In order to get a good dirty bass tone, it is best done with a good distortion pedal made specifically for bass players. We actually took a look at quite a few different pedals for this and came up with this list of eight of our favorites.
The Electro-Harmonix Bass Big Muff Distortion Pedal is the fuzz pedal that low-end experts have been looking for. Bassists can now get that iconic fuzz sound that their six-string counterparts have had for years. EH has been making some of the highest quality effects pedals on the market for years. Some of the most innovative musicians in history have included them in their pedalboard.
The latest version of the Electro-Harmonix Bass Big Muff Distortion Pedal, the Pi, is an ideal version. It uses the same design as its big brother. The pedal is designed to much smaller as its counterparts. This enables it to fit into just about any pedalboard out there, no matter how cluttered it is.
When I first plugged the pedal in, I was taken aback at how similar it sounded to the bigger version of the pedal. Then, I thought about the price and I was more pleased. Other bass players must have had the same reaction because the pedal is getting great reviews from musicians everywhere so far.
It’s true that the Big Muff pedal has gone through a lot of changes during its existence in the Electro-Harmonix line. It has been used by some of the most famous bass players in history. Bootsy Collins has famously used the pedal. Even though it has been through so many changes, the Big Muff has maintained a loyal and steadfast fanbase throughout its existence. This is due to the pedals consistency at providing a unique but still classic fuzz sound.
The MXR M85 Bass Distortion is, for me, a drive pedal that certainly did not disappoint. I find using it gives the classic distortions, except that it is specifically designed for bass players. The pedal also allows for both an aggressive, biting sound or a more open, dynamic sound with increased gain. Just use the SIL switch for the former and the LED for the latter. I prefer playing the aggressive sound with a bit of compression, though bottom line is that this pedal has great sound quality.One unique and very useful feature I found in the MXR M85 Bass Distortion is it’s wet and dry signal blend which makes removes the need for me to split the clean and dirty signals between two amplifiers to get an intact low frequency sound.
I’ve owned several MXR products and they are all of premium quality, and this one is no exception. The pedal keeps the bass frequency consistent, has two flavors with amazing sound quality, has a wet and dry signal, and is of high quality! I have read somewhere that this drive pedal was made based on a classic distortion circuit famous for its nasty sound, and I fully agree this pedal inherited that! This product is pretty extreme and is something I normally wouldn’t recommend to those players who like to keep it simple, or are less experienced. But for those people who enjoy going to the extreme, both in life and in music, then this drive pedal is a perfect match!
Add the Electro-Harmonix Bass Soul Food Bass Distortion Effects Pedal to the list of world-class bass effects pedals that the company has supplied at a great price to consumers. Not all bass players want distortion but the ones that do want it to be warm and round, not tinny and brittle. This pedal provides exactly that to bass players. On top of that, it is small enough not to disrupt the layout of any pedal board. When it comes to rocking out, there’s nothing wrong with putting things into overdrive. The designers at EH understand this completely.
When I first played on the pedal, I noticed how little the original tone of my Fender Jazz Bass was altered when the effects were added. This is an ideal situation when it comes to overdrive. Too many overdrive pedals completely replace the original sound with grainy distorted overdrive. It seems like this would be effective, but good sounds actually cut through a mix much better than loud sounds. The pedal is made completely out of analog wires and connectors. This is how it maintains its integrity no matter how much you are pushing it through your amplifier.
The Electro-Harmonix Bass Soul Food Bass Distortion Effects Pedal is a tad bigger than some of the other bass pedals in their line. It is about two inches high and just under 3 inches long. It has quarter inch ins and outs and comes with a 9V power adapter. If your surge protector is full, it can also be powered via 9V battery.
The Xvive Bass Pedal Distortion came as a good surprise. After receiving the delivery and opening it, its compact size is super practical! This gives me one less problem to worry about when I go to gigs. Features-wise, it has controls for volume, distortion, compression, and an on-off distortion toggle switch. Right of the bat, the compression blend control and distortion toggle switch already makes this pedal a winner. This pedal gives me a punchier tone and works as a great compression for bass. I find that this pedal is easy to use and very fun to tweak! I love the quality and design as well.
I must also give props to the Xvive Bass Pedal Distortion given its price. It is also more quiet than the more expensive bass compressors out there. If you have plans to do a recording or will be doing a gig soon, this is a good pedal to partner with. For both live performances and studio recordings, this pedal gives a smooth sound and an increased sustain. For its very affordable price yet awesome quality, I think this should be on the top of people’s lists if they are looking to buy a distortion bass pedal while on a budget. It is one of the constants in my pedalboard. I think, to some extent, it is comparable to some pedals by Boss; this one puts up a good fight and is highly dynamic! To cap it off, it also has an optional overdrive circuit. As I said, this one just keeps on giving happy surprises.
The Source Audio One Series AfterShock Bass Distortion is a pedal that comes packed with three bass distortion circuits that are capable of dishing out a wide range of tones from a smooth overdrive to a biting mid-range distortion, and to a full-on fuzz attack. This distortion pedal also produces a smooth but powerful vintage tone that also comes with plenty of punch and a nice smooth breakup. I had the opportunity of using this tube drive and here is my review.
The AfterShock has a control panel that is powerful and yet very simple to operate. Its layout is simple, something that makes accessing the right control knob for the right job very easy. The Tone control knob allows you to adjust the texture of your tone from smooth and calm to thunderous. When you adjust the Clean knob, you can now maintain a rock-solid low-end foundation in your clean signal and your sonic growl will not be comprised.
Something that impressed me a lot with this distortion pedal is that it gives you access to extended equalization capabilities when you connect it to the Neuro Mobile App on iOS or Android devices or the Neuro Effects Editor Software on Windows or Mac computers. You will also have access to 12 different kinds of distortion, fuzz, and overdrive from the Neuro Mobile App and Neuro Software. All these effects can be uploaded to either one of the three mode switch locations of the pedal. This pedal can save up to 128 presets and is fully MIDI compatible when connected to the Source Audio Hub.
The Source Audio One Series AfterShock Bass Distortion is great for playing together with a bass guitar, and therefore, I would highly recommend it.
6. Aguilar AGRO
Aguilar is one of the most respected names in the music industry when it comes to bass cabinets and amplifiers. The company also makes some significant effects pedals as well. It used to be that only guitarists would use effects pedals to shape their sound. More bass players are now doing the same. I am always on the hunt for a great bass distortion pedal for my rock gigs. That’s why I decided to give the Aguilar AGRO Bass Distortion Effect Pedal a test run.
I ran my bass through it and played on it for a couple of hours. The most impressive thing about the Aguilar AGRO Bass Distortion Effect Pedal is how versatile it is. The pedal can go from warm analog overdrive sounds all the way to gritty and angry distortion tones at the drop of a hat. For bass players who play a lot of styles during a gig, this pedal is very useful.
It is surprising how versatile the AGRO is considering its simple design. There are only four knobs on the smallish pedal. They determine level, saturation, presence, and contour. The versatility comes with the range that each parameter presents the player.
Despite all that this pedal offers, it is priced reasonably. The pedal comes with a 9V power adapter included. Each one also has a 3-year factory warranty. The pedal is small enough to fit into any signal chain or pedal board comfortably. It has 1/4″ ins and outs and is true bypass.
You need a good distortion pedal in your rig if you want to be a pro. There will be some gigs where the sound is necessary. I recently had a chance to test out the Darkglass Electronics DAR-MTB7KLTD Bass Distortion Effects Pedal. It is a great distortion pedal designed specifically for bass frequencies. Here are some of my favorite things about it.
Microtubes – My problem with most bass distortions lies mostly with digital models. They take away warmth in my low end that I have worked so hard for. The Darkglass Electronics DAR-MTB7KLTD Bass Distortion Effects Pedal has microtubes. The smaller tubes go a long way towards giving my bass a rich chocolatey distortion.
The Blend – The blend on this model was incredibly smooth. The slope of the blend function allowed me to integrate my dry and overdriven signals to my exact taste. Many other pedals with this function jump to much from one point to the next making it hard to get the exact amount.
The Grunt Switch – What an aptly named function. Using the grunt switch, you can determine how much you want the overdrive to saturate the low end on your sound. There are three different modes. It also prevents the bass overdrive sound from clipping.
Attack Switch – There is also an Attack Switch that does the opposite job of the Grunt Switch. It determines how much the treble range in the signal is saturated with overdrive.
The Darkglass bass distortion is not the cheapest bass distortion you can find. It brings a lot of high-quality tonal options. It also has one of the warmest distortion tones I’ve heard from a bass effects pedal.
The IdiotBox Blower Box Bass Distortion is probably the angriest sounding bass distortion pedal on the market. Just one look at the artwork on the pedal will give you this impression. I’m a huge fan of metal music, so I couldn’t wait to give it a spin in my studio.
The bass pedal is designed for use just by metal bassists from its visual appearance. I soon discovered that this isn’t the case. IdiotBox made a distortion pedal that has a huge range of tonal options and can still fit in your rig.
You can control the volume that it outputs with the knob in the upper left corner. Be sure to carefully place the IdiotBox Blower Box Bass Distortion in the right place in your signal chain for proper gain staging. You can control the amount of distortion in the signal with the knob on the bottom left.
One of my favorite aspects of this pedal is the ability to EQ the distortion signal. Knobs for both high and low frequencies exist. The EQ knobs help bassists achieve a chunky sound all the way to a sharp distortion tone with just a few adjustments. Not all bass pedals offer this, and it is a big reason why the effect is so versatile.
The pedal is powered either by a 9V battery or a 9V power adapter. The Boss 9V power adapter is recommended to power this unit efficiently. If you play bass and guitar, it’s nice to know that this pedal sounds great with both of them.
Looking for something slightly different? We also looked at what we consider to be the best bass overdrive pedal.