It's all about that BASS! In today's video, we're checking out the top 5 essential effects for bass guitar. Here we'll walkthrough what they are, what they do, and what they sound like. We'll look at how to order them. And discuss which ones you should buy first. So, ready to unlock the floodgates of massive, modulated bass guitar goodness? Lets check it out!
EBS Ultimate Drive: https://bit.ly/3y4Y5jG
Buy On Amazon: https://amzn.to/3OnEq5z
EBS MultiComp: https://bit.ly/3nmPYu3
Buy On Amazon: https://amzn.to/3AjHdIC
EBS UniChorus: https://bit.ly/3bo9G5J
Buy On Amazon: https://amzn.to/3xYMcfm
EBS OctaBass: https://bit.ly/3AcZBDg
Buy On Amazon: https://amzn.to/3a1E4CO
EBS BassIQ: https://bit.ly/3I3lKph
Buy On Amazon: https://amzn.to/3NxTXhU
Howdy, friend. You’re here in the studio with Luke from GuitarIQ.com. Today, we’re talking all things bass guitar pedals. With a little help from some of the excellent folk over at EBS Sweden, I've put together a fantastic little bass guitar rig that showcases what I consider to be five of the most quintessential effects for bass guitar. So in today's video, we're going to take a walkthrough of this pedalboard. We're going to look at what each of these different effect types are. What they do, what they sound like. You’re going to get a chance to see how I've laid these out, in terms of the signal chain (which pedals are going into which), as a general starting point for experimenting with your own pedals at home. And I'm going to talk a little bit about my recommendations for prioritizing these pedals, in terms of which ones you should get first. If you only want one or two little pedals, or you can only afford one or two pedals… Which are the main ones that are going to give you the best ‘bang for your bass’? So to speak.
This video is going to be perfect for you if you're a bass guitar player (obviously) that's looking to put together a little pedalboard but isn't sure where to start. Or, perhaps you've been playing for a long time and have dabbled with different effects but haven't yet found a combination that works for you. Or, maybe, like me, you're predominantly a guitar player who has a little studio set up at home and finds themselves more and more recording bass guitar. And is just looking for a few simple tips and tricks for getting a more polished, pro sounding bass guitar track right from the start, before it comes time to mix.
If any of those situations vaguely represent where you're at, then please click on that like button to let me know—and to help nudge along that all-powerful YouTube algorithm. As we go through the video, as always, feel free to leave any questions, comments, thoughts, or feedback you might have in the comments section below. And finally, I warmly invite you to head over to GuitarIQ.com to check out some of the fantastic books and other learning resources we have waiting for you over there. That's it from this intro. Let’s head over to the workbench and check out some pedals!
Okay, so here is the little bass rig we're going to walkthrough today. As you can see, it's quite a cute little rig really. But don't let its size fool you. It's capable of plenty of versatile bass guitar goodness and nastiness—all at once. For those interested in the specific pedalboard I've used to put all this together, I've done a separate video on that. So be sure to check that out. I’ll link to that in the description.
First things first. The keen-eyed among you will notice that each of the pedals on this board are made by the same company. These are all pedals by EBS. For those of you who aren't familiar with EBS, they're a Swedish company that have been around for a long time. They make products predominantly for bass guitar players—so amps, effects, accessories, and such and so forth. They're a reputable company. In my experience, all of their stuff feels really well built and super sturdy. And as you'll hear in a minute, they sound absolutely fantastic! So if you are interested in any of these specific pedals as we go through the video, I'll leave some links in the description where you can find some more information. That said, one of the important things I wanted to note right from the start of this video was that, even though I'm going to be using these specific pedals, I'm going to be using them to demonstrate general concepts. So the things we're going to talk through today are going to be relevant regardless of the specific pedal or brand that you may or may not be using. In other words you don't need to copy the exact rig I have here pedal for pedal to get similar results at home for yourself.
And speaking of playing along at home, if you're interested in the rig today the signal chain is pretty simple. It starts with my bass, which is a Yamaha BB734a. Which is plugged straight into the pedalboard. All of the pedals are connected in series. Meaning, each pedal just connects directly into the one next to it. And hopefully as we go through the video, that will give you a helpful starting point in terms of thinking about signal chain—how to order your effects. There are no right or wrong answers here, if it sounds good it is good. But hopefully, the way I've laid things out here will at least give you a helpful reference point for experimenting with your own pedals at home.
So let's get stuck into some sounds. The very first type of pedal I would recommend that you go for, apart from perhaps a tuner, is some kind of preamp-style, tone-shaping effect. Now, I’m being intentionally general in how I'm describing this type of effect. Because there are a lot of different pedals that could fall into this category. But before we talk about it, let’s hear how I've dialed this in. Today, I’m going to be using the EBS Ultimate Drive to do this job. It's the signature pedal by Billy Sheehan. And the way I've got it dialed in sounds a little something like this. First, my clean tone:
And now with the pedal engaged:
So you can certainly hear what that's doing. The interesting thing is, there’s going to be some people out there, depending on the genre they play, that actually prefer the sound of the bass by itself. And that's because it's a cleaner, more rounder sound. The problem is, all of that presence and articulation gets completely lost in the context of a band mix. Regardless of if you're playing live or in the studio. So there's two basic jobs I want to pedal like this to be able to do. One is to give me the ability to shape the tone, to add a bit of presence and bite to the attack of the bass so that it cuts through the mix. And the other is to give me the option for blending in just a little bit of grit or saturation into the signal. Adding some subtle harmonic overtones to fatten up that upper mid range is really useful for helping your bass guitar to remain present and articulate in the mix.
As I mentioned, there are a number of different pedals that can do this job. If you mainly play direct (so you don't use an amp or an amp simulator) probably the best bet is to go for a dedicated bass guitar preamp pedal. A preamp pedal is going to give you very similar controls on the pedal to what you might find on an amplifier—just in a smaller more pedalboard friendly size. The other option of course, perhaps for those who are already using an amplifier, is to get some nice little overdrive pedal that's designed for bass guitar. This particular pedal is a really versatile little unit. It does everything from that light grit we heard before all the way up to, you know, a screaming fuzz distortion sound. And it even has a little inbuilt compressor circuit that we can engage as an added bonus.
And that brings us to the second pedal I would recommend as a key part of your signal chain. A really fantastic pedal to stack with some kind of preamp/overdrive style pedal, is a dedicated compressor pedal. This is the EBS MultiComp. Now compression is a pretty subtle effect, but before we chat about it let's just hear it in action. We'll switch the overdrive off. Here’s my clean sound again, for reference:
And with a bit of compression:
Now, let’s stack the compressor into a bit of saturation. This is the sound I had in the middle section of that opening jam at the start of the video. And it sounds something like this:
So the best way to describe what compression does, is to think of it as basically a dynamic volume control that responds to how you play. A compressor attenuates the loudest parts of your signal and brings them closer in volume to the quietest parts of your signal. The benefit of that is you get a slightly smoother, more consistent performance. You don't have some notes that are jumping out and others that are kind of buried and almost inaudible. The other benefit, of course, is that this adds to the perceived sustain of your bass guitar. So if you're holding a bass note over a few bars, that note is going to ring out stronger for longer. And the other benefit to adding a bit of compression to your bass rig, is that it slightly changes how the bass guitar feels to play. It is subtle, but the notes feel a little easier under your fingers. You don't feel like you're wrestling the bass guitar neck quite as much, which is always a good thing.
So stacking a preamp overdrive-style pedal with some kind of nice compressor that's designed for bass guitar, in my opinion, is a fantastic one-two punch. On one side, we have a pedal that's dealing with the overall character and tone of our sound. And on the other side, we have a pedal that's dealing with the feel and dynamics of our sound. So if you're looking to put together a small bass rig with just a few pedals, these would definitely be my recommendation. Perhaps couple these two pedals with a tuner, and you've got a small rig that can do everything from jazz, blues, and folk through to fusion, rock, and metal. It’s a super versatile little combination. You just dial in a sound you like and then it's pretty well set and forget.
From here, we move from what I would consider the essential ‘need to have’ types of pedals for a great little base rig, to the ‘nice to have’ types of petals for a great little bass rig. These are the types of pedals that you probably won't always leave on. But they're the sort of things that you use creatively to switch in and out as sonic textures to complement the different things that you're playing. The first pedal I want to check out is a chorus pedal for bass. This particular pedal is the EBS UniChorus and it sounds a little something like this. Let’s switch off the overdrive. Here's my clean tone, I'll leave the compressor on and we have this:
And with some chorus. This is the sound I had in the intro section of that opening jam:
You can hear the chorus pedal is just adding this layer of depth and lushness to the sound. The way a chorus pedal works, is that it splits the signal into two different parts. On one side, we have the dry signal coming from our bass guitar. And on the other side, the chorus applies some subtle pitch modulation to the sound. The end result is this kind of rubbing between the sound of our bass, which is in tune, and the sound of the modulation, which is slightly moving in and out of tune. And that's what gives us this pseudo effect of multiple instruments playing at once. Hence, the name ‘chorus’. Now, often when we think of chorus pedals, we tend to direct our minds back to that quintessential 80s clean electric guitar sound. But for me, I almost prefer the sound of chorus on bass guitar. It just adds a really nice movement to the sound. It works really well for that cleaner more pristine chordal, arpeggiated type stuff that I was just playing. But it's equally at home when you slam it into the front of an overdrive pedal and get some fat modulated bass goodness. And speaking of fat bass guitar goodness, let's move on.
The next pedal I want to talk about is an octave pedal. This is probably one of the most fun effects you can have on bass guitar. This particular pedal is the EBS OctaBass. It’s an analog octave pedal and it sounds a bit like this. Here's our reference tone with the compressor on:
And with the octave:
And with a bit of dirt:
So just a glorious, fat, lo-fi sounding bass tone there—I love it. If you're in the market for an octave pedal, there are two general types you're going to encounter. One is a digital octave pedal and one is an analog octave pedal, like the OctaBass. A digital octave pedal will usually track a little cleaner than an analog octave pedal. In terms of following along with what you're playing without some of the crazy glitchiness you can get from an analog pedal—which, by the way, is what a lot of people love about analog octave pedals. A digital octave pedal will also track polyphonically, so you can play multiple notes at once. Which is something you can't do with an analog octave pedal. So why do people keep coming back to the analog octave types of pedals? The simple reason is, because they just sound so damn good! A digital pedal will give you a pretty generic, cut and paste replication of your sound—just pitched up or down an octave. Whereas, an analog octave pedal gives you a completely different tone entirely. It's almost its own instrument. The analog octave itself resembles a really low-fi, gritty bass-synth style sound. It's a beautiful thing. And you can see, I've got the mix of my dry tone all the way up so it's not really affected. And I'm just tucking that octave in to fatten things up.
Now speaking of fattening things up with an analog bass synth-style tone, let's move on to the final effect I wanted to show you. And it's this one in the middle. This is the EBS BassIQ. It’s an envelope filter. So let's hear what it sounds like. We’ll switch off these for now, leave the compression on, here’s my clean tone:
And with the envelope filter:
Now, adding a bit of drive:
Now, for the real fun! Let's add some octave. This is the sound I had in the final section of the intro jam:
So some excellent, low-fi, dirty bass craziness there—I absolutely love that! Before we wrap up, let's do the obvious thing and switch everything on. Here's our reference tone, one last time:
And now with the full party:
So there you go. Hours and hours of good clean fun for everyone! Hopefully, you found this interesting, helpful, and somewhat informative. This was my look at the top five quintessential effects for bass guitar. Featuring some fantastic little units by EBS.
Well, we're almost at the end of the video. Thanks for sticking around! A massive thank you also to EBS for making this video possible. To clarify, as I mentioned, these pedals were sent to me to check out and to feature in some videos. But this wasn't a paid promotion, or a sponsored advertisement, or anything like that. No money has changed hands. All thoughts and opinions are my own, as always. If you did like this video, then please consider subscribing to the channel and clicking that bell icon to be notified of future uploads. And speaking of future uploads, I’m going to be doing a follow-up video to this one. Again looking at these pedals in a little more detail, I’m going to switch some things around and showcase some of the features that I didn't get a chance to look at today. So keep an eye out for that one. And finally, just a reminder to head over to GuitarIQ.com at your leisure to check out some of the great books and learning resources we have waiting over there. That’s it from me. Thank you for watching. Stay well. And I hope to see you in the next video!
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