Each genre comes with a particular sound. Sometimes, all you need is a few notes on the guitar and you instantly know whether you’re listening to grunge, to blues or to pop.
But how do you achieve that sound? And how can pedals help you to develop your music in a given genre? When I first got started playing bass guitar, I knew close to nothing about pedals. As I got more into them, I realized that they were crucial to certain musical genres.
That’s why I’ve put together this little article, which will outline the recommended bass effect pedals for grunge, metal, and funk.
Recommended bass pedals for grunge
Grunge is dirty, it’s noisy and it’s fuzzy and it’s very powerful. And of course, that wouldn’t be the case without some very well-chosen pedals that make its sound what it is.
A fuzz pedal is an essential element of grunge music. It adds a layer of dirt and grittiness to any song as well as more atmospheric buzzing sounds that fill up the room. If you want to play grunge but your songs sound too clean, it’s a clear sign you need to add some fuzz in there! Check out this awesome video on how using fuzz can help make your music more interesting, and more powerful:
Grunge players rarely use just one pedal. In fact, although they achieve a somewhat similar effect, grunge musicians like to combine a fuzz pedal with a powerful, overdrive one. This adds power to the music and an extra layer of dirtiness which is essential to the grunge sound.
Recommended bass pedals for metal
Metalheads use a lot of pedals. Just go to any metal concert and you’ll be amazed at the sheer number of them that you can see at any guitarist’s feet. But although every musician and every genre of metal has its own preferences, there are a couple of pedals that always do well in metal music.
First of all, there is no metal without a distortion pedal. A distortion pedal gives tremendous power and drives to a guitar sound. You know how a metal guitar solo grows bigger, it seems like it is taking up space? Well, that’s all the doing of the distortion pedal. As well as driving a song, it’s also used to create a sense of aggressiveness in music and is how we are able to identify most heavy metal songs.
The second pedal that metal fans love to use is an overdrive pedal. It is actually quite similar to the distortion pedal, though it is a bit more powerful. Run any sound through a distortion pedal and it gets amplified, projected through the whole room. In this video, a metal player shows us how he uses overdrive to achieve that typical metal sound, and what it does exactly!
Recommended bass pedals for funk
Funk players don’t technically need any pedals to “sound funk”—but they can certainly help. The main pedals that I’d recommend to new funk players are a wah and a phaser.
A bass wah pedal can add a bit of grooviness to your sound and add that distinctive “funky” layer that is hard to achieve with other sound effects. Be careful though, this one is a difficult one to master, and can make any guitarist sound amateurish at the start.
Bass phasers are arguably equally as important to achieving a funk sound, as they add a moving, warping pulsation to a guitar line that can render it immediately danceable. In this YouTube video, you can see how a funk musician uses the MXR 90 Phaser pedal to achieve a distinctive funk sound:
Genres of music have as much to do with lyrics, tempo, and mood as they have to do with their pedals. In fact, changing up the pedals could make most any song sound as if it came from a completely different genre.
So what have we learned about bass pedals for grunge, metal, funk? Well, first of all, it’s all about deciding on the sound that you want. Grunge is gritty and noisy, metal is noisy but more powerful and driven, and funk is groovy and wavy.
Now, it follows that the pedals that you’ll be using have to create those effects. That’s why we recommend:
- fuzz pedal
- overdrive pedal
- distortion pedal
- overdrive pedal
- wah pedal
- phaser pedal
We hope that this article has been helpful and feel free to shoot us any questions you may have on genres, pedals, and anything in between!