8 Best Bass Preamp Pedals of 2024

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Bass preamps are a fantastic option for musicians looking to craft a professional, distinctive, and portable sound to carry with them wherever they go, whether on tour, in the recording studio, or even at home.

A bass preamp pedal allows you to connect directly to a PA system or audio interface, reproducing your sound signature without having to connect to a power amp.

Although you can use this pedal together with your amp to enhance your tone’s characteristics, the beauty of this little item is that you can take your sound anywhere with you without carrying your full gear with you at all times.

Today, we’ll take a look at some of the best bass preamp pedals in the market, focusing on their versatility, power, and affordability.

If you're in a hurry, check out the impressive Darkglass Alpha Omega Ultra V2, our personal favorite because of its distinctive sound signature and endless customization options.

Keep reading to find out more about the other great bass preamp pedals that can enhance the quality of your instrument.

Quick Summary of the Best Bass Preamp Pedals

  1. Darkglass Alpha Omega Ultra V2 (Best Overall)
  2. Tech 21 SansAmp v2 (Best Runner-up)
  3. Ampeg SCR-DI (Best Vintage Sound)
  4. MXR M81 Bass Preamp (Best Under $200)
  5. Walrus Audio Badwater (Best Versatile Preamp Bass Pedal)
  6. Aguilar Tone Hammer (Best Under $300)
  7. Behringer V-TONE BDI21 (Best Value for Money)
  8. Two Notes ReVolt (Best Analog-Like Pedal)

Best Bass Preamp Pedals

1. Best Overall – Darkglass Alpha Omega Ultra V2

Darkglass Alpha Omega Ultra V2

SPECS

  • Inputs: 1 x 1/4" + aux
  • Outputs: 1 x 1/4", XLR, headphones
  • Effects: 6-band EQ, Distortion
  • Power: 9V DC

The Darkglass Alpha Omega Ultra V2 is an all-in-one solution for bass player who wants to magnify and enhance the qualities of their instrument.

Darkglass’ flagship comes with plenty of options to shape sounds, from a six-band graphic EQ to dual distortion circuits that can help you craft the perfect overdrive tone.

Switchable cab sims that can be adjusted via USB will please those who want full control over the sound texture.

While perfect for heavy metal and hard rock, thanks to its iconic distortion circuits, the Darkglass Alpha Omega Ultra V2 is an excellent solution for bass guitarists across all genres, thanks to its intuitive interface and exceptional versatility.

Regardless of your style, this is one of the best bass preamp pedals available right now, hands down.

2. Best Runner-up – Tech 21 SansAmp v2

Tech 21 SansAmp v2

SPECS

  • Inputs: 1 x 1/4"
  • Outputs: 1 x 1/4", XLR
  • Effects: 3-band EQ, Presence, Drive, SansAmp Bass Driver DI
  • Power: 9V DC, 9V battery (optional)

A powerful and versatile pedal used by musicians of all levels and styles, the Tech 21 SansAmp v2 is a household name when it comes to professional bass preamp pedals. It comes with a 3-band EQ (bass, mid, treble) for thorough control over the entire frequency range.

Furthermore, the built-in Sansamp bass driver DI output allows you to connect directly to an audio interface and record your carefully crafted sound on the go.

The balanced XLR output is great for live performances, and the preamp’s ability to emulate the sound of various bass amplifiers empowers you with a vast array of sound without having to carry multiple amps.

All in all, the Tech 21 SansAmp v2 is a great option for artists looking to enhance their style with an authentic analog tube bass amp sound through the powerful SansAmp Bass Driver DI.

Need a bass amp? Check out our review on the best bass amps.

3. Best Vintage Sound – Ampeg SCR-DI

Ampeg SCR-DI

SPECS

  • Inputs: 2 x 1/4", 1/8"
  • Outputs: XLR, 1/4" headphones
  • Effects: Scrambler Overdrive, 3-band EQ, 
  • Power: 9V battery

Do you want to recreate the timeless vintage Ampeg effect without spending thousands of dollars? With the Ampeg SCR-DI, you can sculpt a powerful bass guitar sound and carry it with you at all times.

The outstanding sound designed by the SCR-DI is the result of the powerful Scrambler Overdrive, which allows you to refine the level of grit and saturation, combined with the highly-performing 3-band EQ with a selectable midrange frequency control.

The result is a sound inspired by Ampeg's iconic SVT bass amplifier, the embodiment of studio-quality bass tones.

Feature-rich, portable, and powered either via a 9V battery or AC adapter, the Ampeg SCR-DI is a fantastic solution for anyone looking for sounds that resemble vintage valve amps.

4. Best Under $200 – MXR M81 Bass Preamp

MXR M81 Bass Preamp

SPECS

  • Inputs: 1 x 1/4"
  • Outputs: 1 x 1/4", balanced XLR
  • Effects: 3-band EQ,
  • Power: 9V DC

The MXR M81 bass preamp is an affordable and effective pedal that can transform a good bass guitar into an exceptional one, thanks to the unique Constant Headroom Technology that’ll enhance the clarity and transparency of your sound while preserving the natural characteristics of your instrument.

The versatile 3-band EQ section, combined with an intuitive and minimal design, makes the MXR M81 an excellent option if you’re looking for a budget-friendly, hassle-free preamp pedal that can streamline your setup and enhance your creativity.

Ultimately, the MXR M81 is a fantastic pedal that can make your instrument sound loud and bring to life a warm tone that'll enrich your bass track in the recording studio and create a beautiful vintage tone when performing live.

5. Best Versatile Preamp Bass Pedal – Walrus Audio Badwater

Walrus Audio Badwater

SPECS

  • Inputs: 1 x 1/4"
  • Outputs: 1 x 1/4", balanced XLR
  • Effects: 4-band EQ, Optical compression, and overdrive
  • Power: 9V DC 300mA

Since its inception over a decade ago, Walrus Audio has delivered some outstanding pedals for guitarists and bass guitarists, and the Badwater is undoubtedly one of their best creations, thanks to its wide array of tonal shaping features and distinctive design.

This is the perfect pedal for artists who leave nothing to chance. Thanks to a 4-band EQ, a Sustain knob, optical compression, and an overdrive, you can sculpt a unique sound signature to carry with you on stage and at the rehearsal.

The Blend knob enables you to mix three different built-in voicings into a unique style.

From a crisp effect for slapping to an immersive and distorted sound, the Walrus Audio Badwater is an all-in-one solution for the versatile and demanding bass player.

6. Best Under $300 – Aguilar Tone Hammer

Aguilar Tone Hammer

SPECS

  • Inputs: 1 x 1/4"
  • Outputs: 1 x 1/4", XLR
  • Effects: 3-band EQ, Adaptive Gain Shaping circuit
  • Power: 18V DC or 2 x 9V

Built to last a lifetime and with an intuitive and timeless interface, the Aguilar Tone Hammer is a compact preamp pedal with extensive sculpting capabilities and an authentic analog sound quality.

The flexibility of the Tone Hammer and recognizable Aguilar sound is further enhanced by the patented Adaptive Gain Shaping circuitry, which allows you to craft the ideal sound for every situation, from subtle melodies to galvanizing slap riffs.

The 3-band EQ and compressed overdrive tone offer complete control over the entire frequency range and distortion.

Finally, the built-in direct output with phantom power capability is a great solution for connecting directly to the mixing console, be it on stage or at the recording studio.

7. Best Value for Money – Behringer V-TONE BDI21

Behringer V-TONE BDI21

SPECS

  • Inputs: 1 x 1/4"
  • Outputs: 1 x 1/4", XLR
  • Effects: 2-band EQ, Presence
  • Power: 9V DC or 1 x 9V

The most affordable preamp pedal on this list, the Behringer V-TONE BDI21, is a simple pedal that offers impressive value for money.

The pedal comes with authentic vintage tube tones emulation circuitry that can be blended with the bass signal to create a distinctive sound signature.

The V-TONE BDI21 comes with Drive, Treble, Level, and Presence controls, carefully crafted to give you full tone-shaping control in a portable device.

Although its minimalist approach might not please the most demanding musicians, the V-TONE BDI21 is probably the most intuitive, portable, and affordable pedal you can find.

The highly performing Class-D amplification, the professional 2-band EQ, and Behringer’s renowned modeling technology make the V-TONE BDI21 the perfect choice for the musician on a budget who still wants to get a professional sound for gigs, rehearsals, and recording sessions.

8. Best Analog-Like Pedal – Two Notes ReVolt

Two Notes ReVolt

SPECS

  • Inputs: 1 x 1/4", AUX
  • Outputs: 1 x ¼, XLR output, headphones
  • Effects: 3-band EQ, Overdrive, Compressor, Exciter, Reverb
  • Power: 12V DC

Bass guitarists passionate about the authentic tube sound shouldn’t look any further than the impressive Two Notes ReVolt.

With a built-in analog speaker simulation with three distinctive channels, a 12AX7 preamp tube, and a fully analog signal path, you’ll get the sound of legendary amps in a portable and highly customizable preamp pedal.

The ultra-sensitive controls enable players to bring a stunning tone to life through precision fine-tuning and blend controls, and the powerful overdriven tones will undoubtedly galvanize all the heavy metal players out there.

Adjust your sound signature through the Dry/Wet control, or create an aggressive distortion effect crafting the Vintage Dirt channel.

Regardless of your genre and style, the endless solutions offered by the Two Notes ReVolt will satisfy the needs of even the most demanding bass players.

Best Bass Preamp Pedals Buyer’s Guide

While it's important to highlight the bass preamp pedals that can deliver an outstanding sound and enhance the qualities of your instrument, it's also vital to identify the characteristics to look for when buying one, especially if you just entered the world of music and are looking for a great preamp pedal to start your journey.

While budget is often critical, there are plenty of budget-friendly options that can help you craft a great tone, so here’s a list of aspects to take into account when purchasing bass preamp pedals.

Versatility and Tone-Shaping Control Options

Choosing the right preamp requires first identifying the genre you’ll play and your playing style. However, a great preamp can deliver the sound you’re looking for when it allows you to shape your bass tone until you create the perfect sound signature.

Look for a bass preamp with an extensive range of EQ controls: bass, midrange, treble, and even extra options like contour or presence knobs to enrich the sound's texture.

The number of channels available to sculpt your tone and phantom power is also things to consider if you want to buy a great pedal that'll last for years to come.

Input/Output

Compatibility with your musical instrument and existing gear is crucial. Most preamp pedals come with a standard 1/4" input jack, which should connect seamlessly with your bass, but it is worth double-checking before purchasing the pedal.

Other connectivity options include XLR outputs to record your instrument directly or a balanced line out to connect your bass guitar to a mixing console.

Power Supply

There are a couple of options when it comes to power supply. You can get a battery-powered pedal if you use only a few pedals or one that can be connected to a power source through the pedalboard.

Take some time to analyze your setup and determine which option is more in line with your style and requirements.

Gain

Bass preamp pedals with gain and distortion capabilities can further expand your sonic palette and galvanize your sound.

Depending on your style and genre, you might need a preamp that offers fully customizable gain options, from subtle saturation to aggressive, distorted bass tones.

Portability

If you travel extensively, choosing a light bass preamp will make your life much easier, and even if you only use it at home, having portable gear will ensure your home recording and practice sessions will run smoothly.

Finally, if the space in your pedalboard is limited, choosing a pedal that doesn’t take much space will streamline your setup process on stage or at the rehearsal.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a bass preamp pedal?

A bass preamp pedal is a device that processes audio and sends it to a PA system, audio interface, or bass amplifier.

Its purpose is to shape and enhance the tone of your musical instrument through various controls that can help you craft a unique sound signature.

How do I connect a bass preamp pedal to my bass guitar and amplifier?

Depending on your setup, you can either connect the preamp directly to your bass guitar and amp or include it in your signal chain.

The simplest way to connect a preamp pedal is to plug in your instrument cable to the output jack of your bass guitar and connect the other end of the cable to the preamp's input jack.

Next, take another cable and plug it into the output jack of the preamp pedal, and connect the other end of the cable to the input jack of your amplifier.

Are bass preamp pedals compatible with both active and passive bass guitars?

Bass preamps can be used for both active and passive bass guitars. They’re especially useful with passive instruments as they allow you to enrich the sound and craft the perfect bass tone through the versatile preamp controls.

Bass guitars with active pickups enable you to make fine adjustments to your tone, which works really well with the customization options of a bass preamp pedal.

Do I need a separate power supply for my bass preamp pedal?

Bass preamp pedals can be either battery-powered or require a power source. For the latter, you can use the power from your pedalboard to make it work or simply connect it directly to a power source.

Check out the power requirements of your bass preamp pedal to ensure it's in line with your requirements.

Can I use a bass preamp pedal with other effects pedals in my signal chain?

It's common practice to include a bass preamp pedal into the signal chain, as it can help you craft the ideal sound through the tonal shaping controls.

For this reason, when adding a bass preamp pedal to your signal chain, consider placing it early in the chain, as it can act as a foundation for your bass tone and alter the sound based on your needs.

What is the difference between a bass preamp pedal and a regular bass overdrive pedal?

A bass preamp pedal offers a plethora of tonal shaping features that a distortion pedal doesn’t have.

For instance, it comes with EQ shaping options, compression, gain control, and separate bass, mid, and treble tone controls.

The purpose of a bass preamp pedal is to give musicians everything they need to sculpt the ideal sound, whereas a gain and distortion pedal is designed to add and adjust overdrive and saturation.

Can I use a bass preamp pedal with headphones for silent practice?

Absolutely. All you have to do is connect the pedal's output to the input of your headphones, either directly from the end of your signal chain or from your amp if connected, and play your instrument.

Final Thoughts

We hope this guide will help you choose the best bass preamp for your needs.

The Darkglass Alpha Omega Ultra V2 is an iconic bass preamp pedal with plenty of customization options to sculpt your sound, so it's a safe choice for bass players who want to experiment with sounds and enhance the tone of their instrument.

Alternatively, the Behringer V-TONE BDI21 is a valid, budget-friendly option for musicians who enter the world of bass preamps without investing hundreds of dollars.

Good luck, and stay creative!

  • Transform your guitar's sound with the best preamp pedals in the industry. Shop now and unleash your creativity.
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