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People ask me all the time “Marc, what pedals do I need on my board?” Where the priority changes based on the type of music, my response is generally the same:
Tuner, Octave, Overdrive/Distortion, Compression.
Don’t get me wrong -- I love fuzzes, chorus, envelope filters, reverb, and a ton of other effects. However, more often than not, I find that a wide range of bassists will get a lot of usage out of the aforementioned pedals. Let's explore some options.
Boss TU-3 - tried and true. It’s an industry standard because it’s easy to read, has a lot of different features (including a type of strobe tuning), and it’s ready to go out of the box. When you’re in tune, the rest of the band has a fighting chance, so why not have a tuner that’s both accurate and easy to see, regardless of the lighting situation? Also, your band won’t hate you which is always a plus (at least not for your tuning, but maybe because of your fashion choices?)
Honorable Mention: TC Electronic Polytune
Aguilar Octamizer - This sub-octave tracks incredibly well, is ultra transparent, and has great blending with the two separate levels for clean/octave. On top of that, there are added tone knobs for a different attack. All in all -- BIIIIIG BOTTOM!
Honorable Mention: Electro Harmonix Micro POG
Darkglass B3K Microtube Overdrive - FAT low end, smooth/creamy overdrive, AND a friggin’ blend knob?! Yes, please.
With the mini toggle switching for shaping and voicing, it’s really difficult to NOT dial in the right sound. The blend knob makes it perfect for those just looking for little extra hair or those looking for absolute destruction. Or you can just use it as a boost!
Honorable Mention: Aguilar Agro
Keeley Bassist Limiting Amplifier - Looking to make everything sound nice and even across the board? Grab this pedal. This is a must-have in situations where you might be concerned with level spikes, or simply want a good, transparent compressor. Easy-to-use, and it adds a bit of magic to the sound!
Or, if you’re like me, you can just have it handy for those situations where you know you’re going to get too drunk and play WAAAAY harder than you did at rehearsal.
Honorable Mention: JHS Lime Aid
Do you have any pedals you can't live without? Share them in the comments section below.
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