Who says effects pedals are only for guitars?
Believe it or not, there are some seriously rad effects pedals specially designed for bass guitars. Yeah, you heard that right – your bass can get in on the action too!
Are you wondering how they can improve upon your bass tone? Or do you want to know if you can make your bass sound more creative?
The first won’t do anything crazy to your sound. But that doesn’t diminish its importance.
Tuning your instrument is a vital step before playing. As such, having a tuner pedal on is crucial.
When finding a tuner pedal, make sure it has a bass option. Due to the bass sounding low, it will have a hard time picking up the sound. That’s why some tuner pedals have a bass mode that can pick up lower frequencies.
The staple of every bass rig is the compressor pedal.
If there was a pedal that I would say is an absolute must to own, this would be the one.
So what does it do?
A compressor keeps the dynamic range of your bass balanced and consistent.
Wait, dynamic range? Dynamic range is the distance between the quietest and loudest sounds in a mix. This is measured in decibels.
There will be times when the dynamic range of your range will have noticeable distances. At one point, you could be playing too loud and then too quiet.
As mentioned, it keeps the difference in dynamic range minimal.
It does this by decreasing or increasing the volume level depending on what is needed.
The first benefit is that you are more likely to be heard in a mix alongside other instruments. Not only that, but it also makes your playing smoother.
If you are a musician who plays predominantly rock or metal music, then a distortion pedal will be beneficial.
Even if that isn’t the case, it’s a nice addition to have if you want to try something different.
Like guitars, there are different types of distortions, overdrive, distortion, and fuzz. Choosing will depend on what kind of distortion you want.
Overdrives are a great choice if you want something that’s subtle and more flexible. If you want something more aggressive that will stand out, then distortions and fuzz pedals are the ones for you.
Next on the list is the envelope filter.
Envelope filters are pretty tricky to explain unless you hear it for yourself. But I will try my best to provide a simple explanation to follow.
What an envelope filter does is it filters out certain frequencies and lets specific frequencies pass through.
A common example of this in the guitar world is the wah pedal. In this case, you don’t do this manually with the pedal.
Envelope filters are nice effects to have if you play funk music.
Another great effect for funk musicians is the octave pedal.
What this effect does is in the name. It takes your bass’ signal and pitches it an octave, or more, higher or lower.
An octave is a series of eight notes on a musical scale. To give an example, when the C note is played an octave higher, it makes the same sound but on a higher pitch. The opposite is true if played an octave lower.
This effect can make your bass sound thicker. You can also make your bass sound more interesting and colorful if you set it to play an octave higher than the original sound.
Pre-amps act as an amplifier inside a pedal.
The settings you can find inside a bass amplifier can be found on pre-amps. That also includes distortion.
There will be moments when instead of a bass amplifier, you will be using a PA system.
Having a pre-amp means you can retain your preferred settings while using whatever amp or PA system is available.
The last thing to purchase if you have more than one effects pedal is the power supply.
The power supply is what, well powers your effects so that they are up and running. This takes away the need to have your effects run on batteries. No need to buy separate batteries when you can just power all of them using the power supply.
Optional Pedals for Your Bass
The next category are effects pedals that are neat to own but not necessarily required.
These types of effects are mostly associated with guitar. However, there is no harm in trying them out in other instruments like the bass.
There are even versions of these types of effects for bass.
The first ones to be brought up are the modulation effects. Modulation effects take the clean sound and affect either the sound’s pitch, amplitude, and speed.
An example you may have heard of is the chorus pedal. Chorus pedals work by taking duplicating the clean sound (the dry signal). The duplicate is then pitched slightly lower and mixed in with the dry signal. This creates the chorus effect.
Time-based effects like delay and reverb are also pretty cool to use on your bass. If you want to add some delay to your bass playing or want to add some reverberation, then these pedals are worth trying out.
If you are new to pedals and making a pedalboard, you might be confused as to which pedals go first.
The first that goes on the board is the tuner. After the tuner is your compressor pedal.
The compressor works best when it is compressing clean sound (no effects have been added). Having something like an overdrive or fuzz placed before the compressor will make your bass sound muddy.
After the compressor is the envelope and octave pedals. Like compressors, they work best when manipulating the clean sound of your bass.
After them come the dirt pedals (overdrive, distortion, and fuzz). What follows are the modular effects. So the chorus, flangers, and other effects add color to your bass sound.
Lastly are the time-based pedals (delay and reverb).
Your Pedalboard is Complete
Save for the compressor, bass pedals aren’t as brought up as much. But they do have their place with many bassists and now you can use them yourself.
Even if there are bass pedals that will make your clean bass tone sound even better, there is a majority of pedals that bring out different flavors of tone. Don’t be afraid to try out new things. Who knows, you might accidentally create your favorite bass tone.