Best Compressor Pedals for Bass — Buyer’s Guide
Though extremely undervalued and unexciting, bass compressors are quite essntial for making the bass tone cut through the mix. The sustaining effect of the compressor adds presence, weight, and strength to your bass to make it really stand out.
It helps you make the most out of your bass, whether you are recording in the studio, practicing, or playing live shows — it is one of the pedals that you can’t help but call essential.
Here’s what else is also essential to the tone of your bass — the good quality of your compressor. And in this article, we will help you choose the best compressor pedal for bass.
What Does a Bass Compressor Pedal Do?
To put it simply, the compression pedal is responsible for controlling the dynamic range: it makes the loud sounds softer and the soft sounds louder. This way, it brings the louder and softer bass signal together and provides a consistent level of output.
From the player’s perspective, it helps to patch up mistakes like sloppy percision and lack of dynamics technique while playing — which is great for both amateurs and experienced players.
Why Use a Compressor Pedal for Bass
Balancing the output of the signal accordingly to the imput helps to smooth off the peaks and make your bass sound more professional.
The reduced dynamics help syncing the sound of the bass with the rest of the instruments. As we have said earlier, it also manages to hide mistakes while playing — since nobody is protected from making them, any opportunity to improve the overall sound is worh taking.
Now, let’s get to comparing the best cheap compressor pedals!
The Comparison Table
To help you make an informaed decision, we have compiled the products in an easy-to-read table outlining the different features they have.
You can find full reviews below the table.
|MXR M87||2.6 x 5.5 x 4.4 inches||+||Release, attack, output, input, ratio||9V battery|
|Markbass Compressore||6.53 x 5.59 x 2.08 inches||+||Gain, clean, threshold, ratio, attack, release, volume||12V power supply|
|BOSS Bass Limiter/Enhancer||14.96 x 14.96 x 6.69 inches||+||Level, enhance, ratio, threshold||9V battery|
|Aguilar TLC||5.37 x 2.8 x 2.3 inches||+||Level, threshold, attack, slope||9V power supply|
|Empress Compressor||4.5 x 3.5 x 2 inches||+||Imput, attack, release, mix, output||9V power supply|
|Wampler Mini Ego||1.5 x 3.5 x 1.5 inches||+||Blend, sustain, volume, tone, attack||9V power supply|
|Xotic SP||4 x 6 x 4 inches||+||Blend, volume||9V battery|
|Boss CS-3||4 x 3 x 6 inches||+||Level, tone, attack, sustain||9V battery|
|MXR Dyna||5.8 x 4.5 x 2.8 inches||+||Output, sensitivity||9V battery|
|Fender The Bends||5.45 x 4.85 x 3.25 inches||+||Drive, recovery, blend, level||9V battery|
|JOYO JF-10||5.2 x 3.11 x 2.44 inches||+||Sustain, level, attack||9V power supply|
MXR M87 Bass Compressor — Everything You Need
The pedal features a traditional box design with a nice touch of a stylish white color. The gain reduction meter houses 7 green, 2 yellow, and 1 red LEDs that are easy-to-see both in studio and on stage.
The pedal has a sturdy build and can hold up to the longest usage. You can’t feel any looseness while plugging connectors in and out or when turning knobs.
Thre front panel of the device houses 5 knobs, an LED display, and a footswitch. The input and output jacks are on the sides.
The set of features on MXR M87 does follow the treditional route of control option. The Ratio knob has 4 points of adjustment: you can change between 4:1, 8:1, 12:1 and 20:1 ratio settings.
There are also Attack and Release controls. The Input knod controls the incoming signal and the intensity of the compression circuit. With compression the decrease in signla comes naturally, which can be compensated with an Output knob.
The LED display is here to show the amount of conpression applied to the signal. On top of that, it shows how fast and for how long the signal is comrpessed.
Markbass Compressore Compressor — A Fresh Take
That particular compressor takes a step away from the traditional guitar pedal form factor and offers unique design. The dimensions of the device are on the larger side and might not be ideal for anyone who has a crowded pedalboard.
The controls are conviniently laid out on the top portion of the fron panel, with a footswitch being located on the lower half. You get 6 sound control knobs in total, and two audio jacks.
It features 6 sound control knobs, which are used to tweak unique characteristics of the signal. You have:
- Threshhold — the loudness of the signal before the compression;
- Ratio — the amount of compression applied to the signal;
- Gain — recorvers the volume lost during compression;
- Volume — overall volume of the signal;
- Attack — controls the reaction time of the compressor;
- Release — sets how long it takes for the compressor to “let go” of the signal.
The Compressore works great with every setting available and allows the player to get maximum punch throughout the bass grooves, or go for a more rythmic sound.
It also helps to reduce the overtones that might occur when you are playng very loud.
The footswitch is a true bypass that keeps the tone clean.
BOSS Bass Limiter/Enhancer Guitar Pedal — A Solid Classic
BOSS Bass Limiter/Enhancer compressor offers a classic stompbox design that is solid and stays reliable for years. On the top portion of the front panel you will find 4 sound control knobs and an LED above them.
The lower part houses a footswitch, while the input and output jacks are on the sides of the pedal.
The color scheme is a matter of personal taste, nonetheless it is clearly visible on the pedalboard thanks to the paintjob.
BOSS pedal features a classic set of sound controlss for a bass compressor. The most important settings are threshhold and ratio, which are used to adjust the loudness of the signal and amount of the compresion respectively.
Two other knobs are enhance and level. Enhance acts as a tone control that adds treble to the signal if you need some. Level is basically a gain control that returns some of that volume lost during compression.
The pedal allows for producing nice deliberately squeezed tones. On the contrary, it also works great as an always-on pedal that keeps the cignal clean and persistent as you play.
Aguilar TLC Bass Compressor — A True Workhorse
Aguilar TLC offers a regular stompbox build which is both very sturdy and portable. It will definitely fit any pedalboard. The front panel features 4 sound control knobs and a footswitch to trun the pedal on and off.
The design is quite minimal and the color is distinguishable. On the top part of the device, there are two input and output jacks.
The manufacturers made sure to include all of the necessary controls that evey bass player would need in a compressor pedal. Here’ what you can twek using the Aguilar TLC:
- Level — adjusts the overall level of output and compensates the natural volume drops when compressing the signal;
- Threshold — controls the imput volume at which the compression happens;
- Attack — changes the time it takes for compressions to start after you play the notes;
- Slope — tweaks the compression ratio.
The device isn’t the one that does a ton to your sound — it keeps the tone rather clean. But it is truly great at what it does do — it’s altering the signal dynamics and removing peaks and overtones. Low and high frequencies are dimensional and full.
Empress Compressor MKI Comp — Quite the Contender
The box-like form factor of the pedal does stand out from the traditional stompbox compressors. The chassis is made out of aluminum, which ensures that it can take a beating and withstand tours, live shows, and rehearsals.
ON the front you have 5 knobs to tweak the signal, a true bypass-enabled footswitch, and an array of LEDS. The input and output jacks are on the top portion of the casing.
In terms of the sound control, you have your regular attack and release controls that tweak the time when the sompression begins and ends respectively. You can use input to control the input signal level — to help you with that, there is an LED meter above the knobs. You can also level match by tweaking the output.
In addition to those controls you also get a tone knob — it is a general tone circiuit that does frequency tweaks. Mix is dedicated to mixing the compressed and uncompressed signals together, so you get a little bit more control of what happens to the sound.
The pedal offers compression ratios of 2:1, 4:1 and 10:1.
Wampler Mini Ego Compressor — A Compact Spin on a Classic
Wampler Mini Ego is a more compact version of a classic offerring from the manufacturer. The chassis is made out of metal to enusre its longevity. The front panel packs and array of 3 sound controls knobs, a footswtich, two toggles, and LED to display the working state of the pedal. The imput and output jacks are on the sides.
That pedal changes the regular controls scheme a bit. Here you have sustain to effectively control the amount of compression added to the signal. The attack toggle sets the start of the note envelope to give that “snapping” feature.
You can also rely on blend knob to add some uncompressed signal in for more versatility, and tone toggle adds some “sprakling” characteristics to your sound. The last volume knob is self explanatory — it adjusts the loudness of the signal.
Xotic SP Compressor — A Versatile Addition to the Pedalboard
Another pedal in a tiny casing that doesn’t take up much space on a pedalboard. Something which is great about the compact compressor is that they come sturdy by default, since with smaller size there is less potential for damage.
Xotic SP is quite heavy compared to its size though.
The fron panel packs a row of 2 sound controls knobs, a toggle swtich, and a footswitch. As usual, he sides house the input and output jacks.
The feature that sets Xotic SP apart from other bass compressors is a three-way switch that you can use to tweak the intensity of the signal compression. You also get internal DIP switches that have 4 attack and release options to add that snap to the starting note, a hi-cut filter and an input pad for high-powered humbuckers.
You can also change the volume of the signal by up to +15dB of boost using the volume knob. The blend knob, as always, is for mixing the dery tone with the compressed one.
Using those options you can turn that compressor into a nice little booster, which might be very useful in some situations.
Boss CS-3 Compressor/Sustainer Pedal — A Decent Midranger
As usual, Boss never fails to deliver on traditional stompbox design with their products. The primary material here is aluminum, giving the pedal the sturdiness to survive any type of usage.
The color sheme us nothing spectacular, but sure holds its own amongst many other devices your night have on your pedalboard.
The entire lower portion of the fron panel is an easy-to-hit footswitch, while the top half packs 4 sound tweaking knobs. The input and output jacks are on their usual spots — on the sides of the device. The LED status indicator is located above the row of knobs.
In terms of the sound control we have 4 knobs to work with, but unlike some other Boss products, here we don’t get double functionalities.
Here are the basic controls you will find here:
- Level — controls the amount of the effect added to the signal;
- Tone — adjusts the sound frequencies that have to be compressed;
- Attack — tweaks the attack power of the strumming hand;
- Sustain — controls the length onf the notes played.
For some, it might be tricky to use the tone knob at first, as it won’t affect the entire tone spectrum.
The device packs enough power to go from mild compression to a very squashed compression-as-effect tone. It also works great for adding the snap to notes by using the attack and sustain knobs.
MXR Dyna Comp Guitar Effects Pedal (M102) — The Minimalistic Approach
The design of M102 is focused rather on the form than on the funcrion. A simple stompbox aluminum build is small in size and has a few essential controls to work with: there are 2 sound controls knobs, an LED, and a footswitch on the front panel.
The sides house the I/O in the form of two input and output jacks.
The bright red color of the pedal is easy to notice and the legends under the controls are clear.
The controls of the pedal are pretty basic: you only get two knobs to work with. Those are output and sensetivity. The output is for attenuating sugnal befor the output jack, and the sensetivity controls the amount of compression added to the signal.
There’s no need for additional threshold or attack controls, since the attack is pre-set, and the threshold can be adjusted by tweaking the compression ratio.
When it comes to the sound quality, apart from the regular dynamic range compression, the pedal also adds a ton of color to the signal.
Fender The Bends Compressor Pedal — The Best When it Comes to Afforable
Fenders operational transconductance amplifier has a quite traditional form-factor for an effects pedal. The color here is sleek black, giving the compressor its restrained but elegant look. It is crafted from lightweight, durable anodized aluminum.
The front panel has a usual combination of 4 sound control knobs, and LED light in the center, and a footswitch in the lower portion. The input and outpuct jacks are on the sides of the compressor.
And here’s something that is unique to this pedal: it has a magnetic battery door, which makes it very easy to swap those. On the other pedal, you usuallu have to unscrew the casing to get the battery out.
You can adjust the your tone using the following sound settings:
- Drive — adjusts the compression added to the signal. As you turn it up, the LED glows pink rather than white when the conpression is set to default;
- Recovery — controls the release time of the compression, meaning it sets the time after which the signal is no longer comrpessed;
- Level — tweaks the overall volume of the output;
- Blend — something that you rarely see in the compression pedals: that knob allows for mixing the compressed signal with the dry one.
A nice snap added to the note envelope is a flagship feature of Fender compressors. The sustain doesn’t squash the sound, and the pdeal adds a little hiss to the tone.
JOYO JF-10 Dynamic Compressor — The Budget Offering
The compressor comes in at a very small size, but with an impressive paintjob of a bright green that is definitely gonna catch some attention. Along the beautiful logo on the front there is an array of 3 control knobs and a footswtich. An LED light is also here to signal the working state of the device. The input and output jacks take their usual spots on the sides.
Since the JF-10 is on the chea side of things, you can’t really expect much from it. Nevertheless, it has a lot of output and you can definitely rely on it as a clean boost. The compression itself is decent and sounds a littly bright.
There is a truebypass feature, and there are 3 sound controls available to work with: Sustain, Level, and Attack. You can raise the latter for a more definitive picking effect, or dial it down to get a rounded guitar sound.
Best Bass Compressor — Buyer’s Guide
There is no such thing as an ideal product for anyone — to get something that will satisfy you in every way, you have to evaluate your needs and shop for products in accordance with those needs.
The same goes for the best cheap compressor pedals for bass. You can’t just buy the cheapest or the most expensive one and expect it to do exactly wha you’d like.
So, here’s what you need to take into account when choosing a bass compressor:
Design and build. You need to make sure that the build quality can withstand your routine. For isnatnce, If you tour a lot, you might need the sturdiest pedal out there. Otherswise, a compromise might do.
Sound quality. Since this is a subjective one, it is better if you can listen to the pedal before making a pruchase. If you can’t find the pedal you’re interested in at the local store, you can also rely on the pedal demos on YouTube.
Controls. Inspect the available controls to know that everything you need is present. For instance, some players might value separate attack and release controls, while others can do completely fine with a simplified set of knobs.
Power. Some pedals can draw more power than others, which may require you to use different batteries or adapters in your setup. For instance, the majority of compressors require 9V, while there are some that need 12V.
Here you go — those are some of the best bass compressor pedals money can buy. Most of them share many features, but some managed to reaelly stand out.
So, what would we recomend?
If you are looking for somethin cheap that can be left as an always-on compressor — look no further than JOYO JF-10. Despite its price, it delivers good build and sound quality, which is really everything you need.
In case you are looking for the maximum amout of control — Markbass Compressore would be a nice choice. It packs enough options and tweaks to unveil the potential of any bass player.