And as a newbie, you still might struggle with limited resources despite the benefit of having a home recording studio. For instance, you may have an electric guitar to play during a recording session. But for some reason, all you have is a bass amp instead of a guitar amp. So, you might think a guitar amp is solely meant for guitar, and a bass amp should only be used for bass, right? Well, not necessarily.
So, can you play a guitar through a bass amp?
Though a bass amp is obviously designed for a bass’s function, playing an electric guitar through it is still absolutely possible. Bass amps are powerful enough to boost a guitar’s low frequencies at just the right volume without causing any damage to either instrument or amp. A guitar played through a bass amp may sound different only because it’s better at handling lower frequencies. Otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with using a bass amp for your guitar.
How is this possible? Let’s find out more about how guitars and amps work, individually and with each other.
What Is The Difference Between An Electric Guitar And A Bass?
An electric guitar and a bass look similar at first glance. But once you take a closer peek, you’ll notice the difference in size and number of strings. More than their physical appearance, the sounds they produce are significantly unique from each other. Here’s more detail on their key features:
An electric guitar is typically made of wood and has six strings same as an acoustic guitar. It’s slimmer and thinner than a bass. Since electric guitars have solid bodies, they only produce minimal sound and need to be plugged into an amplifier.
In terms of function, the melody of a song is played by the electric guitar. The sounds produced by an electric guitar also offer more playing options, making them ideal for performing guitar riffs and solos.
A bass guitar (simply called bass) is also electric and has a solid body, just like a standard electric guitar. It needs an amplifier to enhance its sound too. They look almost the same, except that a bass is a little larger and has a longer neck. A bass usually has four thick strings that produce deep, low-pitched sounds.
A bass takes on the supporting role in a performance. It usually serves as an accompaniment for drums in creating a song’s rhythm.
What Is An Instrument Amplifier?
An instrument amplifier (mostly called amp) is a device that converts a musical instrument’s faint electronic signal into a larger one to be directed to a loudspeaker. There are particular amps designed for electric guitars, basses, keyboards, and acoustic instruments like fiddles, banjos, and mandolins.
An amp is used to transform the signal from the sound source (pickup for guitars and basses) into a stronger signal. The newly converted audio signal then becomes powerful enough to be heard on a loudspeaker. Instrument amps are not intended to exactly replicate the sound source. They are designed to enhance the original sound, adjust frequency levels, and alter the tone through distortion or overdrive.
What Is The Difference Between A Guitar Amp And Bass A Amp?
Guitar and bass amps almost have the same circuitry, EQ controls, and function. They are both used to amplify weak audio signals. What sets them apart from each other are their power output, speaker size, and frequency response. Here’s a closer look at these two amps:
A guitar amp intensifies an electric guitar’s electronic sound signal to drive one or more loudspeakers at an adequate volume for the sound to be heard. A smaller speaker cabinet is enough for a guitar amp since it doesn’t need as much power as a bass amp. A guitar amp’s speaker cabinet contains the controls for volume, effects, speakers, and processors for altering the signal.
A bass amp boosts the sound from a low-pitched instrument (such as a bass guitar) to an audible volume level. It works just like a guitar amp in amplifying faint electronic signals. But because it’s specially designed for bass instruments, a bass amp has increased low-frequency response and specific tone controls for bass sounds. In effect, a bass amp requires more power than a guitar amp. It also needs a larger speaker to process low frequencies effectively.
Is There An Amp That Works For Both An Electric Guitar And A Bass?
If you’re looking for an all-in-one amp for your electric guitar and bass, you can find some hybrid amps that can work with both instruments. A hybrid amp is designed to receive any frequency type, even the lower ones from a bass. It can produce great sound with whichever of the two instruments you plug.
But in case you don’t want to get a hybrid amp, you can use a bass amp for both instruments. A bass amp may be designed for a bass guitar, but it’s also powerful enough to amplify an electric guitar.
What Happens If You Plug An Electric Guitar Into A Bass Amp?
A bass amp is significantly powerful since its job is to boost lower frequencies at a sufficient volume while still maintaining adequate headroom before the signal starts to distort. And that amount of headroom is more than enough for an electric guitar. Because of that, you’ll get a clean guitar tone when you plug your electric guitar into a bass amp.
Can A Guitar Damage A Bass Amp?
A bass amp is not exactly equipped to handle a guitar’s higher frequencies. But you can still play high notes from an electric guitar without causing damage to the amp. Playing through a bass amp also won’t do any harm to the guitar.
Does An Amp Make A Guitar Sound Better?
An amp’s primary function is to strengthen an instrument’s weak electronic signal to be heard as sound through the speakers. This process also involves some frequency and tone adjustments on the original sound. So when the converted sound comes out from the loudspeaker, it’s already a modified version of the sound source.
These modifications don’t exactly lead to a better-sounding guitar. Most of the time, an amp may help spruce up a guitar’s tone with the sound effects it allows you to add to your liking. It still depends on other factors like the quality of the instrument itself and guitar-playing mastery. Even with an amp, it may not enhance your guitar’s sound if you have low-quality strings or poor strumming technique.
Can You Play An Electric Guitar Without An Amp?
Technically, you can play an electric guitar even without an amp. However, it will not produce much sound as compared to when you plug it into an amp. This is because of its solid body.
Unlike acoustic guitars, electric guitars don’t have sound holes, so merely strumming the strings won’t bring out the same vibrations. They need an amp to pick up the electronic signals produced by the vibrations. These signals will then be amplified and converted into the sound that can be heard through a loudspeaker. As a result, plugging an amp boosts your guitar’s volume and tone.
Are There Other Ways To Amplify An Electric Guitar Without An Amp?
You may not want to use an amp for several reasons—not enough budget, lack of space, or you simply don’t want to be a nuisance in your neighborhood. Whatever the reason, there are other alternatives to an amp that you can use for your electric guitar. You can connect your guitar to headphones, speakers, or computers to amplify its sound.
Playing an electric guitar with an amp definitely has its advantages. If used correctly, an amp can definitely highlight your guitar’s excellent sound and skillful playing. As to what type of amp to use for your guitar recording, there’s really no hard-and-fast rule for that. A guitar amp is not exclusive to an electric guitar, just as a bass amp is not to a bass.
That said, it’s safe to conclude that you can play an electric guitar through a bass amp. A bass amp is strong enough to deal with both bass and an electric guitar’s frequencies. For this reason, you also won’t have to worry about potential damage to either gear.
As long as you’ve done thorough research, you can experiment with various audio devices. When it comes to creating beautiful music, you’re always allowed to bend some rules and just have fun. Who knows? Your guitar track might sound more phenomenal when played through a bass amp.