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Old 12-28-2016, 08:22 PM
Steve DeRosa Steve DeRosa is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Staten Island, NY
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Originally Posted by harpspitfire View Post
...if you're playing in any kind of group with drums I can't see anything under 100 watts, and a minimum speaker of 15" or equivalent to that...
Originally Posted by posternutbag View Post
In my experience, small bass amps are really pretty useless...Low frequencies need to be loud to be heard. I used an Ampeg BA 115 150 watt bass amp with a 15" speaker when I played bass in a sort of electrified bluegrass group with a Tele and a loud electric lap slide guitar. That was probably overkill...
In addition to the the need for sufficient power to be heard, there's also the matter of clean headroom; preamp/power-stage distortion isn't a friend to the bass player the way it is to a guitarist, hence the development of modern pro-level bass rigs with output wattage deep into the four-figure range - and for much the same reason, solid-state amps were embraced by bassists long before they established credibility in the guitar community. There's also the need to translate that power into sound and move sufficient air at low frequencies - and that's only possible with ample cone-surface area, proper cabinet tuning, or most often a combination of both; until Ampeg introduced the 8x10" SVT cab in 1968, you wouldn't find anything smaller than a 12" (usually two or more) in an old-school bass rig - more often a 15" (or two) or 18" as in the legendary Ampeg Portaflex. By way of example, 25 years ago I used to use a 35W Peavey Minx 110 for practice with my acoustic trio - adequate (barely) for practice in close quarters - and a Randall RB-120 1x15" combo for playing out (acoustic or electric); when I brought the Randall to a stage practice the night before a gig one of the other guys (a lifetime acoustic player with no hands-on electric experience) told me I was playing too loud - when the sound tech told him everything was balanced in the house I informed him that, because of the 15" speaker/larger cabinet/higher power, he was hearing/feeling frequencies that weren't there in the smaller rig...

What does this mean to you...?

In simple terms, if it's all about the bass buy the most amplifier power/cone area your wallet can handle; while the 4x10" has become the de facto pro rig for its quick response and potentially higher power handling (one of the reasons Leo adopted this configuration in the late tweed-era Bassman), given the size/weight/cost factor you'd be far better-served with a 60-100W (solid-state) 1x15" combo - the modern-day equivalent of the iconic Ampeg B-15 that got all the cutie booties shaking on the dance floor back in the '60s . As stated previously, that kind of power is far from overkill - if you're playing with an electric guitarist running through a 30W tube amp, you'll need at least twice (and preferably three or more times) the wattage to keep up, the very reason Paul McCartney spurred the development of the Vox AC-50/AC-100 while John and George were still using the AC-30 (and John was known to have used an even lower-powered AC-15 2x12" for straight rhythm work); I've long since retired the Peavey, use the Randall as my "Motown/Stax-Volt" R&B amp, and reach for either a 200W Carvin MB12 or 250W Ampeg Portabass combo for everything else. Finally, although many of today's speed-merchant bass players complain that anything larger than a 10" cone responds too slowly, both James Jamerson and John Stockfish - the man behind those virtuoso bass lines on the old Gordon Lightfoot UA recordings - seemed to do just fine with their B-15's, thank you...
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