Best Bass Guitar Compressors – 2020 Complete Review

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There are a lot of great options out there when it comes to pedals for your bass, but by far one of the must-have options is a compressor pedal. This little box will help you craft and control your sound, giving you a lot of versatility in your sound. But with all the various models out there, how do you choose? 

The first thing you want to do is understand that the dynamic range of your bass is vital to maintain and the only way to do that is to get into just what makes compressor pedals tick.

So, in this guide, we will be looking at those considerations in addition to offering you a carefully curated list of the best bass guitar compressors. We are confident that this fantastic information will be instrumental in helping you make the perfect decision for you and your music needs.

Comparison of the Best Bass Guitar Compressors

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Best bass guitar compressor overall
  • Maintain perfect threshold with the easy to read monitor
  • Designed with patented technology for constant headroom
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  • Optimized control over many sound features
  • End sound quality can give you a 5-string bass sound
  • Built with TLC circuit for higher quality in a compact build
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  • Best bass guitar compressor for the money
  • Elevated clarity and presence with enhancer capability
  • 4-knob control over sound control for optimized quality
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  • Constructed with an all-analog signal path
  • Designed with multiple compression ratios
  • Built with the ability to blend uncompressed signals
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  • 5-year warranty on all parts & labor
  • Optimized control with its revoiced Tilt EQ interface
  • Designed with a low-frequency response and increased headroom
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What Does a Compressor Pedal Do for a Bass Guitar?

When it comes to compressor pedals for your bass, understanding the importance of just what it does can help you out quite a bit. The compressor pedal, or Dynamic Range Reduction, is an instrument that takes the volume of sound and decreases them. It can also be used to amplify quieter sounds while playing as well. There are many advantages that any bassist can benefit from when adding a compressor pedal:

  • Creates a smoother and more even tone
  • Can make you sound fuller
  • Give you the control when it comes to sound crafting
  • How Does a Bass Guitar Compressor Work?

    The compressor is part of the dynamics family and oversees controlling the sound volume of your music. A compressor is used to squeeze the signal produced by the dynamic range of your instrument. This will, in turn, help in the reduction of the volume. The control of this is done by knobs that control the internal workings of these pedals. With this pedal, there are no extra effects added to your sound. In other words, you hear exactly what you've played, just with adjusted volume according to your preferences.

    What Makes These the Best of the Year?

    There are a lot of factors you can use to evaluate bass compressor pedals. You can go with the one that your music idol uses, or you can pay close attention to critical features. There are several key features that you can use to make your decision easier, and we have broken down a few below for you.

    Portability

    This is an easy one. You will want to look for a pedal that is compact and lightweight so that it is easy to transport from gig to gig.

    Control Knobs

    Looking at how many control knobs the bass pedal has is a way to tell how much control you will have over the final sound that comes from your bass. The more knobs, the more control. So, when you are looking at our options or other ones on the market, you may want to go with the model that has the greatest number of knobs.

    MXR M87 Bass Compressor

    Compression Types

    There are different types of compression, and understanding them can help you with your final decision:

    Optical

    This variant uses a light source to boost or decrease the signal.

    FET

    This variant has transistors built-in that mimic vacuum tubes. These offer crisper and faster sounds.

    VCA

    This variant, also known as a Voltage Controlled Amplifier, takes AC bass signal and converts it to electricity. This gives the compressor an excellent attack and release.

    Tube

    These models are constructed with vacuum tubes and are extremely rare. If you can find one, you will get a warm, vintage sound quality.

    Review of the Best Bass Guitar Compressors

    Now that you have a good idea of what to look for, here is a list of some of the best compressors for bass on the market today.

    MXR M87 Bass Compressor

    PROS

    • Versatility of use
    • Easy to read LED meter
    • Built with high-quality, durable materials
    • Crafted to give fantastic sound quality
    • Great gain reduction for stage performances

    CONS

    • Too large of a release time range
    • Inconsistency in the overall sound quality

    What Recent Buyers Report

    Recent buyers have a lot to say about this pedal from MXR. They absolutely love the versatility of sound and style you get from the small and compact build. This model is highly durable as well, though some users have had a problem with the consistency of tone.

    Why it Stands Out to Us

    The level of ability to craft your sound is outstanding, and that is why we named this unit our overall best compressor. The 5-knob design allows for a level of control that far surpasses many of the M87’s competitors.

    Who Will Use This Most

    The bassist that would get the most from this compressor is the touring musician. Taking this pedal from gig to gig is easy, and the level of gain reduction for your stage performance is outstanding.

    Bottom Line

    This pedal from MXR is easily the best overall option on the market for many reasons, but chief among them is the end sound quality and versatility you get. This pedal is an excellent choice for any bassist looking for an elevated sound.

    Aguilar TLC Bass Compression Effect Pedal

    PROS

    • Enhanced transparency of sound
    • Operates with reduced noise levels
    • Built-in true Bypass for a cleaner sound
    • Multiple power sources (battery & main)
    • Great quality sound with decreased distortion

    CONS

    • Not built with a release control
    • Decreased distortion may not be enough for some

    What Recent Buyers Report

    Though a few recent bassists that have purchased this model have had a problem with the loss of tonal quality at the low end of the spectrum, overall the common consensus regarding the pedal is that it offers great sound with little to no coloration.

    Why it Stands Out to Us

    The Aguilar TLC compressor pedal is a stellar piece of equipment, and for us, the best thing about it is the limited levels of distortion, which lends itself to cleaner, crisper sound. Plus, it operates with reduced noise levels, which means that your bass guitar will not sound too grungy or distorted when you are playing.

    Who Will Use This Most

    This compressor is another great option for the live performer. With its easy to use controls and the ability to fine-tune your sound to your needs, you will have optimal sound quality while on stage.

    Bottom Line

    If you are looking for an easy to use workhorse of a pedal, then adding the Aguilar TLC to your stage equipment would be an excellent decision. Fitted with ultimate control and built to take whatever you throw at it, you will be able to take advantage of this pedal’s excellence for many years to come.

    BOSS Bass Limiter/Enhancer Guitar Pedal (LMB-3)

    PROS

    • Versatility of use
    • Price versus value is great
    • Enhanced quality of sound
    • Built with a great layout of control knobs
    • Crafted with high-grade materials for better durability

    CONS

    • Lack of tonal character
    • No meters for visual feedback
    • Lack of an attack control in design

    What Recent Buyers Report

    Recent buyers love this unit's transparency and ability to smoothly move from picking to slapping without loss of quality. Though there are a few users that have experienced volume drops and hum after extended use, this model still shines for its value compared to its price tag.

    Why it Stands Out to Us

    The outstanding control and sound quality you get for a bargain price are what make this the best budget compressor pedal on the market. Built with a plethora of sound-enhancing features, you can’t go wrong with this pedal.

    Who Will Use This Most

    This model is great for the beginner who is just starting and needs a high-quality pedal for a budget price. Easy to use and transport, this unit will ensure that your first gigs will go off without a hitch.

    Bottom Line

    Trying to find a pedal that will give you a high-end output for a wallet-friendly price is sometimes a challenging prospect, but with this model from Boss, you not only get that but also the tried and true assurance that you are dealing with a company that knows what they are doing.

    Empress Effects Compressor Analog Compression Guitar Effects Pedal

    PROS

    • Sturdy durability
    • Easy to read LED meter
    • Built with a sidechain input
    • Enhanced levels of sound crafting controls
    • No squashed tones with the mix control capability

    CONS

    • Hard to read control labels
    • Too crowded on the left side of the pedal

    What Recent Buyers Report

    Some recent consumers that have added this unit to their musical equipment feel that there is only a limited enhancement, but all in all, most love the soundscapes that can be crafted with this amazing pedal.

    Why it Stands Out to Us

    This model offers a lot of control when tied in with a chain of pedals to maximize the efficiency and soundscape of each. That is what impressed us the most -- this pedal's ability to work well with others while still holding its own.

    Who Will Use This Most

    This pedal is great for the studio artist. Its size makes it not as easy to transport, but when built into a pedalboard in your home or professional studio, you will see an improvement in your sound versatility and quality.

    Bottom Line

    The Empress effect Compressor may be a bit on the larger size, but when you hear the quality of sound and experience the versatility of control, that size won’t matter.

    Diamond Pedals Bass Comp Compressor

    PROS

    • Flexibility of use
    • Variable headroom
    • Improved EQ control
    • Decreased color of sound
    • Easy to read LED indicator

    CONS

    • Price is a bit high
    • Lacks a blend controller

    What Recent Buyers Report

    Recent buyers love the fact that no matter how much they amp up the compression, the overall sound still is natural and warm. This model offers a lot of great features and controls, so it is no surprise that it has such great reviews.

    Why it Stands Out to Us

    The thing that drove this to the top of our list is that it has a minimal coloration of sound. These models boast impressive sound quality in general, which is why we chose it as one of the best options available today.

    Who Will Use This Most

    This is an excellent choice for any level of experience but will shine the most being used on the road. The incredible soundscape and the durability tied with the 5-year warranty means that no matter what you put it through, you will have a long relationship with it.

    Bottom Line

    Our last entry on this illustrious list has a lot of great features and is backed by the superior reputation of Diamond pedals; you will be sure to get the most bang for your buck.

    Advantages of Investing in Quality Gear

    If you are going to invest in a bass guitar compressor, then choosing one with the highest level of quality should be at the top of your list of priorities. The models above offer a lot of advantages and we have taken the opportunity to examine a few for you. 

    Versatility of Sound

    With the right compressor that has enough control, you will be able to craft a diverse array of sounds. 

    Style of Play

    With a high-quality pedal, you will be able to play any way you want and transition between different styles of music seamlessly. Move from slapping to picking to strumming without loss of volume or tonal quality.

    Quality of Sound

    Not only will you have a wide range of tonal possibilities, but the end quality of your sound will be everything you want and more once you have crafted it using onboard controllers. You want a rich, full sound? You can do that and then play with attack and response to fine-tune that sound quality just a bit further. You can also use this pedal to give your bass a clean boost. 

    Conclusion

    When you want to up your bass game, there really is no better way than with practice and a good pedal. The compressor pedal is a tool that many bassists cannot live without, and we hope that with the knowledge presented above, you understand why. Knowing what to look for, you can now take a closer look at our list of the best bass guitar compressors and know without a doubt that you are equipped to make the right choice for your particular needs.