Just because a pedal is marketed specifically to guitarists doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t sound even better running through your bass rig.
If you’re predominantly a guitarist who moonlights as a bassist, why not cut down on how much gear you have to haul by picking up a few pedals that can do both? And if you’re predominantly a bassist, why limit yourself to just a handful of stompboxes?
Not every pedal out there is guaranteed to sound amazing for both bassists and guitarists, so we put together a list showcasing eight of the most killer crossover pedals.
If a supercharged drive pedal that sounds just as good in your bass rig as it does in your guitar rig is what you’re seeking, look no further than the Catalinbread SFT. Designed to capture the flavor of Ampegs from the ‘60s and ‘70s, the SFT features a Baxandall tone stack, volume and gain controls, and a Stones/Stoner switch that delivers classic tones on one setting and modern, grizzly fuzz on the other.
Josh Homme (of Queens of the Stone Age and Kyuss fame) is one player who loves old Ampeg tube amps on both bass and guitar, so if you’re going for a fierce desert rock tone, the SFT will deliver. Because it is already modeled after a bass amp, it is obviously well–suited for bass, and the SFT is also dialed in just right for guitarists.
On bass, try it in Stoner mode for rumbling low–end rhythms.On guitar, use it in Stones mode en route to a solo section, then click it into Stoner mode to unleash the brutality. The ability to run the SFT at 9V or 18V gives you access to smoother, softer tones and more percussive sounds with higher headroom. It even looks like a little Ampeg, so you know you can’t go wrong.
Earthquaker Devices Dispatch Master
The Dispatch Master never met a signal it didn’t like. Guitar, bass, keyboards, vocals — anything you run through it sounds fantastic. If I had to choose one pedal for my desert island guitar rig, this would be it.
It offers a max delay time of nearly two seconds, and the reverb can be dialed in for the most faint room sound, a huge ambient wash, and anything in between. Regardless of where you set the mix, the delay on the Dispatch Master stays out of your way.
It’s more subtle than most digital and analog delays, and it’s the type of sound you notice more when it’s off than when it’s on. This makes it a perfect choice for bass, as you can add ambience without sounding obtrusive and overbearing.
There really isn’t a bad setting on the Dispatch Master. A good place to start is at noon on all the knobs, adjusting everything to taste. To get an idea of how it can enhance bass, check out Juan Alderete’s excellent demo.
On guitar, it sounds great for slapback and adding space and thickness to solos. My favorite setting on guitar is to set all the knobs full blast, then use my volume knob to do infinite swells. It’s a dramatic, haunting sound that is easy to achieve, and you don’t need to combine a bunch of pedals to get it.
Electro-Harmonix Big Muff
This Electro–Harmonix has been a mainstay for decades, responsible for some of the most classic tones on guitar and bass. The heavy, scooped–mid fuzz pedal can turn the tamest clean guitar into an eternally sustaining rock machine, and used with bass, it is nearly capable of making your heart explode inside your chest cavity.
If you’re into stoner/doom metal, the Big Muff is a must on bass guitar. It takes your already substantial low–end and makes it sound like an angry woolly mammoth. Turning the tone knob fully clockwise can help you stick out in the mix for solos and heavy, cutting rhythms. For guitar, my favorite Muff settings are volume and tone around 1 o’clock, with sustain around halfway for rhythm work, and around 3 o’clock for sustained lead sounds.
There are a lot of Muff variations out there, from the EHX originals to the many wonderful boutique offerings inspired by them. Try out several to see what works for you, or snag a JHS Muffuletta, which boasts six separate analog Muff circuits for your fuzzed–out pleasure.
For other boutique options, Wren and Cuff makes some killer Muff–inspired stompboxes, and the Earthquaker Devices Hoof and Cloven Hoof are great as well.
The various versions of the Fulltone OCD have long been a staple of guitarists in every genre. It’s versatile, sounds great, and is built to last forever, which we’ve come to expect from every Fulltone product.
With a familiar control layout of volume, tone, and drive, it also features a high peak/low peak switch that enables you to get the most useful overdrive sound in every situation with every amp and guitar you throw at it. In low peak mode, you can get everything from a killer clean boost to medium overdrive, while high peak mode offers thicker drive and more sustain.
The Fulltone OCD may be the only dirt pedal you ever need for bass, as it can get into fuzz territory when used in the high peak mode on high drive settings.
JHS Colour Box
The Colour Box is based on the classic Neve recording console. When a guitar or bass bypasses an amplifier and is plugged directly into the console, it creates unique tones and textures that aren’t available when using a conventional setup. It’s a great option for going direct at gigs, and it works equally well on your pedalboard.
Essentially, the Colour Box is a high quality studio preamp conveniently packaged into pedal form. Whether you play Beatles tunes or want the raw, jagged snarl of Neil Young’s electric guitar, the Colour Box is a great alternative to the myriad of dirt boxes available today.
However, you don’t have to use it dirty, as its EQ and hi–pass filter make it excellent for sculpting various clean tones, as well. For a perfect punk bass sound, crank the pre–volume, and engage the hi–pass filter, which takes out some of the low end.
On guitar, set it up for some scuzzy drive, and combine it with an octave pedal such as the TC Electronic Sub N Up or Electro–Harmonix Micro Pog for a wicked octave fuzz sound.
The Colour Box requires some time to become familiar with, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll have an invaluable piece of gear you can use on everything.
MXR Carbon Copy
The Carbon Copy became beloved when it reintroduced the gear world to analog delay at a price that was reachable for everyone. It inspired many other brands to produce affordable analog delays, and it has remained a popular choice since its inception many years ago.
With 600ms of dark delay time and beautiful modulation to boot, the Carbon Copy has a lot of sounds that can be found with minimal knob tweaking. Its inherent tone is warm and dark, yet it still has enough presence to be useful for playing old school rhythmic patterns a la early U2.
If you want to add some dotted eighth pizzazz to your bass playing, the Carbon Copy will get you there. If you want to add some shimmery, modulated space to chord work on guitar, the CC is a natural. If you’re in a Lee “Scratch” Perry or King Tubby tribute band, you should pick up two, as it is a great choice on both instruments for creating weird spaceship noises with self–oscillation.
The Rat in its various incarnations has been on the pedalboard of nearly every guitarist and bassist that I’ve ever played with at one point or another.
On bass, the Rat delivers a perfect punk rock sound, and for guitar, it covers a lot of distortion ground that is only limited by your imagination. The Rat is also a great choice for guitarists using a Vox amplifier. If you’re familiar with Vox amps, you know they can be finicky with some drive and fuzz boxes. However, the Rat mixes great with them.
Need a little dirt to boost your classic rock solo? Set the distortion low and goose the volume. Want to shred? Turn the distortion all the way up and use your volume knob to get the desired amount of sustain. On bass, the tone control comes in very handy, and you can use the filter control as a simple EQ even if you don’t need to adjust distortion and volume settings.
TC Electronic Ditto Looper
When Danish pedal purveyor TC Electronic released the Ditto Looper, it was a total game changer. The diminutive device fits onto any board or stage and offers simple, infinite looping with very high fidelity. Creating a loop on the Ditto is the perfect way to produce some exciting noise between songs on stage, and it’s an excellent songwriting tool at home or in the studio.
This one is simple. If you’re a multi-instrumentalist, bring the Ditto along to a live gig and build up a loop using acoustic guitar, bass, and electric guitar to create a dramatic climax that will leave your audience begging for more. Easily found used under $100, there’s no reason you shouldn’t have a Ditto looper.
If you’re looking to make a one-size-fits-all pedalboard that you can easily use with both bass and guitar, the aforementioned pedals are a great place to start. What pedals do you use with guitar and bass? What killer combinations have you found? As always, experiment to find out what works best for you, and leave a comment below with your own favorite crossover pedals.