I've recently joined a band playing bass, and the time has come to look into getting a rig capable of gigging. As a guitarist, all of my attention and money over the years has been tied up in my guitars.

I'm very ignorant when it comes to bass gear, so recommendations from all angles are appreciated. Should I go for rackmounts so I can just go straight into the PA, or is an amp the more simple and efficient way to go? Any great effects pedals I should be aware of? We play pop-punk/alternative that is more pop than punk. Think Mayday Parade, Story of the Year, Yellowcard, etc.

Thanks in advance everyone; it's been a while since I've visited the UG forums.
answer these questions so we can help you out.


particularly i'd like to know budget and what bass gear you may already have.

i have a pretty acceptable but not exceptional bass setup that i got for a fairly good price. i got a mid 80's G&L SB-2, and an old 70's Kustom Charger 15. i do have a couple pedals i can use with bass depending on what i want to do, i have a fuzz and a envelope filter for some heavy tone or funk tones, but i can also go full on synth style bass by adding my HOG into it.

i also acquired an Eden bass preamp/channel strip that i mainly use for recording but i can also use my power amp with it so i could hook it up to a speaker cab if i wanted.

if i was going to make a modern bass setup for performing live then i'd probably get some type of 1x15 or 2x10 setup with about 150 to 200 watts that has a speaker simulated line out to run to the PA. that way i'd have some monitoring on stage and a dedicated line to the mixer.

i like Eden stuff but i have played a few nice pieces of equipment. my buddy just got a pretty nice Gallien Krueger setup that is very light, i have also been hearing good things about Hartke
punk isn't dead, it's always smelled that way.

"A perfection of means, and confusion of aims, seems to be our main problem."
A couple of years ago, I began to add bass to what I was doing.
I asked some of the bass players I'd worked with what they'd buy if they were starting with a clean slate. Answers were all over the map. I had to start from scratch, and this is what I've found:

Aside from practice, there are two basic rigs.

One is for those times when the ability to simply feed into a PA system doesn't exist or the PA system is inadequate for reproducing bass guitar ("sorry, vocals only"). You need to be able to provide all the bass punch for the band from what ya brung.

Second is for when you can use the PA, but you still want a certain level of stage volume or monitoring from your own gear.
And it's worth worrying about having backups.

It turns out you can build better, lighter louder and less expensive (for the performance level) speakers than most of the manufacturers. Google the fEARful 15/6/1 for an example. You'll find the materials and drivers on SpeakerHardware.com. Don't want to build your own? There are custom builders out there. The 15/6/1 is one of a whole range of DIY speakers that vary in cost and size. But the 15/6/1 will outrun most 4x10s while weighing considerably less (usually around 50 lbs, sometimes less) and fitting into a Honda Civic a whole lot easier.

The bad news is that 100-200W isn't enough for most bands unassisted these days. The good news is that a 1500W (RMS) power amp will weigh 9 lbs and cost under $300, and a Bass Pod XT will be somewhere between $100-$200 (this is the preamp to run the whole thing). Google the specs. You can also buy an excellent 1500W bass head with tons of controls (the Carvin BX1500, for example) for around $500, and it will weigh about 10 lbs. With both options, you can plug directly into a PA system as well. Look up the specs for the Pod XT (including FX) and you'll see why it's some bass players' dirty little secret.
I've been rebuilding my bass rig for the past 7 months or so. I'm adding a Boss RV-3 to my board this week. But really, most of my stuff is for messing around and tweaking my tone.

My bass head has a built in DI which is great. I don't have to push my rig hard (right now it's 400 watts @ 8 ohms). And having a DI just makes life simpler. A 100-200 watt amp/head just won't be able to keep up (depending on your band's setup of course). 400 watts for me works great at practice (1 vox, 1 guitar, bass, drums) without having to go over ~65% volume.

I would suggest doing your research, trying out different setups and getting the best quality in your budget. That's really common sense stuff, but some people over look it. When looking at wattage, compare the RMS. Some brands will say "X amp is 120 watts!" but they're listing peak power. Consider a DI pedal if you don't have one built into the amp/rack you choose. When it comes to fx pedals, go slow. Dial in the tone you're looking for with your rig. If something is missing or you want something a little extra, then add some pedals. My board is built around a few different guys boards. Just taking things from their tone that I like and creating my own.

I hope this helps.
In addition to the standard questions about your budget, new or used gear, etc.; we need some other information from you in order to give you proper advice on a live rig.

Some bassists forgo the rig completely and use a D.I. Box to go straight into the P.A. system. That's fine if you know there is a fantastic P.A. system available for each of your gigs, but this is not the case for most people, unless they are playing at strictly professional levels. You should have a D.I. Box at every gig, since it makes for a quick and easy backup if your rig malfunctions- as long as the P.A. can handle it, that is.

You say your band plays pop-punk and alt-punk. How loud is your band? How many guitarists are in your band? What are they playing through? The old standard rule of thumb is that the bassist needs three times the wattage of the guitarist, That still holds, but it is also heavily dependent on what kind of/how many speaker cabinets your guitarist(s) utilize.

How loud is your drummer? This can make a big difference on your ability to be heard.

What size venues will your band be playing? Is there anything weird about them (i.e., very high or very low ceilings, bare concrete walls or walls covered with theater curtains, an oddly positioned stage, etc.)?

This information will help us provide useful advice.
"Maybe this world is another planet's hell?" - Aldous Huxley