You have to admit there have been some great amps over the years. Some came with much praise, only to be major disappointments. Finding the best doesn’t come without its problems.
The Fender Bassman was a nice-sounding amp, but it was just too timid. The rock revolution happening in the early to mid-60s needed a lot more than it could offer. Over to you, Jim Marshall.
The Marshall amps and cabinets were outstanding in every way. Still are. But Big Jim’s efforts to blow the walls down had a major knock-on effect. Soon after, we had Orange and HiWatt, who came along to join the party. Over the pond, Ampeg launched their iconic SVT. It was all happening.
Today it is all a little different, but some of those names are still around, thankfully. So, let’s look go through the Best Bass Amps currently available and find the perfect one for you…
- 1 Top 8 Best Bass Amps on the Market 2021 Reviews
- 1.1 1 Orange Crush Bass 50W Bass Guitar Combo Amp – Best Combo Bass Amp
- 1.2 2 Blackstar Unity Bass U500 – Best Premium Bass Amp
- 1.3 3 Ampeg Micro CL 100-watt Bass Amplifier Stack – Best Compact Bass Amp
- 1.4 4 Fender Bassbreaker 15 Combo – Best Practice Bass Amp
- 1.5 5 Ampeg SVT-CL Classic Series 300-Watt Bass Amp Head – Best Value for the Money Bass Amp
- 1.6 6 Peavey MAX 100 100-Watt Bass Amp Combo – Best Street Busking Bass Amp
- 1.7 7 Vox VX50 BA 50W 1×8 Bass Combo Amp – Best Travel Bass Amp
- 1.8 8 Trace Elliot ELF Ultra Compact Bass Amplifier – Best Mini Bass Amp
- 2 Best Bass Amps Buying Guide
- 3 Looking for Something Else?
- 4 What are the Best Bass Amps?
Top 8 Best Bass Amps on the Market 2021 Reviews
1 Orange Crush Bass 50W Bass Guitar Combo Amp – Best Combo Bass Amp
Founded in 1968 in London on the back of Marshall’s success, Orange grew to be a big player in the amp market very quickly. And that applied, especially, to their bass designs.
The Orange bass amp signature was a ferocious bottom-end driven on by a superior cabinet design. They were and still are exceptional amp manufacturers.
Build and design…
Like all the Orange Crush range, this model delivers some serious lows. Helping it on its way is its analog circuits and a ported design for the cabinet. The cabinet houses a 12-inch speaker, with the bass port located on the rear for an added low-end response.
It has a good strong build, typical of Orange since the beginning. Likewise, it is fitted with a control panel sunk into the top of the cabinet for ease of use. It is quite portable, measuring 16.93 by 19.09 by 10.83 inches and weighing just 32 pounds.
With the Orange bass amps of the past, you could take them where you wanted to go. Yes, they could be rich, warm, and clean-sounding. But drive them on a bit, and you would get full in your face attack and even some natural distortion. As a result, this one of the best overdriven bass amps on the market.
It takes some of its sound design from previous Orange successes, especially the OB1 head. Built-in to this amp is a sweeping parametric EQ. It has bass, mid, and treble controls with added frequency and blend options. That gives you plenty of room for developing your sound.
Likewise, you can create a “bi-amped” feel to the sound. Simply add extra harmonics and vary the levels of rough edges applied to the basic tone.
A nice addition is a built-in tuner also located on the top of the cabinet in the control panel. There is also a buffered effects loop, a headphone output, and an aux input.
This might have been produced as a practice amp, but it is a bit more than that. For medium and small venues, this is going to work well. And being one of the best low end bass amps, they won’t only hear you; they will feel your presence.
Fantastic value for the money…
One of the newer breed of Orange amp it shows as a company they can still produce great stuff. And as one of the best affordable bass amps, it is certainly worth a look and must be one of the Best Bass Amps.
- Orange design and build provide a great low-end.
- Well-built with a ported cabinet at a great price point.
2 Blackstar Unity Bass U500 – Best Premium Bass Amp
Blackstar amps, to some, might be a new name. To others, they are a respected brand consistently ranked as one of the best amplifier manufacturers. They were founded in the UK in 2007 in Northampton by two senior ex-Marshall employees. That gives us the idea that these guys know what they are doing.
This is no lightweight amp at all. It measures only 23.62 by 18.5 by 27.17 inches, but it weighs around fifty pounds. If we were to criticize this amp, then maybe it is that they should have fitted casters. Instead, there are four rubber feet.
It is well-made, though with a strong build with metal corner protectors. The speaker grille is a patterned cloth with the Blackstar logo prominently displayed in the top left corner. Inside there are two 10-inch Eminence Opus speakers.
Sound and Performance…
It has some interesting and useful features, but some that will be irrelevant to the purist. There are three different voice options; Flat, Modern, and Classic. Built-in are compression, chorus, and some sub-octave options to increase the depth of sound. All useful to most players.
But then they give you Overdrive, Distortion, and Fuzz. A waste of effort, as far as we can see. This is because some players will never use them. For those that might, there are plenty of effects pedals that will probably perform that task far better. And with a series effects loop built-in for the integration of external pedals that emphasizes our point further.
There is a three-band EQ that offers some tonal options and a -10dB pad for active and passive basses. They have provided you with some interesting options tonally. Overall, this is one of the best multi effects bass amps on the market.
There is a ¼-inch output and an output for headphones that has its own level control. And if you need a bit more power, there is a built-in link to the U250ACT cabinet from Blackstar. That will give you an extra 250 watts.
This is a strange bass amp in many ways. To create a great sound, you don’t need too much in the way of effects unless the genre of music demands it. Most don’t.
The Bass needs its identity…
Blackstar has a good reputation that has been earned. But we get the feeling with this bass amp they have felt the need to include things that may not be necessary. Possibly because they see others doing the same thing.
Sometimes manufacturers are in a race to outdo each other. In doing so, they lose the sense of what the amp should all be about. This is a bit like that. If you want the effects, then you will be getting a good amp, albeit a quite expensive one.
- Well-built with two good ten-inch speakers with plenty of power.
- Three different voices with built-in compression and chorus.
- Features included that will not be required by some.
3 Ampeg Micro CL 100-watt Bass Amplifier Stack – Best Compact Bass Amp
Now here is an amp manufacturer that took on Marshall, Orange, and HiWatt and came out of it quite well. Not many can claim that. One of the great assets that Ampeg had was the sound.
That does seem like a superfluous thing to say. But let us explain. Fender bass amps were known for their warm, rich sound with a nice depth. But they were toothless when it came to rock music in the 60s and 70s. The Ampeg amp was all that the Fender was, but it had teeth. Sharp ones.
This is a well-built amp and cabinet. It has to be. It is a particularly large amp and cabinet. Together it stands 36 inches tall by 14 by 13.75 inches. It weighs 57 pounds.
The corners have been given some metal protectors. It has a typical Ampeg look with its strong speaker grille covering and black vinyl finish. The cabinet stands on four rubber feet. Controls are all located conveniently on the front of the head unit.
It will put out 100 watts of power at eight ohms. It is a solid-state amp rather than a valve amp and has some basic tone controls. Using the bass, mid, and treble gives you some variation and color to the tone.
But remember, this is Ampeg. The tone is built-in. That being said, if you are looking for one of the best solid state bass amps on the market, this is worth a closer look.
To handle the output, there are two 10-inch low-frequency drivers. They have a frequency response of 57Hz to 5kHz. As an amp that might be designed more with practice in mind, it certainly packs a punch. With that in mind, the price point is quite high if it is not meant for live performances.
- Well-made piggy-back design with 100 watts of power.
- A very compact design.
- Quite expensive.
4 Fender Bassbreaker 15 Combo – Best Practice Bass Amp
It is true, to a certain extent, to say that the iconic British amps of the 60s had their roots in early Fender amps. That is a bit of a misnomer, as all amps did. But Marshall and others of that period had plenty that Fender didn’t. That’s why they were so good and successful.
A copy of the Bassman?
No, not really. It has a class A/B amp and is EL84 based in its tones. But if they were trying to capture the “British” sound of the 60s, that is as far as it goes. Only trying.
What do you need it for?
In our view, at 15 watts of power, this is just a practice amp at home. Hardly usable at a live performance. But that was the problem with the Bassman. It just wasn’t loud enough.
They’ve got this one wrong…
We have recently looked at some reissue, and tribute amps from Fender for the ‘Black’ and ‘Silver’ faced amps of the past. In those reviews, we mentioned how it was nice to see Fender had got it right for once. But then we walk into this.
It hasn’t got enough…
Underpowered, with an advertising blurb that talks about ‘cranking up’, ‘get it cooking’, and the ‘perfect amount of power’. You realize that someone at Fender has gone off with the boss to visit Disneyland. Let’s hope they stay there and let Fender get back to what they do best.
And the look? Just awful. Sometimes you wonder what they are actually doing down Fender way. No style, change of a famous logo, terrible cheap-looking color scheme. And at a price that is utterly inflated out of proportion.
We read that someone called Fender and asked if they could use their Jazz bass with this amp. The answer was no. Not a bass amp, then is it. Say no more.
Sorry, this doesn’t work for us at all.
- It might have a plug on it.
- Awful design and underpowered for anything other than a bit of practice at home.
- Far too expensive.
5 Ampeg SVT-CL Classic Series 300-Watt Bass Amp Head – Best Value for the Money Bass Amp
Now, this takes us back a bit. We had a “blue print” SVT in the mid-70s. We used it with an Ampeg 8 x 10 cabinet. It had wheels, and the first night we didn’t ‘lock’ them, the cabinet went for a walk around the stage during the first song.
That said, it packed a wallop of a sound, but it wasn’t the loudest we used. That was our Marshall 200 watt. But the Ampeg wasn’t just about loud. It was warm and rich and shook the floor. That is what Ampeg can do, and that is what this amp can do.
This amp has maintained its ability to produce the legendary sound it was famous for. Rich and harmonically beautiful, it has a sound and a style that is way beyond what most can produce. And it’s rather noisy 300 watts make it suitable to be used anywhere. Except at home, where the mains hum alone will get the neighbors running for the earplugs.
What is inside?
Six power tubes and three preamp tubes drive this along and give it its tone. That many tubes alone make this one of the best bass tube amps available. The tone is helped along by the 3-band controls. There is also a mid-tone frequency selector with five options. Also, ultra-high and low tone-shaping filters.
The amp weighs about 80 pounds and measures 24.02 by 12.99 by 11.5 inches. No lightweight. The build quality, as you might imagine, is rather tough. Don’t drop it on anyone because they will break before this does. That’s because this is one of the most durable bass amps you can buy.
The design is unmistakably Ampeg. Here we have a company that understands the importance of a certain style and formal image for its products. They don’t feel the need to play around with it. However, it is just a head unit, so you will need speakers. Plenty of them. And that cost needs to be factored in.
A genuine bass amp…
This is what a bass amp ought to be. Big, strong, powerful, and with a depth that will shake the building and remove the fillings in your teeth. Not many can build bass amps like this. Ampeg can. One of the Best Bass Amps? Of course, it is.
6 Peavey MAX 100 100-Watt Bass Amp Combo – Best Street Busking Bass Amp
This bass amp from Peavey is listed as a 100-watt combo amp. Let’s clarify that so there is no confusion. It seems to be a 100-watt peak power amp. In real terms, that is about 50 watts RMS. That would be about right, considering that it only has a 10-inch speaker.
There is plenty built-in for those that like to play with the tone of their bass. There is a 3-band EQ along with Contour, Mid-shift, Bright, and Overdrive controls. To give impact to the harmonics and subharmonics, it has a Kosmos-C bass enhancement.
If you want to use external effects, there is a built-in effects loop. To ensure safety when the dynamics start to increase, Peavey has built-in its DDT speaker protection. This is for those bass players that use slapping or other techniques where the dynamics can increase suddenly.
The cabinet features an angled baffle design. That will angle your sound in a slightly upward direction. It measures 18 by 15 by 13 inches and weighs just under 24 pounds. Quite easy then to put in the car and carry around.
It is built out of lightweight wood. This makes it one of the best lightweight bass amps on the market. But it won’t be as strong a cabinet as some made from tougher, heavier woods. A nice extra feature is the inclusion of a chromatic tuner specially designed for bass guitar.
It has two ¼-inch inputs, one for passive guitars and one for active. There is a ⅛ inch aux input and a ⅛ inch headphone socket. A decent amp at a cost-effective price point.
- Plenty of tone-shaping options for those that require them.
- Has an angled baffle design.
- Made of lightweight wood, so not as strong as some.
7 Vox VX50 BA 50W 1×8 Bass Combo Amp – Best Travel Bass Amp
It is not unfair to say that Vox is not especially known for its bass amps. They have produced them, and they are visible on stage with the Beatles and the Shadows in the 60s. The trouble is that everything Vox does lives in the shadow of the AC30.
It is a compact amp measuring just 8.19 by 12.32 by 13.94 inches and weighing only 10 pounds. Therefore, this is one of the best portable bass amps you will find.
The cabinet is built to optimize your low-end sounds using a unique bass-reflex design. It has a small but efficient eight-inch speaker to deliver its 50 watts.
It is well-built with a tough metal grille and the vertical Vox logo reminiscent of the Vox 60s bass cabinets. What is new, though, is the predominance of red behind the speaker grille and on the control panel.
This little amp won’t take being pushed too hard. But at realistic levels, it delivers a warm and smooth bass tone. It will, therefore, work well in a studio environment or even at smaller venues for performances.
There is a 4-band EQ for easy tonal changes that includes controls for both high mid and low mid. And a compressor built-in to keep the sound tight. The Nutube-equipped preamp delivers a rich tone that feels and sounds deep and powerful for its 50-watt rating. It also has built-in overdrive if you should need it.
You get some decent connection options. Besides the standard ¼-inch input, there is an aux in and headphone socket. There is also a direct output to allow you to connect up to a PA.
This is not an amp for live performance unless it is with an acoustic group. The sound it produces for practice or studio work, though, is exceptional. It is set at a very attractive price point.
- Good strong build with plenty of tonal options.
- Four band EQ and compressor built-in.
- The great sound it gives is not loud enough for live performances.
8 Trace Elliot ELF Ultra Compact Bass Amplifier – Best Mini Bass Amp
Say hi to the “Essex Boys.” A part of the UK noted for its pub rock scene, Dr. Feelgood, Procol Harum, the inimitable Peter Green, and Robin Trower.
Essex through and through…
I can remember in the early 80s getting my first view of this “new” make of amp. We remember the light-hearted banter about how it suited Essex. Boasting its bright green illuminated gaudy color scheme. But then someone plugged it in. It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t bad at all.
These days they are owned by Peavey, which in some ways is a shame. But they still look similar, and they are still loud and gaudy.
Considering this little amp is going to push out 200 watts, it is remarkably small in size. However, it still has that rather awful green color which is part of the Trace Elliot uniform.
It measures only 4.1 by 6.75 by 1.35 inches and weighs one and a half pounds. It will almost fit in your pocket. Portability isn’t a problem, then. Is this the smallest bass amp in history? Could be.
It is fan-cooled, and the amp has over-current and thermal protection. It is usual for Trace Elliot’s equipment to be quite colorful. This continues the legacy with the gain knob that has a bi-color LED. When the built-in compressor engages, it turns red.
This is worthy of special mention. It has three separate areas of operation. There is uncompressed, variable multiband compression, and finally overdrive. The signal path in its basic form is clean. The simple-to-use controls making it easy to create a great but simple sound if that is what you want.
Rotary dialing gives you three filters designed by Trace Elliot, providing High, Mid, and Low. There are XLR connections that are studio quality.
It is easy to say the visuals are ‘very’ Trace Elliot. In many ways, that is a good thing. But the sound is still there, which makes this at its price point one of the best.
- Has that special Trace Elliot visual look.
- A tiny amp with some great sound options.
Best Bass Amps Buying Guide
We are all different in our requirements for the bass guitar. Some use it as the foundation of the sound of the band. Some use it as a solo instrument. Depending on how you play, you will need a certain sort of amp.
What will you use it for?
If it’s for live performance, then you will need to have some decent volume. Depending, of course, on the size of the venues. It is always best to go a little over the top. Then if you start to push it, it won’t overload and distort. If it’s for practice, then wattage won’t matter, and the sound it makes will be more important.
Do you want any effects built-in? Or are you going to play it “straight”? You may not need overdrive etc., but there are a couple of effects that can help without thrashing the signal. A compressor is always useful, and a Chorus effect can add a lot.
This is something to consider. If you are using it for live performance, you have to be able to carry it around. You also may need to carry a speaker cabinet. Have you got the room in your vehicle? Have you got the muscle that some will require? Best to make sure.
Some may want to play with tones and get different sounds. You will, therefore, need a decent EQ or other tone-shaping options.
The Bottom End
Bass is all about depth and resonance with good harmonics. Therefore, you should pay close attention to what each amp can do at the lower end of the frequency range. Smaller speakers will not usually give you as much depth as a larger speaker. That is something to consider, especially for live performances.
Looking for Something Else?
Our selection of audio and music gear keeps getting bigger. So, check out our in-depth Marshall Code 50W Review, our Marshall Stockwell 2 Review, our Blue Yeticaster Review, our Sennheiser PXC 550-II Review, and our Roland VT-4 Review for awesome items you can buy in 2021.
And don’t miss our comprehensive Monolith M1060 Headphone Review, our Oontz Angle 3 Ultra Review, our Sony MDR-7506 Review, our SteelSeries Arctis 7 Review, and our Fender Rumble 40 v3 Bass Combo Amplifier Review for more amazing items currently available.
What are the Best Bass Amps?
We have looked at a variety of bass amps that cover a wide range of uses. Some extend their suitability to more than one potential use. Others are limited in what they can do for various reasons.
If we were to choose to buy another bass amp, then we would choose the…
A legendary sound that will work at whatever volume you require to use it at.
Until next time, may the beat go on.