Can You Use Guitar Pedals on a Bass Guitar?

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  January 9, 2021
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When you see a band playing live, you may notice that the guitarist has a large board in front of him or her with a variety of pedals that they step on to give them different sounds.

The bass player, on the other hand, may have no pedals, or they may have just a few, or, in rare cases, they may have a whole bunch.

This may lead you to wonder, can you use guitar pedals on bass?

Can you use guitar pedals on a bass guitar

You can use guitar pedals on bass and many will work well on bass and provide a similar effect. But there is a reason why there are pedals made specifically for bass. It’s because not all guitar pedals are equipped to work with the lower frequencies of the bass guitar.

Each Guitar Their Own Pedal for Better Sound

In most instances, manufacturers will therefore make two versions of the pedal, one for guitar and another made for bass.

A pedal that is made for bass will be better at bringing out a bass’s low tones.

In fact, in some instances, a guitar pedal may eliminate the lower range of the instrument which will not work well for the bass at all.

If you chart the frequencies of a guitar and bass, you will find the bass frequencies are all in the lower range while guitar frequencies are in the upper range.

Some effects pedals focus on specific parts of the range. For instance, some pedals will focus on midrange and cut out low range. If you use these pedals on bass they will not sound very good.

Before investing in a pedal, find out if there is a model available for bass guitar. If this is the case, go for the one that is designed for bass to make sure you get the best tone possible.

If there is no bass version of the pedal and it’s made for guitar only, find out if it works for bass before purchasing it.

Of course, you can also ask the question the other way around: Can You Use Bass Pedals With a Guitar?

Do I Need Separate Pedals for My Bass Guitar?

Even though there are pedals made for bass guitar, they are not as essential for bassists as they are for guitarists.

Guitarists need a distortion pedal at the very least, to add a distorted sound if the amp does not have enough crunch.

They may also want to use pedals to add fullness to their tone or create a distinct sound that sets them apart.

For more on this read: Different Types of Guitar Pedals: what effects do I need?

Bassists, on the other hand, may be happy with the crisp, clean tone that comes out of the amp.

If you are going to buy separate pedals for your bass guitar, these are the obvious choices:

What Pedals Should I Get for a Bass Guitar?

If you decide that you would like to give your bass tone unique elements, there are several types of pedals you can purchase.

In fact, pretty much any guitar pedal has some sort of bass equivalent.

Here are some pedals you might want to explore.

Compressor

Even though a compressor is not necessary for bass, a lot of bassists like to use one when they play.

Bassists play with their fingers or a pick and play one string at a time. The amount of pressure they use tends to be uneven producing sounds that can be louder and softer.

A compressor evens out the tone to make up for any imbalances in volume.

Compressors are available for bass and guitar alike and some guitar pedals will work well on bass while others will not be as effective.

If in doubt, it is always best to go with a pedal that’s made for bass.

Fuzz

A fuzz pedal is the equivalent of a guitarist’s distortion pedal.

It adds growl to the sound and it can be useful if you play with a metal band or if you like a vintage sound.

Most fuzz guitar pedals will work with bass so you don’t have to worry too much about choosing one that’s specially made for bass.

However, there are fuzz pedals available for both bass and guitar.

Wah

A wah pedal is used to waver the sound of the bass so it has an echoey effect.

If you are interested in buying a wah for your bass, be sure to get the bass version for the ultimate effect.

It is not advisable to use a wah pedal made for guitar on a bass. This is because the wah pedal plays with the frequencies of the tone.

Therefore, it’s best to get one that’s designed for the instrument it is being used on.

Octave

An octave pedal will make your bass sound like it is playing in the upper and lower ranges simultaneously. It can be used by guitar players and bass players and it is effective in helping bands fill out their sound.

In general, you won’t find too many octave pedals that are specifically made for bass.

Most octave pedals can be used for either bass or guitar. Models like the EHX Micro POG and the POG 2 are known for sounding good on bass.

Guitarists may commonly use pedals to enhance their sound, but they are great for bassists as well.

Choose one that’s right for you by thinking of how you want to sound and by making sure to find a pedal that’s made for bass.

How will your effects be transforming your music?

Here, we’ve reviewed the top three bass guitar pedals to help you in making the best purchase for your bass guitar playing.

          Joost Nusselder, the founder of Neaera is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new equipment with guitar at the heart of his passion, and together with his team, He's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2020 to help loyal readers with recording and guitar tips.

Check me out on Youtube where I try out all of this gear:

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