An electric bass guitar is an example of an instrument that can have its sound enhanced by the use of an effects pedal. Bass guitar pedals can really help bassists sound their best, whether they are performing a solo or playing with a band.
There is a large selection of effects pedals (both analog and digital) that a bassist could choose from. Some of these effects alter the sound of the bass in a very subtle or low key manner; while others can drastically change the sound so much that without seeing it, no one would guess that a bass guitar was being played. Bassists could also use different effects combinations and create new sounds in the process, so the possibilities for a bass player to use effects pedals for self-expression is limitless.
The effects pedal or stomp box (pictured above left) isn’t the only option bassists have for producing sound effects. Effects devices also come in the form of rackmount units (which tend to be large and bulky) and there are also bass amplifiers which include a few built-in effects. Effects pedals, however, are ideal for live performances due to the fact that they are compact and rugged. Plus, they are also somewhat of a novelty.
As mentioned previously, different effects pedals impact the sound of the bass in different ways, including: distortion/overdrive, filter (e.g., wah-wah, equalizer), time (e.g., delay, reverb), pitch (e.g., octave), dynamics (e.g., compressor/limiter), and modulation (e.g., chorus, flanger). What all these effects have in common though, is that they all involve some form of manipulation to the audio signal which travels from the bass to the amplifier. In recent times, multi-effects pedals have become more popular with musicians, due to the fact that they’re more economical and convenient.
Effects pedals were originally made for the six-string electric guitar. Companies began to make bass guitar pedals only recently. The types of bass guitar pedals manufactured are for the most part the same ones that are made for the six-string electric guitar. The main difference is pedals made for use with the electric bass are designed to work better with and/or optimize the low tones that are characteristic of the bass.