A dedicated practice amp can be a great help if you like using performance amps that can really bring the house down. Because they have smaller speakers, practice amps are usually lighter-weight and more portable, and many give you a rich enough sound to make them equally suitable for performances in smaller venues.
Regardless of how you plan to use it, the four amps on this list are all excellent contenders. They are, in our humble opinion, the best bass practice amps on the market.
Ampeg BA110V2 10” Bass Combo Amplifier
The classic tone of an Ampeg amp has a clarity and depth that makes it extremely versatile across genres, from punk to funk and everything in between. With their BA-110, they give you a practice amp with that same tone power and versatility. The Bass Scrambler overdrive means you don’t have to sacrifice grind just because you don’t want to crank the volume, and it’s got front-facing controls including a 3-band EQ to perfectly shape your tone.
It’s built with the same rugged chassis as the bigger models in the Ampeg catalogue, with impact-resistant corners and an all-steel construction (see full specs). It’s the perfect combination of durable and portable for all your practice and rehearsal needs.
Orange Amplifiers Crush PiX CR50BXT
If what you’re looking for is that distinctively British Orange Amplifiers sound, there can be no substitutions. Unlike many practice amps, this model gives you the full range of tone-shaping capabilities, including a 3-band EQ and a gain control to give your sound more punch. Unlike some portable amps, it has both a line out and a speaker out, and the 12” speaker has enough power you might forget it’s a practice amp.
It still has all the features you want in a practice amp, of course, including a headphone jack and an input for your Mp3 player (see full specs). It’s the perfect compact unit for jam sessions and rehearsals, giving you the classic Orange tone in a package that’s much easier to carry. Bar none, it’s one of the best bass practice amps around.
Peavey Max 126 Bass Combo Amp
If you don’t plan to use your amp outside of the practice room, you might find it hard to justify spending hundreds of dollars on it—but you still want to be able to have a good sound while you’re practicing. The Max 126 from Peavey just might be your answer.
It’s extremely affordable, costing less than $100, but it also uses a TransTube emulation circuitry to give it a rich, full tone, with a voicing switch that can change it from modern edge to a vintage vibe. The 6.5” speaker gives you a tight sound that’s still full in the low end, with a tone that’s surprisingly balanced and complex for the speaker size and price range.
Fender Rumble 15 v3 Bass Combo Amplifier
Another excellent affordable option is the Rumble 15 from Fender, a 1X8” combo amplifier that gives you pure Fender tone in a portable 15 watt package. The breadth of sound you can get out of this little amp makes it perfect for rehearsals and small venue performances along with being your go-to practice amp.
The 8” Fender Special Design speaker has a surprising amount of power in the low end, an especially important frequency range for a bassist. The sound is balanced through the mids and highs, giving you a sound that’s warm without sacrificing clarity—important for when you want to practice your technique. It’s among the best bass practice amps for the money.
Why Get a Practice Amp?
If you love the sound you get out of your main amp, you might wonder what the purpose is in buying a new one just for practicing. After all, larger amps have volume controls for the times you want to play without shaking the walls. When you turn down the volume on your normal amp, though, you won’t get the same feel and sound out of it that you get when you play it at regular levels. Getting a practice amp with smaller speakers means the maximum volume is less, so you can have the gain turned up more without getting too loud. While sound is important, making sure the feel is right will ultimately serve you better in the long run.
There are other advantages to a practice amp, as well. Practice amps come with a headphone jack for the times you want purely silent practice—a feature you’ll sometimes find on full-sized amps, but one that isn’t as common. The generally smaller size of practice amps also makes them far more convenient. Especially if you use a large amp with two speakers—each of which could be 12” or 15”—it can be both heavy and bulky, and a bit of a hassle to move from place to place. Having a smaller amp on hand can be perfect for rehearsals and jam sessions, when you still want to have a good sound but you don’t want to have to drag your full-sized amp along.
The amp is a large part of your overall tone color, and having a secondary amp can also give you more options when it comes time to perform. Not every gig calls for big volume. If you sometimes play shows in smaller clubs or house parties, the power you get out of a practice amp might be perfect for the setting, still letting you access the crunch of high gain without overpowering the space or the rest of your ensemble.
Your intended use for your amp will ultimately help you determine which model is the right one for you. If you only want it for at home practice, you can be less picky about the tone and shop more for factors like convenience and value. If you plan to use it to play out, either at jam sessions or performances, spending a bit more to get an amp that gives you the tone detail you’re looking for will be more important. No matter your needs, though, any of the four products above can qualify for the best bass practice amp and are bound to suit your needs. Good luck!