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Guitars & Accessories

Best Bass Varitone Switches

The varitone introduces a useful way to manipulate the frequencies of a guitar signal. Introduced into the market in 1959 by Gibson, the varitone switch acts as a notch filter that passes the signal through capacitors that remove or reduce the specified frequency. Though they were first prominent in electric guitars (B.B. King’s classic Lucille guitar is one of the more prominent axes to feature one), it wasn’t long before bassists joined the party, with the first bass varitone switch being put into the Les Paul Signature bass in the early 1970's. Today, the bass varitone switch is still something of a rare find, but we’ve complied a list of the best ones available today, with each one listed here offering at least three different tonal settings to switch between, they can be installed at home without having to take into a shop for professional attention, and they also work with a multitude of separate capacitors to provide the wide tonal range that they provide.

Platinum Lab V6B Varitone

Platinum Lab V6B Varitone

The Platinum Lab V6B Varitone switch comes from the folks at Rothstein Guitars. Designed to work specifically for bass guitars, the V6B features five tonal filters to give you plenty of options to play with when crafting your sound. The unit is also true bypass, so your original signal won’t be tarnished by the implementation of this varitone switch when it is not in use. Installation is easy, with all that's required being two wires get connected. The V6B also comes with detailed instructions for those who need further guidance.

Stellartone ToneStyler Bass

Stellartone ToneStyler Bass

Forget that old traditional tone control on your bass guitar – you know, the one with just one lone capacitor that just isn’t giving you enough tonal abilities. Here comes Stellartone to save the day with their ToneStyler varitone switch. The ToneStyler provides 14 different capacitors that all are equipped to shape the highs and mids of your signal’s frequency range, while instilling the power and fidelity of the original tone. Choose between 16 different settings, including one that offers no capacitor and one that emulates the tone of a wide-open standard control. With such a wide range available at your fingertips, the Stellarstone ToneStyler provides bassists with a whole new palette of tones to play with.

CertainBass Varitone

CertainBass Varitone

Mark Certain is definitely bold when he boasts that his CertainBass Varitone is the very best varitone on the planet, but when examining the range of tones that the unit is capable of producing, it doesn’t seem all too outlandish. There are six positions available; the first position is a flat signal, while 2-4 provide the classic tones of premiere bassists Jaco Pastorious and James Jamerson. The fifth position provides a scoop of the midrange that brings the tone over into Stanley Clarke territory, and the final position emulates a P-bass or any other type of single pickup bass. The CertainBass is passive and requires no battery. To top it all off, the unit comes with a lifetime warranty.

Santellan Sounds Elek-Trix Varitone

Santellan Sounds Elek-Trix Varitone

Santellan Sounds’ Elek-Trix varitone switch has been designed to bring out a new range of sounds for Fender Jazz and P-bass guitars. Installation is simple and requires no soldering; the Elek-Trix’s Terminal Block allows you to connect to your axe quickly and easily. The P-Bass version of this varitone switch provides four different settings to choose from, ranging from a dark vintage tone to a more bright and modern sound. The Jazz bass option offers similar modern and vintage sounds, as well as a blender control to create a mix of both sounds. Santellan stocks their gear with top-quality parts; the incorporation of elements from trusted brands such as Panasonic, Oak-Grigsby, and CTS have all been selected to ensure that your sound quality is never compromised.

Carfrae Customs 6-Way Varitone PLUS

Carfrae Customs 6-Way Varitone PLUS

Carfrae Customs’ 6-Way Varitone PLUS can help bring out tones from your bass guitar that might have seemed impossible at one point. Operating out of Des Moines, IA, the company offers an attentive, hands-on approach that one can expect from smaller companies/manufacturers. Installation is simple, and the folks at Carfrae are also available to send wire markings and diagram instructions along with the item to help make the entire process even smoother. Once installed, your bass guitar will have six different tonal options to choose from. In addition to being a great addition to a bass guitar, the 6-Way Varitone PLUS can also be calibrated with your 6-string electric guitar too.

Sean Kramer
I'm a guitarist/music producer with 18 years of experience playing on-stage, in the studio, and everywhere in between. I have toured and recorded on projects both independent and major, in styles such as rock, pop, funk, hip hop, electronic, and more. My axe of choice is probably always going to be the Fender Stratocaster, but I've been known to pick up other guitars when the music calls for it. I'm a big fan of using a multitude of effects (both hardware and software-driven) to manipulate the sound and atmosphere of an instrument. In addition to playing on records, I have also contributed to the score/soundtrack for shows and spots on MTV and ESPN, as well as for a variety of independent films, web series, and television shows.
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