It’s not so much that there aren’t a good amount of bass-specific pedals that get the job done — I’m a big fan of the Boss ODB-3 and Dunlop’s bass wah, for instance. But there are certainly more made-for-guitar effects out there that are more readily available. For that reason I took a handful of guitar pedals we have in-house here at zZounds, and tried them through a Fender Jazz Bass and Rumble 500 combo.
The trick to finding a guitar pedal that works for a bass rig is making sure the low end isn’t compromised by the effect. To put it simply: there’s no perfect solution. However, it helps to have decent EQ options to give you a hand. Below are three guitar pedals that offer the necessary EQ controls to make them excellent for bassists as well.
1. MXR Super Badass Distortion
MXR’s Super Badass pedal is great for just that reason. With dedicated bass, mid and treble knobs you can really fine tune your tone while keeping the low end presence you want from your rig.
As you can see in the photo, a fairly liberal crank of the bass knob is necessary to keep that frequency present. You can keep the distortion level a little low to keep a pretty decent blend of the amp tone and dirt from the effect. Volume will vary from rig to rig but I found a little went a long way.
2. MXR Blue Box Octave/Fuzz
Yes, another MXR. These little guys are noisy, and that’s why it’s on here. A fuzz and octave pedal? Sign me up.
While the Blue Box is noisy, its volume isn’t necessarily out of control. Output needs to be cranked for this. Some reviewers on the site have a workaround for the volume drop, and if this isn’t the only effect in your chain it may be something to try out. I found the blend at 100% also gave the best overall range for the pedal on bass, but really you’ll have to play around with it a bit to get the sound you want. It sounds great at the 1-2 o’clock area, but you admittedly lose a little low end on your E string around there (at a two-octave drop per note played, this pedal ain’t no joke). Overall, a ton of fun to toy with, and if you’re going for a Birds in Row kind of sound between songs, you may have found your new favorite pedal.
3. Walrus Audio Iron Horse Distortion
It’s a little late for spoilers, but surprise: I’m into distortion pedals.
The Iron Horse doesn’t have a dedicated bass knob, but luckily, that hardly matters with this thing. With the distortion at about 12 o’clock, you get a great blend of your bass tone and perfect layer of dirt right on top of it. The toggle switch selects between different clipping modes, giving you a lot of options to toy with, so no matter what your setup is, you should find something that works for you here.watch our walrus audio shootout
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