Even as a complete beginner, it’s immediately apparent how extremely important bass amps are to your sound.
A great bass played through a cheap amp will still sound terrible.
While even a cheap bass played through a great amp will sound surprisingly good.
But what exactly makes a good bass amp, and which are the best models of today?
Well in this post, we’re going to cover the 8 best bass amps of today, to see exactly how they compare.
So here’s what we’re about to cover:
Table of Contents:
- The Ultimate Guide to Bass and Guitar Amplifiers
- The 7 Best Bass Amp Combos
- The 8 Best Amp Heads
The Ultimate Guide to Bass and Guitar Amplifiers
Before comparing specific models of bass amps…
It’s a good idea to start by getting a solid foundational understanding of amps in general.
And it just so happens that we’ve already created an ultimate guide on this subject in our Guitar Amps Guide.
In this post you’ll learn the answers to the most common questions including:
- What’s the difference between combo vs stacked amps?
- What’s the difference between solid state vs tube amps?
- How many watts is enough? And what does more watts do for your sound?
- How many speakers should my cabinet have? And how big should they be?
- Should I get one with or without digital effects?
- What’s the difference between open vs closed back cabinets?
And since the answers to these questions are the same regardless of whether you’re shopping for bass or guitar amps, rather than repeat things, I’ll just give you the link below. And I’ll see you back here in a few minutes.
Now that you’re back, let’s continue…
The 7 Best Bass Amp Combos
If you just finished going through our guitar amps post, then you already know that for most players in most situations, combo amps are a more appropriate choice compared to a separate head.
So we’ll begin first, with our list of the top 7 combos. First up…
1. A Tiny Practice Amp With Good Volume
If cheap, small and portable is what you ‘re looking for…
Then the JOYO Mini Bass Amp is perfect for you.
Some might call it the ultimate practice amp but according to user reviews it is actually surprisingly powerful too…
Making it also ideal for gigging in small venues.
Some cool features of this little amp:
- AUX in to plug in your device
- AC or battery powered
- Shoulder strap attachements
This is the perfect option for a secondary/practice amp or for areas with very limited space.
Check it out:
2. The Go-To Choice for First-Time Buyers
Undoubtedly one of the best selling bass amps series ever…
With the newer V3 version of the Rumble line, Fender exceeded bass players’ expectations.
The Fender Rumble owes its success to several reasons:
- Its price – it’s outrageously affordable
- Its size to volume ratio – it’s small but loud
- An auxiliary input – for plugging media players
Now, despite rave reviews, some users find the 15 watt model pretty bad when reproducing a low B (the lowest note on a 5 or 6 string bass)…which is often the case with low power amps.
From the 25 watts model on though, you won’t have this issue.
The Fender Rumble amps are basically the go-to choice for first-time buyers.
Check out this video in which they experiment with different settings while playing:
- Click here to compare prices:
3. The Perfect Bedroom Bass Amp
Here is probably the best deal you can currently get for under $100. In fact, if you’re looking for the perfect “bedroom” amp, look no further than the Hartke HD Series.
The Hartke HyDrive Series stands out by featuring Hartke’s HyDrive speaker.
So how are these speakers different from the others? Well, as stated by Hartke, they’re the first “hybrid” speakers, meaning they are made of 2 different materials, instead of the usual 2.
These materials are aluminum and paper which according to Hartke: “Combine the warmth and roundness of paper with the punch and attack of aluminum”.
And if you’re not convinced, let bass legend Victor Wooten explain why he plays on these:
And if they’re good enough for Victor, they’re probably good enough for you.
- Click here to compare prices:
4. Ampeg Rocket Bass Series
With an almost identical price and product range as Hartke’s HD line, Ampeg’s Rocket Bass Series is definitely their direct competitor.
And while they basically offer the same features, they have a few added ones, such as:
- XLR Line out – which allows you to connect your amp to a PA system or to a recorder for example.
- Ultra-Hi and Ultra-lo switch button from the 100W version on – so you can switch from slapping to classic sound quickly
- 3-bands EQ Preamp – to shape your sound exactly how you like it
- Overdrive SGT– which is the name given to a distortion effect built into the amp and which you can control thanks to 2 knobs.
- Both active and passve inputs – so you can use your active bass without destroying your amp
All these features make the RB Series very versatile combos, you can use it:
- At home – it’s perfect for practicing, whether at low volume OR with headphones
- At rehearsals – it’s loud enough to play with a band and you can plug in another cab if need be
- On stage – plug a PA system into the XLR line out, use your combo as a stage monitor and you got yourself enough power to set the house on fire.
Check out these guys’ comparison with the Fender Rumble to have a better of how they compare:
- Click here to compare price:
5. Peavey Max Series
For years now Peavey’s Max Series have been among the best selling bass amps overall, second only to Fender’s Rumble Series.
And although the brand has long been — for some reason — overlooked by bass players, it is now clear that they nailed it with these amps.
According to reviewers, the Max Series is among the best beginner amps and some users even say they’re BETTER than the Fender Rumble.
Now, despite the success of this line, Peavey decided to take thing one step further by doing a complete revamp of their range.
And so, the all new Max Series seems like it might just take the spot for best bass combo out there.
Take a look at these amps’ features:
- Angled baffle design – meaning the woofer is directed toward your ears while keeping a straight outer case — as opposed to a kick-back design
- Built-in tuner
- Built-in DI – making these amps exceptionally quiet
- Click here to compare prices
6. Boss Katana
Whether you’ve only gotten involved in the world of music recently or you’ve been in it for a while…
Chances are you know the company BOSS.
However, chances are also you probably don’t know them for their amplifiers, but for their guitar pedals, correct?
Well it seems the company is on a mission to change their reputation since they’ve definitely striked a big blow with their last amplfiers family, the Katana.
They’ve essentially managed to create the modern bassist’s perfect combo thanks to useful features such as:
- Powerful class AB analog amp – more power than traditional class D amps with same amount of watts
- Extensise tone shaping tools – 4 band EQ, 3 preamps, 6 effect blocks with foot control option and advanced adjustments via Boss Tone Studio app
- Great connectivity – USB, Loop input, Bluetooth adapter, Power AMP IN to plug in external preamps, you name it, it’s back there.
- Boss Tone Studio app – on top of offering in-depth settings, you can also program various presets of effects.
Of course Boss being famous for their effect pedal it’s no wonder these amps are so feature-rich but the big deal here is that it potentially removes the necessity for bassists to bring their pedal board at gigs…
Which is yet another precious spot saved in the car or truck when touring.
As I mentioned you can use a foot switch controler with this amp. The one you’ll need is the Boss GA-FC pedal (Amazon/B&H/Thomann).
By far the most versatile, feature rich amp on this list, check it out:
And for our last combo pick…
7. MarkBass CMD 102P IV
It’s hard to make a list of the best bass amps without mentioning MarkBass.
Because few brandshave such a dedicated fanbase as MarkBass’, especially for an amp company founded in Italy…
But also many haters.
Now the main reason that became MarkBass famous…is the power its preamps pack in such a small format.
Now although this particular model is a combo, the fact is that NO OTHER mode offers so much power in such a small format, and such a lightweight.
Look around or reviews and you’ll see most bassists NEVER turn the volume knob past 3 or 4.
Some features of this amp:
- Four-band EQ
- Detachable head – you can actually unscrew the head out of the cab and use it on whatever other cabinet you want
- 2 filters – one “vintage” that cuts highs and one “variable preshape” filter that basically scoops mids.
So if you’re looking for a lightweight, compact, insanely powerful combo with tons of headroom, it’s hard to beat the Markbass CMD 102P IV
- Check it out – (Thomann)
So now that we’ve seen the best combos, let’s spice things up with… Section 2
The 8 Best Amp Heads
Before we dive into it, I’d like to mention a word about impedance and how it is used to match amps and cabinets.
Impedance is rated in Ohms (Ω). The Higher the number, the greater the resistance.
While there there ARE conflicting opinions on this subject, the general consensus is that by pulling more current from your amp than it can provide, your cab might damage the amp head.
So using a 4 Ohms head with a 8 Ohms cab will be fine because the cab will impede some of the head’s power. But using a head/amp pair with the opposite setting WON’T is not fine.
Moving on to the list…
1. Behringer BXD3000H Bass Amp Head
For the past decade or so now, class D bass amps have been gaining more and more popularity because of their size.
Back in the day, when a bass player needed 300 to 500 watts worth of power, they needed to carry 60, 80 pounds or even more behind them.
But Class D amplifier came and cut this weight in half, while providing the same amount of power…
So much so that today you can find as much as 1000 watts Class D amps!
And so to start this list off, I’ve selected none other than the best selling head amp of the last decade, the Behringer BXD3000H.
So why is it so successful? Well, mainly for these reasons:
- It’s cheap – you won’t find that much power anywhere else for UNDER $200
- It’s small – it’s a class D amp
- It has a graphic EQ
- It comes with a pedal switch – so you can quickly switch back and fourth between both channels
With all these features, It’s a great choice for beginners, or as a backup amp. And with 300W it’ll provide you with enough juice for your first gigs.
2. Fender Rumble 800 Bass Amp
In the world of bass, the name Fender Rumble is synonymous with “bang for your buck”.
It’s also synonym for MOST SOLD heads and combos all around, period.
It’s basically one of the safest bet for any beginner who doesn’t know much about amplification. And with a headphone line out, it’s perfect for practicing at home.
Now, unfortunately it looks like Fender discontinued the 500w model, which was powerful and affordable.
Nowadays, the 800w version is the only amp head Fender offer, for a slightly higher price.
But this is not necessarily a bad thing because 800 watts will have you covered for almost any situation.
Remember: better to have too much power than not enough.
If you’re looking for your first truly powerful head but aren’t willing to break the bank, this is the perfect option.
3. Aguilar Tone Hammer Series
If I had to describe the category the Aguilar Tone Hammer 350 belongs to, I’d probably go with something like “mid-range beast”.
Created after the success of it’s big brother Tone Hammer 500, the Tone Hammer 350 is a great option if you need something between not enough power, and too much power…
In other words, it is versatile.
Now, what seems to please users about this head is its tone, more than anything else.
Indeed, the brand Aguilar is known for its beautiful and unique tone, often compared to a tube amp tone. Many users also report that no matter your setting, the Aguilar Tone Hammer always delivers.
This videos pretty much sums this up by showing that this amp can reproduce all frequencies faithfully:
- Click here to compare prices –
4. Gallien-Krueger MB 800
The reason I’ve included the Gallien-Krueger MB 800 in my list is because of its size…
Yes, we’ve already seen super small amps but they usually won’t provide more than 300 watts. Well, take a look at this one.
Boasting 800 watts, this is the most compact amp to offer that much power.
On top of that it has one added feature: a “contour” knob. This setting essentially scoops the mids out of your sound and seems to be particularly popular with slap style playing…
In which you want the highs to be heard above all other frequencies.
There is one caveat though: it will decrease the definition of your tone. This can be a problem especially when playing with a loud band — you want your sound to be heard precisely and not sound like a random bass rumbling.
- Click here to compare prices: – (Amazon)
Got it? Then on to the next pick…
5. TC Electronic RH450 Bass Amp
With the RH450, Danish brand TC Electronic struck a big blow. One of the biggest asset of this amp is its overall design.
Being a Class-D amp it’s obviously compact, but the biggest feature of this amp is its visual interface which offers:
- A 4-band EQ – with bass, low mids, high mids and treble
- 3 user memories presets – so you can preset your own settings and switch between the 3 of them WHILE playing
- A smart backlit knobs design – which lets you see in the blink of an eye where you stand, even in the dark — pun intended
- TC Electronics’ TubeTone technology – which mimics the distortion a tube amp would create
This video walks you through all these features and will give you an idea of what it sounds like:
All in all, these features make for an extremely powerful tone-shaping amp.
6. Ampeg Heritage HSVT-CL
Ask a hundred bass players what the best amp head ever made is…
And chances are they’ll all answer: “the Ampeg SVT“.
This tube amp has been around for 50 years and is virtually untouched or modified since then…
Which should give you an idea of how good — and loud — it is. And if you’re not convinced, just know this was the amp bands such as the Rolling Stones, AC/DC or even Nirvana used.
Fun fact, when it was first released in 1969, the company got worried they could be held liable for possible ear damages and so decided to write on the package:
THIS AMP IS CAPABLE OF DELIVERING SOUND PRESSURE LEVELS THAT MAY CAUSE PERMANENT HEARING DAMAGE.
In other words this is the perfect rock amp. You just can’t beat the warm and punchy sound this tube amp delivers.
Now, don’t expect anything fancy on this amp: no preset feature, no compressor/limiter and no backlit knobs… BUT if you like your sound pure and raw, the Ampeg Heirtage HSVT-CL is pretty much as good as it gets.
So if you only swear by tube amps and can afford it, this is probably the best amp money can buy. Check it out:
7. Vox amPlug 2
I couldn’t make a list of the best bass amps without including the Vox amPlug 2…
This little device is the perfect “pocket” amp if you have zero space for an actual amp and/or can’t play loud. It’s basically a headphone bass amp.
Surprisingly, despite its tiny size it still offers a bunch of features:
- 9 rhythms patterns – for practicing
- 3 knobs – for gain, tone and volume
- Built-in effects – chorus, delay and reverb
Here’s bass legend Victor Wooten (again) presenting the amPlug 2‘s features:
And if you’re looking for something similar but with more features, also check out the Valeton Rushead Max:
- Click here to check prices: (Amazon)
8. Ampeg SVT-4 PRO Bass Amp
To wrap this post up, I wanted to include a “hybrid” amp.
A hybrid amp is an amp which uses both a lamp AND a solid state construction.
Generally, the pre-amp is tube powered and the power amp is solid state, which is the case for the SVT-4 PRO.
According to hybrid amps manufacturers, this technology is meant to provide the warmth of tube amps, without the hassle of its maintenance.
But this is not the only asset of the SVT-4 PRO. It provides over 1kW of power, 1200 watts more precisely.
With this kind of power you’re good to go and play in just about any venue without ever running out of juice.
So if you’re looking for both power AND tube-sound, as well as convenience, you’ve found it all with the Ampeg SVT-4 PRO. Check it out:
- Click here to compare prices: (Amazon)
Also check out the 1000w version, slighly less powerful but much more affordable:
The 6 Chapters of E-Home Recording Studio
More Guitar Posts in This Series:
Electric Guitar | Acoustic Guitar | Bass Guitar | Amps | Pedals | Cables | Pickups | Bass Strings | Bass Amps | Bass Pickups | Classical Guitars | Acoustic Pickups | Direct Boxes | Cases | Picks | Slides | Straps | Tuners | Stands | Strings | Capos | Tabs | Guitar Accessories