The 7 Best Bass Amps for Gigging (2023)
Whether you’re just starting out or performing at a large club, a good bass amp is essential for the right gig size. For small to medium gigs, an amp with a capacity of 100-500 watts is ideal. For bigger gigs, an amp with over 500 or 600 watts is sufficient.
Bass is one of the most sought-after sounds in the music industry. Nothing comes close to how bass sounds feel going through your body and making your heart beat faster. To truly hit those low-frequency sounds when gigging, you need a capable bass amp that has enough power to deliver them.
My top recommended gigging bass amp is the Markbass Standard 104HF. This is one of the best all-rounders out there for gigging bassists. It goes really well with the Markass Little Mark Tube 800 head.
My second recommended gigging bass amp is the Fender Rumble 500. This is a budget-friendly option that packs power and is great for small and large gigs.
- The 7 Best Bass Amps for Gigging (2023)
- 1. Markbass Standard 104HF Front-Ported Neo 4x10 Bass Speaker Cabinet
- 2. Fender Rumble 500 2x10" 500-watt Bass Combo Amp
- 3. Ampeg SVT-212AV 2x12" 600-watt Bass Cabinet
- 4. Gallien-Krueger MB212-II 2x12" 500-watt Bass Combo Amp
- 5. Hartke KB15 Kickback 1x15" 500-watt Bass Combo Amp
- 6. Fender Rumble Stage 2x10" 800-watt Bass Combo Amp
- 7. Orange Crush Bass 100 1x15" 100-watt Bass Combo Amp
- What to Keep in Mind When Buying
- Direct Input (di box) as an Alternative to Bass Amps
- Bass Amp Guide for Small vs. Big Gigs
The 7 Best Bass Amps for Gigging (2023)
Let’s compare them in more detail:
The Markbass Standard 104HF is one of the best all-around bass speaker cabinets, specifically when used in combination with the Markbass Little Mark Tube 800 Bass Amp Head. It’s a great choice for those who want a versatile cabinet and uncompromised sound quality.
- Excellent build quality
- Great sound quality
- Styling may not appeal to everyone
- No castor wheels
Flaunting a high-grade multi-ply poplar 104HF bass cap, the Markbass Standard sets the bar high when it comes to sound quality and durability. In addition, there’s a grill and protective corners to protect the amp from getting damaged.
The ultra-light Markbass Neodymium custom speakers deliver an outstanding power output while keeping weight at a minimum, allowing you to transport it effortlessly. With 4 10” woofers and a 1” HF compression driver with a custom horn tweeter, this amp’s output is great.
Internally, the Markbass Standard’s components are sealed, glued, and screwed using high-quality components to ensure a consistent sound quality no matter how hard or frequently you play it.
The Fender Rumble 500 is one of the most affordable bass amps out there, and the good news is that it’s not that far away from the high-end ones.
- Low price tag
- 4-band EQ and 3-button voicing palette for sound shaping
- Optional overdrive footswitch
- Gain and blend overdrive controls
- Has an AUX jack
- Unmarked knobs make precise adjustments challenging
- Cooling fan can be loud
With 500 watts of power, the Rumble has what it takes to give you the stage presence you crave. What’s more, this bass amp integrates a 4-band EQ along with a 3-button voicing palette, enabling you to sculpt your sound as you like.
The overdrive section has gain and blend controls to fine-tune the overdrive of your beats to your liking. The Rumble also comes with an optional footswitch, so you can easily let the overdrive kick in when you need to.
Featuring a pair of 10” speakers, the Fender Rumble’s bass output is out of this world. The icing on top is the AUX jack that allows you to plug in your smartphone, music player, or drum machine to practice.
Following in the footsteps of the original SVT, the Ampeg SVT-212AV sports a bold 600-watt bass speaker cabinet that has the same classic tone as its bigger sibling.
- True Ampeg tone
- Lightweight and easy to carry
- 600 watts of power
- Top-notch poplar-ply construction
- Great speaker efficiency
- Can be too large for small gigs
It’s a great amp for bleed-sensitive live performances and recording when the bigger SVT isn’t required since it closely mimics its sound without having the same volume or girth. The SVT-212AV integrates the same Ampeg Infinite system that delivers the unique Ampeg tone while also maximizing speaker efficiency.
Moving on to the build quality, the Ampeg SVT-212AV boasts a 15mm poplar-ply construction that can keep it in good condition for years to come. The handles make moving it around quite convenient. Not to mention, it’s far from being heavy despite its robust construction and material choices.
If you’re looking for an average-priced amp that delivers pro-level sound quality and a unique sound tone to use in small or medium gigs, look no further than the Ampeg SVT-212AV.
4. Gallien-Krueger MB212-II 2x12" 500-watt Bass Combo Amp
The Gallien-Krueger MB212-II bass combo amp features ultra-efficient digital power plants, making it super lightweight at just 37 lbs. It’s capable of delivering 500 watts of power without affecting its amplification capabilities.
- Slim and lightweight
- 4-band EQ with gain control
- Chain Out for volume boost
- 12” speakers
- AUX jack
- May underperform in large gigs
- No mute switch
This combo bass amp also comes with a Chain Out that enables you to hook up an MBP-powered enclosure for large venues. And with the 4-band active EQ and gain control, shaping your sounds can’t be any easier.
Additionally, the G-K MB212-II comes with 2 12” neodymium speakers that can produce massive bass tones. There’s also a headphone jack that lets you plug in your music player for practice.
The Hartke KB15 Kickback bass combo allows you to hear your tones while performing live because it can rock back 45 degrees. This enables you to pick up the sounds for accurate midrange and high-end feedback.
- 45-degree rock back for on-stage performances
- Silent headphone-out for practicing
- 100-900Hz one-touch boost
- 3-band EQ
- Limited EQ settings
The 500-watt power rating ensures reliable on-stage amplification. Integrating a 15” HyDrive paper-aluminum speaker, the KB15 delivers a high volume that’s suitable for live performances. Thanks to the silent headphones out, practicing with the Hartke KB15 can be a delightful experience.
Another good feature is the 100-900Hz one-touch boost that’s made possible by the amp’s shape control and 3-band EQ. This can be pretty handy when you need a low-mid bump or a bass spike without messing up the entire EQ settings.
The Hartke KB15 plywood cabinet is lightweight and sturdy, making it a good choice for traveling bassists.
The Fender Rumble Stage 800 integrates pro onboard modeling similar to that found in Fender’s higher-end line of Mustang GT amps. This means that the Rumble Stage is capable of delivering classic amp and cabinet tones. From stadium sounds to 50s bassman tones, the possibilities are endless. You can explore as much as you want with the variety of amp and cabinet models you get.
- Excellent onboard modeling
- 800-watt output
- On/off compression tweeter
- 60-second looper for practice
- Plain aesthetics
- Bluetooth connection can be unstable
The Fender Rumble Stage 800 delivers 800 watts of power which makes it suitable for large gigs. It also has a set of 10” woofers that are loud enough to fill a large room or entertain a reasonably-sized audience. Further, this amp has a compression tweeter that can be turned on or off to perfect that treble response.
To make things even sweeter, the Rumble Stage encompasses a wide array of features to complement its classic tones, including EG and compression effects, octaves, reverbs, and delays. It also has a 60-second looper that can be quite handy when practicing or writing songs.
It’s also worth noting that this amp supports Wi-Fi and USB. Bluetooth audio streaming is a welcomed addition, too.
The Orange Crush Bass 100 is a great bass combo amp for practicing at home, studios, and small stages. Designed for small gigs, this amp is lightweight and has a small footprint. But don’t let its small size trick you! This amp is jacked up with all the pro features you’d expect from the higher-end Orange OB1.
- Compact design
- Good for silent practicing
- Balanced XLR output
- Optional overdrive footswitch
- Not suitable for medium or large gigs
It features a 6dB pad, an active EQ with parametric mid-control, and gain and blend controls in the overdrive section. It also has an effects loop for integrating FX processors and a footswitch for easily getting into overdrive mode.
The all-analog circuitry provides you with the exact same warmth that pro bassists love and use. Moreover, the XLR output is balanced and not overwhelming.
On top of that, the Orange Crush Bass has a single 15” speaker capable of delivering genuine bass tones. You also get an authentic-sounding CabSim headphone output that makes true silent practicing a possibility.
What to Keep in Mind When Buying
There are various factors that you need to take into consideration when shopping for a new bass amp. The power rating is the first thing you should take note of. If you want something for practice or small gigs, you don’t need 500 watts.
On the other hand, if you want a good and large bass amp, check reviews to see if an amp is actually fit for large performances. The general rule of thumb is that 600 watts+ bass amps are suitable for medium-large gigs.
You might also want to consider taking a look at the available options in your local music stores. This gives you the chance to try out the amp before buying it. Another thing to keep in mind is sound sculpting. Bass amps with 4-band EQs and overdrive controls give you much better control over your sounds.
Speaker size is also crucial, especially if you plan to use your amp for large gigs. Larger speakers will produce higher volumes, making them ideal for big crowds. A dual set of 10”+ speakers is a good place to start. Additionally, it’d be a welcome addition if the amp had a large vault of tones to experiment with.
Direct Input (di box) as an Alternative to Bass Amps
It’s worth pointing out that some musicians prefer getting a Direct Input (DI) Box instead of a bass amp since it’s cheaper. However, a DI Box will only give you enough bass for smaller gigs. But when It comes to large gigs, nothing beats an amp.
Bass Amp Guide for Small vs. Big Gigs
How Many Watts and Speaker Size for a Small Gig?
For small gigs, a bass amp with a power output of 100-150 watts would be enough. However, you might want to opt for a 300-watt amp just to be on the safe side. As for speaker size, 5-inch woofers would get the job done in a small or medium-sized room.
How Many Watts and Speaker Size for a Big Gig?
Ideally, your bass amp should have at least 600 watts of power to handle a big gig. You’d want to make sure that your audience can clearly distinguish the bass sounds. You also need a pair of 10” woofers for the best sound quality and loudness.
To recap, choosing the best bass amp for gigging primarily depends on your needs. Naturally, it is paramount that you do your research beforehand and decide which amp best suits your needs before you commit to a purchase.
My top pick is the Markbass Standard 104HF bass speaker cabinet with the Markbass Little Mark Tube 800 Bass Amp Head for uncompromised performance.
If you’re on a strict budget, the Fender Rumble 500 would be a solid choice for you. It delivers 500 watts of power and has a 4-band EQ.