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A Buying Guide to Effects Pedals

A Buying Guide to Effects Pedals

Bass Gear Guide

A Buying Guide to Effects Pedals

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.

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