Updated on 11.05.2021
While it’s true that most of the stompbox-related fun is enjoyed by electric guitarists, there’s still plenty of room for pedals specifically made for bass – although technically, most if not all guitar pedals also work well with bass. This guide will help you find the best bass pedals for you.
Are bass pedals necessary?
That’s the question many beginner bass players ask themselves, and the answer is “no.” This being said, effects like EQ and compression (which can also be found embedded in some bass amps) can greatly help dial in effective bass tones, and the latter can fix the inconsistent dynamics of beginners.
What pedals should every bass player have?
The instrument’s role in rock music (and pretty much any other genre) is confined to a range of frequencies that requires consistency rather than the colorful palette of sonically uneven possibility linked to the creative use of effects. If your amp doesn’t have quality on-board EQ and compressor, having one or two quality pedals dedicated to those functions will greatly help your tone. Other popular effects for bass are distortion and fuzz, but also pitch shifting and chorus – perhaps the only two “embellishment” effects that are used on electric bass. Any other kind of effect can be used on bass for creative purposes.
A Buyer’s Guide to the Best Bass Pedals
In this article, we’ll offer you several shortlist of the best pedals for bass organized by effect type, in the order you would normally place them on your pedalboard.
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Best Bass Envelope Filter Pedals and Wahs
If you are wondering why we start with filter pedals, we’ll quote our friends at EqrthQuaker devices when they say that “Wah-wahs and filters have a wide frequency response and full dynamic range which most players will want to preserve, which is why these effects are most commonly found at the front of the chain.” They can also produce loud peaks that you would want to tame with a compressor or a distortion placed later in the chain.
Here’s a shortlist of the best filter and wah pedals for bass:
Best Preamp/DI Bass Pedals
Preamp/DI pedals for bass are an extremely popular format because they do a bunch of useful things at once: they compress your signal and distort it a little if you wish, they EQ it, and they send it out an XLR out so that you can record or play direct without an amp. Some include extra stuff like a noise gate or a Aux-in and headphones out. If you are a no-frills bass player, one of these pedals may be all you need to get enough options in the depth, dynamics and tone realms to cover any sonic need.
Best EQ Pedals for Bass
Since the palette of effects delivered by an electric bass is rather limited (at least compared to a guitar), an equalizer can add a lot of range to your tone, allowing you to adapt to sonic environments that require a deeper rather than more mid-rangey or “cutting” bass sound. A precise EQ pedal can also be useful to cut out the mid-low frequency occupied by chugging distorted guitars so that both instruments sound more defined and don’t generate unpredictable frequency accumulations/cancellations.
Best Bass Compressor Pedals
This category answers the question: “what pedal should every bass player have?” Consistency is the paramount quality of a good bass track, and a good compressor can help immensely in that department, by evening out the loudest and quietest parts of your performance. Few bass players don’t use a compressor – and only extremely skilled players can sound dynamically consistent without one.
These are the top choices:
Best Overdrive/Distortion Bass Pedals
The saturation provided by an overdrive or a distortion pedal on the bass’ low frequencies generates harmonics higher up in the frequency spectrum that make the bass lines more audible. The extra volume also works well in parts of a song that require some kind of push (in most cases, the chorus). Two reasons why having one of these pedals on your board might be a good idea.
Best Fuzz Pedals for Bass
If the devices in the previous category tend to boost the mids of the bass, a fuzz pedal will add harmonics pretty much across the entire frequency spectrum above the note you play – including the high end. A Dry/Wet knob for these pedal is absolutely essential, to avoid losing the uber-important low-end, the bass’s natural sonic environment!
Best Octave Bass Pedals
Adding octaves on top or bottom of your bass note is one of the few creative licenses bassists can indulge in, and can produce some really intriguing results. A lower octave will create earth-shattering lows that will make the wall tremble, while higher octaves add legibility to the tone. By the way, you don’t need to pick between octave up and octave down, some pedals let you do both – which sounds great when there’s no electric guitar in the way!
Best Bass Chorus Pedals
Why on earth would you want a modulation pedal, which messes up with your low-end frequencies’ phase, on bass? How about BECAUSE IT SOUNDS GREAT AND NIRVANA DID IT? I rest my case. (By the way a Dry/Wet balance with clean-signal emphasis on the low frequencies will avoid phase cancellations on the low-end, for a more consistent sonic foundation).
Best Synth Bass Pedals
YES, modern technology has figured out a way to make your electric bass sound like a synth. Not only that’s a lot of fun, but it also allows a little bit of sonic variety for an instrument that’s by definition frequency-constrained. The pedals in this list can deliver a range of electronic-sounding bass sounds. We’d recommend one even just for personal entertainment!
You can find other pedals for bass in Delicious Audio’s bass pedals category.
Oct 18, 2021
The Blossom Point from Surfy Industries has been delighting guitarists by offering the vintage Fender “brown sound” in a pedal size unit, but bass players are also finding the Presence knob and circuit of this amp enhancer give their instrument a fuller, thicker sound.
Oct 18, 2021
I’ve heard a lot of bass players reaching out about the Rude Tech’s 3MuF-14. Because of its unique tone stack, when you set a muff’s tone knob at 10 o-clock or below, it acts as a low-pass filter for frequencies under 1.1 kHz. Or, you could just flip the tone-bypass switch and let all the bass frequencies shine through. Plus, it’s got a Civil War circuit mode that people tout for its bass response.
Oct 18, 2021
I would love for you to do an article on the Tone Of The Gods pedal. Its been almost one year since its release and since your first mention of the pedal on this website. Check out the fantastic list of tone demos on the pedals website now from some of the best pedal demo guys on youtube. http://www.toneofthegods.com
Mark Huizenga says:
Oct 18, 2021
The MojoHand Mr-O is a phaser that works nicely on bass and has a 4/6 stage selector. Also the new MojoHand Clarity compressor is clean and simple with a Mix knob to get the compression aspect dialed in just right.
Oct 18, 2021
Vongon Paragraphs lowpass filter works well with bass! The filter enunciates the low frequencies and the envelope generator enables you to get sounds similar to a synthesizer. The video linked below is a bass demo with these sounds.
Example video here: https://youtu.be/0UvkTxrNJU0
Oct 19, 2021
The LOVE BUZZ is really a bomb on the bass, too the highly sought-after response frequency which, even in cases of extreme saturation, maintains a constant sound presence capable of holding its own in a mix with other instruments.
Check out the demo on BassTheWorls channell:
Pete Fenech says:
Oct 19, 2021
The 20/20 Distortion Wah recently got a great review by The Bass Channel. The Distortion Circuit has a good amount of low end and high mids presence. Smooth yet Grindy and similar to the Geddy Lee Sans Amp YYZ tone wise. Our Classic Power Fuzz Wah and 20/20 Power Fuzz Wah are also great choices for Bass.
Oct 22, 2021
BECOSFX CompIQ Twain Dual-Band / Stacked Compressor for Guitar and Bass
BECOSFX CompIQ STELLA Pro Compressor Pedal for Guitar and Bass
BECOSFX CompIQ MINI Pro Compressor Pedal for Guitar and Bass
BECOSFX CompIQ MINI ONE Pro Compressor Pedal for Guitar & Bass
Paolo De Gregorio says:
Oct 26, 2021
Note to self: look into MXR M-85 and Fuzzrocious Heliotropic.
Paolo De Gregorio says:
Nov 5, 2021
Mooer Bass Sweeper
Gallien-Krueger PLEX 4-Band Active Bass Preamp Pedal
Mesa Boogie Subway Bass DI/Preamp