9 Best Bass Effects Pedals For Unlocking Your Creativity

November 3, 2023
Best Bass Effects Pedals

Choosing the right bass effects pedals is vitally important if you want to shape your sound as a bass player.

From bass preamp pedals to fuzz pedals and delay pedals, the best bass effects pedals can help you unlock your creativity and carve a unique voice on the bass, the way bassists Juan Alderete (Mars Volta) and Roy Mitchell-Cárdenas (Mutemath) have done.

In this guide, I reviewed 9 of the best bass effects pedals, along with my top 3 choices, so that you can pick the best one for you.

Disclaimer: I’m reader-supported. So, when you buy through links on my site, I may earn an affiliate commission. Having that said, this article does contain affiliate links that I receive a small commission for at no cost to you. These are the bass effects pedals that I fully recommend and are still on my bass pedalboard. You can read my full affiliate disclosure in my privacy policy in the footer.

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Here are my favorite choices:

  1. Electro-Harmonix – Bass Big Muff PI (a classic fuzz effect)
  2. Strymon – El Capistan dTape Echo (totally cool tape delay effect that bass players could use more)
  3. Keeley Electronics – Bassist Compressor (subtle compressor effect, and feels great)

The best bass effects pedals can unlock your creativity and help you find your sound. And if you’re looking for the best bass pedal to add to your arsenal, you’ve come to the right place. While it’s totally valid to go the bass multi-effects pedal route (a single pedal that provides many effects), I find it much more fun to curate your own selection of bass pedals and shape your sound just the way you want.

Between 2005 and 2012, I went down a rabbit hole and got into music production and started looking for different ways to could stretch my sound on the bass guitar.

During this time, I was buying effects pedals like candy. These are the pedals that have stuck with me and use to this day. From my personal experience, these pedals provide excellent tone quality and tone-shaping options, while maintaining the low-end frequencies of your bass.

If you’re unfamiliar with guitar effects pedals, these effects pedals also sound good with bass guitar, because they don’t lose your low-end frequency.

Let’s get started.

What Are the Best Bass Guitar Effects Pedals?

Here are my top picks for the best bass effects pedals to include on your pedalboard. I’ve been using these products for many years!

1. Peterson StroboStomp HD

Best tuner pedal for bass

Peterson StroboStomp HD
Peterson StroboStomp HD

While a tuner is not an effects pedal, it’s essential to have it in the very beginning of your signal chain.

You want the best quality of sound and intonation from your instrument and a quality tuner will do just that.

The Peterson StroboStomp HD is a strobe tuner pedal that’s super accurate (True Strobe 0.1 Cent Accuracy – Accurate to 1/1000th of a Semitone or 1/1000th of a Fret) and has a “sweetener” setting specific for the bass frequencies.

With a LCD screen that incorporates a variable color LED backlight, you can adjust the color to whatever your vibe.

If you’re a tone purist and want a 100% silent true bypass, the StroboStomp HD provides a true bypass, silent operation mode, eliminating the sometimes annoying pop you hear in other products.

Pros

  • Super accurate
  • Large LCD is easy to see
  • 100% Pop-less True Bypass

Cons

  • The mode setting button is very close to the input. I’ve often found myself accidentally hitting the button and changing the mode when I’m pulling out my instrument cable.

2. MXR Thump

Best mini-pedal preamp pedal for bass tone

MXR Thump
MXR Thump

The MXR Thump Bass Preamp Guitar Effects Pedal is super compact, yet produces all the tone-sweetening you need to elevate your groove.

Wether you’re a funk slap bass player or fingerstyle groove player on the bass, you’ll find that this little analog beast will deliver. The MXR Thump is great for making your bass stand out in the mix no matter your playing style. Just plug your bass in you’ll immediately notice the difference in your tone with little manipulation needed.

I was completely surprised and blown away at how good this little pedal sounds. Some bass guitar effects pedals can be ginormous. This one is not. Here are the dimensions: Height: 1.62 inches, Width: 2.12 inches, Depth: 3.63 inches.

In my personal experience, this is a versatile preamp with a 3-band EQ that allows you to adjust and dial in the best tone to feed into your other effects pedals or boost your level for your solos.

Pros

  • Takes up a small footprint on your pedalboard
  • ​​​​​Great sound quality that’s punchy and adds edge to your tone

Cons

  • Requires a 9-volt power supply
  • This will color your sound, but that can also be a good thing

3. Keeley Electronics Bassist Compressor

​Best compressor pedal for bass

Keeley Electronics Bassist Compressor
Keeley Electronics Bassist Compressor

The Keeley Electronics Bassist Compressor is a bass compressor and limiting amplifier.

With this pedal, you can compress the bass with studio-grade compression in stomp box format that’s also affordable.

There are only 3 knobs: a compression knob, threshold knob, and a gain knob.

I like using this effect as a limiting amplifier to save my speakers from clipping and distortion.

Personally, I also like using it as a subtle compressor. But, you can actually determine the amount of squash that you want when the signal goes above the threshold level you set.

Pros

  • Very transparent
  • Simple knobs and format makes it easy to use
  • Works great for instruments with active pickups or passive pickups

Cons

  • Doesn’t offer a way to control release or attack 

4. Electro-Harmonix Bass Big Muff PI

Best classic fuzz pedal for bass (distortion pedal)

Electro-Harmonix Bass Big Muff PI
Electro-Harmonix Bass Big Muff PI

For just under $100 the Electro-Harmonix Bass Big Muff PI is a classic bass fuzz pedal that offers the right amount of peach fuzz to a rumbling distortion without losing any low-end. Many effects pedals available tend to lose the frequencies of the bass and this pedal won’t do that.

When the Tone knob is set high, the Dry/Bass boost switch can be used to mix the dry signal with the fuzz tone, or to bring in more low frequencies into the fuzz circuit. In my personal experience, you

Pros

  • Classic fuzz distortion
  • Has a separate dry output that allows for two amps sets
  • No loss of low-end

Cons

  • Not the most versatile range

5. MXR Bass Octave Deluxe

Best octave pedal for bass

MXR Bass Octave Deluxe
MXR Bass Octave Deluxe

The MXR Bass Octave Deluxe has two analog sub-octave effects that are independent. And the best part is that you can even mix in your dry signal.

These two octave voices can be separately controlled. One for more growl and the other for a more girth effect.

When this octave effect is paired with a good fuzz pedal, you can get some cool synth-bass sounding noise and distortion tones.

Pros

  • Handles the low frequency well before breaking the tone
  • Tone doesn’t get muddy
  • Compact footprint on the pedalboard

Cons

  • Only offers sub-octave effect

6. Strymon El Capistan dTape Echo

​Best delay pedal for inspiring bass grooves

Strymon El Capistan dTape Echo
Strymon El Capistan dTape Echo

Delay effects aren’t explored enough by bass players.

The Strymon El Capistan dTape Echo is an awesome delay effects pedal that maintains the fullness of your bass tone and can go from a clean delay effect to an out-of-tune tape effect.

There’s so many options and features for this pedal and secondary functions can be accessed by pressing and holding down both switches at the same time.

You can even add a spring reverb effect with this pedal.

Pros

  • Ultra low noise
  • Can infinite repeat a delay, which can used for looping short grooves
  • Analog dry path for a zero latency dry signal that is never converted to digital

Cons

  • Takes some time to learn all the features this pedal has to offer

7. Electro-Harmonix Stereo Pulsar Tremolo Pedal

​Best tremolo pedal for bass to add depth to your sound

Electro-Harmonix Stereo Pulsar Variable Shape Tremolo
Electro-Harmonix Stereo Pulsar Variable Shape Tremolo

Tremolo is effect that not a lot of bass players use, but can add subtle depth to your sound.

Add in distortion, overdrive, or fuzz to the mix and you can create some really cool noise effects too.

The Electro-Harmonix Stereo Pulsar Tremolo Pedal is a great pedal to add to your arsenal, especially for experimental music.

Pros

  • Control sine wave shape from smooth to jagged and depth
  • Stereo output allows to really spatially expand this effect

Cons

  • In my experience, the switch button makes a loud click

8. BOSS Bass Chorus Guitar Pedal (CEB-3)

Best classic bass chorus pedal

BOSS Bass Chorus Guitar Pedal (CEB-3)
BOSS Bass Chorus Guitar Pedal (CEB-3)

The BOSS Bass Chorus Guitar Pedal (CEB-3) is a bass effects pedal that gives you that classic chorus sound you’ve heard on countless records. If you have a fretless bass guitar, this pedal can help you get that vintage bass chorus sound like Jaco Pastorious.

What I like about this pedal is that the high frequency sounds are rich and low frequency doesn’t get muddy. This is very important if you’re using this with a bass guitar.

Pros

  • Compact chorus pedal
  • Designed for bass guitar, so chorus sound is applied only to high frequencies without altering the low frequencies

Cons

  • I never really liked the feel of the spring of the foot switch

9. Coppersound Pedals Telegraph Stutter Killswitch

​Best single use effect pedal for bass

Coppersound Pedals Telegraph Stutter Killswitch
Coppersound Pedals Telegraph Stutter Killswitch

Your creativity is the limit when it comes to using effects pedals on the bass guitar.

I came across this pedal when I was searching for different effects pedals for specific occasions.

There’s often one song in a gig, where the intro to a song is a sustained chord for many measures, until the band comes in full force.

Coppersound Pedals Telegraph Stutter Killswitch is unique pedal that does only one thing. It kills your signal. No sound comes through.

I’ve used this pedal during intros and outros of songs where I sustain a beefy chord on the bass guitar, using a lot of fuzz. Then I use this pedal to stutter the chord.

It’s a simple effect that sounds cool and almost every gig somebody has asked me about this pedal on my pedalboard.

Pros

  • The pedal looks so cool
  • Does one thing and does it really well

Cons

  • Only does a single thing

My Pedalboard Setup and Why (My Exact Bass Guitar Pedal Chain)

Currently, I setup my pedal with the following logic, because it offers me the most flexibility with the kind of music I play with other people.

Here is the exact order in my effects chain of my pedals.

Fundamental Tone and Signal

Any pedals that directly impact my fundamental tone and signal go first.

  1. Tuner pedal: Playing in tune matters.
  2. Preamp pedal: I use this to shape my sound.
  3. Compressor & Limiting pedal: This keeps any input feeding into my other pedals consistent.

Fuzz, Overdrive, or Distortion Pedal

After my fundamental sound is strong, I like to add some hair to it.

  1. Fuzz pedal: If I could only collect one type of pedal, a fuzz pedal would be it. I just love the sound of it. Any fuzz or overdrive pedal can be used for other styles of music other than rock and metal. These are versatile pedals that I feel every bass player should at least own one.
  2. Octave pedal: A sub-octave effect makes a growly sound. So, I like to have this one early in my chain to keep the sound clean and less muddy.

Delay & Tremolo Effects

Next in my signal chain, I like to put pedals that break up the sound or subtract to the sound.

  1. Delay pedal: Delay effects could be thought of as additive, because it repeats your sound. However, I tend to use this effect for creating grooves that I layer onto with. So it does neither add or subtract to my sound.
  2. Tremolo pedal: A tremolo effect lowers the volume of your sound in the shape of a sine wave. So in a way, I see this as subtractive.

Chorus Effects

Finally, I like to put in pedals that add to my sound.

  1. Chorus pedal: This adds a layer of sound to my fundamental sound.

Bonus Effects

At the tail end of my signal chain, I like to throw in a bonus pedal that does something crazy to my bass sound.

  1. Stutter pedal: A killswitch stutter effects pedal is currently what I have at the end of my chain.

Summary and Top Picks

When choosing between the best bass effects pedals, remember to do your research: consider how well a pedal handles low-end frequency, its features, and pricing.

Ultimately, the best effects pedals will depend on the kind of music you’re hearing and want to create.

Here are my final top picks for getting started with bass guitar effects:

  1. Electro-Harmonix – Bass Big Muff PI (a classic fuzz effect)
  2. Strymon – El Capistan dTape Echo (totally cool tape delay effect that bass players could use more)
  3. Keeley Electronics – Bassist Compressor (subtle bass compressor pedal effect, and feels great)

Good luck in your quest. Keep your journey fun. And remember to stay curious and explorative when trying out a new bass effects pedal.

For more reviews like this, go here.

Can you use guitar pedals for bass?

You absolutely can use guitar pedals for bass guitar. However, not all guitar pedals will retain your low-end frequencies. So unless that’s the sound you’re after, it’s something worth considering.

Effects pedals that are specifically designed for bass guitar will state that in their description and typically will maintain the bottom-end without muddying up the sound.

The bottom line is guitar pedals won’t hurt to use with a bass. The best pedals will unlock a new sound of your bass. With the right amount of imagination, pedals can improve the vibe of a song.

How to use bass fx pedals?

There’s no right or wrong way to use bass pedals. You’re only limited by your imagination. And it really all depends on the type of effect you’re going for.

Part of the excitement of buying pedals for bass guitar is exploring what happens when you plug in your bass and start turning knobs.

Sometimes changing the order in the signal chain can produce surprising results.

Pedals tend to respond differently with the sound that’s coming before it. So, the only way to really understand how your pedal works best for your sound is to try different orders.

So, keep a childlike mindset of wonder and curiosity and you’ll be able to create some really cool sounds.

PosidoVega

Hi! I’m Posido Vega, a multi-passionate creative. I’m an artist, bass player, jazz theory enthusiast, children’s book author and illustrator, and SEO 😅.

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