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Guitar Pedals - Buyer's Guide

Guitar Effects Pedals Buyers Guide
Guitar Effects Pedals Buyers Guide

Guitar Pedals - Buyer's Guide

Guitar effects provide players with a universe of sounds to explore. Here’s our rundown of the best pedals for any budget.

Guitar Effects Pedals

By Michael Hebdon | Published 30.06.20

Effects pedals have become a core element of the modern guitarist’s signature sound. Today’s players have access to more sounds, more freedom, and ultimately more possibilities than ever before.

With so many choices out there, customising your own pedalboard can seem like an overwhelming task.

From modulations, to distortions – and even wah pedals – there truly is an endless list of options for players to shape their sound. Which is why we’re breaking down each effect by type – giving you the best stompboxes for your budget. Ready to build your board?

Distortion/ Overdrive

When you want to kick your sound into fifth gear, distortion and overdrive pedals are the way to go. Overdrive pedals mimic the natural sound of a tube amp pushed to the edge. They should maintain some of the natural dynamics of your playing. Distortion pedals are a more extreme alternative and compress your sound even more.

Here’s our top picks for unleashing those crunching chords and searing-hot solos.

Shop Now | Overdrive Pedals

Shop Now | Distortion Pedals

Shop Now | Fuzz Pedals

Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive

Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive Pedal

Warm, smooth, tube-amp growl comes in the classic, compact design of Boss. Perfect for giving your riffs a little more attitude and dynamics with the sweet tones of the American rock scene.

Shop Now | Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive Pedal

Ibanez TS808 Tube Screamer Overdrive Pro

Ibanez TS808 Tube Screamer Overdrive Pro

Possibly the most iconic overdrive pedal on this list – and for good reason, too. Use it to push your tube amp over the edge, for its own mid-heavy overdrive sound.

The Tube Screamer’s crisp, punching character has been at the forefront of countless artists’ sound across a wide range of genres. Stevie Ray Vaughan, Noel Gallagher, and even John Petrucci are notable users of this versatile pedal. Which is why it’s tipped as the ‘holy grail’ of overdrive pedals.

Shop Now | Ibanez TS808 Tube Screamer Overdrive Pro

Chase Bliss Audio Brothers Analog Gainstage

Chase Bliss Audio Brothers Analog Gainstage

Authentic analog gain comes at a price. But, with the Chase Bliss Gainstage, it’s undoubtedly worth every penny. Boost, drive, and fuzz tones all available from one unit, with 33 (yes, 33!) different routing options to experiment with. Not to mention the intricate tone controls that let you sculpt every nuance of your sound. If you’re searching for the best, the Gainstage dominates the top-tier range.

Shop Now | Chase Bliss Audio Brothers Analog Gainstage

Boost

The boost pedal is made to add that little bit extra, and it has a multitude of uses.

Used in front of an overdriven amp or an overdrive pedal, it’ll give you even more drive. Used in front of a clean amp with plenty of headroom or placed in an effects loop, it’ll boost your overall volume.

A boost can even add its own natural overdrive sound.

Shop Now | Boost Pedals

TC Electronic Spark Booster Mini

TC Electronic Spark Booster Mini

Don’t be fooled by its size. This little tone-engine packs a punch. An all-analog circuit maintains the authentic character of your sound, whilst injecting it with up to 20dB of clean boost for greater impact. The beauty of the Spark Booster lies in its simplicity, with one easy-to-use level control. And its compact size saves space on your board for, well… more pedals!

Shop Now | TC Electronic Spark Booster Mini

Xotic Effects EP Booster

Xotic Effects EP Booster

There’s more to the EP Booster than meets the eye. A similarly compact design to the Spark, Xotic Effects has loaded the EP with 20dB of increased volume and projection to push your amp even harder. But the secret behind EP Booster’s legendary sound is the internal dip switches, transforming the pedal into a tone-shaping machine. The ability to switch between bright harmonics and a darker vintage sound is why icons such as Jimmy Page and Brain May have made this a staple on their pedalboards.

Shop Now | Xotic Effects EP Booster

Fortin Mini Grind Boost

Fortin Mini Grind Boost

Boost doesn’t come as bold as this. If you’re after the most reliable, most authentic boost out there then the Fortin Grind Boost is the way to go. Again, it’s got 20dB of power, but with more detail and definition for each note you play. The icing on the cake is the dedicated footswitch input, which allows you to switch channels at the push of a button for ultimate stage control. This is your entire live sound in its most compact form.

Shop Now | Fortin Mini Grind Boost

Delay

Now we’re talking. Delay pedals are a renowned favourite for guitarists. Whether it’s the luscious melodies of Hendrix, or the shredding solos of Van Halen – it’s likely that your favourite guitarists have used a delay at some point in their life. By repeating an echo of the signal you put in, it creates another dimension during performance with a deeper, more-textured sound. The result? A whole new atmosphere around your playing.

Shop Now | Delay Pedals

SubZero Deep Freeze Delay Micro Guitar Pedal

SubZero Deep Freeze Delay Micro Guitar Pedal

Irresistible delay tones arrive in a pedalboard-friendly housing with the Deep Freeze delay. Complete analog circuitry ensures your sound remains crisp and articulate as it fills the room with its ambient character. You’ll feel the difference the moment you hit the switch.

Shop Now | SubZero Deep Freeze Delay Micro Guitar Pedal

Keeley ECCOS Delay & Looper

Keeley ECCOS Delay & Looper

Supreme sound comes with endless experimentation for this intricate unit. You’ll experience astonishing neo-vintage tones with ultimate control as a result of an all-analog construction and tap-temp functionality. The wide range of controls let you explore the near-endless possibilities, and you can save your favourite sounds in the presets for instant access on stage. And an integrated looper just tops off the superb creative canvas that this pedal delivers to the player.

Shop Now | Keeley ECCOS Delay & Looper

Strymon Volante Magnetic Echo Machine

Strymon Volante Magnetic Echo Machine

This one’s for serious delay lovers. The Volante essentially puts an entire studio on your pedalboard, with more control over your delay effects than you could possibly imagine. Sculpt each of the 4 tape echo heads as you wish, with panning, feedback, and many more intricate details to explore. Integrated loopers, vintage drum sounds, MIDI compatibility – the list goes on. And on. And on.

Shop Now | Strymon Volante Magnetic Echo Machine

Reverb

What’s better than a little reverb? More reverb – and lots of it. This is an effect that’s been around for decades, and is often found on many amplifiers. But the reverb sounds you’ve likely come across merely touch the surface. As there’s countless different types of reverb that enable you to thicken your tone. Similar to delay pedals, you’ll feel an entirely new atmosphere around your playing, but without the delay (obviously). Here’s our favourite choices for one of the most beloved effects out there.

Shop Now | Reverb Pedals

Electro Harmonix Holy Grail Plus Reverb

Electro Harmonix Holy Grail Reverb

Four of the most cherished reverb types, ready for your creative spark. The Holy Grail comes in the iconic EHX design for maximum control and convenience. Along with hall, room, spring, and flerb reverbs for a wide array of sounds to indulge in. Be it a subtle ambience behind your chords, or a huge presence in your solos – the Holy Grail delivers your playing with an entirely fresh soundscape.

Shop Now | Electro Harmonix Holy Grail Plus Reverb

MXR M300 Reverb

MXR M300 Reverb

MXR are legends in the game of pedals. And the M300 reverb epitomises exactly why. What seems like a standard 3-control pedal at first, actually hosts six different reverbs effects – some traditional, and some more exotic. Your classic plate, spring, and room reverbs are included for a more subtle effect. But with reverb types titled ‘Epic’ , you know you’re getting something quite special, too.

Shop Now | MXR M300 Reverb

Source Audio Ventris Dual Reverb Pedal

Source Audio Ventris Dual Reverb Pedal

Two reverbs are better than one. Which is what makes the Ventris an absolute powerhouse of ambient tone. 12 on-board reverb types, with the ability to feed one into another presents one of the most creative and customisable experiences you’ll come across in a stompbox. Stereo functionality enables you to share every detail of your sound with the audience, the way it was intended. And the gigantic processing power in this monstrous unit provides unrivalled articulation and clarity every time you step on stage.

Shop Now | Source Audio Ventris Dual Reverb Pedal

Chorus

The modulation effect everyone can fall in love with. It’s difficult to put your finger on what exactly a chorus pedal does. Technically speaking, it divides your signal into two parts, and slightly detunes and delays one of them to achieve a more harmonically rich sound. But as guitarists know, it does so much more than that. It makes your leads sing, while your rhythm playing resonates in a way like no other. From the gritty solo of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, to the twinkling intro of ‘This Charming Man’ – chorus gifts you with that extra sparkle. And it’s a must-have for the pedalboard of any guitarist.

Shop Now | Chorus Pedals

Looking for flanger, tremolo, phaser? Shop now | Modulation Pedals

Mooer MCH1 Ensemble King Analog Chorus Pedal

Mooer MCH1 Ensemble King Analog Chorus Pedal

If you simply want to add a little colour to your playing, then the Ensemble King is a no-brainer. Elegant, shimmering chorus with an all-analog circuit for additional tonal character. It’s true bypass, too. So you can be sure that every detail of your tone stands out, even when the pedal isn’t activated. And the compact size makes it even easier to take it with you to any venue.

Shop Now | Mooer MCH1 Ensemble King Analog Chorus Pedal

Boss CH-1 Super Chorus Pedal

Boss CH-1 Super Chorus Pedal

This is perhaps one of the most iconic chorus pedals out there. Its simple-yet-effective Boss design makes shaping your sound easy and precise. And the sound is quite frankly beautiful. Anything from a subtle twinkle, to an in-your-face modulated sound – this pedal offers a gigantic scope for use a any genre. There’s even stereo compatibility included, which is extremely rare for a pedal of this size (and price).

Shop Now | Boss CH-1 Super Chorus Pedal

Chase Bliss Audio Warped Vinyl HiFi Analog Vibrato & Chorus

Chase Bliss Audio Warped Vinyl HiFi Analog Vibrato & Chorus

Chase Bliss Audio really know what they’re doing when it comes to high-end pedal construction. And the Warped Vinyl Chorus is certainly no exception. How many controls do you want? Because the Warped Vinyl offers more knobs to shape your chorus effect than you ever knew existed. Because every detail counts. And an unprecedented tone circuit conveys each aspect to the audience in stunning hi-fi quality.

Shop Now | Chase Bliss Audio Warped Vinyl HiFi Analog Vibrato & Chorus

Wah

Every pedalboard needs a wah pedal. How else could you express your screaming solos in performance? It’s without a doubt one of the most fun pedals to you use, since you control it with your foot as you play. This is not only convenient, but it means you can be more creative within a live setting, activating it spontaneously for a unique dynamic in your playing. By sweeping the frequencies as you use it, the pedal can be used rhythmically to achieve a Hendrix-esque ‘quack’. Or, you can sweep it slowly for a greater cresecendo effect. The choice is yours.

Shop Now | Wah Pedals

Vox V845 Wah

Vox V845 Wah

Whilst Vox are predominantly known for their boutique amplifiers, they’ve made a name for themselves in the world of pedals with this classic wah. With a robust, no-nonsense design reminiscent of the iconic CryBaby wah, it’s clear to see where the influence has come from. But trust us, it delivers in its own way. A sleek housing fits snug on the edge of your pedalboard so you can enter the whimsical world of wah in an instant.

Shop Now | Vox V845 Wah

Dunlop GCB95 CryBaby Wah Pedal

Dunlop GCB95 CryBaby Wah Pedal

This is the wah pedal. Hendrix, Kirk Hammett, Clapton – all notable users of this legendary effect. If you’ve heard the intro to ‘Voodoo Child’, or the solo from ‘Enter Sandman’, then you’ve heard a CryBaby in action. And its sound speaks for itself. It’s robust, it’s versatile, and – most importantly- it’s your to control. Need we say anymore?

Shop Now | Dunlop GCB95 CryBaby Wah Pedal

MXR MC404 Custom Audio Electronics Wah Pedal

MXR MC404 Custom Audio Electronics Wah Pedal

This industry-grade wah takes everything we love about the CryBaby, and revolutionises it for a more creative and modern playing experience. Two voices are included, with more high-end or low-end emphasis on each. If you want to set a scope for how much your wah sweeps, the side-mounted knob lets you limit or open up the pedal’s voice. Topped off with a preset boost to make those solos scream, the MC404 is a wah that’s tailored to you.

Shop Now | MXR MC404 Custom Audio Electronics Wah Pedal

Essential Pedalboard Tools

So, you know which pedals will achieve your desired sound. What’s next? Here are some essential tools you need to complete your dream pedalboard.

Shop now | Guitar Pedal Accessories

Pedalboards

Sound obvious, right? But it’s near impossible to travel from venue to venue with 8-10 pedals in your gig bag. It’s just not practical. So you need a board that will not only fit all your pedals on now, but a board that’ll fit all your future pedal purchases on, too. You can tell yourself “I won’t need anymore pedals, I have more than enough” as many times as you like, but we all know the truth. We’re guitarists. And we might as well prepare for those inevitable pedal-cravings before you buy your board.

Shop Now | Pedalboards

Tuners

No amount of cool effects is going to cover up a badly-tuned guitar. So, having a tuner on your board is going to make sure that you sound your best. Always. It may not be as exciting as your intricate dual reverb pedal, but there’s no debating that it’s much more important - no matter how cool your pedals are.

Shop Now | Tuners

Patch Cables

With more pedals comes more cables. And with more cables comes more mess. So why not keep your board looking neat and tidy with a set of road-ready patch cables?

Shop Now | Patch Cables

Power Supplies

Believe it or not, there are guitarists out there that run their entire pedalboard off batteries… I know, right? Not only is this inefficient, but it’s extremely unreliable, too. All it takes is one battery to run out during a gig, and your whole set could be thrown off. So make the smart choice, and ensure you have a power supply hooked up to your pedals.

Shop Now | Power Supplies

Pedalboard Order

The order of your pedals is fundamental to your sound. This effectively dictates how the pedals interact with each other, and the differences are crucial. For example, do you want to delay your distorted signal? Or would you rather distort you delayed signal? However, it’s important to note that there is no ‘right way’ when it comes to pedal order. So, have fun with it!

That said, here is an example of the most generic and widely used pedal order to get you started.

  1. Tuner
  2. Wah
  3. Pitch effects
  4. Boost
  5. Overdrive/distortion
  6. Modulation
  7. Time-based effects (delay -> reverb)

Overview

You’ve made it! That’s our essential pedalboard and stompbox guide, complete. Now that you’re ready to face the wonderful world of guitar effects, why not get explore what it has to offer?

Shop Now | Guitar Pedals

Posted on 30 Jun 2020 12:20 to category : Instruments News

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