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Hands-On Review: Ampeg BA112 and BA115 Bass Amps

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The step-up bass amps you can afford to start with

By Doug Thompson

I’ve been using Ampeg bass amps my entire professional career. I’ve played through practically every system, from the massive SVT 300W 8 x 10" rig, to their latest offering, the Bassamp (BA) Series. The thing that always keeps me coming back is the sweet and powerful tone that is uniquely Ampeg. After all, Ampeg is the "real deal" when it comes to bass amps.

To supplement my performing and recording income, I started giving bass lessons several years ago and I discovered most beginning bass players quickly become disenchanted with the sound of their tiny, underpowered starter bass amps. Typically rated at only 5-10 watts, with only a 6" or 8" speaker, these little boxes seldom offer more than simple bass and treble controls. So, even if you can get them loud enough to play along with your favorite CDs, they tend to sound like a walrus with a sore throat. Bass 101 fact—every bass player will outgrow their first amplifier. That being the case, I think it is important to find a first amp that will get you off to a strong start.

Decisions, decisions

Maybe you are choosing your first bass amp. Maybe you’re ready to upgrade your sound. Or maybe you’re ready to take your talent to the next level and perform with other players. In any case, you’ll need an amp that gets your message across loud and clear. There are lots of things to consider when selecting your new amplifier, such as size, wattage, features, and ultimately, tone. I find it always comes down to the answers to two questions:

How will you use it?

Will it be used for practice, live performance, or recording? If its intended use is personal practice or recording, then output power probably isn’t much of an issue, while features and tone become very important. That’s why I recommend Ampeg’s BA Series to beginning players, especially the BA112 bass combo amp and BA115 bass combo amp. Both of these amps offer exceptional tone, feature CD/MP3 inputs and headphone jacks, and record well, thanks to built-in line-out jacks. The BA115 even has a built-in electronic tuner. These amps are also extremely portable, so it’s easy to move to a friend’s house for that impromptu jam session.

If you plan to use the amp for band rehearsal or live gigs, in addition to sounding good, it must have enough power to keep up with the other players. With 100W RMS output and a powerful 15" speaker, the BA115 will do nicely for all but the very loudest garage bands. And for gigs where you need to fill the whole room with chest-pounding bass levels, the BA115 will give you good stage volume while the XLR balanced line-out jack lets you tie into the PA system via a single mic cable.

Ampeg BA112 Bass Combo Amp
Ampeg BA112
Ampeg BA115 Bass Combo Amp
Ampeg BA115

How much amp can you afford?

Always buy the best amp you can afford. Without a doubt, the amp is the most important link in the sound chain between you and your audience. A cheap, poorly designed and built amp will bring out all the worst qualities of your sound.

The Ampeg BA Series puts a wide range of great-sounding professional-grade products well within the reach of any budget for players of all levels: the 50W, 12" BA112; three models of the BA115 (with up to 220W and your choice of either solid-state or tube preamp); the BA210 (220W 2 x 10"); the high-tech BA210SP (16 built-in digital effects); or the beefy BA500, also a dual 10" system with up to 500W of real power. All of the BA Series combos are solid performers, building on Ampeg’s long-running legacy of dependability, value, and sonic excellence.

Whether you’re just getting started or you’re on a tight budget, you can afford an Ampeg. For what you’d pay for one of those "rumbly" bass amps (around $300), you can step up to the legendary sound of Ampeg. Take the BA115 for a test drive and you’ll see why I chose Ampeg and why I recommend them highly to my students. After 60 years of building the world’s most respected bass amps, Ampeg knows more than a thing or two about tone and value.

Features & Specs

BA112 Combo:

  • 50W RMS power
  • 12" custom Ampeg speaker
  • Solid-state preamp
  • Solid-state power section
  • 3-band EQ
  • Style and Ultra Mid mid-tone control
  • Unbalanced line out
  • Tilt-back design
  • CD/MP3 input
  • Headphone output
  • Durable, road-ready construction
  • 17-1/4"W x 18"H x 13"D
  • 39 lbs.

BA115 Combo:

  • 100W RMS power
  • 15" Custom Ampeg speaker
  • Piezo tweeter
  • Solid-state preamp
  • Solid-state power section
  • 3-band EQ
  • Mid-tone Style control
  • Balanced line out
  • Built-in tuner
  • Tilt-back design
  • CD/MP3 input
  • Headphone output
  • 21"W x 21"H x 16"D
  • 62 lbs.

Tags: Amplifiers Ampeg

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