New bass guitar player here: What effects pedals should I buy?

The thread title spells out almost everything, but here’s some more info.

For 10+ years, I’ve played my 6-string Strat for fun and (very little) profit.

But in the last six months, I’ve switched to primarily playing the bass guitar, although I’m still keeping up my six-string skills.

The band I’m in plays a few originals, but to help you all answer the question in the thread title, the covers we play are solid rock and roll numbers.

A few of our favorite covers to play: I Fought the Law, Dancing with Myself, Steppin’ Stone, London Calling, Daytripper, and Suffragette City.

Some of these are played with distortion from the lead and rhythm guitarists.

I’ve already bought a fuzz/distortion pedal (a Big Muff Pi – specifically for the bass guitar).

What other effects pedals are useful for the type of music I’ll be playing with my bass guitar?

I play guitar, bass, keyboards, and a few other instruments (though I don’t get to play much these days). I use effects all the time on guitars, but very rarely on bass. I’ll use a flanger sometimes. I also have a combo digital effects box that simulates all kinds of different amplifiers and effects. I use it mostly for guitar, but once in a while I’ll run the bass through it. If you play something like Pink Floyd’s Run Like Hell the bass is using a digital echo (delay) effect on and off through the song.

Flanger is ok sometimes. I always liked having an EQ of some sort. Playing with mid-range tones does wonders.

You might want a compressor to give your sound a little more punch, but in general I think it’s best for the bass player to avoid using a lot of effects because it muddies up the sound. Envelope followers and flangers are fun, but easy to overuse.

Yeah, gotta concur. A bass should hold down the bottom end and not get distracting.

As a long time bass player I second this. With the lower frequencies distortion tends to make it sound too thin, other effects can make it sound horribly mushy.

Anyway, with 10 years of guitar and only 6 months of bass you really need more time to train yourself to think like a bass player before bringing in effects.

I am building my bass pedalboard now, when complete it will have

3 preamps, regular, big and round and treble boost(slight)

2 clean boost peds, one with a treble boost

2 drives Big Muff pi and Dark Glass Micro Tubes

2 compression peds, one custom and a Keeley 4 knob

But I am insane



I’m sure you’ve already come to the realization that the bass isn’t just a really low guitar with fewer strings… but if you’re worried about effects pedals, you may still be too far in guitar mindset! Though, as indicated by Capt Kirk above, bass-playing isn’t necessarily on the path to a sound mind…

My current bass pedal setup consists of:
…and has for about 15 years! Nothing wrong with effects pedals, of course–and I don’t really even consider compression or EQ to be “effects” as such, unless you’re frequently switching between vastly different settings–but even moreso than with guitar, they can too easily become an overused distraction. And if you were going for “flashy”, “showy”, or otherwise attention-seeking performance (and your song examples suggest you’re probably not), you probably should have stuck with electric guitar!

(who also started with several years of guitar before switching to mostly bass in rock bands)

Hi all,

Thanks for the great input so far.

I’ll check out a compressor, and a flanger, maybe by asking to run my cord though those boxes that my six-string guitarists have to see what sound they get me.


I vote for Less is More. No effects to start. Those cover tunes you share are good songs; if you can play those clean and your bandmates’ distorted guitars sound good with your bass tone, then you’re onto something.

Playing bass well, with a clean tone, in a way that supports the band, is hard. You either groove or you don’t - and no amount of effects will help with that.

How is your lock with your drummer? Do you guys ever get together and run through the songs - just you guys? Or maybe with the rhythm guitarist?

I have to agree, all my fx peds (except the OD’s) are really tone changers and mostly slight at that.

IOW I am only tweaking the tone my bass gives me already.

Enjoy being the low end.


I gotta agree on the less is better thing when it comes to effects.

My present guitar setup is guitar -> compressor -> amp. For bass it is my bass DI into my recording interface. I add a bit of compression and eq after recording.

I’ve been thinking of adding some effects, probably a delay to start, but I just really don’t see the need. If I need an effect to make something sound good then I either need to practice more or play something else.

I think it is that there are effects for tone vs. effects for covering sloppy playing. I see too many players using effects for the second more than the first. So my goal is to only add effects that enhance tone. E.Q., compressors, and the like. Delay is sorta iffy. It is easy to rely on delay as a cover but you can also do cool stuff with them.


Just curious, what amp setup are you using?

I have a 200W SWR WorkingPro 12.

That is one powerful amp. Does it have so much headroom that it is superclean, or can you get a bit of warmth out of it? Is that why you are thinking about effects? A tone that is too superclean kinda begs for an overdrive and/or some time effects like chorus.

I’d prefer a lower-watt amp that has a nice, small amount of warm breakup to it. Or, if I had a great, big amp like that - try to replicate that overall tone.

Check out the tone of a Precision through an Ampeg B-15. What do you think? (follow that link, and click on the Video button on the photo of the amp)

Oh, yeah, it’s loud.

I’ve never used it cranked up to the max, and at shows it’s more often between 25-50%, depending on the size of the venue.

Once last summer, we played on an outdoor band stand, and the front row of the audience was 20 meters away. Then, I might have been at 75% …

I’ll check out that video soon and report back.

As to your question of warmth, I have noticed that a just small amount of distortion through my Big Muff Pi makes for a nice sound. I don’t know if it adds “warmth” or not, but it sounds better to my ears.

yes thats warmth. a bit of overdrive to boost the mids and add a bit of compression.

I follow the link, click on the button, and I get a promo video of some guy yakking about how special the company and amp is, with some music in the background. Did I miss something? :confused:

No - I referred to it without realizing how pimp-tastic, sales-y it was. Sorry.

I did a quick check on YouTube and only found similar dreck. If I can find an actual demo vid, I will post it…