Which Distortion Pedal Provides the Gnarliest Bass Tone?Mar 06 2023
I love using guitar pedals on bass and experimenting with finding the "magic sauce" for a great, gnarly, distorted bass tone. Often, when I get an overdrive, fuzz or distortion for a guitar demo, I try it on bass as well. I found quite a few gems that way and I'd like to show you my favorites.
Beautiful Noise Effects Exploder
The Exploder is nicely aggressive. Even though the knobs are tiny, the EQ section is very powerful. This is slowly becoming one of my go-to distortion pedals for bass because it's always easy to mold into a mix and make the bass fat and gnarly.
Black Mass 1312 v3
This RAT-based distortion has a little less low-end output than most other pedals in this comparison. It's great if you're going for a more mid-rangey bass tone.
When I used the 1312 for bass in a track, I often mixed in the DI signal to get more low-end in the mix.
Electronic Audio Experiments Dagger v2
When I first tried the Dagger on bass, I was surprised just how well it worked for recording bass. With the Dagger, I need very little post processing or anything else in the chain to make it work. It's just very right when it's right.
OKKO FX Twin Sonic MkII
The Twin Sonic offers a lot of upper mid harmonics and a great amp-like feel when playing through. Plus, the dual circuit configuration makes it a nice overdrive/distortion combo.
Poison Noises The Crook
Of course I've heard the tales of the Crook from Addison from the JHS Show. I got goosebumps when I first played bass through this pedal.
There is loads of low-end on tap and a super pleasing and addictive distortion happening. With the Crook on bass, I also found that I needed very little tinkering in the DAW to get it to sit in the mix.
Spun Loud Shuksan Fuzz
The Shuksan is probably my favorite fuzz overall for guitar and bass. The way I like to set it, there is a little gating going on.
Even though there is no real EQ control on it, this just magically works on bass and in most tracks that call for distorted bass, it works super well with little post-processing.
Ground Control Audio Locust
I got the Locust from a pedal trade with little knowledge of what it does. I was so happy to find that this is probably my favorite distortion for bass.
It has a very distinct, gated distortion sound that is unique on bass. It only has a tone knob for EQ control, but there is enough low-end getting through and a lot of rich upper mid harmonics for added presence in a mix.
Due to the very special sound of the Locust, it sounds fantastic in the right track but it's not an all-rounder.
BOSS Heavy Metal HM-2w
I got the HM-2w specifically for bass. Though it's a great distortion pedal for guitar as well (not only for metal), I was convinced that the active EQ section would be a great fit for bass.
Especially on the custom mode, I'm happy to report that my assumption was correct. It has the correct mid-range response to make a bass sound work in a mix and the active EQ is awesome for a fatter, more present bass tone.
- JMJ Mustang Bass, La Bella 760F-MUS Deep Talkin' Flatwound Strings, played with pick
- Distortion pedal in the shootout
- Mask Audio Electronics Line Blur, bumping frequencies around 80Hz, 1.5kHz, and 5kHz
- Strymon Iridium (round model) with bass cab IRs
- Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
- Logic Pro X
I used a little bit of EQ to make the bass sound a little more present in the mix. Here is the EQ curve I used: