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Can I use my powered sub as a guitar amp?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by John_Bonner, Dec 23, 2001.

  1. John_Bonner

    John_Bonner Supporting Actor

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    Not sure if this is the right area for this question but I know alot of former/present/future musicians hang out here...

    I was planning on buying an inexpensive bass guitar to noodle with. I was wondering if I could use my powered subwoofer as a bass amp rather than buy a separate amplifier? I'm sure there's an adapter at Radio Shack that would convert a 1/4 guitar cord to the RCA input on the subwoofer, but would I damage the sub by doing this?
     
  2. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    1) Yes you could damage the sub doing this.

    2) Most powered subs are designed to reproduce freq below 100 hz... a low E on bass is about 82hz... so you technically have about 5 notes before you exceed the freq response of your sub (E > G#). Depending on if your sub is filtered to prevent upper freq from being amplified, you could easily damage the unit. And you won't get much of a bass sound, unless you plan on playing endless low E whole notes. Even if your rock consisted of monotone E, you would probably only hear the low sustain of the note and not any of the overtones of the instrument or character of the tone associated with bass guitar.

    3) The output of a passive guitar pickup is mot likely not even 1/4 as much signal as your sub amplifier will expect. You'd probably have to plug your bass into some sort of preamp unit to get enough signal. Just because you can adapt two different items so the PLUGS match doesn't mean the signal will be the same.

    4) The output of an active guitar pickup is possibly too much signal for some powered subs- and and playing beyond basic level could easily overload the input, clip the signal and toast the driver in your sub. If your powered sub has a line limiter or compressor- you risk damaging the amplifier in the sub as well.

    This is just a bad idea-- but people do use their home stereo as a guitar amplifier-- when a basic practice amp will set up back $35 at any pawn shop- seems stupid to risk damage to your $500+ receiver or subwoofer.

    -Vince
     
  3. John_Bonner

    John_Bonner Supporting Actor

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    Thanks Vince. I have a running gag with my brother, every Christmas we give each other the same present - a gift certificate to Guitar Center. I guess I'll use this year's "present" to pick up a decent practice amp.
     
  4. Alex Shk

    Alex Shk Stunt Coordinator

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    My daughter (15) is taking bass lessons. I bought her a nice Ibanez bass, and a small piggy back amp because she WANTED to plug it into my subwoofer. It just wasn't gonna happen.

    If she blows the pig - I will buy something more substantial. Just stay away from MY rig.
     
  5. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    To clarify one issue- if you have passive subs with an outboard amplifier, like SVS for example, you can use this as part of your amp rig for fun with the right configuration.
    While you shouldn't plug your bass directly into your subwooferamplifer- if you have a decent preamp (I'm a huge fan of the Alembic F1-X preamp- tube bass pre, one rack space, sounds great).
    You could run out of the low crossover output on a preamp (crossover at 100 or so) and feed that signal to the amps driving your SVS- and you would probably be fine.
    However- again- plugging a bass guitar direct into a powered sub unit is a sure fire way to get yourself a new sub [​IMG]
    Vince
     

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