A good bassist knows that your tone is definitely something worth being meticulous about, and there’s no better way to get a really great-sounding signal out of your instrument than by running it through a bass guitar preamp. This unit can be used to simply boost the signal, or shape the tone further via EQ, compression, and effects. Bass preamps come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and types, from units that integrate into amplifier heads to rack systems. We've chosen the best bass guitar preamps, each one listed here featuring a drive control that allows you to add some grit to your signal, EQ settings that give you the ability to shape the frequency of your bass signal, and they all offer footswitch options to give you hands-free control over your sound while playing, whether it’s through the product’s pedal status or additional footswitch for the rackmount devices.
Navigating through the vast realm of tonal possibilities in the world of bass guitars can be an intimidating endeavor in and of itself, so wouldn’t it make sense to go with a unit that is built to make getting to your final destination a whole lot easier? Enter the Eden WP-100 Navigator bass preamp, which comes stocked with anything you would need in a single rackmount unit. Read Full Review
Eden’s WP-100 Navigator bass preamp is a flexible tool that can be used both onstage and in the studio. A studio-quality compressor offers threshold and ratio controls, alongside tube and enhancement knobs to give you even more control of the character of the signal. The EQ here is semi-parametric, which gives you a wide range of directions to go in when manipulating the frequencies of your bass guitar. A footswitch also allows you to control the enhance, compressor, mute, and turbo boost features, making this ideal for gigs where you can’t necessarily turn knobs while playing. The unit also features a DI output control in the front, as well as outputs for both stereo and mono XLR.
Tech 21’s SansAmp RBI bass preamp expands from their popular Bass Driver DI pedal, offering bassists an unparalleled way to improve their tone and overall signal. A wide range of bass amp tones are at your fingertips using this rackmount unit. Read Full Review
The Tech 21 SansAmp RBI rackmount bass preamp opens up a world of possibilities for the bassist who needs a variety of tones to choose from. The preamp’s drive enables users to crank the gain/overdrive in their signal, while presence coaxes out the attack and harmonic content in the upper register. The RBI also comes with a dedicated Mid control to give you a tighter handle on the meat of your tone. The preamp’s Blend feature allows you to mix the direct signal from your bass guitar with the RBI’s SansAmp Tube Amplifier Emulation circuit. Also included is an Effects Loop, along with an accompanying 50/50 switch that allows you to configure that input in series or parallel.
The Tonebone Bassbone V2 provides two separate channels of bass tone that can be tweaked and boosted via the preamp’s parameter settings. This compact unit is also easy to travel with, as it weighs only 2.5 pounds. Read Full Review
Whether you’re a regularly gigging bassist or a studio session player, you know that it’s important to be able to capture a variety of tones in your performance. The Tonebone Bassbone V2 bass preamp is designed to do just that, with two channels that each feature their own powerful EQ settings and level controls. The preamp’s 3-switch stompbox design makes it easy to jump between channels as well as the control effects loop and boost. The Bassbone V2 also comes with a built-in DI, making it ideal for live and recording environments. The unit’s separately buffered tuner output works in conjunction with a mute footswitch that makes it easy for you to tune your instrument while onstage without letting the audience hear the process.
Tonebone’s Bassbone OD follows the design and concept of some of the other bass preamps in the company’s family tree, but jazzes things up with additional settings and parameter controls. Power your bass signal with two channels that can be sculpted via EQ, overdrive, boosts, and more. Read Full Review
Tonebone’s Bassbone OD bass guitar preamp provides two channels that you can use in one of two ways; you can run two separate bass guitars through it, or you can opt with one but have an instantly-switchable A/B setup for your sole signal. The unit features a bass overdrive effect that allows you to dial in just the right amount of bite to your tone. The OD’s drag control and PZB booster provides a variety of resistance levels which make it work well with whatever kind of bass you could imagine using with this preamp, including vintage instruments, acoustics, and other low-output axes. An 1/8 inch headphone amp has its own dedicated volume control, so you can still be in practice mode and sound great. The Bassbone OD has won over some of the premier bassists working in the industry today, including Rhonda Smith (Prince, Beyonce), Carlos Puerto (Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock), and Justin Meldal-Johnsen (Nine Inch Nails, Beck).
Scrambled might not exactly be the first term that you think of when trying to describe your ideal bass guitar tone, but after using Ampeg’s SCR-DI bass preamp pedal with Scrambler Overdrive, you just might be changing your tune. The aforementioned feature allows you to open up new doors of tonal possibilities, along with the other great preamp capabilities the unit has to offer. Read Full Review
Ampeg’s SCR-DI bass preamp pedal provides a quick and easy way to dial in the refined bass guitar sound that bassists have looked to the company for over the last few decades. Like all preamps, this unit has EQ and tone controls that allow you to fine-tune your signal till you hit the sweet spot. What sets the SCR-DI apart from the rest is its Bass Scrambler Overdrive, which can be used in a variety of ways; a tiny bit of drive brings out some subtle upper-level harmonics, while cranking it all the way up can result in some grinding, alt-rock sounding bliss. The unit also comes with an 1/8 aux input so that you can play along with signal routed from your computer, mp3 player, and more.