MXR M81 Bass Preamp
The MXR M81 is the best bass preamp pedal for those who want a compact minimal design with a great 3-band EQ. The sweepable midrange is where the pedal shines and really helps sculpt your tone.MORE INFO
Why do you want the Best Bass Preamp Pedal?
If you ask someone what a pre-amp is, you will likely get many different answers. To keep things short, a pre-amp pedal is used to boost audio signals before they are fed to your power amp. In other words, it processes a signal and makes it fit to be delivered to the next stages in the signal chain.
Many people also confuse preamp with DI boxes, which are terms that are used interchangeably these days. DI boxes or direct injection is simply a device that converts a signal from an unbalanced to a balanced signal so it can be sent to a mic preamp on a mixer. In this sense, there are many preamps that include a DI output but are marketed as DI pedals with preamp features such as gain boost and equalizers.
You most likely have one or more preamps already in your setup and do not even know it. There could be a preamp built into your pickup or microphone, which processes and shapes the signal before it even goes into any pedals. However, if you want the option to further sculpt your tone and change between two or more tones, you should get a preamp pedal.
In this article, we will focus on the bass preamp pedal, which is a pedal that helps you adjust your tone without having to go to your power amp and adjust it there every time. Essentially, it is an amp that can be controlled with your feet. Bass preamps are slightly different from guitar preamps in that the circuitry is specifically built to respond better to low-range frequencies.
Finding the best bass preamp pedal or the best bass di pedal is not easy because there are just tons of options on the market. In general, bass preamps or DI pedals will have a way to adjust the gain and have equalizers to shape the tone at various audio frequency ranges. We have hand tested many of the highly sought-after bass preamps and bass DI boxes to come up with what we think are the best. Of course, we took into account budget, performance, durability, functionality, and build quality when evaluating.
Best Bass Preamp Pedal
- MXR M81 Bass Preamp
- Ampeg Classic Analog Bass Preamp Pedal
- Behringer V-Tone Bass Preamp/DI Pedal
- Aguilar Tone Hammer Bass Preamp
- Tech 21 Programmable Bass Driver DI
1. MXR M81 Bass Preamp
If you want a solid bass preamp pedal made from a long-standing reputable brand name in the guitar pedals industry, go with the MXR M81. This is the best bass preamp pedal if you want a solid all-around performer. The MXR M81 combines a bass preamp with a built-in Direct Out, all in a compact minimal design that won’t take up space on your pedalboard.
This bass preamp pedal provides a very clear tone and gives you full control of how you want your sound. You can add a new voice to your bassline or sweeten up any amp, pre or post-equalizing. Perhaps the best feature of this pedal is the 3-band EQ, which is different from most EQs on preamps out there. The sweepable midrange from 250 Hz to 1 kHz is where the M81 shines and really helps you deliver lots of different and creative tones that traditional EQ just can’t replicate.
Additionally, there is a pre and post-EQ switch, that lets you pick whether you want your Direct Out signal to be affected by the EQ. As a cherry on top, there is a ground lift switch for situations in which you get that annoying ground hum loop.
– Bass preamp with Direct Out
– Compact minimal design
– 3-band EQ
– Pre/Post EQ switch
2. Ampeg Classic Analog Bass Preamp Pedal
The Ampeg Classic is the best bass preamp pedal for those who want an analog preamp pedal. We believe this pedal strikes a nice balance between affordability and performance. Although it doesn’t have all of these fancy controls and features, it really gets the job done for what it is. This little preamp pedal leaves a very small footprint, delivers reasonable quality, and is very easy and intuitive to operate.
The Ampeg Classic has a volume control plus a 3-band EQ stack. The stand-out feature of this pedal is the ultra hi and ultra lo circuits, which basically shift the entire dynamic range up or down. It really lets you fine-tune your EQ settings and get that precise tone you want.
Unfortunately, the Ampeg Classic definitely comes with its fair share of problems as well. First of all, there is no DI, so if you are looking for a DI box plus preamp, you are out of luck. Also, the volume or gain control is a bit weak and you end up having to turn it at least 75% up to go beyond parity. However, it still pushes a power amp pretty easily.
– Analog preamp
– 3 Band EQ plus ultra hi and lo
– No DI
3. Behringer V-Tone Bass Preamp/DI Pedal
For those looking for the best bass DI pedal that is dirt cheap, you have to go with the Behringer V-Tone. This is a preamp and DI box that is fit for casual bass players and those who are not gear snobs. With the Behringer V-Tone, you get a bass preamp, stompbox, and DI recording output all in one unit. While we fully admit that it is not a great performer in any of these, it really is a good bang for the buck in terms of price to performance.
First and foremost, the V-tone has drive, treble, bass, level, blend, and presence dials which all help you fine-tune your tone. Although we would have liked it to have a 3-band EQ, we can’t ask for too much in a cheap bass preamp pedal. The key here is that you can create all sorts of tube tones, slap sounds, and distortions with this pedal.
Next, the DI recording output has tube emulation which gives it that vintage tube amp sound. Blend will mix in the amount of tube emulation with your direct bass signal. You can also bypass this tube emulation feature with a step on the footswitch. With the gain and blend knobs cranked up, you get a nice overdriven tone. The possibilities are endless with Behringer V-tone.
– Very cheap for the performance
– Has tube emulation
– 2-band EQ
– DI recording output
4. Aguilar Tone Hammer Bass Preamp
The Aguilar Tone Hammer is the best bass preamp pedal for those looking for a preamp and direct box-in unit. The standout feature of this pedal is the Adaptive Gain Shaping Circuitry, or AGS for short. This particular circuitry is built in to allow you to have an additional gain and EQ with a stomp of the foot pedal. This allows you to quickly jump to a vintage or overdriven sound when you are playing live.
The Aguilar Tone Hammer also has all of the proper controls of a preamp. There is a 3-band EQ with a sweepable midrange and a switchable pre and post-EQ balanced output. Another great feature is that there is a separate gain and master control, so you can adjust the gain coming in, apply EQ to it, and then boost the master once again.
Finally, this pedal is made pretty durable and is pretty much indestructible. The knobs and switches are all made with quality materials and nothing on the pedal feels like it is about to fall off.
– AGS circuit for quick gain
– 3-band EQ
– Switchable pre/post EQ
– Durable and quality build
5. Tech 21 Programmable Bass Driver DI
For those who want a preamp, DI, and stompbox all in one, you should seriously consider the Tech 21 Programmable Bass Driver. This is the best bass DI pedal for those who want lots of custom options and the ability to make vintage tube sounds, bright slaps, and distortions all with a stomp.
The standout feature of the Tech 21 is that it is a 3-channel programmable pedal. What this means is that you tweak the knobs to your liking and find the right tone and then double-tap the footswitch to save it to that channel. There are 3 channels to save to.
In terms of controls, you have drive, bass, treble, presence, blend, and level. The overall tone is amazing in all 3 channels and we love the fact that you can basically change amp settings for different sounds with a simple stomp. Finally, it is built road durable and can withstand a beating.
– Preamp, stompbox, and DI in one
– Programmable 3 channels
– Great overall tone
– Built road-tough