As with all amps, the 4 basic types are tube, solid-state, modelling, and hybrid.
Each type has an impact on the sound of your guitar as well as its response.
The key to finding the tone you want is to find the right type of bass amplifier.
A solid-state amp has a rapid response and a cleaner punchier tone. These are ideally suited for bassists who play percussively.
Tube amps have rich dynamics and warmth of tone and are suited to more melodic bassists.
Because tubes add weight, many bassists opt for a hybrid amp, which combines a tube pre-amp with a solid-state amp, or a modelling amp, where the sound of a classic bass amp is emulated using digital modelling.
Wattage is a major consideration. For lower frequencies to be perceived at the same volume as higher frequencies, they require a higher wattage.
While a 60 watt amp might be adequate for a jazz guitarist playing in small bars, around 200 watts will be needed for a bassist to reach the same volume.
An appropriate wattage for rock bands is, in general, 300 – 500 watts.
For your amp to provide a clean and consistent sound, it's important to ensure that your amp has enough headroom - that is, volume before it distorts.
Remember to note the efficiency and power rating of your speakers.
A 4 ohm speaker will get the most volume out of your amplifier - whether you're using a separate head and cabinet or a combo amp.
Irreparable damage can result from overdriving the speaker cones. Check to ensure that your speakers are rated to handle your amplifier's output.
Points to think on
Accessories that you are likely to need include an instrument tuner and cables.
You will need a cable to connect a separate head with the cabinet. This is often a 1/4” (0.64 cm) cable, although occasionally it is Speakon.
It is important to note that instrument cables and speaker cables are not interchangeable. When the amp is at fully intensity, the small gauge speaker cable can melt and cause damage your equipment.
When looking for bass amps that are for sale - Marshall, Roland, Fender and Eden are some of the trusted brands.
What to know about buying new Bass Amps
Like with all electronics items, buying new will give you the longest life from your bass amplifier.
Modelling amps are being updated constantly. Buying new is often the best way to ensure you have the latest technology and the newest and most advanced features.
Speaker cones will see a lot of wear and tear. When going with a separate amp head and cabinet, buying a new cabinet is a good idea, even if purchasing a used amp head.
What to know about buying pre-ownedBass Amps
Buying used bass amps can be a great way to get a cheap deal on high quality equipment, as the best amps are generally built with the rigors of the road in mind.
For many vintage models, buying used is really the only way to go. This is particularly true for full tube amps, which have come to be seen as undesirable due to their weight.
It is always a good idea after buying a used bass amp, to take it to a professional to get it cleaned and serviced. This will help you get the longest life out of your purchase.