Depending on how a bassist decides to use them, bass synth pedals can be creative novelty items or essential pieces of a pedalboard.
Bass synth pedals were created help emulate the sound of a synthesizer by generating crazy and quirky sounds from a variety of different parameter controls.
The sound you get from one of these pedals depends entirely on how you decide to use it. This leaves sound manipulation open-ended, allowing you to create some pretty outstanding, new-age sounds that you may have never thought possible with a bass guitar.
In this article, we’re going to take an in-depth look into the 8 best bass synth pedals on the market today!
A Quick Note About The List...
Because there are very few manufacturers of bass guitar synth pedals, and because they vary greatly, we decided to curate our list in a way that would narrow down what we deem a proper bass pedal.
If it’s on this list, you can be sure that it includes the following:
- The ability to shape a bass tone and generate more frequencies
- The ability to filter frequencies as you would on a synthesizer
- At least three selectable parameters
The reason that we wanted to put this bass pedal at the top is that, beyond the synthesizer-like parameters, you are provided with a variety of effects to shape your bass sound however you can dream it.
In all, there are 23 knobs controls for incredible personalization. Each type of effect, ranging from compression to filtering, to drive, to modulation, is laid out beautifully on a large metal chassis with three assignable foot switches and one large expression pedal.
You also get some things that you would never typically find on a bass pedal like this, such as the wah effect and built-in drum loops.
This pedal does take up some serious real estate, though can truly make up for all of the pedals on your board, so you might consider replacing some anyway.
We really dig the unique headphone output as well, which allows you to play and practice manipulating your sounds without having to bother the neighbors.
Bottom Line: With functionality like no other and a variety of effects that will take your bass sound to the next level, this multi-effect bass synth pedal is perfect for studio and gig use, especially for those who don’t want to have to carry around an entire board.
If you’re looking for something in the classic Boss realm, may we suggest this built-like-a-tank, compact bass synth unit? The Boss SYB-5 was the world’s very first compact synth processor and has been used by countless bassists since its inception. Onboard, you get 11 DSP variations to choose from including pulse, square and saw synth waves.
There are also a good number of adjustable parameters for diving deeper into your effects, including mode, frequency/resonance, decay rate, and effect/direct.
We dig the unique hold function that allows you to freeze notes by stomping down so that you can jam over them to your heart’s delight. If you want to take this pedal further and utilize the filter cutoff and LFO rate, you can pair it with Boss’ EV-5 Expression Pedal.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a compact pedal that is perfect for live-performance environments, the Boss SYB-5 is an excellent choice. Boss even gives you a 5-year warranty with this bad boy, showing the utmost confidence that it will do you nothing but good!
The synthesizer processor pedal is built for both bass and guitar, and comes with a true bypass design, unlike the boss pedals. While you have your four different knobs available for tweaking specific parameters of your sound, you also have V1 and V2 to toggle back and forth from with the small switch on top.
V1 gives you a gorgeous, warm analog synth sound with very subtle envelope sweeps. This gives you that old-school, 70s and 80s-style synth sound. V2, on the other hand, gives you a formant synthesis effect for some sweet vocoder emulation and talkbox-style effects.
The Drift knob, which uniquely rotates 360-degrees, allows you to blend in square waves with octave and sub sounds. You can also blend in chorus and vibrato effects, allowing you to spread that bass wide for that modern, synth bass sound.
All of this comes in a pedal that is compact enough to take with you on the go. Besides that, the graphics that they’ve included on the face will make any pedal nerd excited.
Bottom Line: As a synth pedal for both bass AND guitar, you get a pedal that is incredibly versatile when you purchase the Digitech Dirty Robot. For someone who is just getting into the world of bass synth pedals and wants to explore some cool sounds, we would highly recommend it!
Electro-Harmonix is known for making some of the best synth emulation pedals around, and their Blurst pedal is no different.
This pedal is not only suitable for bass, but can also work wonders on guitar, keyboards, and whatever else you can think to plug into it, making it perfect for the multi-instrumentalist.
This true bypass pedal comes with a wide variety of wave shaping options for different foundational sounds, as well as a variety of additional parameters with different filtering options, including Blend, Resonate, Rate, and Range.
The best feature of this pedal is the analog low pass filter with adjustable resonance, allowing you to create deep and warm sub tones. Unlike most synth bass pedals, this one comes with a neat tap tempo and tap divide too, giving you the ability to line the modulation up with your sound.
Bottom Line: This pedal is easily one of the wildest pedals on our list in terms of sound versatility. If you’re feeling a bit sonically adventurous, look no further than the Blurst Modulating Filter pedal.
The Zoom B3 is a bit like the Boss ME-50B in that it’s a multi-effects bass pedal. That being said, they are vastly different in terms of what they can do.
The layout on the Zoom B3 gives it a high-tech, digital-style aesthetic with LCD screens displaying the adjustable parameters. These parameters are then controlled by accessible stomp-box foot switches and a variety of knobs.
We love the fact that this pedal allows you to create presets and organize them, making it easy to discover a sound and come back to it tomorrow without having to readjust.
There are about 99 different effects onboard with 100 different user preset banks for the ultimate in storage. Some of the most popular effects onboard include the high-quality stereo tube presets and bass synthesizers. Some of the patches on this pedal were designed by some of the world’s top bassists as well, including Victor Wooten and David Ellefson.
Even with all that is already inside this pedal, Zoom decided to add in a tuner, a looper function, and an integrated drum machine, making up for the large amount of real estate that this pedal takes up.
Bottom Line: The Zoom B3 is a pedal like no other with an extremely high-quality DSP effects processor and a variety of onboard effects that will have you stumbling upon different sounds for years.
The Electro-Harmonix is a classic synth pedal that works for both bass and guitar. While it probably has some of the weirdest tonal characteristics of any pedal on the list, it does have some sweet octave and filtering parameters that are excellent for dialing in on the fly.
That being said, it’s much more than an octave or filter pedal, as it gives you polyphonic octaves for that deep, synth-like sound.
There are four different octave outputs to pick from, easily adjustable with the sliders, giving you the ability to arrange them each at the perfect volume.
You can truly get anything from a mellow, subby tone for accompaniment, to a funky, synth-organ tone for wacky solos. Because it’s a polyphonic pedal, it recognizes when multiple notes are being played at once, allowing you to get the same effects with chords, double stops, etc.
Bottom Line: The unique style-slide layout makes this pedal incredibly intuitive and easy to mess with on the fly. It’s filled with endless possibilities and a cool tonal character that truly sets it apart from other bass synth pedals on the market.
Do you dig all of the effects on the Zoom B3, though can’t afford to let go of that much real estate on your board? Well, you’re in luck, as Zoom has come out with a smaller iteration of their famous effects pedal.
In this small, multi-effects, bass synth pedal, you get 100 DSP effects including phasers, delay looping, an octaver, filtering, pitch shifting, chorusing, overdrive, and much more. You essentially get all the parameters that you would find on an analog synthesizer to help manipulate your bass in whatever way you see fit.
You are even able to use up to 5 DSP effects simultaneously, giving you just near endless options. Beyond all of the effects, Zoom has been gracious enough to provide a built-in tuner and 68 drum samples for you to jam along with.
The two foot switches are large and easy to use, making them perfect for onstage applications. There is also special USB connectivity for easy recording into your DAW.
Bottom Line: The Zoom B1 is truly an all-in-one pedal for bassists, with more effects than you could even think to mess with. It’s also an excellent bass guitar synth pedal for those bassists who are on a tighter budget.
With its compact design and array of high-quality features, the Electro-Harmonix is up in the ranks for the best bass synth pedal around. If you need tons of flexibility in a recording environment, that’s where the Bass Micro truly shines.
For everything from pop to EDM, you can find the perfect sound by exploring the Micro. It has a gorgeous analog sound that is nice and warm compared to many other bass synth pedals.
Unfortunately, you can’t save any presets, though the subtle characteristics of it make up for the fact.
There are 10 sliders built into the die-cast metal chassis that allow you to control things like the sub-octave, square wave, resonance, and beyond. The octaves get a nice little distortion to them when they’re used, making them more than suitable for strong lead lines or bass-heavy tracks.
Bottom Line: When it comes to sound quality, the Electro-Harmonix Bass Pedal is one of the best around. It allows you to have tons of flexibility with tons of control for exploring and manipulating your tone.
There’s no question that great bass synth pedals can be challenging to find. This is mostly because the low register is a sensitive range to deal with. When you introduce effects from synth pedals, things can get out of hand if the pedal isn’t built correctly. That being said, a quality pedal can yield quality results.
This is why we have to recommend the Boss ME-50B above all other pedals. It has everything you could want in terms of modulation and effects, though still sounds great and can be used in any professional environment.
Have fun playing and keep experimenting!