Best bass amps 2024: killer low-end amplification options for bassists

With an ever-growing market, securing the best bass amplifier for your needs can be a challenge. As the glue for any great band – be that when gigging or in the studio – the bassist and their trusty rig have long been the backbone of the greatest records, so ensuring your amp can deliver is of paramount importance.

Our list of the best bass amplifiers features something for everyone, from top-end, all-tube behemoths, to feisty micro heads you can easily throw in your rucksack. While these units may cover all aspects of the bass amp spectrum, at various prices, the one thing they all have in common is their ability to deliver bucketloads of low-down tone.

We can safely say, whatever you want from your tone – be it an elastic bounce for funk or pure bass-heavy thunder – there’s an amplifier in this guide that will make it happen.

Guitar World author Jonathan Horsley
Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to publications including Guitar World, MusicRadar and Total Guitar. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.

Best bass amps: Quick list

Want to cut to the chase and find out exactly which we think are the best bass amps on the market right now? Below, you’ll find a round-up of our top choices. You can jump to a more detailed review of every pick, along with our price comparison tool to help you find the best deals.

The best bass amps available today

You can trust Guitar World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing guitar products so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Below you'll find full and detailed write-ups for each of the best budget studio monitors in our list. We've tested each one extensively, so you can be sure that our recommendations can be trusted.

Best head for gigging

Best bass amps: Aguilar Tone Hammer 500

(Image credit: Aguilar)

1. Aguilar Tone Hammer 500

An unbeatable balance of power, tone and portability

Specifications

Power: 500 watts into 4 ohms, 250 watts into 8 ohms
Type: Class D head
Features: 3-band graphic EQ with adjustable mids, -10dB pad switch, effects loop, balanced XLR pre/post DI with ground lift, output mute
Weight: 4lb (1.8kg)

Reasons to buy

+
Awesome range of tones
+
Interactive EQ is fun to explore
+
Well-designed front panel
+
Lower or higher-powered formats

Reasons to avoid

-
No headphones output

The Tone Hammer is an exceptional solid-state head that offers you phenomenal control over your tone. There are so many usable tones to be found here that you're sure to find a sweet spot no matter what bass you’re using – a street lamp with a fridge magnet pickup would sound usable through this.

The treble control allows for a healthy 14dB of boost or cut at 4kHz, the bass a hefty 17dB at 40Hz, while you can park your mids anywhere between 180Hz and 1kHz and boost or cut by 16dB either way. 

The drive control interacts with the gain structure and EQ, offering a vintage-sounding EQ that rounds out the bottom end as you turn up the gain and takes off some highs. Aguilar encourages you to use those drive, gain and mids controls as base camp for tone exploration. 

Best for portability

Best bass amps: Trace Elliot ELF

(Image credit: Trace Elliot)

2. Trace Elliot ELF

The best compact bass amp you can buy

Specifications

Power: 200 watts into 4 ohms, 130 watts into 8 ohms
Type: Class D micro head
Features: 3-band EQ, Gain, Volume, headphones out, XLR out
Weight: 1.6lb (0.73kg)

Reasons to buy

+
A super-portable bass head
+
Excellent EQ and gain controls
+
Quality build with thermal/surge protection

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited features
-
No aux-in

To give you an idea of scale, the ELF is just 0.4” wider than the iPhone 14 Pro Max and is less than one-and-a-half inches tall. You could fit it in your pocket and you might want to because you won’t want to be without it.

The performance is exceptional, with a respectable 200-watts at 4 ohms and all the essential features you need. The 3-band EQ plays the percentages and parks the lows at 80Hz, mids at 500Hz, and highs at 4.2kHz, all very sensible and all very usable. There’s also an XLR out for going straight to the PA.

But don’t let the portability aspect seem like a gimmick. This will work just as well in the studio and ships with REAPER DAW, and Peavey ReValver amp modeling software - plus there’s a headphones jack for silent practice.

Best hybrid head

Best bass amps: Markbass Little Mark Vintage 500W

(Image credit: Markbass )

3. Markbass Little Mark Vintage 500W

A hybrid bass amp that oozes vintage tone

Specifications

Power: 500 watts into 4 Ohms, 300 watts into 8 Ohms
Type: Hybrid amp head
Features: Gain, Master volume, Limiter, DI level, 4 band EQ, 3-way flat/cut/old switch, speakon out, balanced XLR out with pre/post EQ switch and ground lift, tuner out
Weight: 5.5lbs/2.5kg

Reasons to buy

+
Very powerful, stage-ready head
+
Great value
+
Warm tube tone

Reasons to avoid

-
Some players may prefer all tube

Markbass is well known for cramming bags of tone into tiny packages but getting fully-fledged tube warmth in a unit that’s only 11” wide is one of their biggest successes yet.

With a vacuum tube preamp section and class D power section, the Little Mark Vintage combines the best of bass amp technology to deliver a warm, classic tone, with bags of volume in a compact and modern head.

A 4-band EQ gives plenty of tonal shaping options, particularly in the midrange, where the split controls mean you can easily adjust those tricky mid-frequencies to your needs, whilst a separate ‘FLAT’, ‘CUT’ and ‘OLD’ knob, gives ready-tuned options for super-fast switching. 

The built-in limiter is a nice touch and can be balanced with the gain control to produce warm, vintage drive, or slammed to produce more modern tones. With an effects loop and a switchable pre/post-EQ DI output, this is a pretty complete option for the gigging bassist.

Best for modern tones

Best bass amps: Darkglass Microtubes 900 v2

(Image credit: Darkglass)

4. Darkglass Microtubes 900 v2

A state-of-the-art head to take you beyond thunderdome

Specifications

Power: 900 watts into 4 ohms, 500 watts into 8 ohms
Type: Class D head
Features: 6-band graphic EQ, adjustable compression, Microtubes Harmonic Enhancement/Saturation, 2x XLR pre/post DI, buffered effects loop, programmable Impulse Response, 1/8” aux in
Weight: 6.39lb (2.9kg)

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent build quality from Darkglass
+
Microtubes section allows you to really tune its overdrive
+
6-band graphic EQ for tone shaping
+
Lots of power

Reasons to avoid

-
Not for those seeking retro tones

Where to start with the bass amp that can do everything except drive the tour bus? Let’s start with the 6-band EQ: set it flat and report a wholly transparent performance, not unlike a top-line acoustic amplifier. A small adjustment of any one of the six EQ parameters delivers a profound effect to your tone. With this, allied to an onboard compression that has its own control (a simple clockwise turn for more, anticlockwise for less), you’ve got everything you need.

Then you’ve got the Microtubes Engine section of the 900, and that really spoils you with controls for drive, level, tone and blend to further eek out the full range of your instrument’s voice.

The overdrive on this amplifier is exceptional too, with two voicings – the modern, pugilistic B3K and the vintage VMT – selectable via a switch, with a coloured LED to let you know which is engaged. This is a top-line, professional bass head with all mod-cons in the back making it ideal for stage or studio.

Best for rock tones

Best bass amps: Orange Little Bass Thing

(Image credit: Orange)
Little by name, huge by nature

Specifications

Power: 500 watts into 4 ohms
Type: Class D head
Features: 3-band EQ, compression, 6dB input pad switch, Balanced XLR Direct Output, buffered effects loop
Weight: 6.5lb (2.95kg)

Reasons to buy

+
It’s portable but powerful
+
An excellent option for rock players
+
Potent EQ

Reasons to avoid

-
Lacks headroom
-
Orange glyphs on the dials take some getting used to

The Orange Little Bass Thing is an excellent example of a fine Orange bass head. It has a tonal power that could give you a black eye and has a stage-ready voice that's perfectly attuned to the needs of the contemporary rocker.

Sure, there is a tendency for it to show a little teeth and that might be too much for some players, but as long as you’re not looking for pristine cleans at block-leveling volume, there's a lot to love here. Besides, the -6dB pad does a reasonable job of cleaning things up otherwise.

Once you decipher the controls, you’ll find this a very intuitive, plug-in-and-play head. There are no great mysteries but plenty of sweep in a 3-band EQ that can apply 15dB of cut and boost to the bass, middle and treble, and the onboard compressor is excellent at tightening your tone up.

Read the full Orange Little Bass Thing review

Best for effects

Best bass amps: Boss Katana KTN210B

(Image credit: Boss)

6. Boss Katana KTN210B

The best bass amp for in-built effects

Specifications

Power: 160 watts
Type: Solid-state combo
Features: Input EFX (comp/drive controls and switches), amp type (vintage/flat/modern), pad switch, gain, shape switch, volume, dry level, blend switch, bass, low mid + frequency switch, high mid + frequency switch, treble, FX1/FX2 controls and switches, tap switch, master volume, tweeter on/off switch, CH1/CH2/CH3/Panel switches, power control (standby/1W/max), power switch
Weight: 48.06 lbs/21.8 kg

Reasons to buy

+
Access to premium Boss effects
+
Switchable wattage

Reasons to avoid

-
Footswitch comes at extra cost
-
A built in tuner would be welcome

As has come to be expected from the Katana name, Boss has delivered a bass amplifier packed to the brim with features, including three different amp settings – Vintage, Flat and Modern – giving you tonal options from jazzy to metal at the flick of a switch.

Drive and compression are always nice additions to a bass amp, but Boss has gone two steps further giving the user the ability to add another pair of effects of your choice from their superb library. Expect to find vintage choruses, swelling flangers, and gut-busting octave effects among many more.

The two 10” speakers shift plenty of air but retain enough pop to cut through a mix nicely, making this a serious option for gigging. As with all Katana amps, it’s more than capable of working as a home practice amp too, with a switch taking it all the way down from 160-watts to 1-watt, allowing you to comfortably use this in the bedroom, without aggravating the neighbours. 

More options...

So those are our top picks, but there are may more great options to choose from that offer something a little different in terms of features and performance. We've selected some more of our favorites below.

Best bass amps: Mesa/Boogie Subway TT-800

(Image credit: Mesa/Boogie)

7. Mesa/Boogie Subway TT-800

A super-versatile hybrid head from the original boutique amp company

Specifications

Power: 800 watts into 4 or 2 ohms, 400 watts into 8 ohms
Type: Class D head with Class A tube-driven preamp
Features: 2 channels, Tri-Tube (3 x 12AT7) preamp, Bright switch, Deep switch, High/Low Gain switch, mute switch, Boogie channel: Input Gain, variable high-pass filter (25Hz–125Hz), passive 3-band EQ w/ Bass, Mid w/variable Mid-Shift control, Treble, and Master Volume; Subway Channel: Input Gain, variable High-pass filter (25Hz–125Hz), fully active 3-band EQ (±12dB Bass, Mid, Treble) with sweepable Midrange frequency control (150Hz–2kHz), and Master Volume, footswitch, tube-drive pre-EQ and post-master balanced XLR DI Output with Line/Mic and ground lift, USB, 2x SpeakON outputs, tuner output, headphones output, effects loop for each channel
Weight: 7.18lb (3.3kg)

Reasons to buy

+
Mesa/Boogie build is faultless
+
Full feature set
+
Wicked range of tones
+
Portable

Reasons to avoid

-
It will take some time to get used to

There's no getting away from the quality and the imagination behind the Subway TT-800 head’s design. This is Mesa/Boogie going to town on an amp head to make it as versatile as possible. The Boogie channel is old-school Mesa performance like the BASS 400+ units, while the Subway channel is more neutral, tightening up the low end, dialing up the clarity across the rest of the frequency spectrum and offering semi-parametric control over the midrange.

This is a do-it-all amp for players of all styles. Each channel is foots-witchable and has its own effects loop. While the two-channel setup encourages in-depth tone hunting, the global gain switching and Bright and Deep switches offer you the ability to make quick changes to your tone. Kick in Deep to let that low-end bloom, or use Bright to add that bouncy electricity slap players just love.

Best bass amps: Fender Rumble 100 v3

(Image credit: Fender)

8. Fender Rumble 100 v3

The best bass combo for practice and beginners

Specifications

Power: 100 watts
Type: Class D head
Features: 4-band EQ, footswitchable overdrive, 1x12” Eminence Special Design speaker, effects loop, XLR out with ground lift, 1/8” aux in, headphones out
Weight: 22lb (10kg)

Reasons to buy

+
It’s cheap and easy to use
+
It’s impressively loud
+
Good EQ

Reasons to avoid

-
You might want to size up

If you're looking for a bass combo, reasonably priced, reasonably spec’d, that doesn’t feel like you’re carting the Undertaker’s fridge around with you, the relatively compact 1x12 Rumble 100 should see you right.

It’s got the classic Fender styling, the black vinyl on a ported plywood cabinet and the silver grille cloth, with a well-designed control panel on the top of the amplifier featuring controls for gain, drive, level, bass, low-mid, high-mid, treble and master volume.

There’s an overdrive on/off switch that can be accessed via an optional foot-switch for, well, for some dirt at the touch of a button, and Bright, Contour and Vintage switches for changing the amp’s voice. Bright will give you a high-end boost, Contour will scoop the mids (hi, slap bassists), and vintage emulates the dynamics of a tube amp. Pretty neat. The Rumble comes in various formats but for practice and small gigs – and for the money – this is our pick.

Best bass amps: Ampeg SVT-CL

(Image credit: Ampeg)

9. Ampeg SVT-CL

The best all-tube head for old-school tones

Specifications

Power: 300 watts into 4 ohms, 250 watts into 8 ohms
Type: Tube head
Features: 3-band graphic EQ with 5-position mids,Ultra Lo and Ultra Hi switches, -15dB padded input, XLR out, slave out, bias adjustment controls
Weight: 80lb (36.3kg)

Reasons to buy

+
Vintage bass tones
+
Classic design
+
Built tough

Reasons to avoid

-
It’s expensive
-
It’s heavy

We know that bass amplification is evolving apace but no best bass amps list could be complete without an all-tube head that offers a premium brand of vintage thunder you just can’t get anywhere else.

It’s heavy and it’s expensive, and tubes are tubes which means maintenance at some point down the line, but the tone – primal, primeval, vintage Bootsy Collins, vintage Sting – should strong-arm you into submission.

The controls are sparse but there’s everything you need; a padded -15dB input for active basses, a five-position mids selector and dial, an Ultra High/Ultra Low switch that allows you to boost highs and lows without swamping the respective frequency ranges, 3-band EQ, bias adjustment on the rear. Just plug it in and turn it up.

Best bass amps: Ashdown Studio 15

(Image credit: Ashdown)

10. Ashdown Studio 15

The lightweight combo with the big deep voice

Specifications

Power: 300 watts
Type: Class D combo
Features: 5-band EQ, shape switch, passive/active switch, footswitchable valve-emulated overdrive, 1x15” Studio NEO speaker, tweeter, tweeter mute switch, effects loop, balanced XLR out, 1/8” aux in, headphones out
Weight: 24.6lb (11.2kg)

Reasons to buy

+
A solid performer offering full control of mids
+
Deep bass from back-ported 15” speaker
+
Well-arranged control panel
+
Lightweight build

Reasons to avoid

-
A little basic for some 

The Ashdown Studio 15 is the Sam Elliot of bass combos, deep, sonorous, authoritative, and musical in its own right. It’s a lightweight combo, housed in a frame of poplar-ply, which is to say it’s quite heavy but not for a combo.

Like the Rumble, this has a straight-ahead control panel with a pad switch for active basses and a shape switch for a quick, pre-EQ tone fix, effectively changing the voicing of the amp. You’ve got 300 watts to play with and a 5-band EQ that pays special attention to your mids.

All the important stuff is on top, so that balanced XLR out, effects loop, headphones out, foot-switch and line in are all right there in front of you. Speaker-wise, there's a lightweight neodymium speaker and a hi-fi tweeter that you can mute if you’re sick of high frequencies.

Best bass amps: Buying advice

Best bass amps: Ampeg bass amp on red background

(Image credit: Future)

Which is the best bass amp for me?

With countless options under $500 that can provide gig-worthy volumes, become trusted studio companions, or in many cases both, the bass amplifier market has arguably never been better. But in a saturated market, finding the right one for you can be difficult.

Choosing an amp to fit your needs now and for the future is a smart way to buy. Are you just starting out playing small basement venues and need something that can compete with the drummer, but dream of making the walls shake at bigger gigs? Or are you already touring medium-large sized venues and need to find a reliable partner as you set off on the road? 

Setting clear benchmarks for what you need in terms of features, wattage and tone is key to choosing an amp that is going to deliver.

Which features are essential in a bass amp?

All players want a certain level of versatility. Options are great and features present options. But for beginner bass players, it’s crucial you can find tones quickly and concentrate on playing. A control panel that is easily navigable is a big plus – even with a condensed feature set, the bass amplifier will teach you a good lesson in how EQ can alter the character of your bass tone, complementing whatever style you’re playing in.

Having a built-in DI output on a bass amp is really helpful, particularly if your amp isn’t a mammoth, 800W+ powerhouse, as most venues will be able to take a signal out of your amplifier and plug it into their PA system, giving you bags of extra volume, which your amp couldn’t possibly manage on its own. The ability to do this may help you bridge the gap between playing smaller and medium-sized venues, without having to constantly look to upgrade to a more powerful amp.

A tasteful EQ section that can shape your tone to your playing style is a must. Whether you are looking to roll off the top end for those jazzy vibes, or have something more spiky that can cut through a mix in a rock setting, bear in mind that not all amps are built the same and some are masters of specific genres. For example, Darkglass has made a name for themselves as masters of modern-bass-tone, particularly in genres such as metal, so their products may not be a perfect match for groovy jazz players but would be ideal for somebody in a math-rock outfit.

If you’re planning on playing slap-bass, consider amps with built-in compressors, which will work to keep your playing at an even level and add additional spank to your sound. The Boss Katana KTN210B has a great compressor ready to use, with a super easy, 1 knob control - turn clockwise for a tighter, punchy sound. The Katana also offers two other programmable effects slots, which may be something to consider if you want to go for a bass rig without using an additional pedalboard.

Think of the size of your amp and whether you will have storage for a huge 8x10” speaker tower… or if even a fairly standard 1x15” cabinet might be pushing it. A number of manufacturers, such as Markbass, are now making lightweight, compact speaker cabinets that pack a punch, and twinning them with the likes of the Little Mark Vintage 500W produces quite remarkable power from a small footprint.

For classic vintage tones, tubes are the way to go; though you no longer need to have an all-tube setup, such as the Ampeg SVT Classic - however, it’s still the best in the business if you can handle one. Power amp tubes are notoriously temperamental and the last thing you want is your amp to go bang just before a big show, so a hybrid system with a tube preamp and class D power section could be the perfect solution, offering warm tube tones, in a smaller, more reliable package.

Check the connections when looking to buy an amp, as many smaller amps, such as the Trace Elliot ELF, are brilliant at what they do, but their sheer size - or lack thereof - means they have to forego some much-desired inputs/outputs, such as auxiliary in. If you are considering buying a combo, do you want the ability to add an external speaker? Not all combos have this functionality, so that’s important to bear in mind.

Close up of DI out on Trace Elliot ELF

(Image credit: Future)

What are the best bass amp brands?

When looking at the backline of your favorite bands, one brand tends to come up more than others - Ampeg. There’s a good reason for that. With more than 75 years of experience in creating high-power, high-quality tube bass amplification, they have often been the benchmark for others to aspire to. With a signature, sought-after tone, many other brands have tried (and failed) to copy their sound, but the fact of the matter is that nothing quite sounds like an Ampeg.

Though almost certainly better known for their guitar amplifiers, it shouldn’t be forgotten that Fender are a serious player in the bass amp game, with their original Bassman amplifiers being held in the same esteem as the likes of Ampeg’s tube classics. They still make Bassman reissues, which are superb, but their more entry-level Rumble series is perhaps their best bang-for-buck offering. In general, it’s hard to go wrong with Fender products and that’s the same for their bass amps.

The likes of Aguilar, Ashdown and Trace Elliot are stalwarts of the bass world, each with superb reputations and huge lists of notable endorsees, while contemporary brands such as Darkglass have arrived and offer different options, particularly with more modern players in mind.

Every brand offers something a little bit different and more expensive doesn’t always mean better. A great place to start when looking for the best bass amp for you is to research a particular player you love the sound of and discover which brands they used to achieve their iconic sound. After finding that out, you can check to see if that brand has a range that will fit your budget.

How we choose products

Here at Guitar World, we are experts in our field, with many years of playing and product testing between us. We live and breathe everything guitar related, and we draw on this knowledge and experience of using products in live, recording and rehearsal scenarios when selecting the products for our guides.

When choosing what we believe to be the best bass amps available right now, we combine our hands-on experience, user reviews and engage in lengthy discussions with our editorial colleagues to reach a consensus about the top products in any given category.

First and foremost, we are guitar players, and we want other guitarists to find the right product for them. So we take into careful consideration everything from budget to feature set, ease of use and durability to come up with a list of what we can proudly say are the best bass amps on the market right now.

Read more about our rating system and exactly how we test each product

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