Your Guide to Buying an Effects Pedal for a Bass Guitar

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Your Guide to Buying an Effects Pedal for a Bass Guitar

There are many different types of effects pedal available for bass guitars. Review the types available to decide which are most appropriate and search listings to find the best products at the best value.

About Effects Pedals for Bass Guitars

Bass guitars are guitars with a longer neck and usually just four strings, though some may have up to eight. They are available in either acoustic or electric models. Basses are used to provide a solid beat framework for melodies to play over as well as by soloists in some styles of music. Bass guitars are used in many music genres, including pop, rock and jazz.
Various effects pedals are available to enhance the sound and effects of bass guitars. They are basically small boxes placed on the floor with a foot pedal to switch them on and off. The electronic sound signal from the guitar is transmitted through the box, and when the pedal is switched on the signal is modulated in a specific way. Pedals may have various controls to alter the way in which the sound is modulated.
Many effects are the same as for standard electric guitars, but there are also a number of effects that are especially designed with basses in mind. Effects range from very subtle to radical. As the main role of the bassist is generally to provide the rhythmic framework, special effects are often used less often and with more subtlety than with other guitarists, and they can sometimes interfere with the bass tone. However, there is such a good range of effects available that it is well worth experimenting with the types of sound that can be created with the various pedals.
As with most electronic and audio equipment, it is always worth doing a bit of research before purchasing and checking out product reviews to be sure that the model is well regarded and has all the features that are needed. Buying from reputable brands gives security.

Choosing Effects Pedals for a Bass Guitar

The two basic types of effects pedal are multi-effects pedals and dedicated effects pedals. Multi-effects pedals are capable of producing various effects, whereas dedicated effects pedals create just one effect. Dedicated effects pedals are generally considered to produce higher quality effects than multi-effects pedals and are recommended for more serious and frequent use, but multi-effects pedals can be a great way to experiment with new effects. Dedicated effects pedals can be placed together in a chain, which gives the flexibility to purchase and arrange new pedals as required.
The various effects pedals available for bass guitars include equalisers, compressors, distortion pedals, chorus pedals, filters, phasers, flangers, delay pedals, pitch shifters, ring modulators, loopers, synthesisers and tuners.


Equalisation, also known as EQing, allows certain signals to be enhanced while other signals are diminished. This helps the musician to finely alter and optimise the resulting sound. Different kinds of equalisation are possible. The more basic pedals have treble control, while advanced pedals have various types of equalisation. Parametric equalisers generally allow for more detailed modulation than graphic equalisers. Many equalisers have filters which cut out high or low frequencies. Some also have distortion effects.


Compressor pedals are a common type of effect used by bass players. They alter the range of a sound signal, cutting off the peaks of the sound waves so that they are smoothed out. This cuts out especially loud and quiet sounds. A sustain effect is often produced. Compressors may have various controls, including for the particular threshold and the amount by which the signal is lowered. Peaks may be either modulated or cut off completely. Multi-band compression divides an audio signal into different frequencies and compresses them before recombining them.

Distortion Pedals

Distortion clips the audio signal, creating various effects from soft distortion to more aggressive and harsh outcomes. Many distortion pedals are designed particularly for bass guitars. There are three basic types of distortion pedals – distortion, overdrive and fuzz. Distortion pedals compress sound signals, creating an even level of distortion which can vary in harshness. Overdrive pedals create a warm kind of distortion which is aimed at simulating the effect from a valve amp. Fuzz pedals compress the sound waves further than distortion pedals, resulting in a more distorted sound. There are also more complex pedals available that can accurately recreate the sounds of amplifiers.

Chorus Pedals

Chorus pedals double the audio signal and delay part of it, modulating its pitch to produce a rich choral effect where it sounds as though multiple instruments are playing. Advanced digital chorus pedals are capable of creating a wide range of choral effects.


Filters work similarly to equalisers in that they enhance and diminish certain frequencies, but they produce more drastic results. Resonant filters add a peak at the cut off. Wah wah pedals are a type of resonant filter with a variable pedal. Another type is an envelope filter, which responds to harder playing by opening the filter wider.


Like chorus pedals, phasers are also delay based. They are slightly less smooth than chorus pedals, modulating the sound signal with peaks and troughs to create a spinning effect.


Flangers are another type of delay based pedal, working in a similar way to phasers. They double the sound signal and delay it to create a sweeping effect, which can be extreme.

Delay Pedals

Delay pedals may incorporate a number of effects, including chorus, phasing and flanging, and can be helpful if many effects are required but the budget does not extend to purchasing multiple delay based pedals. They can also produce echo and slapback effects. Delay pedals vary in the length of possible delay and the various delay modes. Advanced digital pedals can be programmed and are capable of a wide variety of effects.

Reverb Pedals

Reverb pedals work in a similar way to delay pedals. They can produce multiple echoes that gradually fade. The different types of reverb vary in effect and include hall, room and spring, with hall recreating the sound found in a large hall, room recreating the sound found in a smaller room, and spring recreating the sound of reverberating springs.

Pitch Shifters

Pitch shifting pedals alter the pitch of the bass, giving a heavy bass sound. Advanced digital pitch shifters can alter the pitch more radically, even into a different key, and can produce additional effects.

Ring Modulators

Ring modulators combine two sound signals together, which can create quite ethereal and strange sounds. They are generally used quite sparingly if at all.


Loopers are delay based pedals with very long delays. This creates the possibility of creating a loop, where part of the piece is repeated and then built upon. Bass players can use loopers to play a bass line and then solo over it. Parts of a piece can be pre-recorded and stored for future use, accessible by means of a foot switch.


Bass synthesiser pedals may have a variety of effects pedals, such as envelope filters and pitch shifters. These can create various interesting sounds and effects.

Tremolo and Vibrato Pedals

Tremolo pedals vary the volume of the audio signal and vibrato pedals vary the pitch. Both effects can be modulated by speed and depth.


Tuner pedals enable quick and accurate tuning. While most tuners can be used for bass guitars, there are also specific bass tuners.

Find Effects Pedals for a Bass Guitar on eBay

Effects pedals for bass guitars can be located on eBay in two simple ways. The first way is to go to the eBay home page, scroll over the category menus on the left and select the appropriate category, Musical Instruments, from the menu. Then scroll to Guitars and select Accessories. To the left of the screen are a number of further options. Under Item Type select Effects Pedals and under To Fit Guitar select Bass Guitar. The brand, condition and price can also be selected. The second way is to type relevant terms into the search tab at the top of the eBay home page. Examples of relevant terms are “bass guitar effects pedal”, “bass guitar delay pedal” or “bass guitar compressor”.


There is a wide range of effects pedals available for bass guitars, with some designed specifically for basses and others general purpose effects pedals. The types of effects pedals include equalisers, filters and compressors, delay based pedals such as reverb pedals, loopers, chorus pedals, phasers and flangers, as well as delay pedals producing echo and slapback effects, distortion pedals including overdrive and fuzz pedals, and tuners. As well as dedicated effects pedals, multi-effects pedals are also available which combine a number of different effects. These can be useful for beginners and those wanting to experiment with new effects instead of or before purchasing dedicated pedals. Buying from a reputable brand and checking seller feedback is recommended when purchasing online. The right effects pedals will enhance any bass practice.

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