Best Bass Amps for Beginners in 2020
Top Bass Amps for Beginners
If you are a beginner looking for your first bass amp you’d be wise to do some research before making your choice. There are some excellent options out there, and some others that it is best to avoid.
I’m recommending these for a few reasons:
- These amps sound great. A bass amp that sounds good and that’s inspiring to play through is important for a newbie who is just picking up the bass for the first time. Learning bass is hard enough without having to battle your amp every step of the way. You shouldn’t have that problem with any of the bass amps in this review.
- Another essential quality I consider in a beginner’s amp for bass or guitar is how much mileage you will get out of it. "Bang for your buck", in other words. Ideally, your first amp should be good enough that you can still use it as a practice amp once you are an intermediate bassist, and after you’ve moved on to a larger, more powerful main amplifier.
- Secondly, your first bass amp should be affordable. I always recommend a budget of about $300 for a first bass setup. Two-thirds of that should go to the guitar, and the rest to the amp. That means the beginner bass amps in this article all come in around $100.
So, let’s take a look at the best bass amps for beginners!
1. Fender Rumble 25 v3
With a power rating of 25 watts and an 8-inch speaker, it isn’t going to shake the neighbor’s house, but it is loud enough to shake yours a bit. In addition to a three-band EQ and volume control, this little monster also has switchable overdrive and a contour button, a couple of nice features in an amp this size.
This is a solid amp for beginning bassists, with excellent tone-shaping controls and onboard overdrive. It is the latest in a series of affordable, quality amps in the Fender Rumble lineage.
In fact, I’ve long been a big fan of the Fender Rumble Series, and I’ve even used an older version of the Rumble 15 as my bass practice amp for many years. Fender re-engineered the Rumble amplifiers a little while back and came out with the Rumble v3 Series. This means some added features and improved lightweight designs.
The Fender Rumble Series
2. Ampeg BA-108 v2
Ampeg is a huge name is bass amps. While they make some of the best amplifiers for the stage and gigging musicians, they also have some excellent models priced right for beginners and intermediate bassists. Like the Fender Rumble Series, the Ampeg BA Series has undergone a recent overhaul, and the BA-108 v2 has some interesting features new bassists will appreciate.
This is an amp geared for practice. Controls are simple, with a 3-band EQ and volume knob. But there are two auxiliary inputs (1/4” and 1/8”) and even a separate level control for the auxiliary inputs. This means you have a huge amount of control while mixing the signal from your bass and the signal from another device such as your iPod.
If you just want to plug in and play that’s fine too. With 20 watts and an 8-inch speaker, the BA-108 has plenty of power for practicing and jamming in low-volume situations.
Ampeg's v2 BA amps feature an innovative tilt design that means you can keep the BA-108 on the floor and still hear it at practice volumes.
More on the Ampeg BA-108
3. Hartke HD15
Hartke is another of my favorite bass amp brands. For a long while, I used a Hartke HA3500 for gigs, and if I found myself playing bass in a band today that’s the amp I’d go with. The 3500 is no beginner’s amp, but I’ve also been impressed with some of the smaller amplifiers in Hartke’s lineup over the years.
The HD15 as a few things going on that separate it from other amps in this review. Most notable is the speaker. Hartke has long been known of their aluminum speaker cones, a tone that many bassists have come to love. The HD15 features a combination of an aluminum and paper speaker cone, bringing some of that legendary Hartke tone to a small package for practice and beginners. Hartke calls it HyDrive, and it is a pretty cool idea.
The HD15 is rated at 15 watts with a 6.5-inch speaker, and has a basic three-band EQ and volume control.
Hartke's patented HyDrive speakers combine their aluminum cone technology with traditional paper cones. The HD15 is one of the best amps out there for beginners or veteran bassists looking for a practice amp.
4. Blackstar Fly 3 Bass
With a power rating of three watts and a 3-inch speaker, The Blackstar Fly 3 is a unique choice for a beginning bass player or any bassist for that matter. This is a small, battery-powered amplifier that sounds incredible. For a little amp, it has advanced features, with gain, compression, and switchable overdrive.
The Fly 3 Bass offers a few advantages for a newbie.
- First, it is among the most inexpensive options you are going to find. Of course, there are cheaper bass amps out there, but the Fly sounds like an amp twice its size.
- Because it is battery-powered you can take it anywhere, and because it is small it won't take up much space.
- This is an amp you will want to hang onto. You are going to move on to a bigger amp someday, but the Fly 3 will always come in handy when you want to jam quietly. I keep my Fly sitting on my desk for those times when I just want to grab a guitar and play without having to mess with a big amp.
If you need more boom for your bass, the Fly 3 even has a compatible extension cabinet.
The Blackstar Fly 3 Bass
5. Ashdown Studio 8
This one is a little more expensive, but I think worth a look. The Studio 8 is an awesome little amp from Ashdown. Ashdown is one of those companies that I’ve always thought has a little mystique about them. Some of the gear they make is very high-quality and could even be considered boutique. On the other hand, they also make some affordable amps for working musicians, intermediate bassists and, in the case of the Studio 8, beginners.
This amp is no more complex than any of the others in this review, but at 30 watts with an 8-inch speaker, it is a bit more powerful. But with the Ashdown name on the grill, you can expect great tone and build quality, and that makes it one of the best bass amps for beginners. It’s also a solid practice amp for experienced bassists, so you know it will stick with you for a long while after you’ve advanced in your playing.
The Ashdown Studio Series
Choosing Your First Bass Amp
As you can see, these bass amps have a lot in common. They are all comparable in speaker size, power and cost, and they are all around the same physical size. Each makes a great bass amp for a beginner, and they will all last you well into your career, eventually serving as a practice amp. So which do you choose?
I could tell you that you can’t go wrong with any of them, but that probably won’t help you very much. So instead here is a quick summary of what I like about each amp:
- Fender Rumble 25 v3: Lighter and Louder was the goal for the Rumble v3 Series, according to their website. Still, the Rumble 25 comes in at over 20 pounds, almost twice the weight of some of the other amps in this review. That is not a bad thing. Solidly built bass cabinets sound good. It’s what I love about my old Rumble 15, and the newer Rumble 25 continues the tradition.
- Ampeg BA-108 v2: In addition to the advanced Aux features, one of the coolest things about the Ampeg v2 BA Series is the tilt-back designs. These aren’t your granddads tilt-back combos. These things tilt on their sides, providing what Ampeg calls a true 60-degree sound reinforcement monitor angle. And, like the Fender, this is a hefty little amp for its size, weighing in at around 23 pounds.
- Hartke HD15: This is a sturdy little amp, but the feature that makes it unique is obviously the speaker cone. The HyDrive speaker is a major step up from some of the small Hartke beginner amps of the past. This is a quality amplifier that you will be able to count on for years, long after you have moved on to a bigger main amp. The built-in limiter is also a nice feature.
- Ashdown Studio 8: Ashdown amps always sound great, and if you are looking for something with a bit more power this amp may be a perfect choice.
- Blackstar Fly 3 Bass: This thing is just so cool. I know most newbies want to start out with something a little more powerful that they can plug into a wall, but honestly, the Fly 3 sounds better than most beginners amps out there.
Hopefully, I’ve given you enough information here to choose the best bass amp for your needs as a beginner. I recommend these amps because I feel they are the top options out there, ones I’d choose for myself.
Remember that this is all based on my opinion. I encourage you to do your own research and check out the amp builders' websites for the latest information on their gear.
Your career as a bassist is a journey. Your first amp will be something you remember always, and any of those motioned in this review will get you started off right.
Your Opinion: Which is the best bass amp for beginners?
Which amp do you like best?
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.