Can I run a Bass through a guitar amp?

Thesius

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This is probable a dumb question but growing up I heard stories of people blowing out there amps because they ran a bass through it. I want to pick up playing bass and my friend is going to lend me one of his. I have an Orane Dark Terror and and Orange 1x12 cab.
 

Chi

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Bad idea. You can plug guitars into bass amps, but the other way around is indeed dangerous. I've never seen it happen, but I hear it all the time.

A guitar amp simply isn't built with frequencies like that in mind, bass amps exist for a reason.

Little bonus info: Plugging an acoustic guitar into a bass amp sounds amazing.
 

GunnarJames

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In my experience, using a bass through a guitar amp is perfectly fine. It's the speakers/cabs that you'll have the issues with. Nothing (that I'm aware of) can blow or go bad within an amp's circuitry simply from plugging a bass into it. I mean, let's remember that a lot of people are tuning their 8+ string guitars as low if not lower than a standard bass and going through guitar amps (still different frequencies obviously, lots of other factors there, but you get the idea).

My guess would be that speakers blow from the amount of vibrating the lower frequencies from a bass cause. Lower frequencies cause speakers to move slower but much further back and forth, while higher frequencies cause short and quick movements. If a speaker (guitar speaker in this case) is designed to move to a certain point and you put frequencies through that go passed this point, then you'll have a problem.

This applies more so with clean bass than distorted bass. Distortion naturally cuts low end, so you won't have as much of an issue. It's why bass players will run their distortion in parallel to blend with their clean signal, to retain the low end of the clean but the grind of the dirt.

FWIW, I've had some really awesome results with Marshall JMP and JVM guitar heads (separately, not at the same time) through a Fender 2x15 bass cabinet for some killer bass tones. I actually think Marshall's tube guitar heads make for better bass amps. :lol:
 

bostjan

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Well…I don't know if the anecdotes about blowing the speaker are true or not, but the resultant sound quality might not really be worth trying to find out. :/
 

Promit

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Bass actually sounds awesome through guitar amps - keep in mind that some of the early guitar amps were actually meant for bass, most obviously the bassman. However with most speakers, as you start to turn things up the speakers cannot handle it and will start to sound audibly stressed even at medium volumes. At high volumes you will get large amplitude standing waves on the cone that will cause permanent damage. I think Celestion made a demo video of it, though I can't find it now.
 

Riverrunsred

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Guitar through bass amp- good (no damage)
Bass through guitar amp- not so good (possible damage)
 

7stg

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For a bass through a guitar amp, the amp will be fine but the speaker can not be pushed very hard or it will likely be damaged.
 

Sumsar

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Well I use my guitar amp for practicing bass, and then when I record I just go straight to the interface but use the guitar amp for monitoring.

I think that using guitar amps to practice bass, i.e. playing bass at very low volumes will be totally fine for your speaker(s). However I wound't do it at band practice if lacking a real bass amp. The volumes is much higher and the chance of damaging the speaker seems real.
 

Zban

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I've heard of quite a few bass players that run a 6505 through a bass cab. My friend has a vintage Sunn Model T (drool worthy) that he uses for both guitar and bass, he just changes out the cab. I haven't personally messed with this myself, but I'm under the impression that the only worry is blowing out guitar cab speakers, just use a bass cab.

EDIT- Wow...looking online, bass 1x12 cabs aren't as cheap as guitar 1x12's. You might be better off just picking up a used combo amp somewhere.
 

Andromalia

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If you're reasonable on the volume and use it for home practice, no problem. It's better than playing without an amp and getting bad habits screwing your dynamics control.

For gigging, no. You need too much power to get through to get it via a guitar amp without blowing your speakers or, best case, sounding awful.
 

Abaddon9112

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As others have said, its the speakers that you should be concerned for, not the amp. Bass->Guitar head->bass cab is fine as long as the impedance matches. Tone may not be ideal but nothing dangerous there.

Bass->Guitar amp->guitar speakers you could blow something if you're cranking it to band volume. But for quiet (like TV level) practice it shouldn't be a problem. You could maybe get an inexpensive compressor pedal to help control spikey levels if you're really worried about that.
 

eyeswide

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There is nothing wrong with running a bass guitar through a guitar amp. You will not blow the amp. Running a bass head into a guitar speaker cabinet can cause it to blow, as the bass head will likely run much more power than the guitar speaker can handle. At lower volumes, you will have no issues. Any other permutation of head/cabinet/bass/guitar will not cause any issues.

/thread
 

TedEH

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As a bassist, some of my favorite bass sounds came from a good guitar tube head- just use the right cab.
 

cGoEcYk

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You wont get much volume out of the Dark Terror!

I have played around with bass through lunch boxes. Headroom will be limited to around a whisper. If you push beyond that there will be power section breakup and possibly also transformer clipping. Fine for practice but not much else.

In general guitar amps typically don't have a great voicing on the preamp for bass. Power sections are also designed differently too, generally with more mid/low mid emphasis rather than solidity and tightness on the lower frequencies (sub 100 Hz). Generally it will come out with the wrong type of mids and a soggy boomy kind of low end. Guitar cabs further emphasize these types of issues, so bass cab always. You can also plug into the FX Return on a guitar amp and run outboard preamps for bass into it to bypass the guitar preamp.
 

Mprinsje

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Bass--> guitar amp--> bass cab=Fine
Bass--> guitar amp--> guitar cab=watch out, don't play at loud volumes
 

Joe Harvatt

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'Guitar speakers' aren't designed to deliver the low end and attack that a bass-guitar can create. You can play bass into a guitar head through a bass cab. It's fairly common for modern metal bass tracks to be recorded through a guitar head as well as a bass head to get a dirty sound to mix with the wider spectrum bass amp sound.

Older valve bass amps (Marshall, Orange) are, as I understand, very similar to guitar heads, with more appropriately tuned EQs.
 

eyeswide

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Bass--> guitar amp--> bass cab=Fine
Bass--> guitar amp--> guitar cab=watch out, don't play at loud volumes

No! This is bull.... and is the reason why there's so much misinformation and people ask questions like this! There is absolutely no reason why this would harm the cabinet. Matching a guitar amp with a guitar cab will have proper power matching. Your .... will perform perfectly fine, regardless of if you have bass or a guitar in front of it.

Think about all the bands that play in low tunings. The guitar players are playing in the bass guitar range and aren't blowing up amps all of a sudden.

As I've said before, the only issue in any pairing has to do with a bass amp into a guitar cab, and that's because bass amps can put out more power than a cab can handle. And it has nothing to do with the instrument! I could go guitar --> bass head ---> guitar cab and blow it because of this.
 

TedEH

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No! This is bull.... and is the reason why there's so much misinformation and people ask questions like this! There is absolutely no reason why this would harm the cabinet.

I have trouble believing this without something to back it up. Guitar and bass amps aren't that different. Yes, you need more power in a bass amp a lot of times- but that in itself is a side effect of the differences in the input signal and which parts of that signal you're trying to deliver. A bass amp (or either amp, it doesn't matter) is only dangerous to a guitar cab if you're outputting a signal that the cab can't handle. A bass is more likely to make you push the low end beyond what a cab can handle, regardless of your amp. The extra low end doesn't come from the amp, it comes from the instrument and how you're using it.

Keeping in mind as well that in almost all cases I've seen of drop tuning low enough to enter bass range, the guitar is heavily distorted, and much of the audible "tone" comes from the midrange, not from the bass. An actual bass, especially if you're playing with a clean tone, is specifically trying to deliver it's performance in a range that takes more power to get to the same perceived volume. Is a bass through a guitar cab going to instantly explode the cab? Of course not, but it makes it much easier to abuse the cab.
 

eyeswide

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Keeping in mind as well that in almost all cases I've seen of drop tuning low enough to enter bass range, the guitar is heavily distorted, and much of the audible "tone" comes from the midrange, not from the bass. An actual bass, especially if you're playing with a clean tone, is specifically trying to deliver it's performance in a range that takes more power to get to the same perceived volume. Is a bass through a guitar cab going to instantly explode the cab? Of course not, but it makes it much easier to abuse the cab.

No. If a speaker, for example, handles frequencies at 100 hz and above, if you put a 50 hz signal into it, the speaker isn't going to explode. The speaker just won't play the sound, because it won't operate at that frequency. Plain and simple.

FYI - speakers made for guitar cabinets are typically going to approximately have the same frequency range as any other speaker, including bass speakers. They are, however, tuned to have different response curves. That is, there might be a boost at 250 hz, cut at 750 hz and another boost at 1,500 hz. This just gives a tonal characteristic to the speaker - like a natural EQ. Again, just because you play a bass guitar into this speaker, it doesn't explode because of the frequency.

The problem is in the amp connection to the cabinet, and only when you have a power mismatch. Run a 200 watt bass amp head at 4 ohms into a 200 watt guitar cab at 4 ohms? No problems. Pump everything as loud as possible and you'll have no troubles. Why? Because it's not overloaded.

Now, run a 1,000 watt bass head at 4 ohms full throttle into a 200 watt guitar cab at 4 ohms, you're going to blow up the speaker because of the POWER not because of the FREQUENCY of the signal. Do the same into a 200 watt bass cab at 4 ohms and you're going to blow it up. Hell, run your guitar into that 1000w bass head into a 200w bass cab and you'll blow it up. Why? Because of the guitar? No. It's because of the power handling. ....ing power handling people.

The reason that bass amps have higher power requirements is due to human perception of audio signals and the nature of the lower frequencies. In the bass guitar range, it takes roughly 4-5 times as much power to make the frequencies of a bass guitar as perceptible as that of an electric guitar. Humans "like" to hear things that are around the frequency of a human voice, which is closer to the frequency range of an electric guitar vs a bass guitar. This is why your standard (stage) guitar cab is around 100-200w and your standard (stage) bass cab is 400-1,200w.

Bass guitars don't just magically make guitar .... blow up. File out the nut slots and bridge on your guitar and put bass strings on to it in a bass tuning. Is your guitar amp going to blow up now? No. No, it isn't. To prove this, listen to most Djent bands. Any guitarist that tunes an octave below E or lower is tuning at the same (or lower) than a regularly tuned bass guitar.

The onus of proof isn't on me, it's on you. Do you really think bass guitars magically blow up guitar amps? Show me a single scientific article on the subject.
 


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