If you’re in a hurry, the best bass compressor pedal is the Wampler Mini Ego Compressor. It’s tough, versatile and professional-level and doesn’t take up too much space on your pedalboard.
For beginners and those on a serious budget, the JOYO JF-10 Dynamic Compressor has great versatility and an unbeatable price.
While you can use a guitar compressor pedal for bass, some want a pedal specifically designed for bass tones. If that’s you, the top pick is the Jim Dunlop MXR M87 Bass Compressor.
Either way, these are the best bass compressor pedal options out on the market right now:
- Wampler Mini Ego Compressor
- Xotic SP Compressor
- Boss CS-3 Compressor/Sustainer Pedal
- MXR M102 Dyna Comp Pedal
- Fender “The Bends” Compressor Pedal
- Joyo JF-10 Dynamic Compressor
- Jim Dunlop MXR M87 Bass Compressor
Reviews of the Best Bass Compressor Pedals
This Wampler pedal is the top pick of many bass players, primarily because it evens out notes without making them dull and muddy. If you need more color, you can adjust the compressed and uncompressed notes’ blend to your preference.
It also includes the right settings for truly making this the one pedal you’ll have with you at all times. The slow or fast attack and regular or brighter tone pedals particularly stand out. It also has a sustain switch to adjust the compression level.
With the different settings, you’ll be able to use this pedal with anything from country, smooth soul, funk and bright pop boost. You can have it on at all times or use it as an effect, to boost your notes without sacrificing your sound.
Like many compressors, it does give you some hissing background noise at a high setting, though, so watch out for this.
This pedal is pricier than many other options, but it’s versatile and customizable, which helps you get the most out of your investment.
Best Low-Noise Pedal
This simple Xotic compressor tightens up your notes with minimal background noise. It also does a really good job leveling the thinner sounds and adds some serious compression when you dial up the blend switch.
It also gives you a nice blend of compressed and uncompressed signal that keeps your signal clear and doesn’t muddy it up.
Note that the pedal is very simple to use and doesn’t have too many buttons, making it well-suited to beginners. To counter this, though, it has a lot of sensitivity, which can get in your way if you’re just getting started.
Do note that this pedal is very susceptible to interference, especially when you go for a higher level of compression. This can get annoying, but it doesn’t happen at lower levels.
Sturdiest Build for Gigs
This Boss compressor helps both smooth out your sound and bridge any gaps within your signal. Such a feature comes in helpful when you’re on a gig and want to make sure your notes are getting across.
The pedal does have a lot of compression, which can be a blessing or a curse, depending on what you’re looking for. It can easily make your tone muddy if you take the settings too high.
Even so, this model has a sturdy build—it’s made of a solid-feeling metal that makes it harder to break, even if it takes a beating in transport. Usually, Boss pedals are aluminum, but we can’t confirm this for this particular pedal.
Customers comment on how the level, tone, attack and sustain switches are large and easy to find in a hurry if you need to quickly adjust something.
It does have some background noise, as most compressors do, but the sound is quite clean on low levels. It also will distort if you push the compression too hard, but you can minimize these issues by keeping the settings moderate.
Simplest to Use
This pedal has been around for a long time and is one of many guitarists’ favorites, but it works wonders on bass, too. It’s tough and can handle tough conditions and years of use.
It’s a simple and classic bass compressor pedal with basic output and sensitivity switches. Also, the sound is clean with low background noise, and the compression is smooth and sustained.
This simplicity is the pedal’s key feature, but it can also be its downfall. It doesn’t offer you the variable adjustments for attack or release that some other pedals do, but it’s a solid option for a simple compressor.
Whether you’re a professional musician or just starting, this is a solid addition to a pedalboard. It’s not a true bypass pedal, though, so it can suck up your tone when it’s not on.
Most Complete Pedal
It’s easy to understand why this pedal is one of the favorites for pro players—it’s simple, versatile and has a couple of nice bonus touches that help you set up.
For instance, you can adjust the attack, blend and compression level. As a nice additional touch, the knobs have an LED backlight, making it easier to see them quickly on a dark stage.
The central light is very bright, which can get overpowering. But, it turns pink when the compression is working at a high level, so you have a visual cue to help you get the settings just right.
This bass compressor pedal does have some noise when you crank it up to a high level. Even so, it still produces a clear enough sound, especially at lower levels, for studio use.
Best on a Budget
This Joyo dynamic compressor is the best cheap bass compressor on the market. It’s a simple pedal for beginners at a fraction of the cost of the more expensive models. It’s definitely the best alternative if you’re not looking to spend hundreds of dollars on a pedal.
Even some more advanced players find it enough for their needs—it has all the basic level, sustain and attack knobs for a live gig or studio. It does suck out some of the tone if you’re bypassing the pedal, though.
The compression is subtle and smooth, and it works well even on a bass guitar’s low-end notes. This helps even out rough edges with a clean sound and relatively low noise, unless you require too much compression.
But note that the inner circuitry can stop working eventually, but you should get some good years out of your purchase. The case is tough, and the knobs are big and smooth to turn. Also, the battery door is easy to access, which contributes to the ease of use.
If you’re not the kind of bass player to nitpick everything, this is a solid compressor for a first-time pedal owner. It’s not the most high-tech option on the market, but it doesn’t feel flimsy for such a cheap pedal, either.
Best Low Tones
While you can use a guitar compressor for bass guitar without a problem, some compressors are better than others with certain instruments and styles. The MXR M87 is one such of these—made especially for capturing those low bass tones, and it’s a favorite of many professional musicians.
This pedal gives you a big, fat bass tone across the board while evening out your overall range. It also includes adjustable attack, release, ratio and input settings and is true bypass, so it won’t alter your tone when it isn’t needed.
Customers mention that the MXR M87 does let in some background noise, and you’ll need to keep a light hand with the settings. While it generally doesn’t kill your tone, if you turn the input too high, you may completely lose the softer notes. It also doesn’t have the strongest compression.
Despite this, the pedal is easy to use, and it sets up in minutes, with gain-reduction LED lights to help you adjust the input. The light is very bright, though, which bothers some users.
This option is at the pricier end of the range, but overall, it’s a solid investment. As a plus, it has a tough aluminum case, and the size is small enough to fit your pedalboard.
What Does a Bass Compressor Pedal Do?
A bass compressor pedal literally compresses your bass sound, reducing its volume to even it out. It also tones down your louder notes, making your quiet notes louder and punchier in comparison. You’ll reduce the dynamic range, which is key for a backing, foundational instrument like the bass.
On the negative side, a compressor, by definition, amps up the background noise as well, because you’ll raise the volume on the softer notes.
You’ll have to keep the settings controlled to reduce this effect, and they’ll also easily muddle up all the notes and make them dull if you’re not careful with the input and output settings.
Even so, you can adjust the signal depending on the style you’re going for. For example, pop and rock often use a highly compressed sound. On commercially published tracks, the sound can even be overly compressed to reduce the dynamic range, but it can be detrimental to quality.
Try out the adjustments and see for yourself what the best bass compressor pedal is for you.
Do I Need a Compressor Pedal for My Bass?
Yes, compressor pedals are among the first we’d recommend for a bass guitar player, so it’s definitely an important investment.
If you’re playing professionally with others in a gig or studio setting, you’ll need a compressor pedal. A bass compressor pedal helps you polish your sound and give you thick low-end notes, which will be better for the end product.
If you’re just practicing at home, you might be able to skip this purchase. Playing without a compressor will be more useful for perfecting your technique because you’ll hear your mistakes better. You’ll notice whether you’re hitting those strings too hard or soft and correct yourself.
What to Look for in a Compression Pedal
A good compression pedal is a must-have in a bassist’s pedalboard, but the best bass compression pedal will give you a beefier, fuller sound without bringing up the background noise.
These are some of the features to look for in the best bass compressor pedals:
The release ratio in bass compressor pedals is the measure of how much the sound is compressed. The compression begins after you go over a certain threshold level of decibels.
If you compress every 5 decibels over the threshold rate to only 1 decibel of output, your ratio is 5:1.
This is the most basic setting of a bass compressor pedal because it directly affects how compressed the signal will be. Still, when you go through your options, you’ll notice that many bass compressor pedals don’t have a release ratio knob, because they’re often labeled as “sustain.” Another word for it is sensitivity.
With some compressor pedals, you can also adjust the release time to your personal preference. This refers to the time the compression takes to adjust after the volume is below the threshold again. It’s a matter of milliseconds and hardly perceptible, but some bass players prefer to have this setting.
The blend refers to the mix of dry or uncompressed signal with the compressed one.
Not all bass compressor pedals include this option, but some bass guitar players love blending the two types of signals.
The attack is the time it takes for the compression to start when you’ve hit the threshold on your big bass notes. It’s measured in milliseconds, and while some compressor pedals include an adjustment knob for it, others don’t.
Another important difference in the compression effect is whether it’s “soft knee” or “hard knee.” Soft knee means that the compressor kicks in gradually, while a hard knee hits the compression straight away when you’re at the threshold.
This simply means that when you turn off the pedal, it’s truly off and won’t alter your signal. Some bass compressor pedals can turn into tone suckers, so the internal circuitry should allow the sound to flow freely between input and output.
A gigging musician’s bass pedal, especially, should have a strong metal casing that can take the tough needs of transport.
It should also have a small enough footprint so you can fit more pedals on your board.
What Bass Pedals Do I Need?
To start with, you’ll need at least three basic pedals:
- Preamp/DI pedal.
After that, you can start adding other pedals, from octave pedals to secondary distortion. When you’ve got these covered, start experimenting with filters, reverbs or other fun effects.
How many bass pedals you need depends on your level, the type of music you play and your environment:
- Funk player: A filter pedal could be the most important addition to your pedalboard. A chorus pedal can also work well with higher notes.
- Gigging: You might need fewer effects than in the studio, but you’ll have to see what your specific needs are.
Where Should I Put a Compression Pedal?
Dynamic pedals, like compressors, should go at the beginning of your signal chain. You should also put volume pedals, filters and pitch shifters at the beginning.
After that, you can put your overdrive, distortion or other modulation effects.
Delays and other time effect pedals should go at the end. You can also experiment with the volume pedal at the end of the chain.
Can I Use a Guitar Compression Pedal for Bass?
Yes, any guitar compressor pedal can be used for bass, but some are better than others. If you want to make sure you have the right pedal for a fat bass tone, get one designed specifically for bass.
The best bass compressor pedal is the Wampler Mini Ego Compressor. It’s a reliable option for professional players and beginners alike and has enough settings to polish and customize your sound.
If you’re looking for a more low-budget option, the JOYO JF-10 Dynamic Compressor is a basic compressor you’ll likely get a couple of good years from.
The best bass compressor pedal made specifically for this instrument, in turn, is the MXR M87. It will allow you to bring out those low notes without muddying up your tone. You’ll also be able to bypass it when needed, without altering your signal.
Still, we’re more inclined to recommend the Wampler for its great versatility, which makes it a universally loved pedal. It’s a best-seller, tough and mini-sized compressor that you’ll likely get years of use from.