Can You Play An Electric Guitar Through A Bass Amp?

As a professional guitar player, you are probably familiar with the situation, where you can not find any kind of amp or speaker that you can plug your guitar in and play, especially when you want to take your guitar somewhere.

The gears are heavy and big. It’s a real hassle for you or anyone to bring a guitar amp with them anywhere, and that doesn’t take into account all the wire needed.

Can You Play An Electric Guitar Through A Bass Amp?
Can You Play An Electric Guitar Through A Bass Amp?

But now, let’s try to assume that you don’t have a guitar amp, but are fortunate that your friend has a bass amp on the spot, what will you do? Will you plug your guitar in? And Can You Play An Electric Guitar Through A Bass Amp? Let’s find out!

Can You Play An Electric Guitar Through A Bass Amp? And How Is It Safe

Technically, plugging a regular guitar into a bass amp won’t hurt the guitar or the amp. Everything will still go on, as usual, you plug in the guitar, you turn up the volume knob and you start playing.

But the sound that comes from the amp end will be slightly different from the normal sound of the guitar amp.

Can You Play An Electric Guitar Through A Bass Amp?
Can You Play An Electric Guitar Through A Bass Amp?

Bass amps are usually dry and don’t have too much effect built into them. Also, bass amps are built and made to target bass guitars only, so there will be a bit of change in the overall sound that comes out of the speaker.

In order to play guitar on a bass amp, you’ll need to add other guitar accessories.

These accessories will help you to transform the raw sound of the amp, making it more layered and richer, which is different from the low and dry sound of a bass guitar.

And because of that accessories, such as pedals, transducers, … will be your dear friend at this time.

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Is A Bass Amp The Same As A Guitar Amp?

To know if it is safe to use a bass amp for your guitar? Then you should know some basic differences between a bass amp and a guitar amp.

Is A Bass Amp The Same As A Guitar Amp?
Is A Bass Amp The Same As A Guitar Amp?

From there, you can draw your own answer to the above question by comparing the basic differences in their usage and operation.

The difference here will not be so obvious that you can immediately recognize it. They almost have the same circuitry, EQ controls, and function.

And they are both used to amplify the weak audio signals coming out from the guitar output. What really sets them apart from each other are their power output, speakers, and their frequency response.

A Frequency Response

With most guitars on the market, their output sound is usually not too high or low, so this part of the signal does not need to be processed too much.

At most, they are sent through an amplifier circuit and then output to the speaker output.

On the other hand, the output signal of the bass guitar is low and in the low to very low-frequency range, so it is easy to be confused with noisy sounds.

Since then, processing and sounding also become difficult and require more complex hardware than ordinary guitars.

Wattage Requirement

As mentioned above, the output sounds of a guitar, after being stimulated by the amplifier circuit, will be sent directly to the speaker to be emitted into the environment.

But since they only produce medium to high-frequency signals, the wattage usage will be shallow.

And with bass guitar, this output signal will be in the range of frequency from low to very low, so larger speakers will be needed, as well as a design that allows them to play bass sounds.

Therefore, the power used will be higher and more than that of a conventional guitar amp.

To make it easier to understand, you should learn a little bit about how speakers actually work.

First, they will receive electrical signals, and convert them into audio signals by vibrating the soft membrane to make sound, because sound in its basic form is trust vibration in the air.

So with higher frequency signals, the vibration of this membrane will be shorter and faster, so the amount of electricity used will also be reduced.

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Speaker Size

Because most of the output signal is mid and high-form signals. So ordinary guitar amps will only need to use a small speaker to be able to play the sound loud and clear.

Since then, the size of these amps will also be significantly reduced, making these amps look more compact and portable.

As for the bass amps, they need large, hollow cabinet speakers to produce a warmer and better bass output.

Therefore, the speakers in the bass amplifier are often loud and quite bulky. The bass amps at this time must also be made louder to accommodate the speakers or must be connected to another speaker system to work well.

Can You Play Guitar Through A Bass Cabinet?

You might think that playing guitar through a bass cabinet would be impossible, but the truth is you can.

These bass cabinets also act as regular speakers, helping you get your guitar out into the environment in a louder way.

All the frequency that we can input to the bass cabinet is in a range from a low 30Hz to a high 20kHz, which covers the mid and high-frequency guitar notes, so you don’t need to worry about your guitar sound being out of the working range of the bass cabinet.

Play Guitar Through A Bass Cabinet
Play Guitar Through A Bass Cabinet

Speakers are also a big part of the sound of the amplifier. The frequencies of the speakers in the bass cab are 10” and 15”, which is good enough for a guitarist to use.

If the bass cab has a 10”-12” speaker, it is still good to translate mid and mid-high frequencies into the surrounding air.

As an example, you could choose a 4×10 bass cab rather than a 5×12 cab with a bigger speaker, to have a more accurate guitar sound.

Moreover, It is almost impossible for you and other guitarists to identify mids and highs adequately with bigger speakers, which are necessary for bass players.

Is A Bass Amp Better Than An Electric Guitar Amp?

One thing you can’t say about amps, in general, is: is the bass amp better than the electric one and vice-versa?

Well, even though they have the same role, and function the same, they are quite different in power usage, frequency response, and speaker size.

Each of these differences creates a unique characteristic for each type of amp. And their ability to convert sounds from a guitar is also a bit different from each other.

But there is one thing for sure about these amps – it’s all about the purpose and the usage that you require.

If you play bass for life, then the bass amp is best for high-quality sound output and it helps you better translate low-frequency signals into the air.

And If you play an electric guitar, then for the very defined mids and highs, just use the guitar amp for the best sound output.

That said, it doesn’t mean that you can’t use a bass amp to replace a regular amp whenever you are forced into a situation.

But to ensure the best output sound quality, you should still use the right amp for the right guitar.

Will I Get A Satisfying Sound Playing An Electric Guitar Through A Bass Amp?

When being forced into a situation, using a bass amp to plug in a guitar is inevitable. But this will also have some benefits and disadvantages that you need to know to find the right adjustment and usage for the set.

Some of these Pros and Cons will be very minor and a bit difficult for a general guitarist to recognize, but knowing more about these things will also make your experience more convenient and satisfying.

Pros

First of all, the guitar sound that comes from a bass amp has more depth in sound texture, more low-end frequency, and less distortion or overdrive.

That’s the reason why it’s called a unique sound when compared with a guitar sound in general that has been generated from a normal guitar amp.

Because of that, many well-known musicians and guitarists out there tend to use a bass amp for an electric guitar while playing or recording, in order to make their guitar sound a bit unique from others.

Second things, If you have set up a single-coil guitar pickup on your guitar, you would probably deal with the lack of bass in the sound output.

To get rid of that tiny guitar sound, you could choose to play your guitar through a bass amp for a guaranteed bass frequency boost in the sound output.

Cons

Playing A Bass Through A Guitar Amplifier Can Work Fine In The Short Term, but for the long term sake, we can’t say anything positive.

Either you wreck your bass amp or your guitar just can output anything, anymore.

Moreover, bass amps usually don’t come with pre-built-in effects that are super useful for getting the rich guitar sound to sound better with great deep and reverb, etc.

So if you insist on plugging the guitar directly into the bass amp, you’ll surely get a monotonous and dry sound with no effect applied to it whatsoever.

And also, as you increase the gain or volume of the guitar amp, the guitar signal will be overdriven and distorted so much that you will change the way your guitar normally sounds, which is a big yes for guitarists. With bass amps, this can’t happen.

How To Set A Bass Amp To Sound Good With An Electric Guitar?

To get the desired output sound quality, you need some knowledge of the guitar and amp, along with some preparation and tuning in both the guitar and the bass amp.

This will allow you to use the bass amp to play music from your guitar while preserving the quality of the guitar’s sound, and avoiding damage to both your guitar and your beloved bass amp.

One more thing, worth mentioning is that this adjustment will depend on each type of guitar and different types of bass amp and it is almost unique to each type.

So you need to tweak a bit to make this adjustment work for your guitar and bass amp.

Tone Control

Bass amps are not specifically made for electric guitars, so if you ever want to connect these two, you’ll need to spend some time adjusting the tone control settings with control knobs on the amp and the guitar.

This adjustment will ensure that your guitar sound will be clean and not change so much when it comes through a bass amp.

Moreover, some bass amps have two, and some of them have up to five tone-control knobs on them.

Most bass amps give you control over the bass, mid-range, and treble frequencies to control the guitar sound so will have quite a bit range of frequency to control and tweak, this little bit of tweaking will help you to better translate the guitar sound much cleaner and have a bit deeper in its sound output.

An EQ Pedal

You can also use an EQ pedal, which is a way for you to gain more tone control over the bass amp.

You can even cut some frequencies and boost others at the same time, in order to make a guitar sound great even through the bass amp.
An Overdrive/Distortion Pedal
Bass amps amplify a sound with not enough or no distortion whatsoever. And also, they cannot even give you the overdriven tone you wanted.

So, it is not about the drawback – it is just because they are for bass and not made for guitar.

But you can fix this problem while playing an electric guitar through a bass amp with an Overdrive or Distortion pedal.

It will give you that juicy sound you usually get from a guitar amplifier.

 

A Guitar Amp Modeler

And there is another way for you to run away from the guitar sound coming from a bass amplifier is by using guitar amp modelers.

They may not sound the same, but they can be helpful to achieve the desired tone. You can use this method combined with the tone control method, to get better sound output from that bass amp.

Which Bass Amp Is The Best For An Electric Guitar?

There are plenty of bass amps in all shapes and sizes on the market out there. It is possible to play an electric guitar through it.

But some guitarists will say that there is a difference between bass amps in the quality of guitar sound output.

Those bass amps are preferred by electric guitarists over others for some reason because the final sound is satisfying for them.

So, you should pick the best bass amp for your electric guitar on your own, because the choice depends all on what guitar sound you wanted, or better said, on your playing feel and vibe.

Will Play An Electric Guitar Through A Bass Amp Cause Damage?

One lucky thing is the high tones of a guitar are not capable of damaging a bass amp.

Even when the amp is not suitable or made for the higher tones, the amp is going to survive them well, so you don’t need to worry.

But for long-term application, speaker damage can be done by either the cone moving too much or the speaker coil overheating from distortion and the high-frequency input, but it is a rarity.

Playing An Electric Guitar Through A PA System Or Bass Amp – What Is Better?

So you might think that using a PA system will louder the electric guitar signal, and make the guitar sound way better and way more clear and easier to the ears.

But, that is not true at all, because you can only get low-quality guitar sound unless you connect it through an amp that is specified for the guitar.

But for wise decisions, always choose the bass amp because they create a better electric guitar sound, even though they are not made for electric guitar.

Also, you will get a clear and easy-to-control sound. Besides, PA systems are similar to amps, but they work with any audio source, and they are not proper for just one specific type of sound like guitar sound.

So you will lose some of the sound property when switching to a PA system instead of a bass amp.

Conclusion

Using a bass amp to power a guitar is something you should only do when you’re forced into the situation.

Because you would need to adjust and fine-tune a lot of things, to be able to get the normal sound quality that you heard on a general guitar amp.

But if you’re in a pinch or you quite like the distinctive sound that the bass amp produces, you just go on plugging your guitar into the bass amp without having to worry about anything.

The above article has already been read by you. We hope the information provided can give you an answer to the question.

Keep checking our website jamestbyrnes.com for updates on exciting details regarding related topics! I hope you have a good day.

Can You Play An Electric Guitar Through A Bass Amp?

Jim Byrnes

My name is Jim Byrnes and I am a guitar musician who loves playing guitar when having free time. This Blog is sharing all my skills and experience with everyone who starting to play guitar. I hope this website will help you and provide anything you find.

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