What are Bass Guitar Effects?

Effects are electronic devices that alter the tone of your bass guitar signal in some way. Some effects are subtle while others are drastic. Most effects fall somewhere in between. In this bass guitar effects guide I’ll describe what forms effects come in, what the most often used effects do and why you may want to use them, too.

Effects and the Bass

For the most part bassists don’t use too many effects. And, when they do, the effects are often very subtle.

When you first dive into effects you’ll find many effects to be cool sounding and fun. It will be a whole new world. Eventually the novelty will wear off and you’ll find many effects are not very useful in the context of real-world bass playing.

Since you are a rhythm player you often need clear, well-defined notes. Many effects blur and alter your bass tone in a way that works against your role as a bass player. Effects that create echoes, change pitch, or soften the tone particularly get in the way. It’s not that you can’t use them, but it won’t be often. Don’t try to compete with your guitarist pals who have a million effects. They can apply them more often because they usually have different musical responsibilities.

Effects Units

Effects units come in two basic varieties:

effects pedals

rackmount effects

Types of Effects Technology

analog, digital, and modeling effects

In the next few articles I’ll explain what various types of effects do, what their settings mean, and how you might setup each effect. I’ll start with the most common effects used by bass players and go toward the more unusual effects.

Common Types of Effects Used by Bass Players:

bass compressors
bass compressor settings

More effects tutorials and descriptions to come...