5 Ways to Make an Electric Guitar Sound Like a Bass

If you want to get the sound of a bass guitar, but you only have an elected guitar, then it might seem a bit of a challenge. But there are actually several ways to get your electric guitar to sound like a bass, and some of them are completely free. Here’s how to do it. 


The easiest way to make an electric guitar sound like a bass guitar is to use an octave effects pedal. Other quick ways of making the tone sound more like a bass include using the neck pickup, lowering the tone control on the guitar and using higher gauge strings.  


How to Make an Electric Guitar Sound Like a Bass 

  • Get an octave effects pedal
  • Change amp settings 
  • Use the neck pickup 
  • Turn your tone control down 
  • Use thicker strings

Differences Between Electric and Bass Guitars

Before I jump into the main ways to make your electric guitar sound more like a bass, it’s best to get clued up on the differences between the two instruments. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Bass guitars have 4 strings tuned to E-A-D-G and electric guitars have two extra strings tuned to E-A=D-G-B-E.
  • The bass guitar is tuned an octave lower than a standard electric guitar.
  • Bass guitars have thicker strings than electric guitars.
  • Bass guitars have a longer scale length than normal electric guitars.

1. Use an Octave Pedal

The most important thing you need to do if you want to make your electric guitar sound like a bass, is invest in an octave pedal. As I mentioned earlier, bass guitar strings are tuned an octave lower than electric guitar strings.

It’s not possible to just tune your strings down either as they will be far too slack to play with. So your best option, is to get an octave pedal to make your guitar sound like it’s tuned an octave lower. Here are a few options of octave pedals to take a look at.

Behringer Ultra Octaver UO300

If you’re on a tight budget, then this is a great option. It’ll give you the important effect of lowering your tone by an octave and has a rugged design. You get a volume control built-in and the pedal runs off both a power supply or a 9V battery. Check out the Behringer UO300 on Guitar Center. 

TC Electronic Nether Octaver Effects Pedal

If you’re looking for something a bit higher quality, but still without spending over $50, then check out the TC Electronic Nether Octaver. You get similar features to the Behringer UO300 but with an additional tone control to further dial in your sound. 

Boss OC-30 Super Octave Pedal

This is one of the best value for money octave pedals on the market. It’s a Boss pedal, so you know you’re getting great quality sound and a super durable design. It comes with  a drive mode to add distortion, and volume controls. It’s versatile and great quality. Check out the Boss OC-3 on Guitar Center. 

2. Change your Amp Settings

The next best way to make your electric guitar sound like a bass, is to change your amp settings. The best thing about this way is that it’s completely free! So how do you go about changing your settings?
The main settings you need to alter, are you bass, mids and treble. These are sometimes grouped into an equaliser (EQ) setting. Here’s what each setting does:
  • Bass: the refers to the amount of low frequency sound you hear.
  • Mids: this refers to the amount of mid-range frequency you’ll hear. If you turn this down, your tone will sound thinner. 
  • Treble: this refers to the amount of high frequency sound you’ll hear. The higher the treble, the sharper the sound. 
In order to make your electric guitar sound like a bass guitar you need to turn your bass up and treble and mids down. 
But it’s not quite as simple as that. If you completely lower the mids, the sound will be very thin. And if you get rid of the treble, the sound will be super muddy. 
I recomend the following settings to start with, but have a play around and see what best suits your amp and guitar. 
  • Bass: 9 
  • Mids: 3 
  • Treble: 2 

3. Use the Neck Pickup

Another way to make your electric guitar sound more like a bass, is to switch to the neck pickup. Most guitars have at least two pickups, one in the neck position and one in the bridge. Some have one in the centre too. 
The position of the pickup greatly affects the kind of sound produced. Here’s a quick rundown: 
  • Neck pickup: the tone is warmer and more mellow as it favours bass frequencies. Usually it’s used for rhythm guitar.
  • Bridge pickup: the tone is brighter and sharper as it favours treble frequencies so is normally used for lead guitar. 
Using the neck pickup allows you to emphasise these warmer bass tones compared to the bridge pickup. 

4. Turn your Guitar's Tone Control Down

Another really easy thing you can do to make your electric guitar sound more like a bass, is roll back your tone control. 
This has a similar effect to switching to the neck pickup. When you turn the tone control down, it takes some of the treble frequencies down so it sounds less like an electric guitar, and favours more of the bass frequencies. 

You may have to turn the amp volume up to compensate for this though, as turning the tone down can make it sound a bit quieter. 

Another thing you can do which has a similar effect, is turning down your volume control on your guitar. This can again reduce the treble and make it sound more mellow and rounded. You’ll have to turn your amp volume up though to compensate for this decrease in volume.

Have a play about with your guitar controls and see what sounds best. You want to reduce the treble but without creating a completely muddy tone. 

5. Use Thicker Strings

Finally, another way to sound more like you’re playing a bass, is to switch to thicker guitar strings. This is a more complicated option than the previous methods, and means your electric guitar tone will dramatically change which isn’t ideal if you need the versatility to fast both classic electric guitar tones, and bass tones too. 
Unless your strings are particularly thin, this won’t make a dramatic difference. But if you’re using a 0.009 gauge set or below then it could be something worth considering. You can maybe up your strings to a 0.010-0.012 gauge, but keep in mind that they’ll change your tone drastically and you can’t change it back until you swap the strings again. Check out this post on the 4 ways a guitar’s strings affect the sound to learn more.  
Be conscious though that you can’t just switch to thicker strings and expect everything to work properly. You’ll need to make adjustments and reset up your guitar again. 


So there you go! That’s how to make an electric guitar sound like a bass guitar! I hope you’ve found this article helpful, thanks for reading. Here are some other posts you might find useful:


Hey, I'm Heather. I started playing an electric guitar when I was given a Squier Strat for my birthday around 15 years ago. I now own an acoustic guitar and several electric guitars including my personal favourite, a PRS SE Custom 24.

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