The 2 Main Differences Between Bass and Guitar Amps

If you are interested in playing bass, you may also start looking for an amplifier as well. Since basses and guitars are so commonly linked together, many people think you can use a guitar amp for a bass as well. However, if this is what you are wondering about, you need to know about the features of each kind of amplifier and how they differ from each other.

The main difference between a bass amplifier and a guitar amplifier lies in two different things. The crucial difference in two of these amps is that the bass amp will need a larger speaker cabinet than a guitar amp. Aside from this, you will also need to consider that there is a power requirement difference between the guitar amp and the bass amp.

Choosing to purchase a bass amp separately, or a guitar amp can be a huge decision, especially if you are a beginner artist. To make things easier so you can decide what you need to, keep reading this article! We will help you understand what features are present in the bass and the guitar amp, and how to find the perfect amp for the situation.

Can You Use Guitar And Bass Amps Interchangeably?

Because bass and guitar amps are so similar to each other, a lot of guitarists ask themselves if you really need an amp for both. One of the reasons you may be thinking this is that you play both, and getting a separate amp for both may seem excessive and unnecessary. However, if you truly want to get to the bottom of this, let’s talk about their differences.

As many older musicians can attest, bass amps used to be huge. However, in the modern day, the bass amp has gotten significantly smaller, thanks to the advancement of technology. However, when you compare the cabinets to a guitar amp, they are still bigger. So why can’t you use the two of them interchangeably? Let’s explore that.

Turns out, the bass amp is bigger because it needs much more power than the average guitar amp. Why is that? Because a bass produces far lower sound than the usual guitar. This means that the amp will have to pick up lower frequency sounds, and then amplify them much more than what the average guitar amp is capable of.

Guitar amps, on the other hand, will use far less power to get the sound right. This means that the speakers don’t need to be as big, and the power requirements are far lower. Therefore, even with a reduction in power consumption, your guitar amp can convert your strumming into a solid, clean, and professional sounding result. 

Based on this information, it is easy to understand that the guitar and bass amp cannot be used interchangeably. In fact, it is best to use each amp for the instrument it is intended for. In general, that is a good way to approach the use of amps, as they will deliver the best sound when you use them with the right instrument. 

Features Of The Bass Amp

To start and understand the differences between these two amps, you can begin by looking at the features of each amp separately. This will help make some of the differences between these amplifiers very clear. Here are some of the main features of the bass amp. 

The Speaker Cabinet

The cabinet is the part of the bass amp where you will find the speaker is kept. The amp head is where the sound emerges, and then it transmits towards the speaker cabinet. From here, the sound is transmitted in the speakers, which generates the sound you hear. The cabinet itself is usually made of a very quality wood to keep the sound clear.

Additionally, this helps to improve the longevity of the device. The speaker cabinet can as a result handle the loud sound that comes from your bass. There are many types of bass amps out there, and some of the types that are there will have one speaker, while others will have more than one speaker. 

The difference with the bass amp and the guitar amp is that the speaker cabinet is often much bigger in the case of the bass amp. This is because the speaker cabinet for the bass amp will often have more than one speaker available. 

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The Amp Head

The main functionality of the bass amp comes from the amp head. It has all of the electronic wiring and devices that are necessary for the amplifier to work. The amp head is also where the guitar connects directly to the amplifier. There are two main parts of the amp head, which is the preamp and the bass amp. 

Both of these parts take the sound from your bass and take it through the amplifier where it can be tuned and then edited. At this stage, you can then use the amplifier to clear up the sound, or make it better. It gives you the chance to take a muddy sound and transform it into something that you can record. However, the functionality is dependent on the type of amp.

The power amp is another part of the equation where there is a significant difference between a bass amp and a guitar amp. That is because the power amp, as you can see, has a lot to do with the functionality of the amplifier. The more attuned it is to the instrument you play, the better performance you will get.

If you truly want an investment to be worthy of its cost, you will need to choose a bass amplifier that provides you with the features you need. Therefore, the best bet for you is to choose a bass amp that works exactly right for your bass guitar.

Features Of The Guitar Amp

Now that we have talked about the bass amp, it’s important to explore the features of the guitar amp. Interestingly, the two amplifiers are pretty similar to each other, but the guitar amp will take on less power. As a result of this, the amplifier will have a smaller speaker. 

The Speaker Cabinet

Just like a bass amp, the guitar amp also has a wooden speaker cabinet that contains all of the speakers. Aside from this, the cabinet will also have some control buttons that you can use to tweak the signal. Mostly, speaker cabinets between these two types of amps are relatively similar, however their size is the major difference in this case.

Aside from regular speaker cabinets, there are variations available that you can look into. For example, half-stack speaker cabinets will have the amp head and one cabinet, whereas when you get the full stack amplifier, it comes with an additional cabinet. Depending on the type of music you intend to play, this could be a necessity. 

The Amp Head

There is a lot of range within the world of guitar amps, but in general, they do have some features in common. You will usually find the settings for the treble and volume at this place. You can also find other tools, such as settings for reverb, and input options. Some of the more common are the auxiliary input, and the balance input, usually for acoustic amps. 

Just like a bass amp, the process works by the guitar being plugged directly into the amp through the cable. After you play music, the sound signals from the guitar will enter the amp head first. Over here, the signal goes through preliminary correction, such as the volume. Next, the sound moves to the processor, where you can apply settings and effects. 

From here, the sound then goes to the master control. This is where you can tweak things like the volume to determine how loud the final sound is going to be when you play. Finally, it goes through the speakers, where you will be able to hear it. At the end, the sound that you hear will be a corrected and edited sound, reducing the need for manual intervention. 

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How To Find The Right Guitar And Bass Amps

Are you on the lookout for a guitar amp or a bass amp? In that case, you will have to keep an eye out for some things. These can help determine if you are choosing the right kind of amplifier for your interest. In general, while there is a huge range out there, you will get the best results when connecting to your skills, and the features of the amp itself. 

Check The Sound

One of the best ways to determine if an amplifier is right for you is to ask the person at the store to play something. This will give you the chance to see how it sounds. Alternatively, if you have already used the amplifier with someone else, you will have an idea of the results. While doing this, you should consider the quality of the sound.

Keep an eye out for things such as distortions, hums, and other things you would not want at a gig or in a recording studio. If you hear something that catches your ear, be mindful of it. There are plenty of options out there, so you want to choose the right one for you. You can look at reviews to understand what other users say about their experience with the amp.

Consider Your Skills

At the end of the day, the guitar, the amp, and any other equipment can only deliver as much as your skills can cover. For a lot of amateur artists, a mistake they can make is to go for a big name system that professionals use. While the reputable brands and models are reputable for a reason, they may not be right for you at the skill level you are on.

To get the best results, you will need to consider an amplifier that works with your skill level. This means considering the comfort with your instrument, and even the amplifier itself. Opting for an advanced amplifier can only do so much, and if you don’t know how to operate it or use it to the best ability, you will have spent a lot of money that won’t be worth it. 

Check The Controls

Controls are some of the most important parts of an amplifier. While you are at a store looking at options, never take an amplifier without testing out all of the controls. This means assessing if they work or not, and also how easy and accessible they are. Remember, your amplifier will be with you all the time, so you want to choose one with accessible controls.

You should also consider if the controls are delivering all the features you need. For example, does the volume control go up or down to the levels you need? What controls are the best at doing what they do, and how often will you need to adjust them? These are all the major questions you should consider before buying a new amplifier. 

Check The Processor

Before you go in to buy a new amplifier, you should always do research on the brand and model. Reviews are one part of this, but another reason to do this is so you are familiar with the processing powers of the amplifiers. With this knowledge in hand, you can approach the checking of the amplifier with a lot more in mind.

As you examine the sound offered by this amplifier, there are some questions to ask yourself. For example, consider if the effects match up with what is promised on the packaging. Also think about whether the effects deliver what you need from the amplifier. If everything matches up and you are happy, you will know it is the right amp for you. 


Guitar amps and bass amps are both exciting devices that can change the quality of sound you are using. However, they cannot be used interchangeably. We hope this article helped you appreciate the ways that different amps work to provide the best sound for each and every instrument!

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