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Guitars & Accessories

Best Bass Pedals

While effects pedals may be more commonly associated with guitars, there are also numerous effects specifically designed to enhance and transform the sound of the bass guitar. These effects pedals can play a big part in the tone and style of bassists in a variety of musical genres; truth be told, most of popular music’s most prominent bass players owe part of their signature sounds to their effects. Navigating the sheer amount of bass pedals on the market can be a daunting task, but fear not, we’ve laid out some important guidelines for you to follow in our buyer’s guide provided below. 

Zoom B3 Bass Guitar Effects and Amp Simulator

Although the advancement of multi-effects processors has made dialing in multiple tones easier and more intuitive for players, many of us are still programmed to feel more comfortable with the traditional single stompbox layout. That’s where the Zoom B3 stands out from the rest of its contemporaries, as the LCD screens on this unit harken back to a time when everything was separated, it also gives a clear illustration as to how effects are being used and makes changing settings very simple. And you’ll have a lot of effects to play with because there are 99 in this unit, along with 12 amp models, all of which can be stored in the 100 user preset slots. Some of the factor presets have been designed by bassists who have changed the world with their tones, including Doug Wimbish (Living Colour), Victor Wooten (Bela Fleck & the Flecktones), David Ellefson (Megadeth), and more. An onboard looper pedal gives players 40 seconds to record a phrase and implement unlimited overdubbing. And an included software makes creating your own preset sounds on your computer very easy.

Boss ME20B Bass Guitar Multi Effects Pedal

BOSS has built its reputation by offering solid and easy-to-use effects pedals for both guitars and basses, and they have continued to build that legacy with their ME-20B bass multi-effects processor. This pedal features a wide range of effects, including a compressor, distortion, phaser, flanger, chorus, T-Wah, reverb, defretter, synth, and more. The unit also offers a BASS ENHANCE function that boosts the overall presence of your bass guitar, making it ideal for solos. All effects can be edited and saved in up to 30 different user memory locations. As if its internal workings weren’t impressive enough, the ME-20B also gives players a great deal of control with three foot switches, five real-time control knobs, and an expression pedal.

VOX STOMPLAB2B Modeling Bass Guitar Multi-Effects Pedal

The Vox Stomplab IIB’s appearance may make it look like a small toy, but the contents contained within make it anything but. 100 preset patches give you plenty to work with, drawing from 61 effect, amplifier, and cabinet models. Each of these components can be stored in one of the 20 user programs available in the unit, meaning you can really craft tones that can easily switch from one song to the next, making it ideal for live performances. The small size of the LED screen makes it perhaps a bit more of a challenge to navigate when compared to some of its larger counterparts, but the size of this unit is also a huge part of its appeal. This is definitely an ideal unit for bassists who travel frequently or don’t have much real estate available in their rig.

DigiTech BP90 Bass Guitar Multi-Effects Processor

The DigiTech BP90 gives players a bass multi-effects pedal that they can use by themselves or when jamming/recording with others. 27 effects are included in this compact pedal, alongside 11 amps, 5 cabinets, and 5 stompboxes. These models can be edited and tweaked to your preference, or you can use any of the 50 presets to quickly dial in a sound that fits what you’re looking for. One feature that makes the BP90 stand out is its drum machine, which gives bassists 40 different patterns that they can play along to; it's the perfect practice tool for when your drummer is running late. A chromatic tuner puts an easy way to keep your instrument sounding good right at your feet. And the built-in expression pedal of the BP90 gives you intuitive control over some of the wah, volume, and Whammy effects that DigiTech has built its reputation on.

Boss ME-50B Bass Multi-Effect Processor

The BOSS ME-50B bass multi-effects processor employs COSM modeling for its compressor/limiter and EQ. This feature gives players a strong foundation to dial in a tone that is going to sound impeccable even before it gets jazzed up with more expansive effects. Those effects are wide and varied, including some bass-centric settings like the Defretter, which instantly transforms your bass into a fretless-sounding instrument. The ME-50B’s Drive effects allow players to add some bite to their tone, with settings like “Muff Fuzz,” “Metal,” and “Bass Driver,” all of which can turn your bass into a full-blown assault. This unit also includes a looper that allows you to stack sounds, and even a Kick Drum function that offers the ability to tap in their own pattern so that you can practice along with the beat.

Electro-Harmonix Bass Big Muff Pi Distortion Pedal

Like its beloved brother-in-tone, the Electro-Harmonix Bass Big Muff Pi is the go-to pedal for bassists looking to add anything from a slight crunch to a full-blown, earth-shattering fuzz/distortion to their instrument’s signal. Its controls are simple enough as players can control the volume, tone, and sustain levels of the pedal via three dedicated knobs. Because it’s important that the low end frequency of the bass signal remain intact even when things are pushing into the deep end of distortion, the Bass Big Muff Pi also comes equipped with a mini-switch that triggers a bass boost. The pedal also offers dual outputs for both an effected and dry signal (making it ideal for recording). The Bass Big Muff Pi is also a durable piece of equipment, thanks to its rugged metal chassis build.

MXR M85 Bass Distortion Pedal

MXR teamed up with Fuzzrocious Pedals founder Ryan Ratajski to create their M85 bass distortion effects pedal. This unit provides two modes of classic-sounding distortion – the silicone diode option can give your bass tone an aggressive crunch, while the LED clipping mode provides a more open sound. Whichever path you choose, you can rest assured that your fundamental bass tone will remain full and unscathed by the processing, as the M85 primarily affects the higher frequencies of your signal. A high cut filter allows players to trim unwanted harmonics and overtones, while two separate controls for wet and dry effect levels provide a hands-on way to dial in the right amount of distortion.

Electro-Harmonix Bass Metaphors Compression/Distortion Pedal

Electro-Harmonix’s Bass Metaphors pedal may give you more than what you bargained for. This piece of gear isn’t just a bass distortion pedal, but also an EQ, compressor, and preamp all in one. A single distortion knob gives players the ability to crank up and get as dirty as they please, while dedicated knobs for treble, bass, and EQ level offer a more refined approach at sculpting the bass sound. The distortion effect itself can be switched on and off independently from the rest of the pedal’s functions via a footswitch. The Bass Metaphors is also housed in a tough die-cast chassis to ensure that this unit is actually as strong as the sound that it produces.

Boss DS1 Distortion Guitar Pedal

The BOSS DS-1 distortion pedal is a piece of gear that works great with guitars, basses, keyboards, and many other instruments. The simple, three-knob design of the DS-1 makes dialing in your tone a snap; the Tone knob allows you to brighten or darken the bass signal, while the Distortion adjusts how much overdrive the signal actually gets. The Level knob adjusts the output volume. Because this is a BOSS pedal, you’ll never have to worry about any reckless damage being inflicted on this unit; it’s built like a tank with a rugged metal enclosure.

Wampler Low Blow Bass Overdrive/Distortion Pedal

The Wampler Low Blow bass distortion pedal offers two approaches to overdriving your instrument’s signal. A Smooth mode is more of a traditional overdrive, while the Jagged mode is a full-on distortion. A 3-band EQ (with corresponding knobs for the bass, mids, and treble frequencies) allows for tight control of the overdriven or distorted sound. A Notch Filter switch allows players to keep their newly transformed tone under tighter control without having to do what all bassists fear the most – turning down the volume. Beyond all of the features that allow this pedal to enhance your sound, it’s also true bypass, meaning you won’t have to be concerned about the Low Blow detrimentally affecting your signal when it’s not in use.

Aguilar TLC Compressor Bass Effects Pedal

Aguilar has long been a favorite amongst bassists, as the company counts Adam Clayton (U2), Paul Turner (Jamiroquai), and John Patitucci (Chick Corea) as avid users of their pickups, preamps, amplifiers, cabinets, and effects. Their studio-grade compression is now available to bassists in a small pedal called the TLC Compressor. This unit utilizes Trans Linear Control circuitry to allow players to really fine-tune the dynamics of your sound. Four knobs is all that you need to dial in the right amount of control on your signal. A unique element in this pedal is the fact that this pedal will pass signal even after the battery dies – a real advantage for live shows where one dying pedal could potentially derail the whole operation.

MXR M87 Bass Compressor

MXR’s M87 bass compressor pedal provides a clear, clean, and transparent compression that is a welcome addition for any bassist looking to add a powerful yet simple effect into their rig. Simple knobs for release, attack, output, and input give players hands-on control to shape the direction of the effect. Ten gain-status LED lights make it easy to see when the compression threshold has been reached. The M87 also utilizes Constant Headroom Technology (CHT) to ensure clear performance and plenty of space. The compact size of the M87 also makes this pedal a welcome addition to any pedalboard that is running out of room.

Pigtronix PBC Philosopher Bass Compressor

Pigtronix’s Philosopher bass compressor pedal not only offers analog compression circuitry, but is also designed to work specifically well with the bass guitar. A blend knob provides the opportunity to work in parallel compression to preserve the natural string attack of your performance. The sustain that this unit is capable of producing is sure to appeal to any bassist who likes their notes to ring on infinitely. The Philosopher also provides harmonic distortion that is made especially for low frequency. This pedal is also true bypass, so you never have to worry about your tone getting impaired when the unit is not in use inside your effects chain.

Seymour Duncan Studio Grade Bass Compressor Pedal

The Seymour Duncan Studio Bass Compressor pedal doesn’t play around, as its straightforward title might indicate. Bassists now have studio-grade compression at their feet in a compact and easy-to-use pedal. The range that this unit is capable of producing allows players to do everything from subtle compression to completely squashed tones. A blend knob gives players the ability to dial in a mix of the original signal along with the compressed, affected tone. Meanwhile, a 3-position EQ switch allows you to specify just how you want your compression to sound, with Mid/Full/High settings readily available. The pedal is true-bypass, so even when the pedal isn’t being used it won’t affect your signal in your rig.

Electro-Harmonix Bass Metaphors Compression/Distortion Pedal

Electro-Harmonix’s Bass Metaphors pedal may give you more than what you bargained for. This piece of gear isn’t just a bass distortion pedal, but also an EQ, compressor, and preamp all in one. A single distortion knob gives players the ability to crank up and get as dirty as they please, while dedicated knobs for treble, bass, and EQ level offer a more refined approach at sculpting the bass sound. The distortion effect itself can be switched on and off independently from the rest of the pedal’s functions via a footswitch. The Bass Metaphors is also housed in a tough die-cast chassis to ensure that this unit is actually as strong as the sound that it produces.

Boss EQ-20 Advanced Equalizer Pedal

Boss EQ-20 Advanced Equalizer Pedal

The BOSS EQ-20 equalizer isn’t just designed to work wonders on bass guitars, but it certainly does the job well when it comes to controlling the frequency of the low end. It’s the world’s first programmable 10-band graphic digital EQ pedal, and offers nine internal memories that allow players to store their own settings for quick and easy recall. The unit employs A/D-D/A converters that maintain a superb audio quality. With two stompboxes, ten sliders, and a LCD screen, there’s plenty to work with here. But everything is designed to be intuitively simple, so you won’t have to worry about getting lost while sculpting your sound.

MXR M108 10 Band Graphic Equalizer Pedal

MXR’s M-108 equalizer pedal has earned a spot in the rigs of artists of all types including bands like Snarky Puppy, Slipknot, and Mogwai can all be counted as fans. Offering ten bands of graphic EQ, this unit works great with bass, but can also be applied to guitar, keyboards, or any electronic instrument. The M-108 offers 12dB of cut or boost, and also features input gain and output volume sliders. The graphics glow in the dark, which makes it ideal for the touring musician who plays in dark clubs and bars. Its die-cast zinc housing also makes it ideal for the road warrior who doesn’t want to fret over the safety of their pedals. Rest assured, this pick is definitely built to last.

Boss GEB-7 Bass Equalizer Pedal

The BOSS GEB-7’s frequency range goes from 50Hz to 10kHz, making it an ideal tool for bass guitars. This unit offers full range response, regardless of what kind of bass this bass equalizer pedal is being used with 4, 5, and 6-string bass guitars all responding great to this unit. In addition to the EQ that this pedal provides, it can also be used as a boost or cut to your signal using the level control knob. A single nine-volt battery is all that it takes to power this pedal, though this pick can also work in conjunction with an optional PSA-Series AC adapter. And like most BOSS pedals, the GEB-7 comes with a five-year warranty to protect your purchase should anything go awry.

Behringer BEQ700 Bass Graphic Equalizer Pedal

Behringer’s BEQ700 bass equalizer pedal gives bassists hands-on control over the 50Hz to 10kHz frequency range. Boosting the lower end of this range is more often than not felt rather than heard. This can result in some serious room-shaking sounds. This unit runs off a single nine-volt battery, or can be powered by an optional PSU-SB DC power supply. The pedal’s electronic on/off switch provides noise-free use. A Status LED light not only lets users know when the effect is turned on, but also offers a battery check.

Whirlwind FXEQ10BP Bass Ten Equalizer Effects Pedal

The Whirlwind Bass Ten equalizer pedal offers 10 bands of EQ to allow bassists to sculpt their sound with precision. This unit was designed by Tony Gambacurta, who many have dubbed the Guru of modern EQ. The pedal also comes with a strong preamp function which can be used to boost signal, as well. Having all ten bands controllable by sliders also gives a great visual cue as to how the changes to settings affect your sound. The transparent sonics of this unit also do little to detrimentally color your tone, making it an ideal addition that only adds and doesn’t take away from your sound.

EBS UniChorus Bass Chorus Pedal

The EBS UniChorus offers so much more than its small, compact size might indicate to the naked eye. Far beyond just a chorus pedal, this unit also has modes that offer flanger as well as pitch mod modes. Two simple knobs allow you to control the rate and depth of your selected effect. This unit is not just true bypass, but also offers true analog signal processing, ensuring that your tone is pure when the pedal is on and completely unaffected when it’s off. The pedal’s stereo output allows you to really capture the full range of the effects for when you’re recording or playing live.

Boss CEB-3 Chorus Pedal

BOSS pedals tend to be simple to operate and navigate, and the CEB-3 bass chorus pedal is no exception to this rule. This unit has been designed specifically with bass guitars in mind, and its onboard parameter controls are very straightforward. Rate and depth knobs are rather standard as far as chorus controls go, and each one gets a knob here. A low-filter knob can be used to avoid any muddiness while an effect level knob lets you control just how much of the affected signal can be heard in the mix. Like most BOSS pedals, this unit comes with a five-year warranty to protect your investment.

MXR M83 Bass Chorus Deluxe

The MXR M83 Bass Chorus Deluxe pedal is drive by pure analog bucket-brigade technology, which surely accounts for the classic, pure sound that this unit is capable of conjuring. Beyond the standard knobs chorus pedals tend to employ, the M83 also features Flanger and X-Over buttons. Flanger adds an extra effect to the mix here, while the X-Over mode decreases modulation in low frequencies at 100Hz, which makes it perfect for parts that live in the high-end of the instrument while at the same time keeping the low-end tight and under control. This pedal also features separate bass and treble controls, so you can apply the effect to your liking. There's also an internal switch that allows you to toggle stereo output.

Tech 21 Bass Boost Chorus

Tech 21’s Boost Chorus Bass pedal gives players a wide variety of options when it comes to shaping the chorus effect on their bass guitar. Six knobs provide quite a range of parameter control. Particularly notable is the Detune knob, which allows you to adjust the pitch of the affected signal, a task that can really bring about some lush chorus effects. The onboard Multi Voice switch on this pedal adds dimension by thickening the sound with additional choral voicings. The pedal can be powered by a single 9V battery, or an optional DC power supply. The Boost Chorus Bass pedal is also completely constructed from metal, giving it a very durable, heavy-duty build.

Aguilar Chorusaurus Bass Chorus Pedal

The Aguilar Chorusasaurus chorus pedal brings an all-analog approach in the way that it applies its effect to bass guitars. An analog bucket-brigade technology can be controlled via width, rate, intensity, and blend knobs. The latter knob allows players to find the right mix of the original signal and the affected, chorus tone. The output jack on this pedal is mono and stereo, giving you some options as to how you want to send your tone out, being especially useful for an effect as wide and lush as a chorus. The gig-saver bypass on this pedal is also useful, as it will allow signal to pass through it even if the battery dies, which makes it totally reliable, even when it’s switched off!

Chunk Systems Octavius Squeezer Analog Bass Synth Pedal

The Chunk System Octavius Squeezer bass synth pedal boasts an analog-driven build and design that was made specifically with the bass guitar in mind. The unit offers 50 digital presets that can be adjusted via the pedal’s onboard knobs. A backlit, 16-character LCD screen allows easy viewing for all of the presets and controls, as well as a look into the pedal’s built-in tuner and metronome. In addition to the synth sounds, the Octavius Squeezer also offers fuzz, envelope filter, and octaver effects. The pedal is also a true bypass unit, so when it’s not in use it will have no discernible effect on your bass guitar’s tone.

Electro-Harmonix Bass MicroSynth XO Analog Synthesizer Pedal

The Electro-Harmonix Bass Micro Synthesizer pedal emulates the sounds of the past and is conversely built with an all-analog design aesthetic in mind. The pedal features adjustable filter resonance and attack time controls, which can help truly transform the tone from sounding like a bass to something different altogether. Start and stop filter frequency sliders give players the ability to adjust the rate of the filter’s sweep direction and speed. A four voice mixer section also offers controls for adjusting the sub octave, original, octave up, and square wave voices; the latter option can also be utilized to provide a distorted tone. While this pedal doesn’t come with any presets like many other multi-effect pedals do, it’s certainly capable of producing a wide range of sounds that can rival any preset-toting package.

Boss SYB-5 Bass Synthesizer Pedal

The BOSS SYB-5 bass synth pedal packs 11 internal synth sounds into its compact, trademark-BOSS style housing. All of the synth sounds are based on variations of three oscillator waves (Saw, Square, and Pulse) as well as filters that modulate based around the envelope and LFO settings. The filter cutoff and LFO rate can also be controlled hands-free via an optional EV-5 Expression Pedal (sold separately). The SYB-5’s onboard pedal allows players to hold a note while playing a bass phrase on top of it, which is great for the musician who wants to jam out while accompanied by themselves. Like all BOSS pedals, this unit is designed for durability, with its rugged, tank-like build. And it also comes with a five-year warranty to protect your investment.

Behringer BSY600 Bass Synthesizer Pedal

Bassists can access a wide range of classic synth sounds using the Behringer BSY600 bass synth pedal. The unit’s Real Sound Modeling (RSM) processor is built off of DSP technology and sophisticated algorithms designed to mimic real acoustic environments. Users can get started instantly with 11 Saw, Square, and Pulse synth waveforms. Mode, Decay/Rate, Resonance, Direct, Effect, and Frequency controls on the pedal provide further sound sculpting possibilities. The unit also features a Pitch Hold feature that allows you to hold and loop the tone signal, and then play on top of it. Separate outputs in the BSY600 give you greater control in routing both the dry and wet signal of the pedal into your live mixing console, recording interface, or amplifier.

Digitech DOD-MEATBOX sub synth guitar effect pedal

The DOD Meatbox bass synth pedal is definitely capable of boosting the low end of your bass signal, but that’s not where the fun stops. The pedal is also able to produce distortion and can seamlessly sculpt the sound of your signal using the unit’s interactive EQ controls. The Meatbox’s Octave control balances the mix of the subharmonic signal to the dry, unaffected signal, while the Sub control adjusts the boost or cut of that subharmonic frequency. Meanwhile, the Low knob provides similar adjustments to the low-frequency band of your signal. The pedal is also equipped with a TRS jack that gives players the ability to route a split signal of the octave/sub sound and the dry signal, which gives you even more control of your sound whether in a live setting or during recording. And unlike the original FX32 that this pedal is based on, the Meatbox is a true bypass, so your rig’s signal will never be compromised when the unit is not in use.

Buyer's Guide

 

Bass Pedal Buyer's Guide

Sting. Flea. Victor Wooten. Les Claypool. These are just some of the bass players whose styles have been greatly affected by the use of bass pedals. But regardless of whether you’re a bonafide rock star, an aspiring musician, or anywhere in between, bass pedals generally serve to cut through the mix onstage or to help translate a musical idea in a way that has its own unique character.

Reading reviews is an excellent way to determine whether a pedal is worth your purchase but trying a pedal out for yourself is even better. Beyond both of those methods, having a good understanding about the functional purpose of different bass pedals will put you in the best position to find one right for you.

Bass Pedal Types

Octave Pedals
Bass players already cover musical territory that lives deep in the bottom end of the mix, but that doesn’t mean that bassists need to be limited by the range of their instrument. Enter the octave pedal, which technically falls under the “pitch shifter” umbrella of effects. Octave pedals split the bass signal into two separate octaves (one above the played note and one below). The resulting sound can often resemble the tone of a synthesizer; basslines played through an octave effect can also bring an even greater amount of rumble to a part.

Octave pedals are also often equipped with a distortion function, which can result in a fuzzy, thick tone. The sounds generated through experimentation with an octave pedal are often utilized in genres such as dub or reggae music, as well as songs/styles requiring the bass to sound like a synthetic instrument. 

Envelope Filter Pedals
Envelope filter pedals function similarly to wah pedals in they sweep through the frequency range of the instrument’s signal. The effect can subsequently make the bass sound thinner or wider. But while a wah pedal’s resulting sound is determined by how far forward or back the pedal is rocked, an envelope filter functions automatically, without needing any movement with your feet.

The fluctuation in frequency sweep is usually determined by the actual changes in volume coming from the signal flow. This effect can be used to give bass parts a synth-like, growling sort of sound which is distinctive and effective in filling out the bottom end of a song. Groups like Parliament-Funkadelic, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Nine Inch Nails have all run bass guitars through envelope filter pedals on songs to great effect.

Overdrive Pedals
Simply put, a bass guitar running through any sort of overdrive/distortion pedal rumbles the room in a way unlike any other. By overdriving the signal, the sound is boosted and given a stronger (often gnarly-sounding) tone. While fuzz pedals, overdrive pedals, and distortion pedals all have their own slight differences, they generally give the bass tone a sound that is fuller and possesses more low-end.

These pedals also allow bassists to tweak the treble, mid, and bass tones, as well as control the amount of overdrive added to the signal. Great modern examples of an overdriven bass tone include Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Around the World,” the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage,” and Metallica’s “Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth).” 

Chorus Pedals
Chorus falls under the umbrella of a modulation effect, and can be used on bass parts to give them a shimmering (or “chorus-like”) sound. Chorus pedals duplicate the sound of the original output signal and alter it just slightly enough so it sounds like the note is being voiced by multiple sources. This effect allows the notes to ring out just enough to approximate an echo without going into full-blown delay territory.

Bassists like jazz virtuoso Jaco Pastorius have utilized chorus to give the bass a distinct flavor and character that can really make the instrument sing, especially when employed in the higher register. When combined with other effects such as distortion, chorus bass pedals can truly transform the sound into something else entirely.

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