7 Best Bass Preamp Pedals

Martin Kristiansen

Martin Kristiansen

My name is Martin Kristiansen and I’m the founder and chief editor of HomeStudioIdeas.com. I’ve been playing, recording and producing music for the last 10 years.

When choosing the best bass preamp for your recording setup, it’s best to choose one that works well in whatever genre you are playing. The electric bass guitar is a vital component in almost every genre and there is a world of options when it comes to tonal shaping. Your bass preamp should give you the ability to create a tone that fits every genre you are playing. 

Our top pick Tech 21 SansAmp 3-Channel Bass Driver DI is particularly designed for bass guitars and gives you extensive control over all tonal characteristics.

Many beginner bass guitarists ignore the bass preamp when building their arsenal of pedals. While it isn’t an “effect” like for example distortion, the preamp will have a huge impact on your sound. After reading this article you will know exactly what a bass preamp is, if you need one, and which one to choose! 

Let’s dive in!

Top 7 Best Bass Preamp Pedals – Review

Tech 21 SansAmp 3-Channel Bass Driver DI – Best Overall

Tech 21’s entire product line is based on great preamps and their products have become somewhat of the industry standard for guitarists and bass players around the world. 

The SansAmp Bass Driver DI is a preamp designed and tailored for bass guitar. Introduced in 1994, this preamp gives you everything you will ever need to tailor your sound. The possible applications are almost endless and can be changed to fit in a wide variety of styles and genres.

The Tech 21 SansAmp is not dirt cheap, but not unreasonable either. The value this preamp offers is great when looking at the overall functionality. Even with basic tone-shaping, you can hear the warm sound characteristics.

Tech 21 SansAmp 3-Channel Bass Driver DI has been an industry standard for years, and for good reason! The individual Bass, Treble, and Presence controls give you the ability to customize the sound as you like. You also have a Gain control and a Wet control to mix the wet signal with the dry.

best bass preamp pedal
Tech 21 SansAmp 3 is the best bass preamp pedal – Overall


  • Tube circuit and speaker emulation with dedicated Drive and Presence knobs.
  • Bass and Treble control that can boost or cut the desired frequencies.
  • Can save three user-defined settings accessible via three foot switches.
  • Durable and compact design to fit on a pedalboard.


Form Factor:Pedal
Inputs:1 x 1/4″
Outputs:1 x 1/4″, 1 x XLR
Power Source:9V DC 100mA power supply (sold separately) / Phantom Power

Darkglass Alpha Omega Ultra Dual Bass Preamp – Best premium

Preamps from Darkglass Electronics have been some of the top picks for many bassists in recent years. Their high-quality pedals are extremely powerful and versatile. Darkglass Alpha Omega was designed by Jon Stockman from the Australian progressive band Karnivool. What makes this bass preamp pedal so special? 

It has two distortion circuits in one, overdrive and fuzz. 

With the Mod knob, you can easily select one of those distortions or blend them together.

The preamp also has a multitude of interface controls so you can tailor the sound as you like. That includes a 6-band equalizer, dual outputs for parallel processing, and direct output for the PA systems or a mixing console.

bass preamp pedal


  • One of the most versatile bass preamps ever
  • 2 distortion circuits
  • Aux input for playing along with tracks from mobile or computer
  • Download impulse response cabinet simulations from Darkglass.com and import them through the micro USB-B port


Pedal Type:Preamp, Distortion
Analog/Digital:Analog (overdrive), Digital (cab sim)
Inputs:1 x 1/4″ (instrument), 1 x 1/8″ (aux in)
Outputs:1 x 1/4″, 1 x XLR (direct out), 1 x 1/8″ (headphones)
USB:1 x Micro-B (loading IR)
True Bypass:Yes
EQ:Low Shelf, High Shelf, Mid bands: 250Hz, 500Hz, 1.5kHz, 3kHz
Controls:Alpha Drive, Omega Drive
Features:Cabinet Simulation IR
Power Source:9V DC power supply (sold separately)

MXR M81 Bass Preamp – Best Value

The MXR M81 may not be the most advanced bass preamp on the market but it gets the most important job done: Making your bass sound better! I’ve used it in various setups and it never fails.

This is a very well-constructed pedal and the sound quality is clear. The MXR M81 is built with CHT circuitry which helps to reduce internal noise interferences.  User interface controls include input and output DP controls, Pre/Post DI Output, EQ, and Ground Lift to prevent electrical hum.

This bass preamp is an all-in-one option and gives you a ton of different options for tone enhancements. 

best bass preamp


  • Best valuable bass preamp
  • Clean DI
  • Separate input and output level controls
  • Switchable pre/post-EQ direct out
  • 3-band EQ with mid-frequency sweep dial


Type:Bass Preamp
Form Factor:Pedal
Inputs:1 x 1/4″
Outputs:1 x 1/4″, 1 x XLR (DI out)
True Bypass:Switchable
Power Source:9V DC power supply (sold separately)

Behringer V-Tone Bass BDI 21 – Best Affordable

Behringer is a veteran in the audio equipment business and they are known for their affordable products. The V-Tone Bass BDI 21 is a clone of the legendary 1 SansAmp Bass Driver DI. The construction is made of compact plastic with a 6 control knob layout.

V-Tone Bass BDI 21 is equipped with an active 2-band EQ with Bass and Treble that can be boosted or cut by 12dB. The XLR output has a ground lift switch to prevent hums that occur from grounding issues. Even if this bass pedal lacks mid-range controls it offers a sweet range of both vintage and modern sounds.

This preamp has a tube emulation circuitry and with the Blend control, you can mix the amount of tube emulation you want with the DI-signal.

bass preamp pedal


  • Massive array of vintage tube amps in one pedal
  • Presence control to boost the upper midrange and treble frequencies
  • Authentic tube emulation with Blend control
  • Ground lift switch


Pedal Type:Bass Amp Modeler/DI Box
Inputs:1 x 1/4″
Outputs:1 x 1/4″, 1 x XLR
Power Source:9V DC power supply (sold separately)

Aguilar Tone Hammer

Tone Hammer from Aguilar offers a wide array of features and can be used for various applications. This preamp is heavy,  sturdy and the components are protected with a steel body. This preamp is equipped with AGS (Adaptive Gain Shaping) circuitry, which mixes together equalizer and overdriven sounds. 

This pedal is capable of producing an incredible amount of saturation. It also delivers distinctive and full-bodied sounds, that cut through the mix and shines. Since Tone Hammer has a lot of headroom, you can crank it up pretty aggressively without worrying about your signal getting clipped unexpectedly.

At first sight, Aquilar Tone Hammer doesn’t stand out from other preamps. However, if you take a closer look you’ll discover that it is packed with incredible features. This is one of the most impressive bass preamps available today.

bass preamp


  • Adaptive Gain Shaping circuitry
  • Can be used as a clean preamp
  • Equipped with DI-functionality
  • Can boost each frequency band with up to 18dBs

TC Electronics SpectraDrive

TC Electronics SpectraDrive is probably the most feature-packed bass preamp on the market. There is a lot you can do with this workhorse, and it distinguishes itself from the competition because of several features unique to the TC Electronic brand. 

The TonePrint capabilities, SpectraComp controls, and TubeDrive controls give you a lot of control at your fingertips. To be honest, this pedal acts more like a multi-tool for bassists than a regular bass preamp.

On top of that, it’s also equipped with an aux input and a headphone jack. This is great for retaining good relations with your neighbors during those late-night bass sessions.

preamp for bass


  • Great tube amp emulation with TubeDrive control
  • TonePrints technology, which allows players to download different drive and compressor presets from their official website and app
  • Ground/lift and pre/post switches
  • 4-band equalizer


Sound Control:4-Band EQ
Switchable Low Cut:No
DI out:Pre+Post

Hartke Bass Attack 2

The Bass Attack 2 leverage Hartke’s years of experience in helping bass players shape their sound. This rugged box is built to last a lifetime and provides a vast array of tone-shaping controls. Bass Attack 2 features Hartke’s iconic Shape EQ for advanced sound sculpting.  It’s also equipped with basic EQ parameters and a fuzzy overdrive with an on/off stomp switch.

Like many other bass preamps on this list, the Bass Attack 2 is both a preamp and DI box. The direct out signal can be either Pre or Post signal manipulation. This gives you the ability to send raw signals to the Front of House via XLR output.

This bass preamp can be powered with only 2 AA batteries. You can also power it with phantom power or a 9v DC adapter (sold separately).



  • Preamp and DI box
  • XLR Direct Output with Pre/Post and Ground Lift Switches
  • Shape EQ Circuit
  • Overdrive with Mix wet/dry knob

Bass Preamp Pedal Buyers Guide

What is a bass preamp?

A bass preamp is a device (usually a foot-operated switch) with the primary function of boosting the DI signal from your bass. They also let you directly plug into PA systems and recording consoles without the use of any microphones and amps. While boosting the signal, they also enhance and add sound characteristics to your tone which can be tweaked to your desire. 

Today bass preamps are considered standard equipment in every professional bassist’s toolbox and if you don’t own one already you would want to get one sooner or later!

Why do you need a bass preamp?

The signals from the bass pickups alone are very soft without any amplification. If you tried plugging a pair of headphones straight into your bass output jack you can barely hear it. Using a bass preamp boosts the input signal to line level which is an optimal audio signal level used in electronics.

After boosting your input signal to line level, the bass preamp shapes the tonal characteristics with signal processing. Every bass preamp has different features and electronic circuitry that add colorization to the signal. 

A few good reasons for adding a bass preamp to your signal chain would be:

  • For extra tonal capabilities: You can get much more surgical with a bass preamp. Especially if it’s equipped with a parametric EQ band.
  • If you switch between different basses when playing live: Changing bass has a huge impact on sound and could call for a completely different setting on your EQ or compressor. The ability to change settings with a stomping pedal instead of tweaking knobs on your preamp is an easy and quick solution.
  • If you use passive pickups in the studio: Plugging your passive bass straight into a mixing board will probably result in a thin and weak sound. Passive pickups tend to put out a high impedance signal while a mixer is built to handle low impedance signals. Using a DI on a bass preamp will keep your bass sound intact.


Choosing your first bass preamp is a tough choice, especially if you haven’t purchased one before. In the end, it comes down to cost, usability, and quality. All the bass preamps reviewed for this article have a great mixture of all those ingredients.  

The Tech 21 SansAmp 3-Channel is a great choice for both beginners and experienced bass players. The tube circuits and speaker emulations deliver a true amp-like sound. Warm tube tones, funky slap sounds, or heavy distortions – this bass preamp is extremely versatile and lives up to its reputation!   

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