Effect pedals are not just designed to improve tone but also add a creative personality to a huge number of music styles.
Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned bass player, adding a few bass pedals to your setup is one of the easiest ways to really stand out from the crowd.
Having researched 50 different effects pedals over the past week, I’ve put together a short list of the top 15 which deserve a closer look.
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To start off with, here is a list of top contenders:
The Top 10 Bass Effects Pedals Reviewed
Compressors perform the important job of balancing loud and soft signals and boosting overall volume which is especially useful for slap bass or aggressive strumming.
Keeley Bassist Limiting Amplifier Bass Compression Pedal
If you’re aiming to get the easiest, most professional studio grade compressor available in pedal form, this is the model for you.
The control knobs are clearly marked to find the ideal ratios from 1:1 to 10:1. Even when you punch up the volume, you get a completely clean, noiseless tone without distortion or clipping your bass amp.
The input is built to handle higher signal strengths from active pickups, which means it works perfectly for all types of bass guitars.
A bass octave pedal is a classic effect used in countless recordings. It simply adds a higher or lower copy of the original signal which produces a dual tone exactly one octave apart which sounds especially good on bass.
MXR M288 Bass Octave Deluxe
The M288’s unique secret weapon is the mid range boost button which adds up to 14db overdrive to your tone.
If you want to fine tune the mid boost frequency and db volume, there are a few more controllers located underneath the pedal bottom plate.
The growl control knob adds an aggressive undertone, and girth adjusts how much lower octave you want in the mix. Overall, a great sounding pedal with loads of flexibility.
Bass Wah Pedals
One of the most recognisable funk, blues and rock music effects has to be the Wah pedal.
The ‘WahWah’ name derives directly from how it sounds, and because of that, you’d bet it’s a popular addition to any bassists pedal collection.
Dunlop Cry Baby 105Q Bass Wah Pedal
Especially made for bass guitars, the 105Q focuses the Wah’s to high and mid range while keeping your low end crisp and clean.
The overall features are really simple with a few control knobs and a spring loaded foot lever which automatically resets the starting position.
It’s super easy to set up from the get go, and delivers an interesting tonality which is fun to experiment with in just about all styles of music.
Bass Envelope Filter Pedals
Envelope filters are also known as auto-wah effects pedals with a more synthy tone which shifts automatically with each note depending on the sensitivity you choose.
MXR M82 Bass Envelope Filter
The MXR range all use analog circuitry which is known for it’s rich and fat sound quality, and this pedal doesn’t disappoint.
Being able to blend the wet and dry (effect and raw signal) is really useful especially if you don’t want to lose your natural bottom end frequencies.
The control interface is packed with loads of combinations to experiment with and tracks signals more accurately than other envelope filter pedals.
Tracking accuracy also depends on your pedalboard order which is worth bearing in mind if you’re planning to add this pedal to your collection.
Distortion pedals hardly need an introduction, it’s the unmistakable ‘crunch and fuzz’ effect guitarists use to deliver powerful solos.
When combined with a bass guitar, overdrive, fuzz and distortion pedals add a whole new powerful dimension to explore.
MXR Bass Distortion Pedal (M85)
Aimed at metal, rock and heavier music styles, the M85 feels closer to a fuzz pedal than tube style overdrive distortion pedals.
It’s an aggressive and powerful effect but maintains fullness across the low, mids and highs.
You won’t end up sounding like the second guitarist in the band (common problem with cheaper bass distortion pedals).
The wet and dry control knobs also give you full tone control by mixing your natural signal with effects.
Boss ODB-3 Bass OverDrive Pedal
If you’re looking for an affordable, rugged bass distortion pedal which can be easily tweaked, the ODB-3 is definitely worth checking out.
The build quality is always really great with all Boss pedals, but as far as sound goes, it tends to thin out on the lower frequencies which may need boosting through a separate EQ.
The interface is nice and simple with 4 controls (level, EQ, balance and gain) with plenty of scope to layer on effects at a granular level.
When on stage, your bass guitar will likely be routed to a mixing desk through a cheap DI box, bypassing your bass amps EQ.
If you want to record, the same issue applies, you’re capturing your raw signal without any of the bass amps tone control or EQ.
Investing in a quality bass preamp gives you full access to your frequencies which could even outperform the tone you get from a bass amp.
Tech 21 SansAmp Programmable Bass Driver DI
All hail the Tech 21 tone monster!
Arguably the best bass preamp out there, it absolutely delivers on tone and versatility. You’d be hard pressed to find a lot of negative feedback on the SansAmp anywhere online.
It does a superb job on EQ and the foot switches are easy to program.
Another impressive feature is how closely it resembles an old school tube amp overdrive which delivers a warm and natural sounding distortion.
Darkglass Electronics Darkglass Microtubes B7K Ultra
Similar to the SansAmp, this is a highly popular and feature rich preamp which also includes the option to upload different amp and cabinet simulators.
It does have a few more control knobs and selector switches to transform tone, but only gives you access to a distortion and bypass foot switch with no way to save presets.
There is no denying how good it sounds. The distortion tone is impressive, it’s one of the better sounding pedals out there.
If you’re into those 80’s keyboard ‘moog’ sounds, then you’ve come to the right place.
Bass synth pedals are used in a huge variety of music, giving that distinctive R&B, hip hop, rock and funk tone which normally requires a keyboard synth player to match.
Electro-Harmonix Bass MicroSynth
Although this pedal has been out for many years, it’s one of the more versatile and classic sounding synth effects pedals available.
The multiple sliders make for a huge range of effects, voices and sweep patterns.
It would be even better if you had the option to save presets, but overall it does a pretty awesome job of delivering those vintage moog tones.
The wobbly, shimmering chorus effect is a popular bass effect pedal used in countless recordings and live performances, definitely one to add to the list.
MXR M83 Bass Chorus Deluxe
Boss and MXR make the most popular chorus pedals, but the M83 is a little more feature filled to include a flanger too.
The sound quality is rich and full sounding with controls over bass and treble frequencies, along with intensity, rate and width.
The X Over selector is the magic ingredient, applying chorus to the mids and highs only while keeping the bass clean and crisp.
Other Essential Bass Pedals For Creativity
If you’re looking for a few more ways to add creativity to your solos and musical phrases, here are a few more bass pedals worth considering.
Boss GEB-7 Bass Equalizer Pedal
Equalizers are essential for dialling in the perfect tone.
The GEB-7 is a tried and tested favorite with full EQ access to all the important frequencies.
The sliders are marked out visually to show the ranges where you can add or remove a 15db range of boost.
As with most boss pedals, the GEB-7 doesn’t come with a power adaptor, but it is capable of running on a battery if you prefer.
MXR M169 Carbon Copy Analog Delay Pedal
Although the Carbon Copy is designed for electric guitars, it also work brilliantly on bass to produce that signature repeating echo delay effect.
The mod button adds an airy sustain to the delayed notes and you have control over the amount of delay, the delay decay (regen) and the mix over effect to raw signal.
It’s super easy to configure and fun for creative experimentation.
TC Electronic Hall of Fame 2 Reverb Pedal
Another fun and creative effects pedal which emulates the ambient reverberation of different sized rooms.
Aside from the standard presets you’d find on most reverb pedals, there is also a unique shimmer, modulating and lofi preset.
Another amazing concept is the super clever mash/expression pedal which should keep you entertained for hours.
The 3 toneprint presets are user accessible where you can upload different settings through the TonePrint app.
The cost of buying a multi effects processor compared to individual bass pedals is a lot cheaper. So why would anyone bother getting single function pedals?
Well, as much as digital circuitry has improved, analog pedals still win on sound quality. Multi effects pedals can also be frustrating with all the menu surfing to find settings.
But, it’s honestly not all that bad. The tech is improving steadily, if you’re just getting started in the world of bass pedals then starting off with a multi effects is a great introduction.
Boss ME-50B Bass Multiple Effects with COSM
The ME-50B first came out in 2004 and is still an impressive, well designed multi effects pedal that keeps things simple.
You don’t have to dance through menus to get what you want and you have a huge selection of effects to experiment with.
So, what’s not to like? It’s a great bass pedal for beginners who want to experiment. Sure, it doesn’t deliver the same level of liquid warmth you’d find on analog pedals, but its a start.
Digitech BP90 Bass Modeling Multi-Effects Processor
If you’re not only looking to get a large selection of effects, but also looking to emulate vintage bass amps and cabinets, the BP90 pretty much does it all.
Essentially a mini computer capable of doing everything from vintage to modern, I doubt you’d run out of options to play with.
If you don’t mind dealing with a more complicated menu structure, this is a pretty good multi effects pedal which is affordable too.
Out of all the manufacturers, MXR are doing a lot of impressive stuff across the board. I’m sure there will be a few more bass pedals which will make it to this list in the future, so be sure to bookmark this page out for the latest updates.
If you’re looking for your first set of effects, my advice is to get two or three which will give you the most noticeable improvements.
But be warned – once you get started, the bass pedal addiction begins!
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
What bass effects pedal is your favorite? What bass pedals do you hate?
Let me know in the comments below!