Bass Guitar Pedal Chain Order

bass guitar pedal chain order

Order of pedals can make an important impactful statement about the tone you produce; those which produce tone typically precede those which modify or change it and so forth.

Modulation effects such as flangers and choruses should follow any tone-producing pedals for optimal results. They work best when provided with an even, balanced volume.


Tuners are pedals located at the very beginning of your signal chain that serve to muffle bass signal so you can accurately tune. Tuners should ideally come before any overdrive effects such as overdrive pedals or filter mods as these could interfere with producing pure and clean tones for tuning purposes. Placing it after distortion or overdrive pedals may result in warped signals making accurate reading difficult.

Filtration Effects – Filter and filtration effects may include wah pedals, envelope filters (auto-wahs), low and high pass filtering effects as well as other filtering devices. They should usually come early on a bass player’s chain as these effects have the power to transform their tone completely; working best when coupled with clean signals. Some players, however, prefer placing them later; especially polyphonic octave shifting pedals which could potentially alter its pitch without being affected by drive pedals.

Overdrive and Distortion Pedals – Overdrive and Distortion pedals such as the Rattler by LusithandGround, Marshall-in-a-box type pedals like Aguilar Agro or Darkglass Microtubes B3k from Marshall in a Box series or fuzz pedals such as Red Muckby Jukebox RAT are among the various overdrive/distortion/fuzz options that bass players use before filters/EQ or filters, providing noticeable boosts to tone that better matches clean signals than compressed/overdriven ones.


Filters are bass guitar pedals designed to cut or boost certain frequencies, typically at specific frequency ranges. Their placement within your pedal chain largely depends on your intended use and tone preference; you could place one either before or after other effects depending on how and what tone is desired. Filters may help smooth out harsh high-frequency tones or add extra sparkle – typically this would include filter, EQ, overdrive/distortion effects as well as modulation effects like phase shifters/flangers/choruses in this order.

As your first stop on the pedal board is often a tuner, which should sit before everything else so it can listen for the most pure signal from your guitar, dynamics pedals like compressors and volume boosters can then be introduced gradually.

Drive and overdrive pedals use your clean guitar signal to produce an array of gain tones ranging from subtle edge of breakup through crunchy classic rock and high-gain madness. They should be placed early on in your chain to avoid amplifying noise produced by previous pedals.

Modulation pedals such as phase shifters, tremolo and chorus should usually be placed near the end of a chain as their effects work best with compressed signals. But experimentation is always encouraged when creating a bass guitar pedalboard.


Compressor pedals work in similar fashion: when signal levels exceed their threshold volume level, it gets compressed. This reduces peaks and maintains more consistent tonality across your tone – an essential tool for controlling wild overdrive pedals or effects that increase your volume to clipping levels, or any pedal that performs volume swells.

Octave pedals operate differently than most effects pedals; they split your signal and synthesize it into two distinct forms. For optimal performance, such as tracking signals more closely and reacting more sensitively to playing dynamics, octave pedals should be placed nearer the beginning of your signal chain before buffers or compression pedals are added. This allows them to adapt better.

Next are pedals based around gain such as overdrive and distortion. Some players like to place the compressor pedal before these gain-based effects to add a natural dynamic element to your drive; other players use it after so that it can reduce overdrive’s peaks while eliminating noise that might arise at high levels.

After these pedals have been established, most people opt to add in an equalizer pedal (EQ pedal). Since EQ pedals remove frequencies from your signal and help balance out tone by eliminating certain frequencies from it, an EQ pedal may help balance out subsequent pedals added later.


Many players opt to include overdrive or distortion pedals in their rig, but their order of use is crucial. Overdrive pedals can make bass sound muddy if placed too close to the end of your effects chain, so most players tend to place them closer to the beginning. Some prefer adding them after compression and wah pedals in order to preserve dynamic tone control; ultimately it comes down to individual preference.

Modulation pedals such as chorus, flanging or flanger are often the last pedal in a standard signal chain, with frequency modulation altering frequency and phase to alter guitar tone. They should come after any tone-producing effects to produce desired tonality while before any time-based effects that produce changes that change frequency or phase of guitar signal.

Many players find it beneficial to place time-based pedals like delay and reverb at the end of their effects chains to allow these pedals to do their magic without being overshadowed by other pedals in the chain. Others may prefer placing these effects earlier, particularly if using them to create ambience or texture within their music. Experimentation should always be encouraged; don’t be afraid to break rules! Sometimes an unexpected pedal combination can produce some truly captivating results!


Wah pedals are one of the most recognizable electric guitar effects available. They modify your signal by filtering out high frequencies to create their distinctive cry-like tone, which is often found in rock, jazz and funk music. Mick Ronson famously used one to craft David Bowie’s iconic bass tone on Ziggy Stardust using one.

Traditionally, wah pedals should be placed before dynamics pedals such as compressors and volume pedals for best results. This ensures that their signal can travel through freely before it is altered by these dynamics pedals; however, some players prefer placing it later to create more distinct sounds; this ultimately depends on personal taste and individual tonal needs – experiment to discover what suits you!

As many different wah pedals exist today, from basic models like the Jim Dunlop Cry Baby 95Q to more expensive units with additional tonal control options, you have plenty of choices when it comes to finding your ideal pedal. While basic models like Cry Baby 95Q don’t feature additional controls such as those found on more upmarket units such as Xotic CW-77 have features such as voicing switches to control frequency range and boost functions to accent specific frequencies; or you could try an entirely true bypass unit like V846 Hand-Wired Wah wah, which offers extreme versatility through premium components combined with unrivalled human care for detail!


Delay and reverb pedals are considered time-based effects, which means they don’t alter the actual tone but rather create ambient space around each bass guitar note. As such, they are best used toward the end of your chain so as to have access to a clean signal which they can manipulate real-time; otherwise they risk having their modulations warped by distortion or overdrive pedals, leading to an indistinguishable cacophony of noise.

Some players may opt to depart from the standard pedal chain order if they require more precise and uncontaminated signals from specific effects, like Tame Impala guitarist Kevin Parker running his reverb through his phaser to produce its iconic swirling, psychedelic sounds.

Pedal order is an individual decision, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to making sure it sounds best for you. By understanding how each pedal on your board works and its unique abilities, understanding where they should belong in the chain. While experimentation and deviation from rules may lead to great results; after all, it isn’t just about pedal order – it’s about creating music you enjoy listening to. That’s why finding combinations of pedals that works for you is so crucial.