Bass preamps are an integral cog of any bass guitarists’ arsenal; they help modify imputed sounds with remarkable precision while creating an elaborate repertoire of outputs to contend with.
As this is such an essential tool for musicians today, we’ve compiled a healthy list of 10 best bass preamp pedals.
If you’re looking for the best preamp pedal for your bass guitar, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a model better than the Xotic Effects BBP-MB. You gain access to a wide range of great amps thanks to this single product, and it’ll help you transform your musical capabilities dramatically.
Our recommended sets of pedals for bass are:
- Xotic Effects BBP-MB
- Aguilar Preamp Direct Box Tone Hammer Bass
- Tech 21 Bass Driver SansAmp
- Hartke VXL Bass Attack Pre-Amp
- Darkglass Electronics Alpha Omega Ultra Bass Preamp Pedal
- MXR Bass Preamp M81
- Ampeg SCRDI Bass DI Preamp
- Gallien-Krueger Preamp Plex Pedal
- Behringer V-Tone Bass Driver
- Kokko Booster Guitar Pedal
Reviews of the Best Preamp Pedals for Bass
The Xotic is ideal for musicians who play the electric and bass guitar, and are on the lookout for a preamp pedal that can work with both instruments.
It’s a highly compact product weighing just around a pound, and you can easily carry it around in your kit bag without any hassles. Don’t be fooled by the minimal design, though, as it comes with a four-band EQ to take care of all your basic necessities.
It comes in sleek looking, brushed aluminum housing with bold graphics, and includes a one-year warranty.
Best Build Quality
Aguilar’s model is one of the toughest bass preamp pedals on the market; this makes it an ideal companion for musicians who spend a lot of time on the road.
Apart from the tough-as-nails exterior, it has a great selection of controls; this includes a total of six dials on the board with bass, treble EQ, two mid-level controls, and two mid-frequency controls for you to contend with.
You also have access to a ground lift with an LED indicator to highlight whenever the lift is in use. Aguilar is also smart enough to split the engage and AGS switches between the left and right sides of the panel to make it easier for you during playtime.
Best for Five or Six String Bass
This is the second version of the popular Tech 21 SansAmp series. It comes with a special set of features that make it ideal for guitars with five or six strings; this includes the availability of a low-end control system that allows you to focus on the lower frequencies generated by the fifth and sixth strings.
It enables you to pick and highlight 40 or 80 Hz notes and use the independent drive and presence control systems to amplify the low-end to your satisfaction.
You also have a lot of freedom when it comes to accessing the mid-range sections of your composition; this is done with parallel outputs that you can use by bypassing your own amp’s internal circuitry.
Even the size of this unit is appropriate for learners of varying degrees, it can be considered a bit on the larger side, but it makes it easier to navigate and control.
Best for Live Performances
The Bass Attack by Hartke makes a vast improvement on their previous model with the help of crucial new additions that’s sure to delight bassists around the world.
It boasts of Hartke’s famous SHAPE circuitry that comes with a wide set of functions and makes this model highly suitable for live performances.
The EQ personalization of this model is top of the line, and it allows you to bring your A-game when you take the stage with your guitar.
A wide range of interface controls are featured in this model; this includes your basic EQ parameters and various frequency response shaping controls.
You also have the option of using the direct-out signal on either pre or post signal manipulation mode; this gives you the opportunity to either send out raw signals or pre amped signals using the XLR output.
The manufacturers have given you the option of either using a battery or an external adapter to power this device, thereby making it portable whenever you need it.
Best High-End Pedal
This is a limited edition model and is our top pick if you’re looking for a high-end model to really take your guitar game to the next level.
It’s a highly versatile model as the processor can be used as a preamp to route signals directly to an output without affecting latency.
You’ll have tons of options for customizing your sounds, thanks to a staggering six-band EQ setup and two incredible distortion circuits. With this collection of modifiers in your bag, you’ll be able to produce an intensely wide range of sounds.
You can connect the Darkglass to a PC or Mac via a micro USB B port; this enables you to install impulse responses on the pedal and control many other settings.
The Alpha Omega becomes one of those bass preamps that can be used to accentuate any style or genre of music. It pretty much just comes down to what you can do with this bad boy!
Best Portable Pedal
This is certainly one of the smallest units featured on our list, but don’t let that fool you as this baby packs quite a punch.
The exterior features a metal chassis that’s small enough to fit into most pedalboards; this makes it ideal for musicians who play a lot of gigs and are on the lookout for a rugged yet portable pedal.
You’ll find that this model offers incredible sound clarity, and it relies on the CHT circuitry to minimize noise interference internally. The clarity is also boosted thanks to the use of high-quality parts throughout the product.
A wide range of interface controls allows you to make the most out of your instrument, as you can have access to EQ and ground lift, pre and post DI output, and DB control for both input and output.
Best Interface Controls
The Ampeg SCRDI BASS DI Preamp is a great piece of equipment, thanks to its vast number of options in terms of modifying sounds. It has an absolutely stellar interface that features a three-band EQ, tone controls and a scrambler overdrive.
You can send your tone directly to a PA or recording system when you use this unit, all thanks to the balanced XLR output option.
This device also gives you the option of sending a split of your signal to different monitors or amps with the help of quarter-inch outputs.
You can use this device to create a wide range of sounds, and this is thanks in part to the availability of the iconic Ampeg tones.
A perfect-your-practice mode lets you use the ⅛ inch aux input to use your music player and jam to your favorite beats.
Best Voicing Options
If you’re looking for a bass preamp pedal with tons of voicing options, you’ll be delighted with the Plex by Gallien Krueger.
It comes with a wide range of voicing filters and tons of amp sounds, making it a highly versatile and unique device. You can use this unit to take on a variety of genres, including grunge-rock to indie-pop.
It’s also one of the finest looking models featured on our list and is sure to make any tech-junkie drool.
Best Analog Modeling
This device by Behringer really stands out thanks to its vast number of features and incredibly low price.
It’s an analog modeling stompbox/bass preamp with a bass DI driver recording output feature packed into it; this makes it extremely easy to play and record your favorite tracks.
The use of authentic modeling V-tone technology allows you to access big vintage tube tones, along with some funky slap sounds, various crunchy distortions, and a whole lot more.
You’ll have access to a wide range of quality amp sounds in a single unit, with tunes varying from traditional bass amps to overdrive tones typical of modern music.
You would normally have to resort to a wide range of effect units to put together such a wide selection, but Behringer has brought all of this together for you in a single device.
Additionally, you can also use the authentic tube emulation circuitry to mix it up with the direct bass signal by using the blend control function as well; this allows you to put together a complex composition that features a healthy mix of original and modified tunes from your instrument.
Best Mini Pedal
This is an excellent mini-pedal offered by Kokko and is an excellent selection if you’re looking to constantly keep a preamp pedal at hand.
You can work on increasing the volume without colored sound while using this model, thanks to the true bypass.
A two-band EQ has been made available by the manufacturer, and this allows you to operate and control the high and low frequency separately based on your requirements.
You’ll always be able to ascertain the effect in operation without any trouble, thanks to the LED indicator; this is especially useful when you use this feature while performing in front of crowds.
A set of anti-skid rubber pads have been provided at the base of the device to add stability to the pedal and prevent it from moving around while you use it.
In terms of the exterior of the device, Kokko have opted to use a high-quality aluminum alloy that’s extremely durable; this helps increase the lifespan substantially.
Preamp Pedals for Bass: Buyers’ Guide
In this buyers’ guide, we’ll provide you with the information you’ll need to make an informed decision when purchasing a preamp pedal.
What Does a Bass Preamp Pedal Do?
The functions of a bass preamp pedal are closely tied to the construction of your typical amplifier. As you may or may not know, an amplifier is put together in two distinct stages, the preamp and the power amp stages.
A bass preamp pedal also shares these two sections when it comes to its functions. In the preamp section, most of the signal from the instrument is processed in order to convert it into the distinct sound of the amp; these are known as preamp pedals, as the processing is done before (pre) it gets to the amp.
Next, it hits the power amp section where the signal is considerably amplified before it’s sent towards the output, which is usually a speaker.
In the preamp pedal, the first stage or the preamp stage is basically brought down to a foot-pedal to allow the user to control this process with precision; this enables you to control various elements of the overall sound being produced, including changing the tone, EQ, level control, and gain.
You can use this device to modify and improve the signal before it hits the power amp stage, and the sound is amplified.
Preamp Pedals and Bass Driver DI Boxes
There are tons of similarities between a preamp pedal and a direct inject box or bass driver DI box. Essentially, both devices take your unbalanced signals from your instrument and help you convert it into a balanced output.
The difference between the two devices comes down to the range of functions made available to the user. A bass driver DI box can only be used to adjust the signal level, and that’s pretty much it. There are higher-end models that have been recently introduced to the market that offer some of the features of a preamp, but this only occurs in the high-end range.
On the other hand, preamp pedals offer the user a wide range of options when it comes to modifying their signal at any price point. It basically works as a foot-operated version of a real amplifier, minus offering an output channel, and this is where the two devices stand out.
Bass Preamp Pedals and Onboard Bass Preamps
If you own an instrument with its own set of bass preamps, you’re probably wondering if you’re really in need of a bass preamp pedal, and that’s a good question.
Not every guitar is gifted with an onboard bass preamp set, and you’re most likely to find this handy addition on high-end models. The functioning of the onboard set will probably be just as good as the preamp pedals on the market.
The big difference between the two units comes down to your personal tastes and preferences. Your onboard unit may have certain features, but it’s unlikely to have all of them when it comes to modifying signals from the bass.
Certain EQ functions are only accessible through certain pedals, and they offer you a completely different tone from your existing sounds. Beginners may be willing to settle for the variations on their onboard preamps, but seasoned musicians will still seek greater variations in sounds through the use of preamp pedals.
How to Pick the Best Bass Preamp Pedal
Here are some useful features that you need to keep an eye out for when picking up a bass preamp pedal. Just remember that these are only the features of the pedal. When it comes to picking out the sounds that’ll most suit your music, it’s a subjective experience, and you need to rely on your ear to find the best match for that.
The Big EQ
With the help of an equalizer, you’ll have the ability to radically change the sounds of your instrument using various parameters. While your average foot pedal may not give you a full graphic EQ, you can at least seek out a model that offers you a two-band setup.
Level and Gain
There’s a clear difference between the concepts of level, gain, and volume, and it pays to understand this distinction before picking out a pedal. The gain refers to the input signal level before the device has gotten a chance to influence or affect it in any way.
When you use varying levels of gains on the various preamp functions, it helps you greatly modify your composition’s overall sound; this is where the level function comes in.
The level function allows you to control the various gains going into the preamp for bass, and this will enable you to modify sounds with greater precision.
This nifty little adjustment allows you to tinker with the signal in order to blend between your processed and unprocessed signals. Thanks to this feature, you get to control just how much of the preamps’ sound you’ll utilize at any given point.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bass Preamp Pedals
What Is the Best Bass Preamp?
In our opinion, the Xotic Effects BBP-MB has got to be the best bass preamp as it has a four-band EQ, and is capable of working on an electric or bass guitar; all this packed into a small, portable unit.
Do I Need a Bass Preamp Pedal?
The answer to whether you need a bass preamp pedal is purely subjective, and it depends on your level of expertise. If you’re a beginner, you can play the bass guitar without using any pedals.
As you grow in experience, however, you’ll find the need to control and modify the sounds of your instrument, and this is when you’ll need a bass preamp pedal.
What Pedals Do Bass Players Use?
Bass players tend to use preamp pedals or effect pedals the most; this helps them tune to the sound of their instrument in line with the needs of the genre they’re taking on.
Can I Use a Bass Preamp Pedal With My Bass Amp?
Yes, you can use a bass preamp pedal with your bass amp; this comes down to your choice of sounds and your interest in portability. Players tend to use a preamp most often as they’re extremely portable and then plug in this device to a speaker to act as an output channel.
However, if you’re performing a gig or on stage, you can certainly use the preamp pedal with a bass amp. It also works when you have a permanent set up in your home.
Your bass guitar will truly appreciate our winner, the Xotic Effects BBP-MB. It will help you take the capabilities of your instrument to the next level. The new mid-boost feature works with the cut control feature to offer immense control for the user, allowing you to experiment like never before.
The Aguilar Preamp Direct Box Tone Hammer Bass, on the other hand, is an excellent runner-up and is one of the best bass preamps around. It offers plenty of interface controls such as gain, treble, bass, and master. It’ll allow you to change and warp your sound with incredible ease and make the most of your time with the guitar.