Many bassists from all around the world discuss whether you need a bass compressor pedal? Although compression decreases the dynamic range of any sound, it also makes it sound louder, clearer and evener. Experienced bass players often prefer to play without compression since they are already in control of the loudness of every note they pick.
All of the above doesn’t necessarily mean that compression kills the dynamic range and makes the bass sound unnatural’. Every stompbox design offers a different approach to sound compression. There are bass effects pedals that implement multi-band compression and hence produce a cleaner and tighter sound, while others opt for a more saturated and thick output.
Another factor to consider is the price range since most economic models often offer less flexibility. It’s all about making the right choice. Here’s a list of the top bass compressor pedals you might want to check.
Best Bass Compressor Pedals On The Market
|Image||Bass Compressor Pedals||Specs||No. of Knobs|
|$215.00 at Amazon||Inputs: 1 x Instrument, outputs: 1 x 1/4", batteries: 1 x 9V||4||See on Amazon|
|Price not available at Amazon||True bypass, extended frequency response down to 20 Hz, high-quality components||3||See on Amazon|
|Price not available at Amazon||Controls blend, input, attack, release, compression, output, |
Jacks Top-mounted q", power recommended regulated 9V DC outboard supply, center-negative; no internal battery option
|6||See on Amazon|
|$199.99 at Amazon||Inputs: 1 x 1/4", outputs: 1 x 1/4", power Source: 9V DC power supply (sold separately), batteries: optional 9V battery||4||See on Amazon|
Aguilar TLC Bass Compressor
What’s good: Good mixture of tone and stability, simple to set up, eye-catching design.
Not so good: No LED indicator which shouldn’t miss for that price, little character by itself without the Tone Hammer.
The TLC Compressor is one of the favorites for bassists with a sound that is quite sophisticated. The compressor comes with four different controls that are easy to master but shape the final signal effectively.
The compressor does well for live performances even though it lacks an LED indicator which most people like to use to track how everything sounds. The TLC is impressive with the low frequencies which are quite beneficial for those using a five-string bass or playing backing lines.
You may want to get it with the Aguilar Tone Hammer (direct/preamp pedal). The two pedals work like magic together. The Tone Hammer comes with a host of features that make the TLC Compressor much better. That said, you can count on the reliability of the compressor no matter what genre of music you are playing.
Behringer Compressor/Sustainer CS400
What’s good: Practically indistinguishable in sound from the higher end pedals they are based on.
Not so good: Easilly breaks
Definitely a great starter, yet it isn’t meant to be your companion for years. It has a plastic case and its chances to break within a month or two after the purchase are quite high.
Most of the bass compressor pedals within the same price range as the CS400 provide fewer features and/or a low-end sound. The CS400, on the other hand, lets you enjoy most of the perks of a high-end compression pedal, so if you want to try compression for the first time, the CS400 is definitely the cheapest way to do that.
This pedal offers 4 knobs to tweak the main compression parameters. You can increase sustain, add punch, even out the sound and perform all of the things any normal compressor offers.
Electro Harmonix Bass Preacher
What’s good: Simple to use and high-quality output
Not so good: Doesn’t provides room for an advanced configuration
Simple yet powerful, the EHB Preacher proved to work well with 4 and 5 string basses, active and passive ones.
This bass compressor pedal has two knobs, allowing you to control the compression level and tweak the volume compensation. It also provides you with three presets that let you pick the desired attack speed.
Although the overall quality of the compressed sound is good and clean, there are a couple of reasons why this pedal is usually employed strictly to mildly even out the sound. One of the main reasons is the lack of customization options and hence the impossibility to tweak the advanced compression aspects, like the ratio.
Straightforward and simple to set up and use, this compressor pedal is perfect for beginners.
TC Electronic SpectraComp Bass Compressor Pedal
What’s good: Implemented multiband compressor which provides an outstanding sound quality
Not so good: Doesn’t come with a power supply
The SpectraComp (full review) comes with a multiband compressor that is tuned for bass. What does that mean? Multiband compression usually provides a considerably higher quality sound than the classic one. Nevertheless, this is one of the few pedals on the market that provide that kind of compression.
Another feature that makes this TC Electronic pedal stand out of the crowd is the little and only knob it has. Although this bass compressor pedal looks simple, it is one of the most complex pedals to use. The knob allows you to choose between tone presets that might make your bass sound completely different.
As it wasn’t enough, there’s a free iOS and Android cell phone app that lets you create your own sound presents and transfer them to the pedal. Yeah, I know, this little and compact pedal is stuffed with microelectronic circuitry.
What’s good: Functionality – can be configured either as a compressor or as a limiter
Not so good: High noise levels – has a constant hissing sound
The M87 is an advanced bass compressor that can be configured in many different ways. For those of you who are afraid of a big amount of knobs – fear not! The pedal comes with an easy-to-read manual that will let you become an expert in just a couple of minutes.
The LED display allows you to keep a visual track of the audio signal: you’ll know when the compression threshold has been reached. That feature makes this bass compressor pedal one of the easiest to configure.
If you’re relatively new to bass compression, then the MXR M87 is probably the best pedal to have in order to learn about compression.
The only downside that is being constantly reported is that this pedal produces a hissing sound when connected to some rigs.
Diamond Pedals Bass Compressor
What’s good: Good equalizer, will not color your sound, very flexible.
Not so good: Missing blend control.
Those of you who remember the first Diamond compression for guitars remember a product that worked just fine, even though there are bases that struggled with it.
Due to popular demand, the company came up with a compression peddle meant especially for bass players. The unit has a simple design that will help you nail the sound you want much more easily. Here you will find three knobs and a toggle switch.
The first – labeled comp, handles compression. The second knob is the ilt’ EQ, which has some improvements from the previous. The center point should remain undisturbed as you fiddle with the knobs, but the frequencies above and below the center point remain subdued. The toggle switch allows you to choose what frequencies you want on the center point (between 250Hz and 900Hz). The last knob is the Volume knob which you can use to boost your signal or modify the level of output.
Overall the compressor is very transparent and balances the peaks making your bass amazing.
Seymour Duncan Studio Bass
What’s good: High quality and low noise compression sound
Not so good: Requires an advanced knowledge of the compression processes
This bass pedal is famous for being completely silent. It has four knobs that let you control all of the essential compression aspects.
Seymour Duncan is well-known for manufacturing high-quality gear, and this pedal is no exception.
Like any other compression filter, this pedal offers a subtle addition to the sound.
As its price suggests, this is the kind of equipment that’s being often used in studios, yet don’t be fooled – it’s heavy-duty metal box offers the right protection for live performances as well.
What’s good: Supports a wide frequency range, starting from as low as 20Hz
Not so good: Doesn’t offer control over all the elements of the compression process
The Keeley KBASS is considered a studio-grade compressor. That comprises a high fidelity sound and high-performance voltage-controlled amplifiers. It offers advanced control of the process through 3 knobs: compression, threshold, and gain.
It provides a seamless compression experience, so the tone of your bass won’t be affected at all. It also has a low noise level and supports a wide frequency range, which is perfect for bass guitars.
The ability to control the threshold level allows you to configure your pedal as a limiter amplifier if desired, which means that you’ll be able to amplify the sound without over saturating the output signal.
Darkglass Electronics SSCOM Super Symmetry Compressor
What’s good: Enough knobs to toy with, combines the transparency of modern music-making with the vintage squish we all love, LED lighting for visual metering and appeal as well, blend control gives the precise amount of compression.
Not so good: Higher up on the price spectrum.
Darkglass Electronics always does its best to give equipment that the users can relate to and this compressor does not fail in this respect. The compressor is packed with a total of six knobs, which I know already excites a few bassists already.
The first knob is dedicated to blending. This allows you to mix the already compressed signals so that you can adjust your compression faster. Second is the input knob which adjusts the gain on the compressor. This is the knob you will use to adjust the threshold for the compressor to reduce the gain. It also has knobs for attack and release so that you can set attack times to be faster or slower, and also set time for the signal to go back to pre-gain cutback levels.
This is the pedal to use if you have a five-string bass. It controls the peaks when you have high fret arrangements and slaps. No matter what technique you subscribe to, the music comes out sweet with great overall control.
Origin Effects Cali76
What’s good: Excellent build quality, arguably the best in this list, better hpf and dry controls than most units, offers a lot of control for your bass, quite, as a compressor should be.
Not so good: Be ready to fork out a good amount for this unit.
The Cali76 is a robust and beautiful bass compressor pedal capable of delivering studio-quality compression in 1176 style. It applies Class – A circuitry which stays true to the company’s original design philosophy.
This smaller version works just as well as its older sibling but with the added sidechain filter which has been optimized for bass and parallel compression. Only the most modern components have been used in making this compressor.
You get the best linearity thanks to the film and tantalum capacitors used for the unit. The transistors are also designed for a clearly noticeable signal – to – noise advantage.
All in all the compressor offers above-average functionality using a 9v battery, not only to save space but also give out lower noise levels.
Boss BC – 1X – Bass Compressor
What’s good: Excellent form factor, simple set up, LED indicator, high –quality signal compression.
Not so good: Eats the low end a bit.
Aptly named, Boss always comes out on top when it comes to effect pedals and this bass compressor is no different. This is the recommended pedal for those musicians who like to play live.
It is the kind of pedal that enhances your sound irrespective of the fingerstyle and enhances the overall sound once all techniques are applied. It adds clarity and depth in a way you have not experienced before and smooth things out well.
It has a total of four knobs including level, release, ratio, and threshold. This stompbox has a lot of complex multi-band parameters that stay hidden behind the simple four knobs.
Customer reviews of the product suggest that you should just buy it and expect precision at its best.
EBS Sweden AB EBS-Pedal-SE-MC
What’s good: Its two-band compression system offer a cleaner and more transparent’ sound
Not so good: Doesn’t provides room for an advanced tweaking
The EBS Multi Comp is yet another pedal that offers multiband compression. What does that mean? It means that it will highlight the texture of the bass sound while at the same time it’ll pull back the overwhelming low tones.
That will make your bass sound way more expressive while at the same time you won’t notice the effects of the classic’ (one-band) compression.
This bass compressor pedal is loved by those who want their basses sound clean and transparent. Nevertheless, the EBS Multi Comp has a switch to disable one of the internal compressors, thus offering a classic compressed sound.
The durable construction of this pedal is also something worth mentioning.
Markbass Compressore Tube Bass Compressor Pedal
What’s good: It can be tweaked the way you want it, which renders it available to use with any musical instrument.
Not so good: This can be considered studio-quality equipment; hence it’s reflected on the price
Long story short – the Compressore is like having a professional studio outboard compressor under your feet. Its 6 knobs let you control every needed aspect of the compression process, rendering it a versatile pedal: you can use it for virtually any other musical instrument as well.
We all know that any pedal can ruin your sound if configured improperly. The Compressore is an exception: the pedal is made in a way that it simply cannot make your instrument sound worse. At its worst, the pedal won’t make any difference to the sound, while at its best it will smooth out your sound.
If you’re not familiar with compression, then you should know that although expensive, this pedal won’t add color to your bass sound. All of the changes this pedal does are really subtle and are a must when performing a studio recording session. The Compressore is meant to make your playing sound more even, clearer and sharper.
Pigtronix PBC Philosopher Bass Compressor
What’s good: Easy to use, small form factor so that it never misses space on your paddleboard, reasonably priced, a simple compressor that performs well for smooth limiting.
Not so good: No blend knob.
Any bassist who has used this unit will tell you how well it works with a little tweaking. It is the kind of bass compressor to go for when you want the clean, noiseless sustain.
The small analog optical compressor is tuned for your bass guitar hence the reason why it functions so well without much tuning. This particular unit has a grit knob that brings out that harmonic grind perfectly.
The fact that it lacks a blend knob cancels it out for some bassists. However, this is not to say that the compressor does not work to perfection. It helps to know that it is one of the highest-selling bass compressors online.
Ashdown DUAL – BAND – COMP Bass Compression
What’s good: Works perfectly even when using a poor sound system, solid quality built for durability, works well with both 4 string and 5 string basses.
Not so good: Set up can prove a challenge.
You know you are getting more control over your sound than you are used to when you see a compressor peddle with five tuning knobs.
This dual-band compressor from Ashdown splits your guitar’s signal into low and high-frequency bands and applies compression singly to each band. The VU meter which is synonymous with Ashdown music equipment is conspicuously present right at the top.
What’s our favorite?
As aforementioned, there is no such thing as the best bass compressor. It all comes down to the kind of music you intend to play. There are different compressors designed to give various sound effects. The optical kind gives smoother tones while the tube compressors have to do with a more robust sound.
It is a tough task but we have to pick a single compressor that triumphs the rest in our list. In this case, I am going with the Boss BC – 1X simply because there are more bassists that recommend it than any of the others. If you think about it, this is the unit that offers a little of everything when it comes to bass compression. It also helps that the unit minimizes knob usage while still delivering superior sound.
As you choose your own bass compressor, be sure to choose something that gives you the qualities you are looking for. All these are guaranteed to serve you in the best way a bass compressor can serve you but we all have subtle preferences that direct what we choose. I have done my part and hope you know a little more about the type of compressor you want. Happy shopping and I hope you find what your sound needs.
What is sound compression?
Compression is your sound at its best. A more beefy tone with balanced sound and more sustain with the notes unaltered. In the recording studio, compression serves to keep the dynamics in check as well as controlling the whole audio signal.
The louder spikes are cut out while the quieter sounds are amplified to keep the integrity of the note. This gives you a sound that is more balanced so that you sound good even in the hard strumming of live performances. What compression basically does is give you more sustain while flattening the tone, and there is not a single guitarist that does not enjoy this.
What does a bass compressor pedal do?
The bass compressor pedal is meant for a cleaner sound. What it does is technically referred to as dynamic range reduction, which basically translates to a minimum starting volume and a maximum ending volume.
Your bass guitar sound after using a compression pedal sounds more harmonic and cleaner. The compressor pedal is used for all types of music so it is probably one of the most important ones that should never miss in your rig.
There are dozens of them in the market and choosing can be a difficult task. In fact, most musicians settle at a sound they can live with and just skip the whole process of looking through all that’s out there. With a guide like this, you can cut through the verbiage and just find something for your type of sound.
Using the compressor pedal
The two most common controls for the bass compressor are the “level” and “sustain” controls. The level control allows you to gauge the effect’s overall volume while sustain regulates the amount of compression.
There are compressors that come with the attacks and tone controls. If the
compressor is designed more like a studio compressor it should have the two as well as a Ratio Threshold function.
Attack controls how fast the compression incorporates into your sound and the tone gauges whether the sound is warm or bright. The tone function makes up for the tonal effects that come with compression which is important because you get a lot more bass than you would have with an unaffected signal.
It takes time to finally discover what sound you want when using your compressor. To start with, have all the settings at 12 o’clock and practice chords and single-note lines with the pedal bypassed. Now turn on the pedal and play the same notes noticing the difference. You achieve your best sound through trial and error so go ahead and try everything you can think of after hearing what the different knobs do for your sound.
What to look for when buying a bass compressor pedal?
What makes one compressor pedal better than another? There is a gamut of features to pay attention to such as power supply, sound quality, knobs, and impedance input and output.
You will also do yourself a lot of good by hearing what the experts have to say about the different types of compressors; why they picked one over another. A pedal you can count on when performing live is just as key to the whole performance as your craftsmanship so make sure you get one you know will not let you down in the big moments.
The number of knobs
No matter what kind of guitar pedal you are shopping for, you want a peddle that allows you to tweak your sound as much as possible.
Compressors typically have about 3 -4 knobs. If you can get one with more the better. You are better off not using some knobs as much than realizing – as you are fine-tuning your sound, that you need more control.
Guitarists are more likely to leave a large pedal out of their rig than have it in there no matter how much functionality it has to offer. As such, you want a bass compressor pedal that doesn’t take up too much space yet has most of the controls you need to produce the quality of sound you want.
Ease of use and versatility
When we talk about ease of use, we don’t mean to go for the simplest unit out there. What we mean is, find something that you can learn to use fast.
When going for a compressor that’s easy to use, you have to be careful that you don’t end up with something that limits what you can do. In this case, try as much as you can to strike the balance between these two and you should be fine.
This has to do with how powerful your compressor pedal is. The average power outage for most compressors of this kind is 9v but you can get one that can handle more power with most ranging between this and 18v.
Value for money
Like any other purchase, quality must always triumph the cost. This doesn’t automatically mean that you spend too much buying the highest-selling unit.
You can always get something that works for you in your price range so never get tempted to spend more than you can. Find a compressor pedal whose price you can live with. Of course, the lesser you can spend the more you will have to compromise.
Can a compressor save an amp with poor sound?
It’s a straight no in this case. If the audio signal comes out warbly from your amp a compressor cannot do anything to salvage your sound. If anything, the compressor will only make things worse for you. The only thing you can do for a dying amp is repair or replace it.
You should also note that compression can ruin speakers in poor condition. Compression thumps the speakers much more than without it. You shouldn’t use a compressor for speakers that are past their prime. If you insist on using one be sure to stick to the “soft” settings.
Are you cheating when using compression?
It has never been cheating, so no.
Compression is used merely to gauge your volume when playing. You get better consistency with the compressor than without it. You would need surgical precision to play without compression so that no note is louder than the other.
Besides, you will get tones that are impossible to achieve without compression. For instance, if you are looking for a barely-there distortion without the overriding effect – which sounds too ratty for many players, you could also use the compressor as a fitting substitute.
Is there a bass compressor pedal that can be said to be the best?
There is no such thing as the “best” bass compressor because it all varies with the kind of bass guitar you are using and the type of sound you want.
There are cabinets that can handle the basic compressor without any trouble, and others will “bottom out” even though you have done your best with compressor settings. Other times the attack and release adjustments are what you need to stop the cabinet from blaring in that exasperating way that lets you know you are not doing something right.
What is the difference between an advanced based compressor and a simple one?
You get more options for tone shaping and one of the best has to be OUTPUT. This allows you to control the pedal’s overall sound from the pedal after you are done tuning to the sound that you like. With it, you don’t have to walk all the way to the amp for the master volume.