5 Essential Bass DI Pedals

Sometimes bass pedals can be overlooked. Sure, you can just plug your bass into a regular old Big Muff, but when the pedal is specifically configured for the bass, it just sounds better. And it’s particularly important when you’re looking at a DI; a good DI can be an invaluable tool for the bassist.

Whether you’re playing in the studio or on stage, a DI can save your tone from a bad venue, give you an easy way to record or model any number of vintage and modern tones. But not all DIs are created equal, so today we’re taking a look at our top five favorite bass DIs.

L.R. Baggs Stadium Electric Bass DI

L.R. Baggs is taking a giant leap into the world of the electric bass. Typically known for its advancements in the realm of acoustic guitar amplification, the company’s first entry into the bass DI race is a killer one: the Stadium Electric Bass DI.

Primed for a multitude of applications, the Stadium works its magic in both studio situations and during live performances. In fact, if you’re recording with the Stadium and don’t want it to color your tone at all, you can completely disengage the parameters to keep your sound unaffected.

But if you do want to play with the sonic possibilities offered by the Stadium DI, check out its bevy of features and parameters, like volume and gain knobs, an attack control, a comp EQ knob, drive and fat switches and even a “growl” knob. The unique growl knob only affects the low-end frequencies of your instrument, giving you the clarity and punch of an unaffected high end with the lower frequencies being pushed to a full-on overdrive.

Along with the growl knob comes the ground lift switch, which gives you the ability to choose between -10dB or +4dB of output and the “fat” switch, giving you a bump of either +3dB or +5dB at 150Hz for some additional thickness. The comp EQ control brings in the set EQ curve, which notches out certain frequencies that create muddiness, leaving your tone clear and biting.

SansAmp Bass DI

We would be remiss to leave out the SansAmp Bass DI, one of the most popular and well-known bass DIs on the market. Versatile and capable of giving you tons of different tones, like the warmth of vintage tube amps, something that veers toward brighter and more modern, screaming distortions and more, the SansAmp has become something of an “old reliable” to bass players the world over. Despite its frequent use in the world of bass, there’s nothing common about the features this DI has to offer.

First and foremost, the SansAmp has three distinct outputs, including an XLR mic level output to drive power amps, recording desks, PAs and PA mixers or to simply use as a part of your rig. This versatility makes the SansAmp perfect for virtually any situation, from recording to performing to recording your live performances! And if that weren’t enough, it actually can be powered by three separate power sources as well: battery, phantom power or a power supply.

The SansAmp, of course, comes with a slew of controllable parameters, like presence, to give those upper harmonics a kick in the pants and get them to be as articulate as possible; active EQ, which has been calibrated specifically for the bass with 12dB of cut or boost; and blend, which acts to combine your direct signal with the affected signal. And if all these features are too much for you, then the SansAmp can act as a passive DI box as well. It’s no wonder this DI has become a pedalboard staple for bassists!

Ampeg SCR-DI

For Ampeg-lovers out there, and we know the bass world has a lot of them, the SCR-DI is the perfect one for you. Offering up a score of tonal possibilities perfect for both stage and studio settings, the SCR-DI can imbue your tone with authentic-sounding Ampeg sounds, from the smoothness of the Portaflex to the thick richness of the SVT.

Ampeg SCR-DI

The heart of the SCR-DI rests in its EQ functionality. Classic Ampeg EQ is where the tonal shaping abilities lie, giving you circuits like Ultra-Hi and Ultra-Lo, as well as a three-band tone stacking capability with an uber-wide frequency sweep, inspired by the SVT.

Due to the width of the bass, mid and treble sweep, you can dial in a wild variety of tones for total versatility. Just stomp on the EQ footswitch and you’re good to go.

The other half of the SCR-DI lies in the “Scrambler” side, which you can click on with another dedicated footswitch. The Bass Scrambler is an overdrive function that gives your sound a tube-like grit, similar to the SVT, that you can control with separate drive and blend controls to help get that perfect growl.

Thankfully, the Scrambler circuit doesn’t cut corners; it’s at no loss for gain, so you’ll be blowing audiences away with this DI. Or, if face-melting isn’t your style, the SCR-DI actually has a built-in headphone out, along with its 1/4” out, 1/4” thru and XLR.

MXR Bass D.I.+ M80

If you’re an MXR fan at heart, then you won’t be able to do without the MXR Bass D.I.+ M80. As with all MXR pedals, this bass DI comes in a sturdy, MXR-quality chassis, so you don’t have to worry about bumps and bruises from being on the road. And while this DI is great on the road, it’s also a fantastic tool for laying down tracks.

MXR Bass D.I.+ M80

Using the Bass D.I.+ M80’s dual-channel configuration, you can do just about anything to your sound, ranging from adding just a touch of warmth and color to creating a full-blown distortion.

This is because the M80 has both a clean channel and a dirty channel. The clean channel is simple enough, giving you an easy volume knob and color button, which gives you a preset EQ that can then be tweaked by the three-band EQ knobs.

However, click on the dirty channel and you’ve got a whole host of controls to mess with, like volume, blend, trigger and gain, all of which you can integrate into your clean signal. The dirty channel even comes with an adjustable smart noise gate that works interactively with the trigger knob to set a noise floor threshold, which then allows for sustain but cuts out that ugly buzz when you aren’t playing. It can’t get much better than that for fans of MXR’s pedals.

Darkglass Electronics Microtubes B7K

The Darkglass Electronics Microbes B7K might be, excuse the wordplay, a dark horse in this race, but it’s one to bet on nonetheless. This bass DI gives you extremely dynamic saturation with a four-band EQ for truly impressive tonal control and even includes safeguards to protect your sound from long cable runs.

The balanced line driver, which converts your unbalanced signal to a balanced one, gives you the power to cover longer cable runs with less noise, which is perfect for larger stage scenarios or running to a faraway mixer in the studio.

The B7K is a fairly self-explanatory DI with just level, drive and blend knobs to change up your sound. Where it gets just a bit more complex, however, is with the four-band EQ. Each band gives you +/- 12dB at a certain frequency, with highs giving you boost or cut at 5kHz, hi mids at 2.8kHz, low mids at 1kHz, and lows at 100Hz. With these four bands, you’ve got the power to dial in pretty much any tone you could dream up.

Two switches round off the effects the Microbes B7K offers: the “grunt switch” and the attack switch. The grunt switch saturates lower frequencies by selecting between “fat,” “thin” and “raw” bass boost levels before the clipping stage, while the attack switch gives you the option to set the treble saturation. Hit it with some extra high frequency by turning the switch to boost, leave it flat, or cut it to scoop out those highs.

The importance of the bass DI really can’t be overstated. It’s basically an all-in-one tone-fixer, recording-helper and live-performance-booster. Check out the video above to hear one of our favorites, the L.R. Baggs Stadium Electric Bass DI, in action; and if you find yourself in need of one of these miracle pedals, shop for your own new and used bass DIs.

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