Guitar players will sometimes try to expand their skillset by playing other instruments. Many of them set their eyes on the bass given all the similarities. If you know how to play one of them, then it shouldn’t be too hard to play the other. Those who are dabbling with bass for the first time will probably lack specialized equipment at the beginning. After all, they might have just borrowed it from a friend or had it delivered recently. The most vital equipment of all is a bass amp. Without one, people may consider using a guitar amp for bass as the answer.
Are Guitar Amps Compatible with Bass Guitars?
Before anything else, we should clear up whether using them together is even possible. The good news is that there are no compatibility issues between the two. Indeed, regular guitar amps and bass amps have virtually identical parts. They also work the same way and feature the same ports. You can plug in a bass to a guitar amp and vice versa, although these configurations won’t yield optimum results. You need to pair the instrument with the right amp for that. The less than ideal output should not be a problem if you are just testing the waters. You can always upgrade later if you feel the need.
Go on. Try it and listen to the sound. You’ll see that it works like magic with everything fitting where they should and the chords blasting the way that you play them. It would be best to check whether you have a passive or an active bass guitar as these have significant differences that can affect the way that they behave when plugged into an amp. Passive bass guitars are better suited to guitar amplifiers as they do not change the signal properties. Use the amp for control of different parts of the frequency spectrum. Meanwhile active bass guitars have a pre-amp that can boost sound. Use it in moderation with a guitar amp.
Is Using Guitar Amps for Bass Guitar Safe?
You can pair a guitar amp and a bass guitar without any worries as long as you are aware of the limitations of this setup. The speakers on a regular guitar amp tend to be much smaller and weaker than what you will find in a bass amp. After all, guitars are focused on producing mid to high frequencies that can be reproduced at a decent level without resorting to large drivers. They can also handle low frequencies but only up to a certain volume. The recoil is shorter so you need to be extra careful when boosting the signal. You can damage these tiny speakers if you get carried away.
Keep the volume low for practice in your room. Reserve the all-out bass play for the studio or the stage where you are certain to find a specialized bass amp. For novices, this should not matter as long as the sound is audible. If your bass guitar has a pre-amp, be mindful of the built-in volume control. You should be able to play anything without having to worry about speaker damage or sound distortion at this level. Work on perfecting your techniques before anything else.
If you really need to, then you can push the guitar amp to moderate volume. Just be aware that you might start to pick up distortions as you adjust the dial. This is usually undesirable, especially with all the rattling and other noises. You might just get annoyed since you won’t be able to hear the chords anyway. Dial it down when it happens to get a clean tone. Never force the speakers to go full throttle. If you do, then annoying distortions will be the least of your worries. You might push the speakers to their brink and damage them permanently. There is no need to push that far during practice.
Will the Sound Quality Be Good?
Remember that the speakers built into guitar amps and bass amps differ. It should not be a surprise that their responses are also different. If you have no other alternatives, then you can plug in a bass to a guitar amp but don’t expect to be blown away by the sound. It will be decent at low volumes but the signal will get increasingly hard to listen to as you push up the volume. This means that the setup is fine for practice, especially if you are working on a song by yourself. It will not be good for recording and it will definitely be horrible on a stage where you need to be loud.
Temper your expectations and you should be good to go. Since you will be dealing with small speakers aimed at mid to high frequencies, you should also accept the fact that the bass response will be weak. You will not them that thumping feeling that you would with a powerful bass speaker. It’s like plugging a cheaper pair of stereo speakers into your computer for streaming music. Certain genres will be fine while bass-heavy ones will sound off unless you add a subwoofer for those satisfying bass notes. The difference is night and day. You can work around this by adjusting the equalizer settings of your amplifier. Test to find the ideal settings.
Should You Purchase a Dedicated Bass Amp?
Given all of these, you might be wondering whether you should just purchase a bass amp instead. It will depend on how serious you are with bass playing. If you are merely testing the waters, then there is no need to be investing money on another amp that you are unlikely to use heavily anyway. Go have fun with the bass using your existing guitar amp and see where that takes you. If you enjoy the experience, then you might borrow a bass amp from a friend to hear the difference. If you feel that it’s worth it, then get yourself your own bass amp later on. You can get a high quality item at around $100.