Video: Choosing Between a Tube or Solid-State Bass Amp

While many guitarists will scream to the ends of the earth that the only good amp is a tube amp, bassists often have a more more open mind. Sure, the characterful tone from classic tube-powered units like the Ampeg Portaflex B-15 is rightfully revered, but the benefits of solid-state amplification cannot be so easily ignored.

In the video above, Jake Hawrylak demonstrates the pros and cons of both, using one of Ampeg's B-15-inspired Ampeg PF-20T tube amp and the solid-state Aguilar Tone Hammer 500 (both played through an Aguilar DB 112 cabinet).

Tube amps are great for their warm, earthy tones and a nicely overdriven bite at higher volumes. But, they are heavier, more fragile, and temperamental. Meanwhile, solid-states are more reliable, easier to haul, and louder (especially relative to their size).

"If you're looking for a really honest and clean representation of what you're playing, with no tonal coloring, a solid-state amplifier is definitely going to be the way you want to go," Jake says.

However, bass players don't always what a clean tone, colorless tone, and solid-state amplifiers don't distort the same way tube amps distort. Instead of subtle saturation, the higher volumes will clip and distort harshly. To get a rich overdriven sound, you'll need to add some effects pedals to your rig.

Be sure to watch some the video above, and check below for some popular options for both tube and solid-state bass amps below.

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