It is not uncommon for certain members of punk, rock, and metal bands to feel that their instrument isn’t cutting through. There are some music genres of music where a clean bass sound tends to leave the bassist feeling that he just needs more. That thunderous low-end gets washed out among the blazing shrills, hiss, and fuzz of lead and rhythm guitars.
For those bassists who need to add some real punch and power to their sound, a bass distortion pedal is an ideal solution. With distortion for your bass guitar, you are able to crash through the mix and push the bottom-end through any song your playing on.
The question is which one is the right one for you?
Well, lock and load because we have the Best Bass Distortion Pedals on the market. Come along as we break down what makes each one tick and find the perfect one for you…
- Top 7 Best Bass Distortion Pedals In 2020 Reviews
- 1 Tech 21 RIP Red Ripper Bass Distortion Effect Pedal
- 2 Electro-Harmonix Bass Soul Food Bass Distortion Effects Pedal
- 3 MXR M85 Bass Distortion
- 4 Way Huge WHE207 Green Rhino Mini MKIV
- 5 Electro-Harmonix Bass Big Muff Distortion Pedal
- 6 Boss ODB-3 Bass Overdrive
- 7 Behringer Bass Overdrive BOD400 Authentic Tube-Sound Overdrive Effects Pedal
- Best Bass Distortion Pedals Buyers Guide
- And The Best Bass Distortion Pedals Are?
Top 7 Best Bass Distortion Pedals In 2020 Reviews
1 Tech 21 RIP Red Ripper Bass Distortion Effect Pedal
An all-analog bass distortion pedal. It features mean tones and vintage-style filters.
Distortion is probably an inaccurate term for this pedal. It is, in fact, more of a Fuzz, rather than pure distortion. However, it can act as a bass distortion pedal or as a clean boost. As a result, this pedal is quite versatile and dynamic.
The Red Ripper may be an analog pedal, yet it is highly responsive. The harder you play, the more fuzz and high-level harmonics it will churn out. Likewise, back off your attack and the fuzz mellows with more low-level harmonics cutting through.
Fancy the sound of a Moog?
This bass distortion pedal offers various tones to shape your sound. There is vintage fuzz, tectonic distortion, octave fuzz, and even Moog-esque synth stabs.
The real key to honing your preferred tone is the R.I.P control knob. This knob allows you to shape the tone to your liking. All the way to the right and this pedal has the potential to rip your face off. Might be where it gets its name. Dial it to the left, and you will find all the vintage-style filters. Thick and fuzzy tones that don’t wimp out in the mix.
As a pure analog bass distortion pedal, it features 3-band EQ, level, and drive control knobs. Therefore you have the ability to fine-tune the tone and sound of your bass distortion. Separate control knobs for level and drive make it even easier to find that perfect balance of power and dirt.
The active 3-band EQ gives you studio-grade tone shaping. This helps to maintain the overall tonal clarity without being muddy or muffled.
While it emulates an envelope filter, the signal is not actually filtered. As a result, your sound does not thin or drop off, and the low-end is full and detailed. Furthermore, with buffered bypass and a silent footswitch, your signal quality never falters when using this pedal.
2 Electro-Harmonix Bass Soul Food Bass Distortion Effects Pedal
A natural overdrive and boost pedal for the best bass guitars. This pedal allows you to enhance the genuine sound from your bass and amplifier with the Bass Soul Food Effect.
This bass distortion pedal offers a wide range of overdrive and clean boost tones. With this pedal, you will never be left out of the mix. Thanks to the boosted power rails, this pedal provides you with extra headroom and definition across all frequencies. As a result, you are getting more power and clarity even when heavily overdriven.
Optimized gain stage, signal path, and treble control deliver extended low-end response. Along with an adjustable clean blend, your sound and tone are full, detailed, and powerful.
This pedal features selectable True or Buffered Bypass. It also features a switchable -10dB pad for instruments with active electronics and higher outputs. Therefore, you are getting unfiltered tone and sound without compromising strength or clarity.
Four independent control knobs allow you to dial in transparent tones that deliver crunch and punch. There are volume and drive control knobs. This lets you craft the overdrive levels from subtle to severe with a few twists of the knobs.
The treble control knob gives you further shaping potential. This acts as a tone control knob. You can turn it up for a brighter tone, or dial it back for a bassier feel.
The blend knob controls the mix between your clean bass signal and the Bass Soul Food Effect. Essentially, this knob allows you to blend the drive and dry signals. With the drive knob all the way down, it works to boost the clean signal. Furthermore, it can also control the color of your tone when the drive knob is set low.
3 MXR M85 Bass Distortion
A simple bass distortion pedal that is based on the classic distortion circuit MXR is famous for. This bass distortion delivers on the nasty and gnarly with plenty of low-end punch.
This bass distortion pedal lets you choose between silicone diodes and LED clipping. The silicone clipping diodes is the default setting. It gives you aggressively, biting distortion. The LED clipping mode produces more of an open gain bump distortion that is more mellow.
An added benefit of this pedal is that it only affects the high-end frequencies. The result is that you keep your full low-end tone intact.
With this pedal, you have direct control over the clean/dirty mix. There are separate control knobs for dry and wet signals. The dry knob controls the clean signal, and the wet knob controls the distortion signal. Due to these separate controls, you have a greater ability to shape your sound and tone.
The separate wet and dry signal control knobs are a unique feature of this pedal. They deliver a fuller low-end and more detailed distortion among the higher frequencies.
The tone control knob works only on the wet/distortion signal. It is basically, a simple high pass filter that lets you cool off the top end. The distortion control knob adjusts the intensity of the distortion signal.
The overall sound of this pedal is punchy and crunchy while retaining fundamental fullness. With the wet/dry signal blending you can really push your bass through the mix, be it clean or full of grit and grime.
4 Way Huge WHE207 Green Rhino Mini MKIV
A leading bass distortion pedal that is known for balanced power and flavor in a compact housing. The Green Rhino is capable of sound stampedes or piercing through the mix with purity and fury.
This pedal delivers true grit and is easy to tweak to your preferences. The main control knobs are Volume, Tone, and Drive. These are pretty straightforward controls. They handle exactly as you would expect them to.
The real difference-makers lie with 100Hz and 500Hz control knobs. These trim controls offer +/-12dB of boosting or cutting power. Therefore, you can really shape your tone in the low and mid-range frequencies.
Furthermore, with the trim controls, you won’t have to worry about low-end signal loss. Instead, you will find nothing but punch and sustain the likes of which is rarely heard with a bass distortion pedal.
In addition to the control and trim knobs, there is a Classic tone switch. With this switch, you can recall the classic tones of the original Green Rhino overdrive pedal. The Classic Tone is chunky, punchy, and beastly. However, with all the control functions, you can easily tame this pedal to your liking.
As a compact pedal, the MKIV is more pedalboard-friendly than most bass distortion pedals. It is also quite rugged and durable. The brushed green aluminum housing looks great as well.
5 Electro-Harmonix Bass Big Muff Distortion Pedal
Bassists who love the sound that the original Big Muff pedal provides to guitars now have one for their bass. The Bass Big Muff Pi is tailored for bass guitars to deliver a huge sound without low-end loss.
The Bass Big Muff Pi features all of the same components found in the original Big Muffs. It uses a rugged metal chassis to house the analog circuits. This housing is designed for heavy use and abuse. You can expect this pedal to last for years on end without slowing down.
This pedal is easy to use and has intuitive controls. It’s your basic distortion pedal, but with just a little extra thrown in specifically for bass guitars.
First is the Volume control. This knob adjusts the distortion output levels. The more you crank it up, the more of that unmistakable Big Muff fuzz fills the signal. Additionally, when the Dry Mode is engaged, this knob acts as a pure boost control.
Second is the Tone control, and it does just what you think it does. Use this to brighten or flatten the overall tone of the distortion. The tone frequency filters are specifically designed to enhance the sound of a bass guitar.
And third is the Sustain control. Just the same as in the original Big Muff, this knob adjusts how much sustain and distortion are added to the signal. As a result, you get that classic Big Muff distortion that fills a room and peels paint from the walls.
While this pedal is in every way a true Big Muff, something extra was added just for bassists. This pedal features a 3-way toggle switch that lets you choose between dry, normal, and bass boost settings.
The NORM setting is just that, pure unadulterated Big Muff distortion. On this setting, all the control knobs function normally, hence the name.
The DRY setting allows you to mix the clean signal of your bass with the output of the distortion circuit. The level of the clean signal stays constant and will not be adjusted when you use the Volume control. Therefore, you have the ability to set the level of distortion with the clean signal to your preferred amount.
And the BASS BOOST setting adds more low-end frequencies to the distortion signal. This works to give you an even more thunderous low-end punch when engaged.
6 Boss ODB-3 Bass Overdrive
The most common name in effects pedals continues to add to its list of products. The Boss ODB-3 is a bass distortion pedal that is a no fuss effects pedal for the bassist who wants something simple.
Boss effects pedals are known for their simplicity. They are easy to use and understand. While they may not be the most powerful or the best sounding, Boss pedals simply work.
The ODB-3 is designed to give you mild overdrive to heavy distortion effects for your bass guitar. There are four control knobs that provide you with enough leeway to shape your tone and sound. However, it does not have the same degree of fine-tuning your tone like other bass distortion pedals. Rather it is a more blue-collar shaping. Nothing fancy, just gets the job done.
There are dedicated control knobs for volume and gain. This allows you to control the overall output level and the amount of gain pumped into the signal.
There is an EQ cut/boost control knob. Really it’s two knobs with one for the high frequencies, and one for the low frequencies. These knobs are similar to tone control on other bass distortion pedals. Yet it also allows this pedal to act as a clean boost.
And there is a blend control knob. You can use this knob to adjust the blend between the clean (dry) signal from your bass with the wet (overdrive) signal from the pedal. As a result, you have the ability to shape your tone and the overall strength of the distortion effect.
There is quite a bit of variety with this little pedal. It is not the biggest, the most stylish, nor the most aggressive bass distortion pedal. That being said, there is nothing with consistently being average. In fact, most people will find the average is the best place to start.
7 Behringer Bass Overdrive BOD400 Authentic Tube-Sound Overdrive Effects Pedal
A bass distortion pedal that delivers the authentic sound of overdrive from a tube amp. An affordable bass distortion pedal that has been engineered to go head-to-head with the leading pedals available.
This pedal delivers a wide range of tones and distortion sounds. You will find plenty of grit and grime with the Gain control knob. Furthermore, with the Balance control knob, you can blend just the right amount of distortion with the clean signal. It also works to maintain the low-end frequencies when cranking up the gain levels and the amount of wet signal in the mix.
There are two controls for cutting or boosting high or low frequencies. These let you take greater control over your tone and sound. It also provides you with more versatility and shaping possibilities.
Another bonus of this pedal is that it can handle 5-string and 6-string bass guitars. From the lowest to the highest notes the BOD300 delivers tube-like overdrive.
Best Bass Distortion Pedals Buyers Guide
Now that we have looked at the best bass distortion pedals, we’d like to offer a bit more advice.
Bass distortion effects pedals are just like any other guitar effect pedals in one particular regard; True Bypass. True bypass is an essential component of any high-quality effects pedal. Without True Bypass, the pedal can bleed noise into the clean signal and squelch the natural tone and power of your instrument.
The same is true for bass distortion pedals; however, it is even more noticeable.
This is due to bass guitars having lower frequencies ranges than electric guitars. Bass guitars are naturally “noisier” than guitars. When running through a distortion pedal without True Bypass, you will notice this noise right away. Not to mention the loss of power and depth from your bass.
The bottom line is that True Bypass is essential for producing quality bass distortion.
And The Best Bass Distortion Pedals Are?
Each of the pedals we looked at are fine distortion options for your bass. But, in the end, we know there can only be one pedal that powers over the others.
The Best Bass Distortion Pedal, therefore, is the…
First of all, it is made by MXR. They know effects pedals because they have been building them for nearly as long as anyone. And they are intimately familiar with distortion pedals. The tone and sound of this pedal are full of balanced punch and crunch. It is based on two classic distortion circuits and features silicone and LED clipping nodes.
The ability to blend the clean and dirty makes it highly versatile and dynamic. The fact that it only acts on the high-end frequencies makes it a brutal-sounding distortion with a full, fat bottom. It is highly responsive, tough as heck, and features True Bypass.
We hope you found this information helpful. We are positive you’ll find a rekindled affair with your low-end lover with a new distortion pedal. So, go buy the one that suits your style of playing and enjoy the booming fuzzy buzz of your new bass distortion pedal.
Just don’t forget the earplugs.