What Is a Bass Guitar Preamp?

bass guitar preamp

Preamps for bass guitar are an invaluable way to hone and boost the signal before it reaches your amplifier, giving you more control of sound and tone whether playing live or recording studio recordings.

The Laney DB-PRE features an extensive set of EQ controls to enable you to tailor the sound of your bass before it reaches an amplifier. Furthermore, this pedal offers low-mid and high-mid sculpting options so you can achieve that fat, detailed bass that you want!

The Basics

Bass guitar preamps are an effective way of amplifying low frequencies before sending it onward to an amplifier, helping improve tone. Many preamps also come equipped with EQ controls that let you customize your sound further.

Step one of selecting a bass guitar preamp should be to identify which features are most essential to you and then narrow down your choices until finding one best suited to your needs.

As part of your bass preamp search, look for one with both dual inputs (DI box) and at least one balanced XLR or 1/4″ line level output – these outputs will allow you to send either your dry signal directly into an amplifier, or use effects units if applicable.

A bass preamp is an integral component of any serious bassist’s setup and should be considered by anyone looking to take their playing to the next level. A quality preamp will give you greater control of your signal while saving both time and energy in both live performance settings and studio settings.

Most bass guitar preamps offer various EQ settings for high, mid, and low frequency response; some even feature a drive circuit to add bass-friendly distortion effects.

Another feature to keep an eye out for in a bass guitar preamp is its amount of gain available. Some can go beyond aggressive levels while others offer low-gain settings so that you can dial back the gain without losing tone quality.

Some preamps offer an added boost function that amplifies your signal, making them particularly useful in low-volume situations.

Reducing distortion by increasing volume by raising treble, mid and bass knobs on your bass guitar requires using an 18-volt preamp with a higher signal-to-noise ratio than 9-volt preamps.

Budget and preferences will dictate which preamp pedal best meets the needs of most bassists; examples include Boonshot, MXR M81 and Tech 21.


Equalizers (EQs) are essential parts of a bass guitar’s sound, as they help shape its overall tone. Furthermore, EQs can improve resonance and volume levels to make your bass guitar sound more powerful, fuller, and fuller than ever. A good EQ can transform its tone for maximum effectiveness!

Bass EQs may be integrated directly into amplifiers, while others exist as external pedals that enable live performances by enabling players to adjust their bass’s tone quickly without having to go back over to their amp for adjustments. Outboard devices tend to be preferable due to allowing instantaneous tone adjustments when playing live; using an amplifier EQ limits this capability.

If you’re in search of an inexpensive bass EQ pedal, the Caline CP-24 may be for you. Featuring 10 sliders which enable you to accentuate or suppress specific frequencies as needed. Plus, its true bypass keeps tonal loss to a minimum.

MXR M81 bass preamp with built-in EQ is another convenient choice that offers high quality yet saves space.

It offers five-band EQ with +-18dB gain boost/cut, master level control, frequency centers and is small enough to be portable – perfect for gigging!

The Bos EQ-200 is one of the most flexible equalization pedals you can find, featuring 10 bands each with their own +-15dB adjustment knob and capable of creating left and right channels of stereo sound from mono signals.

Preamp pedals that support multiple styles are an ideal choice for bassists looking to expand their repertoire, such as this preamp pedal. Packed with features that will serve musicians of all experience levels well and at an attractive price point, it makes an excellent addition to any set up.

An equalizer (EQ) can help you to find the tone you desire by boosting and cutting frequencies that resonate well on your instrument. However, not all EQs are created equal so it is wise to shop around before purchasing one.

Equalization filters should be utilized with caution to avoid damaging speakers or inadvertently dismantling other instruments in the room. Bass EQ can also be utilized to add low end to your sound; however, only use it after having tuned your bass properly first.


A bass guitar preamp can be an invaluable way to fine-tune your tone for live performances or recordings, adding extra gain and coloration, such as tube-like tones. Or it can simply provide subtle enhancements such as warmth and depth. Some bass preamps even feature distortion or overdrive sections to give an extra punch and bite to their sound.

Preamps typically come equipped with a DI box, or direct output unit, that features either balanced XLR or 1/4″ line level output for sending dry signal out to amplifiers or PAs. Many also include an aux in/headphone jack so you can plug your headphones in and jam along to your favorite songs!

Some bass guitar preamps can be found on pedal boards or studio equipment, while others utilize actual tubes to preamplify your signal. Such circuits offer many tonal possibilities that are especially suitable for guitarists who frequently utilize fuzz effects in their music.

Many bass guitar preamps also include equalization controls that allow you to fine-tune and customize the tone of your instrument. Parametric equalization systems typically provide individual controls for Bass, Mid and Treble frequencies (or knobs and switches for those frequencies not covered), while some graphic equalization systems offer up/down sliders for precise tuning of each frequency range.

Most bass guitar preamps feature adjustable EQs that can be adjusted to achieve various tones, making it easy to find an optimal tone that compliments both your instrument and its surroundings on stage. You can even tailor it specifically to work with other elements in your rig, including amplifiers.

Most bass guitar preamps work best with passive pickup equipped basses; however, some can also work with active pickups by deactivating or bypassing them. Always consult with the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure that your instrument and preamp will function as intended.

Popular bass guitar preamps include the Ampeg SCR-DI, EHX Battalion and MXR M81 models. Users have raved about these models for their tone and versatility; lightweight designs make them convenient to transport during live gigging sessions or studio recordings.


A bass guitar preamp is a device that converts the signal from your instrument’s pickups into a clear tone, and is an essential tool if you want to add crunch or character to your sound.

Bass preamps offer many different features to meet the individual needs of musicians, from built-in compressors and extra EQ bands that let you fine tune your sound, to gain stages that overdrive input for extreme tones.

Some bass preamps also allow users to switch from active to passive mode, which can be helpful if using active pickups and seeking optimal tones, or passing through an amplifier with your bass.

Are You Searching for Ways to Alter the Sound of Your Bass in a Positive Manner? A preamp can provide a means of altering its tone in this manner while controlling its level of coloration.

Selecting the ideal preamp may not always be straightforward, but keeping certain factors in mind will ensure you find one tailored to your individual needs. First and foremost, evaluate how much room there is within your bass’s electronics cavity for accommodating your new preamp.

Your next consideration when setting up your new preamp should be how many controls it requires. With two pickups and a two band preamp, most likely you’ll require five (Volume, Blend, Tone1, Tone2, Treble and Bass controls).

As well as having sufficient space in your bass’s electronics cavity, selecting a high quality preamp will ensure you have an exceptional-sounding preamp that lasts over time.

Some of the premier bass preamps include John East’s Activator and EBS MicroBass 3, both portable bass preamps offering balanced XLR and 1/4″ line level outputs as well as dedicated effects loops and headphones outs – features which make them suitable for live performance as well as studio work.