Using a Guitar amp for Bass

Can it be done?
Can a guitar amp be used for bass???

We have some very savvy gear folks in this forum, and I’d love to get their input here on exactly how and why the speakers blow… but for now, I’ll answer this question (that comes up very often) with my own experiences.

First, the basic answer: yes.
Yes, you can use a guitar amp for a bass.
Pros:
you can hear yourself.
Cons:
You probably won’t hear enough low frequency
You’ll probably blow the speaker trying to hear enough low frequency
You’ll be under-powered because low frequencies take more power to amplify

My guitar-amp experiences?
When I started, I had an 8" guitar amp as my practice amp. It was also my only amp. I played in a punk/metal band with my friends, and within a year, the speaker was demolished. I had it cranked all the way up all the time, and it was just a poor little practice amp.
It worked great as a practice amp in my room, but didn’t work at all in a context with moderately loud guitar… and let’s not even mention the drummer.

More recently…
I bought a Bassman 50 - 50 watts of tube power for, as the name claimed, a bass player. Alas. The bassman is not enough power for bass. It’s great for a practice room, or an exceedingly tasteful acoustic group… but with keys and guitar and… let’s not even mention drums, please.

Unless you’re this guy and you’ve got the thunder of the rock gods on your side, I’d recommend against a guitar amp for bass.

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I’m not sure Lemmy used guitar speakers, that’s the important points when using a guitar amp with a bass ! (speaking about the gear that could be destroyed). At the time, the 12" Celestion speakers (used by Marshall) existed in two different versions with different resonnance frequencies, one version for guitar and one for bass.
The Marhsall amp heads of all the Plexi-era (which is what we see on the left on the picture with “vroom” painted on it, the one on the right being a more modern JCM900) existed in different versions for bass or guitar but were in fact very similar, only one or two very minor voicing differences.

Also I know Dusty Hill used to play with a guitar amp to have this very focus mid-rangy punchy tone. A friend of mine who used to play in a pro ZZ Top cover/tribute band told me that little trick. He told me about Crate guitar amps. Here is a picture of my friend (on the left) to proove that he’s a pretty serious guy about ZZ Top :

that said I totally agree with @Gio and I’d recommend against a guitar amp for bass too. bad idea unless you know exactly what you do.

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This is what I would watch out for.

When we were broke college students gigging, we just used a mixer into our stereo amp (which was pretty beefy) as a PA to amp all the instruments. The amp did fine, but we were feeding a guitar, bass, two keyboards and a drum machine through it, and it was not kind to the speakers at all. Given that a stereo is designed for a broad frequency range (though not raw instruments I guess), I think a guitar amp’s speaker would just get shredded. I have never tried it but like Gio says - you can do it, but I wouldn’t.

To be honest in our case my synth was probably the primary culprit. Stereo speakers are designed to play recorded and profesionally mixed and compressed/limited music. They are not designed at all to play high amplitude nearly raw square waves (and so on) out of a synthesizer. But it was what we had (and we even made the woofer cabs ourselves :slight_smile:

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Might be alright if you just use the headphone jack on it. :yum:

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