As a musician and bass player myself I understand how vital a bass amp combo is to the sound of a bass guitar. I was lucky to be in a band when I was younger with the terrible bass amp I used to have (I wont mention any brand names just in case I become famous one day!) then one day it blew, and I got a new one. Over the years I have come to amass a large collection of bass amps and the three brands I always end up buying are Fender, VOX and Marshall. In my opinion these are the only 3 brands you should look to when buying a bass amp combo – no others are worth looking at!
Lets start by taking a look at Fenders selection of bass amp combos. Fenders bass amp combos come in a wide range of sizes and sounds. From the 15 watt compact Fender Rumble VS bass amp combo all the way up to the 350 watt Bassman and 350 Rumble bass amps. Which Fender bass amp combo you plump for depends on your needs and the size of venue you are going to perform in. My personal favourite is the 150 watt Fender Rumble 150 Bass guitar combo amp. This bass amp combo by Fender is great for practice sessions and strong and loud enough to fill a modestly sized gig venue with your booming bass. The 15 inch speaker delivers crystal clear sound while the bass amp combo features a mid scoop button, auxiliary input, XLR line out jack with level and ground lift, effects loop, 4-band EQ. I have had a few Fender amps in my time and the Fender Rumble 150 is always one I come back to, it finds the happy medium between practice and performance.
The 2 bass amp combos from VOX are not going to be your primary bass amps. VOX seem to be dipping their toes in the bass amp combo market with their 2 mini bass amp combos. The VOX AC1RV and VOX Pathfinder 10 are tiny amps that put out 10 watts of power. They look good, in the typical VOX style albeit on a smaller scale – you will find the diamond grille cloth, basket weave vinyl leather and vintage head knobs. If you are a musician who spends a lot of time on the tour bus or maybe you just like to have a small amp at hand if you want to try out a couple notes, then the 2 portable bass amp combos are ideal.
Marshalls bass amp combo offering is very similar in choice to that of Fenders. Marshall offer a wide range of bass amp combos at varying wattage. They come in 15, 30, 60, 150 and 450 watt models. Marshall really get one over on Fender with the Marshall MB4410 Bass Combo Amplifier. As you can imagine this bass amp really packs a punch! It is jam packed full of features, out of the four 10 inch speakers comes crystal clear sound. It has a valve preamp stage, channel switching, an inbuilt compressor, a FX Loop, blend control, 2 way footswitch and a HF Horn. If you really want to shake the room and anything within it then the MB4410 Bass Combo Amplifier from Marshall is definitely not a bad bass amp combo to choose. If that is too large then the 150 watt version is similar in features but scaled down in size and power – ideal for practice sessions.
Out of the 3 brands looked at in this blog post, for your PRIMARY bass amp combo you are really left with 2 choices, Fender or Marshall. Price-wise and feature-wise, they are pretty similar so it really comes down to personal preference. I have always tended to lean towards Fender as my first bass guitar was a Fender, however if you need a bass amp combo with an extra bit of oomph, then the Marshall MB4410 Bass Combo Amplifier trumps anything that Fender have to offer. The VOX AC1RV and VOX Pathfinder 10 bass combo amps are ideal for on the move, they are just a bit of fun really and would be great as a stocking filler for a fellow bass player this coming Christmas.