I was doing some research on extended range bass guitars and it seems like there's not really any amp/cab than can handle the F#0 of a 7-string bass guitar particularly well. Be that as it may, it made me think about how well a 'normal' bass amp can take a 5-string bass.

It seems like there's no 'market' for 5-string or 6-string bass guitar amps, it's just assumed that it will work. Is that indeed so or should one look for certain characteristics in an amp if they'd want to play a 5-string bass through it? If so, what characteristics would that be (wattage, speaker diameter etc.)?

  • @Dom: What are your thoughts behind removing the 'extended-range'-tag? I thought it was a nice way to narrow down the search to questions about more-than-usual-string instruments. (btw should I take this to meta rather than discuss it here?) – Godzillarissa Feb 3 '15 at 8:42
  • It's not a really useful tag especially since it's not really a range extension, but a different version of an instrument. We also have tags for 5 string bass guitars and other similar tags. – Dom Feb 3 '15 at 9:21

As Tim mentioned, there doesn't seem to be too much of a need for a specific amp for a low B. I play a 5-string through a Peavey TKO 115 Combo that I bought 12 years ago and it does the trick (and sounds better than the new version).

The real thing to notice here is that bass frequencies require more wattage to properly project. This is why a 100 watt guitar amp is ridiculously loud, while a 100 watt bass amp would be left in the dust. As such, adding lower strings will require more power as well. Most bass amps are capable of handling a 5 or 6. I haven't really tried out a 7-string, so I can't say for sure, but it should work just as well. If you need to get really loud, you may need a little more wattage to support those frequencies. One possible thing to try would be to use a sub-woofer to use in conjunction with a set of 10's. Set the crossover to a good spot and you will get super solid low end with great clarity in the mid to upper range.

So a higher wattage will give you more power to support the low frequencies. You would essentially be looking for higher wattage and to make sure that the frequency range of the amp and speakers specify that super low frequencies are included in the specs. Also, a low F# like that gets close to the lower limit of human hearing, so you're almost looking more to feel the notes than hear them.

  • The 7-string was only what got me thinking about the issue, I don't plan on using one anytime soon. Seeing how I'm pretty much limited to my living room I'll probably not gonna need to be super loud, either. I'll bookmark this for later, though. Might come in handy, should I ever need a stage amp :) – Godzillarissa Feb 3 '15 at 8:37
  • Definitely easier to support the 5-string. One thing to keep in mind if you are ever buying a stack (amp/cab separate), Wattage ratings are effected by Ohms, aka resistance. Make sure you fully understand the concepts or ask someone who does to make sure you're buying the appropriate gear. You can end up buying an amp that's rated at a fairly high wattage at 4 ohms, then buy a cab that's rated similarly but at 8 ohms and end up with significantly less wattage than desired. – Basstickler Feb 3 '15 at 13:43

There's not a big problem for 5 string basses (especially those with a high C - only jesting) And no particular need for big speakers. I use low B 5er with either a 2x10, a 4x10 or both cabs together. All sounds fine, pushing them with Trace-Elliot. I also use a 1x15 combo that sounds fine too.A friend with an 8 string (F#-F) uses a high quality amp with 32 band eq, which obviously helps at each end of the spectrum.

  • Thank you. It's good to know that a combo should be able to deal with a 5-string, as I'm not ready to invest huge amounts in an amp yet. – Godzillarissa Feb 3 '15 at 8:39

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