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10 Bass Preamps To Drive Home Your Tone

10 Bass Preamps To Drive Home Your Tone

Take it to the stage or studio with these bass preamps/DIs.

There's a preamp for every flavor of bass, from clean tones to upright to overdriven grit. This list covers a wealth of options for all budgets.


Fine-tune your sound on this 2-channel DI with a 3-band EQ, color switch, and noise gate.

$189 street

WALRUS Badwater

This box features a 4-band EQ, optical compressor, and a blendable, 3-voice drive control.

$299 street

AGUILAR Tone Hammer Preamp/Direct Box

Based on the company’s Tone Hammer amp, this box features bass and treble knobs, sweepable midrange controls, and switchable tube-like saturation.

$299 street

RADIAL Bassbone V2

This 2-channel preamp includes two inputs plus a PZB booster and piezo input, so feel free to bring your upright on the gig for a few songs.

$399 street

TECH 21 DI-2112

Geddy Lee’s signature box is a feature-rich dual-channel affair with separate level controls, plus drive, saturation, and blend knobs.

$359 street


Maximize your grit with this box, which is based on two blendable distortion circuits and features a 3-band EQ plus bite and growl toggles.

$349 street


Conjure classic Ampeg SVT and B15 tones with this stomp’s voice control and cab sim. A 3-band EQ plus switchable high and low boosts, plus overdrive and compression, round out the features.

$399 street


This affordable offering features a 4-band EQ, compression, noise gate, and three signal-flow modes.

$174 street

MARKBASS Mark Vintage Pre

Loaded with a glowing 12AX7, this box features a 4-band EQ, three EQ presets, aux in, and headphones out.

$399 street

FENDER Downtown Express

This unit features overdrive, compression, and a 3-band EQ, each with their own footswitch, plus switchable effect order.

$249 street

While Annie Clark was named the 26th greatest guitarist of all time by Rolling Stone in 2023, she couldn’t care less about impressing an athletic stamp on either her sound or her image.

Photo by Alex Da Corte

On her eighth studio release, the electroacoustic art-rock guitarist and producer animates an extension of the strange and singular voice she’s been honing since her debut in 2007.

“Did you grow up Unitarian?” Annie Clark asks me. We’re sitting in a control room at Electric Lady Studios in New York’s West Village, and I’ve just explained my personal belief system to her, to see if Clark, aka St. Vincent, might relate and return the favor. After all, does she not possess a kind of sainthood worth inquiring about?

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The GibsonES Supreme Collection (L-R) in Seafoam Green, Bourbon Burst, and Blueberry Burst.

The new Gibson ES Supreme offers AAA-grade figured maple tops, Super Split Block inlays, push/pull volume controls, and Burstbucker pickups.

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Mdou Moctar has led his Tuareg crew around the world, but their hometown performances in Agadez, Niger, last year were their most treasured.

Photo by Ebru Yildiz

On the Tuareg band’s Funeral for Justice, they light a fiery, mournful pyre of razor-sharp desert-blues riffs and political calls to arms.

Mdou Moctar, the performing moniker of Tuareg guitar icon Mahamadou “Mdou” Souleymane, has played some pretty big gigs. Alongside guitarist Ahmoudou Madassane, drummer Souleymane Ibrahim, and bassist Mikey Coltun, Moctar has led his band’s kinetic blend of rock, psych, and Tuareg cultural traditions like assouf and takamba to Newport Folk Festival, Pitchfork Music Festival, and, just this past April, to the luxe fields of Indio, California, for Coachella. Off-kilter indie-rock darlings Parquet Courts brought them across the United States in 2022, after which they hit Europe for a run of headline dates.

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How do you capture what is so special about Bill Frisell’s guitar playing in one episode? Is it his melodies, his unique chord voicings, his rhythmic concept, his revolutionary approach to pedals and sounds…? It’s all of that and much more.

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