- Choosing a Bass Amp For Small Gigs
- Fender Rumble 100 v3 Bass Combo Amplifier – Best Bass Combo Amp For Small Gigs
- Peavey MAX 100 100-Watt Bass Amp Combo – Great Value Bass Amp For Gigging With Tuner
- Orange Crush Bass 25W Bass Guitar Combo Amp – Lightest Bass Amp For Gigs
- Ibanez Promethean P3110 300W 1×10 Bass Combo Amp Black – Most Powerful Small Amp
- JOYO 10W Mini Bass Amp MA-10B – Battery-Powered Bass Amp For Street Performance
- Frequently Asked Questions
In this guide, we’re looking at the best bass amps for gigging in small venues. There are so many options. Do you go for a bass combo amp for gigging with a lightweight setup or do you opt for a cabinet and head instead?
We’ve looked at some of the best choices for all types of gigs as well as music styles, whether you are a jazz musician, or a rock bassist, or any other style of bass player.
In a hurry? Head straight to our recommended bass amplifier for gigging in small venues, the Fender Rumble 100W.
Choosing a Bass Amp For Small Gigs
How do you choose the right bass amp for your small gig? Before you make any choices, there are a few things to get to grips with and consider. A few things will inform your decision.
Do I Need a Combo Amp For Small Gigs?
A combo amp isn’t your only option if you are playing smaller shows, but it makes it easier. Combo amps for gigging mean less to carry when compared to buying a cab and a top separately. There is also marginally less setup. This list includes many of the best bass combo amps for small gigs and for practices, and they’re perfect for those who don’t need crazy amounts of power for playing huge shows or gigging all around the world.
How Much Power Do I Need?
The power of an amplifier is measured in wattage. There is no definitive answer to how much wattage you need. In fact, it is an area much debated, as you can see from this Ultimate Guitar thread.
It is generally accepted that anything from 50-100 watts is fine for most small gigs in clubs or tiny venues. However, it’s probably a good idea to go up a level and get 100-150 watts, just to make sure you do have the power required. It doesn’t matter if you don’t use the full capacity of your amp, after all.
Don’t get too hung up on power, just try to avoid things that say they are “mini” or “practice amps” as these will probably not cut it.
Remember that the power isn’t everything, and in many venues you will find that the engineer uses a mic to pick up the sound from your amp. It’s more important to focus on tone.
Differences Between Bass Amps and Guitar Amps
Can you just use a guitar amp for your bass? The features might be pretty similar but there are some vital differences. For one thing, a bass amplifier’s speakers are usually much better at dealing with the low-end frequencies you will need for hearing the full range of your bass guitar.
Weight – Less is More?
If you are going to buy a combo amp, one of the key advantages is the fact that it might pack a lot into a lightweight package. Some of the models on our list weigh around 20 lbs. That’s not exactly featherlight, but it is manageable. Lightweight bass amps for gigging are definitely a positive if you are playing live in different locations, and traveling with your bass equipment.
There are often a few added features to consider when you buy a bass amp, specifically a combo amp for small gigs. Your priority should be the sound quality and, to a certain extent, the power, but these features are a nice bonus and give you far more control.
- EQ. The EQ control can let you alter the frequency response, to give a punchier sound or even add more depth to your tone.
- Effects. Some bassists like to have access to effects within the bass amp. Distortion and fuzz effects are relatively common.
- Tuner. A tuner to check that your bass guitar is perfectly tuned before gigging is going to be essential, so it’s a bonus if it is included in the bass amp you buy.
Fender Rumble 100 v3 Bass Combo Amplifier – Best Bass Combo Amp For Small Gigs
A lot of guitarists and bassists swear by the Fender brand. It isn’t hard to see why. Their range offers consistent quality. Even Squier Basses, Fender’s “budget” range, are great quality. So it is no surprise to see a bass combo amp by Fender on this list.
The Rumble bass combo is good for practice and for small gigs. The amp packs a punch and has a relatively modern sound that can easily be turned into a gritty overdriven sound. There is an overdrive circuit built-in.
We’ve recommended the 100W model as best for gigging in small venues. There are other wattages available, such as a 40W model or even a hefty 500W.
In spite of the deep and clear bass response, this amp is extremely lightweight, it weighs only 22 pounds. For a bass amplifier, this is pretty good.
To go with the modern tone, there is also a very modern set of features including a 1/8 inch input to let you play along to your favorite tracks. There’s a headphone output for private practice too.
On top of all this, Fender backs up the amp with a 5-year warranty. Due to the versatile tone and the loud sound, this amplifier is a great fit for pretty much any bassist and can do a fantastic job for those smaller shows.
Peavey MAX 100 100-Watt Bass Amp Combo – Great Value Bass Amp For Gigging With Tuner
It has all the basics that you’d expect. 100W of power are channeled through a high-quality 10″ cone.
We love the design, with a modern curved look to it, it definitely gives off the right image, but this is definitely not the most important thing we look for in a bass amp.
The controls that this amplifier provides means that you can customize your sound a lot more than many of the other bass amplifiers on the market.
There’s a three-band EQ for full control over the frequency response, and there is even an overdrive button to give a pleasant distortion to your driving bass.
The chromatic tuner means you can quickly and easily tune-up in between songs and you don’t even need to rely on a clip-on tuner.
It even includes the Peavy “Kosmos” function, a psychoacoustic enhancer that is designed to help you to get a better sound both live and in the studio by boosting certain frequencies.
All these features are packed into a casing that is less than 25 lbs, making it one of the best lightweight bass amplifiers out there.
If you’re brand new to playing and don’t want to invest too much money then you won’t be looking to spend hundreds on a bass amp, but by the time you are gigging, the Peavey MAX can give you a fantastic solution that doesn’t break the bank.
Orange Crush Bass 25W Bass Guitar Combo Amp – Lightest Bass Amp For Gigs
The Orange Crush Bass amp makes this list due to the fact that it is the lightest we would recommend as being suitable for gigging. The 25W power rating isn’t huge, but the Orange amp is efficient and still packs a punch. On top of that, this is the best bass combo amp under 20 lbs in weight.
This is an ideal practice amp, really. The 25W rating and the control over your tone makes it a great little amp to have at home or in your studio. That doesn’t mean it can’t handle gigs, though, especially if they are in small venues.
One of the best things about this amplifier is the EQ section, which has a variable mid-range. This means that you can control precisely which frequencies you are boosting or cutting to get the ideal tone for you.
There are all the modern tech features you’d expect, including an integrated tuner, an input for MP3 players or other sources of backing tracks, and a headphone output.
If you are going for the most powerful small amplifier then you might want to look elsewhere. However, if your main priority is something lightweight yet versatile, with a great, analog tone, look no further than the Orange Crush.
Ibanez Promethean P3110 300W 1×10 Bass Combo Amp Black – Most Powerful Small Amp
Ibanez is another brand known well among guitarists and bass guitarists, including those who love metal and rock music. The Promethean amplifier, in spite of being relatively small and compact, packs a huge punch out of the single 10-inch speaker. 300 watts of power, to be precise.
The value is decent when you consider all of that power, but many of the functions are relatively “no-frills”.
Due to all that power, it’s the best bass amp for small to medium gigs but can even handle some fairly large venues. There’s room for your audience to grow before you have to upgrade your amp!
A peak limiting circuit helps to avoid unwanted distortion and there is an XLR and headphone output as well as the standard 1/4 inch ins and outs, which help you to easily mic up or connect to a PA system.
The tone is very good, though not quite up there with the Fender option at the top of our list of best bass combo amps for gigs, so who is this amp best for? Well, if power is your number one priority, but you don’t want too much to carry around then this is a fantastic product. The fact that it weighs under 30 lbs is a real bonus. It can go in the trunk of your car and come to those small gigs with you.
JOYO 10W Mini Bass Amp MA-10B – Battery-Powered Bass Amp For Street Performance
There’s every chance that a small gig for you could involve taking to the streets, or performing in an unconventional location, so there is no guarantee whatsoever that you will have power available.
We won’t pretend that the JOYO model has unbelievable power, or that you can use it to record a hit album. It doesn’t quite have that level of quality, but if you are just looking for a busking amp, then it is hard to argue with.
There are 10W of power, enough to pair up with an acoustic guitar and ensure you’re heard. On top of that, it has control over the EQ, an aux input, and vitally it also has the option for battery power.
AA batteries will give you around 3 hours of use with the JOYO amplifier.
The JOYO is very affordable, and one of the only bass amps under $100 that we’re happy to recommend, even with a few conditions.
If you just want something to practice or occasionally use when busking then this amplifier could be a very good choice. It doesn’t scream of professionalism, but it can serve a decent purpose for bassists at small gigs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I buy a bass amp second hand?
Music equipment is certainly something that has a huge second-hand marketplace. There’s no problem with buying used, but it is best if it has been refurbished or at least checked over in a music store. If you buy a Fender that is less than 5 years old, the warranty might still protect you as it is transferable.
Do I need a different bass amp for practice and gigging?
A good bass amp can be used for multiple things, and all of the amplifiers we’ve reviewed above make good choices for practicing in the comfort of your own home as well as taking to gigs.
There is no formula for deciding on your music gear, and a lot comes down to personal preference, but our list provides you with a look at the best bass amps for small gigs, and allows you to choose which might be the most suitable.
If small and lightweight is for you, a combo amp is a great solution, and all of these models can handle gigs as long as they aren’t too huge. They can also be used for practice and some of them are even suitable for recording.