9 best bass distortion pedal

The best distortion for guitar is the one that is more similar to your way of playing and your taste, so the criterion to decide what it may be is strictly personal, so we suggest you try as many as possible and always use your guitar during the rehearsals, and not that of a friend or a shopkeeper, otherwise you risk that what could become your favorite distortion instead go unnoticed.

Guide to the choice of effects for bass

The effects for electric bass are devices that modify the original sound of the electric bass giving it particular sound and tone. Usually these are boxes that fit between the bass and the amplifier by connecting the instrument to the input (IN) and the amplifier to the output (OUT). They are equipped with knobs and foot switches to adjust the effect and switch the effect itself on/off in the sound chain. The pure sound of the instrument defines “dry|, while the sound with the activated effect is called “wet”, in almost all bass effects you can mix the amount of “dry” sound with respect to the “wet” sound according to the needs. The main effect for bass is the equalizer, which we always find already inserted in the amplifier or through the tone controls. Below we will talk about the four most used effects for electric bass: compressor, chorus, distortion and octaver. To these we add a brief mention to the category of multi-effects for bass, useful accessories not only for those who start playing but also for those who are already playing.

The compressor for bass

The effect of the compressor is to cut the volume peaks of the notes played by the bass, extending the duration at the same time. This effect is very important for achieving a linear and optimized sound in the volume when required. It is almost always used in the recording studio; it is also very useful to hear the bass sound always at a constant volume. It can also be called a “non-effect” because instead of upsetting the original sound optimizes it. In the compressor there is usually a knob to adjust the amount of effect we want to achieve, a knob for the amount of output level or volume of the signal obtained and a footswitch to switch the compressor on and off in the sound chain.

The chorus for bass

Chorus is an effect that gives amplitude, or depth to sound. In fact, the device delays the sound of a few thousand seconds and is added to the original one; furthermore, a part of the sound is slightly changed in pitch, thus giving the effect that they are lower at the same time. The chorus effect is even better when used in stereo. The great Jaco Pastourius made a masterful use of chorus in the tracks Weather Report, for example. The most common adjustment parameters are depth (depth) and rate (quantity), level (level) and footswitch, of course.

The distortion for bass

This is definitely the best known effect not only from guitarists but also from bass players; in fact, distortion is one of the distinctive features of rock music in general. The effect of the distortion is to completely modify the sound wave by reproducing the effect of the signal too saturated in the amplifier, which in fact was the way in which the sounds were originally distorted. Mainly there are three types of distortion on the market among which we list: the real distortion, the fuzz and the overdrive. Today there are many distortion pedals with representative names of the effect: “metal drive”, “big muff”, “bass juice” and so on. The common settings of these pedals are the drive, level and tone.

The octaver for bass

The effect of the octaver is to add another note to the note played one octave below the first, thus obtaining a doubled sound with a very gritty effect. This effect can be added depending on the models, other octaves below the first two and even above creating so particular sound effects. The octaver pedal settings are commonly the natural sound level and the octave doubled level, the tone and of course the footswitch to switch the octaver on or off. The bass player Chris Wolstenholme (Muse) often uses the octaver with which he made his unmistakable sound.

Multieffects for bass

The multi-effect bass is a device that combines several effects into one unit. It offers the advantage of being able to experiment the different sounds of the effects thanks to the factory presets, which in turn can be personalized as you like. Multi-effects often include a comfortable tuner and a rhythmic base for practicing at home. If equipped with a USB socket, they can also function as a sound card to record your music with your computer. The purists disdain these multi-effects by stating that the individual pedals offer higher sound quality, I personally think that this statement is not always true. However, mutli-effects are ideal for those who start, to understand the individual effects and in the future make a reasoned purchase with pedals targeted for their needs.

The Best bass distortion pedal 2018

MXR M85 Bass Distortion

The MXR M85 Bass Distortion pedal was designed with Ryan Ratajski founder of the Fuzzrocious Pedals and builder of phenomenal indie pedals, this small and crude box offers a great tough stamp with all the low-end that your heart could wish for. At the MXR they took the sound of a notoriously bad distortion circuit and re-designed it for the modern bassist. Dry & Wet level controls let you set the perfect mix for your sound needs, while the Tone control cuts the top-end of the distortion signal and the Distortion control adjusts its intensity.


  • Input Impedance 1 MΩ
  • Output Impedance 315Ω @ 1kHz
  • Signal to Noise 90 dB
  • Distortion Gain +40 dBV
  • Dry Max Gain +16 dBV
  • True Hardwire Bypass
  • Current Draw 11 mA
  • Power Supply ECB003 or standard 9 volt battery

Boss ODB-3 Bass Overdrive

The Boss OD3 Overdrive is one of Boss’s flagship pedals, an evolved version of the Boss OD1 Overdrive, the first overdrive pedal ever created! The pedal was put on the market in 1997 and is still in production. This is a very intuitive pedal that has three simple potentiometers: Level that allows us to adjust the volume of the signal, Drive that allows us to adjust the degree of saturation of the effect and Tone that controls the equalization. The pedal can be powered by an internal 9-volt battery or by an external 9-volt power supply with 8 ma power consumption. Compared to the Boss SD1 Super Overdrive the OD3 is more peaceful, even if only slightly. The overdrive it generates is very warm and faithful; the drive potentiometer is quite dynamic and allows you to get different overdrive tones.

ODB-3 is a standard overdrive for bass players that act on all bass frequencies, including 5-string bass. Mixing the sound made with the direct sound of the bass you will always get a great distortion sound while keeping all the presence and power of the normal bass sound. The ODB-3 also works as a booster.

User Reviews:

Albert from Tallahassee writes: “I think the adjective “classic” is really apt and gives me the idea of a pedal that does not have to support anyone: it must be used only as overdrive, alone or at most with a booster that gives it a minimum of extra gain. Its downside is definitely the price, twice the SD1 Super Overdrive pedal, which I cannot justify, is also softer but less versatile than the Boss BD2 Blues Driver. I like very much the Boss OD3 Overdrive, I also added it to the pedal board for a few years and then replace it again with the SD1, because playing an alternative genre I do not have particular needs related to the timbre or fidelity of the overdrive and with the latter I always had more feeling! If in doubt, try them both because they are really two different pedals”.

Electro-Harmonix Bass Soul Food Bass Distortion Effects Pedal

The Electro Harmonix Soul Food is a very interesting overdrive, created in 2013 by the EHX as a replica of the famous Klon Centaur, reworked by Bill Finnegan from 1994 to 2000 in his apartment.

The Klon Centaur was the result of the search for a method to be able to play the amplifiers at low volumes but with the same sound as if they were set to higher volumes. At the time there were many overdrives that could perform this function, among the best known the Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive and the Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer, but almost all added their own color to the sound of the guitar and amplifier. The Centaur Klon was instead designed specifically to not apply any color and therefore not to change the original timbre of our instrumentation.

The Electro Harmonix has decided to try the Klon Centaur replica after being spurred on several times by its fans and customers, and also encouraged by the clamor that this pedal has aroused in recent years because of its market price that in the latter period went to the stars. There is also a new version called Klon KTR Centaur, carmine red, produced by the same creator of the first version, Bill Finnegan, containing practically the same circuit of Soul Food and with dimensions of the metal box a little smaller than the original.

Darkglass Electronics Microtubes B3K V2 Bass Overdrive Pedal

Bass distortion with unparalleled sound quality: The Darkglass Electronics Microtubes B3K V2 Bass Overdrive Pedal is a very unusual overload for bass guitar. It contains at the same time incredible brutality and transparency of the sound.

  • Using the Blend control you can decide whether to switch from a totally parallel to a totally serial connection, with all the intermediate nuances. A concrete example: with the Blend zero amplifier will only receive the direct signal of the guitar, increasing the knob, the output will be less and less direct sound and more sound made up to reach the maximum, where the signal will pass in full pedal connected. Very suitable, for example, by playing the bass with distortion, to not distort the signal completely and leave a clean component at the output, preserving the sharpness of the performance and the flat reproduction of the bass frequencies.
  • The tone knob gives you more control over the sound.
  • Blend is clean and processed signal mixer.
  • Level raises the volume.
  • Drive is responsible for the amount of overload
  • Using the Grunt toggle switch, you can choose between three modes of low frequency in the signal.

It must be said that the distortion effect can be very well and very badly evaluated. You should not only look at the best ratings. Always look at the number of different ratings. The more the distortion and overdrive effects for bass are evaluated by the client, the more secure the opinions and information on it. Few ratings do not mean that the effects are faulty. Amazon offers many possibilities to properly analyze this.

Best Bass Distortion Pedals

Making a listing of the best bass pedals is not an easy task, because it is somewhat subjective, but with a lot of research it gets there! The pedals effects are one of the coolest accessories for anyone who enjoys playing bass and enjoyed by most bass players. Although, there are many bass players out there who do not really feel the need for these effects to justify their playability but there are many effects that can do a lot to improve the sound. Some of these effects produced by the pedals include letting the bass sound more bass, distorted or more compressed, and so on, that is, this increases your experimental ability.

With some research done based on bass players and bass-oriented communities we make a list of the pedals most wanted by the bass players. So let’s take a look at some of the best bass pedals.

Electro-Harmonix Bass Big Muff Distortion

This Electro-Harmonix Big Muff distortion pedal includes 3 knobs; volume, tone and sustain, along with a small switch to enhance the bass. This pedal also has very fat fuzz with very solid treble. Muse bassist Christopher Wolstenholme used this pedal a lot. Its really cool effects are executing perfectly the way a distortion pedal should sound on a bass. Using the same example from bassist Christopher Wolstenholme, we have some examples on albums like “Showbiz” and some on “Origin Of Symmetry”. The only difference is that at that time these pedals were in the old version and nowadays they are much closer. When it comes to distortion pedal for bass, this is undoubtedly one of the best bass pedals.

Behringer UM300 Distortion

The Behringer UM300 distortion pedal has distortions conducive to heavy metal, picking up heavy bass and prolonged sustain. With a dedicated distortion it’s a pedal made for metal bass players. The cool of this pedal is the density of the distortions in which the bass player can shape whatever he wants to leave thicker or thinner. Although, most of the bass players of this genre prefer tones dense and bass. So if you’re looking for a pedal that has a furious bass distortion, keep an eye on this pedal!

Ibanez PD7 Overdrive Guitar Effect

This Ibanez pedal has 3 voicings style preamps, an attack switch along with four other knobs (drive, low, high, level). This is a pedal recommending mostly by those who play a grunge. It continues with a dirty distortion even with cleaner trim options in it. It may not be a good pedal option for the head bangers, but for those who were skeptical about an Ibanez pedal we can guarantee it really has quality.

Electro-Harmonix Bassballs

This is one of those effect pedals that bring a touch of funk. It basically has a combination of wah and distortion. This pedal can be easily used on a guitar as well but it was more designed for bass. It is very interesting to know that it has filters that produce sounds like wah and on top ads a bit of distortion. We think this is a perfect candidate for those who like to play a Funk/Soul.

Boss DS-2 Turbo Distortion

The Boss is known for its line of distortion pedals. This DS-2 Turbo Distortion is the younger brother of the legendary DS-1 Distortion, but with a turbo key that guarantees more pedal versatility, something that DS-1 lacked. There is also an extra output for external control.

The origin and evolution of Distortion

An element that has already become common in music, specifically in Rock and its strands, is distortion, a sound element that has everything to do with the rock’n’roll attitude. Its emergence, evolution, commercialization and adoption by different styles contribute more and more to the music made in our time, becoming one of its greatest characteristics.

The quest for experimenting with new sounds has always been something that musicians and producers sought, and the “discovery” of distortion was not something different. In the late 1940s the studios had large roll tape recorders, which were responsible for a physical record of the sound. Behold, the producers saw an opportunity there to move in the recorded sound, giving effect to it. The changes in the tape resulted in alterations that pleased and sounded with the aggressiveness and rebellion that was wanted to pass like Rock identity.

With this first step, other electronics and music connoisseurs have ventured to create devices that provide sonic alterations. Microphones were used to get echoes and reverberations and even a trembling water-base was invented, but that was not very practical. Further on, these innovations would reach the amplifiers and fall to the taste of the musicians.

But overall, to get these distortions and changes, they were based on the basics: maximize the sound of the amplifiers. And that’s how Link Wray, 50’s Rockabilly/ Rockabilly guitarist, did for the heavy and aggressive Rumble sound of 1958, which served as an influence to great musicians like Pete Townshend, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Dave Davies.

Dave Davies, guitarist for The Kinks, was responsible for making the distortion more commercial. All because of his rebellious attitude in which he picked up a blade and ripped the speakers off his amplifier to get a distorted sound for the track You Really Got Me in 1964.

Thus, rock gained an additive that became part of its sound and that now was successful among the fans, and that soon became commercial with companies like Marshall, Fender, Warwick and Boss that began with the production of devices that made possible the distortion of the sound. The pedals would be started. With the diversification of these devices, each style of music became familiar with the needs it sought to compose its sound, and thus the styles were gaining typical pedals. At first, the total focus was the guitars, but that changed. The bass also gained its turn in the market of pedals, gaining adapted effects for the instrument, that presents electronic differences and, of course, of sound.

The distortion and its variations became essential in rock in general. It’s hard to hear a band today that plays with the sound clean, without any modulation and change. The huge pedal market is showing its importance and relevance to music. The most important thing is the freedom they give the musician to produce what they want to break with some restrictions from before.

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1 Response

  1. For right now, I’m using Ibanez PD7 for distortion on guitar and bass, together with noise gate, a blend knob to mix in the cleaner signal and a 3 band EQ with an extra clean channel to switch to, it's too versatile not to use. Kind of a wacky addition, but functional.

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