Choosing the right pedals is key to getting your perfect psychedelic tone. Since effects pedals in general can be trickier to find when you’re a bassist, we’ve picked our favorite pedals for creating psychedelic sounds. Check them out if you’re looking to build your own psychedelic sound.
These are our recommendations for the 4 best psychedelic bass pedals on the market:
Psychedelic Bass Pedal 1: BOSS ME-50B Bass Multi Effects Pedal
- BOSS ME-50B Bass Multi-Effects Pedal Bundle with Blucoil Slim 9V 670ma Power Supply AC Adapter, and 2-Pack of 10-FT Mono Instrument Cables
- Price as of 10/23/2020 10:46 PDT(more info about ad)
When many people think of their ideal psychedelic sound, it involves lots of different effects. There’s usually at least one delay or fuzz pedal along with filters, octave, and other sounds to give it that far-out vibe. A good multi-effects pedal like this unit from Boss can be a cost-effective way to get all the effects you need in one convenient pedal.
Unlike many multi-effects pedals, the face of the Boss is divided into sections, with Compression and Master controls along the top and three footswitches along the bottom for the Filter/Tone, Drive/Synth, and Delay/Modulation effects. This makes it one of the most versatile and fully customizable bass stompboxes out there.
The BOSS ME-50B doesn’t come cheap, but for many players it’s still a great value, considering how many effects you get. Many players also appreciate the convenience of a rich multi-effects unit like this one.
Psychedelic Bass Pedal 2: Way Huge Pork & Pickle Bass Overdrive & Fuzz
In this tasty pedal, Way Huge combines two of their most popular bass effects into one stompbox: their Pork Loin overdrive circuit and their Russian-Pickle Fuzz. You can add both effects together or send your clean signal to either individually. With blending knobs as well as the standard tone controls, this is a truly versatile and powerful little unit.
The sound of the effects is really the best part of this pedal (see full specs). The fuzz you’ll get from the Russian-Pickle circuit is thick and rich no matter how much grit you add. The Pork Loin adds a British-style sweet overdrive. Bring the two together and you can get some really unique sonic combinations. You can even further tweak the tone with internal pots to access more unique, otherworldly colors.
Psychedelic Bass Pedal 3: TC Electronic Dark Matter Distortion Effect Pedal
- TC Electronic Dark Matter Distortion Effect Pedal
- Price: $113.05
- Price as of 10/23/2020 06:42 PDT(more info about ad)
The Dark Matter is more often associated with heavier genres like metal. But that doesn’t mean it’s a one-trick pony. You can get an array of great sounds out of this pedal, including some effects that are perfect for darker acid or psychedelic rock.
The reason this pedal is so versatile is that it gives you four knobs to adjust your distortion effect. Separate controls for the bass and treble mean complete control over which frequencies are distorted, and that lets you create some really unique tones. The voicing switch adds another layer of possibility.
High-quality bass-specific effects are hard to find, so it’s especially great to see this one is both affordable and conveniently sized. These are both big plusses for a psychedelic player, since you’re going to likely need a lot of pedals if you’re going the single-effect route.
Psychedelic Bass Pedal 4: Caline Fuzz Bear Guitar Bass Pedal
- Caline Fuzz Bear Guitar Effects Pedal Multieffects Pedals Metal True Bypass Orange CP-46
- Price: $27.50
- Price as of 10/23/2020 10:46 PDT(more info about ad)
Fuzz is a key effect for any psychedelic set-up. Many players really want the smooth, subtle fuzz associated with ‘60s guitarists, and that’s what you’ll get out of the Caline Fuzzy Bear. It uses a genuine germanium transistor to achieve that vintage fuzz effect—a truly rare find at this budget price.
The design of this one is worth noting, too. It’s a simple aluminum stompbox, and that’s exactly why we love it. The metal casing makes it durable and the relatively compact size makes it easy to fit on your pedal board. The Fuzz Bear is exactly what you want out of a single-effects pedal. It’s effective, durable, and buying it won’t break the bank.
Does a Bassist Need a Specific Psychedelic Bass Pedal?
As you can see, there are some great bass effect pedals out there, but there’s no denying the market is more limited for a bassist. Many well-known guitar effects don’t exist in a bass version. This naturally leads many bassists to wondering if they can use guitar effects on their instrument.
The short answer is yes. Guitars and basses send the same type of signal and a guitar effect pedal will be able to process either effectively. The main difference between the two is which frequencies they emphasize. Guitar pedals aren’t designed for lower bass frequencies and this can leave your tone sounding weak or unbalanced. So while it’s possible for a bass to use a guitar effect pedal, the effect the bassist gets might not be what they were expecting.
Keep in mind this isn’t always a bad thing, especially in a genre like psychedelic where you’re looking for unique sounds. A bass-specific effect will be more predictable and better for your low end. But there’s no harm in experimenting with guitar effects, either. Just be aware of your overall balance and be ready to adjust your EQ accordingly.
Shaping a Sound with Psychedelic Bass Pedals
Creating the right tone for psychedelic rock isn’t a matter of buying one magic pedal. It starts with the pickups you use on your instrument, and your amp will still be the single most important factor in your overall tone. The trick is how you layer effects on top of this foundation. Everything from their respective levels to their order in the signal chain will affect the tone, so expect to do a lot of tweaking even after you’ve found the right pedals.
Many players start with a fuzz or distortion as their main effect and build from that. If you’re not sure where to start, find a bassist whose sound you want to emulate and research what pedals they use. You can also buy a multi-effects unit, like the BOSS ME-50B (see full specs), that gives you access to a whole library of sounds, letting you experiment freely and find your ideal tone on your own. Whichever way you go, hopefully you’ve found the best psychedelic bass pedal for your needs here. Good luck!
Micah Johnson started playing music in high school, when he taught himself the bass to join his friend’s band. He added guitar and drums during his twenties playing in local clubs, and along the way, he picked up unique, hands-on experience from hand drums to studio mixers. On Song Simian, he aims to share this knowledge from 20+ years playing and recording music. When not in gearhead mode, he enjoys photography and travel. Email him