Most bassists are of the thought that a distortion pedal will only give your solos an extra push. And that is obvious. Your notes will sound better.
But did you know that a distortion pedal, when added to your rig, has other significant responsibilities?
For instance, think about a bass guitar without any pedal. While some music styles do not demand one, the problem is that you may never know your instrument’s full potential; and no bassist wants to hear that. With a good distortion pedal, you will add a new sound quality to your instrument.
Besides that, a good distortion pedal also provides brighter tones to your bass grooves.
These are some of the reasons why most guitarists nowadays will have a distortion pedal added to their rig.
With so many brands in the market, most people have difficulty figuring out which are the best bass distortions to buy.
And we agree. Looking for one can be quite a task, especially if you are new to guitar pedals.
So, in the efforts of making things easy for you, we did our research to find out which distortions are out there. We reviewed so many of them and noted some of the pedals that the elite players use. Therefore, in this article, we will highlight the top ten best bass distortion pedals that we found.
Top 10 Bass Distortion Pedals 2021 Reviews
1. Source Audio Aftershock Bass Distortion Pedal
We wondered why people, typically many bass players, reviewed this distortion pedal. But on testing it, we found that there is more to this pedal than you could ever imagine.
The distortion is quite pricey, but its appeal will brighten up the aesthetic of your pedalboard. It comes with an orange-brown appeal, and at the front, lies the user-friendly control panel. You will require a 9V adapter to power it.
You will also find a USB within the bundle to connect the pedal with your phone.
It comes with a variety of options for the player to explore. Primarily, you will find four bands, including drive, level, clean, and tone. It also has a three-way toggle switch for tube, heavy, and fuzz. You can switch between all these three options to see which sound works best with your guitar.
With the numerous tweaking options, your instrument will sound different. On pressing the bass distortion footswitch, it will immediately boost the signal and provide the kind of bass punch you desire right from the word go.
Source Audio also provides an app for a broader spectrum. It offers more than 40 frequency bands. Download the Free Neuro app and connect your pedal with your device, and you are good to go.
The distortion pedal is suitable for players who want to grow and explore different sounds at a professional level. With the numerous effect controls, you can be sure that your performance will never be the same again.
2. TC Electronic Dark Matter Distortion Effect Pedal
If you want to have fun playing your bass guitar, then the Dark Matter distortion effect pedal should inspire you to play for extended hours as you explore different sounds.
The distortion provides four controls; in essence, gain, level, bass, and treble. In the middle, there is a voicing switch. Its footswitch is a true bypass, which means that your signal path remains clear when you switch off the pedal.
With the four controls available, you can sculpt the sound to whatever you would like. The gain control provides an extra punch on the distortion while the level knob adds the volume.
On the other hand, the bass adds some low ends on your instrument, and the treble control ensures that your high strings sound brighter and attain the tonal quality that you would like.
The voice switch provides a modern sound for the player. You can also use it to feel your tone with a retro, sort of vibe, which sounds cool to many.
Although the Dark Matter is ideal for guitarists as well, this pedal was made for the electric bass guitar. Once switched off, you are sure that you will not be putting the instrument any time soon. Both practice sessions and performances will be brighter to the level you would like.
Besides that, the pedal offers a modern tonal qualities to your playability and suits any playing style. It also functions with any bass guitar, including six strings. With its price, this is a superb start for beginners who want to start exploring different distortion pedals.
3. Electro-Harmonix Bass Soul Food Bass Distortion Effects Pedal
The Electro- Harmonix, in our opinion, is one of the high-end distortion pedals built with the bassist in mind. Its focus on the low-end is what most bass players are looking in any effects pedal.
Just know that the pedal will not occupy much space on your pedalboard. With its compact design, it provides an easy-to-use control panel, which features a volume, drive, blend, and treble controls. The toggle switch helps to compress noise from louder instruments, or bass guitars with noisy pickups.
At the bottom, you will find the true bypass/ buffered footswitch.
Other than the distortion, the bass guitarist will get a plethora of sound options from the four controls available. For instance, the output increases when you turn the volume in a clockwise manner. Also, the drive provides an extra punch on the bass. At full level, the drive turns into a total distortion.
For players who would still want the original sound input from the guitar, you can use the blend button to tweak how much of the dry bass sound you would like to hear.
The buffered footswitch, though not preferred by many players, ensures that the pedal affects the sound output even when the pedal is off. However, you can switch to a true bypass to ensure that the signal output is uncompromised.
Though most of the distortion pedals can be used on guitars, this one is for the bass specifically. It provides the low-end frequencies a bit more than the highs. Hence, your bass guitar sounds professional and unique right from the word go.
By the way, the pedal runs on both batteries and a 9V power adapter, which the manufacturer provides in the bundle.
4. Darkglass Alpha Omega Ultra Pedal
The Darkglass Alpha Omega Ultra pedal gives you the kind of versatility that most distortion pedals fail to provide. A simple glance at this pedal will give you so much to talk about with your friends.
Everything on this pedal is appealing. It offers a plethora of effects and tweaking options that will make your instrument sound different and unique.
It provides a pre-amp with six bands, which range from 250 Hz to 3 kHz. Each band has an LED light for easy visibility, especially in a dim room. You switch on this pre-amp by stepping on the bypass footswitch.
On the side, you have an XLR port to channel it straight to your mixer.
Apart from the bypass footswitch, you will also have the distortion footswitch. You can use the Mod, blend, level, and drive controls to achieve the kind of effect you desire. Note that the Mod has two options: Alpha and Omega. Both have their distinct impact on the level of distortion you would like.
The blend helps to balance the level of the dry signal from the bass and the distortion. It also reduces the signal output you will here, the more you move in the clockwise direction.
If you want more effects on the distortion, the player can also connect the pedal using the Micro-USB port.
After seeing this pedal, we concluded that this pedal would be an ideal gift for a bass player who wants to tweak the distortion to suit different styles. With the pre-amp, you can change the clean output to suit your needs. Overall, this is a versatile pedal, and you should invest in it for recording, practice, and live performances.
5. Electro-Harmonix Bass Big Muff Distortion Pedal
Bass players who want to achieve more low ends on their instrument should definitely go for this instrument. It comes with a simple design that everyone is going to love and enjoy using it.
The Electro Harmonix Bass Big Muff provides a rugged metal casing with a retro vibe. Although it offers modern bass tones, it will take you right back to the 60s. Its control panel features three controls, mainly volume, tone, and sustain.
It also features a three toggle switch for normal, bass boost, and dry effects.
Primarily, this distortion pedal offers you a more low-end effect, which most of the pedals lack. You can use the volume control to help you increase the fuzz; the tone will boost the overall tone of your instrument; the sustain control provides that extra sustain for your distortion.
Note that, at low volume the dirt tend to decrease and the fuzz begins to kick in as you increase the volume.
If you do not want to use the pedal, you can switch it to dry. At this point, the pedal will be on bypass mode, and your bass will sound normal. However, you can use the volume control to boost the signal.
The distortion comes at a pricey point. But with the simple design it comes with, beginners should not shy off from trying out this distortion pedal. It comes handy in almost all situations, and it should provide your instrument with that extra dirt that your playing style needs.
6. Ibanez TS9B 9 Series Bass Tube Screamer Distortion Pedal
If you have been playing bass guitar for a while, then you are familiar with the Ibanez brand. They are famous for producing the best bass guitars. And now, they have a TS9 Tube screamer Distortion pedal.
The distortion pedal provides a green casing with five controls, featuring drive, level, bass, mix, and treble. Its maximum gain offers up to +30 dB.
The stomp box provides that extra tonal quality that you desire to achieve. You can sustain, mutate, and twist the tone to your liking with the mix provided. You can also play around with the blend to produce different sounds.
Apart from distortion, the player can achieve a fuzzy sound. Overall, the pedal does not compromise on the low-end frequencies, which is why this pedal remains a top ten bass distortion pedal.
With an elaborate mix, this pedal is ideal people that want their bass to remain subtle and sound crazy at maximum distortion. Players who love metal should buy this pedal since it can achieve extra dirty fuzz sounds. With the overdrive frequencies, funky players can also benefit from this pedal.
7. BOSS BB-1X Bass Driver Guitar Pedal
If you are looking for a distortion pedal that offers a wide range of tones and does not control the overall sound of your instrument, then the Boss BB-1X is the pedal to buy. It features a variety of qualities that make it a valuable asset to any bass player.
When buying a pedal, you must consider its appeal. The BB-1X has a similar standard casing like any other BOSS pedal. Its appeal is modern since it has a bypass footswitch, and a shiny control panel with chrome hardware.
The control panel comes with a blend, high, low, and drive controls. Hence, it is easy for beginners to control the pedal easily.
On the side, you will find two outputs: the output and the line out for direct connection to your output. Besides that, you can power it using a 9V battery or a power adapter. The manufacturer provides both.
The main reason why this pedal is one of the best, especially in its price range, is that it offers the bass player excellent tones that others fail to achieve. With a complete understanding of the control panel, you can be sure that your bass guitar will sound different.
For instance, the blend provides a mix of both original bass from the instrument and the distortion pedal. The drive offers more distortion as you increase. At maximum, you will produce a full distortion or fuzz.
The BBX-1 is an excellent instrument for bass players who want to jump right into the pedal world. It is also a proper gift for professionals.
You can achieve a variety of sounds and low-end tones with this pedal as long as you know how to tweak the settings. Other than that, this pedal adapts to any environment, whether you are recording, performing, or practicing.
8. MXR M80 Bass D.I.+
Bass players who are looking for distortion pedals that can offer both clean and crunchy tones should buy the MXR M80 Bass D.I.+. With it, you can achieve a whole lot of tonal variations to adapt to different situations.
Unlike most distortion pedals, this one will occupy more space but for some reason. It features extra controls for both clean and distortion.
The control panel features two footswitches: One for distortion and another for effect. It also has pre-amp EQ bands (bass, mid, and treble) and phantom power to facilitate independent mixing for the pedal.
At the top, you will find the clean volume for clean tones. It controls the overall gain even when on distortion. The distortion panel comes with four controls featuring volume, blend, trigger, and Gain.
The pedal comes with different output ports for various purposes. It has a parallel output, direct XLR output, and output ports. XLR allows you to connect to your mixer directly if you do not have an amplifier.
With this distortion pedal, you can try out different tonal options. Your bass will sound good when you tweak the various controls. Note that the pedal also has a noise gate to reduce the noise coming from noisy pickups.
The instrument offers fuzzy sounds, which are suitable for people playing metal rock or bass solos.
9. MXR M85 Bass Distortion
At first, we were a bit skeptical about the MXR M85 bass distortion pedal. However, when we heard it play, we thought that this would be a super cool pedal for bass players that want to enjoy the kind of distortion that most professionals prefer.
The MXR M85 brings together modern and vintage appeals in one design. It comes with four controls and a switch for Silicon and LED clipping diodes. The four controls comprise of dry, wet, tone, and distortion.
It also features a bypass footswitch to keep the signal tone clean when switched off.
Primarily, this distortion pedal delivers the kind of distortion that will push your bass guitar to sound better.
Instead of having to switch it off to get the dry signal, you can tweak the wet signal to zero, and you will receive the dry sound from the instrument. With this in mind, you can blend both the dry and wet knobs to come up with a blend of distortion and original output.
For bassists that would love to add some mid ranges to the overall output, you can switch on the LED. When you switch it off into silicone, the mid-ranges will disappear.
The MXR M85 Bass Distortion pedal delivers the right amount of distortion that any rock player would love. With different controls, you can alter the output depending on your mood and setting. Hence, for people that like to invest in quality pedals, this should be a worthy musical asset.
10. Behringer Bass Overdrive BOD400 Effects Pedal
Finally yet importantly is the Behringer Bass Overdrive pedal. Beginners who would like a pedal distortion that is not too costly should try out this pedal.
Unlike most distortion pedals that bring that retro vibe to your rig, this one offers a chilled-out modern design. It features several controls that help in tweaking the tone of the instrument. These controls include level to control the overall volume, high, low, gain, and balance.
The distortion pedal does not compromise your bass guitar sounds in any way. It provides a variety of tone controls to try out, and with the gain, you can achieve fantastic overdrive tones and distortion. The balance knob acts as the blend knob if you would like a mix of dry (from the instrument) and wet (distortion from the instrument).
Although it is a low-end distortion pedal, this is worth a try. It brings both dirt and bright tones without compromising any tone structure.
More About Pedals:
Best Bass Distortion Pedals Buying Guide
Conventionally, all you needed to operate your bass guitar was an amp. But nowadays, specific bass players who play genres such as jazz, RnB, funk, and rock, will use a bass distortion pedal to add some dirt and crunch to their clean bass sounds.
The market is full of different bass distortion pedals from various brands, so choosing the best one can be quite tricky.
Hence, in this article, we will show you what you should consider when choosing the best bass distortion pedal for your bass.
Why you need the bass distortion pedal
Primarily, bass distortion pedals may be similar to the ones you use for your guitar. However, the difference is that these pedals will distort the sound by offering more of the low frequencies. Which means that if you are going to use it on your guitar, you may not get bright tones.
Other than adding distortion, these guitars add some level of sustain. Most rock players need this as it provides continuity, which is vital in this genre.
You can also use it for solos. If you have a bass guitar with more strings, let’s say a six-string, you can add the effect to make the notes sweeter.
Consider the headroom
When you are at a guitar store, you’ll hear players or the salespersons talk about the pedal’s headroom. At first, this term can confuse you. But it’s nothing to worry about.
The headroom is simply how high and low the pedal can squash the clean signal. It also has to do with the effect, or the level of dirt you will start to hear when the knob is at maximum.
Manufacturers typically state the headroom in terms of dB or KHz. And to identify this, you may have to test it yourself with your bass guitar.
Difference between overdrive, fuzz, and distortion
Now, each distortion pedal offers three kinds of the wet signal. The can add some drive (It boosts the clean sound just above its headroom), distortion, or fuzz. When the configuration is at fuzz, it means that the bass signal is way above the headroom.
The distortion lies somewhere between the drive and the fuzz.
Some pedals can offer these three effects, or it may only provide one or two of these. So, before you buy, get to know the kind of contribution that the pedal will bring to your rig first.
By the way, some distortion pedals come with a blend control knob. If the unit has two or three of these effects, the blend knob will try to balance the signal.
Should you go for bypass or buffered pedals?
A pedal with the bypass signal will not distort the sound when you switch it off, while a buffered pedal will change the quality of the signal even when it’s (the pedal) off.
If you are a beginner, choosing between the two is not easy. But most players, I believe, will go for the bypass one. However, the buffered pedals can be ideal for particular music scenarios.
Some pedals also come with both of these options. They’ll have a toggle switch to change the setting when the musician needs it.
Examine the size
Bass distortion pedals come in different sizes and shapes. Some are bigger than others are. But size doesn’t change the way bass pedal functions. In fact, some of the best pedals are small. What matters, therefore, most is the headroom.
So, where does size come in when choosing a bass distortion pedal?
The answer is when considering the size of your pedalboard. If your board is small, then your only option is to go for a smaller size.
Last But Not Least
When choosing the best bass distortion pedals for your needs, you’ll need to consider the factors we’ve just highlighted in our article. Look for a pedal that has multiple tone shaping abilities so that you can enjoy using it anytime.
And when it comes to budget, review as many pedals as possible, and put your needs first. That way, you’ll make a firm decision about how much money you’d like to spend.
For sure, most brands offer competitive bass distortion pedals. But when selecting, it is up to you to consider the kind of sound you would like to achieve with your instrument. Put your priorities first, and you will not regret your choice.
Remember, even a low end may sound better and uncompromised.
Therefore, if it is possible, test the pedal with your instrument. An initial sound test will give you a better picture of whether this pedal will sound good with your bass guitar or not. Also, get to know the inside-outs of the pedal to avoid returning something that would have worked well with your rig.
From the above list, we found the Source Audio Aftershock Bass Distortion Pedal as our top pick. Everything from its appeal, to the sound options it provides, makes it a suitable instrument for beginners and elite bass players. With this distortion pedal on your rig, you can be sure that it will stay on while playing and practicing different styles, and throughout a performance.