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Best bass amps 2021: 13 top choice amplification options for bassists

Best bass amps 2021: 13 top choice amplification options for bassists
(Image credit: Future)

If you’re in the market for a new bass amplifier then you’ve come to the right place. Our guide to the best bass amps showcases what we feel are the greatest amps out there right now, no matter the budget. 

There has never been a better time to buy a new bass amp. Not only have amps been steadily getting lighter over the years, but they have also gotten more affordable, too.

So, whether you’re a beginner looking for your first-ever practice amp, or a seasoned pro looking for your next high-end stage-ready companion, you’ll find something to inspire you on this list. 

To help you find exactly what you are looking for we've listed these awesome amps in price order, from budget-friendly to hi-end.

Best bass amps: Our top picks

If money is no option then we have to recommend the Aguilar DB751. This powerhouse of an amp has been available for some time but it remains a visible staple on stages across the world. The straightforward control panel and significant power handling make it a simple but incredibly effective amp, hence why so many players use it.

For the vintage tone seekers, we have to recommend the iconic Fender Bassman Pro 800. You’d be hard-pushed to find a bass player who doesn’t appreciate the rich, warm valve tones of this reimagined classic. Staying with Fender, for the budget-conscious we have to give a shout-out to the Fender Rumble 15. This humble little amp definitely packs a punch without breaking the bank. 

Best bass amps: Product guide & reviews

Best bass amps: Fender Rumble 15

(Image credit: Fender )

1. Fender Rumble 15

The ideal amp for home practice

Price: $99/£91/€104 | Power: 15 watts | Features: Volume, bass, mid, treble | Connections: 1/4-inch jack input socket, 1/4-inch jack headphone socket,1/8 aux in | Weight: 16 lbs/7.26 kg

Lightweight
Super affordable
Great Fender tone  
A little basic 

If you’re looking for a reliable home practice amp, then look no further. Designed to be compact, lightweight, and portable - the Fender Rumble series is ideal for beginners and professionals alike. 

This stylishly petite amp delivers 15-watts of power - more than enough for practicing at home. The headphone out means you can practice any time of day without disturbing the whole household, while the aux-in allows you to jam along with your favourite tracks via your phone or device. 

This little amp has it all, the look, the sound, and most importantly it’s affordable!

Best bass amps: Warwick Gnome Head

(Image credit: Warwick )

2. Warwick Gnome Head

The pocket-size option

Price: $199/£189/€194 | Power: 200 watts | Features: Gain, bass, mid, treble, master | Connections: 1/4-inch jack input socket, 1/4-inch jack headphone socket,1/4-inch speaker out, XLR line out, ground lift | Weight: 2.12 lbs/0.96 kg

Extremely light  
Loud and punchy  
A little basic compared to others 

The Warwick Gnome is the ultimate pint-sized gigging companion. This minuscule amp weighs in at a measly 2.12Ibs and will easily fit in the pocket of your gig bag.

Don’t let its size fool you. This mighty little amp delivers a clear, crisp, clean sound with a whopping 200-watts of power. Whether you’re practicing at home or playing a small gig this fun-sized amp will be sure to keep up. The fully metal enclosure is strong enough to take a beating on the road, and XLR DI output with switchable ground lift makes it a strong amp to have by your side in the recording studio as well. 

Best bass amps: Blackstar Unity 30

(Image credit: Blackstar )

3. Blackstar Unity 30

A great practice amp with built-in chorus and compression

Price: $229/£185/€212 | Power: 30 watts | Features: 3 Voices – Classic, Modern, Overdrive, 3-band EQ with semi-parametric Mid, Footswitchable Overdrive and Chorus, Compressor, Input Gain with clip indication, Pad Switch for active/passive instruments | Connections: 1/4-inch jack input socket, MP3/line-in, XLR + 1/4-inch line out, headphones with independent level control | Weight: 22lbs/10kg

Built-in chorus/compression 
XLR line out with ground lift 
Nothing at this price 

Blackstar may not be your first thought when it comes to amplifiers for bass guitar, but the Unity series proves they know a thing or two about reproducing thunderous low-end - and all at a price that is kind on your wallet.  

This sturdy amp offers great tone-shaping options. The three different voices (classic, modern, and overdrive) cover a wide range of classic tones, and the footswitchable chorus adds a whole new dimension to your sound. As if this wasn’t enough, it also has a built-in compressor, which you can turn on with the flick of a switch. 

Ultimately this is a versatile bass amp, that offers just enough features to make practicing the bass guitar at home fun, and interesting.

Best bass amps: Orange Crush 50

(Image credit: Orange)

4. Orange Crush 50

Classic orange looks with a built-in tuner!

Price: $299/£249/€286 | Power: 50 watts | Features: Active 3-band EQ, frequency, volume, blend, tuner, -6dB pad | Connections: 1/4-inch jack input socket, 1/4-inch jack headphone socket,1/4-inch, fx loop, footswitch | Weight: 31.85ibslbs/14.4kg

Classic Orange tone
Built-in tuner 
Other amps at this price have more features 

Inspired by the flagship OB1 and 4 Stroke amps, the Crush 50 delivers that iconic orange tone in a more bedroom-friendly amplifier. 

This may be a budget bass amp, but the Orange Crush 50 impresses on tone. Whether you’re longing for warm modern clean sounds or crunchy vintage drive, this amp delivers. The versatile active EQ section with a sweepable parametric mid band offers the ultimate control over your sound. 

One nifty feature we absolutely love on this amp is the chromatic tuner. This may not seem like a big deal, but for us, it’s one less obstacle in the way of playing the bass. Simply plug in, tune-up, and bring the thunder. 

Best bass amps: Trace Elliot Elf

(Image credit: Trace Elliot)

5. Trace Elliot Elf

The best bass amp for portability and price

Price: $249/£195/€224 | Power: 200 watts @ 4 ohms, 130 watts @ 8 ohms | Features: Gain, Level indicator, Bass, Middle, Treble, Power indicator, Ground/Lift switch | Connections: 1/4-inch jack input socket, 1/4-inch jack Headphone socket, 1/4-inch jack output socket, Balanced XLR DI output | Weight: 730g

Small and lightweight
Cuts through a band mix
No Aux In socket
Features limited by dimensions

The resurrected Trace Elliot has much to live up to, considering what TE used to stand for in terms of bass amplification. Obviously, the Elf is a very different proposition to the leviathan TE amps of the ‘80s, but don't let its size deceive you. 

Tonally, there is much to be impressed by. The limited EQ section does its job well, while the LED indicators highlight when the in-built compression and drive functionality are in operation. 

The actual power on offer is very impressive; looks can be deceptive. A fine amp and a no-brainer. You could even use it as an emergency backup for your gig bag.

Read the full Trace Elliot Elf review

TC Electronic BQ500 Bass head on a white background

(Image credit: TC Electronic)

6. TC Electronic Thrust BQ500

Versatile compact head that’s big on value

Price: $288/£207.50/€238 | Power: 500 watts @ 4 ohms | Features: Gain, Thrust, 4-band EQ and Master Volume controls, Onboard compressor | Connections: ¼” jack input, Balanced XLR output, SpeakOn speaker out, 1/8” headphone out/aux in | Weight: 2.3kg

Great for silent practice
SpeakON connectivity 
Better suited to active basses

While, understandably, this list contains some of the most sought-after, top tier bass amps on the market today, there’s some incredible amps to be found at the other end of the price spectrum. The TC Electronic Thrust BQ500 resides nearer the entry-level mark, but delivers a quite brilliant package for a shade under $/£300, including silent practice functionality and an onboard compressor. 

As a compact, lightweight Class D head, the BQ500 is ideal as a dedicated gigging amp for players who find themselves travelling but don’t want to risk lugging their more expensive studio gear around.

Best bass amps: Orange bass Terror

(Image credit: Orange)

7. Orange Terror Bass Amp

The mighty return of the ultimate lunchbox bass amp

Price: $799/£469/€620 | Power: 500 watts @ 4 ohms, 250 watts @8 ohms | Features: Single channel, hybrid – Class D power amp with valve preamp, clean switch, variable input sensitivity for active or passive basses, natural channel: volume bass, middle, treble, gain | Connections: 1x 1/4-inch jack input sockets, speakon output sockets, balanced DI out, FX loop | Weight: 4.65KG

Compact size
Plenty of power
Great tone
Not ideal for loads of distortion

The original Orange Terror Bass amp built its own fanbase at a time when portable amp heads with built-in valve distortion were few and far between. This new iteration features more grind and tonal colour.

Based on the AD200 amplifier, this hybrid-design utilises a 12AX7 valve in the preamp stage and a 12AT7 valve for the Send output of the FX loop. The return input has a solid-state stage and a solid-state Class D output stage.

So, how does it sound? Well, this is a loud amp! Playing with a pick gives a great rock tone straight off the bat, while adding some distortion courtesy of the 12AX7 in the preamp produces the signature Orange tone. It’s richly coloured, with enough grind and distortion to warm the sound up, but never venturing towards a lacklustre fizz. 

Read the full Orange Terror Bass Amp review

Best bass amps: Markbass Little Marcus 800

(Image credit: Markbass)

8. Markbass Little Marcus 800

The best bass amp from a true funk legend

Price: $749/£549/€605 | Power: 800 watts @ 4 ohms, 500 watts @ 8 ohms | Features: Mute switch, Gain, EQ1 – UltraLow, Low, Mid, High Mid, High, EQ2 – Old School, Millerizer, Line Out Level, Master Volume, Pre/Post EQ selector, Ground/Lift switch | Connections: 1/4-inch jack input socket, Speakon output socket, 1/4-inch jack Footswitch input, Balanced XLR DI output socket, 1/4-inch jack Send/Return sockets, 1/4-inch jack Tuner Output socket | Weight: 3kg

Uncluttered control panel
Versatile and punchy tones
High and low filters
Artist connection not for everyone

Anything featuring the Marcus Miller signature will attract attention, and this has been very true of the Markbass range that Marcus has leant his name to. This particular amp has plenty of power but it’s the brushed steel looks, player-friendly control set, lightweight design and slap-happy bass tones that make this a real winner at an affordable price. 

But don't be fooled into thinking this is just an amp for slap fans, it has far more tonality than that and can cover a lot of ground across a wide range of musical styles. Available in 250/500/1000 watt models also, the 800 model sits comfortably in between the two power extremes, offering fine tone-shaping options with a more than capable power output. Prepare to be impressed.

Read the full Markbass Little Marcus 800 review

Best bass amps: Darkglass Electronics Alpha Omega 500

(Image credit: Darkglass )

9. Darkglass Electronics Alpha Omega 500

The new offering from the bass gear guru

Price: $749/£729/€839 | Power: 500 watts | Features: Distortion, growl, drive, bite, compressor, 6-band Graphic EQ | Connections: 1/4-inch jack input socket, XLR direct out, headphones, send and return | Weight: 31.85ibslbs/14.4kg

Fantastic distortion/ fuzz tones
Mod control allows you to mix the distortion types
USB for loading cabinet impulses 
Nothing  

There’s a new kid on the block. The Alpha Omega 500 is the latest offering from bass gear giants, Darkglass Electronics. This high-tech bass head is loaded with features and quite frankly sounds incredible. 

The heart and soul of this 500-watt head has to be the Alpha Omega Engine. Whether it’s mild overdrive or high-gain saturation you’re looking for, this powerful amp can handle it. The unique ‘mod’ control allows you to blend between both sides of the engine, allowing you to dial in the perfect distortion sound for any situation. 

The ‘cab select’ switch located on the rear of the amp allows you to navigate between the three different cabinet impulses for the DI output or headphones, you can even load your own via the USB if you would rather. 

Best bass amps: Fender Bassman Pro 800

(Image credit: Fender)

10. Fender Bassman Pro 800

The vintage legend comes of age

Price: $999/£1,039/€1,134 | Power: 800 watts @ 4 ohms, 500 watts @ 8 ohms | Features: Volume, Bass (push/pull Deep), Mid, Treble (push/pull Bright), Overdrive/Vintage selector, Gain, Blend, Volume, Bass (push/pull Deep), Mid-Frequency, Mid-Level, Treble (push/pull bright), Master Volume (pull Mute), XLR Output Level, Pre/Post EQ selector, Ground/Lift selector | Connections: 2x 1/4-inch jack input sockets, 2x Speakon output sockets, 1/4-inch jack Footswitch input socket, 1/4-inch jack Tuner Output socket, 1/4-inch jack preamp Output socket, 1/4-inch jack Power Amp Input socket, Balanced XLR DI output socket | Weight: 7.7kg

Powerful vintage tube tones
Rich colourful overdrive
Reduced weight
Won't appeal to hi-fi tone lovers

When Fender first created the Telecaster, Precision and Jazz Bass instruments, the amplification the company subsequently produced was designed to bring out the now legendary characteristics of their basses.

Over time, the bass amps fell out of favour somewhat, but this newly re-designed version of the classic Bassman amp is a breath of fresh air, with vintage valve tones courtesy of its valve-loaded preamp, a whopping 800-watts of power, all the vintage aesthetics you could wish for and a back-friendly weight to boot. 

Change from clean to rich valve tones in the blink of an eye with the two-channel setup and inclusive footswitch and play your Fenders as they were meant to be heard.

Best bass amps: Eich T-1000

(Image credit: Eich)

11. Eich T-1000

This best bass amp contender boasts impressive looks, features and tones

Price: $1,462/£1,199/€1,310 | Power: 2x 500 watts @ 2 ohms, 1000 watts @ 4 ohms | Features: Gain, Taste, -10dB selector, Attack Time selector, Compressor, Lo, Lo-Mid, Hi-Mid, Hi, Bass Boost selector, High Boost selector, Master Volume, Line/Effect Mix, Mute selector, Pre/Post EQ selector, Ground/Lift switch, Channel A Volume, Channel B Volume (with Sub on/off selector), Bridged Mode selector | Connections: 1/4-inch jack input socket, 1/4-inch jack Compressor/Mute Footswitch input, Balanced XLR DI output socket, 3x Speakon output sockets, 3.5mm Headphone output, 3.5mm Aux In input, 1/4-inch jack Send/Return sockets, 1/4-inch jack Line Out socket, 1/4-inch jack Tuner Output socket | Weight: 2.4kg

Great tone-shaping features
Magnetic fix pins are impressive
Puts power at your fingertips
Too 'busy' for some players

Interesting features, such as the cable looping side handle and the magnetic fixing pins make the T-1000 a fully-featured, tonally flexible amp in a portable compact design. 

The four-band EQ and boost features give bassists of all styles full control of their bass-tone; slap and tap players will find their performances are conveyed with power, clarity and authority while rock and pick players will appreciate the 'beefy' delivery. 

Bright white LEDs illustrate which selection buttons and functions are in use and are very helpful on dark stages. A very impressive performer and a worthwhile consideration for the working bassist. Seriously good.

Read the full Eich T-1000 review

Best bass amps: Ampeg SVT-CL

(Image credit: Ampeg)

12. Ampeg SVT-CL

The American warhorse returns in all its classic glory

Price: $1,999/£1459/€1,897 | Power: 300 watts @ 2/4 ohms | Features: Gain, Ultra Hi/Lo selectors, Bass, Midrange, Frequency, Treble, Master Volume, Bias 1 control, Bias 2 control, Impedance Selector switch | Connections: 2x 1/4-inch jack input sockets (0dB/-15dB), 1/4-inch jack Slave Output socket, 2x 1/4-inch jack output sockets, Speakon output socket, Balanced XLR DI output socket, 1/4-inch jack preamp Output socket, 1/4-inch jack Power Amp Input socket | Weight: 36.3kg

Familiar, classic bass tones
Powerful and authoritative
This amp has created legends
Legendarily heavy, handle with care

Ampeg set the standard for bass amplification in the late ‘60s/early ‘70s and, alongside their 8x10 speaker cabinets, a classic bass sound was created. As a result, everyone wanted valve warmth matched with power and volume. 

This amp is a recreation of the classic - and much desired - Ampeg amp. With eleven valves across the preamp, power amp and drive sections, if you're after tube performance, this is one of the best bass amps to try.

It's not packed with features and extras but then it doesn't need to be. The weight may put you off but there is no denying the enticing bass-tones on offer.

Best bass amps: Aguilar DB751

(Image credit: Aguilar)

13. Aguilar DB751

Aguilar's flagship amp flies the flag for valve tones

Price: $2,495/£2,399/€2,620 | Power: 975 watts @ 2 ohms, 750 watts @ 4 ohms, 400 watts @ 8 ohms | Features: -6dB pad, Gain, Bright switch, Treble, Mid, Bass, Deep switch, Master Volume, Send (push/pull for -20dB, line or instrument level), Return (push/pull for series/parallel operation), Pre/Post EQ switch, Ground/Lift switch, Mute/Operate switch | Connections: 1/4-inch jack input socket, 1/4-inch jack Send/Return sockets, Balanced XLR DI output, 1/4-inch jack Footswitch socket, Speakon outputs x2, 1/4-inch jack Tuner Output socket | Weight: 19.05kg

Powerful and built to last
High-quality tone-shaping
Simple panel layout
Heavy and expensive

Following on from the impressive DB750, the DB751 is a serious piece of kit which is why you can often see it powering multi-cab rigs on stages across the globe. Requiring three rack unit spaces and coming with a ten year limited warranty, it comes as no surprise that this amp delivers serious tone with high-power output levels to match, incorporating three 12AX7 preamp valves and twelve MOSFETs. 

Rather than fill the amp with elaborate features to turn your head, those wise chaps at Aguilar aimed to create a tone monster that would strongly rival the best bass amps around… and they succeeded.

Best bass amps: Buying advice

Best bass amps: close up on bass amp controls

(Image credit: Future)

There was a time when carrying a bass amp was a test of your physical strength, and in some cases, it still can be. But as technology has improved and costs have come down, virtually every company has a lightweight amp solution in their range. 

Like when choosing any piece of musical equipment, it’s important to consider the application. The 1,000-watt full stack may not be the best choice for every situation. Make sure you consider the power of your new amp carefully. Headphone outputs are fairly common, particularly on Class D amps, and offer the opportunity for silent practice. Some even include an auxiliary input so you can jam along with a music source, making them perfect for both gigging and home practice. 

For ease of transportation, portable Class D amplifiers offer many benefits, however very few feature valves in their preamp. So if the vintage valve tone is what you long for, you may have to look at a larger amp. 

Don’t forget to think about the speaker enclosures you intend to use as these greatly affect the tone and volume. Consider the resistance (measured in ohms) of the amp compared to the resistance of the cabinets you intend to use, as they need to be compatible. 

Bass amps these days can come with a number of features, some you may never need. 

So it’s important to ask yourself if you will make use of them all. Some players are perfectly happy with a basic amp, especially if they shape their tone via the preamp/tone controls on their instrument or via pedals, while others look for extra functionality like compressors, limiters, or even cab simulators.