Bass amp no sound

Bass amp no sound DEFAULT

Common Tube Amp Malfunctions: My amp makes no sound.


New! Listen to this article instead (14 minutes)

If your amp makes no sound, it is first important to define what you mean by “no sound.” To that end, the first test you should perform is whether you can hear anything coming from the speakers. (This is, of course, after you have eliminated the possibility of trivial problems.)

Listening to what (if anything) comes out of the speakers can help you isolate the problem to specific parts of the circuit. If you hear no sound coming from the speakers — including hum, hiss, reverb crash, input cable pop, or any other incidental, non-musical sounds — the problem could be the speaker itself. But, if you hear non-audio sound coming from the speakers, the problem is likely, although not guaranteed, to be a fault in the preamp section of the circuit.

safety notes

Audio amplifiers, and tube amplifiers in particular, contain high voltages. Do not attempt to repair an amplifier without following the appropriate safety protocols. This includes (but is not limited to) discharging the electrolytic capacitors if you are troubleshooting the circuit within the amp chassis. Note that electrolytic capacitors can pose a shock hazard even in the amp is turned off and unplugged.

No sound comes from the speakers


If there is absolutely nothing coming from the speakers, you should distinguish between an amplifier that is not turning on and an amplifier that is not passing signal. If you see tube glow and the pilot light is on, that is an indicator that the early power supply is functioning correctly (i.e., your amp turns on). If you don’t see these things, you should read the guide My amp doesn’t turn on first.

Usually, in a no-sound scenario, you will hear some sound coming from the speakers, even if the signal path happens to be cut off. For instance, you may hear hum, hiss, reverb crash (if applicable), or even popping sounds when connecting or disconnecting inputs. This is because, in many cases, the signal is interrupted well before the speaker, leaving the speaker to transmit any incidental noises that enter the circuit outside of the fault area.

However, it is certainly possible for the speaker to be interrupted in a way that also silences the speaker. Possible causes include:

  1. The speaker is completely blown

  2. The output transformer is open or otherwise faulty

  3. The speaker jack is not wired correctly

  4. The speaker wiring has deteriorated, or the jacks have rusted to the extent that they can no longer make the proper connection

There might also be an interruption in the early power supply: for instance, a failing power transformer. These possibilities are discussed in the guide, My amp doesn’t turn on.


Listen to the speaker carefully, in a quiet room, to confirm that it is, indeed, not passing any signal whatsoever. Any audible signal, audio or otherwise, is a good clue. Give yourself every possible advantage when troubleshooting and always listen carefully before concluding that the speaker has no sound.

In some cases, the signal is extremely attenuated but very, very faintly audible. In this case, hum will also be attenuated, so you can’t necessarily make a determination of “no sound” by the absence of the usual noise floor. Turn the instrument up and make a thorough test before making your conclusions.

When testing, make sure that the speaker is pointed in your general direction. You may need to get physically closer to the speaker than you would otherwise position it during normal use. This isn’t to suggest that you should smash your face against the speaker cloth for a closer listening experience: if there is an unexpected loud noise, you may damage your hearing. Just be aware of the position of the speaker. If it is on the floor, elevate it. If it is facing away from you, turn it around. If you can tilt it upwards, do so.

Is the speaker blown? Many symptoms of a blown speaker imitate symptoms of a malfunctioning amplifier. For this reason, you should always be suspicious of your speaker until you can prove that it is functioning correctly. One way to do this is to test the speaker in a working amplifier. You can always do the reverse — test a known working speaker in the questionable amplifier — but there is a chance that the amplifier is malfunctioning in a way that damaged the speaker in the first place. Shorted output transistors or a faulty output transformer can destroy a speaker in an instant. So, do not use a valuable speaker for this test.

Some sound comes from the speakers

If you hear hum, hiss, or other incidental sounds coming from the speakers, but no signal, there is probably some fault in the amplifier that is interrupting the signal. In this case, you can assume that your speakers are likely working. If your speakers are reproducing these incidental sounds, it would probably reproduce signal as well, if signal were present. The problem is that signal is not present. Where did it go?

Step one: Isolate the problem.


The bad news: a “no signal” problem can dwell anywhere in the amp circuit. The good news is that most problems can be narrowed down to small portions of the amplifier. In most cases, you don’t even need test equipment to determine where the problem is hiding. You can use your knowledge of how an amplifier works, along with the evidence that your malfunctioning amp is giving you.

Listen to the noise floor. The first piece of evidence that you have is the sound that the amplifier actually is making: the noise floor. We’re giving this section probably more real estate than it deserves, because listening to the noise floor is a vague and inexact method of diagnosing an amplifier’s problems. However, the point is that everything that the amp is doing should be treated as evidence of its malfunction. The more you listen to the amp and think about its issues, the less you’ll rip out and replace perfectly good components and drive yourself to total frustration.

Think of it this way: if you are the detective, the noise floor is the witness that says, “A guy wearing a green hat robbed me.” This is a great piece of information as long as you don’t forget that 1) a lot of people own green hats; 2) people have the ability to take their hats off, and/or put new hats on; 3) a lot of people don’t know what the color green is (Is chartreuse green? Is teal green?); 4) if the witness was dishonest or forgetful, there might not even be a green hat in the first place. So, you can’t simply arrest the first person you see who is wearing a green hat. In order to make sense of the green hat as evidence, you ideally need other information from other sources as well.

Likewise, the noise floor is an unreliable witness. Although we can and should listen to it, we can’t let it dictate our method of troubleshooting. We can’t let it supersede our knowledge of the amplifier’s circuit or whatever other evidence the amp is offering. With that disclaimer out of the way, we’ll now discuss what to listen to when you listen to the noise floor.

When functioning correctly, every amplifier has a noise floor. So, if the noise floor coming from the speakers is identical or nearly identical to the amplifier’s usual noise floor, you can deduce that the amplifier is almost completely working correctly. The noise floor is present and it is thoroughly being amplified. Only the signal is absent. Therefore, you should start troubleshooting at the very beginning of the signal chain:

  1. If the amplifier is a guitar amp, confirm that the instrument cable as well as your guitar’s electronics are working correctly.

  2. If the amp is the internal Wurlitzer amp, confirm that the input cable is working, the reeds are not shorted to the pickup and the amplifier is sending sufficient power to the reed bar.

  3. Confirm that the input jacks are in good shape.

  4. Look for flaws or malfunctions around the input circuitry.

On the other hand, if the noise floor is lower than you would typically expect from this amplifier, it is likely that some of the amplifier’s hum is being interrupted, as well as the signal. This suggests a flaw or malfunction later in the preamp.

Sometimes, the noise floor coming from the speaker is louder or more aggressive than the amp’s working noise floor. This suggests that a component is malfunctioning in a way that is not only interrupting the signal, but introducing noise itself. This often happens when an active component (i.e., a tube or a transistor) fails, but it could also happen due to the failure of a crucial passive component as well. The takeaway here is that you are probably not looking at a simple mis-wire, or corroded or damaged jack. Instead, there is probably a component that needs to be replaced. In a tube amp, replacing the tubes is a good place to start.

However, there may be some problems with using the noise floor as a diagnostic tool:

  1. If the amp has been broken the entire time that it is in your possession, you may not know what the working noise floor is supposed to sound like. You can’t make any accurate assumptions, because some vintage amplifiers have a louder noise floor than others.

  2. Most working amps in good condition have a very unobtrusive noise floor. It is totally understandable if, back when the amp was actually working, you’ve never bothered to memorize exactly what the noise floor sounds like. So, you may not be able to identify whether the hum coming from your now-malfunctioning amplifier is the usual noise floor, or slightly lower.

  3. The amplifier may have multiple problems that are affecting the noise floor in competing ways.


Bottom line: the noise floor is decent evidence, but it is important not to overstate the conclusions that you can draw from it. It’s not a form of code that, if cracked, will tell you exactly what your problem is. Rather, it will give you an idea of where to begin — which is certainly a valuable tool, if you do not have an oscilloscope and nothing in the amplifier is obviously malfunctioning. However, if this beginning doesn’t solve your problem, you have to let go of this initial guess, circle back around and investigate some of the possibilities that you may have set aside as unlikely.

Check all possible inputs and outputs. If the amplifier has two channels, try both. If neither channel gives you sound, the problem is likely somewhere in the circuit after the two channels merge. If one channel gives you sound, but not the other, the problem likely exists in the silent channel.

If the amplifier has an aux output, you should test the output. If it gives you sound, the interruption is probably in the circuit following the output. If you get no sound from the output, the interruption probably precedes the output circuit. There are various ways to design an aux output, so if you’re getting a different result from the aux than through the main speaker, you should pay careful attention to how and where the signal is tapped.

If the amplifier has a spare jack, but not aux output, you may want to wire a quick-and-dirty aux output in the preamp. True aux outputs should be buffered to minimize losses when you connect the aux to an external device, but for this test, you don’t need to worry about buffering. Just connect the tip of the jack to a safe point in the signal path (after a coupling cap connects one gain stage to the next, for instance), and the sleeve to ground. If you get sound from this aux, you know that the preamp circuitry before the aux is functioning properly.

Step Two: Investigate likely suspects.

If you are able to isolate the problem to a certain area of the circuit, you can think about how the components in that area work — and what might be causing them to malfunction. In general, common problems that interrupt the signal path include:

  1. A failing tube, transistor, or passive component that is interrupting the signal

  2. A tube or transistor is not receiving the adequate supply voltage, due to a failure in the power supply

  3. The signal has become inadvertently grounded

  4. A ground that is necessary to the circuit has become inadvertently lifted

A good order-of-operations in diagnosing the problem is to:

  1. Replace the tubes with known good tubes.

  2. Visually inspect the amplifier to ensure that all wires are in place and in good condition, and that there is no debris that might inappropriately bridge two leads.

  3. Ensure that grounds are, in fact, connected to ground.

  4. Ensure that the power supply is supplying tube plates and other critical areas with the appropriate voltage. If there is inadequate voltage, find where the voltage is being throttled.

  5. Replace original problem components with new, working components. Problem components include any resistors that are under a lot of stress (including plate resistors and power supply resistors), electrolytic capacitors, and cathode resistors (which are essential to a tube circuit).

If you do this and the amplifier still does not pass signal, you should:

  1. Check your previous work.

  2. Try to isolate the problem with more specificity. For instance, try taking an output from an earlier point in the circuit. Or, if you are working in a Wurlitzer amplifier, try creating an input that you can test with guitar (i.e., one that is completely isolated from the 180v reed bar supply voltage). This will tell you if there is a fault in the Wurlitzer input or reed bar, which is extremely common, particularly if the Wurlitzer has recently been moved.

  3. Reconsider the assumptions that you are making. For instance, if you are focusing on the later preamp circuit due to assumptions made about the noise floor, expand your search and look at the early preamp as well.

Guides, How-To, Guitar AmpsPaulina Salmastroubleshooting, tube amplifiers, Wurlitzer amps


Amp Trouble? Try These 9 Simple Solutions First

You’re at a gig. The gig is about to start. You need sound to come out of your amp, but all you hear is silence. You start to sweat. There must be a complicated and expensive problem with your amp or with your instrument.

Hit pause. Remain calm.

Don't overthink it from the jump. Nine times out of ten there probably isn’t a complicated and expensive problem with your amp or with your instrument. It’s far more likely that there’s a much simpler explanation for the problem—something a little basic troubleshooting can deal with quickly and easily. Which is good news for you, your act, your gear and your bank account.

Honestly, you’d really be surprised how often the culprits are simple and pretty obvious. Therefore, before you start freaking out and getting way too creative, make sure that:

  • The amp is plugged in.
  • The amp is turned on.
  • The amp is not in standby mode.
  • The speaker mute switch is not engaged.
  • The amp is properly connected to the speakers/enclosure.
  • The amp volume is sufficiently up.
  • The instrument is properly plugged in at both ends.
  • The instrument volume is sufficiently up.
  • The building does have sufficiently working electricity.

If none of the above steps help, you may well need to go ahead and get creative. But first things first—doing a little basic troubleshooting before anything else can be most helpful.

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When a piece of musical equipment stops working it starts a puzzling quest to find out what is causing the issue.

Sometimes it can be something very simple, sometimes it might require some technical knowledge, and sometimes you might just have to accept it can’t be fixed.

This is true for an electric bass guitar. If it suddenly stops working how are you supposed to know what is wrong?

In this article, I will try and help by firstly giving you a few examples of common issues. Which I hope will solve your problem quickly. Followed by the method I use to decipher what is wrong.

You can, of course, carry out these steps in any order, but this is the most logical order I could think of for figuring out why your bass is broken.

Some of the later steps are a bit more advanced. And so if you don’t have experience with electronics, I would take the bass to a professional to get it fixed.


1) Check all the volumes


Ok, this one is pretty basic, but even I have made this mistake.

Before you go through all the other steps just check that you don’t have the volume knob on either the amp or the bass itself turned all the way down.

If you are using pedals many of these also have volume controls so check these too. But to make sure it isn’t the pedals causing a problem you are best to plug straight into the amp to test.


2) Check your cables


Another common cause of bad sound or no sound is an issue with your cables.

This can occur over time through wear and tear. Test out some different cables if you have them and you could have an easy fix.

Bear in mind, because bass (and guitar) cables are unbalanced, they will pick up noise disturbance from other electrical equipment. This will cause an annoying hum/ buzz.

The best solution for this is to buy a higher quality cable with better shielding, or to reduce the cable length if you can.

If you are looking for a recommendation of a good quality cable then check these ones out from GLS audio.

They are top quality with good shielding to minimize any noise, and the tweed cloth jacket means they should last a long time even when gigging regularly.


3) Check the amp


If you have the luxury of owning more than one bass guitar then you can try plugging that one into the amp instead. This will make sure it isn’t actually the amp that is broken.

If like most people you only have one bass. Plug in the cable, turn the amp on and touch the end with your fingertip whilst the amp volume is turned up.



If the amp is working you should hear an intense buzzing noise. If you don’t hear any noise then it could be that you have an amplifier issue.

This could be one of many things and it is up to you if you try and fix it yourself. If you are uncertain then simply take it to a music store and a technician should be able to fix it for you.


4) Check the battery


You may or may not realise that if your bass is an active bass, rather than a passive bass, then it will have one (or maybe more) batteries.

This battery is needed to power a pre-amp which gives the signal a boost, ensuring a more consistent sound. The battery also allows you to shape the sound from your bass much more.

So a sure sign that your bass is active, and therefore has a battery inside, is if you have more than 3 knobs on the front of the guitar.

As the battery starts to run out of power the sound quality will start to deteriorate. You might notice it is not as strong or maybe it crackles or starts cutting in or out. These are all signs that you might need a new battery.

If your bass stopped working more suddenly, the battery is less likely to be the cause. That is unless it is a rechargeable battery which discharges energy in a different way and can cause the bass to stop working very quickly

This common problem is, of course, a simple fix. Simply locate the battery compartment on your bass. This will usually be a small panel on the rear which will need to be unscrewed. Unscrew this panel take out the old battery and insert a new one.

You may have multiple panels on the back in which case it will probably be the smaller panel that holds the battery.



Test it out and hopefully, it will sound good as new. If it doesn’t then you may have another issue on this list.  


5) Check the output jack connection


The output jack connection (where you plug the lead into the bass) is notorious for coming loose.

This could mean you hear nothing or you may occasionally hear something but it keeps cutting in and out.

Whilst the cable is plugged in and the amp is on. Try moving the cable jack around inside the guitar. If you notice the signal cut in and out. This is a sure sign that this is the issue.

To fix this it is important to take the small plate around the jack off first BEFORE trying to turn the nut to tighten it up.



If you don’t take off the plate first and try and turn it then you will end up simply twisting the internal wires around and around. This is not a good idea as you will end up with snapped wires.

So unscrew the two screws and then grab hold of the output jack below the plate. Get yourself a small wrench or some pliers and tighten the nut. This should mean you no longer have a loose connection.

The video below shows this visually if you are struggling to imagine what to do.



6) Check the wiring related to the output jack


Some bass models seem to be prone to wiring issues within the bass itself. This seems to be particularly common in the popular Fender p-bass.

This is a simple fix if you have a soldering iron and want to attempt it yourself.

Take off what is known as the ‘oil guard’. You may need to remove the strings to do this if you just have one large pickguard.

There you will see the wires within the bass. You may notice that one of the wires is loose, or it may not be immediately obvious. Either way, now it is open, you can make sure the connections are all secure by applying a small amount of solder.

If you don’t own a soldering iron, or simply don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself. Take it to your nearest music store where a technician will usually be able to do it for you for a pretty low price.

The video below does a good job of showing this in more detail.



7) Is the circuit shorting?


If you still aren’t getting a clean sound out of your bass then it could be that the circuit is shorting.

Fixing this is a bit more of an advanced technique and if you don’t have any experience with electronics I would recommend taking it to a professional to fix it.

The below video shows you how to fix this if you are interested but I would proceed with caution if you don’t have experience. The video is for an electric guitar but the same principles apply for the bass.



8) Could it be a pickup?

A more unlikely cause but not an impossible one is that there is an issue with one of the bass pickups.

If you are able to switch between pickups on the guitar then you have an advantage in trying to decipher which one. If you aren’t sure this is usually a switch on the body of the bass that allows you to select one, another or multiple of the pickups.

If you figure out it is the pickup causing the issue you may need a new one or it could once again be a problem with the wiring.


9) Grime in the connection


If your bass guitar is particularly old there is a chance that you could have dirt and grime building up in connections on the guitar or amplifier. This can cause connection issues and lead to sound cutting out.

Buy some electric cleaner such as this one and spray around any connections and knobs to get rid of unwanted dirt.

Twiddle the knobs back and forth to make sure the cleaning fluid gets all the way in and around.


Concluding Remarks


I ordered these steps in order of easiest to hardest. Hopefully, you figured out the issue with the first few steps.

The last few steps are a bit more advanced. If you aren’t comfortable with fixing electronics I would always advise you to take your bass to a professional. A Guitar Center or similar will be able to fix the problem and it won’t cost you very much money I’m sure.


How to Troubleshoot a Bass Amp

Knowing how to quickly troubleshoot potential amplifier problems is an essential skill to develop if you are a musician. If the amp isn't able to produce the sound that it should, the solution may be as simple as plugging into a different power supply, replacing a bad cable or cord, or replacing a fuse or tube. Other cases may require more serious repairs, such as repairing or replacing a speaker.

Things You'll Need:

  • Bass Amplifier Manual
  • Wrench
  • Guitar Cable
  • Spare Tubes
  • Spare Fuses
  • Soldering Iron
  • Screwdriver
  • Contact Cleaner Spray
  • Tape

Read the manual for your bass amplifier. Bass guitar amplifiers come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Most amplifier manuals contain a troubleshooting checklist.

Check the power supply to the amplifier. Make sure the bass amp is firmly plugged into a power source and the power source is turned on.

Double-check the volume and tone controls on the amplifier and on the bass guitar. It is not uncommon for a knob to be turned all the way off by accident. The volume knobs and tone knobs usually have to be turned to at least one or higher for the bass amp to produce sound. Plug a different guitar cable into the amp and guitar. A bad cable can produce scratchy, crackling sounds, intermittent sound or no so sound at all.

Inspect the fuses. Refer to the manual to identify the type of fuse(s) and the location of the fuse(s) in your bass amp. It may be necessary to remove a panel cover to access the fuses. Remove the fuse from the amplifier. If the fuse is blown, it will have a brownish, burnt appearance. Replace it with the appropriate fuse for the bass amp.

Examine the tubes if your bass amp is a tube amp. Weak or bad tubes can be responsible for amplifier problems ranging from no power, a weak or muddy sound, or a distorted sound. Properly functioning tubes have a warm, orange/yellowish glow. A bluish-purple glow means that the tube is weak and underpowered. An intense, reddish glow indicates that the tube is being overpowered. If the tube is not glowing, it is broken. Replace weak or broken tubes with the appropriate tubes. Turn off the amp and allow the tubes to cool down. Make sure each tube is connected tightly to the tube socket. Remove loose tubes and reinsert them to make a tighter fit.

Inspect the input jacks and input jack wires. Leave the amplifier in the off position. If the wires are loose, disconnected or frayed, they must be re-soldered to make a firm connection. Input jacks eventually become loose from overuse. Tighten loose input jacks with a wrench.

Clean the amplifier potentiometers, or pots, with contact cleaning spray. The pots on the amp need to be periodically cleaned because dirty ones can produce static-like noises and hissing noises. Spray the pots with contact spray and turn the knob back and forth to work the cleaning solution into them.

Examine the speakers. A bad speaker may produce no sound at all or it may produce a distorted or muddy sound. Remove the speakers from your cabinet if it's not possible to examine them without removing them, depending on the type of cabinet. Small rips or tears in speaker cones can be repaired with tape or glue. If the cone and coil have separated, the speaker must be replaced.


Keep spare fuses, tubes, and tools in your gig bag. Carefully read the manual for your bass amp so you understand how it works and how to treat it.


Writer Bio

Robert Russell began writing online professionally in 2010. He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy and is currently working on a book project exploring the relationship between art, entertainment and culture. He is the guitar player for the nationally touring cajun/zydeco band Creole Stomp. Russell travels with his laptop and writes many of his articles on the road between gigs.

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Sound bass amp no

First, start with the basics. Check if the amp or PA you are plugged into is turned on. If using a mixer, make sure it's not muted and that all cords are plugged in all the way.

Is the amp/cable working with other guitars? Always make sure your amp is working and the cables are in good working condition. If possible, plug in another guitar to the same line to see if it works. If you don't have another guitar, plug a cable into the amp and turn the volume up slightly. Touching the end of the cable with your finger should make a loud hum noise. This tells you the amp and cable are both working. Remember: Keep the volume low for this type of test.

Do you have new batteries in the guitar? If you have a 9v powered Expression System, an ES-T or ES-N system, there will be a red battery indicator light inside the guitar. It's mounted on the edge of the preamp and should light up when a cable is plugged into the guitar. If the light doesn't come on, chances are you have a dead battery or the battery is installed backwards. Look closely at the battery holder to make sure you line up the small + tab with the small notch on the holder. Older version of the Expression System take 2 AA batteries. If only one battery comes out, the second battery may be stuck inside. Do your best to get it out by shaking the guitar or grabbing the tip with needle nose pliers. Always use two brand new batteries and put them in flat end first. Important: Don't mix new and old batteries together. The old one will heat up and may leak acid, causing damage to the battery housing.

You've checked the amp, cables, and batteries and the ES indicator light is on, but there is still no sound. If you have a 9v-powered Expression System, an ES-T or ES-N system, there's one more thing you can try on your own. The ES2, ES-T and ES-N have a small phase switch right near the battery light. If the switch is stuck in mid travel, it can kill the output. Reach into the soundhole and flip the switch to one end or the other and try again.

No sound from your guitar? Let's figure it out...

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