Compression pedals reduce volume “peaks” for a more consistent sound. They are often placed near the beginning of your pedal chain.
Compression isn’t as glamorous an effect as a jangly chorus or shimmering reverb, but it’s a vital tool for bass players. It reduces the gain of volume peaks, which can even out your playing and prevent big brash parts from swamping any other instruments in a mix. It’s often a first pedal in your chain, although some prefer to place it further down in order to smooth out the differences in volume generated by effects that alter the dynamic range of your signal, like auto-wah or synth pedals.
Compressors come in a wide range of forms, from simple 1-knob designs to full-featured multi-band units. Some, such as TC’s Spectra Comp, pack an entire compressor pedal into the smallest possible enclosure. The only knob on this pedal is the one that controls the compression ratio, and it’s easy to use even for beginners. Advanced bassists can also tweak the Spectra Comp’s parameters using the company’s TonePrint app. The app lets you beam any compressor preset from your phone to the pedal, which is a great way to try out different compression styles.
Other compression pedals such as the Keeley Electronics Soul Preacher are built around an analog optical circuit and provide a wide range of compression ratios. It’s easy to set the threshold and release time to suit your own playing style and tempo, and a high ratio offers greater compression and sustain while low settings are suitable for thinning out your tone.
Many bassists use an octave pedal to split their bass signal in two and synthesize the sub-octave part, resulting in a deeper sound that can be played with more force. However, these pedals can only work correctly if the original signal is perfectly tracked, which makes them ideal to place after compression.
The best bass octave pedals track your signal so well that it feels natural and unforced, and the only drawback to this type of pedal is its reliance on battery power. A professional player will usually carry backups or use an AC/DC power supply to avoid any unexpected sound changes as batteries die. If you’re using a DC power supply, make sure it provides the correct amount of current for your pedals and has isolated outputs so that each pedal receives its own voltage.
Boost and overdrive pedals are a must-have for any bassist. Overdrive pedals can take your bass tone to a whole new level by increasing the gain of your signal and adding a slight distortion to it. They are perfect for creating classic rock tones and slamming metal. Some overdrive pedals like the Darkglass Super Symmetry Bass Compressor also include a built-in EQ with Flat, Middle and Bell frequencies which can help balance your tone even more.
Filter pedals are another essential tool to have on a bass pedal board. They can help tame low end, while enhancing upper harmonics for a clearer sound. Some filters can also add a subtle midrange boost which helps to create more punch and definition to your bass guitar tone. The Darkglass Alpha Omega is a great example of a high-quality filter pedal. It has a simple layout with easy-to-read knobs and an LED backlight that makes it easier to see under murky stage lighting. It also comes with a TonePrint feature which allows you to beam a custom compression algorithm directly from your phone to the pedal.
Modulation pedals such as chorus, flanger and phasers should be placed after your compressor and distortion pedals. These pedals work by copying the input signal and detuning one or more of these copies over time. This will produce a variety of sounds ranging from subtle chorusing to intense modulation.
Reverb, echo and delay pedals should also be placed after your compressor and distortion pedals. This is because these pedals often work by creating a small number of copies of the original signal and then playing them back at different speeds and for different lengths of time. By putting them at the end of the chain, these effects will be more prominent than if they were put in earlier in the signal chain.
A compressor may not be the flashiest or sexiest pedal in your rig, but they are an unsung hero when it comes to creating a level and balanced bass sound. They are particularly useful for dynamic, percussive styles such as funk and metal.
A wah pedal is a fun effect that allows bassists to create their own signature sound. The pedal can be used to control the mix between a dry bass sound and a colored distorted tone. It is a useful tool for funk bassists to add a bit of extra dirt to their tone and make it stand out. The Cry Baby wah is a popular choice among bassists as it features a potentiometer and circuitry designed for bass frequencies.
While bass guitars are not the ideal instrument to use a lot of effects, it is still possible to craft a solid and unique tone using various pedals. It is important to understand how and where to arrange your pedals on a bass guitar pedal board, however. By using the right combination of pedals, you can achieve a powerful and mind-blowing bass sound.
Conventional wisdom suggests that bass players should place their wah and filter pedals at the beginning of their signal chain, followed by compression and overdrive, modulation and pitch-based effects, and delay and reverb. This order is intended to preserve the full frequency range and dynamic response of the bass guitar and reduce unwanted frequencies that can damage speakers and ears at high levels.
The wah and filter pedals can also help bassists to shape their bass tone and create a wide variety of sounds. Bassists who play metal music, for example, often like to use a wah pedal in conjunction with a distortion pedal in order to get a more aggressive and heavy sound. Bassists can also use a wah pedal in conjunction with compression and overdrive in order to get a cleaner and tighter sound.
Pedal boards for bass guitars can feature a number of different types of effects, including envelope filters, chorus, flangers, and reverbs. While these pedals can be useful for bassists, they are not as useful as other effects such as compression and overdrive. In addition, bassists should try to avoid using pedals that are known to cause unwanted noise or feedback. For example, bassists should avoid using a tremolo or rotary effect on their bass pedal board.
A tuner is essential for any bass player, but not all of them are created equal. The Peterson Strobostomp HD is easily the best tuner pedal on the market right now. Its design is compact and rugged, with a high accuracy rating and a variety of display modes. It can even support up to 200mA of daisy chained pedals, which makes it a good choice for those who need to power multiple effects with one unit.
Bass guitar pedals come in all shapes and sizes from a variety of brands. Some are straight-to-the-point and simple, while others offer a wide range of options, from simple distortions to intricate EQs. There are even multi-FX units that house a selection of effects from different manufacturers. These are great for bass players who want to try out a wide range of sounds but don’t have the space or budget for a whole pedalboard.
The order in which you place your bass guitar pedals can make a huge difference to their tone. For example, if you put a compressor pedal first in your signal chain, it will compress the volume “peaks” of each note that you play and will give your bass a more consistent sound. This is ideal for dynamic, percussive styles such as funk and metal.
While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, there are a few general rules that can help you choose the best order for your pedal board. It is generally a good idea to put any pedals that affect the entire signal (such as overdrive and EQs) at the beginning of the chain. This will ensure that they don’t affect the tone that was already created by other pedals. It is also a good idea to place modulation pedals (such as chorus, flanger and phaser) after any distortion pedals. This will prevent the distortion from warping the tone of the modulation pedal.
It is also a good idea to have a tuner at the end of your signal chain, just in case you lose track of where you are in your tuning. This will allow you to quickly and easily re-tune your bass without having to rely on a clip-on tuner or smartphone app.