Playing with a digital effects processor is not something reserved to guitarists. In many genres, bassists use multi-effects pedals to enrich their sound, not necessarily to stand out in a band but more about making all the instruments sound better together, or in other words, having a more complete sound.
6 Best Bass Multi Effects Pedals
If you’re wondering – what are some of the best bass multi effects? – you’re going to want to check out my recommendations as follows and find out which one fits your playing style better.
The Fender Downtown Express comes in a wide range of models. However, it’s the Bass Multi-FX model that’s relevant to the purpose of this article. This is the pedal designed for bass players who wish to enhance their sound either for recording or live performances.
At first glance, this multi-effect pedal may seem simpler to use than others. And, while that may be true, its user-friendliness shouldn’t be confused for simplicity and lack of customization layers. There are three important sections on the pedal: overdrive, compressor, and equalizer.
The 3-band EQ is quite standard but having it built into the pedal is what makes it great in this case. There’s a switch for the compressor and overdrive order. Flipping it can change your tone from harsh to natural and warm in an instant.
You can also use your foot to mute the pedal or to select which functions of the processor to activate. The Fender Downtown Express is slightly pricier than similar digital pedals, and some might even argue expensive.
That being said, I can easily recommend the Fender for its superior sound quality, ease of use, and very small footprint.
2. Boss ME-50B
The Boss ME-50B multi-effects processor is not the easiest tool to use. With that in mind, the learning curve is easy to overcome and worth it considering the level of control the processor offers and the amount of fine tuning you can do on your bass sound.
This processor gives you access to a filter, drive, delay, compressor, master control, and various other effects such as synth, modulation, limiter, expression pedal mode, and more. Come to think of it, you would be hard-pressed to find more customization avenues on another processor.
Dedicated knobs and switches are available for each section of the Boss ME-50B processor. While it doesn’t have an audio looper, it makes up for it with an extensive memory bank and the EZ Edit mode. The later function allows you to add even more flavor to the standard effects or any custom patch you create and store in the processor.
The build quality is reflective of the price. The die-cast aluminum housing is great for traveling and live performances for whenever some bassists get overzealous.
There are versions of the Vox StompLab and the 2B is perhaps the most popular and the most consistent. It’s also a very powerful multi-effects pedal for bass guitars, even though it’s among the smallest models on the market.
It is designed to accompany bass players of all musical genres, from blues and soft rock to metal. The category knob lets you easily switch between categories, as well as custom user modes that you can set to your own effects configuration and order.
The total number of programs is 100. To that you can add up to 20 unique ones of your own at any given time. 61 modeling effects are available. You can combine those with the VT+ series amp samples and Tone Lab series effects to create bass sounds that are as natural as possible.
I also find it refreshing that this pedal comes with fewer knobs, switches, and buttons to press than other models. This makes for a more beginner-friendly tool and one that you can operate in a hurry.
4. Zoom B1on
The Zoom B1on has been a popular digital pedal for years now. It features 80 effects and 14 amplifier models which allows for an almost endless supply of complex tone and effects configurations.
This pedal can allow you to store up to 100 configurations consisting of five simultaneous effects and your amplifier of choice. This is the part I appreciate the most since it takes away a lot of the pre-show work and setup.
Among the effects are variations on modulation, delay, reverb, distortion, and compression, the bread and butter of any rock or metal bass player. Of course, you can use fewer effects too if you prefer a cleaner sound.
The built-in tuner and audio looper make this pedal even more impressive, useful to any bassist that doesn’t stick to a single genre. I also think that the price is very good considering the number of pre-programmed effects and tools and the pedal’s overall ease of use and functionality.
DigiTech has a long history of hits and misses in its effect pedals. However, the DigiTech BP90 pedal tells a different story. It’s certainly an improvement over many analog guitar pedals of the past, and it’s an affordable processor too.
The BP90 offers 27 effects and 11 amps. It also adds five interchangeable cabinet samples and up to 40 drum patterns. It’s a tiny processor that’s packed with almost everything you could want from a bass guitar.
An equalizer is among the effects, as are delay, reverb, distortion, and compressor. But what’s even more pleasing to see is the presence of a noise gate. This can help to clean up your sound no matter how aggressive you set the processor. It can help you get away with abusing the overdrive and gain.
The pedal also has an intuitive control interface with labeled buttons, libraries, and foot pedals. It also features light indicators for each effect so that you always know exactly what you’re playing with.
6. Zoom B3n
The Zoom B3n is more of a premium bass multi-effects pedal. Despite its price tag, it can be useful to everyone due to its impressive sound quality and realistic cabinet and amp emulators.
67 effects are preprogrammed into the processor. Unlike entry-level Zoom processors, the B3n allows you to combine up to seven effects, cabinets, and amps at the same time. You can also choose the order of the effects.
The built-in looper is most impressive as it can store up to 80 seconds of audio. This may be an indispensable feature for solo bass players, especially those who perform regularly in small venues.
There are also over 60 rhythm patterns already programmed. You can add those to your looper and create a complex accompaniment for yourself. As is the case with most Zoom guitar and bass processors, the user interface is also intuitive.
Analog vs. Digital Pedals
This has always been a matter of debate among guitarists and bass players. What type of pedal is best and delivers the highest quality sound? – Obviously, opinions are split. To understand why, it’s important that you know one of the basic differences between the two types of pedals.
Analog pedals have a continuous signal whereas digital pedals have a signal composed of different individual points or segments.
Digital pedals use algorithms to alter the sound. Because of this and the fact that the signal is not continuous, the output may not sound completely natural. The differences are of course not noticeable to everyone.
However, if you have a couple of years of experience or a keen musical ear, it’s easy to distinguish between a warm analog pedal tone and a digital tone.
The Beauty of Programmed Effects
Digital pedals allow you to alter your bass sound on multiple levels and give you a lot more control over the tone than analog pedals.
I personally also prefer digital bass pedals for the simple reason of sound consistency. By using processed sampled sounds, digital multi-effect pedals will make a bass guitar sound the same in every performance.
Analog pedals simply can’t achieve this consistency as their output is affected by many factors, including string wear and tear, tuning, and others. If you want to maintain your unique sound, a digital multi-effect pedal will give your performances that coveted level of consistency.
If you’re looking for an even simpler reason why multi-effects pedals are highly sought-after by many professional bass players, this is it. Convenience. Multi-effects pedals are portable, take up less space, and are easier to control as opposed to having multiple analog pedals connected in a circuit.
Not to mention the ability to create complex effect combinations that might not even be possible to achieve by simply using a string of individual analog pedals.
Get the Most out of Your Bass
By now you’ve probably got your eyes set on one multi-effect pedal that seems just right for you and your budget. If you’ve picked a favorite, good for you. Just keep in mind that all the pedals reviewed in this article may have more than one particular area of excellence.
It’s not a bad thing to experiment with more than one pedal until you’re satisfied that you’ve created your unique tone.