7 Best Bass Guitar Pedals 2024

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So, you’ve got the start of a bass rig, and now you need some pedals. Well, consider yourself lucky, because this article will give you some ideas for pedals to add to your pedalboard. 

Read on to discover some top picks from a wide range of different effect-related families. No matter what genre of music you play, you’ll find something of value that can expand your palette of sounds. 

Source Audio C4 – Best Overall

Source Audio C4

Are you somebody that desires to have access to a platform ripe for the creation of new customized sounds? The Source Audio C4 (see price on Sweetwater, Amazon) is a must-have for any bass player who enjoys mind-blowing effects. 

At the core, the C4 is essentially a synthesizer pedal, with 6 different preset functions pre-programmed at the factory. These 6 presets are divided into 2 banks, selectable by pushing the “Alt” switch at the top of the pedal. 

There is a 3-way switch to change the operating modes between circle, square, and triangle. Each mode has a pair of control knobs that affect various adjustable parameters specific to each mode’s preset effect.

Up until now, you probably think that the C4 sounds pretty basic. However, the C4 has much more capability under the hood than what is readily apparent. 

For starters, the C4 allows you to create customized effects in Source Audio’s proprietary software. A massive online library is also available, consisting of effects created by other users in the Source Audio C4 community. 

You can hook the C4 to a MIDI controller, allowing you to program 128 different effects presets. It does allow the creation and saving of effects directly on the pedal without the need for additional MIDI controllers. 

As a synthesizer, the C4 offers:

  • 24 different filters
  • 14 LFOs
  • 11 envelopes
  • 16-step sequencers
  • Modulation effects

A pedal with so much to offer wouldn't be worth much if it couldn’t handle the rigors of everyday use. The C4 is housed in aluminum and is sure to be able to take the stresses of a touring musician. 

Some people prefer true bypass, while some prefer an analog buffered bypass. The C4 has a convenient switch, allowing you to choose your preferred method of operation.

As far as input and output go, the C4 offers both mono and stereo connections. A USB port is provided, allowing for easy integration when customizing the pedal’s presets.

The C4 requires a standard 9V DC power adapter for operation. Source Audio does include a power adapter with a more-than-suitable current supply.

Why Is The Source Audio C4 The Best Bass Guitar Pedal?

Do yourself a favor and really allow yourself to marinade in the numerous capabilities that the C4 provides. It doesn’t take long to realize that the C4 offers nearly limitless possibilities when it comes to tones and effects. 

In a way, it was almost as if Source Audio asked guitarists and bassists what they wanted in a pedal. And, rather than cut any corners, Source Audio achieved that aim and simultaneously shattered any expectations. 

When it comes down to it, this is a pedal that you’ll continually find a use for years to come. If you’re running short on inspiration, the community library of effects ensures there’s always something new to try out. 

That one feature, alone, makes the C4 worth every penny of its list price. But the ability to program a MIDI controller in conjunction with the pedal is can make anyone stagger in disbelief. 

Think about it, you’d have about the equivalent of what an electronic DJ is working with on the stage. If you’re a looping artist, the C4 is undeniably going to become a valuable asset in your arsenal. 

You would think that something with this kind of capability would take up the size of a gigantic pedalboard. If this was the year 2006, you could make a safe bet that it probably would have been that large. 

Instead, the C4 is relatively the same size as any other standard-issue guitar pedal (think Boss pedal size). Having this capability in a small housing means you won’t have any issues making space for it on a pedalboard. 

If you’re having trouble justifying the price, just know that it’s a certainty that the C4 is worth it. So many other pedals cost more than this and offer just a fraction of the capability.

The C4, on the other hand, is literally something that you could easily use for the rest of your life. Loading different effects from the library is essentially the same as going out and buying new pedals. 

Except, with the C4, you’re making one payment upfront for endless possibilities. Anyone who is into creating unique effects will find this to be an ideal platform.

The C4 has been incredibly popular with both guitarists and bass players. It’s sure to reign as effects pedal royalty for years to come. 

Electro-Harmonix POG2 – Best Premium

Electro-Harmonix POG2

Looking for a powerful tool to completely alter the sound of your bass? The Electro-Harmonix POG2 (see price on Sweetwater, Guitar Center) is a time-tested solution for tone-shaping. 

At first glance, the POG2 likely seems a bit complicated to the untrained eye. However, spending just a few minutes with the pedal will give glimpses of the true capabilities it has to offer.

As you have probably read on the pedal itself, the POG2 is a polyphonic octave generator. That’s essentially a fancy way of saying that it has the ability to produce multiple octave ranges. 

The POG2’s interface is comprised nearly completely of movable sliders, adjusting levels for:

  • Octave up (both 1 and 2 octaves above pitch)
  • Sub-octaves (both 1 and 2 octaves lower than pitch)
  • Dry signal output

Just this section alone can produce some results that are sure to raise a few eyebrows. Electro-Harmonix didn’t stop there and instead added some other unique features, including sliders for:

  • Attack
  • Low-pass filter
  • Detune level

If you prefer, the POG2 does allow for the effects to be applied to the dry bass signal. You will also have a button to select the Q mode of the low-pass filter.

Due to the nature of the pedal itself, Electro-Harmonix did everybody a solid favor and provided preset capabilities. 8 different presets can be programmed, allowing you to easily recall those awesome combinations you came up with during experimentation.

The POG2 does have a 2-channel configuration. One footswitch engages the pedal as normal, with an additional footswitch provided for preset recall. 

A standard 9V DC power supply is required for operation but does come included with the pedal. 

Is The Electro-Harmonix POG2 Worth Its Price?

The POG2 is incredibly iconic, although it’s probably more identifiable by looks than by sound. However, chances are more than likely that your ears have encountered the POG2 without you knowing it. 

Ever since its release, the POG series has been a massive hit, especially among guitarists. It’s usually the go-to pedal for moments that require a synthy edge with maybe a hint of an organ. 

And, to be fair, it might take a bit of time to find something beyond the sound of an organ. There are camps of people who feel that the “organ sound” is all the POG2 is good for.

This leads us to the question: is this pedal worth its price? Compare it to the Source Audio C4, and you might think that it isn’t. 

You don’t have an infinite amount of tonal possibilities here, and it’s going to cost you a small fortune. Sure, for most people, a pedalboard addition like this won’t make sense on paper. 

Plug one in, however, and you’ll realize that there is more on offer here than what you might initially believe. For an octave pedal, the POG2 has some of the best note tracking on the market. 

Plus, you’ll be surprised at how much the levels for attack, low-pass filter, and detune affect the overall sound. Lowering the attack is especially tasty when you want a gentle synth swell at the beginning of your notes.

While some digital pedals do offer more versatility, the POG2 is great for the person who works best hands-on. There’s no software to have to worry about in order to unlock certain tones, just plug it in and play. 

For some, that kind of simplicity makes the POG2 accessible enough for anyone to find unique tones. So, with that being said, the POG2 is definitely worth its somewhat astronomical price tag. 

Electro-Harmonix Bassballs Nano – Best Budget

Electro-Harmonix Bassballs Nano

Not wanting to spend a whole lot of money to add something unique to your pedalboard? Be sure to check out the Electro-Harmonix Bassballs Nano (see price on Sweetwater, Guitar Center).

The Bassballs Nano is a very simplistic pedal in both its design and function. However, the sound it produces is very distinct and classic, ensuring that you need one on your board. 

At its core, the Bassballs Nano consists of 2 different filters that respond to the dynamics of your playing. Unlike an auto-wah filter, the Bassballs Nano takes its inspiration more from something like a flanger or phaser.

When applied to a high degree, the effect will create a sort of sweeping filter sound. The amount of sweep present in the tone can be controlled by the pedal’s Response knob.

If you want to be like Emeril Lagassé and kick it up a notch, this pedal has some extra spice. You can engage the pedal’s distortion unit via a small 2-way switch for a little bit of grit and punch.

Believe it or not, that’s pretty much all there is to know about how to actually work the Bassballs Nano. Like most standard pedals, the Bassballs Nano does use a 9V DC power supply, which is not included.

What’s So Special About The Electro-Harmonix Bassballs Nano?

You’ve heard the phrase over and over, time and again: you get what you pay for. Does the same phrase have the same meaning when applied to the Bassballs Nano?

Well, the actual answer to that question is a little bit of both yes, and no. Generally, the “get what you pay for” phrase refers to the overall “cheapness” of something’s quality. 

In the case of the Bassballs Nano, there is nothing “cheap” about the pedal’s overall construction and build quality. The same great Electro-Harmonix craftsmanship is featured here, with nothing less than what their reputation holds.

So, why is the Bassballs Nano so inexpensive? Well, it has to do with its technology as well as its overall construction and design. 

As an effect, the Bassballs Nano is quite simplistic, and its interface is strikingly minimalistic. In a sense, Electro-Harmonix took an economical approach here, only offering what is necessary and nothing more. 

With that being said, there is quite a load of different sounds you can achieve with this pedal. You’ll definitely be able to tap into that filtered funk sound, but you can also get full-on punk, too. 

The distortion switch is definitely a nice addition as it makes the filter’s sweep become more apparent and present. Without the distortion engaged, the pedal can have a slight crunch, with the distortion only enhancing that small quirk. 

So, really, it’s almost like you get 2 pedals for one small price. The distortion here sounds more gritty like you would find in a fuzz pedal. 

On top of everything else, this pedal comes in a miniature housing, saving precious space on your pedalboard. 

It might not be a “necessary” pedal, but it’s an inexpensive option for adding a little color to your sound. 

MXR M81

MXR M81

Have you been feeling like your bass guitar tone has been lacking a little something around the edges? If so, the MXR M81 (see price on Sweetwater, Amazon) will provide the cure to your tone’s ailing needs. 

The M81 is an extremely versatile preamp designed specifically for bass players. In terms of shaping the bass’s clean tone, there might not be anything better than the M81 for its price. 

Right away, you’ll notice that, despite being a pedal of standard size, the M81 offers many adjustable parameters. The first to note would have to be the pedal’s input and output level knobs.

You won’t need to worry about introducing unwanted distortion to your signal when using the M81. This pedal has the necessary capability of providing an immense amount of headroom for your preamp needs.

No matter how much you turn up the input, the preamp seems to remain consistently clean. Turning up the output could make your amplifier distort (which is natural for tubes) if your amplifier has that tendency. 

MXR has even equipped the M81 with a 3-band EQ, with an additional knob for the mid-range frequency. You’ll find this combination to be incredibly powerful for creating the bass tones of your dreams. 

One of the most interesting things about the M81 is its additional XLR direct-out jack. This means you can plug it directly into a mixer for performances or a recording console in the studio. 

The M81 does have a Pre/Post button, allowing you to choose how the signal is to be affected. It even has a Ground Lift function if you’re in a situation that calls for it.

One important thing to note is that both passive and active pickups are supported with the M81. It also has multiple power operation capabilities, including the ability to be powered via:

  • 9V battery
  • Phantom power
  • Standard 9V power supply (not included)

What Makes The MXR M81 A Noteworthy Pedal?

If there was just one pedal that you should buy for your bass rig, it’s the MXR M81. In fact, this pedal could easily be considered the best bass pedal overall.

So, why wasn’t the M81 considered the best? Part of it has to do with the pedal’s function with the other part being standard human perception. 

This pedal is, at its most basic categorization, a utility pedal. You’re not going to engage the M81 when you need a crazy and over-the-top sound. 

Standard human perception would likely view the M81 as an extremely basic pedal. In some cases, it is, but the capabilities it does provide are necessary for any professional.

This pedal could literally be the only pedal you have in your rig. You won’t want to go without it once you hear what it can do for your tone. 

The M81 makes it apparent just how flat and boring a clean, unaffected bass tone actually is. Engaging the M81 is the equivalent of allowing your tone to drink a cup of coffee: it comes alive.

The ability to send signals to both an amplifier and a mixer is something that seriously should not be overlooked. This aspect of the pedal alone makes the overall cost of the M81 an absolute bargain.

If you were to seek out a worthwhile direct-out box, you could easily spend this pedal’s equivalent price. Going with this option allows you to shape every parameter of your tone at the same time.

Most of the bass players I know tend to love having convenience in their life. The M81 provides a convenience that you might not have known you ever needed.

Electro-Harmonix Bass Mono Synth

Electro-Harmonix Bass Mono Synth

Do you play bass in a format that could benefit from synth bass lines? Having an Electro-Harmonix Bass Mono Synth (see price on Sweetwater, Guitar Center) in your rig is a necessity!

Electro-Harmonix is known for a lot of pedals, and this particular one is noteworthy among bass players. It’s a monophonic synthesizer that is quite easy to use and offers an expansive range of sounds. 

Not sure what monophonic means? In this instance, monophonic means that the synthesizer can only handle one pitch at a time (as opposed to chords). 

But, if you think about it, this isn’t such a bad thing. How often are you primarily playing chords as opposed to single-noted lines anyways? 

The Bass Mono Synth features 11 different synthesizer types, including:

  • Sub
  • Growl
  • Acid
  • Laser
  • Cosmic
  • X-fade
  • Oblivion
  • Spectre
  • Unison
  • Twin
  • Wub

The pedal itself gives a nice amount of controllable parameters for each synthesizer, including both dry and effect levels. Controls for sensitivity and a specific control unique to each synth are also provided, in addition to expression pedal capabilities. 

Electro-Harmonix has provided the capability to program presets for each of the 11 synthesizer types. This means you have a custom synth sound and a preset sound on tap for each synthesizer at all times. 

The pedal supports mono input only but has outputs for dry (unaffected) signals and wet signals (with effect). A standard 9V DC power supply is required for use but does come included.

Who Is The Electro-Harmonix Bass Mono Synth For?

If you’re playing with electronic drums or anything modern funk-related, the Bass Mono Synth is perfect. This has a staggering number of tones influenced by the golden era of synthesizers from the 1970s into the 1980s. 

One of the best parts about the Bass Mono Synth is the capability provided at a reasonable price. This isn’t a complicated pedal by any means, making it ideal for beginners expanding their tonal palette. 

Just the tone of each synthesizer is enough to transform the entire attitude of a song. When you add in the expression pedal, the synthesizer sound takes on a new level of attractiveness. 

Think about a time when you heard some nasty womp bass in an electronic song. With an expression pedal on the Wub mode, you can easily emulate that pulsing oscillation sound. 

Or maybe you’re looking for that sort of gritty, yet, fat-sounding bass from the funk-jazz of the 1970s? The Acid mode is going to be the key to the kingdom when it comes to that sound. 

And these are just 2 instances of how the Bass Mono Synth can be used. When paired up with other pedals, the possibilities are nearly limitless.

One thing to note, however, is that the note tracking can be a little quirky at times. Some people dislike this, while others feel it’s actually just a part of the pedal’s charm. 

Either way, for the price, you can’t afford to not give this pedal a shot, especially considering its preset capabilities. You can essentially have 22 different sounds, with 11 of those being recallable at any moment in time. 

Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Bass Big Muff Pi

Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Bass Big Muff Pi

There’s nothing quite like the sound of a crunchy bass guitar. For this, there’s nothing better than the Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Bass Big Muff Pi (see price on Sweetwater, Guitar Center).

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, the Big Muff Pi has been a staple fuzz pedal throughout history. The original Bass Big Muff Pi applied this signature fuzz to the bass, but it definitely had its quirks. 

With the Deluxe Bass Big Muff Pi, Electro-Harmonix has addressed all of the problem areas. The pedal has also been given some additional features that make this worth its overall cost.

For starters, the pedal consists of the original Bass Big Muff Pi circuitry for that fat fuzz sound. In addition to this, a Blend knob has been added to control the mixture of wet and dry signals. 

An entirely new section has been added to this version, which is called the Crossover section. This applies a high-pass filter to the tone before the fuzz and a low-pass filter after the fuzz.

In addition to this, the Crossover section has its own dedicated footswitch. You can engage it at any time a tone is needed beyond your standard fuzz sound.

If you’ve ever played with a fuzz pedal before, you probably know that they can be notoriously noisy. This particular model has a noise gate which helps to cut that unwanted noise out of the signal. 

Plus, the Deluxe Bass Big Muff Pi is also equipped with a -10db switch for those using active pickups.

Another interesting thing here is that the Deluxe Bass Big Muff Pi actually has 3 different output possibilities. One is standard output, with the other 2 acting as direct outs (both wet and dry).

You can operate this pedal with a 9V battery or 9V DC power supply.

Why Should You Get The Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Bass Big Muff Pi?

If you’re playing in a band that doesn’t have much in the way of clean tones, this pedal is necessary. With this pedal, Electro-Harmonix illustrates why the fuzz is so effective on the bass.

All of those classic bass tones that have an aggressive punchy drive likely have fuzz in the driver’s seat. The Deluxe Bass Big Muff Pi gives you that with some incredible versatility and tone control.

This isn’t your basic fuzz by any means. If you want a comprehensive fuzz that is built for modern times, this is it. 

In a way, this particular model resembles the design of a multi-channel overdrive or distortion pedal. You can shape your base fuzz sound, using the Crossover as a sort of boost of something different. 

Sure, if you wanted to, you could probably opt for something cheaper and a little more simplistic. But you'd be missing out on some key features, particularly the noise gate and input level switch.

Having the Blend knob ensures that you can control the exact amount of fuzz present in your tone. It might seem like a small thing, but this one feature provides an immense range of possible fuzz tones.

This range of fuzz tones is only expanded with the Crossover section. You can shape the fuzz to sound however you want it to sound.

For the price, the Deluxe Bass Big Muff Pi is an extremely reasonable pedal for all bass distortion needs. You’d be hard-pressed to find something else this intuitive to use and offering the same tasteful tones at this price.

Whether you’re playing in a punk band or serving up heavy metal sludge, this is a perfect fit. There’s a reason why the Bass Big Muff has been around with such a reputation all these years. 

MXR M282 Dyna Comp Bass

MXR M282 Dyna Comp Bass

Feel like your bass is lacking some oomph where it needs to be a little more present? The MXR M282 Dyna Comp Bass (see price on Sweetwater, Amazon) will give you the sound you’re looking for. 

Compressors have become a bit of a necessity among those who play professionally. This effect balances out the dynamic range of the tone, making a much thicker and more present sound overall. 

The M282 Dyna Comp Bass is relatively simple and straightforward to use with only a few parameters to worry about. This includes adjustable knobs for:

  • Output level
  • Tone
  • Sensitivity
  • Clean

Perhaps the most important thing here is the ability to blend the compression and dry signal with the Clean knob. This will give you the flexibility you need without the compressor ever being too much.

Compressors are also noted for their ability to add sustain and volume to a signal. This can be adjusted via the Sensitivity and Output knobs, respectively. 

Wondering what the Tone knob is for? No, turning it all the way up doesn’t mean you’re getting a full tone. 

In this case, the Tone knob is a sort of potentiometer similar to what you’d find on an overdrive pedal. It adjusts the overall frequency bias of the tone itself by adding just a hint of coloration. 

The M282 Dyna Comp Bass also has a switchable pushbutton to switch the mode of compression attack. You can opt for a compression that’s more vintage-inspired, or something more modern.

A standard 9V DC power supply is needed for the M282 Dyna Comp Bass. Do note that this does not come included with the pedal. 

What’s So Special About The MXR M282 Dyna Comp Bass?

To understand why the M282 Dyna Comp Bass is special, you must first understand its roots. The original Dyna Comp compressor is a pedal that has legendary status in the guitar community. 

This pedal was introduced to the market in the early 1970s and quickly found success among musicians. It also served as one of the primary inspirations for the compressor pedals that would follow years later. 

One of the things to note about the Dyna Comp is that it isn’t exactly the most transparent compressor. These were known for their fat punch, making them popular among country guitarists at the time. 

The M282 Dyna Comp Bass essentially gives bass players access to this same legendary compression. This particular bass model has more controls onboard than the original pedals made for the guitar. 

Where the original has 2 control knobs, the M282 Dyna Comp Bass has 4 with a selectable compression mode. This means that you can actually run this compressor to be transparent if you wish.

Compressors aren’t the most “sexy” effect pedal in the world. In fact, it does tend to be overlooked compared to effects that can induce whacky sounds. 

However, the M282 Dyna Comp Bass can provide that magic ingredient that makes your tone come alive. Try one out and you likely won’t want to go without a compressor ever again.

What To Look For When Buying A Bass Guitar Pedal

Are you a bass player that has never really dabbled with playing with effects pedals? If so, you might be a little apprehensive about diving into the deep waters of this infinite ocean of possibilities.

Buying pedals might seem like a foreign concept to you, especially if you aren’t sure what you’re looking for. Shopping without knowledge is like purchasing paint for a room without even looking at the color beforehand. 

Continuing with that analogy, what do you think the possibilities are that you’d like the color you chose sight unseen? What do you think the chances are that the color actually suits the room’s strengths? 

Buying a pedal for your bass rig shouldn’t be too much different than the process used to buy paint. You’ll need to spend time comparing and contrasting each pedal’s offerings and how it can benefit your sound. 

If this sounds like a good idea, it’s best to brush up on the basics to get you primed. The following information will serve as a foundational tool that you can use during your research phase. 

Not only will some concepts be given, but you’ll also be guided through a series of questions. This will allow you to tailor the information to your specific needs.

Plus, you can take all of the following information and apply it to any bass pedal purchase in the future. Allow yourself a few minutes to run through this material and you’ll be gifted with insights to last a lifetime. 

Pedal Type

It’s going to be pretty redundant to say this, but you need to know what each pedal actually does. This might seem like a complicated thing at first thought, but really, all pedals can be classified by effect type. 

Remember how, in biology class, each organism belonged to certain families and subset groups from each classification? Effects pedals can be categorized into similar groups of families.

Of course, you don’t need to be super scientific to have a working knowledge of this information. Just the basics alone will give you an easy roadmap that you can use to guide your research.

As far as effects themselves go, they can be classified into the broad categories of:

  • Overdrive/distortion/fuzz
  • Filters
  • Synth
  • Modulation
  • Utility 
  • Time-based 
  • Loop

As you might guess, each effect can differ quite greatly from one another. However, you’ll also find plenty of examples of innovative pedals that combine different elements together. 

This blending does blur the line of these broad classifications from time to time. Still, knowing how to categorize each effect’s sound will be an invaluable asset to you as a musician.

Overdrive, Distortion, and Fuzz

The “distortion” family consists primarily of overdrive and distortion pedals, though fuzz can be lumped in here. These effects add clipping to the bass guitar’s signal output, thus making it sound “dirty” and distorted.

Each of these types of effects (overdrive, distortion, fuzz) has its own unique characteristics and intensity of clipping. Overdrives, for instance, tend to be the least aggressive, often being subtle with a hint of dirt.

Distortion pedals, on the other hand, are clipped quite aggressively with a harder crunch sound. Depending on the type, fuzz pedals can be a bit more abrasive than both overdrive and distortion pedals. 

It definitely isn’t uncommon to hear these being employed, especially in punk and metal groups. A fuzzed-out bass can really make a song punch with incredible intensity. 

Filters

Explaining the filter effect is going to require us to use another analogy, this time related to cameras. You’re probably familiar with how filters can either subtly or quite drastically alter an image.

Before the age of computerization, manual cameras had their own version of a filter. A colored lens would be used to bias the photo to have a certain type of color profile. 

This filter sound effect is a sort of coloring filter that is very similar to how it’s used in photography. Thanks to technological advancements, filters can be either subtle or unbelievably drastic. 

The most common type of filter effect is the wah, which features an adjustable potentiometer to make its sound. Like an air duct conduit with an internal flapper, the wah’s potentiometer works like the filter’s flapper. 

This results in an affected sound dependent upon the position of the potentiometer and how much signal is allowed through. 

In addition to the wah, filter pedals can include things like:

  • Envelope filters
  • Auto-wah
  • Bandpass/limiter filters

Synth

The sound of the synthesizer has been inescapable since the 1970s. However, it’s only really been until the last few decades that the technology could be enjoyed by bass guitarists. 

Like computers, manufacturers have been able to shrink technology into a reasonable size at a reasonable cost. As far as effects go, the synth pedals are quite expansive with regard to the sounds they can produce. 

Do keep in mind that there is a bit of an overlap between the synth family and the filter family. Like filters, synth pedals can completely color a bass guitar’s tone.

Synth pedals are a bit more aggressive in the coloration that they provide. In other words, these pedals can change the bass’s sound into something completely different. 

Usually, synth pedals will tend to feature 3 different synthesizer waveforms, including square, triangle, and sine. Some pedals will offer specific synth types that sound like a different instrument altogether. 

When applied to the guitar, synth pedals can make the guitar become an organ, flute, electronic keyboard, and more. The bass is a little more limited due to the tonal range, but these effects are still worthwhile.

Synth pedals can be incredibly tasty if you’re playing in a group that has more of an uptempo electronic sound. They are also perfect for pushing a band’s sonic boundaries beyond the ordinary. 

Depending on the pedal, some synthesizer effects have the capability of harmonization.

Modulation

Modulation pedals add a sense of motion to the bass guitar’s overall sound. There are several different types of effects (each with its own sound) within the modulation family, including:

  • Tremolo
  • Phaser
  • Pitch shifter
  • Flanger
  • Chorus

The tremolo effect works by manipulating the overall volume of the signal in an on/off manner. This can create a sort of stuttering depending on the rate and intensity of the effect.

Phasers work by providing the illusion that the sound is actually moving around in the speaker image. Pitch shifters essentially work by forcing the signal to take on a different pitch (such as a lower/higher octave).

Flangers are similar to phasers in motion, however, flangers typically have a whoosh to them. If you’ve ever listened to Dinosaur Jr. and heard the sound of a jet, that is most certainly a flanger. 

Chorus, as the name suggests, provides the illusion of the signal emanating from multiple areas like a choir. However, the practical application of the effect makes its affected tone sound watery (think Nirvana and other grunge bands).

Utility

You’re probably wondering what “utility” means in the context of effect pedals, primarily because it isn’t a conventional category. However, in this instance, utility effects are pedals that are subtle and usually remain engaged at all times.

These could include effects such as EQ, a compressor, and even a tuner. Each of these pedals has a very specific function, with the EQ and compressor often being important aspects of tone.

Time-Based

Time-based effects utilize increments of time to create their distinct tonal characteristics. Effects in this category include both delay and reverb.

Delay is more of an echoing effect, with subset families existing between analog and digital constructions. Both analog and digital delay have their own unique characteristics worthy of being on any pedalboard.

Whereas delay is more of a repeating echo, the reverb is more of a single echo. Reverbs can produce a sonic glow or a sense of washiness depending on how intense the effect is set. 

Loop

Technically, loop pedals are traditionally classified as time-based effects. You can often find looping functions hidden away on digital delay pedals.

However, looping technology has advanced to allow musicians to use loop pedals like an integral piece of gear. It isn’t uncommon to find solo artists building their live performances by use of layered loops with a loop pedal.

Because of this, loopers deserve to be put in their own category. Some people would never use one live, but they can be ideal for at-home practice scenarios if nothing else.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a loop, think of a sound recording being repeated again and again. A loop pedal allows you to create these sound recordings and sync other loops and layers together.

Size

Once you have more than one pedal, you will need to monitor how much free space is on your pedalboard. Because of this, it’s wise to consider how big a pedal is in relation to your board’s open real estate. 

Most pedals come in a standard size, with many miniature versions being offered with the same performance capabilities. However, pedals can be quite large, so weigh out whether a pedal’s capabilities are worth the space it will occupy.

Budget

If you’re not careful, you could easily find that you’ve spent a fortune on effects pedals without even trying. Never spend more than what you’re comfortable spending, especially on something like an effect pedal. 

Shopping around on the used market will allow you to save some money. This is the route with the least amount of financial risk when it comes to trying new pedals. 

Other Considerations

As someone who primarily plays guitar in bands, I’ve played with bass players that have monstrous pedalboards. I’ve played full band gigs where a setup like that would take up the width of the entire playing area.

More often than not, it’s been the bass players in my life who have had the largest pedalboards. Some of these pedalboards have been comically large, like a trophy fish from the deep blue sea. 

With that being said, I implore you to ask yourself whether or not having so many pedals is necessary. The bass, in its pure, unadulterated, and clean-tone form, is massive and extremely present within a band’s sound mix.

There’s a reason why there is usually only ever 1 bass player in a group. When you apply effects, the result is extremely apparent and often consumes a band’s overall sound.

That’s not to say that there wasn’t a practical purpose for many of those pedals. But, more often than not, they were only used once during 1 song throughout a 45-minute performance.

At that point, you need to ask yourself whether it’s worth spending the money on such items. Don’t forget that you’ll also be lugging a massive pedalboard around to every rehearsal and performance.

If nothing else, at least consider the essential basics, such as a tuner, compressor, EQ, and filter. At the very least, a tuner pedal should be an absolute requirement for any musical scenario.

Best Brands For Bass Guitar Pedals

Today’s bass players have the benefit of options when it comes to buying effects pedals. There are quite a number of manufacturers producing worthwhile bass guitar effects in today’s market. 

The following brands are some of the most notable, with reputations gained over a long period of time. Each of these brands has served as inspiration for the latest generations of pedal makers. 

Electro-Harmonix

Founded in 1968, Electro-Harmonix is one of the oldest effects pedal companies still in operation today. Electro-Harmonix has produced some of the most iconic pedals of all time, including the Big Muff and Memory Boy. 

MXR

With roots dating back to the early 1970s, MXR pedals are some of the most recognizable. The company’s Phase 90 and Dyna Comp pedals are still widely regarded as some of the best ever made. 

Top Bass Guitar Pedals, Final Thoughts

Guitarists aren’t the only ones who can enjoy the whacky possibilities that come with effects pedals! Bass pedals can definitely change the vibe of an entire song when applied to the bass guitar at specific moments.

If you feel like your playing has lost its luster, allow yourself to try out some different bass guitar pedals. You might just find something that’s the equivalent of a new pair of shoes and socks for your bass guitar.

P.S. Remember though, none of what you've learned will matter if you don't know how to get your music out there and earn from it. Want to learn how to do that? Then get our free ‘5 Steps To Profitable Youtube Music Career' ebook emailed directly to you!

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