If you’re wanting to experience the sound of a bass or your band doesn’t have a bass player (but desperately needs one), fear not!
Although nothing will replace the sound of an actual bass guitar, there are some things you can do to get things sounding pretty close. So before you head out an order a new bass, consider experimenting with one of the options we’re about to share with you.
Without any further ado, here are 5 things you can dot make your guitar sound like a bass!
1. Use An Octave Pedal
Unfortunately, this is one of only two options that will actually get you the lower notes you’ll find on the bass guitar.
Remember, the key difference between a bass guitar and a regular electric guitar is that the bass typically only has four strings (E-A-D-G) and these strings are tuned an octave lower than the strings on an electric guitar.
An octave pedal can take the notes that go into the pedal, and shift them around. Most commonly, down an octave.
In other words, the same exact pitches you’ll find on a bass.
Some octave pedals even allow you to shift the pitch down two octaves, or both 1 and 2 octaves at the same time. One such example would be the Boss OC-3. We’ve published a review of the Boss OC-3, which you can view here if you’d like!
Most octave pedals allow you to blend the sound coming out of the pedal to your desired levels. This means that if you want to eliminate the original sound completely and only output the lower notes, you’re certainly able to do this.
And again, while I wouldn’t use an octave player in place of an actual bassist in your band, it can work in a pinch and can also be a lot of fun to play around with!
2. Use An Amp Simulator
If you’re unable to use a dedicated octave pedal, the next best option would be to pick up an amp simulator. As a matter of fact, these may be an even better option for those looking to record in their own home studio, as you can get some very realistic sounds without having to worry about room acoustics, or purchasing a dedicated bass amp if you plan to play very low.
Most paid amp simulators will have virtual octave pedals built into them, and you’ll be given a lot of options to make your guitar sound as close to a bass as possible without needing to pick up any extra equipment.
Of course, you’ll need a way to connect your guitar to your computer for this to work. We recommend the Scarlett 2i2 as a budget-friendly way to accomplish this. The low latency makes it suitable for jamming out without any noticeable latency, and combined with a quality amp sim (such as Overloud TH-U) you can do a heck of a lot for the price!
3. Adjust Your Amp
Outside of using an octave pedal – either physical or within an amp simulator, there isn’t a whole lot you can do to get the actual pitch of a bass. It simply isn’t possible – there’s no way around it.
However, there are a few other things you can do to get closer to its tone.
One such thing would be adjusting your amp – rolling off the treble and mids a bit, and boosting the lower frequencies.
Again, even if you turn the bass all the way up to 10 and the mids / highs all the way down to 0, it is not going to suddenly sound like a bass. In fact, going to this extreme will likely make your tone sound muddy and unpleasant.
Still, making this adjustment may help slightly.
4. Use The Neck Pickup When Possible
Using the neck pickup of your guitar may also help emulate the tone of the bass a bit.
While the bridge pickup tends to favor higher frequencies (making it sound ‘sharper’ and cut through the mix better for lead guitar), the neck pickup favors lower frequencies and sounds more smooth.
This typically makes it more common for rhythm guitar.
In fact, many guitars such as the Les Paul explicitly use the labels ‘Rhythm’ and ‘Treble’ for the pickup selection.
5. Turn The Tone Knob Down
This behaves kind of similarly to the previous suggestion.
Experiment with turning the tone knob on your guitar down. The sound will smoothen out a bit, and become less sharp – similar to a bass.
You may also try experimenting with turning the volume down as well, and compensating with this by turning up your amp.
Playing with all of these and trying different settings out will help you dial in the tone you’re looking for as closely as possible.
Unfortunately, there is only so much you can do in order to make your guitar sound like a bass.
In all honesty, your best bet would be to purchase an octave pedal or amp simulator that is well-suited for this specific purchase. Although no equipment will replace an actual bass player, modern equipment has really come a long way. The right octave pedal or amp simulator can help you squeeze so many unique and wonderful sounds out of your guitar, so it’s definitely worth picking up.
If there are any questions we can answer for you, do not hesitate to ask them through the comment form below!