If you are a professional bassist, an amateur or just someone who is interested in the subject, you are in the right place, my friend. Today we are going to discuss bass compressors. A reliable tool on hand is like a golden ticket that will open the doors of perfection. It will become your go-to unit that will back you up in any situation and never let you down. A pedal you can count on is as important during live performances, as your craftsmanship itself. This is especially true when it comes to tone shaping, namely, compressors. You need to have something that gives you control, is durable and produces the sound you always desired. The quest of finding a unit of this ilk can take a lot of time and effort. But I am here to help. This article will list down the best bass compressor pedals on the market and underline the importance of this device. Let the journey begin!
Top 5 Best Bass Compressor Pedals
|Markbass Compressore Tube Bass Pedal||(5 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|Diamond Pedals Bass Comp Compressor||(4.9 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|Aguilar TLC Bass Compression Effect Pedal||(4.8 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|MXR M87 Bass Compressor Pedal||(4.8 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|TC Electronic SpectraComp Bass Compressor||(4.7 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
Markbass Compressore Tube Bass Pedal
Markbass Compressore is a badass compressor pedal, which was not designed only for bass. It works perfectly with other instruments as well. However, bass is where the unit truly shines. Featured in a rugged, sturdy design, it promises studio quality sound and functions. Compressor operates using tubes and employs them for the compression itself (unlike other devices that use tubes for gain stage). This pedal has all the controls you will need for taming your sound: Gain and Volume are quite self-explanatory; Threshold sets the level at which the compression will take place, Ratio manages the intensity of the compression, Attack controls the speed of the effect, the Release, on the contrary, alters the rate at which the sound is decompressed. Compressore evens out any sharp peaks or spikes in your high-end, thickens up your midrange while accentuating the bottom-end and adding some definition. This pedal is a must-have if you are looking for something reliable and powerful.
- Great quality
- Transparent sound
- Wide range of tone shaping options
- Noiseless operation
- Requires 12v power
- A bit large
Diamond Pedals Bass Comp Compressor
Some of you might remember the original Diamond Compression which was designed for guitars. While it worked just fine, some basses struggled with this unit. The company was considerate enough to take into account the demand of the customers and brought out a new compression pedal particularly for bass. Bass Comp has a simple design and nailing your sound with this unit is as easy as it can get. We have three knobs and a toggle switch. The first one, labelled as Comp, takes care of the compression part (we do not have separate controls for attack, release or threshold here); the second one is a ‘tilt’ EQ, which is supposed to be a bit different from what we are used to. It has a center point, that stays untouched as you tweak the knob, but the frequencies above and below that point are tamed. The toggle switch works in accordance to this knob: it allows you to choose the frequencies of the center point (250Hz or 900Hz). The last knob is a Volume, which either boosts your signal or simply modifies the level of the output. Bass Comp is very transparent, balances out your peaks beautifully and is just amazing for your bass.
- Variable headroom
- Does not color your sound
- Great EQ
- Does not have a blend control
Aguilar TLC Bass Compression Effect Pedal
Aguilar has brought out yet another quality product. TLC Compressor is quite easy to use and offers a great deal of control over your sound. The name itself (TLC) stands for Trans-Linear Circuit, which guarantees to deliver a high level of performance. This pedal has four main knobs that are enough to shape your sound: Level alters the volume of the output and makes sure that the level of your signal does not get lost due to compression, Threshold sets the frequency range at which the compression will be triggered, Attack modifies the speed at which the compression will take place, while Slope controls the ratio of compression. TLC Compressor is as easy to use as it sounds. All you have to do is tweak some knobs and you will be good to go. It does not color your sound and has compact design, meaning that it will fit on any pedalboard. This unit compliments the character of bass and touches it up perfectly.
- Great quality
- Transparent sound
- True bypass
- Noise free operation
- Does not have a release control
MXR M87 Bass Compressor Pedal
MXR has created a bass dedicated compressor pedal that gets the job done without ruining your sound or trying too hard. M87 has a classic design with a standard set of controls that you see on the majority of compressor pedals. We have 5 main knobs here: Attack sets how fast the compression will take place, Release does the same but with the decompression, Input alters the incoming signal and is basically a threshold control, while Output makes up for any tone loss, Ratio modifies the intensity of the compression and lets you choose between 4:1, 8:1, 12:1, 20:1. M87 has a LED Gain Reduction meter, which displays how much compression is added to your sound, how long it lasts and how fast it operates. When it comes to performance, this pedal accentuates the low-end of your bass perfectly and gets rid of all the unwanted peaks and spikes. It is relatively simple to use, but you should still take your time while searching for the suitable settings. All in all, it does what it is supposed to and delivers studio quality compression.
- Gain Reduction works great on stage
- Good build quality
- Sounds amazing
- Release time range is a bit too wide
- A bit inconsistent
TC Electronic SpectraComp Bass Compressor
TC Electronic SpectraComp is the simplest pedal of all. It has a single knob mounted on the surface, a LED indicator, a footswitch and that’s it. That knob is the only control provided for managing your compression settings, which is not enough in most cases. Especially, when the output volume is inconsistent and may drop or enhance as a result of the compression. For this reason, many pedals offer some sort of level or gain control. In order to compensate for this lack of control over the tone, SpectraComp is TonePrint enabled, which means you have a number of options. Once you connect the pedal with the software, you get all the Threshold, Attack, Hold (a.k.a. Release) controls, as well as pre-recorded TonePrints. This enables you to experiment with different compressions and find just the right one. All in all, if you are someone who does not like messing with the apps, you might want to pass on this one (which I would not recommend). However, the TonePrint is what makes this pedal worth a shot.
- True bypass
- Extremely easy to use
- Band control for each band
- TonePrint enabled
- Does not offer enough controls
- The output volume is inconsistent
What is a compressor pedal?
The simplest answer to this question is that a compressor is a magical device that makes your music sound perfect. How it does that? You might ask. It balances out any unevenness existing in your tone. A compressor detects harsh spikes and whistles in your high-end spectrum, rounds them up and produces a uniform sound. Basically, if you are too loud, it will make you sound quieter. On the contrary, it takes the inaudible low-end frequencies and attenuates them until they are heard by the aliens themselves. Think of a compressor as a friend who takes care of all your troubles and is always there for you. This pedal will help you out in any situation and make professional playing easily attainable. This device delivers studio quality tone shaping in the form of a stompbox, right at your feet. You cannot probably say no to this lifesaver, can you?
A compressor pedal is a must-have for so many guitar virtuosos. It might seem like cheating, but it all depends on how you perceive the subject. If you have no skills at all and have not even held an instrument in your life, this pedal will not make you sound like Jimi Hendrix miraculously. It definitely is not the Lord Almighty. However, if you already know how to play your guitar or bass, it will help you sound way better and improve your skills substantially.
Why would you use a compressor with bass?
Since bass is a very specific instrument that has the nature of its own, it is sometimes quite hard to nail the sound to perfection. The wide range of dynamics that this instrument offers is too much in some cases and overwhelms even the most adroit bassist. This is why it is a good idea to invest in a compressor pedal. Listen to your bass on its own, then plug in a compressor and you will hear the difference right away. This unit accentuates your low-end, makes it thicker, meatier and smoother, adds more definition to it and rounds everything up perfectly. It may even compliment your playing techniques and help you with creating unique sounds. It is breathtaking how a simple tool as a compressor can take your music to a whole new level and change it up in a way that will capture the crowds.
The features of the bass compressor pedal
As I have mentioned above, a compressor is quite easy to nail. It takes just several twists and tweaks in order to master your sound and find just the right settings. But you cannot probably do that if the pedal does not offer that much control, right? Let me give you all the information about the bass compressor essentials in terms of features, so that you know what you actually need for your music. And while we are on the subject, there are cases when even a one-knob pedal is able to satisfy all your desires. It depends on your preferences and requirements as far as compressors go. Just keep this in mind while I break down the features of the bass compressor pedals.
There are four basic parameters that you would want to control with your compressor. The first, and probably the most obvious one is the Level or Make-up Gain. Due to the nature and circuit of this unit, it is only natural that the effect drops the volume of your signal. For this reason, you will need some sort of control that will allow you to manage the output level. You purchase a compressor for a balanced tone and how can you do that if your volume is shifting up and down unpredictably? That is why you should look out for this feature when searching for the best bass compressor pedal.
The next control you will encounter quite frequently is the Threshold. It sets a sort of boundary, a level (a range if you will) at which the compression will take place. Any signal above (or lower, depending on the settings you choose) that level will be affected. Then comes the Ratio. It basically determines how intense the compression will be. It can go from subtle to tight compression with just a twist of a knob. Let’s move on to the Attack. This one defines how fast the compression will start operating. If you want a tight compression, you should go for the shortest time. Last but not least, we have Release. It sets how fast the signal is decompressed. The features mentioned above give you as much control over your tone as you’d imagine and allow you to tailor it to your preferences.
The downsides to using a bass compressor
As the saying goes, every rose has its thorn. Even though our beloved bass compressor is a magical device, it has certain downsides that every player should take into consideration. Since a compressor evens out the spikes and enhances the lows, sometimes the dynamics of the music can be lost. If your sound consists of those uneven tones, this unit might have detrimental results for you. In that case, the compressed sound will be too smooth or perfect for you and might even turn out as “lifeless” and dull. However, it is still possible to find the settings that will work even for you. The key here is to find the balance, a silver lining that will accentuate your sound, not ruin it. I will be honest, this will take some time, but the final results will be worth it. Just keep on trying and you will get there, I promise!
In conclusion, the best bass compressor pedal is the one that suits your needs the most. Your playing technique, your style and your needs will largely interfere with the choice you make. You might be content with the simplest pedal or require something with more features. One way or another, you can pick out any pedal you want. Luckily, we have an abundance of them on the market and the list we have provided features some of the best bass compressors on the market. We will have to part ways from now and I will give you last piece of advice: follow your heart and your instrument, because music does not have any rules or borders. You are free to experiment, create something new and find innovative ways of employing various devices. Be open to changes and creativity and, trust me, everything will turn out the way you want. Good luck!