the better option for you.