The Guide to the Universe of Overdriven Bass

This might seem a bit surprising, but bass guitars are overlooked quite frequently. If you play bass, more often than not you will meet high and mighty guitarist who will look down on you saying: “Bass is just another unnecessary guitar with fewer strings that sound similar. How hard can it be?” We all know how nonsensical this sounds. Bass is quite a complicated instrument requiring years of practice to master. It takes just as much skills as any other guitar. I guess you need special pair of ears to truly appreciate the amazing sonic range this bad boy has to offer. But once you do, you will want to explore every single possibility of bass. One of them might be adding sound effects, particularly good ol’ overdrive.  In order to achieve this effect, you will need a badass unit that will satisfy even your deepest desires. Keep on reading and let me help you find the best bass overdrive pedal on the market.

Top 5 Best Bass Overdrive Pedals

#ImageAmplifier Model
Rating
Check Price
1Boss ODB‌-3 Bass Overdrive (4.9 / 5)Check on Amazon
2Aguilar Tone Hammer 3-Band Preamp/DI Overdrive Bass Pedal (4.9 / 5)Check on Amazon
4EBS Multi Drive Universal Bass Overdrive Pedal (4.8 / 5)Check on Amazon
3Ampeg Scrambler Bass Overdrive Pedal (4.8 / 5)Check on Amazon
5Digitech XBD Bass Driver Overdrive/Distortion Pedal (4.7 / 5)Check on Amazon

Boss ODB‌-3 Bass Overdrive

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Boss has been renowned for its quality products for a while now. ODB-3 is no exception. It offers standard design and easy to grasp features in the durable and sturdy chassis. Achieving the desired effect is a piece of cake with this fella. The controls are quite typical: Level knob modifies the overall volume of the signal, then comes the dual purpose knob, which, on the one hand, adjusts the EQ, and on the other hand, adds or cuts the boost of your sound. Next, we have Balance knob, which evens out the saturation of the effect by mixing your wet and dry signals. And finally, there is a Gain knob, which is a star of the show here: this is the knob that makes the overdrive happen. ODB-3 can be powered either with a 9V battery or a DC adapter. In short, this pedal delivers powerful, rich overdrive that will make your bass sound like a god-sent treat.

Pros:

  • Extremely durable
  • Thick tones
  • Easy to use
  • Offers perfect amount of dirt

Cons:

  • Can develop a bit of noise
  • Can get fuzzy easily

Aguilar Tone Hammer 3-Band Preamp/DI Overdrive Bass Pedal

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Well, if you want to grasp what does versatility mean, take a look at Aguilar Tone Hammer. This bad boy offers so much it is hard to say no to. At first glance, it might seem like an overly complicated device, but once you get to tweaking, you will find out how simple it actually is. First things first, this is not your typical effects pedal. Tone Hammer can work as a preamp in order to drive a power amp or a DI box. It has two footswitches, the first one (labeled as Engage) activates a 3-band EQ, with Mids, Bass, Treble, Gain and Master volume controls. The second one triggers the AGS (Adaptive Gain-Shaping) circuitry, which adds a combination of drive and EQ to your signal. Tone Hammer shapes your tone beautifully and can add a substantial amount of gain to it. This is a great pedal if you are looking for diverse features in a single body.

Pros:

  • Extremely versatile
  • Transparent
  • Functional EQ
  • Warm overdrive

Cons:

  • AGS circuit does not have a dedicated volume control
  • Requires 18V of power

EBS Multi Drive Universal Bass Overdrive Pedal

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EBS Multi Drive will make all your overdrive dreams come true. It is a compact pedal which has a lot to offer. This fella can produce distortion, tube overdrive and sustain in a blink of an eye. It has two knobs: Drive modifies the amount of effect added to your sound, while the Volume controls the level of the output. Now, the things get a bit more interesting when it comes to modes. You can choose between Tube Simulator, Standard and Flat modes. The first one gives you that sweet, warm overdrive that you would get from a tube amp, the second one still has a tube vibe, but it is way subtler and is saturated with attack and clarity. And finally, the third one gives you the thick, crunchy distortion which affects mids, highs and lows. EBS Multi Drive is truly a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It takes just a tweak of some knobs to unleash the beast!

Pros:

  • Great quality
  • Amazing tube overdrive
  • Versatile tones

Cons:

  • Not for metal distortion
  • The control it offers might not be enough for some

Ampeg Scrambler Bass Overdrive Pedal

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What we have here is yet another badass bass overdrive pedal. Ampeg Scrambler delivers everything you need in a matt black chassis, which promises to be durable. The design of this unit is quite simple, yet it works perfectly: white lettering on all-black body guarantee great visibility in any settings. When it comes to controls, Scrambler has four knobs: Drive modifies the amount of the overdrive mixed with your sound, Blend adjusts the balance of dry and wet signals and guarantees to deliver maximum saturation when turned all the way up, Treble warms up or tones down the overdrive, while Volume manages the level of the overall output. What is more, Scrambler is relatively affordable and offers quite a good performance for the price. All in all, this is the pedal to go if you are looking for something simple, yet powerful and reliable.

Pros:

  • Versatile sonic possibilities
  • Affordable price
  • Compact design
  • Full range of overdrive sounds

Cons:

  • This is not a reissue of the original (this might be a drawback for some)
  • Battery compartment is not easily accessible

Digitech XBD Bass Driver Overdrive/Distortion Pedal

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We all know and trust Digitech products. They never fail to deliver great quality and powerful performance. Bass Driver is not an exception to that rule. This little fella is designed to be durable and withstand years of abuse. When it comes to controls, everything is quite typical, except for one treat, that takes this pedal to a whole new level (I will get to that in a bit). It has four knobs: Level modifies the volume of the effect, Tone acts as a spectral-contouring equalization and cuts/boosts your sound, while Blend manages the mixture of dry and effected signals. Now, the forth knob, labeled as Morph, is a real star of a show – it basically puts together three different models of overdrive pedals. With just a twist of this control you can choose between the sounds of TS9 Tube Screamer, the Rat and DigiFuzz. This gives you an array of sonic possibilities and allows you to get as subtle or crazy as you want. What else could you wish for?

Pros:

  • Offers three different distortions
  • excellent sound quality
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • Does not have a gain knob

Why Would You Need a Dedicated Pedal for Bass?

Let me draw a little picture here: imagine that you are jamming with your electric guitar and suddenly you damage the strings. You do not have any replacements on hand except for your acoustic guitar strings. If you were to substitute your electric guitar strings with the acoustic ones (I know you would not though), would you get the same sound or would it even work? The answer is clear-cut here: the results would be completely different. Well, the same goes with the pedals as well. In order for a stompbox to work well with bass, it should have the ability to discern bass frequencies. Effects pedal designed for an electric guitar might work in some cases, however, if you compare it to a bass dedicated unit, you will notice a substantial difference. The latter has a circuitry that can “read” low end notes perfectly and adds effect accordingly. What is more, the EQ section of the electric guitar pedal will affect your bass negatively due to the same reason. This is why it is better to splurge on a bass pedal, rather than use an electric guitar stompbox you already own.

The Mistake to Avoid

When you play in a band, your instinct is to make sure your instrument is audible. If you play complicated verses and chords, it is only natural that certain signals get lost in the mix and are not discernable for the audience. In order to avoid this, many guitarists crank up the volume or gain knobs. Bad news, fella, this is a huge mistake, especially for bass players. You know how interactive everything is in a band, you turn up the volume, your mates follow and subsequently all you get is screaming and noise. All the signals that are produced become too similar to be distinguishable from each other, which means all your efforts are in vain. The good solution to this problem is using a blend knob. Engineers incorporate it in so many pedals for a reason. As you know, this bad boy gives you the option to balance out your pristine and affected signals. If you want more gain or volume, you should tweak the blend knob until you get the clarity and dimension you lacked in your sound. Easy, ha? Well, greatest solutions are always the simplest ones.

What to Look for When Choosing a Bass Overdrive Pedal?

If you have dealt with pedals at least once, you probably already know that different things work in different scenarios. I mean, sometimes even a single knob can be enough to dial in the desired effect, while there are situations where you need the ability to tweak every single parameter of your sound. This is why it is hard to set clear-cut requirements for the best overdrive pedal. However, there are some features that are a good addition to any pedal no matter what. I will discuss them in order to give you a general idea of what works the best in most cases. Let’s start with the Level knob. While this parameter is the simplest one, it gives you a great deal of control over your tone. It gives you the chance to match your volume with the rest of your band, adjust the output of dry and wet signals or simply make sure that nothing is screaming disturbingly. Next comes the Tone (sometimes labeled as EQ). This one allows you to choose the frequencies you want to be affected by the overdrive. This feature is particularly helpful with bass due to its specific frequency range. Now, let’s move on to Gain (sometimes Drive). This knob enables you to modify the amount of effect that is added to your signal (this is basically an overdrive control). This way your overall sound will be well-balanced without uneven sequences. Plus, this parameter allows you to add more dimension to your tone and make sure that every note you play is heard by the audience. Not to mention the ability to saturate your sound with girth and drive. And finally, the Blend. I have already outlined the significance of this knob, but I will still mention briefly, that it lets you maintain the clarity and definition of your sound. These are all the features that you will need for creating mind-blowing bass overdrive. More high-end pedals might offer some additional knobs, but the ones I have mentioned are the basis for any sort of sound.

For the sake of versatility, some models also offer different modes. This is a nice little touch that gives you even more control. Generally, these modes give you the ability to choose between different types of overdrives and leave room for an abundance of sonic possibilities. If you take another look at the list above, you will know what I am talking about. After all, additional features never hurt nobody.

Conclusion

Congratulations, my friend, you are now an expert on the subject of the best bass overdrive pedals. You have all the information you will need to purchase the suitable unit, plug it in and dial in some ethereal sounds. It might be a bit frightening at first, since bass is quite a heavy-sounding instrument on its own. Adding even more girth to it might seem like an awfully muddy nightmare. However, with a little practice, you will be able to nail the effect and combine it perfectly with your bass craftsmanship. The main thing is to let go of your fears and face the magic of both devices courageously. If you are a beginner, I would suggest starting small with lower settings and cranking it up gradually. If you are a professional, still be careful with the effect since it can get out of hand quite easily. One way or another, I know you will find your perfect sound. There are several good things in this world and two of them are bass and overdrive. Imagine what happens when these two are combined! Don’t you want to find out? If so, go out there, purchase the best bass overdrive pedal and let your bass do its job!  

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