Can you Play Bass through Guitar Amp? (3 Brilliant Tips)

Wondering about whether it is okay to plug your bass into a guitar amp or you need to buy a dedicated bass amp Here I’ll discuss the crucial difference between a bass amp and a guitar amp, whether or not you should play your bass through guitar amp, what’s happening with the tone, is it safe…etc.

playing bass through guitar amp

Let’s get directly into the matter:

Can You Use a Guitar Amp for Bass?

One can plug a bass guitar into any guitar amp and it will work perfectly fine. While with thinner speakers, guitar amps are not designed to handle low-frequencies of bass but will function properly when you pass the clean bass signal at low volume.

If you simply connect your bass guitar to the regular amplifier’s input, it will work fine, as both bass guitar and electric guitar use the same lead pattern and have similar inputs.

All you need is one instrument cable! But before anything, first look at how does a bass guitar sound using a guitar amplifier.

How does a Bass Guitar Sound through a Guitar Amp?

Talking about sound, guitar amps are designed to focus more on the upper mid-range frequencies whereas bass amps put their emphasis on the low-end frequencies.

When you connect a bass to a guitar amp, no doubt it is going to impact the tone of your bass guitar. It will sound like a downturned guitar with lack some definitions.

A regular bass amp generates a thicker and rich-sounding tone with plenty of clarity in it. On the other hand, with a guitar amp, you won’t get that deep-end ‘oomph’. It will lack in both the power of the bass as well as that brightness and clarity in the high-end.

Does that mean, you won’t hear any bass? No! If you’re looking to do some practice at your home, it will definitely work for you. You can also spend some time tweaking the Amp’s EQ knob to get somewhat closer to the descent bass guitar tone.

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But if you’re serious about learning bass, you need to get something that will work with your bass:

What is the Best Guitar Amp that Works with Bass?

What if you want to master playing both bass guitar and electric guitar, but dealing with a tight budget to buy two separate amplifiers? There are some amps available that are designed specially to works perfectly with both bass and electric guitar.

All you have to do is, get one bass and guitar amp combined: A combined amp can take input from both bass and guitar and is designed to play both instruments with a clear-sounding good quality tone without compromising on either low-end or high-end frequencies.

Usually, such combined amplifiers come with different models and presets. When you connect your guitar, you can set up those presets however you want to get the desired tone from both bass and electric guitar.

One of such great bass and guitar combined amp is Peavey Vypyr VIP 3 (Link to Amazon) that works with all three electric guitar, bass guitar, and even acoustic guitar. This kind of amp is just perfect for you if you’re recording any new song, or just want to learn a new instrument at your home.

How to Play Bass through Guitar Amp?

So, you decided to give it a try and plug your bass guitar into an amplifier. Here are some of my tips to get the best sounding tone output from your guitar amp for bass:

1. Keep the Channel Clean:

This is one of the very crucial things to do to get the amazing sound quality from a guitar amp. As regular amplifiers are not designed to deal with low-end frequencies, it is recommended to make sure your amp is set to a clean channel.

If your amp doesn’t come with multiple channels, you can set the gain settings to the low to avoid any kind of distortion and overdrive in the bass tone. Start with the dry tone and remove any in-built effects to get to the best tone from your amp.

2. Set Master Volume to Low:

Another thing to keep in mind is, go easy on volume and keeping it at a low level. When you’re plugging your bass into the guitar amp, by setting the master volume low, you’re just ensuring there is no danger of damaging your precious guitar amplifier.

At mid-volume, you’ll start to hear some rattle and distortion in the tone, and the sound will become aggressive and unpleasant for practicing.

I suggest you start easy on the volume and increase it gradually. You need to see how high volume can go before it starts to breaks out by amp.

3. Adjustments with EQ Knob:

I think the bass knob is the most important EQ knob available on your guitar amp. you can play with it to see how many bass frequencies you can squeeze out of your guitar amp.

bass guitar amp controls

There is another knob, the middle knob! As it can change the overall shape of your guitar tone, you probably need to set it down to the low to prevent getting a boxy-sounding bass tone.

The Treble knob shows its magic on high-end frequencies. you can turn it to lower (depending on your Amp) to put more emphasis on the lower signals of your bass.

You need to spend some time playing with these knobs to get the tone as clean as possible. keep tweaking things here and there until you find the best amp settings the suit your bass guitar.

Can you Damage a Guitar Amp by Playing a Bass through it?

You’re not going to ruin your guitar amp by playing the bass guitar through it as long as you make sure that the amplifier is matched with the speakers properly and not pushing too hard on speakers at a higher volume level.

Here are some do’s and don’t for using bass through guitar amp:

Do’sDon’ts
Play at Low VolumePlay at Mid to High Volume
Use with a Passive Bass GuitarUse with an Active Bass Guitar
For Casual Practicing & RecordingFor your Main Gigs on Stage
Try with Starter Kit or Cheaper AmpsTry with Expensive Amps
Low Watts Solid State AmpsWith Tube Amps

Using Guitar Amp for Active Bass vs Passive Bass

Both active and passive bass pickups come with their own advantages and disadvantages, but here are the few things that you should know before going ahead:

Passive Bass Guitar Pickups:

When things came down to plug into the guitar amp, the passive bass guitar is a safer option as compared to the active one. As passive pickups don’t provide you much control over your tone and only allow you to play with bass and treble knobs.

That’s why, they tend to provide you warmer, punchy, and more dynamic sounding tone but with a lower boost which is not going to harm your guitar amplifier.

Active Bass Guitar Pickups:

Active bass guitars come with an in-built preamp system with so many EQ controlling knobs to boosting and cutting down the frequencies as per your needs. To ensure the sound quality is crispier and brighter, they are usually powered with a 9-volt battery unit.

As a result, we get a lot more boosted signal as compared to the passive pickups. You have to put the volume control knob on your bass at a low level, otherwise, you’re just putting your guitar amplifier at the risk.

With that said, let’s get into the actual difference between the regular and bass amplifier.

Differences Between a Bass Amp and a Guitar Amp

The difference between a bass amplifier and a guitar amplifier is in its size, functionality, and power output. The Bass amp required more power and was designed to focus more on low-end frequencies, whereas the guitar amp put more emphasis on upper mid-range frequencies.

1. Difference in Speakers Size

Bass amplifiers usually come with larger speakers. Such speakers are necessary to generate those deep low-end frequencies. These frequencies required more cone’s moment and such larger speakers allow it very prominently.

On the other hand, guitar amp speakers are generally smaller in size and are not designed for such a moment. They have thinner and smaller speakers that won’t able to pull off those low-end signals if cranked with a high volume level.

2. Difference in Power Output

The next major difference comes into the power output or wattage. Bass amps usually come from 100 watts to 500 watts (even more in some cases!) which is significantly higher wattage as compared to the regular guitar amps which operate anywhere from 50 watts to 150 watts of power.

Even though there are some smaller practice bass amps are available with small speakers (thus relatively lower power!) but we can’t replace it with a similar guitar amp speaker, as they are designed to drive the speakers in completely different ways.

3. Controlling Knobs

Almost all decent bass amplifiers come with those regular controlling features like volume, mid, high, lows. Even going one step further, some bass amps allow you to play with gain and contour control. But they don’t come with a distortion or reverb effect controller, unlike a guitar amp.

How to Tell a Bass Amp from a Guitar Amp?

You can easily tell a difference between a bass amp and a guitar amp if you know what to look and where to look:

Bass amps are usually larger as compared to guitar amps and come with larger speakers and fewer number of controlling knobs than a regular guitar amplifier. Most Bass Amps have the word “Bass” written somewhere on them or have a ‘B’ in their model number.

Smaller guitar amps are generally packed with so many amazing features like a dedicated gain control knob, in-built features, multiple channels, etc. Whereas bass amps tend to have very few control options with volume knobs and EQ knobs.

What is the Best Cheap Bass Amp for Beginners?

If you want to get serious with your bass guitar, playing through a guitar amplifier is not going to help you to survive. The best way here is, you can start with any budget-friendly bass guitar amp that provides you that thicker and rich-sounding tone with more clarity on low-end frequencies of your bass.

Getting a dedicated bass amp potentially avoids the risk of damaging your regular guitar amp even if you raise your volume level.

Personally, I recommend you to go with the Fender Rumble 15 V3 Amplifier unit that comes with 8-inches of speakers. I feel this is one of the great bass amps that fit into the sweet spot and provides a great balance between price and performance. you can check out this amazing deal you’re getting on Amazon!

Check Out These Budget-Friend Bass Amps Under $100 for Beginner Players!

Although there is no other way to get the best possible bass guitar tone other than an actual bass amp, but if you’re looking for any other option, here’s the deal:

How to Play Bass Guitar Through a Computer?

Instead of plugging your bass guitar into the amplifier, you can connect it to your computer and listen through the speakers attached to it.

There are two main advantages of going with this way:

  • You don’t have to buy a specific amplifier for your bass
  • You can use any amp modeling software to model bass amplifier as per your needs

If you have even decent speakers connected to your computer, modeling software (Like these) performs exceptionally well, especially if you know what are you doing, you can get a far better bass tone than a guitar amp.

Final Verdicts on Bass Guitars and Amplifiers:

Yes, you can plug your bass guitar and play it through a guitar amp but sure it comes with a little risk factor. If you really find the bass tone coming through a regular amplifier interesting, you can continue with it. But make sure you put the volume down and channel clean.

All I can say is, when it comes to the music, the experiment is the key factor to exceed. You should try different things according to your music style and see whether or not it is working for you!

I hope you find this guitar helpful, if so please share it with your friends and family on your social handles. Also, if you have any doubts or any kind of additional tips to suggest in this article, feel free to put them down in the comment section.

Happy Music!

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