Boss ODB-3 Bass Overdrive
The Boss ODB-3 is the best bass overdrive pedal for those looking for quality sounds, balanced and versatile controls, and afford prices. You won’t be able to find a cheaper bass overdrive pedal with similar build quality, reliability, and sound.MORE INFO
Overdrive and distortion are two terms that are commonly heard in the music world. While some may use them interchangeably, they are slightly different terms depending on how you define them. When you drive the input gain beyond the capacity of the device that can handle it, which is usually a tube, the device gets clipped and the resulting sound is distortion.
In terms of actual sound, the overdrive pedal is equivalent to imitating the sound of you turning up your valve amp all the way beyond its safe limit and drives your valves to the point of distortion. In other words, overdrive is what happens when you play a cranked tube amp and provides a soft clipping sound. It serves the purpose of creating a smooth dynamic sound rather than a heavy one.
On the other hand, distortion pedals and boxes have hard clipping and changes your sound completely by saturating the original signal. Overdrive simply takes your original signal and pushes it harder. We will discuss distortion pedals separately in another article.
In this article, we will focus on helping your find the best bass overdrive pedal for your needs. Bass overdrive pedals are a bit different from guitar overdrive pedals in that the circuitry inside is designed to handle low end frequencies much better. Sure you can plug in a bass guitar into a guitar overdrive pedal, but you lose out on some of the low end.
Additionally, you need to know that to get the most out of your bass overdrive pedal, you should connect it to a valve amplifier or tube amp. This is because bass overdrive pedals are usually wired to make your tubes work harder even at lower volumes.
With the wide variety of choices out there, it is incredibly difficult to pick out the best bass overdrive pedal for your setup. You likely will find a few things you like about one pedal and a few things you like about another one. We highly encourage you to listen to audio samples online before you buy. Also, pay attention to brand name and build quality, as these are quite important to the overall durability and sound. Most bass overdrive pedals will also have their unique set of features, so be on the lookout for what features matter the most to you.
Best Bass Overdrive Pedal
- Boss ODB-3 Bass Overdrive
- MXR M89 Bass Overdrive
- Behringer Bass Overdrive
- Ampeg Scrambler Bass Overdrive Pedal
- Joyo Dr. J Sparrow
Boss ODB-3 Bass Overdrive
If you want a very versatile all round bass overdrive pedal, the Boss ODB-3 is the best bass overdrive pedal for your pedalboard. This bass overdrive pedal shines in its ability to create a wide variety of contoured sounds from mild overdrive tones to hard distortions. Additionally, you don’t get any muddiness on the lower end and it fits a wide spectrum of bass instruments including a 5 string bass.
We really like the balanced controls of the Boss ODB-3. In particular they really help you mix in the effected signal while maintaining the power and presence of the dry signal. With this pedal, you get a 2 band EQ which can be used to shape your tune. Although we would like to see a 3 band EQ, we recognize it can also be an overkill and that sometimes simplicity wins. The other knobs include balance, level, and gain, which are all pretty self explanatory.
In terms of sound quality, we can’t complain. It does exactly as described and gives you a overdriven bass sound with the ability to fine tune the tone. Our favorite part is how cheap the Boss ODB-3 is compared to its performance. There are definitely pedals out there that do the same job but just cost a lot more. In terms of price to performance and value, the Boss ODB-3 Bass Overdrive is a clear winner.
– Best value
– Balanced controls
– 2 Band EQ
– Very versatile
MXR M89 Bass Overdrive
The MXR M89 is the best bass overdrive pedal if you want warm tube like sounding overdrives. We also like the fact that there is a separate clean signal, which helps you mix in a clean signal with different effects and signals layered in with the overdriven signal
to create interesting overdrive sounds. This also allows you to fill in your transients and bottom end.
Perhaps the most noticeable feature about the MXR M89 is still the fat and gritty punch that you get with the overdriven signal. Additionally, we like how this pedal handles the low end extremely well. It gets fatter as you strike it harder and it will never get stale on you.
The three other controls are volume, tone, and drive. Volume is pretty easy to understand as it is just the volume of the wet signal. Tone and drive both help shape your overdrive sound, so play around with them to get a tone that you really like. Finally, we like how it is small and compact and fits on your pedalboard easily.
– Warm tube overdrive sound
– Very reliable company
– Compact and portable
– Flexible controls
Behringer Bass Overdrive
If you want a really cheap overdrive pedal, the Behringer BOD400 is the best bass overdrive pedal for you. This pedal is designed for the bass guitar so you won’t get any of the bottom end tone dropping out. We would say this is one of the cheapest bass overdrive pedals you can get out there made by a respectable company. The selling point of the Behringer BOD400 is that it is super cheap and gives you a decently nice tuber like overdrive sound.
The Behringer BOD400 has 5 knobs to help you control and shape your overdrive sound. There is a dedicated level, a 2 band EQ, and gain and balance controls. First let’s start with the balance knob, which is a basically a blend knob that mixes in overdriven signal with the natural bass sound. This way you can preserve your low end content and still have a bit of tube like tone.
Next, you got lots of tone sculpting with the other controls. There is a 2 band EQ with high and low knobs to help you tone out the frequencies you don’t want. With the level and gain knobs, you can create all sorts of different overdriven sounds from a small grindy sound to a thick fat tube sound.
Finally, we like the little details on the Behringer BOD400. There is an electronic on off switch that is pretty noise free. Also, there is a LED indictor that lets you know when the unit is on.
– Very cheap for the performance
– 2 band EQ
– Smooth sustain and fat tube tone
– LED indicator
Ampeg Scrambler Bass Overdrive Pedal
If you want a bass overdrive pedal packaged with a preamp and EQ in one unit, the Ampeg Scrambler is the way to go. The Scrambler gives you the classic Ampeg sound with lots of options for shaping your tone. It allows you to achieve a wide variety of different sounds from subtle overdrive to raging tube tones.
First and foremost, we like that there is a separate drive and blend knob, which lets you dial in the precise amount of dry and wet signal mix you want. There is also a treble EQ knob that lets you boost or cut high end frequencies from the mix. Finally, the drive knob lets you dial in the amount of overdrive sound and grit you want.
All in all, this is an all analog Ampeg bass overdrive pedal that gives you lots of authentic grit and grind. You can dial in the amount of overdrive you need and mix it with your clean signal to create the perfect tone. The Ampeg Scrambler is also built road ready and is really durable. It has an all metal construction and feels solid all around.
- Overdrive, EQ, and preamp all in one
- Drive, treble, blend, and volume knob
- Solid metal construction
- Crisp analog sound
Joyo Dr. J Sparrow
For those who like an overdrive pedal and Bass DI pedal all in one, the Joyo Dr. J D53 Sparrow is certainly a nice option. It is the best bass overdrive pedal if you want both versatility and simplicity. There not a lot of pedals out there that successfully allow you to sculpt your tone through EQ, gnarl up and overdrive you tone, and then send the signal directly to a soundboard. Luckily, the Joyo Dr. J Sparrow does all of these things well.
The Dr. J Sparrow is quite easy and intuitive to figure out. There are 6 control knobs labeled as low, high, drive, harmonics, volume, and mix. The low and high knobs are part of the two band EQ circuit which allows you to filter out unwanted frequencies on the high or low end. Additionally, the drive, harmonics, and blend all help to sculpt the overdrive effect. We especially like the harmonics knob, which enhances higher frequencies and gives them some extra brightness. It is quite similar to having a octave pedal.
– Overdrive and DI pedal in one
– Versatile and simple
– 2 band EQ
– Harmonics knob