When it comes to practicing at home, many bass players find themselves short on suitable options. Full size, gig-friendly bass amps are far too powerful for most households, while playing an unamplified electric bass guitar is almost inaudible. If you have found yourself stuck here, it’s time to get yourself one of the best bass amps for practice.
Of course, practice amps have always been around but for many years this range may have seemed an unjustifiable expense, especially for those who already own a full-sized rig. The good news is that technological improvements in this area mean practice amps for bass are not only better than ever, they are also more affordable with great options to suit literally any budget.
We’ve picked a range of great bass amps for practice to cover off every need. While practice amps are typically thought of for home use, some players will want something big enough for rehearsals and small gigs as well – we’ve got you covered, too. Regardless of your experience level, living situation, or finances, there’s a bass practice amp here for you.
Best bass amp for practice: Guitar World’s choice
If you are chasing a bass amp for practice that offers the most value for money when it comes to overall quality and price, it’s hard to look past the Blackstar Unity 30. It’s packed with great features and delivers a huge tonal range for something of this size and price. As far as practice amps for bass go, this hits all the right spots.
For those with a little more money to spend and want something that goes a bit beyond, the Phil Jones Bass M7 Micro 7 is exceptional. A powerful 50W amp cased in a little 30cm box, it’s not only big enough for some gigging, it’s made to be moved around too. It also offers some great true bass tone, whether you have it low or cranked – making it not only a great practice amp for bass players, but an all round solid bass amp in it’s own right.
Best bass amp for practice: Product guide
Blackstar may not really be known for their endeavours in bass amplification but that may be something of an oversight if the Unity range is anything to go by. While their guitar counterparts might be known for their high-gain potential, the Unity Bass 30 is perhaps a more versatile offering – especially when it comes to bass amps of this size.
One of the standout features of the Unity 30 is the different voicings. Unlike most manufacturers who do their modelling on the front of the amp, Blackstar does this on the power amp and this gives these units a distinct and impressive sound. This essentially means that the tube emulation on these guys is much more convincing than many of its counterparts in the bass amp for practice market, so you get a fairly distinct change between classic and modern voice settings. The overdrive setting even offers a decent dirty tone, plus it has a built-in chorus effect, which is pretty unique in itself.
Also boasting a headphone out and an AUX in, the Unity 30 fulfills its role as a bass practice amp well. And while it’s not really big enough to gig with on its own, it does have an XLR output for connecting directly to a Unity Bass Series active cabinet, which does make life simple if you want to go for a bigger rig but don’t want to buy a whole new head. Overall, the Unity 30 represents great value for money.
As you probably heard growing up, sometimes the best things come in small packages – and this is certainly true of the M7 Micro. Perhaps one of the lesser known brands on this list, PJB have been doing great, cutting edge things in the bass amp world for a number of years; case in point this 50W beast packed into a 12 inch (30cm) box weighing less than 15lbs (7kg). If size and portability are your priorities, then you aren’t going to top this.
Despite it’s deceptive looks, the M7 Micro certainly packs a punch and could even work well in a small or medium live setting. Along with it’s 3 band EQ, it’s passive/active switch can really help you find that sweet spot and will be a valued feature for those with particularly hot basses.
While it may be capable of more, it’s main function is as a bass amp for practice and it does this job superbly – offering a very true sounding bass tone even at lower volumes. It’s also one of the few horned practice amps out there, so you really do get a full sound with this beast.
Fender has long been renowned for their bass amps, especially among the pros. And while many of their most well-regarded amps are built for the stage, Fender haven’t overlooked those playing in smaller spaces. The Rumble 40 fills that gap perfectly, offering a lightweight and affordable amp but still with that classic Fender sound.
One of the best things about the sound of the Rumble 40 v3 is that you have quite a lot of scope to shape it with the additional bright, contour, vintage and overdrive settings – with the contour especially being a great way to add extra depth to your tone without needing to push the volume up. Not all of these features are as crucial as others, it must be said, and even players looking for a dirty tone probably won’t get much use out of the overdrive switch as it’s definitely no replacement for a decent pedal in terms of tonal quality. Still, this doesn’t really detract from the amp at all.
At 40 Watts, there is a decent amount of low end here and is powerful enough for the rehearsal room, so will be more than enough for any home. Given how it sounds, its portability and price point, it’s hard to look past the Rumble 40 for a good value for money offering.
One of the heavyweights of the amp world, Orange has a dedicated following for those chasing uber warm and rich tones for good reason. Most of their amps do this well, but can a solid state 25 watt bass amp deliver in the same way? Well, not exactly, but it does a pretty darn good job considering the parameters.
The Orange Crush Bass 25 still manages to conjure up some decent low end, thanks largely to its sensitive EQ that covers quite a broad tonal range, but it’s the warm, overdriven tones when cranked that will probably be one of the key selling points with this one. Few bass amps of this size really sound good when pushed, so if that’s important for you then this could be worth your time.
An onboard tuner along with the line in and headphone certainly help it’s practice bass amp credentials. It’s worth noting here this is certainly a true home practice amp, and you’re unlikely to get much use of it in a full band scenario. But if this is what you’re in the market for, it ticks all the right boxes.
Ampeg is one of the classic bass amp manufacturers. Building great bass amps is their bread and butter so it’s fair to say they know what they are doing. And looking at the BA110V2 it’s fair to say they apply this expertise to all of the amps, not just the arena level options.
The BA110V2 manages to deliver the rich and resonant sound Ampeg is famous for, but on a small scale. While a fairly simple set up, it offers a pretty full range of bass tones so you can get the most out of your practices at home. The key feature that pushes this amp over the top in terms of versatility is its scrambler circuit – essentially an overdrive with independent blend and drive controls. This is pretty well executed and means you get great control of your driven tone, even at lower volumes.
It also has a 60 degree monitor angle option, meaning you can turn it on its side and angle the sound straight up at you, just like a stage monitor, making it easier to control where your sound is heading. There aren’t many downsides to, but it is on the heavier side for this style of amp, so if you needed something super light you may need to look elsewhere.
While it’s one of the most stripped down amps in this range, you could argue that the Hartke HD50 doesn’t need to overcompensate. Unlike other bass amps for practice where you will probably make use of a built-in compressor or a contour, this one sounds great as it is.
Offering a fairly clean and true bass sound even at low levels, it’s well suited for home use. At the same time, the Hartke HD50 is also loud enough for small gigs and rehearsals, making it a great option for people who want a nice, punchy in-between kind of amp.
Thanks to its simplicity, it’s pretty easy to dial in a good sound here, but it is worth noting this might only suit certain players. If you really want the range of options that you find in some other amps, you may find it somewhat restrictive. But if you are just after something simple and functional then the Hartke HD50 is among the best at its price range.
If you are in a situation where even a 25 or 30 watt amp is more than you need, or have a fairly limited budget to spend on a bass amp for practice, then the Blackstar Fly 3 might be what you’re looking for.
This little 3 watter is a deceptively good performer. It’s far more versatile than you might think, and includes EQ, compression and even a separate overdrive channel, so there’s plenty of scope to dial in a wicked tone.
It also has a sub control feature to help bring out the low end, but given its size, this is only going to go so far and you shouldn’t expect any wall shaking - but that might actually be a selling point for many. Another selling point will be that the Fly Bass 3 can be run on AA batteries, meaning it’s truly portable and would be especially useful for buskers or anybody that likes to play on the go.
For well under $100, this makes for a pretty wicked bass practice amp or even just as an external speaker for your phone or computer. The Fly 3 also comes in a stereo pack for around $120, with many attesting that this is the best way to experience this amp.
Some bass amps for practice are more distinguishable than others, and that’s probably one of the biggest things going against the Laney RB2. While on the surface it’s probably not the most standout amp here, it’s worth taking a proper look at the RB2 for its merits.
When it comes to honing a tone, the RB2 has a lot to offer. Firstly, this horn-enhanced 10 incher offers decent low end right off the bat, but it’s sophisticated EQ - which includes a para-mid - gives you a wide tonal range. Add to that a selectable compressor and you’ve got a lot to play with.
You’ll also notice there are two inputs here – high and normal – to cater for basses with active or passive pickups. It also has DI out which makes it suitable to hook up directly to a PA or your interface for recording. It also has a monitor angle option allowing you to focus where your sound goes. Overall, you really get a well-rounded package here for a respectable price.
If your main priority is weight and transportability then it’s going to be hard to look past the Ashdown Studio 8. Possibly the lightest 30W bass amp on the market, the Studio 8 is definitely not going to break your back and thanks to its affordable price, your bank balance will be fine too.
The Studio 8 offers a pretty reasonable sounding practice bass amp, well suited to home practice or lower volume rehearsals. It contains all the hallmarks of this range, like a three band EQ, headphone out, and line in, so in that respect it can hold its own with most others on this list.
One criticism is that even for a 30W it does sound thinner than its horned counterparts and is probably not going to hold up to any sort of gigging. But if you are simply looking for a bass amp to practice at home, for well under $150 the Studio 8 is a pretty good option.
Best bass amp for practice: Buying advice
When it comes to bass amps for practice, one of the most important things to consider is how much low end you realistically need. Of course, a 25W combo is going to be a much different beast to a 200W head and speaker set, so you should approach the market with realistic expectations. Things have improved in this area though, so if you had a practice amp 10 years ago or so, you might be surprised at how great these smaller amps actually sound. As a rule of thumb though, the bigger amps offer more depth and a well rounded tone, so if a true bass sound is really important to you at a practice level, focus on the bigger options. There’s only so much you can get away with at home before you test your relationship with your neighbours though, so if you just want to hear yourself play and don’t need to feel a lot of air being moved around the smaller sizes will actually be ideal.
When it comes to modern practice amps, there are some features that seem like they must be a prerequisite. We’re specifically talking about headphone outputs to enable silent and auxiliary line inputs to allow you to play external tracks from your phone or computer, making it easy to play along with your favorite songs or backing tracks. These features alone are almost worth buying a practice amp for as they can really improve your time spent playing alone. Thankfully, pretty well every bass amp out there that claims to be a practice amp will have these features.