Bass Guitar Effect Pedals on a Budget
Effects effects everywhere but what do we wear!
The budget bassist!
I can not tell you how many times I have heard a fellow bass player complain about the cost of a piece of equipment. They generally want a hot new effects pedal or maybe even a new axe to grind with but truthfully the cost is only a problem if you do not know where to look. I compare it to shoes. (seriously stay with me here)
Nike shoes cost an arm and a leg and they are quality made kicks, but there are lower or lesser known brands that are just as good quality wise and affordable at half the cost. The same holds true for music gear and equipment. We just have to know what it is we want and where we can get it at a budget cost. I will give you my run down to give you an idea of what I am talking about.
I usually run my frettless rubelli bass through a behringer ultrabass 1200 kickback amp. Pedal wise I rock a Boss compression sustainer, an Ammoon Echo, a Behringer V-Tone bass issue, and usually I run a Pyle Pro DI box to level my frequency out a tad. All of this gear I was able to get for literally around $300.00!
It is all about being willing to look for that deal. In this fancy little article we will explore 5 effects pedals that will give your bass that extra punch it needs without kicking your wallet in the jewels.
Ammoon Echo pedal with a bass guitar.
5. The Ammoon Echo
Talk about a bite in a little box! This effect has taken my sound to exciting new levels and really I can tell you that it is a simple to operate unit with a great range of uses. The pedal is part of a series of effects released in tiny boxes but with the same if not better quality than the top dollar units out there. I will say Boss and DOD have always made fine effects pedals but most of us can't up and drop $100 to $200 bucks to get that one effect pedal so we end up going with a multi-effects unit that just does not give us the individual quality a single unit can offer.
The Ammoon Echo pedal will run you right around $25 for a new model but I have seen a few of these babies drop on Ebay for right around $14! That is a steal for a bass player trying to get that ballsy tone with a sustainable echo effect, which is usually a bit rough for us as bass players. Ammoon has done a seriously good job at tailoring this tiny brute to not only create juicy echo for guitars but to be highly adaptable to bass guitar as well.
The sustainability is pure and rich regardless of whether you are playing high or low on the neck and it really gives your sound some color.
4. KOKKO Mini Compression Pedal
I know, I know I said I use a Boss Compression Sustainer pedal in my rig. The reason for that is I was able to trade a pedal I got of a site called Listia for this one. In reality I could never afford to buy the pedal new. On the other hand KOKKO's compression pedal is a whole other story. A story with a happy ending.
This pedal is small and with just 3 knobs one might assume lacking in what it can do for your sound. Remember compression is not an in your face effect like distortion or flange, it is a subtle effect that is there to enhance your sound.
The best explanation I can give of a compressor is that it's an automatic volume control that lowers your signal when it exceeds a predetermined threshold, equaling or squashing signal peaks.
Basically, it makes the quieter parts of an audio signal louder allowing them to be heard and the louder parts quieter. With bass this is a great thing because we use our fingers and sometimes we may not attack the notes the same each time. This pedal will make that less of a bother.
Compression is great when you are performing live and you know you are hitting a long set and may get tired and sloppy later on or when you are just wanting to ensure a tight sound the entire gig.
Price wise a Compression Sustainer from Boss is going to set you back about $140.00. The unit from KOKKO is going to run you right at $25.00 on Amazon. That is a steal for an effect that could save your performance.
KOKKO Compression Pedal
3. Rowin Bass EQ Pedal
EQ pedals are something I suggest the newer player get away from! A lot of times we see 9 and 10 band EQ and think we are getting more for our money so let's buy that, but as a bass player you really are not getting that at all.
Rowin has created a 5 band EQ that is fully created with the Bass player in mind. These are the 5 bands we need to focus on to get our sound where we want it to be. Sure other companies do have pedals with the same features but usually you are looking at a price tag of about $75 to $140 for those units. That is a bit pricey in my book.
Rowin's unit hits the frequencies of 62.5, 125, 500, 1K and 4K. These are areas in which our sound can be greatly affecting the overall quality of the music.
That 62.5 range is going to affect the boomy sound of the bass. 125 is the fattness, or what I call density of the bass sound. Think motown deep bass tones. 500 is clarity. We can erase a lot of muddy sounds in our bass by knowing when to up or down this particular frequency. The other two frequencies work with our presence and attack. A bass player with a good understanding of these frequencies can model a great sound.
Amazon actually has these little puppies for right around $30 and I assure you you will thank me for it.
Rowin Bass EQ
2. Behringer Overdrive
I myself do not use overdrive at all in my playing but for the bassist who likes that extra punch you can not go wrong with this tasty little unit. Behringer really focuses a lot of attention to detail when it comes to their bass products and this little doggy goes above and beyond to give you that vintage distortion all the way to the modern crunch.
The pedal runs at about $25 and will give you everything you get out of the higher cost pedals for sure. While I currently do not run any distortion effects in my rig I did at one point use one of these to capture that Cliff Burton Metallica sound. The pedal gave me the ability to play Cliff's lines with the same brutal force he did. I really had only one complaint about the pedal. It came in pastel purple! I love purple but pastel was a bit yuck!
1. Behringer BDI21 V-Tone Bass Driver
Hands down the best pedal for the buck you will find! I swear by this thing and will not gig without it. For years bass players swore by the Sansamp and rightfully so but this unit offers the same quality at a fraction of the cost. It boost your audio giving you a great deal more volume but at the same time it allows you to model your tone and get it to the point where you are satisfied with it.
With a little tweaking you can get the sounds of several famous amps in the tube generation and you can even emulate the sound of various styles like blues and reggae without sacrificing your tonality. The unit comes with some handy presets and makes for a fun little experiment for the weekdays. You can tinker with it and get it to do so much more than a standard pedal ever would.
I find the unit particularly impressive when using the slap technique on the bass. It gives you smooth highs but deep bellowing lows as well. It has become my go to unit for live performances and will most likely continue to do so. For under $30 you just can't compare this with any other pedal making the claims this one does. Those claims are backed up by the unit's versatile operation and it's ability to give the user a very wide and diverse amount of sound and tonality in such a small package.
Behringer BDI21 V-Tone Bass Driver
Remember that your sound is your sound and it should not have to cost you a new mortgage on the house to get it. Shop wise when you look for new gear. Look at user reviews and pay close attention to little details. Sure a titanium box is impressive but are you playing in a mine field? Go with what works but remember that you can usually get a cheaper version of the same thing somewhere else. If you insist on big names than look for quality used or open box deals. For now live long and jam!