Over the last several decades of guitar playing, it has not been uncommon for guitarists to experiment with unique ideas in their rig, whether out of curiosity or sheer desperation.
However, some thoughts around guitar gear seem to be more questionable than others, such as using a bass amp. In fact, you could be wondering if you can play guitar through a bass amp,. too.
It is perfectly fine to play the guitar through a bass amp. A bass amp has a full-range frequency response and can amplify all the frequencies that a guitar omits. It will give the guitar a unique sound. However, effects pedals will be needed to achieve overdrive and other enhancements.
Some experiments with the guitar have turned out better than what many would have assumed. The results of playing the guitar through a bass amp are likely to make anybody pleasantly surprised.
Whether out of curiosity or sheer desperation, find out if you can play the guitar through a bass amp, the differences between a guitar and bass amp, and the pros and cons of using a bass amp for guitar.
Can You Play Guitar Through A Bass Amp?
Whether you are a bass player looking to take up the guitar without having to purchase another amp, or a guitarist looking to try something new, you might be wondering if it is possible or even safe to plug your guitar into a bass amp.
To look after your equipment, it is always a good thing to ask these questions before experimenting. This is why another common question asked is “can you play bass through a guitar amp?” – and that answer is slightly different than this one!
The exciting news for guitarists is that you can absolutely plug your guitar into a bass amp. It is possible to produce a sound, but you can also plug it in safely without causing any damage to your guitar or the circuitry and speakers of the bass amp.
However, although it is possible to play the guitar through a bass amp, the next thing to consider is whether or not it will sound good.
A bass amp has a full-range frequency response. This means that it is fully equipped to amplify all of the guitars frequencies, which are only in the mid to high-frequency range.
For this very reason, it is more common than you might think for guitar players to use bass amps over guitar amps, even among professional recording and performing guitarists.
Perhaps you have heard of the popular amp called the Fender Bassman. Although this has in every way been designed for bass players, the amp has undoubtedly been popularized by use among guitar players. A guitarist would use a bass amp over a guitar amp to get a unique tone, especially for clean tones.
Bass amps do not break up or distort the way that guitar amps do. So, many guitar players have used bass amps to get the cleanest, most crisp possible clean tone. However, they will require some tweaking since they are, of course, designed for bass guitars.
You might find that the tone is somewhat monotonous or bland on its own. However, tweaking the EQ to suit a guitar better and adding some effects pedals like overdrive and reverb into the signal chain will make your tone sound incredible.
Another reason that guitarists might opt to use a bass amp over a guitar amp is because of their enhanced bass response. Guitars like Stratocasters are known to have little to no “oomph” in the bass department.
However, plugging a Stratocaster into a bass amp can significantly change that since a bass amp can amplify much lower frequencies than a guitar amp.
The Differences Between A Bass Amp Vs. A Guitar Amp
To better understand why you can play the guitar through a bass amp, it would be helpful to understand the differences between a bass amp and a guitar amp.
We actually have a more detailed article on topic of guitar amp versus bass amp (if you’re interested!)
Many people would say that guitar amps and bass amps are far more similar than different. This will help you decide if using a bass amp would work for you as a guitarist.
Generally speaking, bass amps come with a much higher wattage than guitar amps. It is widespread to see bass amps with a wattage of anywhere between 150-500 watts and, in some cases, even higher.
This is because bass guitars (obviously) produce much lower frequencies with a much longer waveform.
Without going into too much scientific detail, more power (or wattage) is required to create a clear sound from those very low frequencies. Without the high wattage, you would never be able to clearly hear a bassist within the mix of a live band or recording.
Bass amps typically also have huge speakers. A bass amp or speaker cabinet will usually have speakers ranging between 10 to 15 inches wide. The speakers themselves are also very thick to handle the “rumble” of those low bass frequencies.
It is also scarce for a bass amp to come with any built-in effects.
Guitar amps are designed only to amplify the frequencies of a guitar, specifically mid-range frequencies.
Mid-range frequencies do not require a lot of power (wattage) for a clear sound to be produced. That is why it is prevalent to see guitar amps with wattage as low as 10 to 15.
Since guitar amps are not designed to amplify very low frequencies, their speakers are typically much smaller than bass amps.
The speakers in guitar amps or speaker cabinets usually range between 5 and 12 inches. The speakers are also much thinner compared to bass amps since they don’t need to handle string vibrations caused by low frequencies.
The Pros And Cons Of Playing Guitar Through A Bass Amp
As a final thought, let us weigh up the pros and cons of using a bass amp for a guitar to help you come to a final decision as to whether using one would work for you.
The high wattage of bass amps makes them excellent for getting a crisp, clean tone. They give guitars a unique tone which is very pleasing to the ear of many guitar players.
Adding a few effects pedals will do wonders to make the sound of the amp more versatile and better suited to a guitar.
Although mentioned among the pros, we would have to say that one of the cons of using a bass amp for guitar is the fact that the amp will not “break up” or create any overdrive.
While this is fine if all you want is a crisp, clean tone, it can be very limiting and, in many ways, not practical for what most guitarists will need an amp to do.
Lastly, since there is no overdrive or other built-in effects, you will definitely need to invest in a few effects pedals to be able to make the bass amp more versatile.
All in all, a bass amp can absolutely be used to play the guitar through. It is safe, practical, and can really sound fantastic.
However, remember that you won’t have access to overdrive, and other effects like in some guitar amps, so the need for external effects becomes much higher. Why not give a bass amp a try and see if it sounds good to you?
As always, Happy Playing,