It took a long time and a lot of experimentation for me to decide the perfect bass overdrive pedal in the market as each one had its pros and cons. In the end, deciding on the best bass pedal depended on the tone that each bass player is looking for, your budget and long-term reliability.
For beginners and newbies who are unfamiliar with the concept of overdrive effect, simply put an overdrive pedal is an awesome way to achieve distortion of your bass sound to make it extra special. Although sound distortion could be achieved using distortion or fuzz pedals, overdrive pedals are still a preferred technique. This is because an OD pedal has some distinguishing advantages.
To make it easier on anyone confused about selecting the bass overdrive pedal, I have reviewed the best ones out there in the market to aid you in making this decision.
Best Bass Overdrive Pedals On The Market
The Boss ODB-3 Bass Overdrive Pedal
What’s good: High quality and long durability, Easy to use with a one-touch foot switch
Not so good: Harsh distortion sounds that are difficult to change even by altering the setting
Boss ODB-3 is tailored to meet the demands of today’s bassist with a wide variation of sharply contoured sounds. You can go from a mild overdrive to a hard distortion and it covers the entire spectrum, including all 5-string basses eliminating any muddiness even on the lowest notes. Boss provides a balance control that lets you mix the effect with the bass signal to keep the power and presence of the original sound.
This pedal sounds great on bass adept at creating any tone you want whether it is fuzzy or crunchy. It has simple features and is quite practical. Another major advantage would be its widespread availability that is if you are on the road a lot and your pedal requires parts after some damage, it is easy to find Boss pedal parts anywhere.
It has a subtle mix of high range distortion to mild overdrive textures that is nice and easy on the ears along with simple features, which personally speaking makes it very easy to use.
MXR M89 Bass Overdrive
What’s good: Portable size, separate clean and drive controls, which gives many tone shaping options
Not so good: Relatively expensive for a mid-range overdrive, separately sold AC adaptor
Among the M85’s distinctive features are its separate Wet and Dry controls, which eliminates the need for bass players to split their clean and dirty signals between two amps to keep the low frequencies tight and intact. The pedal’s tone control only affects the distorted bass signal, working to tailor the treble frequencies for just the right amount of high-end bite.
The most distinguishing feature about the MXR M89 is the fat and gritty punch that you get with the overdriven signal. Furthermore, we like how this pedal grips the low end extremely well. It gets fatter as you strike it harder and it will never get rusty on you.
The three other controls are volume, tone, and drive. Volume is pretty easy to understand, as it is just the volume of the wet signal. Tone and drive both help shape your overdrive sound, so play around with them to get a tone that you really like. Ultimately, I like how it is small and neat and can fit on your pedal board effortlessly.
What’s good: Very cheap for the performance, Smooth sustainable and fat tube tone
Not so good: A clear copy of the oss ODB-3’, with cheaper parts that may not be as durable.
If you were looking for a cheap overdrive pedal, the Behringer BOD400 would be a good bass overdrive pedal for you. This pedal is designed specifically for bass guitar so you won’t get any of the bottom end tone dropping out.
This is one of the cheapest bass overdrive pedals you can get out there made by a reputable company. The greatest point of the Behringer BOD400 is that it is relatively cheap and gives you a graciously nice tuber like overdrive sound.
The Behringer BOD400 has 5 knobs to help you control and shape your overdrive sound. There is a steadfast level, a 2 band EQ, and gain and balance controls. First let’s start with the balance knob, which is a basically a blend knob that mixes in overdriven signal with the natural bass sound. This way you can preserve your low end content and still have a bit of tube like tone.
Conclusively, I like the minute details on the Behringer BOD400. There is an electronic on off switch that is pretty noise free and a LED indictor that lets you know when the unit is on.
Xvive Overdrive True Bypass B1
What’s good: Very simple to use, Great for live recording and re-amping.
Not so good: Lacks some features such as 2-band EQ
Another fine pedal by Xvive is this really cool bass pedal that also adds overdrive. As they say it really is idiot-proof as it is very simple to use. You can easily blend the amount of compression you desire into your bass signal with the “Compression” control and adjust the “Volume” control to suit your needs.
You can also have the effected signal to match the volume of your bass when the pedal is switched off. Alternatively, you may wish to use the pedal as a boost or even cut the volume. Whatever your compression need is – the answer is here in a tiny, Armageddon-proof box.
As an added bonus, this pedal comes complete with an optional overdrive circuit. Simply flick the switch to on and dial in anything from a subtle edge to a dirty overdriven amp sound with the “Overdrive” control.” In brief, this is a handy pedal that is easy to use and will transform your bass sound.
What’s good: Overdrive, EQ, and preamp all in one; a separate drive and blend knob
Not so good: Overdrive is very user friendly but lacks originality and distinguishing character
If you are looking for a bass overdrive pedal combined with a preamp and EQ in one unit, the Ampeg Scrambler is the way to go. The Scrambler provides you with the classic Ampeg sound with numerous choices for modeling your tone. It allows the use of an extensive variety of diverse sounds from delicate overdrive to intense tube tones.
The thing I like most is that there is an individual drive and blend knob, which lets you dial in the exact extent of dry and wet signal mix you want. There is also a treble EQ knob that lets you enhance or cut high-end frequencies from the mix. Ultimately, the drive knob lets you dial in the extent of overdrive sound and grit you crave.
Overall, Ampeg bass overdrive pedal gives you lots of authentic grit and grind while allowing you to dial in the amount of overdrive you desire and mix it with your clean signal to generate the flawless tone. The Ampeg Scrambler is also truly durable and has an all-metal construction and feels solid all around.
Darkglass Alpha Omega Bass Preamp and Overdrive
What’s good: Blends the clean and processed signals perfectly, easily tweak sounds in subtlest manner possible
Not so good: Doesn’t come with an adaptor; doesn’t take in batteries either
Although the Darkglass is not the cheapest bass overdrive in the market, it is clearly worth the price as it is not just an excellent DI, it also boasts a pedal-sized preamp and a savage-sounding distortion effect. It also brings a lot of high-quality warmest distortion tonal options and is designed specifically for bass frequencies.
The Level, Drive, and 3-band EQ are easy tone-shaping controls that are just some of the few among the bevy of tone-shaping controls available in the Alpha Omega and are also fairly simple to figure out.
Other controls such as the Growl and Bite switches makes this product extremely fun to toy with for bassists. The Growl and Bite switches affect the low- and high-frequency saturation of your signal, placing your tone’s teeth right where you want it.
The controls are fairly straightforward, and the reaction is flawless. You can get it tight, punchy, and clear, or go full out brutality. Regardless of what you do with this pedal the bass will never be lost in the mix. It is highly versatile and can go from one extreme to the other.
Darkglass Electronics Microtubes B3K V2 Bass Overdrive
What’s good: Versatile overdrive with useful extra touches; skillfully design and build
Not so good: Quite costly, no internal battery option
The darkglass pedal delivers an authentic overdrive without sounding fake or overly processed. It can be used as a small overdrive to warm up your tone, boost your signal.
It works as an overdrive/small distortion to pump up the low end, or it can work as a heavy distortion or even fuzz for the dirtiest of sounds. But it will never lose the low end-natural sound of the bass
The Darkglass Electronics overdrive has microtubes that gives my bass a rich distortion taking away the problem of warmth reduction. The blend on this model is unbelievably smooth. The slope of the blend function will allow you to integrate dry and overdriven signals to your choice.
In addition to Level and Drive controls, the B3K V2 pedal gives you two amazing features: The Grunt switch that lets you select the amount of low-frequency content to be saturated before the clipping stage and a Boost switch that instantaneously brings your bass’s character to the lead. If you’re looking to add grind to your tone while preserving your tonal core, you should go with the Darkglass B3K V2.
After contemplating all the bass overdrive pedals in the market, I came to the conclusion of choosing quality over price and the clear winner for me was Boss ODB-3.
It may be pricier than its cheaper alternative Behringer overdrive but quality wise Boss ODB-3 excels in providing the highest quality realistic overdrive effect with long lasting durability. It’s simple features, practicality, affordable cost and widespread availability making it easy to find boss pedal parts anywhere.
Boss ODB-3 has been around for decades now and has been extensively tried and tested giving it an edge over all the other overdrive pedals out there. Although it might feel like a pretty basic pedal its sheer amount of gain marks it as a fitting choice for anyone.
Why do you need a bass overdrive pedal?
An overdrive pedal basically overdrives your signal by increasing strength of the signal, resulting in signal becoming distorted.
In a huge contrast to distortion pedals, an overdrive simulates a vacuum tube amplifier that is not pushed too much over its limit. While using an overdrive pedal, if you roll the volume knob down the sound will clean up instead of distorting however if you boost the signal, it will distort harder.
Amplifiers can also achieve this but good amplifiers are very costly and require a certain amount of volume to reach this stage before breaking up. In contrast, Overdrive pedals are more affordable and can be used at all volumes.
Overdrive pedals can also be used to shape your tone and cut through the mix. Majority of the good overdrive pedals offer tone control and can drastically color the tone even when set to neutral. In a loud rock band, an overdrive pedal can help distinguish the expressive bass tone that can be heard clearly.
What are some good beginner pedals?
Actually there are no beginner pedals, and players of all skill levels use pedals from cheap to highly expensive ones. If you were just starting out in building your rig, It would be better to get a gain pedal at first. You can choose distortion or overdrive. However, overdrive is preferable, as it produces a more natural sound.
Is there any difference between distortion and overdrive?
Distortion should not be mistaken for overdrive, even though they have some common things between them, they are still two different things.
These two are often being referred to as gain pedals. Overdrive pedals emulate the sound of a tube amplifier when you increase their volume while distortion pedals give a harsher, grittier tone along with an increased sustain.
To better understand what exactly distortion is, imagine genres like grunge and death metal. To distinguish which one is an overdrive, think of a warm but crunchy sound of classic rock and rhythm and blues.
Choosing the best overdrive pedal
Choosing the best overdrive pedal is all a matter of research and experimentation.
The best OD pedal is the one, which you can rely on, which gives you the tone that you are looking for and which falls under the right budget.
When it comes to overdrive pedals there is an endless option of pedals you can choose from by many different companies. So I’d recommend taking some time to research and try some out depending upon the kind of tone that you going with and the style of music you play.
Controllable settings present in most overdrive pedals:
- Gain (drive): controls the level of overdrive i.e. the clarity or distortion of the sound exiting the amp
- Volume: to balance the effect volume with the bypass and to enhance the signal for solo bass sounds.
- Tone: Used to compensate for any extra highs resulting from the clipping process
- Mid tone
You can take a quick look on this video, which compares performances of Bass Overdrive pedals.