Best Small Bass Amps for Gigs

While guitarists are generally known for craving new sounds, bass players tend to have a different approach. Just like you’d expect from a bassist they are methodical, spending time to make sure their choice is just right. It makes sense when it’s your job to be the glue between strings and percussion. It is especially important when you consider how sonically close the bass is to the drums.

So to help you make a more informed choice across the range of bass amps that are out there, we put together this guide. Here we pick five of the best small bass amps for gigging.

Galion-Krueger MB 210-II

Gallien-Krueger MB 210

A beast of an amp at 500 Watts, the Gallien-Krueger MB 210-II puts out enough power to smash out a decent size venue and have plenty of headroom. The twin 2×10” speakers will give you ultra-fast reactions if you’re playing aggressive punchy music, but still provide the girth in the form of a big meaty bass tone. But you’re greedy right, and you want even more power? The poweramp output allows to you connect an 8 ohm extension cab, opening up a whole other level of power.

This amp features all the usual suspects which include a DI out with pad switch if your bass is super-hot on level. There’s a pad switch on the front too for future gain reduction. The four-band EQ with +10 dB boost/cut at the 60Hz gives you the luxury of scooping out your tones so you’ll fit right in the pocket with your band. If this isn’t enough, then there’s a gain boost pot on the EQ to add more growl to your tone, a limiter to smooth the highs and lows, and a horn control to give you an extra bit of tonal response. All this from a business like GK who are known for study, reliable amplification.

Ashdown Rootmaster EVO

Ashdown Rootmaster Evo

We remember when the first Ashdown amps came out. They were awesome sounding and super affordable amps, made by the chief engineer from Trace Elliot, stalwarts of the British bass amp business. Now things have changed a lot since 1997, but Ashdown are still delivering.

The Ashdown Rootmaster EVO is a 1 x 12” bass amp which packs a punch. The 12” speaker gives you a little extra push in the low end, making it great for all styles of music, be that grooving reggae, slaptastic funk or just rocking out. There’s nothing flabby about its tone, just pure unadulterated fun in a lightweight and easy-to-carry cube. Just like the GK amp, you can add an extension cab for even more beef. But what makes the Ashdown so special is the amount of connectivity they give you, speakon out, DI out, FX Loop (send/return) and a footswitch in. Wait a minute, footswitch? Yeah, this amazing piece of kit gives you a drive and subharmonic effect that you can control with a footswich. By just adding a simple control pedal you gain two amazing tone controls to add to your bass playing arsenal.

Ampeg BA-115

Ampeg BA-115

The Ampeg BA-115 offers a more rotund sound than the first two amps we reviewed, thanks to the 1 x 15” speaker, delivering 150 Watts of power.

Ampeg is great at doing is defining the sounds of an era. Imagine the oozing warmth that you heard from those early Motown records; that’s these guys. Although some people prefer to have a bit more choice in their tone. So, say you want a little more grit… these days Ampeg offer that super full tone and include a bass scrambler effect that gives you SVT grind on top. It’s the sound of 150W worth of tubes, growling in your bass head, but without the backache the day after your show.

What we love best about this amp is the 60-degree monitor angle. While this amp is less powerful than other amps in this review, this unique feature means you’ll be firing sound straight up to ear level. Perfect!

TC Electronic BG250-112

TC Electronic BG250

We do enjoy the TC Electronics amps, and the TC Electronic BG250-112 bass combo is another one of those amps that make you smile. At 250 Watts it’s in the middle of the power ratings within this review, but the punchy 1 x 12” speaker delivers a tight and powerful sound across the whole frequency spectrum.

It’s lovely to play a digital amp, where you can have any tone you want at your fingertips. This amp is no exception. You can download and beam effect configurations via a free Android and iPhone app. In a matter of seconds you can get the sounds sculpted by some of the finest players in the world and save them in your amp. And the best thing about all, the amp is super light, at just 16kg. Be the envy of your band when it’s pack down time.

Orange OB1-300

Orange OB1-300

Orange are pretty deft at making beautiful sounding amplification. Just like a fine wine, the Orange OB1-300 is full-bodied and well-rounded. It gives you 300 Watts of brutalist tone from a 1 x 15” eminence driver, and everything you’d imagine from an all analogue signal path Class A/B amp.

It’s not a cheap amp, let’s get things straight. But this is an amp you can take anywhere, and it will likely stay with you on your musical journey. It’s built for hard work. We think the single most impressive aspect of this bass amp is the bi-amp inspired signal path. Just like any good audio engineer would do, the amp splits the clean signal from the bass and adds gain to the upper harmonics. That means you’ll benefit from power and clarity, all at the same time. And best of all, you take control of the blending of the two. Prepare to be blown away.

So, in summary, these are some of the best small bass amps for gigs;

  1. Galion-Krueger MB 210-II
  2. Ashdown Rootmaster EVO
  3. Ampeg BA-115
  4. TC Electronic BG250-112
  5. Orange OB1-300