Can Guitar Pedals be used for Bass
Whether you’re a guitar player learning to play Bass or a bassist looking to get a different tone, you may wonder whether you can use guitar pedals with your Bass.
If you have guitar pedals, you can use them on Bass. You can use almost any guitar pedal on Bass without any problems. Although some guitar pedals will sound great on Bass, others will sound terrible.
We will cover some helpful tips and tricks on getting the best sounds from guitar pedals with Bass, some interesting pedals to try out, and other guitar pedal advice for Bass.
Do Bass Players Use Pedals?
Consider putting some guitar pedals on your Bass if you’re thinking of adding some. Although bass players don’t use pedals much, you might wonder whether they do.
Some bass players use effects pedals. The number of bass players who use pedals isn’t as high as guitarists, but there are still bassists who use pedals. The reason bass players don’t often use pedals is that they prefer simple and clean bass tones.
The essential part of any bass tone for many styles of music is a simple and powerful tone. Nonetheless, bassists who never add a pedal to their setup are missing out on many great tones.
Tone shaping and control can be accomplished with some pedals. When you use a compressor pedal with your Bass, you can get pinpoint control over your tone as no other pedal can.
The use of other pedals gives you access to new sounds and sounds. By using a fuzz pedal, you can open up your Bass playing to new ideas and vibes. If you utilize an octave pedal, you can immediately transform the way you write riffs.
We will go through some great guitar pedals to consider later in this guide and explain why you might like to use them with your Bass.
Difference Between Bass and Guitar Pedals
Even though guitar and bass pedals can utilize similar circuitry, tonal structures, components and produce similar sounds and effects,
There is primarily one difference between them: bass pedals are designed to affect the low-end frequencies of a bass guitar optimally. On the other hand, the design of guitar pedals is based on optimizing ‘mid-range frequencies and overlooking the low frequencies.
Furthermore, you may find you can salvage some sweet lows by connecting specific guitar effects into your Bass. Depending on the pedal, the effect, and how it’s voiced, others may not be as tolerant and severely cut them off.
An example of a guitar distortion pedal is giving you an aggressive tone, but it lacks the lower frequencies. Alternatively, you could try another guitar pedal that sounds bad but adds character to your low end.
Test and experiment with as many guitar pedals as you can at a guitar store or from your friends to figure out what works with your Bass for the sound you want to achieve.
Experiment with Both
It is a good idea to experiment with both guitar and bass pedals to find a pedal that gives your bass tone a unique sound and flavour, adding a new dimension to your playing.
This being the case, guitar pedals shouldn’t be used exclusively for guitar. So where’s the fun in that?
Whenever possible, you should think outside the box when it comes to your sound.
Essential Effects Pedals for Bass
Some effects pedals are more useful for Bass players than others. So let’s take a look at some of the most beneficial guitar effects pedals you can use for Bass.
Bass compressors are robust tone-shaping pedals that can give you lots of control over your tone.
In the simplest terms, you could say that a compressor gives you the option of tightening up your range whenever you want.
This allows you to play at a more consistent volume level, whether you’re playing aggressively or softly.
It is essential to have a compressor pedal on your Bass, even if you want to use effects.
Our top pick:
Xotic SP Compressor
The SP Compressor is designed to work differently than most compressor pedals. Instead of a knob or multiple knobs to control the threshold or ratio, this device uses a three-way switch to choose between three different presets (high, mid and low).
It’s handy because you no longer have to worry about adjusting the threshold and ratio levels, and one of the three presets will likely work for you.
Nonetheless, it can be limited since you don’t get a full range to experiment with as you would with a knob.
There are three internal dip switches, which allow you to set the attack and release and change the high filter cut and the input pad. It is nice to have these features included to help the SP interact well with other pedals.
Since you’re unlikely to change these settings frequently, it isn’t a big deal since they are internal switches.
Lastly, We want to draw attention to the blend knob. Think of it as a mixer knob like the ones you see on many other effect pedals. By blending the compressed and dry signals, you can achieve an ultimate tone.
Combining a compressed sound with a dry one results in a sound that has the thicker, punchier tones of the compressed sound with some of the dynamic range of the dry signal.
Depending on the blend of the two signals, you can achieve a perfect balance between dynamics and compressed sound. That’s an excellent feature, and more guitar compressor pedals should offer it.
You can dramatically change the vibe of anything you play on Bass by adding fuzz.
With this pedal, you can get some gnarly and aggressive tones, saturated tones that seem to ooze energy or a light drive to give your playing some spark.
If you’ve never played Bass with a fuzz pedal before, we highly recommend it. Fuzz pedals are fun to play.
In general, any guitar fuzz pedal will work for Bass so that you can choose from the options covered above.
You may be interested in the following fuzz pedals designed for use with Bass:
Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Bass Big Muff Pi Bass Effects Pedal
- Pad on the input that's switchable between 0dB and -10dB ensures the pedal is optimized for use with both passive and active pickups
- Blend allows a player to mix to taste the direct and distorted signals
- Three outputs: a 1/4 effect out, 1/4 direct (buffered dry) out and XLR DI out give complete control of your output signal and sound
- Foot-switchable crossover section with a variable low pass filter on the dry signal and a variable high pass filter on the distorted signal give bassists the ability to sculpt their sound
- Crossover circuit, in conjunction with the Blend control, lets you keep the low-end clear and focused and the high-end bright and cutting
Mixing the distorted sound with the dry signal is controlled by the blend control. In contrast, the crossover section has a dedicated footswitch and features a low-pass filter added to the dry signal and a hi-pass filter placed ahead of the distorted signal.
It is awe-inspiring since it not only smooths the distorted sound but also adds some funky parametric tone-shaping that makes it worth being a pedal by itself.
Additionally, a low pass is excellent, as it tightens your tone and fattens the specific area of operation. Finally, disabling the Gate function eliminates hums caused by mains, lighting, or simply being close to high-gain amplifiers.
An input Pad switch lets you choose between passive and active bass inputs, while the output section features a clean direct output and two affected outputs (balanced DI and standard jack).
Our top recommendation for the best fuzz pedal for Bass is that it offers excellent control over the effect (something many fuzz pedals for guitar are lacking).
In addition to the ability to dial in the perfect crossover point, a blend between wet and dry signals is one of the more impressive features of this pedal.
It even provides an XLR DI output, so you can choose how to incorporate fuzz into your sound.
An octave pedal can double your tone an octave higher or lower, making it a very popular pedal with guitarists, but it also works exceptionally well with bass players.
When you see an 8-string bass, you can think of an octave pedal as a way to get the tone of an 8-string bass on your regular 4-string Bass.
Electro Harmonix Micro POG Polyphonic Octave Generator Guitar Effects Pedal
- Polyphonic octave generator
- Make your 6 String guitar sound like a 12 String
- Super-fast tracking
- Dry, Sub Octave, and Octave Up Controls
With the Electro-Harmonix Micro POG polyphonic octave generator pedal, you can enhance the sound of your guitar like a 12-string or emulate an organ without ever getting any glitches.
Adding this to your bass line will give your bottom end even more bottom and some excellent options for personalizing your tone! In addition, the Micro POG’s Octave knob allows you to adjust the pitch up an octave, and its Sub Octave knob allows you to lower the pitch.
A Dry knob allows you to blend the effect, and a compact, sturdy housing makes the Micro POG perfect for your pedalboard.
There are three central knobs on the pedal, which give you complete control over the mix. First, you can control your dry tone with the first knob. Secondly, the tone’s level can be adjusted one octave lower, and thirdly, it can be adjusted one octave higher. The simple setup you will learn later will allow you to produce a wide range of sounds.
The photo above shows that the POG2 gives you a crazy amount of control over the effect. On the other hand, the Micro POG is a simpler and smaller pedal that is still highly versatile.
All effects such as chorus, phaser, and flanger are modulation effects. Modulation effects are very popular among guitarists, but they are less common on Bass.
Subtle modulation can give your bass tone a unique edge, which is a pity because modulation can be a great way to achieve that.
Modulation pedals aren’t as crucial as other pedals such as fuzz or compressor, but they can become a vital part of your tone when appropriately used.
MXR M101 Phase 90 Guitar Effects Pedal
- 9V Batteries Required, best with Polaroid 9V Batteries.
- Rich, warm analog tone
- Add shimmery velocity and dramatic swooshing to your tone
- The timeless phase shifter used on many classic recordings
In terms of the type of effects still used today, the MXR Phase 90 is one of the oldest and most iconic. All metrics indicate that the newly developed units are every bit as good as the original units produced by MXR. Today we will take a look at a new phaser from Dunlop, the MXR Phase 90.
The first commercially successful phaser from MXR had only one control. Essentially, that knob controls how fast or, better described, how frequent the phaser effect happens. In most cases, that worked quite well in the old days.
Several guitar players love the simplicity of MXR Phase 90 and have used it exclusively throughout their careers. Furthermore, more modern players will find the lack of controls to be at least somewhat annoying. It depends on what type of music you listen to and your overall taste.
Reverb isn’t heard very often on Bass tracks, typically because it’s not conducive to it. However, the addition of reverb can quickly transform your tone into a wash when you are performing live.
Nevertheless, reverb can be a comic effect to play with when you’re playing at home.
Reverb pedals can simulate playing in different venues such as large halls, chambers, or caves to feel as though you are virtually there.
In addition to being essential for ambient styles of music, reverb is a popular effect for playing at home.
Electro Harmonix Cathedral Stereo Reverb
- 24 bit AD and DA converters
- True stereo inputs and outputs
- 8 programmable reverb styles with the ability to load and save
- Tap Tempo to set pre-delay section
- Damping/Tone control available for each reverb mode
The Cathedral reverb pedal by Electro-Harmonix has an excellent reputation. While it may not perform at the same level as the Space of BigSky pedals above, the reason it stands out is the fact that it is less than half the price of those pedals. As a result, the Cathedral offers high-quality reverberation at a much lower cost than you would pay for Eventide Space.
- Exceptional quality
- It’s in stereo
- There are a variety of reverb types available
- Excellent control of the effect
- Infinite is a handy feature
- The large size may take up too much space on some pedalboards
This is one type of pedal we recommend not using a guitar pedal and instead of using a bass pedal.
Due to this, the sound of any way is entirely dependent on the voicing. Bass is not suitable for wah pedals designed for guitars, and the voicing will sound awful. When using wah pedals for Bass, the voicing will be considerably better.
Jim Dunlop EQ Effects Pedal
- Cut or boost 10 different frequencies up to ±12dB
- LEDs provide high visibility, even in direct sunlight
- 18-volt operation for increased headroom
- Two outputs for running two separate signal chains
- True bypass switching
This Dunlop 105Q Cry Baby Bass Wah pedal is among the most popular bass wah pedals and is well worth checking out.
Bassists who play funky styles of music are very fond of envelope filters and auto-wahs.
The envelope filter is a filter that changes depending on how hard the strings are struck. The settings can be adjusted to get an array of exciting effects.
It is another type of pedal for which we recommend the use of a pedal designed for Bass. You’ll get the best results with a bass envelope filter pedal. Guitar envelope filters may sound great on Bass, but bass envelope filter pedals are designed specifically for Bass.
MXR Bass Envelope Filter Effect Pedal
- Bypass footswitch with LED
- Dry control
- Fx control
- Decay control
- "Q" Control
There are five knobs on the M82 envelope filter. The DECAY determines the frequency at which the filter stops when it is triggered. You can refer to this knob as the ‘intensity of the effect’ since the lower it is set, the deeper it digs into the low-end frequencies. The Q knob describes the ‘intensity of the effect, which is a reasonable description. Initially, you can turn this knob down for a relatively subtle effect, and as the volume is raised, it becomes more bubbly and quacky. The maximum setting will immerse you in a world of futuristic laser gun sound effects.
It is self-explanatory how to use the SENSITIVITY knob. The lower you set this knob, the deeper you have to dig into triggering the effect – and vice versa. The effect is also influenced by how hot the signal coming from the Bass is, but for a classic passive Fender Jazz Bass, a natural effect appears around noon. This knob can be set very low so that softly playing on a passive bass will not raise the filter effect, but when you dig in hard to a note or riff, it will bring the wah effect to the surface.
A DRY knob and an FX knob occupy the top row of knobs. Both knobs perform precisely what they indicate – they mix the original, dry signal with the wet effect signal.
Five rounds, each presenting a different playing style, are included in the sound clips. Considering how the playing style and the type of Bass will affect the pedal’s response, I have decided to do four different takes with different settings in each round. The systematic approach, in this case, would not make a whole lot of sense and would make the process less enjoyable.
If you’re looking for something very different on your Bass, then try a synth pedal. In addition to creating ambient textures, synth pedals also produce organ sounds and pad sounds.
The synth pedals covered in this guide have proven to be the most fun out of all the effect pedals we covered.
BOSS SY-1 Guitar Synthesizer Pedal
- Authentic BOSS polyphonic guitar Synth in a compact pedal
- No special pickup required—play rich, dynamic Synth tones with any Guitar or bass
- 121 total sounds (11 types and 11 variations), all ready to play with no programming knowledge needed
- Includes a wide variety of analog-style Synth sounds, from leads, basses, and layered Organs to sweeping pads and arpeggiated sequences
- Latency-free performance for unrestricted musical expression
Bass and guitar can be played simultaneously with synth pedals such as the BOSS Synth SY-1. The BOSS Synth SY-1 is an excellent option for those who play both instruments.
You can choose from 11 different types of sounds and 11 variations of each sound on the SY-1. So from one pedal, you can dial in an incredible number of different sounds.
While it can be fun to experiment with some extreme synth sounds, it is also possible to add subtle textures to your tone using synth pedals.
Guitar Pedals Not to use for Bass
Guitar Graphic EQ pedals should not be used for Bass because they are designed and optimized for regular guitars.
Using standard tuning as an example, the low E string of a guitar is around 82 Hz, and the lowest frequency range available for a guitar graphic EQ pedal would be around 100 Hz.
Usually, the lowest pitch on a bass guitar is around 40 Hz, and the lowest frequency on most Bass EQ pedals is around 50 Hz.
If you are looking for the best pedal tone, you will not match these band frequencies well since they are designed and matched to each other.
Other Differences Between Guitar and Bass Pedals
What’s the reason for bass-specific pedals, if guitar pedals work so well on Bass? It’s because the sound of a bass guitar focuses on low-end frequencies, which are found in the sonic identity of a bass.
To address this, manufacturers have designed and voiced specific bass-specific pedals for enhancing and boosting the rich ‘low-end frequencies’ after sound processing.
The purpose of this is to give you the smoothest and most authentic sound from your bass pedalboard.
Furthermore, this will ensure that the effect does not sound muddy or loose and give a broader spectrum of tones. Low Filter dials on some bass pedals also allow you to control the low end you want to include or exclude from the signal.
On the other hand, it’s possible to get an interesting sound on Bass by using a guitar pedal.
In contrast, a different guitar pedal might make your bass tone sound loose and muddy since it does not prioritize the low-end frequencies.
Dry/Wet Signal Control
The ‘dry/wet’ signal blend is one of the distinctive features of bass pedals. This feature is not found on guitar pedals. As a result, the player can blend in some of the basses dry signal with the effect.
This feature is absent on regular guitar pedals because guitar effects do not use much of the guitar’s dry signal, mainly because a dry guitar signal is bland.
However, the low-end frequencies of the Bass must be supported by a good blend of the Bass’s dry signal. A significant amount of dry signal is needed to ensure that notes are clear and that basses can achieve their optimal frequencies.
Differences in Output
Bass pedals are designed to handle the higher output signal of Bass and an additional noticeable difference between guitar and bass specific pedals. Pickups on Bass instruments produce a hotter sound than pickups on regular guitars.
Because bass strings are thicker and vibrate in a broader pattern than regular guitar strings, it’s pretty obvious why.
The circuity and components of bass pedals are built to handle the higher input level that comes from hotter and higher output bass signals.
Reasons for Using Guitar Pedals with Bass
- Playing the guitar on the side while playing Bass on the side is possible
- It can be cheaper to purchase an effect pedal specifically for bass guitar instead of paying more for an effect pedal generally
- Bass effects are more expensive than guitar effects.
- In some cases, guitar pedals can sound better than bass-specific pedals
- Finding a sound that is uniquely yours
- Pedals that you can set and forget
- Backup guitar pedals can be found for cheap
Why Use Effects Pedals for Bass
You may wonder whether you should use pedals since bassists don’t usually use them.
The following are why you might want to use effects pedals for Bass and when they can be helpful.
- Fun to jam with at home
- To keep things interesting when jamming at home, you should have a variety of sounds to choose from.
- As satisfying as a rock-solid clean tone can be, a gnarly fuzz tone or an exotic synth sound can be just as rewarding.
- Playing with different tones and effects on your Bass can take your playing in new directions and spark new ideas.
- Better live tones
Our favourite bass tones had come from local bands playing live when the bassist used pedals to shape and sculpt different sounds to fit the music.
It is still a favourite memory of mine how I remember a bassist adding a subtle phaser to the band’s sound.
In this band, the subtle phaser on the Bass was more than enough to give a fresh sound to the guitarist because his tone is dry and lifeless.
Frequently Asked Questions
Listed below are some common questions regarding using bass pedals with guitars.
1. What pedals do I need for Bass?
Bass does not require any pedals. However, there are a variety of bass pedals you can add to your rig, depending on what genres of music you play.
Tuners, fuzz pedals, octave pedals, wah pedals, modulation pedals, and filter pedals are some of the pedals you might consider adding to your bass rig.
Every pedal type changes your tone in a completely different way, as explained earlier.
2. Can I use a guitar compressor for Bass?
Yes, any guitar compressor will work for Bass. Some guitar compressor pedals will likely sound better than others for Bass, but they should all be usable.
If you are serious about getting a high-quality compressor pedal for Bass, consider a pedal that has been designed explicitly for Bass.
3. How does a bass compressor pedal work?
You can control how tight the bass volume is by using a compressor pedal. Using a compressor pedal, you narrow down the differences between loud and soft notes and give your bass tone a more consistent range.
When playing Bass, you can benefit from using a compressor as a tone-shaping tool.
4. Do bass players use reverb?
The use of reverb is acceptable for bass players, but you need to be smart about how you do it. For example, when playing live, too much reverb can make your bass sound awful. In contrast, you can get great results if you play at home with reverb on Bass.
A reverb pedal will work best with Bass depending on where you play and your music style.
5. How do you chain bass pedals?
In terms of how you chain your bass pedals, it greatly depends on what type of tone you want to achieve. Although there are suggested rules for how your pedals must be chained, it’s best to learn how each pedal works as a part of your rig rather than follow the rules blindly.