The Best Guitar Cables / Instrument Cables for Bass Players…
Guitar cables and instrument cables may not be the flashiest part of your rig, but they undoubtedly do the behind-the-scenes work and are a critical and often overlooked link in your sound chain.
While players are always looking for the perfect bass and amp, often going to great lengths to find the best design, woods, weight, and wattage, they often overlook instrument cables.
Over the years we have had the opportunity to test out cables, as well as talk with many bass players about their gear, including the types of instrument cables they use to get their sound. Our ‘best of’ list comes from those conversations and in-house tests.
Here is our current ‘best of’ guitar cables / instrument cables for bass:
We had the pleasure of interviewing Asterope’s Dariush Rad, the President and CEO of Asterope Premium Audio Cables. This guy KNOWS his stuff! In the video, Dariush shared information on signal optimization and the scientific details that go into the Asterope line.
Asterope MI and Pro Audio cables feature unique technology that delivers unsurpassed performance, with an aesthetic and rugged design. All audio cables are built with a unique architectural structure, are made with extremely pure conductive materials, and undergo a series of proprietary processes to reduce the overall noise bed created by “arcing“. These unique designs, materials, and processes help maximize signal inductance and the fluidity of electron flow, preserving the integrity of the data (sonic) packets being delivered by the wire.
VISIT >>>> asterope.com
If you don’t know Keith Stickney, owner of Tsunami Cables, you need to! We have covered Tsunami extensively over the years and know that Keith is a great guy who builds a VERY solid product, including custom options.
Tsunami Cables are designed to eliminate the need for having two sets of audio cables (an industry standard). Using a cable for studio recording and another for the road. Our cables are designed to handle both the road and the studio.
VISIT >>>> tsunami-cables.square.site
Rattlesnake Cable Company
We had the opportunity to cover Rattlesnake at the 2020 Winter NAMM show. They take pride that their cables are milled in the United States and are hand assembled in Missoula, Montana.
Founder Hank Donovan, “I hate cables that tend to be noisy due to poor shielding or worse, cease to work due to the shielding being weak or easily broken. The cables we use have a strong heavily braided copper shielding with 95% coverage. This makes the cable super heavy duty… and quiet!”
VISIT >>>> rattlesnakecables.com
We recently had the pleasure of doing a video interview with “Ace of Cups” Bassist Denise Kaufman, who sang the praises of Cordial Cables. Andrew Gouche is also an endorsee, “When I use Cordial cables, I hear my sound. Trust me, you’ll hear yours like never before!”
All CORDIAL cables are custom designed. The technical design of the individual cable types and the choice of materials react, for example, to the rigors of everyday stage work to the same degree as the high-end demands of recording studios.
VISIT >>>> cordial-cables.com
Analysis Plus endorsee and ERB artist Igor Saavedra, who uses the Pro Oval Studio, Power Oval 2 and Silver Oval.
Founded in 1992, Analysis Plus is a scientific research and design company now focused primarily on two markets: Music and Pro Audio industries and high-end Home Audio.
VISIT >>>> analysis.plus
More Guitar Cables for Bass on Our Radar
Phil Jones Bass
The PJB BI-12 Shielded Bass Cable has not only one shielded cable but three. By the combination of carefully chosen materials such as 99.999% oxygen-free pure copper and PTFE die-electric insulation, the BI-12 unleashes the true tone from your bass and gives you a whole new experience. The PJB 4′ Speaker Cable (SS-4) has the lowest possible internal resistance for efficient power transfer.
VISIT >>>> pjbworld.com
GREAT back-story… Lava Cable creator and founder Mark Stoddard deployed to Afghanistan with a U.S. Army Special Forces Battalion as a Detachment Commander within weeks of forming his new company in June 2004. Excited about getting his business up and running, he took a roll of Canare GS-6 cable, and some Neutrik plugs into combat with him, making cables for his fellow soldiers and the local Morale, Welfare and Recreation center in his off-time.
VISIT >>>> lavacable.com
Spectraflex Cables are the “Original Braided Cables” used by musicians the world over. The rugged, high-quality nylon braiding is there for a reason: It protects and enhances the performance of the cable’s internal components while preventing tangles and adding flexibility.
VISIT >>>> spectraflex.com
Canary Cables took the #9 spot in The Guitar World Magazine 2020 Best Cables List
VISIT >>>> canarycables.com
RapcoHorizon Guitar Cables
RapcoHorizon products provide optimal flexibility and premium performance as well as a state-of-the-art Custom Shop to modify existing products or build new devices to meet any need.
VISIT >>>> rapcohorizon.com
Established in 2011, Pig Hog is crafted by musicians, for musicians. To date, they offer over 200+ cables, adapters, and accessories.
VISIT >>>> pighogcables.com
Solcor Guitar Cables
We were introduced to Solcor at Winter NAMM 2020. Solcor was founded in 1986 and is located in Mexico City. In 1995 they entered the music business, being one of the pioneers in the manufacture of cables for musical instruments, microphones, patches, etc.
VISIT >>>> solcoraudio.com
Shnoor Cables and Connectors
Developed and assembled in Russia, Shnoor promotes its outstanding sound transmission, using high-quality copper conductors with a 99,97% purity and low capacitance.
VISIT >>>> myshnoor.com
Mogami Overdrive, Platinum, Gold, CorePlus and Silver Cables are trusted by music professionals worldwide.
VISIT >>>> mogamicable.com
George L’s cables have been honored by every major publication in the music industry and continue to win numerous awards.
VISIT >>>> georgelsstore.com
Evidence Audio™ was founded in 1997 by Tony Farinella to offer the finest Musical Instrument and studio cables available.
VISIT >>>> evidenceaudio.com
GLS Audio, and its parent company, Orange County Speaker, are proudly family owned and operated by the Sunda Family.
VISIT >>>> glsaudio.com
We hope this guitar cables / instrument cables guide helped in your quest for finding your unique sound.
Beginner Bass Guitars and Essential Gear for Kids & Teens… A Parent’s Guide
Beginner Bass Guitars and Essential Gear for Kids & Teens… Wishlist Suggestions
Have a child interested in taking up the bass? Check out these beginner bass guitars + essential gear to help them get started.
I was chatting with my brother on the phone the other day and he mentioned that he was getting one of my teenage nephews a bass for Christmas. The young man is currently showing great interest and my brother and I both believe in cultivating musical abilities.
This conversation made me remember how clueless I was when getting our son started on saxophone, as it is not my own instrument of choice. It would have been great if we could have had a list of everything we would need to get him started on the right track.
This article contains a list of suggestions to help you in navigating gear if your child is asking for a bass guitar.
Once you start looking, you will most likely be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of possibilities to choose from! I have tried to narrow this list down to more budget-friendly options, but still with decent quality and reliability to make the process easier.
One of the main considerations is that most children who start playing a musical instrument either change their minds as to what they want to play or quit altogether.
The delicate balance is finding a combination of a cost-effective rig but also one that sounds good and encourages them to go to the next level.
Even if your youngster doesn’t pursue a career in music, it has been shown that children benefit greatly from a musical education.
Another consideration you will want to keep in mind is what kind of music they want to play and their personality. Face it, they already are seeing themselves performing and want to look cool for their friends, so it is important to take that into account as well.
Now, I am aware that there are “Bass Starter kits” out there but I find them to be wanting in one way or another. They do make it easier, but the goal here is to facilitate the musical growth environment and I think they could be better.
Here is my list of bass gear if I were going to put together a bass starter package for my child:
(Prices are valid at the time of writing and are subject to change)
4-STRING BASSES (Under $200)
TIP: 4-string basses are the most common. And as the neck is narrower, it can be easier to learn/manage for those just getting started.
- Ibanez Gio GSR100EX Bass Guitar – [VIEW] $199.99
This is a very simple but effective member of the Soudgear Series basses. The Oil finish won’t show dings and dents as much as a glossy one, The slim neck will work great for smaller hands but this still has a full-length scale.
- Jackson Spectra JS2 Bass Guitar – [VIEW] $199.99
Here we have a metallic blue finish, full-scale jazz bass with a slim neck profile, and jumbo frets. This one sports a gloss finish.
- Squier Mini Precision Electric Bass – [VIEW] $149.99
This is a good choice for the smaller players as it is about 3/4 the size of the full-scale models. You can’t go wrong with a P-bass with a split single coil pickup.
TIP: A strap that is 3 inches wide or more helps to better distribute bass weight.
- D’Addario 3″ Padded Woven Bass Guitar Strap – [VIEW] $16.99
- Levy’s M26PD-BLK Top Grain Leather Guitar Strap – [VIEW] $29.99
- Gruv Gear SoloStrap Neo – 4″-wide Neoprene Guitar Strap – [VIEW] $64.99
TIP: These make carrying a bass easy as they can be worn in backpack style.
- Gator Economy Gig Bag – [VIEW] $29.99
- Fender FBSS-610 Short-scale Bass Gig Bag – [VIEW] $59.99
- Ibanez PowerPad Designer IBB541 Electric Bass Gig Bag – [VIEW] $99.99
TIP: Should be at least 10 feet long and keep in mind where the output is located in case you need to choose a right-angled version.
- D’Addario PW-CGTPRO-10 Classic Pro Straight to Straight Instrument Cable – [VIEW] $14.99
- Pro Co EGL-10 Excellines Straight to Right Angle Instrument Cable – [VIEW] $13.99
- Fender 0990820092 Deluxe Series Straight to Straight Instrument Cable – [VIEW] $27.99
Want to know more about bass cables? Check out this article on Bass Musician: Opening a Can of Worms… 5 Bass Players Take on 15 Instrument Cables For An Unscientific Analysis
TIP: The bass will have a set on when you purchase, but having a fresh set can enhance the experience enormously.
- Fender 7250M Nickel Plated Steel Long Scale Bass Guitar Strings – .045-.105 Medium – [VIEW] $13.25
- DR Strings MR-45 Hi-Beam Stainless Steel Bass Guitar Strings – .045-.105 Medium – [VIEW] $19.99
- D’Addario EXL170 Nickel Wound Bass Guitar Strings – .045-.100 Regular Light Long Scale – [VIEW] $21.99
There is a LOT more to strings than meets the eye! Have a look at the following Bass Musician articles for more information on bass strings: All About Roundwound Strings | All About Flatwound Strings | Cool ‘How to’ – Changing Strings On a Sadowsky Bass | Bass Health – Things to Think About When Adding Strings
TIP: Playing in tune makes it so much better for everyone!
- Snark SN-1X Guitar and Bass Tuner – [VIEW] $13.89
- D’Addario PW-CT-17CBK Eclipse Cello/Bass Tuner – [VIEW] $14.99
- Korg AW-LT100B Clip-on Bass Tuner – [VIEW] $29.99
TIP: Start with at least a 10-watt practice amp. If they decide to play in public you will have to figure out how much air you want to push.
- Positive Grid Spark Mini Portable Combo Amp – [VIEW] $229.00
This little guy doesn’t take up much space and has a ton of features to offer >>> check out our review here
- Fender Rumble 25 1×8″ 25-watt Bass Combo Amp – [VIEW] $77.99
- Hartke HD15 1×6.5″ 15-watt Bass Combo Amp – [VIEW] $129.99
TIP: A decent pair of headphones will let them hear themselves clearly and spare the rest of the family.
- Samson SR550 Closed-back Studio Headphones – [VIEW] $39.99
- JBL Lifestyle Tune 500 Wired On-ear Headphone with 1-Button Remote/Mic – [VIEW] $24.95
- Sennheiser HD400S Folding Closed-back Headphones with Smart Remote – [VIEW] $49.95
TIP: Makes it easy to remember to practice if your student can see their bass all the time.
- Gator Frameworks GFW-GTR-1000 Single Guitar Stand – [VIEW] $16.98
- Hercules Stands GS200B EZ Pack Guitar Stand – [VIEW] $23.49
- Fender Universal A-frame Electric Stand – [VIEW] $59.99
TIP: I HIGHLY suggest looking for a teacher in your local area to help your child get started with the best habits from the beginning… it can be hard to ‘un-learn’ bad habits!
- If looking for an easy book to get them started, check out Hal Leonard’s Essential Elements for Band – Electric Bass Book 1 with EEi – [VIEW] $12.99
All items in this article are currently available at Sweetwater.com
Opening a Can of Worms… 5 Bass Players Take on 15 Instrument Cables For An Unscientific Analysis
Opening Photo courtesy of: kirlincableshop.com
I seem to enjoy finding myself in the middle of contentious topics among bassists, because here I am comparing instrument cables, which has long been a touchy subject for those with differing beliefs about the importance of instrument cables for electric bass. Do they really sound different from one another? Are expensive cables worth it? Is someone a chump for spending $X on a cable? (and other longstanding tropes). These are murky waters, and I wade carefully.
Let’s first separate out the tangibles from the subtle:
Some cables come with lifetime warranties, some don’t. Some utilize unquestionably higher quality connectors and materials than others. Some just feel more rugged and durable, some have heat shrink strain-relief covers on the connectors, abrasion-resistant “tech flex” outer layers etc…
From there, things get a little more esoteric. “Low strand count”, “cross braided tin copper shielding”, “increased grain linearity”, “Precision foamed polyethylene dielectric”. Do you know what any of this functionally means? If so, congratulations, most of us don’t have a functional knowledge of conductivity and the physics of electrical engineering.
Now, I’m not saying all of these assertions are purely marketing hyperbole, to the contrary, they literally are explaining what may make their product different from the crowd. But, as always, I’m not a lab tech, I’m a player. I don’t have the tools (or the desire) to put cables through rigorous bench testing apparatus. it’s just not where my interests or my strengths are.
When I thought of how I could be of value to this conversation…
…the best thing I could think to do was to get a small group of local bassists who I trust, some astoundingly good and highly seasoned players with lots of live and studio experience, but also those who have excellent ears and impeccable tone, for some good old-fashioned double-blind testing. I thought it would be mighty interesting to hear their reactions to a handful of high-end and budget instrument cables and see what, if any, themes, and trends rise to the surface.
I invited a handful of cable manufacturers to submit their products for this process and we had a blast listening and critiquing each cable against one another.
We tested everything from a $12.50 Rapco all the way up to a $220 Analysis Plus cable and a whole lot in between. Testing was done with an active 5-string Fodera Emperor Standard (EQ flat and tone wide open), Eich T-900 amplifier (set flat) and a Bergantino 2×10 cab with the tweeter at noon.
We first decided we should choose a “control” cable, one that we could refer back to when we couldn’t tell if our ears were deceiving us, or if the last thing we listened to was distorting our objectivity, so we came back to the control a number of times during the process. The group selected a Mogami Gold, as it was a familiar reference point for most of us.
Here is the list of cables we tested:
As we cycled through these at random, I played each for a bit (the same line or two over and over) as consistently as possible, and the fellas commented on what they heard.
Everyone’s perceptions are their own, and I/we are by no means the arbiters of any objective truth, I’m just doing my best to explore what I feel is a subtle but important component in a bassist’s playing experience:
- Some of the less expensive cables like the Rapco, ProCo and Hosa’s had a more “EQ’d sounding” and forward-accentuated high end, which some of the primarily live players thought might actually be more ideal for cutting through a busy mix on a loud stage.
- Some of the higher-end cables traded a bit of this articulate “spanky” high-end for more integration in the midrange, cleaner, less “congested” lows and general transparency overall. The mainly studio players among us tended to favor some of these, while the primarily live gigging players’ ears were drawn toward the cables with more audible bite. This, to me, is not surprising, given the goals of each type of player.
- One factor that wasn’t captured in this double-blind listening test was the concept of how a cable “feels” as a player experience, vs. how it sounds as a third-party listener. As the guy who played through all of these cables many times, I can attest that some cables felt faster, with a wider dynamic range, whereas others felt slower or more compressed to the touch. I do agree that this was more palpable as a player’s experience, as opposed to a listener’s. This is actually a big can of worms, as we often ask ourselves as testers or players “Yeah it kinda sounds xyz but is anyone gonna hear that on a gig?”. Well, if you FEEL that on a gig, that’s not nothing, regardless of whether the drunk frat party at table 6 is knocked out by your stellar bass tone. Your experience with your instrument and your sound as a player is super important, and will affect the way you perform, and likely how much you enjoy the experience. That’s true for me anyways.
Well, let’s get down to it, In the category of bass instrument cables, the Oscars go to:
Standout favorites – most universally well-loved cables for their overall tonal qualities: Lava Ultramafic, Asterope, Tsunami, Hosa Edge
Most articulate sounding – those with the most enunciated or present high end: Evidence Audio Lyric HG, Lava Ultramafic, Hosa edge, Rapco Player series
“Biggest” sounding – those with the fullest and largest sonic image: Colossal Sweet Fats, Asterope, Rattlesnake
If I had to pick the Top 3 as collectively indicated by the group for sound quality? Probably these:
- Asterope: “It had a certain clean, crisp yet warm character” that pretty much everyone loved right off the bat and kept referring to as a benchmark. This was my favorite-sounding cable of the bunch, all things considered.
- Lava Ultramafic: “Super quick sounding, very clear in the lower and upper octaves”, “Nice build quality, perfect blend of beefy but not bulky feeling”.
- Evidence Audio Lyric HG: “Really nice high end, lots of presence but not “poky” like some are up there”, “Very cohesive from top to bottom with excellent clarity”.
Best value MVP’s:
- Hosa Edge: Great sound with clear highs and balanced mids and lows, Neutrik connectors, lifetime warranty. A lot of bang for $44.
- Rattlesnake Snakehead: Very “big” sounding with “bone-rattling” low-end definition and good integration, at a competitive price point and with a lifetime warranty.
Some interesting and notable comments shared by the group:
- Control (Mogami): Dark, dry, a bit sterile, but well integrated.
- Lava Retro Silent Coil: “has a “spongy” sound to it.” “Almost like you put tubes in the head”.
- Zaolla Silverline: “Quick and clear, uncolored, highs and mids are well connected”
- Proco Evolution: “Ballsy in the low mid and low frequencies. Slower transients than some”
So, where is all this going?
Well, basically, that it’s apparent to me and the testers I enlisted that cables do indeed sound and feel different.
The trick is that what is “best” is highly subjective, and we all have different definitions of what that means. For some, it’s a ratio of cost to performance, for others, it’s reliability, for some it’s what simply sounds the best to their ears. But what even is THAT? More high-end articulation? Stronger lows? Smoother midrange? It’s clear that we’re all working with a different set of preferences, and that these preferences are based on our experience, our likes and dislikes, and the applications we find ourselves in.
I hope this long-winded and admittedly anecdotal analysis proves to be of some educational value to you. I sure enjoyed the process and look forward to the next muddy puddle of provocative topics that I find myself in.
Got some thoughts on this?
And huge thanks to all of the companies who participated, and sent us cables for testing:
Analysis Plus Yellow Oval: analysis.plus/product/yellow-oval/
Asterope Bass Cable: asterope.com/custom-shop/pro-bass-series
Colossal Sweet Fats: colossalcable.com/cables/sweet-fats/
Evidence Audio Lyric HG: evidenceaudio.com/products/the-lyric-hg-guitar-cable
Hosa Edge: hosatech.com/products/analog-audio/instrument-cables/hosa-edge-guitar/cgk-000/
Lava Ultramafic: lavacable.com/product/533/lava-ultramafic
Lava Retro Silent Coil: lavacable.com/product/530/lava-retro-coil
Proco Evolution: rapcohorizon.com/category/117/evolution-instrument
Rattlesnake Snakehead: rattlesnakecables.com/products/snake-head-rattlesnake-cable/
Rapco Instrument cables: rapcohorizon.com/category/49/instrument-cables
Tsunami Instrument Cable: tsunami-cables.square.site/
Zaolla Silverline: zaolla.com/products/zgt-000
All About Flatwound Strings
All About Flatwound Strings…
Without further ado, here is part two of my conversation with GHS’s Jon Moody (View part one here >>> All About Roundwound Strings). In this article, we are going to focus on the finer points of all things flatwound strings. There is a lot of mystery and misconception on the topic of flats; primarily that they’re just for vintage/old-school tones and fretless bass. In reality, there is a pretty wide range of instruments, styles, and techniques where flatwound strings can shine, depending on how they are used and towards what goal. In the last couple of years, I have personally developed a much broader understanding of all of the different ways I can use flats to achieve particular tone goals. At the moment I have a set of flats on my 33-inch scale six string, take that Motown purists!
Keep going to read Jon’s answers, and comments which are italicized.
What are flatwounds and how did they first come about?
Perhaps the biggest question about flats is how they differ from roundwound strings, which are generally more common among electric bassists these days. The main difference, and what gives them a different feel and sound is the difference in cover wire used in the outer wrap. A flat ribbon wire is wound over the outer ring and then polished smooth. As for which one came first, the flatwounds were here before the roundwounds for bass. As to HOW they came about…. I believe that Rotosound Swing 66s were the first roundwound made for bass.
Are there advantages to flatwound strings?
Flatwounds are very different from Roundwounds and carry their own set of pros/cons to them. For example, a lot of people claim the long-lasting tone of a set of flatwounds as a plus. But those same people say you need to “play in” a set of flats for a couple weeks/months to open them up.
One thing to note about flatwounds. They seem to be one of the few sets of strings that can vary widely depending on the manufacturer. A set like D’Addario Chromes will sound much brighter and different than GHS Precision Flats, and yet they’re both flatwound strings. It’s common to see players use different sets of flats, to match the tonal flavor they’re going for.
Are flatwounds just for Motown/vintage-style players or instruments?
Haha no, but that’s what it’s mostly associated with since that’s what music was being created with them. You can play flatwounds in whatever style of music you’d like. There are even some players that’ll slap with a set of flats.
What are some of the newer and more interesting versions of flatwounds and how did they come about?
A “more interesting” version of flatwounds would be the Ernie Ball Cobalt flats. By using a different material, they created a set of strings that feels like flatwounds but is bright and lively like roundwounds.
Another interesting set would be the Thomastik-Infeld Jazz Flats. What sets these apart is that they’re made from the slant of a double bass string, so they are VERY different from everything else on the market. They have a very low tension feel and speak very evenly across the fretboard. The only concern many have is that the price is easily twice as much as other options.
Are flatwounds easier on the fingerboard and your fingers?
Yes, absolutely. Because flatwounds have a smooth surface, they’re not going to be as rough on your fingers or your fingerboard, which is why the typical recommendation is to put flatwounds on a fretless if you’re starting out.
However, keep in mind that in general terms a vibrating metal string is still going over a wooden fretboard. In the construction world, that’s called a saw. There will always be markings and things from using strings of any kind on a fingerboard. Do not let that be your only concern when choosing strings.
What are tape wounds and what are they for?
Tapewounds are made by wrapping a nylon material over the string, and then polishing it smooth. This final cover beefs up the gauge, but because it has so little mass, doesn’t affect the tension of the string, resulting in a set of strings that are high in gauge but very low in actual tension.
As for what they’re for, that’s a great question! Tapes have a softer, subdued high end with a roundish tone. The low tension also gives them a more tubby type of initial attack, which many players equate to what an upright bass might sound like. That’s usually why you’ll see a lot of people recommend using tapewounds for an upright-vibe on an acoustic-electric bass.
Why do flats feel like they’re higher tension/stiffer?
The reason is the final cover. Flat ribbon wire lays on the string much like a row of bricks. And because each of the winds lays (mostly) flat against each other with little/no gaps, it creates a string that is harder to get to vibrate and press down to fret.
Now, what most people forget is that with a stiff set of strings (like flatwounds), it is possible to lower the action more than with a typical set of roundwounds. Not only will this make the strings feel less stiff (since they’ll require less force to fret), but it’ll make the bass, as a whole, much easier to play.
Do all flats have more fundamental to their sound than roundwounds?
By and large, yes.
Who are some of the more famous players who use flats (and maybe some that are surprising given their style or sound)?
James Jamerson is usually THE standard. But there’s been Pino Palladino, and a bunch of others. I don’t know of many that are “exclusive” flatwound users. Most players have a bass with flats in their stable, as it’s a great tonal addition to anything. My favorite is Steve Harris, rocking a set of flats with Iron Maiden for all these years.
What is the ratio of round to flat sets that GHS sells?
Prior to the last five years or so, I would’ve guessed it around a 25:1 ratio. But with the resurgence of more vintage-inspired sounds and music, it’s probably gotten to something closer to a 12:1. I don’t foresee flatwounds ever surpassing roundwounds in sales, but they’re not going anywhere.
Big thanks to Jon Moody for answering all of my questions and more. You can find Jon all over social media, and when he’s not working as GHS’s Artist Relations and Brand Development guru, he’s playing a mean bass. Check out his music and his personal webpage at justmoody.com
A Buying Guide to Effects Pedals
A Buying Guide to Effects Pedals…
A Buying Guide to Effects Pedals… No bass guitar player’s arsenal would be complete without a range of pedals. These pieces of musical equipment have changed musical history since a faulty mechanism that distorted sound was discovered in the 1940s. And with guitar sales increasing in recent years, the demand for these accessories has increased as well. Bass guitar effect pedals, however, can be daunting to shop for. There are so many brands, models, colors, and technical components that one needs to take into consideration. Getting the right information to make a good decision on which guitar pedal you need is essential. Here are the top considerations to help you make the right choice when buying a bass guitar pedal:
Overdrive and Distortion Effects
Historically, guitar distortion came about accidentally when tube amplifiers were turned up too loud and experimentation ensued. This effect was initially considered an undesirable sound, but guitar players soon realized that distorted signals could increase the amount of sustain from each note played. Depending on how drawn out and heavy you want your bass to sound, distortion effects are a major consideration when buying a pedal.
Many bass players only use one sound, which can become boring after a little while. Overdrive and distortion effects can add more flavor to your playing style. And since distortions are a form of compression, it can also help your bass sound more even since overdriving a bass guitar makes it less unpredictable. Distortion also attracts attention, which is sometimes needed for the bass, especially when you’re doing a solo! So if this matches your playing style, you may want a pedal that has provisions for custom distortions.
Analog and Digital Effects
Effects that were created for pedals up until the early 1980s were all done via analog circuitry. This means that the pedals directly modified the actual sound signal. Digital effects, on the other hand, convert an instrument’s output digitally before modifying the sound and translating it back into analog for output. This is thanks to components called printed circuit boards (PCB). Digital effects pedals are made with high-density interconnected PCBs, which are designed to pack more capabilities into smaller circuitry units. This eventually allowed digital pedals to produce pitch-shifting effects, delays, and harmony processors.
While many players prefer the more modern reissues of analog effects pedals, most of what’s available on the market today run on digital circuitry. These effects are advanced enough that they’re almost indistinguishable from their analog counterparts. Many professionals use digital effects, and it’s a good option to consider when buying your first bass effects pedal.
Most multi-effects pedal units come with presets. These generally include a complete setup with several effects applied and modified to produce an overall sound. Presets are typically very easy to access and come with almost all modern pedals. If you’re buying a pedal for the first time, then it may be a good idea to invest in a modern processor with good presets. This will allow you to experiment with your sound without having to create your own.
It is also an advantage to get a unit that will allow you to make your own favorite presets as you start to develop a more personalized and unique sound on your bass. As you maintain and set up your bass guitar over time, you can create several of your own presets to fit your preferences. You can start with a factory preset, modify the sounds to your taste, then save it in your own location to use at the touch of a button when you play.
Five Essential Bass Pedals
Essential Bass Pedals…
Five Essential Bass Pedals… We’re preaching to the choir when we say the bass guitar is one of the most important instruments in music today. The bass serves as the backbone of many of today’s greatest songs. So much so that many bass guitarists have been recognized for their contributions to music. Bass guitarists such as Charlie Haden, Kim Gordon, Flea, and Thundercat are considered by Rolling Stone to be instrumental to modern music and how it has developed so far. These musicians have inspired many to learn the ways of the bass and to follow in their footsteps.
If you’re one of these people and are looking for more ways to improve your bass playing, then this article is for you. We’ve put together five essential pedals that’ll help you achieve the sound that you’re going for. Hopefully, this list will help you pick out the right pedals from the hundreds of options that are out on the market today.
Darkglass Super Symmetry Bass Compressor
One of the most important things that you’ll need is a good compressor pedal. Enter the Darkglass Super Symmetry Bass Compressor. While many compressor pedals negatively affect the bass’ tone, this pedal can emulate studio-grade compressors without negatively affecting tone at all. This pedal is similar to having a studio on your pedalboard, as it’s one of the more natural-sounding compressor pedals out on the market today. As a bonus, the pedal even comes with an inherent envelope effect which can help you emulate the old school compressor sound.
Aguilar Filter Twin
Tone is one of the important elements of bass playing. This is why it isn’t surprising to see a filter pedal make it on to this list. Filter pedals are one of the most effective ways to impact the tone of your bass guitar, as they boost or cut frequencies to achieve a specific sound. The Aguilar Filter Twin is a great option, thanks to its unparalleled flexibility. The Aguilar Filter Twin allows for more tonal control, as it lets you switch between original filter tones or classic 70’s-inspired funk sounds. This feature allows the bass to produce unique and expressive sounds that can adapt to a multitude of genres, making it a worthy addition to any pedalboard.
DigiTech Luxe Polyphonic Detuner
If you’re looking to put together a more minimalist pedalboard, then the DigiTech Luxe Polyphonic Detuner may just be the thing for you. And while chorus pedals can also do this, the sound produced when they are used tends to sound quite synthetic. The Polyphonic Detuner is a great way to help you thicken your tone without the use of a chorus pedal, all while maintaining as much as the bass guitar’s natural sound as possible.
As we’ve already talked about in Synth Pedals for Bassists, No MIDI Required a good synth pedal can be quite useful as they allow you to replicate the sound of traditional synths and keyboards. This is why the Boss SY-1 is one of the more significant innovations to come out in recent years. Since its debut at the National Association of Music Merchants Summer Show 2019, the Boss SY-1 has quickly cemented its place as one of the best synth pedals for electric guitars and bass guitars thanks to its two preset modes that make it one of the easier synth pedals to use. This combination of functionality and accessibility is what makes it perfect for any bassist.
Pigtronix Echolution 2 Ultra Pro Delay
Lastly, a delay pedal is one of the more versatile pedals out there. This makes it essential for any pedalboard no matter the genre. However, the Pigtronix Echolution 2 Ultra Pro Delay isn’t your ordinary delay pedal. The pedal’s relay-style tap-tempo switch allows the user to create unique compositions, as it gives the user extensive control over the delay function. What’s even more impressive is the fact that it maintains the bass’s natural sound quality, even with the use of heavy digital delay.
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