Okay, so since I've picked up bass playing, I've been wondering about bass amps. I'm playing in a band at school so far, which is run by a teacher, but I'm graduating this year, so that'll be over in a few months. Also, I've been wanting to find some people for a band that share my taste of music (anybody ever ask me to play Justin Bieber again, I'll kill somebody, I swear!)

So, we recently played a gig at a local café (first gig outside school!), and they hooked our instruments into the PA that was installed there. At our "practice space" (read: empty classroom), we have a 200 watts amp, and it's definitely overkill. We always turn that one down to about 10% of the volume, and even so, it feels like you can (figuratively) hear it around the entire block. If we turned that one up all the way, we could probably blow the eardrums of half our area.

Like all students, I have close to no budget (in other words: notoriously broke), so I was thinking about looking for a used amp around perhaps 80 watts. Is that enough to play in pubs and the like? Things I found usually have one 15" speaker, plus a tweeter/horn, and a 3-band EQ at max, but that should suffice at first, right? The skyscraper-high gear towers are meant for later in life, after all.

I know watts aren't all that makes the volume, but that plus speaker configuration is the best I have to go by, since I don't know all that much about amps. The amp I've used so far, by the way, has a 15" and a tweeter too.

Thanks in advance,

From someone who has played with loud drummers and several guitarists over the years who like Nigel Tufnel, think that you need to turn guitar amps up to 11, I'm going to give you some general advise.  Buy the most watts you can afford.  You can always turn down a louder amp but you can't push an amp louder than its meant to be.   Running through a PA is not always feasible either. 

For specific amp suggestions, its best to give us your price range and what you are looking for tone wise.  There are amps, like Ampeg that have a really distinct tone and some that are more transparent (ie pass through the tone of your instrument). 
Tone - honestly, I'm a barbarian, I can barely hear a difference even between amps for 100$ and 1000$, different brands, anything. I don't know shit about tone. I do know, though, that I want a "snap" kind of tone, dunno which frequencies that are.
I'm also shit at explaining, so listen to Dookie-era Mike Dirnt, that's the kinda sound I'm looking for. But tone isn't really my number one priority. As long as some of the high end comes through, I'm good, and that's only because I plan on running my guitar through the same amp occasionally.

Budget - between 100 and 200€, at the very most 250 (that would be saving up money for more than a whole year, so I'd rather not go there).

Mike Dirnt:

for that price? save up and start patrolling pawn shops, guitarcenter used, whatever craiglist equivalent you have, etc. one notable brand to look out for is trace elliot. i'd say carvin too but you're less likely to find one of them

i have a trace elliot 80 watt amp as one of my backups, but the way the speaker is placed it sounds significantly louder than you would thing and has a parametric EQ to adjust

the big dilemma you're gonna have is that you're only gonna get a product that satisfies 2 of these categories, if you're lucky and shop around:
* it's cheap
* it sounds good
* it's light

my trace elliot is like 90 pounds and it's just got 1 speaker, but the trade off is it can survive a nuclear war. just something to consider
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HashtagMC The more treble (or "snap" as you call it) the better you can get by on lower watt amps. I prefer a more boomy sound and would never go below 200W if there is going to be a drummer involved. On the other hand, with some tweaking those 200W can work well at a slightly larger/noisier gig as well.
So I saw a "used gear" ad recently that had a 120W amp for 129€ (Hartke HS1200). Is that loud enough for a pub & reasonably priced? I looked it up, these things are 160-190 bucks when bought new. The guy who sold it was way too far away for me to drive there and get that thing, but I thought I'd mention it here to get some ideas about prices.

I honestly don't know whether there'll be a drummer involved in gigs. Like I said, I'll have to look for like-minded folks. The band I'm currently in (acoustic covers of pop songs) has a guy on cajon (if you don't know that, it's a wooden box with snare wires in it that is the acoustic replacement for kick and snare drums), and that thing is hardly as loud as a drum kit.

I'll keep in mind what's been said about wattage and treble, just in case.
I've used a Hartke Kickback 10 for gigs, it struggles a bit but if you turn the bass down a little it works fine. they do have a good DI out so you can feed it to the PA and just use it for a stage monitor. I still use mine for small gigs and anything where I don't have a monstrous drummer. The 12" will be marginally better, like all Hartkes they have a bright punchy sound. 

If you have the space old Peavey stuff is dirt cheap and pretty reliable, just a bit heavy to carry.
Last edited by Phil Starr at Apr 6, 2017,
another thing i should've added, make sure you put plenty of mids into your EQ. my 80W can hold up against 2 120W guitar heads, a PA system, and a drummer at practice, though it's hard to do that and still avoid gain hiss during standby.
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Get something loud enough for rehearsals, and it should be loud enough for gigs.  As someone who was/is a sound tech in a rock/punk bar for the past 7-8 years, you really only need to be loud enough that you and your bandmates can hear you onstage, and this goes for guitarists too.  Your sound guy/gal will be able to get a better front of house mix when they don't have to deal with amps cranked tits-out.  If you find a cab that can tilt, or get an amp stand so you can point your speaker (if it's not a huge fridge of a bass cab, which, given your budget, it probably won't be) up more and get away with less watts because it'll be pointing at your ears rather than your knees or ankles.  Most rock clubs/venues should also have a couple of monitors onstage at the very least, so if you find your amp isn't cutting it at that particular venue, you can always ask for some more bass in the monitors.