What Are the Differences Between a Bass Amp and a Guitar Amp?

I remember the first time I started playing bass and went looking for an amp, I was confused between bass amps and guitar amps. If you are wondering this too, you came to the right place, as I will present the features of each amplifier.

What’s the difference between a bass amp and a guitar amp? The difference between a bass amp and a guitar amp is in the power output and the size of the speaker. The bass amp needs more power than the guitar amp.

The bass amp also requires a bigger speaker, so it could reflect the sound of the bass guitar effectively. On the other hand, the guitar amp can do with a smaller speaker.

Bass Amp vs. Guitar Amp: Table of Comparison between a Bass Amp and a Guitar Amp

Bass AmpGuitar Amp
Wattage Requirement:Higher wattage (150-500 watts or even higher)Lower wattage (15-100 watts)
Speaker Size:Usually bigger Usually smaller
Waveforms or Frequency:Lower frequency waveforms are longer and require more power to produce a clear sound from the speakerHigher frequency and shorter waveforms; require less power to transmit
Ease of Transmission/Control:More difficult to control/transmit to speakersLess difficult to control or transmit

Read on to learn more about the specific differences between a bass amp and a guitar amp.

Also, for excellent bass amps, take a look at our top pick, the Roland Micro Cube Bass RX Battery-Powered Bass Combo Amp:

Click here to see it on Amazon.

The Bass Amp and Its Features

bass amp vs guitar amp

The bass amp is composed of these basic features:

1. Speaker Cabinet 

The cabinet is where the speaker is housed. The sound coming from the bass amp head is transmitted to this cabinet, where the sound is then broadcasted through the speakers. Generally, bass cabinets are made of high-quality wood as they should be able to withstand extremely loud and low noises coming from the bass guitar. In extreme instances, the speakers can be damaged during loud transmissions. 

The cabinet can house one or more speakers, depending on the type you have chosen. The power or signal sent to the cabinet should not be more than what it can handle. So choose a sturdy bass cabinet that corresponds to the bass power you plan to play.

You could also opt for a half-stack, composed of a head and one cabinet, or a full-bass stack that contains a head atop 2 cabinets. This stack set-up is more convenient because the equipment would be easier to store, and to carry around. Make sure that it fits in your car’s trunk or back seat.

2. Amp Head (Preamp and Bass Amp) 

This is the part of the bass amp that contains the vital electronic essentials of the amplifier. This is also the portion where you can safely plug in your bass guitar. Commonly, the head is made of the preamp and the bass amp. These two are crucial when shaping and amplifying signals or sounds from your bass guitar.

The bass amp input is where you connect your bass guitar to allow the signal to move to your preamp. In the preamp, the bass signal is modified and shaped to produce a clear, or brighter sound, or it could also make the sound ‘muddier’ or unclear. This would depend on how you manipulate the controls, and on the type of your signal processor.

Thus, determine whether your preamp is specifically designed for your particular bass guitar to get the most out of it. The bass power amps function as the magnifier of the modified signal coming from the preamp. It makes the sound more powerful and amplified. This is then transmitted to the speaker. You can control the volume of the speaker through the master or volume controls.

Most of the time, these two features come in a combo, but sometimes, they are purchased separately. Make sure you have both the power amp and the preamp when you purchase your bass guitar. Alternatively, you can choose the combo type – if your finances permit. There are various combo bass amps that provide interesting features you can take advantage of.

In some instances, buying the amp head and speaker cabinet separately can be an advantage when you don’t have sufficient finances to upgrade quickly; you can buy them separately when you have the money.

In the past, one problem encountered when buying a combo is the storage, as it has a bigger size. However, there are now upgraded combo versions that are portable and handy. What more, they are equally efficient as well.

Recommended Bass Amps

1. Roland Micro Cube Bass RX Battery-Powered Bass Combo Amp

Bass amps are typically big in sizes, but the Roland Micro Cube Bass RX Battery-Powered Bass Combo Amp, is smaller than usual and has all the features you want from a powerful amp.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

This compact yet powerful battery operated with 6 x AA batteries, and you can use it continuously for 13 hours. It features a 4-speaker combo fed by 8 COSM amplifiers.

Furthermore, it provides 6 incredible digital effects that you can experiment with. Discover your creative nature by playing with the digital effects. Another useful feature is the rhythm guide that will help you train effectively. Capture the rhythm of a musical track quickly by using this guide. With its stereo aux input, you can conveniently plug your CD or MP3 player and enjoy your music without using additional devices.

2. Orange Crush Bass 25W Bass Guitar Combo Amp

Orange amps, like the Orange Crush Bass 25W Bass Guitar Combo Amp, are some of the best combo bass amps that pros recommend.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

This is because Orange amps are some of the smallest models, but incredibly packed with all the good features you would be looking for in an efficient bass amp. Its EQ section responds well with the variable parameters of its dynamic amp. 

You can also control several frequencies – aside from the treble and bass – that would facilitate the shaping of the signals coming from the preamp. The integrated tuner, the headphone output, and the versatile auxiliary ensure that you can pursue your goal of developing your bass skills.

The Guitar Amp and Its Features

difference between bass amp and guitar amp

The guitar amp is composed of these basic features:

The basic features of the guitar amp are similar to that of the bass amp, but it requires less power, and thus a smaller speaker cabinet.

1. Speaker Cabinet

The cabinet houses the dials or control buttons for the volume, effects, and the processors that could modify or shape the signal. The speakers are also included in the set-up. There are variations of speaker cabinets that you can try, such as the half-stacks or full stacks. The half stack is made up of an amp head and a cabinet, while the fill stack has an amp head and two cabinets. These are combos that come with cabinets and amp heads. 

2. Amp Head (Preamp and Guitar Amp)

The basic aspects of the guitar amp are treble, volume bass. Reverb, auxiliary input, and a balanced input jack (for guitars with XLR output).

The process works the same as your bass amp head. The input jack accommodates your guitar’s cable; then the signal from your guitar when you strum goes into the preamp that would increase the signal slightly.

The signal or sound then goes to the processor, where it’s shaped and effects are created. Next, the signal goes to the master volume control. This control determines how loud the sound should be. The resulting sound that is modified or enhanced then goes to the final amplifier, and then to the speakers.

A number of guitar players prefer these key features in one package or in one combo system. This would include the inputs, the amplifiers, the effects’ processors, and the speakers. This micro combo is more convenient for guitar players, as they can easily pack the gear in the trunk of their cars.

Recommended Guitar Amps

1. Fender Super Champ 10-Inch Guitar Combo Amp

The Fender Super Champ 10-Inch Guitar Combo Amp, operates using 15-wattage and a 12AX7 preamp tube. The watt tube works with 2 6V6 tubes. This ensures the reliable flow of power in the device.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

There are 2 channels that you could switch conveniently, and 16 amp varieties, that include metal, tweed, black, British, and many others. Likewise, there are 15 effects that you can work with to adjust the control modulation, time rate adjustment, and the TAP tempo control.

2. Orange Micro Terror Tube Hybrid Guitar Amp

The aptly-named Orange PPC108 Closed Back Speaker Cabinet, is a micro guitar tube amp that has a “terrifying” staying power and sound volume that is perfect for your practice sessions.

Click here to see it on Amazon.

Weighing 14.45 pounds, this guitar amp is handy and portable but still could deliver the full volume and clarity that you need for your practices. For your big stage performances, however, you can always buy a more powerful guitar amp for those types of performances.

Tips for Buying Bass Amps or Guitar Amps

1. Conduct a Soundcheck

Try the amplifier and listen to how it sounds. Do the sounds come out better than what you actually sound? Does it give off a hum even when you’re not playing? Avoid these types of amplifiers as they can ruin your performances.

2. Choose an Amp Appropriate to Your Skill-Level

If you’re planning to become a professional guitar or bass player eventually, you have to choose an amplifier that you could use even as a professional. But, you can opt for one that is simpler to manage during the early stages of your career.

3. Double-check the Controls

The controls should be working properly. Double-check the controls to find out if you can operate them smoothly and reliably.

4. Double-check the Effects’ Processor

Are the effects by the processor what they should be? Are the effects working effectively? Your answer to these questions should be in the affirmative.

To learn more about the differences between a bass amp and a guitar amp, as well as can you play a bass guitar through a guitar amp, see the below video:

Conclusion – What’s the Difference Between a Bass Amp and a Guitar Amp?

What’s the difference between a bass amp and a guitar amp? Nowadays, the difference between a bass amp and a guitar amp is not so significant, as there are innovations that can combine all the basic parts into one dynamic combo set.

Bass amps are now as small as the guitar amps. Nonetheless, they could still accommodate the loudest sounds coming from the bass guitars, and transmit these sounds effectively.

There are also various control buttons invented so that bass and guitar players could use them speedily to manage the volume and power of the amp and the speakers.

Having said that, you still have to know that the bass amp needs additional power to push it through the speakers as the signal/sound it produces are low-frequency waves that need more power to produce. Hence, typically, the power used and speakers for the bass is stronger and bigger.

On the other hand, the guitar amps use less power, and their speakers are smaller than the bass amps because the waveforms produced by the guitar are higher and; therefore, easier to push through the speakers. So, the signal created by the guitar amps can be smoothly transmitted even with the lowest power wattage. 

When choosing an amp for your regular guitar, it is only smart to pick a guitar amp; similarly, when choosing an amp for your bass guitar, you should select a bass amp. Musical instruments should match their specific amps to ensure that the sound and signal coming from each instrument is harnessed correctly.