Have you ever wondered what would happen if you played the bass guitar connected to a guitar amplifier? Can a guitar amp be used for bass, and what would it sound like?
While it is possible, you need to be aware of a few things before connecting a bass guitar to an electric guitar amp. However, we have researched so that you don’t have to. So keep reading to find out if a guitar amplifier can be used for bass guitars.
Guitar Amps Are For Guitars. Bass Amps Are For Bass
A common misconception is that players can use a guitar amp for all guitars and string instruments. Even though you could use a guitar amplifier with your bass guitar, you shouldn’t if you can avoid it.
Guitar amps are created to respond to the higher frequencies produced by guitars. However, they are not recommended for the heavy, low sounds of a bass guitar and can cause the speaker and other amp components to blow or be damaged if paired with the wrong instrument.
Guitar Amp vs. Bass Amp
Guitar and bass amps have the same functions but differ in the frequencies they respond to, significantly affecting the quality of the tone they produce when connected to an electric or bass guitar. So what are the main differences between a guitar amp and a bass amp?
The primary function of an amp is to intensify and magnify the sound created by the pickups in a guitar or bass. Guitar amps respond to high frequencies, while bass amps are designed for the lower, heavier frequencies you expect from a bass guitar.
Speakers are designed to distribute the sound created by tuning the amplifier and can be used to increase the volume of your guitar bass.
The speakers in a guitar amp are smaller than those of a bass amp and would sound raspy when used with a bass guitar. This should only be attempted as a last resort and with the correct settings.
A good-quality amplifier will last you for many years. Bass guitar amps have a closed back to keep the sound tighter and generally last longer than a guitar amp. Guitar amps are smaller and made from less sturdy materials as they only need to respond to the high, light frequencies of an electric guitar.
How Would a Bass Sound Through a Guitar Amp?
If you are crazy or daring enough to try to pair your bass with a guitar amp, you will be both shocked and saddened at the sound that is created. However, here are a few things you can expect from this unusual pairing.
- Distorted and different tones than what you would expect from a bass guitar
- Mainly mid to low sounds as these are the sounds created by a bass
- Buzzing or fuzziness. A guitar amp is not designed to respond to the low frequencies of a bass guitar, resulting in a buzzing sound because of the thinner materials used in a guitar amp speaker.
When Is It Okay to Pair a Bass With a Guitar Amp?
As much as we would love to say “never,” there are times when it is necessary, and there are no alternatives. In this case, and only if it is entirely unavoidable, there are a few things you could do to improve the sound and tone that one would create by incorporating this pairing.
Adjust the bass knob on your guitar amp to the highest setting possible (9), and turn the treble down to 0. This helps to reduce the distortion that will be created.
Try to keep the volume as low as possible to reduce the speakers’ buzzing and a potential blowout in the guitar amp.
A lower volume will also result in less speaker movement, which is the cause of the buzzing sound you would hear if you turned your amp volume up. Guitar amps are smaller and would need to work harder to process the frequency of a bass guitar.
Cut Down On the Special Effects
Guitar players use distortion, treble, and volume to create the perfect sound while practicing, recording in the studio, or playing a live show on the stage in front of thousands of people. However, keep these effects to a minimum when pairing a bass with a guitar amp.
Limit to Home Or Practice Use Only
If you are touring or playing live gigs, there are many places to rent a bass amp. But for home or practice sessions, it is okay to use a guitar amp with your bass when keeping the tuning, volume, and effects in mind, as listed in the previous tips.
Should I, Or Shouldn’t I? The Question Remains
Again, we must state that it is not a good idea to pair a bass with a guitar amp. This could cause significant damage to your amplifier. While this might not seem like a big deal if you are using a cheap, all-around guitar amp, the loss could be immeasurable for those who invested in branded, high-quality amps.
Only pair your bass with a guitar amp under extreme circumstances, and follow the tuning tips we have laid out above to ensure that your guitar amp can handle the frequency and that no blowouts occur. Keep the practice to a minimum and instead hire a bass amp if you can.
Guitar amps are designed specifically for use with electric or acoustic-electric guitars and are more responsive to the high frequencies of these guitars. Using a bass guitar with your guitar amp is a bad idea and could lead to a blowout or considerable damage to your amp.
If you find yourself stuck in a position where no other alternative is available, turn your bass to the maximum setting and the treble to the lowest to reduce the distortion and create a buzzing sound.