The quality of your sound is dependent on the quality of the amplifier you use. To get the best bass tube amp, you need to understand what to look for in an amplifier and how to choose the right one for your needs.
Below, I have taken the task to give you a brief overview of the difference between a bass tube amp and solid-state ones. In that, I share what features might be important for your sound.
I have also researched the market of bass tube amps and took a look at some specific amps that are popular among bass players to help you narrow down your search.
1. Fender Bassman 100T 100-Watt Tube Bass Amp
This amp gives you the legendary Fender tube sound and can be dialed down to 25 watts for studio use.
Are tube bass amps better?
Bass tube amplifiers tend to be heavier, less reliable, and more expensive than their solid state counterparts, but provide warmer sound, more authentic output, and high-quality frequencies out from the box.
They blow out or break often (if you do not look after them) and they tend to get very hot (of course it is a tube amp). Also, you need to replace your tubes every now and then, which definitely adds up in costs.
Let’s just say they are not the easiest type of bass amp to maintain, but still, the sound is unique and that’s why we love them and cannot do without them.
Which technology came first, bass tube or solid state amps?
Bass tube amps are the original and were introduced much earlier than solid state amps.
But the more important reason why any bassist would use a bass tube amp is that the tone is much warmer and natural-sounding than solid state amps, which tend to sound a bit artificial.
Tube amps are also louder than solid state at any given volume. Additionally, tube amps also have more harmonic overtones because they don’t clip as harshly as solid state amps.
Once you have decided on getting a tube amp, the question then becomes: what is the best bass tube amp on the market? This is obviously a very difficult question that depends on many factors.
The most important one is price, because usually the more you pay the better quality sound you are getting. Also, it depends on what genres you are playing and certain genres so better with certain amps and tones.
In general, we recommend that you stick to well-known name-brand manufacturers. They usually have a long history of developing these tube amps and have poured a lot of research into making and fine-tuning them.
Also, please keep in mind that bass tube amps are quite expensive, so be prepared to spend some serious money.
What is the best bass guitar tube amp?
Below are the five bass guitar tube amps we have selected as being the best on the market.
- Fender Bassman 100T 100-Watt Tube Bass Amp
- Ampeg Portaflex PF-20T Bass Amp
- Orange AD200B MK 3 200W Bass Head
- Ampeg SVT-CL Classic
- Markbass Little Mark Tube
1. Fender Bassman 100T 100-Watt Tube Bass Amp
The Fender Bassman 100T is the best bass tube amp for those who are willing to spend some money and want both vintage and modern tones.
This bass amp head is an all-tube 100 or 25-watt switchable setup split into two-channel.
One channel gives you a nice vintage warm Fender quality tone while the other gives you a modern overdriven tone. Of course, this is all changeable with a footswitch.
Perhaps the best feature about the Fender Bassman is the Automatic Bias technology.
This helps you monitor and automatically adjust your tubes to get optimal performance and longer durability out of your amp. Also, we like the fact that you can also dial it down to a studio-friendly 25 watts.
The Fender Bassman 100T is also loaded with nice features.
There is an XLR out to lets you go straight to your computer for silent recording. All in all, this is a legendary bass amp head and with the Fender Automatic Bias adjustments, it makes playing a bass tube amp great again.
- 100 Watt or 25 Watts switchable
- 2 channel: vintage and modern tone
- XLR out
- Automatic Bias Adjustment
2. Ampeg Portaflex PF-20T Bass Amp
If you want the best bass tube amp that gives you a really nice tone in a compact and affordable package, the Ampeg PF-20T is the way to go.
This is a 20-watt all-tube bass amp that prides itself on reproducing the legendary Ampeg tones at a low cost. Also, it leaves a small footprint and is easily transported, weighing in at around 15 pounds.
With the PF-20T, you have two 12AX7 preamp tubes and two 6V6 power amp tubes.
This is good enough for small gigs and recording. You can get a nice, warm rich tone with this bass amp as well as an overdriven tube growl.
Perhaps the most useful feature is the user-adjustable bias control. This allows for easy tube replacement and helps extend the life of your tubes.
Also, the Portaflex PF-20T is a great bass amp if you want to tun it without a speaker load. It is optimized for recording with a computer and can easily sit on your studio desk.
- 20-Watt all-tube bass amp
- Very low cost
- Lightweight at 15 pounds
- Nice warm rich tone
3. Orange AD200B MK 3 200W Bass Head
The Orange AD200 MK3 is a legendary bass tube amp and is the best bass tube amp if you have a high budget.
This highlight of this bass amp is all about pure tube tone at its finest.
The Orange AD200 MK3 is built on solid modern technology, despite being a tube amp. It features four 6550 output tubes and delivers 200 watts of the crowd shaking power.
If you are into vintage warm tones or modern bass sounds, the Orange AD200 MK3 has it all. We like it for its incredibly rich and dynamic low end and a focused midrange crunch.
You can further sculpt your tone with a detailed 3 band EQ. Additionally, you can change up the rounded gain to flip between vintage and modern tones. It is the only tube bass amp Orange makes, and they definitely did it right.
The beauty of this Orange bass amp head lies in its simplicity.
There is only a master volume and gain control, with three-tone controls.
However, it takes a few seconds to dial in a low and heavy tone. Overall, we think the Orange AD200 MK3 wins the heavyweight title. It is pound for pound stacked up against its competition the best value tube bass amp.
- Pure tube tone
- Four 6550 output tubes
- 3 Band EQ
- Simple and elegant design
4. Ampeg SVT-CL Classic
The Ampeg SVT should make it on anyone’s list for the best bass tube amp.
This is a legendary bass head that is one of the most popular ever used. If you don’t know about the Ampeg SVT, then you can’t really call yourself a bass head.
This bass amp head was used in many popular bands that defined modern and classic music.
If you want that authentic vintage Ampeg tube sound, the Ampeg SVT is definitely the way to go. It features six 6550 power tubes that help deliver 300 watts of thundering power in either 2 or 4 ohms.
In terms of controls, you have 3 bands of tone, a 5 position mid-tone control selector, and an ultralow and high boost.
Furthermore, the Ampeg SVT-CL is loaded with features that make it ultra-durable.
It features tube protection circuitry, normal and padded inputs, fan cooling, slave output jack, 3 position AC polarity switch, and an auto-fault mode.
All in all, we shouldn’t have to sell this bass amp head to you. This bass tube amp is definitely a classic and a hall of fame item for a nice speaker sound.
- 300 Watts of power
- Six 6550 power tubes
- Classic Ampeg tube tone
- Tube protection circuitry
5. Markbass Little Mark Tube
The Little Mark Tube is not quite little once you take into account that it pumps out 800 watts of power.
While it is technically a hybrid amp that contains both tubes and solid state technology, you can effectively count it as a bass tube amp.
This amp is great for big stage settings and for those who want warm and clear tones at both high and low volumes.
It comes loaded with features like a 4 band EQ, variable pre-shape filter, vintage loudspeaker emulator, quarter-inch input as well as a combo jack.
We like how to mix of solid state and tube gives you a huge range of sounds. You can go from the crisp sound of the solid state to a heavy tube sound or anything in between. Also, this amp is not as pricy as some of the all-tube bass amps, which makes it a great seller.
- 800 Watts of power
- 4 band EQ
- A mix of solid state and tube amp
Music is an enjoyable part of life. It has the ability to connect us and change our moods. The right bass tube amp can make your music sound fuller and much more vibrant.
For example, think about how a flute sounds on a digital recorder as opposed to a professional stereo system.
One captures the sound as it was played, but the other adds depth to the tune. A bass tube amp is similar in that it helps deliver a pure sound that you can feel with every beat.
If you’re looking for a new way to enjoy your favorite tunes, then check out the top picks for the best bass tube amps. The fender is perfect while the Orange has that little stylish look added to it.
The Ampeg is expensive but well worth every penny. The reality, all of the above are really good (in fact excellent) amps. What you need to do is to look at your budget and how many amps you want out of your speakers, check the Ohms to match the amp (or pre-amp if you have any) and the speaker, and off you go.