Bass Guitar Amps
Bass guitar amps have always been an integral part of the bass guitar. The original inspiration for the bass guitar, the stand up double bass, depended on its great size to generate its low tones throughout a room, adding the rhythm and tonnage to the musical pieces it was involved in. With the development of the bass guitar, not only was the size eliminated but so too was the hollow body needed to generate the tones. Without amplification, it would be almost impossible to hear the notes of the bass. Today’s bass player also knows that playing without an amp can mean some serious miscalculations about the style one is playing, as practicing without an amp sounds much different than playing while hooked up.
Basically, amps work by receiving the signal from the pickup and then amplifying it out so that it can be heard more readily. Amplifiers for bass guitars (and other types of low instruments) have to make adjustments for the low tones generated by the instrument.
Loudspeakers are larger in bass amplification systems as they need to be able to pull through more air to generate the low frequencies.
Speakers are made using heavier material, and they are also braced much more tightly than speakers on other amps. Anyone who has ever had a CD or anything else knocked off a stereo by a throbbing baseline should understand the mechanics behind the bracing; low frequencies move more air and thus create more disturbance.
Preamplifier systems also need to be adjusted to fit low frequencies. These systems generally include equalization controls much lower than other instruments; often down below 40 Hz.
More complicated internal workings like fans help the amp cool down while using the greater amounts of power.
Types of amp
There are two big types of bass amp, the combo amp and amps assembled by the player. Combo bass guitar amps have all of the components needed to play in one piece, and are best suited to beginner bass players. The assembled package means that there is no assembly required either at first or when moving the amplification system to another gig.
Amps that are assembled must include the basic components of the bass system. These components include the head and the cabinet. These components both further contain specific elements of the amp makeup. The head contains all the electronics that manipulate and reproduce the bass sound, while the cabinet will contain the speakers.
One important part in the head of all bass amps is the preamp. This is where the signal from the pickup enters the amp system. The preamp manipulates the tone from the pickup. Once the sound has been modified, the signal is sent to the power amp. This part of the system drives power into the sound which is put through the speaker. Reconciling the amount of power generated from the power amp with the size of the cabinet is vital in building an amplification system as a cabinet can be wrecked if too much power is sent through it.
If you are thinking about creating your own bass guitar amps from the basic components, remember that not all parts of amp systems are created equal. A preamp system designed for classical guitars, for example, will not be very effective for a bass. Keep your instrument in mind when considering components in order to maximize the sound.