Guitar and bass amps may look somewhat the same but there are a few differences that make each amp type unique and specific to the instrument.
Construction and components might be the same like speakers, tubes, EQ, etc but the configuration is designed to work with bass or guitar.
Guitar and bass themselves differ from each other in many ways but amps and speakers are very important regarding the sound characteristics.
What’s The Difference Between Guitar And Bass Amps?
If you are interested to know what’s the difference between the two, let’s take a look at the key differences between guitar amps and bass amps so you can know more about amplifiers.
1. Bass Amps Need More Power
The first thing to understand is that wattage is a measure of how much power an amp can output. Amplifiers come with different wattage that spans from 1 watt to 300 watts or more.
And you will find that there are guitar amps that have 10 or 20 watts of power but bass amps will have much more in the same price range.
So why do bass amps need more wattage than guitar amps? It all has to do with physics.
You see, the bass is a more low-frequency oriented instrument, and to produce those low frequencies, an amp needs to be able to generate more power.
So, wattage is just a number. But when it comes to amplifiers, it’s an important number. The bottom line is this: if you want your bass to be heard loud and clear on stage, you need an amplifier that can output a lot of power.
And when you searching for a bass amplifier have in mind that you will need a powerful one to be able to use it for rehearsals or gigs.
2. Guitar Amps Have Smaller Speakers
Another distinction between guitar and bass amps is speakers. They are different and serve different purposes.
First of all, in general, bass amps have bigger speakers in diameter. The full-size bass amp speaker is 15″ but there are 10″ bass speakers too. The bigger speaker allows for producing more low-end.
And in guitar amps cabinets, you will see speakers ranging from 6″ to 12″. A regular and the best speaker size for guitar amps is 12″ which gives you a fuller sound. But in combos you will find 10″ and 8″ speakers too.
But the size is not the only difference. Guitar and bass speakers differ from each other by gain options and frequency response.
3. Bass Amps Have More Low End
We all know that the bass guitar is a low-frequency instrument and it adds a low end to our songs. So, the speakers must have a specific configuration too.
Different from guitar amps, the bass amplifier produces more low-end. So, it needs a speaker that is designed for bass guitars.
And the one reason why most bass tube amps have 15″ speakers is that it helps to produce full and low-end heavy sound. But of course, only the size of the speaker can’t do the job.
Bass is already a low-end instrument and produces low frequencies, amp preamp section does its job but the amp speaker adds to it and we get the bass tone we love.
And that’s another difference between a guitar and bass amps and many guitar players use bass amps to create unique and heavy sounds with guitars.
4. Guitar Amps Have More Gain Options
Another key difference between these two types of amps is that guitar amps typically offer more gain options than bass amps. Gain refers to the amount of amplification an amp provides or how loud it makes your instrument sound.
In general, the bass guitar is a clean instrument so it doesn’t require too much gain, and bass amps have fewer options for gain.
However, most bass amplifiers offer dirty channels or something like that to make the bass tone more aggressive.
Of course, you can use some kind of distortion pedal and make the bass tone much heavier but bass amps won’t offer options as guitar amps do.
The reason is that the heaviness comes from guitars and bass creates a low end in the songs that adds another layer of heaviness. however, the bass tone itself doesn’t need to be saturated.
Actually, if you listen to isolated bass tracks from your favorite metal songs you will hear that most times bass is clean. One reason is that distorted bass can become muddy which is not good.
So, not only do bass amps have bigger speakers and produce more low-end, they are much cleaner sounding than guitar amps.
Hope after reading this guitar amp vs bass amp article you will have more understanding of the differences between these two types of amps. Bass amps have different speakers, are cleaner, and are simpler in gain options. However, there are cases when a bass amp is used for guitars to create distinct and low-end heavy guitar tones.