What happens if you use a bass on a guitar amp? (Surprising)

Have you ever wanted to slap some bass but you are stranded without a bass amp? You are not alone- many bass-heads find themselves in practice spaces where there are no bass amps to be found. Can you use a bass on a guitar amp?

The short answer of course is yes you definitely can, but why would you want to?

There are quite a few reasons:

  • You have nothing else to use other than a guitar amp.
  • You are keen on experimenting and discovering things for yourself.
  • You want to record clean mids on your bass.
  • You have a tube amp and you want to bring out some rich bass sounds at a lower volume

We want to delve into the different scenarios that would necessitate using a bass with a guitar amp.

We will also discuss the different methods by which you can connect a bass to a guitar amp and the gear involved in doing so. Let’s get slapping!

Ok, so you can you use a bass on a guitar amp, now what?

The first thing you will notice is that the volume of your bass (if it is not equipped with active pickups) is quite low. Turn the volume on the bass up and the amp down, then gradually move it closer to get a sound that you like.

This will prevent feedback and loud noises- especially when you use an overdrive pedal for some delicious doomy bass crunch.

The next thing you will notice is that your tone changes drastically. Not only does the tone of your bass change but the character of the bass changes. This is because the speaker in a guitar amp is designed to handle the high frequencies produced by a guitar. The speaker will not produce a consistent or recognizable bass tone because it cannot do so, it might sound boomy and muddy.

The good news is that you might want sounds like that, no judgment here! If you want to slap some bass on a guitar amp then play around with the EQ and try going lower with the tone. The more bass, the better your bottom end will sound, but keep in mind that this will mean all your playing can lose dynamics and attack.

Also, if you mix with other instruments chances are they might not even hear the full change in tone through the mix of the guitar amp.

Use an overdrive pedal to bring out any of the low-end frequencies that may be lacking and you can even try slashing some high mids or highs with the bass EQ to get a mix between clean and dirty.

Trying muting your strings will also give you a different, more percussive sound that might actually have some interesting characteristics.

What kind of music works best with this setup?

If you are using an overdrive pedal with your guitar amp to play some funky distorted bass then the sky is the limit as far as experimentation goes. Think about some of your favorite bass lines- do you know which songs they are from?

Think about the bass tone or style of playing that you like. You can even use an overdrive pedal with your guitar amp to emulate funky slap bass tones.

So as we have seen so far, there is no reason why you can’t play bass on a guitar amp, but you shouldn’t consider this as your first choice. Rather think of it as one of the following solutions:

  • Experimentation
  • Recording bass into a DAW
  • Last resort 

There is no real benefit to playing through a guitar amp, other than using a tube amp as a pre-amp for recording, but there are many benefits to recording your bass into a DAW.

This will give you access to far better monitoring options as well as the ability to manipulate audio with plugins and create full mixes from the ground up.

Can I play my bass on a guitar amp in front of other people?

It’s sometimes embarrassing when you don’t have the right equipment, especially if you are trying to impress your friends, family, and fans. You need to remember that 99% of your performance will come from your capabilities as a slapper, so you need to practice as much as you can.

The important thing to remember is that you should not be asking yourself if your bass will work on a guitar amp. What you need to ask is “How can I make this work?”

So the next time you are practicing, try using your guitar amp to see what kind of sounds you can generate for yourself. If people make fun ofIis it bad to use a bass on a guitar amp? 

Is it OK to play bass through guitar amp?

Up until now, we have focused on the tonal qualities that you can expect from a guitar amp when you use it to play the bass. Now we shift our focus onto the question that everyone has been asking: Is it OK?

The answer is yes and no. Every time you try something new, you potentially change up your playing style- this can be good or bad depending on how well prepared you are. You can also run the risk of damaging your guitar speaker if you really crank the volume on the amp, your effects pedals, and your bass.

Always understand that there is a reason why specific instruments have been designed in the ways that they have, so you must always try to consider the potential damage that you can do to the instrument. You can also try using a virtual guitar amp sim if you are recording into a DAW with a VST. Check out our article here.

Conclusion: What have we learned about bass guitars and bass amps?

The advice that is most useful and practical is this: buy a bass amp if you want to play bass. While it can work, it is certainly not going to give you the volume and punch that people expect from bassists playing live music.

In a recording setup where you just don’t have access to a decent bass amp, you can bypass amps entirely and connect via a Direct Input box, or directly via a recording interface. you could even add some pedals to the signal chain, you can often get a very similar sound to what you would expect from a live performance when trying to record.

Listen to other people’s advice, but always make your own decisions about what you want to play and how you are going to make it work.