- 1. Orange The Bass Butler
- 2. Tech 21 SansAmp v2
- 3. Darkglass Alpha Omega Ultra V2
- 4. Origin Effects BassRig ‘64 Black Panel Bass Overdrive & Preamp Pedal
- 5. MXR M81
- 6. Ampeg SCR-DI Bass DI with Scrambler Overdrive
- 7. Xotic BB V 1.5
- What Is A Bass Preamp Pedal?
- What A Bass Preamp Can Do For Your Tone
- Final Word: Sculpting Your Bass Tone
Are you on the hunt for the best bass preamp pedal in 2023? As a bass player, sound is everything, and finding the right equipment to enhance your performance is key. But the sheer amount of options and technical jargon can be overwhelming. This article cuts through the noise, ranking top bass preamp pedals available in 2023 on a range of criteria. Whether you’re looking to plug directly into a PA system, record into an interface, or simply add some spice to your tone, we’ve got you covered. Strap in, tune-up, and let’s dial into the world of bass preamp pedals.
Orange’s Bass Butler is more than just a typical preamp; it’s a reliable, pedalboard-friendly workhorse that’s been designed to cater to the needs of professional players and earnest amateurs. Packed with features such as foot-switchable Clean and Overdrive channels, each with their own gain controls, and a passive three-band EQ, this pedal offers a wealth of tone-shaping options. It also boasts a Presence control and two foot-switchable master volumes that allow for pre-setting different levels for rhythm and lead. The Bass Butler has a buffered series effects loop and comes with an amp output on a mono jack and a balanced output on XLR with a ground lift and cabinet simulation. Its dimensions and rear-mounted sockets help keep the wiring neat, and the pedal operates on an 18-volt DC wall wart power source.
- Delivers an expansive vintage-voiced tonality that enhances single coils and humbuckers.
- Low-noise performance makes it suitable for recording purposes.
- Boasts a JFET-powered lead channel that can provide ample overdrive for a variety of styles.
- Offers two foot-switchable master volumes for presetting different levels for rhythm and lead.
- Compact and pedalboard-friendly design that fits most free-standing pedalboards.
The Orange Bass Butler delivers a wide variety of classic British tones, all at a price that’s quite reasonable, considering the quality and versatility it brings to the table. See Current Pricing Here
Pros & Cons
Speaking from personal experience, the Bass Butler has several high points. The clean channel brings out an expansive vintage-voiced tonality in both single coils and humbuckers. The JFET-powered lead channel delivers plenty of overdrive, catering to a wide range of styles. The low-noise performance of the pedal makes it a prime choice for recording purposes. However, there is one minor drawback that we’ve noticed. The 18V DC power requirement can be a bit of a challenge when integrating the pedal into a pedalboard with a multi-outlet power supply. That said, with a bit of thought, this can be easily overcome.
The Tech 21 SansAmp Bass Driver DI V2 is a highly versatile unit that sets the bar in the industry as the standard bass overdrive and DI. It is a compact and rugged unit that provides a variety of tube amp tones for bass players, including vintage tube tones, modern slap sounds, and distortions. It boasts three different outputs that can drive power amps, PA mixers, or enhance your current rig, and is equipped with an XLR and quarter-inch out for the affected sound, as well as a quarter-inch out for an unaffected sound. The SansAmp Bass Driver DI V2 also offers new options for EQ and tonal control, making it a preferred choice for many professional musicians.
- Versatility in providing different tube amp tones
- Three different outputs to drive various devices
- New options for EQ and tonal control
- Portability and easy-to-carry for live performances
- Compatibility with active or passive basses
- Offers an effects loop and XLR output
- A wide range of controls for gain, EQ, overdrive, and output volume
- Responsive to picking dynamics and changes in guitar volume
The SansAmp v2 series is often seen as the industry standard for bass overdrive and DI effects, suggesting it offers excellent value for its cost. See Current Pricing Here
Pros & Cons
From a personal perspective, the Tech 21 SansAmp Bass Driver DI V2 has proven to be a highly versatile device. Among its top advantages are its extensive EQ controls that include switchable mid-frequency and variable low/bass knob settings and its compact size, which makes it a portable solution for live performances. On the other hand, it does have its limitations. While its connectivity is impressive, it misses out on a few features available in the RBI unit, such as a secondary input with a pad, a footswitch, and an effect loop. Despite this, the SansAmp v2’s additional tone controls and portability make it a formidable contender in its category. Overall, the choice between this unit and others in the Tech 21 range essentially boils down to individual preference – whether you prioritize additional connectivity and form factor or compact size and additional tone controls.
3. Darkglass Alpha Omega Ultra V2
Darkglass is a prominent brand among bass players, especially those who play in heavier genres. Its Alpha Omega Ultra V2, a versatile bass preamp and overdrive pedal, is a leading product in the Ultra series of pedals. This series also includes other top-rated pedals, like the Microtubes B7K, Vintage, and Microtubes X. The Alpha Omega Ultra V2 incorporates two distinctive distortion circuits, Alpha and Omega, providing a range of tones and levels of aggression. It also includes a unique, clean channel that is characterized by its beautiful sound.
- Highly acclaimed by professional bass players like Alex Webster, Tony Levin, and Bryan Beller.
- Received positive reviews for its versatility, sound quality, and build quality.
- Provides a broad range of tones, from clean and beautiful to powerful and aggressive.
- Offers unmatched control and customization compared to most other pedals on the market.
- Acts as a creative tool, helping bass players achieve their desired sound.
While Darkglass Alpha Omega Ultra V2 is a high-end product, it comes with a price tag that aligns with its extensive range of features and tonal options, making it a valuable investment for serious bass players.
Pros & Cons
From my perspective, the Alpha Omega Ultra V2’s extensive controls, including an array of knobs, sliders, switches, and buttons, can be a little overwhelming for those accustomed to simpler pedals. However, this also allows for a unique level of customization. The pedal is well-known for its potent and crushing bass tones, but it requires careful usage as it can be unforgiving. Despite the learning curve, this pedal is built to last due to its sturdy construction and high-quality components. This pedal is designed for both studio and stage use, featuring convenient tools like a headphone output and a balanced direct output with switchable digital impulse-response cabinet
The Origin Effects BassRig ’64 Black Panel is a meticulously crafted pedal designed to recreate the distinctive sounds of vintage bass amps, most notably the iconic Fender Showman and Bassman models. Created with all-analogue circuitry, this pedal has the ability to replicate the valve amp-style signal path, adding an extra layer of authenticity with its analogue cabinet simulator. Whether you’re into blues, soul, or rock ‘n’ roll, the versatility of the BassRig ’64 Black Panel will fit seamlessly into any genre. The pedal features both XLR and 1/4″ outputs, making it adaptable to any signal chain setup. Designed and built in England, its all-metal construction ensures durability, and it’s a healthy-sized pedal weighing in at 846g with dimensions of 146 x 93 x 65mm.
- Designed to emulate the sounds of vintage Fender Showman and Bassman models.
- All-analogue circuitry and cabinet simulator provide authentic amp sound.
- Versatile for a range of musical genres, such as blues, soul, and rock ‘n’ roll.
- XLR and 1/4″ outputs for compatibility with various signal chain setups.
- Durable, all-metal construction and design, built in England.
- Part of the reputable Origin Effects lineup known for quality and craftsmanship.
We suggest reaching out to Origin Effects or distributers for the most up-to-date pricing information. See Current Pricing Here
Pros & Cons
The BassRig ’64 Black Panel is a standout piece of gear that delivers on all fronts, recreating the drive, grit, and articulation of classic amps in an impressively compact pedal format. Its powerful Amp Out EQ is a real game-changer, providing ample flexibility in sound tailoring to harmonize with any amplifier. As part of the Origin Effects lineup, you’re investing in a brand known for its attention to detail, unparalleled craftsmanship, and commitment to reproducing authentic vintage tones. However, it’s worth noting that the pedal does not offer a battery option and is exclusively powered by a mains adapter. This limitation could potentially restrict mobility for some users, but it’s a small concession considering the overall quality and performance of the pedal.
5. MXR M81
The MXR M81 Bass Preamp is our standout recommendation for an adaptable pedal offering a myriad of features specifically designed for bassists. It has gained a reputation as being as versatile as a “Swiss Army knife” in the musical industry for its excellent functionality and adaptability. The M81 comes with a 3-band EQ that includes a sweepable midrange, therefore offering you the liberty to adjust the tone according to your preferences. Not only that, but this pedal also comes with both input and output controls giving an easy-to-use interface for boosting a passive signal and achieving unity gain. Other notable features include switches for ground lift and pre/post options facilitating a studio-quality DI. The MXR M81 is powered with the help of a 9V battery or adaptor and employs the MXR’s renowned Constant Headroom Technology.
- Provides fullness in tone without muddying it and offers highs that are not harsh.
- User-friendly mid and mid-frequency controls for boosting or mellowing out specific sonic elements.
- Can transform a vintage bass sound into a modern one without any body routing.
- Offers a tonal tweaking option to cut through the mix, as well as a solo boost.
- Serves as a reliable DI for both stage and studio use.
- Capable of dialing out harsh mids in electric upright basses, suitable for bassists who double.
The M81 is an affordable choice among high-quality onboard bass preamps, thus making it an attractive option in its class. The pedal comes with a price tag of $169. See Current Pricing Here
Pros & Cons
From our experience, the bass and treble controls of the M81 are excellent in providing a full sound without clouding the tone, along with highs that aren’t too harsh. The mid and mid-frequency controls offer an easy way to either boost or mellow out specific sounds, which we found to be quite user-friendly. However, on the downside, we noted that some players might find the ground lift and pre/post switches a tad bit difficult to reach. But despite this minor inconvenience, the overall experience with the MXR M81 Bass Preamp is impressive, and the benefits it offers far outweigh the cons.
The Ampeg SCR-DI Bass DI with Scrambler Overdrive is a unique DI pedal that brings together the engineering of a DI unit, a tone stack reminiscent of the SVT, an EQ, and a bass-overdrive circuit. Designed to achieve a broad spectrum of Ampeg tones, the pedal features a new Bass Scrambler overdrive for a tube-like grind. The SCR-DI is a forward step from the front end utilized in Ampeg’s BA-series combos, housed in a die-cast zinc enclosure that boasts both durability and a touch of retro style.
- Renowned among professional bass players, the pedal is not only versatile but also a valuable piece of gear for amateurs and weekend warriors.
- The SCR-DI provides a superior preamp circuit that encapsulates the Ampeg tone in pedal format.
- Equipped with aux in and headphone outs, the pedal doubles as a practical practice tool.
- It features a balanced DI output, an unbalanced 1/4″ output, and an XLR out with a ground lift option, offering various connectivity options.
- The 3-band EQ with controls for bass, mid, and treble, as well as buttons for ultra-lo and ultra-hi frequency boosting, allows for a wide range of tonal customization.
- The Scrambler overdrive circuit can be managed using a footswitch, with the ability to control the amount of drive and the blend between clean and distorted signals.
The Ampeg SCR-DI Bass DI with Scrambler Overdrive, given its features and its reputation in the professional bass-playing community, is competitively priced within the market for similar bass pedals. See Current Pricing Here
Pros & Cons
From our perspective, the Ampeg SCR-DI Bass DI with Scrambler Overdrive brings a lot to the table. The aux-in and headphone-outs make it a valuable practice tool, and the 3-band EQ gives you an impressive amount of control over your tone. The overdrive circuit can be switched on or off, allowing you to manipulate the level of drive and blend between clean and distorted signals. On the downside, the battery life may not meet everyone’s expectations, although the pedal can be powered with a wall wart power supply. Additionally, the Scrambler circuit might not be to every player’s preference, but for those who appreciate its unique sound, it adds an interesting layer to the pedal’s capabilities. Overall, the SCR-DI is a reliable and adjustable pedal that brings the renowned Ampeg sound into a compact and reasonably priced package.
The Xotic BB Preamp V1.5 is a unique guitar preamp pedal that offers an impressive variety of tones. Whether you’re after a clean boost or a gritty overdrive, this pedal has got you covered. It’s designed with a 30dB+ clean boost and a two-band active EQ, which can be adjusted ±15dB, letting you tailor a wide range of harmonic content. Interestingly, it employs a pre-gain stage, allowing the pedal to transition from a pure, clean sound to a smooth, compressed, overdriven tone seamlessly. The pedal is also designed with true bypass switching and can be powered by either an AC adapter or a 9V battery. The compact size (4.39″ x 2.38″ x 1.98″) and lightweight (0.6 lbs) make it a great add-on to your rig without occupying much space or adding extra weight.
- Delivers a wide range of tones, from clean boost to gritty overdrive.
- Comes with a 30dB+ clean boost and an adjustable ±15dB two-band active EQ for a wide range of harmonic content.
- Uses a pre-gain stage for transitioning from a clean sound to a compressed, overdriven tone.
- Offers true bypass switching, ensuring a pure signal path.
- Can be powered by an AC adapter or a 9V battery, providing flexibility and convenience.
- Compact and lightweight design is easy to integrate into your existing setup.
It’s clear that the Xotic BB Preamp V1.5 offers a great balance of performance and flexibility. It’s worth checking out online retailers or your local music store to find out the current pricing. See Current Pricing
Pros & Cons
From my personal perspective, the Xotic BB Preamp V1.5 pedal is truly an excellent addition to any guitarist’s gear. I’ve been impressed with the high-quality components that the pedal is built with. It’s been a reliable tone-shaping tool in my setup for over a decade. Its exceptional sonic performance is something that I’ve come to rely on for every gig. Although I haven’t found any drawbacks with this pedal yet, I always recommend musicians try it out for themselves to see if it fits into their personal sound and playing style.
What Is A Bass Preamp Pedal?
A bass preamp pedal is a vital piece of equipment that serves as a bridge between a bass guitar and an amplifier, enabling bass players to sculpt, boost, and enhance their sound before it reaches the amplifier for projection. It provides control over various parameters such as EQ, and gain, and sometimes even offers additional effects, allowing musicians to achieve their desired tone. This tool is especially beneficial for bassists who often need to plug directly into PA systems or recording interfaces. With a preamp pedal, they can exert granular control over their tone and compensate for the absence of a standalone bass amplifier. However, while these pedals offer a realm of possibilities in terms of tone shaping and sound enhancement, they are not a replacement for proper technique and proficient playing skills. Bass preamp pedals come with a range of features to cater to different needs. Common features include EQ controls for bass, mid, and treble frequencies, gain or overdrive options for creating different levels of distortion, and DI (Direct Input) outputs for seamless recording or connection to a PA system. This array of features can significantly increase the versatility and flexibility of a bass player’s tone, catering to various sonic needs and performance contexts. In essence, a bass preamp pedal is a crucial accessory for bass players, helping them to transform their raw bass guitar sound into a more polished, finely-tuned tone that resonates with their stylistic preferences and performance needs. It should be viewed as a tool to shape, enhance, and amplify the existing sound rather than as a panacea for poor technique or inferior playing skills.
What A Bass Preamp Can Do For Your Tone
A bass preamp pedal is an essential gear for every bassist, acting as an intermediary between the bass guitar and the amplifier. This device gives musicians the ability to mold and refine their sound before it reaches the amplifier, providing a more defined and enriched tone. Many bass preamp pedals come equipped with EQ controls, allowing you to adjust the bass, mid, and treble frequencies to your personal preference. Additionally, some models also offer gain or overdrive options, enabling you to create varying levels of distortion for a more versatile sound. These pedals are particularly beneficial for bassists who frequently need to plug into PA systems or recording interfaces, as they allow for precise control over the tone, compensating for the absence of a standalone bass amplifier. However, while bass preamp pedals can offer a range of tonal possibilities and sound enhancements, they should not be seen as a substitute for solid technique and proficient playing skills. Ultimately, a bass preamp pedal is a valuable tool for bassists, transforming the raw sound of their instrument into a more polished, finely-tuned tone. Whether you’re playing live on stage or recording in a studio, a bass preamp pedal can provide the tonal versatility and depth you need to deliver a standout performance.
Final Word: Sculpting Your Bass Tone
To encapsulate, whether you’re a seasoned professional or a budding amateur, a bass preamp pedal is a potent gear choice that can help shape your tone, provide greater control over your sound, and possibly even introduce new elements to your playing. From the expansive tones of Orange’s Bass Butler to the versatile and dynamic performance of the Tech 21 SansAmp, or even the powerful and aggressive sounds achievable with the Darkglass Alpha Omega Ultra V2, each pedal brings its unique flavor and flexibility to your sonic palette. Experimentation is key to determining which pedal aligns best with your playing style and the kind of tonal characteristics you’re yearning to achieve. Remember, a bass preamp pedal isn’t just about enhancing your sound quality; it’s also about boosting your creative potential, allowing you to explore new soundscapes, and, ultimately, elevating your performance to new heights. In the end, the choice comes down to personal preference, playing style, and the specific tonal demands of your music. Choose wisely, but don’t shy away from experimenting – you might just stumble upon your dream tone! Be it for practice sessions, studio recordings, or live performances, the right preamp pedal will make all the difference. It can bring that much-needed sparkle to your bass tone and with it, an enriching and fulfilling musical journey.