A guitar is one of the more flexible instruments available in this day and age. It fits in pretty much any genre of music and can lead or provide rhythm for any song. This flexibility can be boosted even further with the use of effects pedals. There are different ways to manipulate your guitar’s signal to get unique sound effects. These can further be improved or layered on by combining it with the controller-specific settings. Some of the essential pedals that are available in the market today are listed below:
The most ‘boring’ effect pedal is the clean boost. All it does is add extra volume between your guitar and the amplifier. This, in turn, changes the reaction the amplifier has to your signal, providing a more aggressive, tighter and louder signal from the amp. If you like the overdriven sound of the original blues, the hyper-aggressive sounds of prog metal like Monuments and Periphery, you need yourself a boost pedal of some variety.
The earliest boost pedals usually came in the form of a treble booster. These pedals tend to emphasize the treble sound of the guitar, and played with more mid-heavy guitars and amps, really help balance everything out. Bryan May from Queen and Eric Clapton both used treble boosters. Different boosters coloraturas your sound more or less. We recommend the Behringer PB100 Preampand the EHX boosters.
Overdrive and Distortion
The royal sound of most blues, rock and soul/funk players. The overdriven guitar created entire genres of music. It’s the distortion of waveforms generated by the guitar that amplifies the number of harmonics created. This makes the guitar sound more and more exciting.
Boosting a clean signal into an amp causes overdrive, then distortion to the signal. Distortion is a much harsher variant of overdrive and clips the signal, making you get a different sound to the overdrive.
The Boss OD-3 is the primary step for overdrive pedals. You can also look at Behringer for the OD300 overdrive pedal, well known and used by many. For a more modern pedal, take a look at the Fulltone OCD Overdrive which is a little stronger in sound.
The classic distortion boxes are the MXR Distortion+, the ProCo RAT and on the super heavy distortion front, which we call a fuzz, the EHX Big Muff pedal. Distortion pedals can sound remarkably different, depending on the diodes used to clip the signal. Try a few out to see which you prefer.
Octave Pedal and Harmonizers
The Octave pedal can trace its lineage back to Jimi Hendrix. It’s a pretty simple effect, but it can fill out your sound for single note part. Think Seven Nation Army, or Joe Satriani’s Super Colossal, to get an idea of the sounds produced by these pedals. The Boss OC-2 is a common Octave pedal, and their Pitch Shifter pedals are all highly reputable.
Reverb is possibly the most important of all effects, especially for a guitar. Many amplifiers have reverbs built into them, usually of the spring variety for older hardware amps. Using pedals for the other styles of reverbs can be a very effective technique.
The best reverbs do multiple styles and have wide ranges for the times and sizes of the reverbs. The masters of reverb pedals are Strymon, and for the budget option, Boss or Roland offer some great pedals if you don’t want to fork out for a Strymon.
Reverb is a sophisticated effect. It can add or detract from any given tone, so definitely experiment with your sound before performing or recording.
The first analogue delay units used small pieces of tape. Back then, the tune would be recorded and played back a few hundred milliseconds after. These were the Space Echo, by Roland and the Echoplex. Mostly used as studio tools now, owing to their expensive, rare and fragile nature, companies like EHX and Boss created analogue delay pedals to copy their sound in a more hard-wearing unit.
One of the more famous of these was the Memory Man.
The Boss DD-3 is a modern take on the analogue delay, using digital technology to get longer delay times, infinite repetitions and filtering between each repetition. While digital delay is flexible, analogue delays have a unique sound that is noticeable on countless records. The main difference between analogue and digital delays is delay time and clarity. TC Electronics and Strymon offer incredible emulations of the analogue delays of yore and are well worth a look.
With a mix of effects, it is possible to replicate and build upon tones from any record you’re familiar with. While there are a few more guitar effects out there, like Wah and Chorus, they are just slight modifications to these main effects. We strongly recommend you try the Behringer TM300 Tube Amplifier Modeller, Behringer EQ700 Graphic Equalizer, and TC Electronic PolyTune 2 Mini Polyphonic Tuning Pedal for some mind-blowing effect controls.
If you are looking for a specific effect, you can probably find it in this guide. Now you know what you are looking for, take a look at our selection of great FX pedals and get experimenting with your pick.
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