The 6 Best Bass Compressor Pedals (Buying Guide)
Posted in Gear | Last Updated on December 4, 2018
Designed for a cleaner sound, it is difficult to imagine listening to the sound of a bass without the help of a compressor pedal.
Differently, from all other effect pedals, the bass pedals are intended to reduce the peaks and create a more harmonic and clean sound, producing almost studio quality in live performances.
Our main goal here is to help you make the best decision possible when making your choice. We’ve compiled a list with reviews of the best bass compressor pedals on the market.
1. ammoon - Kokko (FCP2)
This small pedal is a good choice if you are looking to improve the tone of your bass but do not want too many commands.
It only has 3 sound editing knobs; Sustain, Level and Attack.
Another outstanding feature is its construction made of resistant aluminum alloy. Honestly this is a huge plus.
This pedal leans to the classic sound, а result obtained thanks to its entirely analogical circuit which gives a lot of control and flexibility to the player in the search for the desired tone. Being very versatile for his few configurations is quite surprising.
This pedal produces a pleasant and warm sound, vintage/tube distortion, and although it does not offer the best Gain, overall it is a very good investment.
Besides, the tone control will allow muted warm tones all the way to sharpen your sharp cuts. In short, you get a lot from this little pedal from the Kokko brand.
- Pretty affordable price
- Rubber pads to improve friction
- Rugged design
- Powered by a 9V DC regulated AC adapter at least 300 mA which is not included
- Being analog adds a whistle that can be difficult to correct
Designed under the license of Seymour Duncan, it is a voltage controlled compressor pedal, which delivers an elegant and subtle effect on the final sound.
Unlike other options, this digital pedal doesn’t add distortion, clearing or whistling and can be installed at the beginning or end of the effects chain. It is always better to place it at the beginning if you want a cleaner output.
The compression effect is subtle, but very perceptible, taking the natural sound of the bass and preamp, adding an additional level of punch and, as a result, leveling the response of the string.
It is easy to use and you can enjoy its focus, aimed at exploiting the deep and dry tones of the bass.
In addition, the knobs, switches and pedal sockets are of high quality and their design is elegant. Besides, despite not being compact in size, it is not disproportionate in size.
- 4 knobs for wider possibilities
- Mini 3-way toggle switch to select the frequency range of the original signal
- The upper entrance and exit jacks give space for pedals around
- Doesn’t provide access to some compression parameters
- Doesn’t include a power adapter
Xvive has brought a small and practical analog pedal with excellent performance.
Thanks to its Overdrive and Volume knobs you can adjust the compression level of your sound and, at the same time, not lose substance in the final output.
It is perfect if you are starting in the musical world and you need to learn to compress the sound of your bass, as it integrates a switch to allow or not the Overdrive effect.
In addition, your knob will allow you to adjust the compression level to get from a clear sound to a dirty and saturated one, so it is easily addaptable to different styles.
It perfectly fulfills its role of compressing the sound, but it is not unusual for it to sometimes leave the bass dumb.
To avoid embarrassing moments, it is better to use it in trials and avoid it in live performances or recordings.
Keep in mind that, as with any pedal, you will need to put the hours in order to master it and then put rehearsal hours to find your sound within its possibilities.
- A led indicator that activates when you operate the pedal
- Very competitive price
- Optional Overdrive
- Works well as a booster pedal
- Occasionally cuts the sound, and sometimes mutes the bass
- Difficult to master
- Does not include the jack connector
It incorporates about 5 knobs (Attack, Release, Ratio, Input, and Output) that will allow you to explore the full spectrum of sound in compression, chase your tone and adapt this compressor to the style you are looking for.
Being of the brand MXR and digitally designed makes it very compatible compared to the other models.
MXR has implemented a technology that makes the sound clear and clean, the result is a natural tone. Its 10 LED bulbs will let you know how much compression gain you are really generating.
This way, the M87 is really comfortable to use and very versatile, perfect for live performances.
It seems to be a bit big, but it is not something to worry about, it imitates the design of the popular Phase 90.
In the end, you can get from a very subtle compression to a very intense one, configuring the intensity of input and output in the process, for which this ends up being a very complete pedal.
- Works well on a full pedal board
- Works with 9V, but supports 18V
- You have 10 LED bulbs that indicate the level of gain reduction
- It gives you access to most of the bass compression ranges
- Degrade performance over time
- Using it requires some ear and experience
Entirely functional, this digital pedal gives you several adjustment knobs that make the sound sweet.
The Attack knob allows you to customize the amount of "pop" or "snap" you receive; then, with the Level and Tone settings, you can create a sweet spot for the particular sound you want.
This Bass Compressor pedal is able to compress the strongest signals and increase the lowest ones.
BOSS has developed a pedal that provides a smooth sustain without degrading the quality of the original sound, so it can be used by both bass players and guitarists; including acoustic guitars. The downside is that it is not a true bypass.
Built with the robustness that characterizes BOSS, this compressor pedal is very resistant, has a robust metal body and a solid riveted hinge that make this step is almost impossible to break, so it is perfect for live performances.
- Perfect for sustained compression
- Valid for use on electric or acoustic guitars, and also for bass
- It is cushioned
- It is not a true bypass
- Generates background noise
- If you choose to use AA batteries, it will consume them quickly
6. BEHRINGER Compressor / Sustainer CS400 (Budget choice)
The German powerhouse BEHRINGER has developed an excellent compressor that is versatile and resistant despite being made of plastic.
Its compression effect is light and cleans the sound is god, in fact, you can even compress voices by playing with the audio interfaces.
Its four knobs are really practical, marking the right amount of compression using dedicated Attack and Sustain.
Besides, with the Level control you can configure a subtle output, or activate an abysmal volume increase and Tone allows you to add exactly the right level of highs to your final sound.
Considering its accessible price, it is a great choice between price and performance.
However, it is not very easy to correct the noise if used after effect pedals, so, we suggest you install it directly from your bass, this way you’ll get better general performance and no noise.
It also features a LED light that indicates when it is on, and the on / off switch maintains the outstanding signal integrity in the bypass mode.
- Strongly compresses and increases low signals without degrading the original sound
- Electronic system
- Robust design
- Uses a 9 V battery or PSU-SB DC power supply that is not included
- Has difficulties while eliminating noise if chained
- It's plastic, and you can expect a lower resistance
- Has some subtle ghost notes if not programmed right
Why use a compressor pedal
When you do not use a compressor pedal you can notice that your notes are abrupt and, sometimes, they can get lost in the mix of the band's sounds.
Another recurring problem is that some notes are always higher than others depending on the string you play, that has to do with physics, which is a bit boring, but in summary is due to the width of the string.
Correcting those variations or the Attack of the notes is only possible with a compressor pedal.
The main function of a compressor pedal is to make each note have the same volume, solving the issue of mismatches due to leveling austerity or the problem of the strings. After all the sound will be much more natural and pleasant, and the noise and kick will be cleaner if you use a chain of effects.
What to look for in a compressor pedal
Each pedal on this list offer different solutions depending on the genre and musical style you are looking to reach, so the first thing you need to do is to define your music well.
Once you have established that, you can dedicate yourself to finding the right pedal, but keep in mind the next recommendations so that you nail the best bass compressor pedal.
A good compressor pedal should give you at least two fundamental adjustments for compression.
The first one is the Compressor, the one that will allow you to adjust your sound allowing you to achieve the softness or harmony you need.
The second is Level's; that will allow you to level the rest of the sound of your touch so that no note goes unnoticed.
Regarding the issue of whether you will use analog or digital pedals
You should always take into consideration that most analog pedals can generate noise, distortion or unwanted ghost notes, in addition to being difficult to set up.
On the other hand, the digital pedals avoid these problems in their majority by integrated switches which allow you to modify the sound; they also have LEDs that are practical visual aids, the major drawback is that many models have a problem with battery consumption.
Another fundamental aspect is the construction
Look for one of resistant design, which is able to properly support the footsteps, because sometimes you step carefully, and others you will do it with impetus.
Some things you should know about compressors
One the popular effects is the Sustain, it’s main purpose is to keep a note sustained for a longer period of time.
This effect lengthens the note as much as possible, with the compressor, the low sounds are leveled with the high ones; the result is that the time of fall of these notes is extended in comparison to when you do not use a compressor, so the Sustain is considerably longer.
Many types of equipment (Bass guitars included) are limited by the pikes in the signal, failing to function properly and ruining the sound when detail is most needed.
The compressor pedals for bass, by correcting such peaks, get the best out of your instrument and protect it from too high peaks.
Pro Tip ... when you achieve the desired sound, you can mark the setting with a delete-able marker so you always know in what position you need the knobs to be.
If you are a bassist who prefers to use slapping, there are those situations that you’ve probably noticed that the peaks are too high and your music is lost, in which case it will be very beneficial to use a compressor pedal in your presentations.
This way, reducing the natural dynamics of your bass will give you a more pleasant and professional sound.
On the other hand, it is advisable to start with a compression ratio between “2:1” and “4:1” and try a setting that suits your style within that range which is where the compression is more stable.
Definitely, the usage of compressor pedals is the best way to combat the downsides of your bass’s natural dynamics.
After we reviewed bunch of models, here are the distinguished ones. If you are looking for affordable prices, then you can go for the Kokko, compressor (FCP2), the Xvive Bass Pedal or the BEHRINGER Compressor / Sustainer CS400; each one is very effective considering the cost, especially the BEHRINGER.
If you have been using pedals for a while and expect results similar to those you get in studio, then you should get the Boss CS-3 or the Seymour Duncan Studio Compressor Pedal. They are models with excellent performance and construction.
In order to access as many settings from a pedalboard and obtain professional results in the process you will need the MXR M87, a pedal with 5 adjustment knobs and a LED indicator that lets you know exactly how much compression you achieve in your notes.
Keep in mind that any option you choose can present distortion or noise if you do not install it properly.
In addition, you will need patience and a good ear to reach the sound you are looking for.