Bass Preamps | 9 Best Preamp Pedals for Bass

Best Bass Preamp Pedals

What is a Bass Preamp?

A preamp or “preamplifier” is a piece of equipment used to help increase the dB volume of an inputted microphone signal, to reach what is known as ‘line-level’, which is the expected dB level to which all recording equipment, including Studio EQ, Compressors work with.

For more information on Preamps, take a look at Wiki.

Therefore, a bass preamp simply increases the inputted bass signal, to reach line level, in preparation for additional processing through the use of other bass effects such as bass overdrive pedals, bass synthesizer pedals, etc. Because of this, a bass preamp pedal is placed early in the signal path, before any other processors.

Bass preamps are used in both studio recording environments, and in live performance settings.

Well, let’s get to it!

What are the 9 top bass pre-amp pedals of 2018?

  • MXR M81 Bass Preamp – $169.99 – Buy on Amazon 
  • Darkglass Electronics Alpha Omega Ultra Bass Preamp Pedal – $399.95 – Buy on Amazon
  • Hartke Bass Attack 2 Bass Preamp Direct Box with Overdrive – $99.99 – Buy on Amazon
  • Ampeg SCRDI Bass DI Preamp with Scrambler Overdrive – $197.41 – Buy on Amazon
  • Aguilar Tone Hammer Bass Preamp Direct Box – $229.00 – Buy on Amazon
  • Palmer Pocket Amp Bass Portable Bass Preamp – $239.95 – Buy on Amazon
  • Tech 21 SansAmp Bass Driver DI V2 – $209.00 – Buy on Amazon
  • Xotic Effects BBP-MB Preamp Pedal – $176.00 – Buy on Amazon
  • Gallien-Krueger PLEX 4-Band Preamp – $359.00 – Buy on Amazon

MXR M81 Bass Preamp – $169.99

MXR M81 Bass Preamp

Features
  • High-Quality preamp designed by Jim Dunlop
  • Has separate input and output level controls
  • An additional ‘Direct-Out XLR output’ for routing to FOH or PA, pre or post EQ
  • 3-Band EQ section – Featuring sweepable mid-range (250hz to 1khz)
  • CHT (Control Headroom Technology) circuitry for audio clarity
  • Ground Lift switch
  • Buffered Bypass
  • A range of interface controls
    • Output: Controls output Db
    • Mid Frequency: Selects frequency to be cut boosted by the Mid control
    • Input: Controls Pre-EQ gain
    • Ground Lift
    • Pre/Post: Controls whether or not the DI signal is affected by interface controls (EQ)
    • Bass: Low-end frequency control
    • Mid: Mid frequency control
    • Treble: High-end frequency control
  • Runs on a 9V battery, but can also be directly run on a 9v power supply (not included)
Technical Specifications
  • 1/4″ jack input
  • 1/4″ jack and XLR DI output
  • 9v battery (included): 9v AC adaptor is sold separately (9V Power Supply – Buy on Amazon)
  • Weight : 0.87lbs
  • Dimensions : 5.5″ x 2.5″ x 4.5″ inches
Summary
The MXR M81 bass preamp pedal by Jim Dunlop is certainly a small pedal that packs a punch! Its metal chassis is small enough to fit onto your pedal board without reserving much space, which means that it’s very useful for the gigging musician who wants a well-designed and rugged pedal.
When it comes down to the sound quality, it really does provide clarity, that’s for sure (take a listen to the video demonstration below), and that’s because of the CHT circuitry, which helps minimise internal noise interference.
Alongside the high-quality internal components, it features a range of user interface controls, including Separate Input/Output DB controls, Pre/Post DI Output, EQ and Ground Lift, so it’s a pedal which is very versatile… One might even argue that this pedal negates the need for a separate bass eq pedal as it promotes so much tonal control, and whilst this may be true for a live performance, it might not be for studio recordings. None-the-less, this is a fantastic Bass Preamp.
For a demonstration of the processor, take a look at the video demonstration below:

 

 

Darkglass Electronics Alpha Omega Ultra Bass Preamp Pedal – $349.95

Darkglass Electronics Alpha Omega Ultra Bass Preamp Pedal

Features
  • Limited Edition bass preamp and overdrive pedal by Darkglass Electronics
  • A multitude of interface controls for ultimate sonic sculpting
    • Blend: Allows you to mix both clean and processed signal
    • Level:  Volume of the overdriven signal
    • Drive: Controls the level of gain in output signal
    • Bite: Adds mid-highs (around 2.8khz) to the mix, for extra presence and clarity
    • Growl: Boost for a fatter tone, with increased low-end saturation
    • Mod: Switch or mix between two distortion circuits. ‘Alpha’ is tight and punchy sounding, whilst ‘Omega’ is raw and brutal.
    • Master: Controls overall output volume
    • Bass: Controls Low-end EQ
    • Mid: Controls Mid-range EQ
    • Treble: Controls High-end EQ
  • 6-band active graphic EQ
  • Balanced XLR Direct Output (DI)
  • Features Ground Lift on the DI
  • Integrated Cam Amplifier Simulation on the DI output, this can be turned on/off if zero latency DI is required, bypassing all onboard digital circuits.
  • Micro USB B connector  to load cabinet simulations to the pedal
  • Runs on a 9V DC center negative power supply
Technical Specifications
  • 1/4″ jack input
  • 1/4″ jack and XLR DI output
  • Runs on a 9V DC center negative power supply
  • Weight: 1.13lbs
  • Dimensions : 5.7″ x 4.9″ x 2.9″ inches
Summary
The Alpha Omega Ultra by Darkglass Electronics is the most premium-priced pedal we’re featuring, as we want to cater for every budget… And what can we say about it, well it’s exceptionally versatile and sounds fantastic!
The processor can be used alone for it’s pre-amp, routing the signal directly to output with zero-latency, a huge selling point for those live performance shows where you want to send your bassline directly to the Front of House system for further EQ and modification.
Otherwise, it features a 6-band graphic EQ and two awesome sounding distortion circuits, so you really can create some unique sounds with this thing.
However, make no mistake, this is a very versatile unit and can be used for any playing style. If you need proof, just take a listen to the demo below, the demonstration also features the GUI that is used on your Mac/PC to upload cabinet
For a demonstration of the processor, take a look at the video demonstration below:

 

 

Hartke Bass Attack 2 Bass Preamp Direct Box with Overdrive – $99.99

Hartke Bass Attack 2-Bass-Preamp-Direct-Box-with-Overdrive

Features
  • Preamp and DI box designed by Hartke
  • Die-cast, rugged stompbox chassis
  • Integrates Hartke’s ‘shape circuitry’ for high-quality sound and low noise interference
  • Includes a range of interface controls
  • A multitude of interface controls for ultimate sonic sculpting
    • Overdrive: Control the amount of tube-emulation  overdrive effect
    • Tone:  Controls the frequency response of the signal
    • Frequency: Adjusts the Hartke Shape Circuitry
    • Bass: Boosts/Cuts low-end frequency
    • Treble: Boosts/Cuts high-end frequency
    • Mix: Controls the amount of blend between dry & overdriven signal
    • Amount: Used to shape and set the depth for the level of boost or cut of the SHAPE filter (providing +15dB of boost or -25dB of cut)
    • Level: Controls the overall output volume of the preamp processor, excluding when the DI is being used with the IN/OUT switch in the OUT position
  • Separate stompbox switch for Overdrive ON/OFF
  • Balanced XLR Direct Output (DI)
  • Features Ground Lift on the DI
  • Runs on two AA batteries, or a DC power adaptor, or by applying standard 48 Phantom power.
Technical Specifications
  • 1/4″ jack input
  • 1/4″ jack and XLR DI output
  • 9v battery (included): 9v DC adaptor is sold separately (9V Power Supply – Buy on Amazon)
  • Weight: 1.13lbs
  • Dimensions : 5.7″ x 4.9″ x 2.9″ inches
Summary
The Hartke Bass Attack 2 is a superb choice of bass preamp. It features Hartke’s renowned SHAPE circuitry and has a vast array of functions, making it great for live performances and studio recording.
This unit really shines when looking at the EQ personalisation that it allows players to do; With the number of interface controls, all the way from basic EQ parameters to frequency response shaping, it really makes the processor suitable for any style of music.
Similarly to other processors on the list, it’s direct out signal can be either Pre or Post signal manipulation, giving you the option to send raw, pre-amped signals to the Front of House via XLR output.
Interestingly, this device can be powered entirely on 2 X AA batteries, 9V power supply or even a mixer’s 48V phantom power, via an XLR connection.
We’re not too keen on the sound when the Drive settings are at 80-100%, but that’s just our personal opinion.
However, considering all of the functionality for this price-point, this bass preamp is a true steal, and hence we highly recommend it!
For a demonstration of the processor, take a look at the video demonstration below:

 

 

Ampeg SCRDI Bass DI Preamp with Scrambler Overdrive – $197.41

Ampeg SCRDI Bass DI Preamp with Scrambler Overdrive

Features
  • Preamp and DI box designed by Ampeg
  • Sleek black metal chassis for rugged durability
  • Features Scambler™ overdrive
  • Separate stompbox switches to engage preamp and overdrive
  • Balanced XLR DI with ground lift
  • Classic three-band EQ
  • A wide range of interface controls:
    • Drive: Control the amount of tube-emulation  overdrive effect
    • Blend: Adjusts the level of dry and processed signal
    • Volume: Controls the overall dB level of output signal
    • Bass: Boosts/Cuts low-end frequency
    • Mid: Boosts/Cuts mid-range frequency
    • Treble: Boosts/Cuts high-end frequency
    • Aux Level:  Controls the level of output signal to the aux input
    • Ultra High: Switch to enhance high-frequency output by 5dB at 8kHz.
    • Ultra Low: Switch to enhance low-frequency output by 1 dB at 40hz and -10dB cut at 500hz
  • Runs on a 9V battery, but can also be directly run on a 9v power supply (not included)
Technical Specifications
  • 1/4″ jack input
  • 1/4″ jack and XLR DI output
  • 9v battery (included): 9v DC adaptor is sold separately (9V Power Supply – Buy on Amazon)
  • Weight: 2.6lbs
  • Dimensions : 4.3″ x 7.6″ x 2.0″ inches
Summary
The Amped SCR-DI bass preamp with Scambler™ Overdrive is primarily a Bass DI and Preamp, but features an added Scrambler overdrive for those of you who want to dirty up your bass tone.
We are particular fans of Ampeg products because they’re designed by musicians, so you know they’ve been tried and tested for sound quality.
As you can hear from the video demonstration below, with this bass Preamp engaged, this thing sounds fantastic! No doubt this is because of the ultra-high quality circuitry that all Ampeg products have.
For a demonstration of the processor, take a look at the video demonstration below:

 

 

 

Aguilar Tone Hammer Bass Preamp Direct Box – $229.00

Aguilar Tone Hammer Bass Preamp Direct Box

Features
  • Preamp/DI designed and built by Aguilar
  • Sleek black aesthetics
  • Incorporates Adaptive Gain Shaping (AGS)
  • Separate stompbox switches to engage preamp and AGS gain
  • Balanced XLR DI with ground lift
  • Classic three-band EQ
  • A decent amount of interface controls
    • Gain: Control the amount of tube-emulation  overdrive effect
    • Treble:Boosts/Cuts high-end frequency
    • Bass: Boosts/Cuts low-end frequency
    • Master: Controls the overall dB level of the output signal
    • Mid Frequency: Boosts/Cuts mid-range frequency
    • Mid Level: Applies +-17 dB of boost or cut
    • AGS:  Engages AGS circuitry for more prominent EQ and saturation settings when Gain is applied
  • Runs on a 9V battery, but can also be directly run on a 9v power supply (not included), or 48v Phantom Power.
Technical Specifications
  • 1/4″ jack input
  • 1/4″ jack and XLR DI output
  • 2 x 9v battery (included): Aguilar’s recommended power supply is sold separately (Aguilar 18-20 VDC – Buy on Amazon)
  • Weight: 2.37lbs
  • Dimensions : 5.5″ x 4.4″ x 2.6″ inches
Summary
The Aguilar Amplification Tone Hammer processor is primarily a Preamp and DI pedal, with lots more functionality than a standard DI/Preamp.
It’s known to provide that organic, warm sound that Agular is renown for, and offers AGS (Adaptive Gain Shaping) Circuitry to allow the player to really cut through the mix, ideal for bass solos and times when you want a little more bite.
Once engaged, the AGS circuitry changes the EQ and gain structure, producing a more vintage sound. As the gain is applied, the bass frequencies are tightened, and treble is smoothed. As the gain is reduced, less pronounced, flatter EQ is applied.
For a demonstration of the processor, take a look at the video demonstration below:

 

 

Palmer Pocket Amp Bass Portable Bass Preamp – $239.95

Palmer Bass Preamp for Portable Use

Features
  • Highly Portable Preamp/DI by Palmer
  • German engineering
  • Small Aluminium Chassis, perfect to fit on compact pedalboards
  • 3-Band EQ settings with semi-parametric mid control
  • Multi-purpose pedal, offering Overdrive, EQ, Fuzz and Cab Simulation
  • Balanced XLR DI output with Pre/Post switch
  • A decent amount of interface controls
    • Bass: Boosts/Cuts low-end frequency
    • Mid Level: Applies +-12 dB of boost or cut
    • Mid Frequency: Boosts/Cuts mid-range frequency
    • Highs: Boosts/Cuts treble frequencies
    • Drive: Control the amount of tube-emulation overdrive effect
    • Blend: Controls the mix between dry and overdriven signal
    • Saturate: Controls how ‘Dirty’ the overdrive sound is
    • Volume:  Adjusts the overall dB output level
    • Mode: Choose between Fuzz, Overdrive and Clean sound
    • D.I: Choose between sending DI output, Pre-effect, or Post-Effect
    • F.SW: Choose between Mute and Bypass
    • Cab: Choose between Flat, Modern and Vintage amplifier simulation
  • Runs on a 9V battery, but can also be directly run on a 9v power supply (not included), or 48v Phantom Power.
Technical Specifications
  • 1/4″ jack input
  • 1/4″ jack and XLR DI output
  • 9v battery (included): 9v DC adaptor is sold separately (9V Power Supply – Buy on Amazon)
  • Weight: 0.78 lbs
  • Dimensions : 4.7″ x 4.7″ x 2.8″ inches
Summary
The Palmer Pocket DI/Preamp is one of the smaller units we’ve featured in this list, but make no mistake, that says nothing about its functionality.
This little DI/Preamp unit has a 3-band parametric EQ, Cab simulation and Several Overdrive modes to choose from, and provides the ability to route the raw bass signal through the preamp, straight to DI output, ideal for the gigging musicians who wants the FOH engineer to do all the processing for him/her.
If you’re after a portable bass preamp, and you like the sound, it’s the perfect option for you!
For a demonstration of the processor, take a look at the video demonstration below:

 

 

Tech 21 SansAmp Bass Driver DI V2 – $209.00 – Buy on Amazon

Tech 21 SansAmp Bass Preamp and Driver Processor

Features
  • Hand-Built Bass DI/Preamp by Tech 21
  • Matt Black and Yellow vintage look
  • Compact and lightweight to fit on pedal board
  • 2-Band EQ
  • Speaker Simulation – SansAmp Tube Amp Emulation Circuitry
  • Balanced XLR DI output with Pre/Post switch
    • XLR output level switch for -20dB pad to match the output to equipment with different input level requirements
  • A decent amount of interface controls
    • Level: Controls the output level for both 1/4 inch and XLR output
    • Blend: Controls the mix between dry and overdriven
    • Treble: Boosts/Cuts treble frequencies
    • Presence: Accentuates the upper harmonic frequencies and attack
    • Drive: Control the amount of tube-emulation overdrive effect
    • Mid: Boosts/Cuts mid-range frequency
    • Bass: Boosts/Cuts low-end frequency
  • Runs on a 9V alkaline battery (not supplied), but can also be directly run on a 9v DC power supply (not included), or 48v Phantom Power.
  • 1 Year Manufacturers Limited Warranty
Technical Specifications
  • 1/4″ jack input
  • 1/4″ jack and XLR DI output
  • 9v battery (not included): 9v DC adaptor is sold separately (9V Power Supply – Buy on Amazon)
  • Weight: 0.78 lbs
  • Dimensions : 4.7″ x 4.7″ x 2.8″ inches
Summary
The SansAmp Bass Drive 2 DI/Preamp by Tech 21 is there second version to this series; The difference between V1 and V2 being that V2 supports 5 and 6 string bass much better, with the ability for the processor to extend control to those lower frequency registers.
This little pedal has a 4.9/5 average star rating on Amazon, and so you know with 99% confidence that it’s a good pedal.
The majority of reviews say that it really provides a subtle, yet noticeable difference to the bass line, with added mid-range control and sweep switches.
For a demonstration of the processor, take a look at the video demonstration below:

 

 

 

Xotic Effects BBP-MB Preamp Pedal – $176.00

Xotic Effects BBP MB Preamp Pedal

Features
  • Rugged and Compact Preamp Pedal
  • A decent amount of interface controls
    • Volume: Controls the output level
    • Gain: Controls the amount of ‘Grit’ applied to the bass line
    • Bass: Boosts/Cuts low-end frequency
    • Treble: Boosts/Cuts treble frequencies
  • Runs on a 9V  battery (not supplied), but can also be directly run on a 9v DC power supply (not included)
Technical Specifications
  • 1/4″ jack input
  • 1/4″ jack output
  • 9v battery (not included): 9v DC adaptor is sold separately (9V Power Supply – Buy on Amazon)
  • Weight: 0.70 lbs
  • Dimensions : 6.0″ x 6.0″ x 4.0″ inches
Summary
The BBP-MB preamp pedal by Xotic is an extremely compact unit. Suitable for both Electric Guitar and Bass, it’s versatile and would be ideal for someone looking for the ability to use it on both instruments.
The BBP-MB is minimalistic in appearance and in the features it offers, providing 4 main knobs for operation including Volume, Gain, Bass and Treble, it’s certainly for a musician who wants the plug’n’play solution.
The pedal lacks in the way it does not offer a balanced XLR DI output, but this may not be required for some bassists, and there are several EQ and Overdrive features that it doesn’t have, which at this kind of price-point you might expect.
However, it does sound awesome and really does offer a range of sounds!
We would certainly recommend this to a Guitarist/Bassist who wants a preamp processor for both instruments.
For a demonstration of the processor, take a look at the video demonstration below:

Gallien-Krueger PLEX 4-Band Preamp – $359.00

Gallien Krueger PLEX 4-Band Preamp
Features
  • Sleek looking Bass Preamp & DI by Gallien-Krueger
  • 4-Band EQ and Frequency Response Contouring
  • Selectable Voicing Options
  • In-built Compressor and Chromatic Tuner
  • Overdrive functionality
  • Balanced XLR DI output with Pre/Post switch & Ground Lift
  • Auxiliary Input
  • A large range of interface parameters
    • Bass: Boosts/Cuts low-end frequency
    • Low mid/Contour: Boosts/Cuts low-mid frequencies. Coutour allows for EQ shaping of these frequencies
    • Hi mid/Hi cut: Boosts/Cuts hi-mid frequencies
    • Treble/Presence: Boosts/Cuts treble frequencies
    • Master/Voice: Controls dB output
    • Level/Overdrive: Engages or disengages overdrive section
    • Level/Attack: Boosts/Cuts output volume to the compressor
    • Threshold/Ratio: Controls the level of compression added
Technical Specifications
  • 1/4″ jack input
  • 1/4″ jack output
  • 9v battery (not included): 9v DC adaptor is sold separately (9V Power Supply – Buy on Amazon)
  • Weight: 0.70 lbs
  • Dimensions : 6.0″ x 6.0″ x 4.0″ inches
Summary
The PLEX by Gallien Krueger is a multi-use bass preamp pedal. It has a number of features including 4-band EQ, Compressor, Chromatic Tuner, Overdrive, USB integration and DI Output.
Not only that, but it has an array of voicing filters and amp simulations (GK800RB, Fusion 550, etc) so it’s highly versatile in its sonic capabilities.
What I’m trying to say is, this thing can suit every kind of playing style, from slap bass to indie rock.
Another noticeable element to this is the awesome look it has, I mean visually it’s stunning. And although some bassists might say this doesn’t mean much to them, for others, it’s a big dealbreaker.
For a demonstration of the processor, take a look at the video demonstration below:

In Conclusion, Which is the best Preamp Pedal for Bass?

This is a tough one, because recommending a processor based on it’s features and sound alone would not be good practice, we have to take into consideration the price to functionality ratio. Hence we’re making the following recommendations

We hope that you’ve found this review useful on the best preamps for bass, please feel free to contact us via our contact page to make any suggestions or provide us with feedback.

 

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Bass Preamps | 9 Best Preamp Pedals for Bass
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Bass Preamps | 9 Best Preamp Pedals for Bass
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