These bass effect pedals can take your bass to the next level.
This is a guide for beginner, intermediate, and advanced bass players alike. I’ll take you through everything you need to know to buy the exact bass pedals you need to improve your sound and create the basslines you imagine.
I’ll give you budget options selling for under two-zero ciphers, as well as more professional options that will still sell for about the price of a budget bass.I have to let you know, though, that quality bass pedals are usually more expensive than quality guitar pedals.
More importantly, I’ll tell you about the different popular bass pedals you can find, as well as their applications, some alternatives, and some basic insight into its settings.
I’ll also work you through using guitar pedal effects on your bass guitar, which can help you if you or your friends and bandmates already have some guitar pedals you can try out with your bass.
There’re plenty of bass effect pedals out there. My list is only featuring my personal recommendations. More so, my guide is extensive, but you can jump back and forth the sections to find exactly what you need.
I also suggest you study a bit more about pedals before committing yourself to buy a bunch of them. Watch YouTube demos, read reviews on Amazon, check online musical forums, consult your musician friends, and try them out on the local music store with your bass.
If you’re unsure about the applications of bass pedals, I’ll share with you some popular songs were the bassist player used bass effect pedals. The best example I can give you is Cliff Burton’s distorted intro for “For Whom the Bell Tolls” (Metallica, 1984)
My guide will help you buy any kind of pedal you need for bass, or create the whole rig. A complete rig would include at least a compressor, a fuzz, a distortion, a chorus, and a tuner.
What are bass effect pedals?
Bass effect pedals are small metal, aluminum or plastic boxes encasing electronics capable of manipulating the signal and create a modified sound.
You would set the pedals on the floor and turn them on and off with a footswitch or a pedal. These also have a number of knobs and buttons to alter the effect as you want, which is why people often refer to them with the terms “set-it-and-forget-it.”
In summary, there’re two kinds of effect pedals:
- Multi-effects pedals offer many types of effects in a single unit. However, the more effects they pack, the lower the quality of its effects, although improvements in digital technology are quickly erasing this old adage.
These are, still, a great introduction to effects. They are ideal for practicing and learning what each effect does, how to adjust them, and how and when to use them.
- Dedicated effect pedals produce a single type of effect with greater quality than their counterparts. It’s good if a particular effect becomes part of your most used or common sounds.
If you plan to use various effects often, you should then chain several dedicated effect pedals. Her’s a tutorial video by Reverb introducing you to the various types of effect pedals there’re for basses.
About using bass effect pedals
These effects only serve to fulfill your imagination. You need to conceptualize what you want your bass to sound like: think it melodically, and think about what the song needs and what you want to convey with the bass, which is both the rhythmical foundation and the harmonical foundation. Then, follow your vision with the correct effect application.
Unlike the guitar, the use of bass effect pedals is different and needs more careful thought. The bass’ signal tends to be more delicate than the guitar’s signal, so it can be easily damaged with the wrong use pedals. More so if it’s a low-quality bass or a low-quality amp. Or both!
Furthermore, every bass model reacts differently to a bass pedal, so no matter what reviews and demos say, the best thing to do is try out the pedal with your bass. If you can’t do that, then try to find a YouTube demo from someone using your bass or a similar bass (like from the same series or at least the same brand and price range).
Additionally, don’t think too much about buying a bass effect pedal if, as I said, you have a low-quality bass or amp. You can better invest your money into a good budget bass. Either way, remember you don’t need an effect pedal to sound great because you’re not a guitar player.
You see, guitarists need to use pedals to further their creativity. In fact, without pedals, an electric guitar sounds plain, boring and shallow.
Bass pedals are more of a stand-alone instrument, while effects are there to enhance your creativity.
A bass player relies on its creativity and skills to create great basslines, whereas a guitar player relies more on effects and distortions to create riffs and solos. So, in summary, the use of a bass effect pedal is only there to improve what’s already there and what’s already sounding great. It can’t, however, make something uninteresting sound cool all of the sudden.
A great bassline can be so much better with the right effects; a mediocre bassline will sound even worse with any bass pedal.
Why should you use bass effect pedals?
As I said before, bass effect pedals can improve your basslines. By the way, if you want to learn some awesome basslines to practice with a pedal, check this top 10 easy basslines tabs list.
Particularly, bass pedals can tweak and improve your tone, give you extra clarity, add some definition, and give you some volume when you need some extra juice.
Bass pedals can also give you tons of diversity you can explore in many ways.
Another way to use bass pedals is to fix issues with your bass or your playing and thus relieve the stress of the bass player. For example, a compressor will make all of your notes sound with the same volume, so you wouldn’t have to worry so much about the strength you use to play the strings.
Compressors will help you through advanced, complex techniques like tapping, slapping, slap n’ pop, double thump, hammer-ons, hammer offs, …
There’re some bass effect pedals I recommend for every bass player without hesitation because they can make your overall playing sound more professional. There’re other bass pedals that are situational, convenient for some genres and useless for others. And there’re some that are so complex only pro-players will find a way to use them.
The compressor pedal is something every bass guitar player will appreciate.
Basic bass effect terms: Dry vs. wet signal and LFOs
We’re discussing some basic effect terms before getting deeper into the subject. If you already know about this, skip this section; if not, keep reading as you’ll find these terms afterward.
Wet vs dry signal
Let’s start by explaining the difference between “wet and dry” signals because you’ll likely see these definitions in many pedals. Let’s understand this first because it’s pivotal to understand pedals.
A dry sound or dry signal means the signal has no effects or modifications. In other words, it’s the unprocessed, raw, original sound of the source.
Raw signals are, for example, direct recordings of any sound. Quality and noise cancellation plays a pivotal role in dry recordings. If you need some help with a recording mic, here’s a guide listing the top 10 budget studio recording mics.
A dry signal is often the basis of a wet signal. A wet sound is the customization of a dry signal with one or various layers of effects. These effects are added while the sound is being “mixed,” “played,” or “recorded.”
In practice, many pedals ship with a “blend” knob that allows playing with the full wet signal, the full dry signal, or something in between.
There are basically three types of effects:
- Dynamic-based effects alter the sound’s dynamics or volumes (limiters, compressors, noise gates, maximizers, expanders,…);
- Frequency-based effects manipulate the signal’s frequency (distortions, overdrive, equalizers, wah-wah, fuzz,…)
- Time-based effects comprise a delay in the sound (reverbs, chorus, echoes, flangers, phasers, delays,…).
You can use wet and dry signals at the same time on the mix and get the best results.
LFO or Low-Frequency Oscillator works in effects like chorus, phasing, vibrato, tremolo, and phasing.
Frequency refers to how frequently something happens, and its expressed in Hertz (Hz), which measures cycles-per-second.
LFO refers typically to 10 Hz below, not too many cycles-per-second. Additionally, it oscillates back and forth between two points. The LFO changes 10 times per second or less.
In short, what LFOs do is modulate aspects of the sound in some way or form. Commonly, it modulates the pitch and the volume.
Can you use guitar pedals on your bass?
We must also address the common question of using your guitar pedals on your bass. This is especially important if you’re a guitar player looking to translate your abilities into the bass.
Plus, there are more effect pedal alternatives for guitarists than for bass players right now.
So, the short answer, according to Tone Topics: yes, you can use some guitar pedal effects on the bass. Some of these pedals are designed only for the guitar, as they will enhance some frequencies while giving nuance to others. The frequencies coming out of the pedal with lower volumes are usually the lower frequencies, so that wouldn’t work for your bass.
So, common guitar pedals you can use for bass include:
- Modulation (chorus, phaser, flanger,…);
- Time-based effects (reverb and delays).
Guitar pedals vs. bass pedals
The main difference between bass and guitar pedals is how bass pedals are designed to enhance the low-end frequencies of the bass guitar, whereas guitar pedals optimize “mid-range” frequencies.
So, while guitars operate at the lower end of the frequency chart (30 Hz – 80 Hz), guitars operate at an upper range (80 Hz and above). If you need some extra insight into music recording, check my previous FL Studio 20 guide.
It means by plugging some guitar pedals on your bass you will destroy the deep sound of the instrument and instead end up with a distorted, fat “mid-range” frequency, much like the famous “For Whom the Bell Tolls” intro. That kind of bass is usually not enough to sustain the rhythm of a song.
It also depends on the kind of pedal you’re using, how the pedals are voiced, and how it reacts to your bass. It requires a bit of experimenting. In fact, experimenting with both guitar and bass pedals can bring you some new and interesting ways to enhance and tweak your sound.
I’ll give you a quick review of the best guitar pedal kinds you can use with your bass.
You can experiment with the different guitar pedal categories on your bass.
Guitar pedals not for bass
EQ pedals will ruin your bass because they optimize the regular frequencies of the guitar.
For example, the low E string of a guitar -which is the lowest frequency it has around 82 Hz. However, the lowest E string of the bass is around 40 Hz. In the meantime, guitar EQ pedals go as low as 100 Hz, and bass EQ pedals go as low as 50 Hz.
As you see, these EQ settings match their respective instruments.
There are some classic and mostly analog pedals that can on a guitar just as good as on a bass.
The best example is the famous Electro-Harmonix Big Muff, which works as a fuzz (more on that below).
Other alternatives include:
- Dunlop Phase 90
- Electro-Harmonics POG 2
Here’s a demo video of these crossover pedals. You’ll see how it’s up to you to find a combination that fits your bass rig and your desired sound.
Popular guitar pedals for bass players
I’ve covered guitar pedals before and found that mostly the Boss DS-1 Distortion and the Boss DS-2 TurboDistortion are some of the most popular options out there for guitarists.
These are also very viable for the bass. Other options include:
- PRO CO RAT Distortion
- Ibanez Tube Screamer
- Fulltone OCD
Let me tell you: if you already have one these guitar drive pedals or if you have a friend with this or some way to try them out, go ahead. It’s all about personal taste but, in my opinion, Boss guitar pedals are usually very good, if not better, for the bass.
As a general rule of thumb, guitar distortion pedals work great on basses, whereas guitar EQ pedals do not.
However, crafting your pedalboard is up to you, so there’s no right or wrong as long as you’re truly creating the sound you imagine.
Either way, the most popular guitar pedals for bass players are distortion and overdrive guitar pedals: they transform a clean bass to give you an aggressive, heavy tone. It’s very popular for the metal genre.
It’s because guitar distortion gives the bass a more mid-focused tone, which allows it to be more noticeable in the final mix of a song.
Here’s a video test:
Notice how finding an ideal distortion for your bass can take some time. It’s because different distortion pedals tweak the guitar’s frequencies in different ways.
It depends a lot on the natural sound of your bass. If it’s a thick, fat bass, you’d want a guitar pedal that enhances mid frequencies. Mixing a pedal with a thick deep-end sound plus a deep-low bass can be too harsh on your ears.
For example, Schecter and Music Man basses are usually deep and fat, so they can work great with a Boss distortion or overdrive guitar pedal.
Or, if you have a bass with a cleaner, thinner sound like the Fender Jazz Bass, you’d want a guitar pedal that enhances low frequencies like a Big Muff.
If you need some insight into the bass guitar, here’s my previous bass guitar buyer’s guide. Be sure to check that out.
Guitar fuzz pedals for bass guitar
Fuzz is a popular, cool, and fun effect for guitar and bass. It gives you an aggressive, dynamic tone. It’s a great addition to any pedalboard.
Fuzz pedals are mostly designed to enhance the full frequency of signals, so they can work very well with bass.
The difference is how aggressive the fuzz pedals are. Some are too aggressive for the bass signal, whereas others can thicken your tone and give you a warmer overdrive. But yet again, it comes down to personal preferences.
Some advanced fuzz pedals include an option to blend dry and wet signals into the effect. This works wonders for the bass as it allows the instrument to retain its original low-end frequencies.
Popular guitar and bass fuzz pedals having this excellent feature are:
- Electro-Harmonix Big Muff
- Tone City Fuxx Fuzz
- Germanium Fuzz Face
- The Green Russian Bigg Muff
Octave pedals give you an additional note while you play which is commonly the sub-octave. However, it can also give you a pitch effect, a fat tone, detune sounds, or work as a synth modulator.
They work for guitars and bass alike as they can create a wide range of tones. The tones range from aggressive sounds, detuned tones, lo-fi bass sounds, and ambient soundscapes.
More so, there’ plenty of crossover bass and guitar pedals, like the Boss Super Octave OC3, which includes both guitar and bass inputs.
Other options include:
- Electro-Harmonix POG
- Mooer MOC1 Pure Octave
- Aguilar Ocamizer
Guitar time-based effects like chorus, delay, reverb, echoes, phasers, flangers and more are not exactly ideal for the bass.
A bass delay effect can easily mess up the rhythm and overall groove of the song.
Envelope filters produce the funky “quaky” and “wah-wah” sound. These pedals, much like distortion pedals, combine very well with funky and reggae bass tones.
My recommendation for this branch is the Dunlop CryBaby:
Why do bass pedals exist if you can use guitar pedals?
Whereas you can use guitar pedals on the bass to enhance mid-frequencies and give the instrument a punchier tone, bass pedals operate specifically with the bass’s sonic identity, which is low-frequencies.
It means manufacturers create specific versions of the pedals that can enhance and give richness to the low-end frequencies, thus they can give a genuine sound to your bass. These will then offer you the smoothest, most genuine sounds, while guitar pedals will give you a more “mid-range” rich, distorted sound.
These pedals also ensure your bass won’t sound muddy and give you more headroom. By headroom, I mean you can play with higher gain whilst the effect is on without losing the quality of the sound.
Likewise, it’s possible the guitar pedal can give you interesting, cool sounds that can enhance your creativity. It’s all up to you to experiment with different sounds.
Besides, as bass pickups are louder than regular guitar pickups, bass pedals can also handle the higher output of the bass.
Try out the different guitar pedals you have at your disposal on your bass to find new unique sounds to express your creativity.
Bass pedals dry/wet signal blend
Lastly, bass pedals have the option to blend dry and wet signals, which is absent on guitar pedals. It allows you to blend the bass’ natural sound with the effect and support the original low-frequency signals.
It means you can maintain the natural sound of your instrument, and the bass is all about its natural sound, which is why it’s very important to choose the right bass for you.
On the other hand, pedals for guitars don’t need a dry/wet blend because the guitar’s dry signal is bland and boring.
Why should you use guitar pedals on your bass?
In summary, it’s a great idea to use guitar pedals on your bass if you’re both a guitar player and a bass player and switch between these instruments on different projects.
More so, they are usually cheaper and more at your disposal than bass pedals: whereas few bassists -even fewer beginner bassists- have pedals, every guitarist out there has at last one of them.
The third reason is you can experiment with these pedals and find unique sounds. Sometimes a guitar pedal can sound better on bass than on a guitar.
Lastly, budget guitar pedals are good backups and they can be good “set it and forget it” kind of pedals on your pedalboard.
You can choose a couple of guitar pedals for your pedalboard and use them live with a single configuration. You set them, forget them, and turn them on and off on special occasions.
Can I use bass pedals on my guitar?
Definitely yes, and they will fatten the sound of your guitar by enhancing the low-end frequencies. They are especially good for metal genres.
Popular bass pedals and effects
The first thing we need to understand is that there are three different bass effect technologies:
- Analog effects alter the signal by physical, mechanical means. It’s often made by manipulating the signal’s voltage by using tubes and transistors.
- Digital effects use microchips that can manipulate the signal digitally. The chips translate the signal into code (with ones and zeroes) and then manipulates it with an algorithm to create the effect.
- Modeling effects recreate the sound of other requirements like vintage amps and pedals. It involves a lot of complex electronics, software, and chips.
There are also hybrid technologies combining parts of analog and digital. Multi-effect pedals tend to have modulation options.
Bass multi-effect pedals tend to recreate the sound of vintage bass amps.
Let’s now go into the bass effect categories:
Bass compressors pedals
Bass compressors are the most used effect by bassists, but it’s also the less glamorous effect as the average listener won’t even notice a difference. If you have one, though, you’d probably want to use all the time.
A compressor is a dynamic effect, which refers to how soft or loud the sound is. Itequilibrates the dynamic range of the signal by reducing the volume of loud notes and raising the volume of soft notes, in turn giving you an overall leveled, boosted volume.
More importantly, it prevents the distortion of loud signals (for example slap bass) and enhances the audibility of soft signals (for example 8th notes). The overall result is a smoother, punchier bassline.
Just a little compression can give you amazing results. However, too much compression can give you a lifeless tone.
For these reasons, a compressor is a must-have effect for every bassist, for both the studio and the stage.
A compressor I recommend for any player and any genre is the Aguilar TLC.
As for compression settings…
Compressors usually have a compression threshold which is the volume (or gain) at which the compressor activates. Only signals going above this level are compressed. You can adjust the threshold at the taste, and it depends on what you want to be compressed.
Then, the compression ratio sets the number of compressions you apply to the signals above the threshold. A common ratio is 3:1, which means for every 3 dB going above the threshold, only 1 survives.
You have to listen closely to adjust the ratio as it’s very subtle. You can try adjusting it first to the highest ratio available, and then go down from there until you hear your playing is dynamic.
Next, the compression attack refers to when the effect engages after a signal goes above the threshold. Pedals measure attack in milliseconds (ms), so you might adjust it from 0 (which is immediate) to 10ms.
Afterward, the compression release refers to how long the effect is on after a signal crosses the threshold. It’s also measured in milliseconds.
A short release means a long note is only compressed for an instant, while the rest of the note runs it’s normal course. It gives you that lifeless sound I talked to you about.
On the other hand, a long release follows the note naturally until it decays. It gives your notes more sustain and an overall best result.
And lastly, some compressors have hard-knee compression and soft-knee compression. Hard-knee turns on the full compression amount as soon as a signal crosses the threshold; soft-knee turns the effect gradually when the threshold is crossed and gives you a smoother sound.
In summary, sure-to-go compressor settings would be:
- 3:1 ratio; 0 ms of attack, 100ms of release, and soft-knee compression. You still need to adjust the threshold from there.
You’ll know there’s too much compression when you start hearing breathing/pumping sounds. Also, keep in mind these pedals tend to lower the overall output of your bass, so choose carefully.
The compressor is the only bass effect pedal I consider essential.
Bass fuzz pedals
Fuzz pedals give you “the dirtiest of the dirt.” If you’re looking for that punchy, dirty overdriven sound, you’ll want a fuzz pedal.
These boxes offer a thick, chining tone with plenty of sustain and harmony to transform the bass into the lead instrument is that’s what you’re looking for.
They offer the sound by simulating an overload of bass amp’s tubes with high amounts of gain.
Fuzz settings are straightforward enough. They carry tone, volume, gain, blend (between wet and dry signals), and sustain knobs, commonly.
I personally recommend the Bass Big Muff Pi, the Deluxe Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi, or the Daredevil Almighty Bass.
Bass distortion and overdrive pedals
Distorted bass give you that howling, dirty Lemmy Kilminster (Motorhead) sound in the classic Ace of Spades (year)
Video ace of spades
Bass distortion pedals enhance and distort mid frequencies by boosting the gain. They are very popular in metal and rock genres.
Similarly, overdrive pedals (OD pedals) emit soft clipped tones that sound less aggressive and warmer than distortion. It tries to imitate the organic overdrive guitar players get with tube amps when they push them to the limits.
Because the overdrive is a bit softer and easier to use than distortion, I recommend the Boss ODB-3.
Bass chorus pedals
Chorus means, in summary, “singing together.” When a group of singers (or even the same one in different tracks) sings together, you will hear various notes. Even if everyone tries to sing the same note, some will sing slightly sharp, above the pitch; others below the pitch, slightly flat.
It creates a “wider” pitch as it extends slightly above and below the “perfectly-on-tune” note. Besides, choir singers also have minor rhythmic differences, which gives the note a “blurry” pitch.
That’s what chorus effects try to do for instruments. Overall, a chorus makes a note sound more vibrant, vigorous and lush.
The chorus effect takes the sound source -let’s take the bass- copies it, slightly alters the pitch and the timing, and plays it on another layer alongside the original sound. The delay time chorus effects have is between 10 to 20 ms.
I personally recommend the Aguilar Chorosaurius pedal.
The chorus pedal is one of the most popular pedals for bass guitars. Use them right, and you can enhance the melodic presence of the bass. A good example is the classic melodic bassline intro of Sweet Child o’ Mine (Guns N’ Roses, 1987) by bassist Duff McKagan:
Let’s review the settings of a chorus pedal, which can get tricky.
First, we have the chorus depth. It refers to how extreme the chorus sound is and controls both the pitch-shifting and the time delay of the effect.
The chorus rate or speed controls how fast the effect moves back and forth commonly through the LFO.
Chorus bass pedals may also have mono and stereo outputs. A stereo output makes the effect shine because it allows you to split the signal left and right. You could, for example, send the dry signal right and the wet signal left.
This setting needs two amps, which is why some chorus pedals are called “signal splitters.”
However, having two amps is very expensive and hard to carry. More so, you’d want to split the amps pretty far apart to make a difference, so you’d need a big stage. All in all, a stereo chorus is for professional players only. Otherwise, run the effect on mono and use stereo chorus on recordings.
Next, bass chorus pedals have EQ knobs typically marked High Pass, Low Filter, and Low Cut. You’d want to adjust the chorus so the sound shines on higher frequencies while keeping the lower frequencies clearer.
Some chorus pedals have a voice knob, which controls the number of voices the bass effect pedal has (like a choir).
Overall, a subtle amount of chorus can help you stand out within a mix with many instruments, or make your solo parts really remembered. Check the bass solo from Metallica’s My Friend of Missery (1994) by bassist Jason Newsted.
Bass flanger and phaser
Flangers create a swooshing type effect by copying the audio signal with a very short delay, while phasers create sound waves fluctuating up and down.
Both bass effects use the LFO in similar ways than the chorus, and both add another layer or dimension to the sound.
Forty-Six & 2 (Tool, year) is an incredible song using a flanger effect. Bassist Justin Chancellor’s bassline has a jet-like swoosh effect that adds mystery to the song.
The phaser is one of the most popular bass effect pedals there is. A phaser uses a sound phenomenon where different parts of the sound get canceled out in intervals.
First, it copies the signal while leaving the original alone. Then, it moves the waves of the copied signal back and forth and combines it with the original sound.
It’s a motion effect using LFO to control the amount and rate of phase-shifting. The result is a haunting sound.
As for settings, it’s very easy, as it only has a rate knob adjusting how fast the phase is shifting.
The phasing sound has a hollowness to it. Since it is canceling frequencies, it will sound empty at points. Here’s an example of a song using phaser:
I don’t really recommend phasers and flangers on bass, though. They are, in my opinion, over the top.
Bass tuner pedals
Staying on tune is the most essential thing for any musician, so a good bass tuner is a must-have.
I always recommend a chromatic tuner which gives you 100 percent tunning liberty; non-chromatic tuners will be okay, though, if you only have 4 strings and play in the standard notes (EADGBE).
Additionally, make sure the pedal has the “True Bypass” feature so it doesn’t interfere with the sound.
Bass Wah-Wah Pedals
I think I don’t have to explain this famous effect. It’s used mostly in funk, rock, metal, and pop music.
My advice is going for a purpose-built bass pedal instead of a guitar wah. I recommend the Dunlop CryBaby bass. The use is fairly easy: just press the pedal to activate and modulate the “wah” sound.
Bass envelope filter pedals
These provide a Wah-Wah sound but handle it automatically. Although these are a bit more complex to use than a simple Wah pedal, once you set the knobs, you can simply forget about it. For that reason, envelope pedals are known as “auto-wah” or “Q-wah.”
As all of them are so different, I’ll better refer you to a video tutorial to show you how these work more or less.
Just remember envelope filter pedals are like delicate china. It’s something you reserve only on very special occasions.
If you want to understand how this sounds, think of Red Hot Chilli Pepper’s Flea.
Bass delay Pedals
Bass delay pedals work just like guitar delay pedals. The effect duplicates the signal and plays it back with the dry signal with the timing-delay you set.
However, I don’t recommend these pedals as they are very hard to use with a bass. See, as the bass is the rhythmic foundation, setting a delay can quickly mess the whole song up. For this reason, I’m leaving delays out of my bass effect revies as well.
Either way, I can give you an example: No Shelter by Rage Against the Machine (year), played by bassist
I’m leaving out various bass effects that I consider either not necessary, too much for a beginner or intermediate player, or too complex. Aside from delay and envelop filters, I also left out octaves, EQ pedals, reverb, DI pedals, and others.
Bass reverb pedals
Reverb pedals add an extra dimension of sound with a much shorter delay than an actual delay pedal. It adds an extra ambiance and thickens the sound. It gives you the possibility to experiment with expansive, ethereal, and spacey effects. If this sounds like something you want to do, reverb is for you.
Bass octaver pedals
These pedals add an extra layer of sound by splitting the signal in two and pitch shifting the second signal an octave high. Some octaves can shift to the octave down below (sub-octave), which helps you get a fatter sound without detuning your bass.
Octave pedals are not as popular for bass players as they are for guitar players, especially because it might be really hard to find the right balance between low and mid frequencies. Even so, they represent an interesting way to shape your tone.
Octave pedals are great to tun your bass into a synth, so they are common in hip hop, R&B, trap, house, funk, and electronic music.
Bass Preamp / DI pedals
These pedals amplify your bass’s signal straight from the instrument pickups. It takes the volume up to the level required for recording (known as “line level”). The result is a stronger, cleaner, overall better signal going through the amp.
DI pedals are particularly useful when you plug the bass directly to a mixing desk or a console to record or play live.
DI boxes are really important when you connect your bass directly to a console instead of an amp.
Best bass effect pedal Reviews
It’s time to share my reviews of the top 10 best bass effect pedals 2020. These are all critically acclaimed products in the market according to various bass pedal reviews (like Amazon, Sweetwater and Musician’s Friend).
I filtered this with my personal knowledge and taste as a professional bass player to make it easier for you. Mostly, I took into consideration the quality of the effect, the sturdiness of the design, the effect kind, the ease of use, and the budget.
Boss Tu-3 Chromatic Tuner Pedal
Best bass pedal tuner (crossover)
The tuner must be somewhere on your pedalboard where you can see it and use it easily. This one is a Boss model that can help you quickly tune the bass, even as you play while improving your visual experience. It has a stylish and sturdy design ready for the road.
What I love about this tuner above every other is how it can deliver flat tuning up to five semitones. Flat tunning is supported by Guitar Flat Mode, which enables you to drop tunings up to 6 semitones below the standard E A D G pitch. It means it can support 7-string guitars and 6-string basses.
The unit also works as a mute for your instrument and has a true bypass mode to assure it won’t interfere with the signal.
Another unique feature it has is the “True Color” LCD providing a multi-color interface never seen in pedal tuners before. Plus, the display has a reflection function improving the experience. Overall, the LCD screen helps you see and track your tune as you play on dark scenarios. In fact, the screen is so bright you can practically see it anywhere, anytime.
Additionally, it features Ace-Pith and Stream Mode. Ace-Pitch allows you to flat-tune up to five semitones; Stream Mode
You’ll find this unit is ready for high-performance and heavy traveling.
The pedal ships with a built-in power supply and an output jack to plug in additional pedals.
Electro-Harmonix Delux Big Muff PI
Best bass fuzz pedal (crossover)
The Deluxe Big Muff PI is one of the most recent bass pedals by Electro-Harmonix. It delivers greater performance to modern bass players than their previous versions and provides plenty of tonal shaping options.
This is a fuzz pedal. It can boost your tone with the tone knob, and add some growl with the blend knob while erasing or preserving the original sound. It also has a sustain knob to adjust the amount of distortion.
Naturally, you can use the knob to play with a 100 % wet signal, a 100% dry signal, or a blend of the two. The range of the effect goes from a subtle growl to a full distorted bass.
Ad for the tone knob, it can add further variety to your bass by giving you deep bass all the way to high treble.
Additionally, it has an adjustable noise gate that takes care of unwanted noises when you crank up the blend and sustain knobs.
I personally love the noise gate, which is exclusive in this deluxe version. The noise gate erases the hum and other interferences when you crack the distortion up.
And it has something else I personally love:
- An input for both passive or active inputs (odB and -10dB input), so it can work just as good on basses with active pickups as it does on basses with passive pickups;
- A dedicated DI input, which means you can put this Big Muff at the start of your chain effects because a DI helps you clean and improve the overall quality of the signal, especially when recording;
- A foot-switchable filter crossover section that adds further tones as you press it;
- Direct output for parallel processing.
On the downside, the number of knobs and features turns it into a complex experience, so I’m sharing with you a simpler, more subtle and cheaper fuzz pedal down below…
EarthQuaker Devices Hoof Fuzz V2
Best beginner bass fuzz pedal (crossover)
The next option to consider is the Hoof Fuzz V2. It’s an analog pedal giving you a powerful sound with a much simpler interface than the EHX’s Big Muff series.
This is a crossover pedal. Remember, crossover pedals work equally good for both guitars and basses.
I personally love how sturdy this design is, because both the casing and the electronics ensures this is a pedal than can last forever on your pedalboard. The unit features hybrid Silicon / Germanium circuity and pairs it with maximum temperature stability to deliver a natural, smooth sustain.
More so, it boasts a variety of features that can enhance your performance, and, what’s best, with a friendly design.
The controls include level, fuzz, tone, and shift knobs. The shift knob goes from classic distortions to modern distortions. The tone goes from the bass to treble tones, and the fuzz knob varies from light to heavy fuzzes. And even when it seems so simple, it goes a long way in terms of versatility.
It has two downsides in my opinion. First, it can be too loud for some, and it’s especially loud with high output active pickups (like EMG pickups).
Also, if both these options are too expensive for you, you can simply go for a cheaper version of the Deluxe Big Muff, the EHX Big Muff, which is the best-budged bass fuzz pedal.
Darkglass Super Symmetry Compressor
Best bass compressor pedal
A sleek looking bass pedal, this Drakglass Super Symmetry Bass Compressor packs studio power and thus relieves the common mistakes of compressors (lowering the overall output of the bass and giving you a lifeless tone).
I love this particular model because it blends old-school rock&roll feel with a modern sound and a simplified experience.
Its various controls help you dial your dynamics precisely. The best feature is its blend knob, uncommon on compressor pedals. It enables you to mix clean and processed signals.
The gain control allows you to control the threshold, while the attack knob helps you set the time until the volume reduction begins. Finally, the output knob sets the volume of the compressed signal.
Furthermore, it offers multiple possibilities to explore, which includes 10 blue LEDs providing real-time visual feedback to guide you through its settings and give you a smooth tone as you play.
Overall, it gives you a natural, smooth and effective bass compression with studio power in a small casing that weighs but 1 pound. Use it right, and it can level the output on all of your strings without altering the tone.
If you want a simpler compressor experience, I guide you to the next item:
Aguilar TLC Bass Compressor
Best beginner compressor pedal
A compressor is an ideal pedal for any intermediate player and above. By this level, you’re likely combining different bass techniques making your sound a bit uneven.
The Aguilar TLC compressor is an essential pedal for any bass pedalboard. It will give you more snap, definition, and clarity as you go into solos, slap n’ pop, double thump, tapping, chords, slides, and general complex basslines.
As for controls, it features the standard knobs for compressors: level, threshold, attack, and slope (release).
It’s easy to use and features a top-quality sound. Many bassist players, including myself, consider the Aguilar TLC the best compressor pedal there is, and one of the best pedals overall. See, bass players like things easy, and this is as straightforward as it gets.
If you’re looking for a budget bass compressor, I recommend you go for the MXR Compressor, and straightforward pedal that works its magic easily and within a sturdy case.
Aguilar Chorusaurus Bass Chorus Pedal
Best bass chorus pedal
The Chorosaurus is an analog pedal providing top-quality chorus effect that goes well with any kind of bass.
It’s a compact, stylish pedal with a simple design that makes it easy for you to control the sonic output.
For controls, it has rate, width, and intensity controls to adjust the sound you want to create, plus a blend control for the ratio between wet and dry. It allows you to keep your low-end frequencies intact.
This pedal can give you the melodic presence you need whenever you need it. It offers you a warm, clear, rich tone you will surely love.
Its compact build might mislead you to believe this is a low-quality pedal- However, once you pair a bass and use it, even if it’s a low-quality bass, the lush sound coming out of this analog chorus will take your performance to a professional level.
Lastly, this pedal offers mono and stereo outputs plus a bypass switch. This bypass passes the signal along with the effects chain even if the battery dies.
However, it doesn’t have a true bypass switch, so it might produce some humming noise if you’re not careful.
I’m certain this item might be a little too expensive for some. Lucky for you, I have a great budget option for you, the Boss CEB-3, the best budget bass chorus pedal. It features a simple design, simple settings, and a sturdy case.
Jim Dunlop MXR Bass Envelope Filter
Best bass envelope filter
The analog MXR bass envelope filter from Jim Dunlop is an option that can take your sound to the next level. It’s a compact pedal with a simple design and pretty easy to use.
The body is made of quality, sturdy aluminum that ensures it lasts long periods of time. Plus, the circuitry withstands over-voltage and other accidents.
What I love about this filter is the separate dry knob, which enables you to adjust the level of the raw signal you want out of the amp or the mix. The FX level knob achieves a similar result.
The Decay and Q knobs can help you achieve a lot of tones, and the tone will remain intact when you turn on the true bypass switch.
The sensitivity knob will help you set the attack, which means how often it creates the “wah” sound for the passive. You can also adjust this pedal for both active or passive pedals.
I believe this is the pedal to go for when looking for an auto-wah. Although envelope filters are a bit complex, this is very easy to use and offers quick, amazing results.
If you’re looking for an easier and cheaper bass wah experience, take a look at the next item…
Jim Dunlop CryBaby Wah Pedal
Best bass Wah-Wah pedal
This is a purpose-built wah pedal for bass guitars which might be easier to use than the envelop filter. It needs you to press the expression pedal to active the wah, which albeit easier to set up, it requires more attention and a lot of timing.
It features a minimalistic design allowing you to learn, practice, explore, and innovate.
It’s optimized for bass frequencies so it keeps the deep frequencies intact. Plus, it has an auto-return switch you can turn on and off when you want your wah sounds to play solos and fills seamlessly.
It also has a potentiometer, a circuitry unit that helps you apply the wah only to mids and highs. It an awesome feature that ensures your bass will still sound fat and powerful with the wah effect.
Lastly, you get separate volume and Q controls to fine-tune the wah effect.
Overall, the bass CryBaby Wah enhances your performance and gives you greater versatility and the ability to create groovy basslines effortlessly. It’s great for funk music, but also for reggae, jazz, alternative rock, and pop genres.
On the downside, you might experience some volume drops when you come out of the wah effect.
Let’s now go to an even cheaper alternative that packs a wah effect, amongst other things…
Best bass multi-effects pedal
DigiTech tends to build budget, quality multi-effect pedals, and the DigiTech BP90 is one of them. It features the whooping amount of 27 bass effects and modulates the sound of 11 amps, 5 cabinets, and 5 stompboxes.
What’s best, the unit comes with a chromatic tuner plus a headphone jack so you can practice in silence. It means you can have this as a tuner for less money than the Boss tuner I shared and still have plenty of other effects you can use.
It all gives you plenty of possibilities and represents a great chance for beginner players to learn while also improving their sound for a budget. It’s not easy to use, though, not at all. It requires you to practice, get used to it, and learn about each effect it has.
Such effects include phaser, flanger, octaver, reverb, fuzz, distortion, overdrive, synth, chorus, and others. These don’t sound as good as individual pedals and, more so, it takes some time to set each one up.
It also offers an expression pedal to control the wah, the whammy, and the volume. Additionally, it features 100 preset allocations where you can save your sounds (a combination of amps, cabinets, and effects) and then recall them at any moment.
For this reason, I recommend this pedal only for practicing. If you want to take it to live shows, use it for the tuner and for a couple of effects you can switch fast with the presets. And if you use it while rehearsing with the band, feel free to experiment with the different sounds it offers.
Particularly, if you practice with this pedal, it has over 40 different drum patterns to help you with the rhythm, although this feature is a bit tricky to use.
Even so, most users online praise it for its overall quality and the performance boost it offers.
Considering its many features (including a perfectly okay chromatic tuner) and quality, I can say it offers a great value for its money. As I said before, it can be a great introduction to effects and a way to find out which pedals you need and want before investing too much money into the endeavor.
Lastly, let’s review my top choice, which is at the top of my list because it’s quite expensive and complex…
Darkglass Alpha Omega Bass Preamp and Overdrive
Best overall bass effect pedal
I consider the Alpha Omega the best bass pedal there is because of the number of essential features it offers. Also, because it looks unforgivingly awesome. If not the best, at least it’s the most versatile.
The Darkglass Alpha Omega Bass Preamp/Overdrive gives you a clean signal and a great variety of modern rock and metal bass textures, some of them with a warm, vintage flavor.
It has plenty of distortion flexibility because it offers two different overdrive circuits (Alpha and Omega) you can select by simply plugging the bass into the desired output. These overdrive channels also allow you to reach a vintage sound with the particular textures of vintage tube bass amps.
Additionally, you can blend these two channels with the mod knob and the toggle switch. There’s also a volume knob that sets the blend of the dry signal.
It also has a drive Mod control to help you select or mix between the two overdrive signals. Alpha offers a punchy sound, while Omega is a brutal output.
If you need extra presence, the unit features a bite control to boot mids and highs. You can choose the Growl option when you want increased low-end saturation and a fatter tone.
What’s best, as it’s a DI box, it also works as a sort of compressor by improving the sound.
Overall, this pedal works as a DI, as it cleans and improves the quality of the signal; and EQ, as it allows you to tweak low, mid, and high frequencies; and overdrive, with two different distortion channels.
If you have some budget to invest and want to get one pedal that can absolutely improve your sound and make you look like a rockstar who knows what he’s doing, this is the choice for you.
If you want a budget bass overdrive alternative, you can go for the Boss ODB-3.
Thank you for reaching the end of the guide. I hope I helped you make an informed decision about your next or first bass pedal.
If I were you, or if I were looking for my first bass pedals, I’d go for a budget compressor and a Big Muff fuzz -any Big Muff fuzz, even the Green Russian Big Muff.
Or, if you want to go straight to a professional level, go for the Alpha Omega pedal. Although this is more complex and expensive than most others, it will give you the best results over time.
Good luck! If you have any questions, leave them below!