As a professional Bass player of over 30 years, I have probably played through every brand and model of bass amplifier that’s ever been on the market in my lifetime. There are combination amplifiers with self-contained speaker cabinets (a single unit), half stacks (usually an amp and a separate speaker cabinet), and whole stacks (an amp and 2 speaker cabinets). The size you need depends on the most common sized venue that you play.
I personally have two combination style amplifiers at this time. These days, I play more shows in smaller venues, and do not require extreme power to hear myself on stage, but still require adequate power to ensure that necessary driving “thump,” and well-rounded highs and lows for great tone. Since the groups I work with always play through a PA system, I also require amps with direct lines out to connect to the sound mixer. For smaller gigs in venues where there may be approximately 150 people in the listening audience, I use an SWR LA-12. It is a cube shaped enclosure with one 12″ speaker. The solid state amplifier section pushes 60 watts of crystal clean power shaped by Bass, Mid, and Treble controls. This amp is no longer being manufactured by SWR, but can be found occasionally for sale second hand. If you find one in good shape, you’ll have a nice little friend for life. It is great in small venues or practice situations. It only weighs about 46 lbs!
My second boom box is also an SWR. It is the WorkingPro 210C. It contains 400 watts at 8 ohms of power in a solid state amp section with two 10″ speakers and a horn. This is the unit I use in larger venues when playing for 200 to 500 people at a time. This amp combo contains many fine sound shaping controls like the Aural Enhancer and the Bass Intensifier. This amp is very versatile and it’s really easy to dial in the tone you want no matter what style you play. It’s heavy at about 98 lbs, but comes with a set of 4 casters that make loading in and out much easier.
If you’re looking for good bang and quality for your buck, SWR is the way to go for sure. Come back and check for more in the future when I’ll be talking about light-weight bass amplification designs!