Video: How to Choose a Bass Dirt Pedal—Overdrive, Distortion & Fuzz

As Jake Hawrylak says in the video above, sometimes bass players have to take extreme measures to be noticed, but there's a simple way to add character and richness to your bass tone: dirt pedals.

From overdrives to fuzzes and beyond, there's no limit to the choices you have. So today, we're surveying the dirty landscape and recommending some of the best for different situations and playing styles.

Bass utility pedals are what we're calling the types of stompboxes that can be a one-stop-shop pedal for a handful of tonal options. They can be used to boost, sculpt, or get a strong direct signal, with just a little bit of added dirt at your fingertips. Choices here include: MXR M80 Bass D.I.+, TC Electronic Spectradrive, Tech 21 SansAmp Bass Driver, or EHX Battalion.

Getting into the more traditional area of one-function, one-pedal, we look at overdrives next. These will give you the subtle dirt tones you'd be able to achieve naturally with a turned-up tube amp. A nice fact to know is that there are plenty of guitar effects pedals that will still sound great with basses too. Good options for overdrive include: Ibanez TS808 Tube Screamer, Boss Bass Overdrive ODB-3, Ampeg Scrambler, and the EHX Bass Soul Food.

Distortion pedals will give you even more grit, pushing your signal and clipping it into wonderfully rich square waves. Existing in the middle of the dirt road between the relatively subdued overdrive and gnarlier fuzz effects, you'll often find distortion pedals that can do a little bit of everything, while excelling at distortion. These include: Fulltone OCD, ProCo Rat 2, Darkglass Alpha Omega, Source Audio Aftershock, and Zvex Basstortion.

To get "the dirtiest of the dirt," as Jake says, you'll want a fuzz pedal. Fuzz boxes will give you a thick, churning tone with enough sustain and harmonic content to make the bass a lead instrument if you so desire. Great fuzzes include: EHX Big Muff Op Amp or Bass Big Muff Pi, Daredevil Almighty Bass, MXR M84 Bass Fuzz Deluxe, and Way Huge Pork & Pickle.

In this video, we're also taking the opportunity to introduce two new fuzz pedals as well—the Spaceman Effects Gemini IV and the Death by Audio Evil Fuzz.

Be sure to watch the whole video above, and find all of these dirt boxes and more on Reverb.

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