Recommandation: Guitarist going bass - What gear (amp, etc) should I invest in? First hand experiences much appreciated!

Rufless

Member
Messages
164
Hey folks,

so I joined a Rock/Metal band (drums, 2 guitars, 1 fem singer) on bass last week. Auditioned for them through a Orange OBI 500 head with 2 1x12 cabs stacked on each other (can't remember the name). Before it was just a Boss BassDriver. This all belongs to the other bands bass player (shared band place; got his OK before it).

It sounded absolutely glorious. The cloth of my pants was blown like I stood in a autumn storm.

So now is the question: I need my own stuff. For practices and gigs.

Where to invest?

I have a Helix Floor which I am using to practice at home, but the other 2 guitarists go Modeller-->PA and I "fear" it will get muddy if I join in with a five string bass. The PA is quite okay, not doing any weird feedback or anything, but I guess far from "high class".

I am especially looking for experiences. I guess many of you have a story of going one or the other way, or both and back, and can share some wisdom. Playing bass until now was just a thing I just did for my own recordings and demos. No notion about practice/gigs behind it. This surely changed now.
 

nmiller

Drowning in lap steels
Messages
7,150
How much are you looking to spend on an amp? I interpret that you have a bass already.

If your budget allows, I strongly recommend looking into gear that's light in weight; you can still lug around an 85 lb SVT head if you want, but bass gear has gotten very easy on the back. Markbass and Gallien-Krueger both have cabs and combos that are very loud, sound very good, and weigh around 40 lbs.
 

Jon Moody

Member
Messages
444
If both guitarists are already going direct to the PA, I'd start with your Helix and at least see/hear how it sounds with everything. It's only going to be "muddy" if you're not paying attention to the ROLE of the bassist over just playing the bass like a guitarist would.

As for amps, I've used a bunch. And there are a TON out there, of varying price points and tonal footprints.

If you like the Orange stuff, a Bass Terror and OBC112 (1x or 2x) would be a great foundation. I had one for a bit, and think the OBC112 is the biggest, deepest sounding 1x12 out there.

Personally I like the Bergantino amps, specifically the B|Amp. It's got a toooooon of options under the hood and with the bluetooth pedal, can recall up to 4 presets (perfect for switching between a clean/dirty tone). I use it with a Schroeder 2x6 cabinet and it's perfect for all my gigs.
 

Rufless

Member
Messages
164
How much are you looking to spend on an amp? I interpret that you have a bass already.

If your budget allows, I strongly recommend looking into gear that's light in weight; you can still lug around an 85 lb SVT head if you want, but bass gear has gotten very easy on the back. Markbass and Gallien-Krueger both have cabs and combos that are very loud, sound very good, and weigh around 40 lbs.
Yeah. I have 2 4-strings at home and the band has a 5-string in their band place place that belongs to the band itself. I can use and even take it home with me. As I am a bit picky when it comes to instruments in future I'll definetly get my own 5-string, but that is nothing that is really of great priority.

From a price-point I just looked and both GK/Markbass are totally in range. I have no fixed range bc as long as it is in the low end 4-digits it's ok. Prior to this I planned on buying a new Gibson LP Standard, so I guess that will just shift over to this.

Weight is very important to me and I am so glad to see bassists adapting to the whole "light weight, packs a punch, still many watts with Class D" contrary to guitarists.

If both guitarists are already going direct to the PA, I'd start with your Helix and at least see/hear how it sounds with everything. It's only going to be "muddy" if you're not paying attention to the ROLE of the bassist over just playing the bass like a guitarist would.

As for amps, I've used a bunch. And there are a TON out there, of varying price points and tonal footprints.

If you like the Orange stuff, a Bass Terror and OBC112 (1x or 2x) would be a great foundation. I had one for a bit, and think the OBC112 is the biggest, deepest sounding 1x12 out there.

Personally I like the Bergantino amps, specifically the B|Amp. It's got a toooooon of options under the hood and with the bluetooth pedal, can recall up to 4 presets (perfect for switching between a clean/dirty tone). I use it with a Schroeder 2x6 cabinet and it's perfect for all my gigs.
The "Role" part is definetly my main focus right now, WHAT to play and most important WHEN to play it. And when not.

I just want to have a useful sound for the whole band. The former bassist used an older Boss GT10B through the PA and the band told me it sounded ok but never as good as when I used that Orange/2x1x12 combination last week. I don't plan on going all-out with effects and stuff right from the start.

Another notion I got was using the Helix with the preamps (I love the SVT Pro) and buying a good Class D power amp that drives the two 1x12 cabs. If the other bass player lets me use it. Otherwise I'd just buy a lightweight 2x12 and place it vertically. At home I wouldn't need any of this bc I go straight to headphones. This would have the positive effect of having the same preamp tone and (sparse) effects I have at home. Just the cab would be different. And I could run FRFR/PA at gigs with a rented PA anyways.

I am pretty new to this whole bass world: Is there a big difference in amps? Is it just nuanced? I only know the gear-world through the eyes of a guitarist where it is all over the place even within one company/brand.
 
Last edited:

Jon Moody

Member
Messages
444
The "Role" part is definetly my main focus right now, WHAT to play and most important WHEN to play it. And when not.
I'd put "when not to play" as the primary focus, followed by "give each note its full value."


I just want to have a useful sound for the whole band. The former bassist used an older Boss GT10B through the PA and the band told me it sounded ok but never as good as when I used that Orange/2x1x12 combination last week. I don't plan on going all-out with effects and stuff right from the start.
Is that because the bassist didn't know how to properly dial in a direct signal, or the band really preferred to have an onstage bass amp? Maybe the bassist wasn't very open to changing/tweaking their sound to be useful for the band, so it suffered going direct. Or maybe having the bass amp onstage helped anchor everyone a bit more.

I'd find that info out first.


I am pretty new to this whole bass world: Is there a big difference in amps? Is it just nuanced? I only know the gear-world through the eyes of a guitarist where it is all over the place even within one company/brand.
It depends. You've got the iconic Ampeg, GK tones that are pretty indistinguishable, and then you have a bunch of others are more similar than not. It falls into two camps; classic sounding amps and more modern, forward thinking amps.

Personally, I gravitate toward the cleaner, more modern/articulate amps that allow the instrument to speak more on its own over imposing its own sound. Plus, it's a better platform for adding effects when appropriate.
 

MKB

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
8,543
If you like the tones you are getting from the Helix Floor, I'd suggest running that into a stout power amp and then a few cabs of your choice. The selection of cabs, number of them, and power amp capability would be determined by how loud you want to be on stage.

If your bass has a good internal active EQ, you could get really good tones right into a good PA. But it would help to have a compressor/limiter pedal to keep from punching out the woofers. If you need distortion or other effects, maybe a multieffect pedal would be in order (bringing you back to the Helix).

Two other tips: first, keep in mind that amp power is very inexpensive these days. And you'll need a lot of it for some of the smaller speaker cabs (a 4X10 cab that promises a good 5 string low B tone will need a LOT of power to do so as it will be inefficient). You can get a really strong digital power amp for not much money, and it is best to have more power than you need. Some of the high power digital power amps have built in limiters so you can set the max power out to match your cabs to keep from inadvertently killing them.

Second tip; be mindful of the impedances of your cabs and your power amp. A class D power amp rated at 1000W at 4 ohms might only push 250W into 16 ohms. And if you run that 1000W amp at 2 ohms, it might go into protection mode (i.e. shut off) during your gig.
 

Rufless

Member
Messages
164
I'd put "when not to play" as the primary focus, followed by "give each note its full value."




Is that because the bassist didn't know how to properly dial in a direct signal, or the band really preferred to have an onstage bass amp? Maybe the bassist wasn't very open to changing/tweaking their sound to be useful for the band, so it suffered going direct. Or maybe having the bass amp onstage helped anchor everyone a bit more.

I'd find that info out first.




It depends. You've got the iconic Ampeg, GK tones that are pretty indistinguishable, and then you have a bunch of others are more similar than not. It falls into two camps; classic sounding amps and more modern, forward thinking amps.

Personally, I gravitate toward the cleaner, more modern/articulate amps that allow the instrument to speak more on its own over imposing its own sound. Plus, it's a better platform for adding effects when appropriate.
I am definetly gravitating towards a more modern deep "stringy" sound. E.g. I love the bass sound of Parkway Drive. Not really the style we play 100%, but it is definetly easy to hear and has punch.

Regarding the former Bassist: Good call. I will definetly ask the bunch what was "a bit lackluster" about the sound before. Was it really just the "AMP IN DA ROOM"-feel (Copyrighted by guitarists around the world), that was missing or was it something different? They just told each other after the very first song in the audition "Man, it sounds so much better with an amp in the room!!!".

If you like the tones you are getting from the Helix Floor, I'd suggest running that into a stout power amp and then a few cabs of your choice. The selection of cabs, number of them, and power amp capability would be determined by how loud you want to be on stage.

If your bass has a good internal active EQ, you could get really good tones right into a good PA. But it would help to have a compressor/limiter pedal to keep from punching out the woofers. If you need distortion or other effects, maybe a multieffect pedal would be in order (bringing you back to the Helix).

Two other tips: first, keep in mind that amp power is very inexpensive these days. And you'll need a lot of it for some of the smaller speaker cabs (a 4X10 cab that promises a good 5 string low B tone will need a LOT of power to do so as it will be inefficient). You can get a really strong digital power amp for not much money, and it is best to have more power than you need. Some of the high power digital power amps have built in limiters so you can set the max power out to match your cabs to keep from inadvertently killing them.

Second tip; be mindful of the impedances of your cabs and your power amp. A class D power amp rated at 1000W at 4 ohms might only push 250W into 16 ohms. And if you run that 1000W amp at 2 ohms, it might go into protection mode (i.e. shut off) during your gig.
This is what stills gives me some question marks. E.g. For my own demos and recordings 99% of the time (Before getting the Helix) I was running my bass (1 active, 1 passive) straight into the Hi-Z Input of my interface. No thought about effects, compression or anything in that vein. Now these thoughts come up bc it would be nice switching between 2 gain stages for breakdowns or having an octaver or some light chorus for them metal ballads.

I think the first thing I do will be trying out the Helix. Maybe the GT10B just sucked. Or was dialed in sucky. Or the bassist sucked (I don't know him, just his great recordings, so I guess this won't be the case). If it is still not good the next logical step would be to a) try to solve the problem by better setting up the Helix or b) look further into the rich bass amp world.
 
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derekd

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
44,263
Hey folks,

so I joined a Rock/Metal band (drums, 2 guitars, 1 fem singer) on bass last week. Auditioned for them through a Orange OBI 500 head with 2 1x12 cabs stacked on each other (can't remember the name). Before it was just a Boss BassDriver. This all belongs to the other bands bass player (shared band place; got his OK before it).

It sounded absolutely glorious. The cloth of my pants was blown like I stood in a autumn storm.

So now is the question: I need my own stuff. For practices and gigs.

Where to invest?

I have a Helix Floor which I am using to practice at home, but the other 2 guitarists go Modeller-->PA and I "fear" it will get muddy if I join in with a five string bass. The PA is quite okay, not doing any weird feedback or anything, but I guess far from "high class".

I am especially looking for experiences. I guess many of you have a story of going one or the other way, or both and back, and can share some wisdom. Playing bass until now was just a thing I just did for my own recordings and demos. No notion about practice/gigs behind it. This surely changed now.
I've used the Helix by itself plenty of times playing bass. Works great if you are only going direct and have some sort IEM or wedges. There are plenty of good, usable patches available.

I have a small Markbass rig (500w head & 2x10 cab) that works great and also has a line out if you need something on the stage. Bass rigs have gotten smaller and lighter these days. With today's sound reinforcement there's no need for big rigs unless someone just wants to do that. Lots and lots of options out there at a variety of price points.
 
Last edited:

Fro68

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,574
Mesa has some nice class D amps nowadays.
Im just learning bass myself and I play it through my AxeIII. I have no doubt that you can dial in some good sounds thru your Helix.
 

somedude

Member
Messages
7,758
I’m apperently bored and this post turned into a ramble, so apologies up front, and everything is below IMO, FWIW, and certainly not gospel.


The standard way to run bass will be to plug into your amp+cab and the soundman will take a DI out to the soundboard. The DI can be built into your amp or a stand alone unit that gets plugged in similar to a pedal. In small/midsize venues your bass amp will wash into the house and the audience will hear your tone, but in larger venues your amp is pretty much a personal monitor and your DI tone is everything.

Typically you’ll get a quick line check while the soundman sets your level. Unless you have a light touch I recommend hitting the strings hard during your line check. Some guys will line check real light then smash the strings once they start playing for real, which makes the soundman’s job more difficult.

Because you’re going to get a million different opinions, I’d start by focusing on what worked and build from there. We all have different experience, genres and backgrounds, so take everything you read with a grain of salt, including me.

Since you asked for experience, unless you guys have some serious contacts or friends in the business you’re unlikely to be starting in the best venues. Be prepared for everything to be complete sh*t. I bring my own bass(es), amp, cab(s), DI and spare consumables. I’ve shown up to a venue that said they had an SVT backline and found out it blew up three months prior. I’ve shown up to find no monitors, no soundboard, or that the health inspector closed the venue down a couple hours ago so they were moving us to a coffee shop (which turned out to be a killer gig).

In short, be prepared to go it alone. I don’t want to ever be in a position where I can’t do my job because of someone else.


Next up, I’d figure out what the band’s plan is for gigging. Are they going to go direct with modellers and IEM? Modeller into FRFR? Do they have real amps/cabs they plan on gigging and just go direct for practice? Let that be a guide going forward, but remember that bands don’t always last forever and being self-sufficient will make it easier to jump from gig to gig.

Ease of adjustability? I’ve never used a Helix; is it difficult to adjust on the fly? Every room sounds different, every PA sounds different, and as a new bassist you’re probably not going to walk into your first bunch of shows with the prefect live sound already dialled in. Bass is like guitar in that bedroom tone doesn’t necessarily work well live, and the tone you dial in on your band‘s tiny PA may not work well when you’re being fed through a wall of 18“ subs.

On that note, there’s typically two ways to DI, pre and post. Pre is before the amp, or if the DI is on the amp it’s before the amp’s EQ section. It’s preferable for solid state amps that don’t impart a lot of their own tone and it gives the soundman a clean, unadulterated signal to work with. It also allows you to mess with the EQ and volume on stage without affecting the soundman’s mix.

Post DI is after the amp’s EQ, and sometimes after the amp’s master volume. It’s advantage is that it it captures some of the amp’s sound (desirable in tube amps), but it comes at the cost of you touching your EQ changes the soundman’s mix. It can also cause issues if you like extreme settings… overly warm/dull, zero mids, overhyped lows, etc. If you’re going to go post you ideally like moderate settings and need to be able to set your EQ and leave it alone.


As for gear, I like to carry a SansAmp VT DI. It’s an analog SVT modeller that has real knobs and can run off phantom power or a 9v battery. I can make adjustments on the fly, use it to make my DI tone sound more like a mic‘d SVT, and I can plug it into the effects loop return of a lot of random bass amps to make them sound more like an SVT.

Depending on how metal you want to get, I run a Darkglass Alpha/Omega. It basically like running my bass into three amps… a clean bass amp, a scooped Dual Rectifier, and a middy 5150. Their B7K is super popular… pretty much a meme at this point. I like their pedals but I wouldn’t buy one of their amps… nothing wrong with them, but it’s a lot of money to sink into something that sounds like their pedals. For the cost you could buy a bunch of their pedals and switch sounds whenever you feel like it.

On the lightweight side, I run a Mesa WD-800 and matching 115+210. I like this rig a lot, has great midrange, and the preamp gets enough breakup for my tastes. I have had it at the limits of its headroom in some venues and with a louder drummer I probably would’ve needed more cab. Side note, the crappier the venue the more amp/cab you’ll need.

On the heavyweight side I was running a Mesa Strategy 8:88 and Mesa PH410 (I’ve changed to an SVT+810e with plans for a 212 for smaller gigs, but COVID hit). The WD-800 is nice, but this rig ratchets up the aggression and is akin to playing a nuclear powered sledgehammer.

While the internet is full of people that play Madison Square Gardens with a battery powered Gorilla amp, most of the bassists in my scene use a 410, 410+115, 610 or 810. Lightweight rigs are cool, but there’s some practical limits on how loud small cabs can get, and metal isn‘t exactly full of the most subtle drummers. My advice, be prepared to be flexible and change your plans as appropriate.

Anyway, that was a ramble. Hopefully I didn’t make it too confusing.

IMO, YMMV.
 
Last edited:

Rufless

Member
Messages
164
I've used the Helix by itself plenty of times playing bass. Works great if you are only going direct and have some sort IEM or wedges. There are plenty of good, usable patches available.

I have a small Markbass rig (500w head & 2x10 cab) that works great and also has a line out if you need something on the stage. Bass rigs have gotten smaller and lighter these days. With today's sound reinforcement there's no need for big rigs unless someone just wants to do that. Lots and lots of options out there at a variety of price points.
If the band place (Check) and the venues (can't check) have a decent sound system Helix is definetly a great option. As I said before ITT I really like the SVT Pro model in it.

A bunch of the rock/metal guys I know really love Darkglass . I’m a Bergantino guy .
Bergantino is a bit out of my (imaginary) range for a first equipment, but Darkglass will defintely get a closer look! (At least the stuff I saw of it). Darkglass is also easier obtainable bc the big German stores have it mostly in stock.

Mesa has some nice class D amps nowadays.
Im just learning bass myself and I play it through my AxeIII. I have no doubt that you can dial in some good sounds thru your Helix.
No doubt about it. The Helix has a Mesa caliber model in it that sounds pretty good! Sadly Mesa is damn expensive in Europe.

I’m apperently bored and this post turned into a ramble, so apologies up front, and everything is below IMO, FWIW, and certainly not gospel.


The standard way to run bass will be to plug into your amp+cab and the soundman will take a DI out to the soundboard. The DI can be built into your amp or a stand alone unit that gets plugged in similar to a pedal. In small/midsize venues your bass amp will wash into the house and the audience will hear your tone, but in larger venues your amp is pretty much a personal monitor and your DI tone is everything.

Typically you’ll get a quick line check while the soundman sets your level. Unless you have a light touch I recommend hitting the strings hard during your line check. Some guys will line check real light then smash the strings once they start playing for real, which makes the soundman’s job more difficult.

Because you’re going to get a million different opinions, I’d start by focusing on what worked and build from there. We all have different experience, genres and backgrounds, so take everything you read with a grain of salt, including me.

Since you asked for experience, unless you guys have some serious contacts or friends in the business you’re unlikely to be starting in the best venues. Be prepared for everything to be complete sh*t. I bring my own bass(es), amp, cab(s), DI and spare consumables. I’ve shown up to a venue that said they had an SVT backline and found out it blew up three months prior. I’ve shown up to find no monitors, no soundboard, or that the health inspector closed the venue down a couple hours ago so they were moving us to a coffee shop (which turned out to be a killer gig).

In short, be prepared to go it alone. I don’t want to ever be in a position where I can’t do my job because of someone else.


Next up, I’d figure out what the band’s plan is for gigging. Are they going to go direct with modellers and IEM? Modeller into FRFR? Do they have real amps/cabs they plan on gigging and just go direct for practice? Let that be a guide going forward, but remember that bands don’t always last forever and being self-sufficient will make it easier to jump from gig to gig.

Ease of adjustability? I’ve never used a Helix; is it difficult to adjust on the fly? Every room sounds different, every PA sounds different, and as a new bassist you’re probably not going to walk into your first bunch of shows with the prefect live sound already dialled in. Bass is like guitar in that bedroom tone doesn’t necessarily work well live, and the tone you dial in on your band‘s tiny PA may not work well when you’re being fed through a wall of 18“ subs.

On that note, there’s typically two ways to DI, pre and post. Pre is before the amp, or if the DI is on the amp it’s before the amp’s EQ section. It’s preferable for solid state amps that don’t impart a lot of their own tone and it gives the soundman a clean, unadulterated signal to work with. It also allows you to mess with the EQ and volume on stage without affecting the soundman’s mix.

Post DI is after the amp’s EQ, and sometimes after the amp’s master volume. It’s advantage is that it it captures some of the amp’s sound (desirable in tube amps), but it comes at the cost of you touching your EQ changes the soundman’s mix. It can also cause issues if you like extreme settings… overly warm/dull, zero mids, overhyped lows, etc. If you’re going to go post you ideally like moderate settings and need to be able to set your EQ and leave it alone.


As for gear, I like to carry a SansAmp VT DI. It’s an analog SVT modeller that has real knobs and can run off phantom power or a 9v battery. I can make adjustments on the fly, use it to make my DI tone sound more like a mic‘d SVT, and I can plug it into the effects loop return of a lot of random bass amps to make them sound more like an SVT.

Depending on how metal you want to get, I run a Darkglass Alpha/Omega. It basically like running my bass into three amps… a clean bass amp, a scooped Dual Rectifier, and a middy 5150. Their B7K is super popular… pretty much a meme at this point. I like their pedals but I wouldn’t buy one of their amps… nothing wrong with them, but it’s a lot of money to sink into something that sounds like their pedals. For the cost you could buy a bunch of their pedals and switch sounds whenever you feel like it.

On the lightweight side, I run a Mesa WD-800 and matching 115+210. I like this rig a lot, has great midrange, and the preamp gets enough breakup for my tastes. I have had it at the limits of its headroom in some venues and with a louder drummer I probably would’ve needed more cab. Side note, the crappier the venue the more amp/cab you’ll need.

On the heavyweight side I was running a Mesa Strategy 8:88 and Mesa PH410 (I’ve changed to an SVT+810e with plans for a 212 for smaller gigs, but COVID hit). The WD-800 is nice, but this rig ratchets up the aggression and is akin to playing a nuclear powered sledgehammer.

While the internet is full of people that play Madison Square Gardens with a battery powered Gorilla amp, most of the bassists in my scene use a 410, 410+115, 610 or 810. Lightweight rigs are cool, but there’s some practical limits on how loud small cabs can get, and metal isn‘t exactly full of the most subtle drummers. My advice, be prepared to be flexible and change your plans as appropriate.

Anyway, that was a ramble. Hopefully I didn’t make it too confusing.

IMO, YMMV.
Wall of text regarding a wall of sound. I like it. What I take from this is: Be prepared for anything which was my approach for guitar, too.

I guess my take-away from this whole thread is:
- I will use my Helix at home and maybe in the band place/venue (for whenever we can play gigs again in Europe...)
- I will invest in a "take-away-rig" a la Markbass (or others) with a smaller lightweight cab like an 1x15. Or something in that vein. Something I can take with me when the PA is **** or like small places often do: The PA is only for vocals.

Thx at everybody!
 

Fitzer

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,593
I would use the Helix to go direct FOH for shows (it will sound damn good), and use whatever bass gear is at the practice space for practice. It sounds to me like you actually don’t need an amp in all honesty if that bass rig is just staying at that rehearsal space.

You also might consider an Xvive and IEMs. Game changer for a direct rig.

You could maybe invest in a small powerful bass amp just for stage monitoring, and it can be kept as a backup in case the house system is vocals only and you’re required to use stage volume. But honestly if you can get by with the Helix, just do that.
 






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