Finding the perfect small bass amp has been something of a difficult task in the past. How do you find a bass combo amp that has the punch to make it through a low volume rehearsal, while also being quiet enough for bedroom use?
Fender is one of the longest-running amp manufacturers in the business and has made introductory, high-end products for players of all levels for 74 years. Their Fender Rumble series is the best amplifier for a new player buying their first amp and also makes a great choice for a musician looking for a portable amp they can take to a quiet rehearsal.
At only 21 pounds, this Fender Rumble combo amp's portability is its best attribute and allows you to get a great tone with a small footprint while fitting perfectly in your bedroom, closet, or car trunk. Boasting a full 3-band EQ in the classic fender style, its tone is highly tweakable, giving you control to go from low growl for the bedroom metal player to defined top-end for jazz bass lovers.
Its 8-inch speakers will cut nicely during a coffeeshop style gig, and its defined sound will prove you don't need to bring your main rig to practice. Its headphone output allows you to bypass the speakers for near-silent practice sessions, and the 1/8-inch jack aux input allows you to plug in any sound source to jam along with.
+ Portable and light-weight
+ Headphone and aux inputs
+ A variety of classic fender tones
Why We Liked It - We think that the Fender Rumble 25 V3 is a near-perfect choice for a bass player playing their first coffee shop and acoustic gigs. It's one of the best bass combo amps for someone who needs versatile features for home and at band practice.
For those familiar with British rock history, Orange needs no introduction. Associated with the psychedelia of the late 60s and early 70s, the bright orange Tolex and growly tones of Orange's bass and guitar amplifiers is an iconic symbol that brings many back to London during the rock and roll explosion.
The Orange Crush 25w bass combo amplifier is another great option for the bass player who needs features for bedroom solo practice sessions and small rehearsals but with the added style of Orange's classic esthetic. All analog, solid-state tones are delivered through its 8-inch speakers with clarity and punch.
Weighing only 20 pounds, the owner of the Orange Crush bass amp gets a ton of tone and mojo in a compact, low wattage package. A 3-band EQ is present, with an added frequency knob that allows for a variety of contours to highlight every frequency. Headphones and aux jacks are also present, making this a great amp for bedroom play.
When the headphone jack is engaged, it enables a cab-sim circuit which simulates the sound of a real Orange cab so that playing through headphones feels more like playing in an actual room. Another standout feature on this model is a built-in tuner, which provides a cost-effective alternative to buying a separate tuner, making it one of the best bass combo amps.
+ Frequency knob provides a great tonal variety
+ Cab-Sim for the headphone jack makes for great silent playing experiences
+ Built-in tuner is very convenient
Why We Liked It -
This amp surprised us with its robust feature set. Orange has come a long way with its introductory and practice size amps.
3. Peavey Electronics Max 115 Bass Combo Amplifier
We are now leaving the realm of the bedroom and coffee-shop amps and entering the realm of full-featured, gig-able amps that can leave the best drummers trying to keep up.
The Peavey Electronics Max 115 Bass Combo Amp provides us with many of the features present on the other amps on this list: A chromatic tuner, three band EQ, a headphone jack, and 1/8" input. The Peavey Max separates itself in one big way: A 15" inch speaker and tweeter that can move a considerable amount of air.
Spread 300 watts of power over that 15" speaker, and you have an amp that's able to compete on any stage at a budget price. What you gain in power and low-end, you lose in portability. At 53 pounds, this amp is more than double the weight of those previously mentioned. While still portable, this is a consideration for those looking for an amp with a small footprint.
Other features that set the Peavey Max bass combo amp apart include a direct out for when you want to send your bass signal to the PA for larger gigs. This expands its gig-ability, making no stage too big for this combo amp.
Its Transtube gain circuit mimics tube amplifiers with a master volume, allowing for separate gain stages for those who like to drive their amps for overdriven tones. Its 3-band EQ is expanded with three tone-shaping tools: punch, midshift, and bright. Lastly, its Psycho-Acoustic technology boosts the low-end output of this amp efficiently without taxing the speaker.
The Peavey Max 115 Bass Amp leans more in the direction of a full-on gigging musician amplifier, while still being affordable and sporting some of the features that make it useful in a bedroom setting.
+ 15" inch driver and 300-watt amplifier makes it highly powerful
+ Direct-out increases this amp's use considerably
+ The Transtube gain knob gives this product a lot of vibes
Why We Liked It - The Peavey Max 115 Bass Combo leans more in the direction of a full-on gigging musician's amplifier while still being affordable, sporting some of the features that make these best bass combo amps useful in a bedroom setting.
This Orange offering has many of the features of the 25-watt version previously mentioned but adds a few crucial features that make it the second of our amps under 300 that can compete with a drummer.
Sporting the same 3-band EQ, headphone output, aux input, onboard tuner, the 50-watt Crush doubles the power of the 25-watt version and upgrades the speaker to a 12-inch driver worthy of the stage.
The Crush 50w also retains its frequency knob for tone shaping but adds some new tone-shaping features in its dual gain stage. Lifted from its pro OB1 series, the gain and volume knobs allow you to add some dirt to your signal, but the blend knob is where things get more interesting.
With the dirty signal already dialed in, you can then blend a clean tone back into your signal, allowing you to maintain clarity in your fundamental while also affecting some beefy overdriven tones. This feature is also foot-switchable, allowing you to engage the blend knob without ever touching the amplifer.
+ 12" inch speaker and 50-watt power amp makes it a gigging amp
+ Blend knob adds versatility
+ Cool retro styling
Why We Liked It - If you like the 25w version and the retro styling of Orange products but want something that can hang on the stage, this is the best pick!
Though Ampeg may not be a household name like some of its contemporaries, Ampeg amps have long been the bass geek's holy grail. Giant, fridge-sized Ampeg SVTs have been present on epic rock and roll stages since 1969.
Bringing home a little slice of that history and tone is easy with the Ampeg BA108v2 8-inch bass amp. Its 8-inch speaker still has a mean rumble to it, despite its humble bedroom power rating of 20 watts. It houses both a Headphone output as well as aux input for bedroom practice.
A legacy style preamp with full eq might get you closest to vintage tones out of all of the more practice-oriented amps on this list. A 10db cut next to the volume knob is a nice feature for those of us with active basses that still need a solid practice amp. It also has one key feature that none of our other amps posses; a wedge-style angled back.
An angle-back wedge design is great for getting an accurate representation of how your tone sounds, allowing yourself to hear your tone straight on. It will also increase the low-end thump of your rig significantly. Its steel chassis for the power amp also makes this a highly rugged unit.
+ Simple design for straightforward plug and play.
+ Classic Ampeg style and sound
+ Angle-back wedge design is great for increasing low end
Why We Liked It - This amp is simple, straightforward, and full of great tones for practice sessions and low volume situations.
Vox is our second British amp manufacturer making this list. With players from The Beatles to Tom Petty adoring these amps, Vox has a storied rock and roll history and a sound all its own.
Known for snarly tones, Vox's Pathfinder PB10 lives up to the Vox's iconic name. With the smallest footprint on our list, The Vox Pathfinder is only 10-watts and sports two five-inch speakers for punchy mids and high-end response.
This is not a setup for someone looking to get a deep growl out of their amp, but its tone is unique and present. It's highly portable, and won't take up a lot of room in your bedroom. Its classic Vox looks with its diamond-patterned grille cloth, and chicken head knobs will have you tempted to play your favorite Fab Four tunes.
+ Classic Vox Look
+ Dual 5-inch speakers makes it unique sounding
+ Lightweight and portable
Why We Liked It -
With headphone and line out capability, a drive and master volume for some classic vox grit, this a fun little amp. We think it's best for home practice use where it will really shine.
Hartke is a fascinating company that began picking up where the 1970s solid-state amplifier companies left off after they launched in1985. Solid State bass tones have been the absolute dominant pop music sound for over 40 years, and Hartke's story is helping to shape that sound.
Layed out with the standard features of a low powered practice amp, The Hartke HD15 is a 15-watt bass amp with a 6.5-inch speaker and headphone out and aux input. These features are common in this style of amplifier, but Hartke's Hydrive speaker technology is what is most unique about this bass amp.
Combining aluminum with the traditional paper design of a speaker cone, Hartke is able to get a lot more attack and punch out of a small amp. That added attack is great for aggressive and clear bass tones, even in a low powered amplifier. We find these hybrid speaker designs to be some of the best Hartke has offered.
+Hydrive speaker design
+Fully featured practice amp with aux input and headphone output
+ Big sound for being so small
Why We Liked It - The Hydrive speaker design works really well and adds plenty of punch to a smaller speaker.
Bass Amp Under 300 Buyers Guide
Bass players of all levels need to have a small bass amp for easy transport and storage. Finding one that sounds great under $300 can be challenging, but its not impossible. Here are some things to consider when picking out your amps under $300.
Power ratings for amplifiers are usually described in wattage. Now, wattage isn't a perfect metric of how loud an amp is because speaker size and cabinet construction can also contribute to that, but its a good place to start. If you are looking for an amp for solo practice at home, an amp under 50w will serve you well. Anything over 50w can be taken to practice or on stage.
Speaker size is a significant contributor to volume, but even more importantly, tone. Larger speakers are more capable of pushing low end, while smaller speakers give you a clean high end and definition. We love the sound of bass amps with speakers smaller than 8-inches for their quirky character, but for anything where you need to push enough air to be heard over a drummer, grab an amp with an 8-inch speaker, or larger.
Headphones and Auxilary Inputs
These can be really useful practice tools. Being able to plug your phone into an auxiliary input to play a backing track or metronome is a really useful tool and something we use all the time. A headphone output can also save you on those late-night practice sessions where you need to practice, but your neighbors and roommates need to sleep! Cabinet simulation technology can make headphones playing much more enjoyable, so watch out for amps with that feature.
All of these suggestions will help you find an amp that meets the criteria you are looking for, but don't forget to choose an amp that makes you excited when you look at it. If you feel connected and energized by your equipment, you'll be more likely to enjoy your practice experience.
With a wide variety of bass amps under $300 for someone looking for something stylish, powerful, or compact, this list has a little something for everyone. While most of these amps contained 1/8-inch inputs and headphone outputs, there are a lot of cool individual features in these bass amps that make them unique. Finding high quality, low budget bass amps has never been easier.