The bass synth pedal simulates the sounds that come from analog synthesizers, such as the famous Moog Synthesizer which was big in the 1970’s.
Bass synth pedals hit the market only about a decade or so ago. Synth pedals for bass, for the most part, produce some of the most “out of this world” sounds. They are great if you want to experiment with some really unique tones. Synth pedals sound a bit similar to wah pedals. This is probably why a lot of bassists like to use the synth effect for playing funk music. Some other styles of music that the synth pedal has been known to be used for include: synthpop, hip-hop, and R&B.
Because synth pedals replicate the sound of classic analog synthesizers they fall under the category of what are known as analog modeling synthesizers (a.k.a. virtual analog synthesizers). These types of synthesizers are able to recreate the vintage sound by using a combination of digital signal processing or DSP technology and algorithms.
The biggest problem that many synth pedals for bass have is tracking. This is the ability to follow or track the notes being played on the electric bass no matter the number of notes being played at a given time. Higher priced synth pedals tend to deal with these tracking issues better.
There are quite a few methods of sound synthesis. The method which bass synth pedals use is actually one of the most common. This method is called subtractive synthesis. In subtractive synthesis, what are called waveforms in signal processing are attenuated by a filter in order to change the sound’s timbre.
For those who are not that familiar with audio signal processing, it should be known that different waveforms have their own characteristic sound. Synth effects pedals for bass generally contain different waveform options such as pulse, saw, and square to give you a variety of synth sounds.
There’s no doubt that the synth pedal for the electric bass guitar is one of those effects that will transform your sound more drastically than subtly. That’s what makes it one of the most fun and exciting effects to own for bass.
Make sure you check our guide on bass multi-effects pedal.