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Combo Amps Vs Bass Head

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Combo Amps Vs Bass Head

Post  GusTheBassDog on Tue Dec 11, 2012 6:58 pm

Christmas is almost here, so it's time for dogs to really think about presents. Right now I have an Acoustic B20 combo amp. It is 20 watts, with a 12 inch speaker. Being a dog, I don't really know much about bass heads and cabs. There aren't really any good stores around to go try them(Who would let a dog in there with their expensive electronics?), so I'm not sure if this is a good upgrade for me.

What differences would I actually notice in the sound? Are they just louder or more solid sounding, or is there some other benefit? Would I be better off getting some pedals or effects to play with on my combo amp instead? Right now I have an Ibanez 305DX. I also kind of want a 4 string with a wider neck.

Currently I play a very wide range of songs. I like stuff like the Beatles, Nirvana, and lots of metal, like Metallica, or Korn. I want to be able to get sounds that work for lots of genres. Which of these seems like the best gear to get first?

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Re: Combo Amps Vs Bass Head

Post  Stryfer on Wed Dec 12, 2012 2:29 am

Well getting a bass head + cab means more power of course. Combos hardly go over 100 watts, while the big gear can get you a lot more. Heads + cabs are more expensive, of course, and they do require a bit of planning in terms of which head and which cab (especially which combination of speakers). Combos are set up, so you just pick your wattage and brand and you're good.
If you're playing at home, what you have now is more than enough. If you're going to do club gigs, a 100 watt combo is plenty. You can use heads and cabs for clubs or at home, but you'll find yourself keeping your volume dial at about 10-15%, unless you get something really small.
I'll admit I haven't had much experience with different amps, this is just what I've gathered from the few different ones I tried locally.

If you have a certain idea of what you'd want with an effect, you should get one. Looking at your list of bands, an overdrive or distortion would do wonders for you. I prefer overdrive on the bass, but be sure to check demos for various pedals. A chorus is always beautiful on the bass too.
As for a 4 string, I'd suggest a nice Squire with single coils to oppose your metalesque Ibanez. That would pretty much cover sounds for all genres Smile Fenders are better, but they are far more expensive.

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Re: Combo Amps Vs Bass Head

Post  GusTheBassDog on Wed Dec 12, 2012 3:05 pm

That does make sense. I don't really have any potential to play any kind of gigs, so I guess my combo amp suffices. Maybe if I ever see a really good bargain come along I can consider a head and cab. We'll see. Is the Squier line you're thinking of maybe like the Affinity Jazz Bass, for example?

Regarding the effects, one sound I would very much like to make is something similar to the tone you hear in Coming Undone, by Korn. I've been listening to pedals on youtube, but haven't found one that sounds much like it. I don't think it's just an overdrive or distortion. I've heard the sound quality described as a "Growl". Does anyone know the song who can explain the processing used to get that kind of sound?

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Re: Combo Amps Vs Bass Head

Post  Stryfer on Wed Dec 12, 2012 9:59 pm

Well, as far as amps go, I would recommend getting something that's about 50watts with a nice 15-inch speaker + a piezzo. That's a standard combination these days that covers a lot of low rumble with a good deal of high-end treble. If you're after a korn sound, that's what you need and I'll explain in a bit.

Yes, that affinity jazz is exactly the type of bass I was talking about Smile It's very different to what you have at the moment and will offer up a whole new range of sounds.

Strange that you should mention the song Coming Undone, since I happen to have gotten my hands on the master tracks for it Smile On that song (and any korn song as far as I know) Fieldy uses his traditional "mid-cut" sound. He has a bass specially designed with a switch that let's him kill the mids outright. What you can do is turn those down on your amp and add bass and treble. There's no effect pedal involved, just a ridiculous amount of bass and treble that rumbles and rattles Smile

I can get that sound down quite nicely with my Ibanez, but I actually prefer lots of mids Razz

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Re: Combo Amps Vs Bass Head

Post  GusTheBassDog on Wed Dec 12, 2012 11:05 pm

Thanks for the suggestions. The Affinity is possible for me to get. I could maybe afford a used Fender. I'll have to look around and see what I can find. Do you have any specific brand and models for the amp setup to look at? Eventually I'll arrange to get to a Guitar Center or something and want to have a good list researched before I go so I can compare everything at once.

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Re: Combo Amps Vs Bass Head

Post  Stryfer on Fri Dec 14, 2012 7:45 am

Well, I've hardly had an opportunity to try much myself. As far as combo amps go, where I live anyway, the Fender Rumble series is on top in terms of popularity. We don't have a lot of bassplayers and I've seen 3 around clubs/studios, not counting my own. I've also seen Fender Bassman combos...so in general I'd say Fender combos Laughing
I've also heard Peavey mentioned as a good budget combo amp brand.
However, I'd say that unless you get one with a piezo speaker you're better off keeping your current amp and saving money. It's a small speaker that accentuates the treble of your sound. The usual combination is two or four 10-inch speakers (these offer a punchier sound) or a single 15-inch (these offer more low boom).

As far far as amp heads go, unless you're willing to spend a decent amount of money I'd stay away from it. Beacuse when talking about amp heads you'll see a high amount of money mentioned each time. MarkBass, Orange, Hartke are the ones I've had the pleasure of trying out and each have their own sound. I've also heard an Ampeg used live which blew me away.
They all require a fairly large cab to really shine though.

Armed with all that information, go on google, visit a few online music shops, check the reviews and so on. See what's available to you.

I haven't tried the Affinity but it seems like a decent enough budget bass. I'll take this opportunity to, again, advertise the Squire Vintage Modified Jazz, as it's without a doubt the best for it's low price. I use it for funk, it has an amazing slap tone and though I'm not a fan of the jazz bass sound in general, I've seen quite a few jaw-drops from fellow bass colleagues upon hearing it in action Smile

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Re: Combo Amps Vs Bass Head

Post  GusTheBassDog on Fri Dec 14, 2012 7:41 pm

Today I was able to go to a Guitar Center and a Music Go Round to look at some guitars. I guess it's because of Christmas, but they barely had anything in the stores. The only budget level bass they had that interested me was an Epiphone EB-0, but it was a short scale, and I just didn't like it. It sounded...ok, I guess. But compared to my SR305DX it sort of felt like I was playing with a toy. I could barely play anything on it at first because it was tiny and my paws felt out of place. Just trying to play stuff that I can play from memory on my bass, I would find that I was like 3 whole frets off on the Epiphone. On the bright side I could like play cords that were 4 frets apart, which on my Ibanez 2 is my limit. But I'm a bit worried if I learn on my Ibanez I wouldn't be able to switch between it and this Epiphone without having to stop and adjust every time.

The sales person told me that there's an EB-3 Epiphone that is nearly the same, but is larger scale, and has a 2nd pickup. They didn't have any to look at, but they did have a Gibson SG that it is modeled on. They offered to let me play it, even though I'm just a dog, but I was afraid to even touch it, as it was extremely expensive and dogs are very clumsy. They didn't have a single Squier 4 string in stock at all. There were a couple Fenders but they were mostly these mixed split pickup deals and also expensive.

So I was very disappointed with that trip. Maybe I need to wait until after Christmas to see if they have more stuff there to try out. My friend suggested that I try this pawn shop nearby that has bunches of guitars hanging in the window, but pawn shops scare me. I don't want to buy a damaged bass or something and get ripped off.

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Re: Combo Amps Vs Bass Head

Post  GusTheBassDog on Sat Dec 15, 2012 1:29 am

Another bit of an update. I went to a different Guitar Center, and they had a ton of basses to play. In the end I got a Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar that was on sale for $175 brand new. I loved the way it felt and sounded in the store, and it has a really nice sunburst color. I was very happy with it.

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Re: Combo Amps Vs Bass Head

Post  Stryfer on Sat Dec 15, 2012 9:06 am

Apparently their Vintage Modified series is extremely high quality Smile
I'm glad you found it. I had a look at it and I see that it has a split coil as the neck pickup, while it has a standard single for the bridge. I'll take a wild guess that this is a combination between a jazz and precision bass, which is actually quite good. You can get a great rock sound by using just the neck pickup, a good funk/slap tone with both and a nice jazzy sound with the bridge pickup. Of course the overall quality of the sound is price dependant. What I listed is just types of bass sounds based on pickups Very Happy

I think that's actually a perfect bass for you to complement your Ibanez (which likely has a more deep and powerful tone - more metal). It will allow you to really branch out and experiment with what a bass can sound like.

Just to add: I looked up the entire series just now. I'll assume you didn't pick up the jaguar with a humbucker? Also, the Vintage Jazz I have is that 70s one. I haven't tried the other.

Another edition: Regarding technique, you don't need to worry about readjusting constantly. If you play both basses regularly, in time your hands will automatically adjust to the one you pick up. I know this from personal experience as my two basses feel and play differently, however they did both feel relatively comfertable when first picked up - that's important.

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Re: Combo Amps Vs Bass Head

Post  GusTheBassDog on Sat Dec 15, 2012 4:15 pm

Yes, this one is the single coil and split coil mixed pickups model. It has a volume knob for each pickup, a tone knob, and a boost knob. The difference in sound between it and my Ibanez is like night and day. It also felt very comfortable to play. When I tried the EB-0 it felt like I didn't know how to play anything on it, but this one feels really good. One thing that does feel strange is not having the B string there to rest on when plucking the E. That might just be a bit of a bad habit I need to break my paw out of though.

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Re: Combo Amps Vs Bass Head

Post  Pippynip on Sat Dec 15, 2012 9:46 pm

Just rest it on the pickup instead Very Happy

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Re: Combo Amps Vs Bass Head

Post  Stryfer on Sun Dec 16, 2012 1:27 pm

Yea, as Pip said rest it on the pickups as if you were playing the B.
It's not a bad habit at all, it's a must-have habit Very Happy

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