Knowing how to troubleshoot the speakers in a bass guitar amplifier is an essential bit of knowledge that every bass guitarist should have. You may be interested in buying a new or used amp, or you may find yourself in a gig and you are struggling with bad sound. Bass speakers are under a lot of stress and burden and need to be regularly checked and maintained. Symptoms of a bad speaker include a low, muddy sound, distorted sounds, rattles and hums and a loss of power.
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Rule out other possibilities. Bad guitar cables and bad batteries, rather than the speakers, may be the culprit. Bad guitar cables and weak batteries will cause weak and distorted sounds. Plug a new cable into the bass guitar and the bass amp. Play the bass guitar and see if the sound quality improves. Many bass guitars use active pickups that are powered by a 9-volt battery. Replace the battery and see if the sound quality improves.
Experiment with the EQ and volume controls on the amplifier. If the guitar cable doesn't correct the problem, then you may have a problem with the speaker. If a speaker is bad or blown, it typically sounds distorted at a high volume and it may not produce any sound when it is at a low volume. Set the EQ levels at zero and set the balance to the middle. This will help you to hear the condition of the speaker better. Play the bass guitar at different volumes.
Check all the speaker connections. Make sure that the speaker cable is plugged into the speaker input jack in the back of the amplifier. Look closely at the wires connecting to the speaker. Make sure the wires are not loose or disconnected.
Visually inspect the speaker. The cone may have little or minor tears that are responsible for producing a distorted sound. Small tears can be mended with duct tape. A "blown" speaker refers to a cone that has separated from the coil. This is caused by the force and vibration of the sound waves.
Replace the speaker if it is blown.
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