What Do Pedals Do For A Guitar – We provide a complete beginner’s guide to guitar effects pedals and note the most essential guitar effects pedals for your board!
If you’re new to the world of guitar effects pedals, it can be a little intimidating. You might be wondering “Which guitar effects pedal do I need?” – Or maybe you bought your son or daughter a new guitar and need to know which guitar pedals to go with.
What Do Pedals Do For A Guitar
Maybe you’ve decided to get really serious about tweaking your sound and need to know where to start – find out what guitar effects pedals do and what different guitar pedals sound like. Either way, we’re here to help with our handy guide to guitar effects pedals, complete with sound examples.
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There are many different types of guitar pedals, so we’re going to cover each type of guitar pedal – from distortion to delay and everything in between – and keep it super simple. We’ll leave out some of the more technical details as this is just a beginner’s guide to guitar effects pedals – but if you think you’re ready for a full guide to putting together a pedalboard, we have a more in-depth blog to read here.
Beginner guitar pedals are still professional pieces of kit, and the pedals featured here are industry-standard machines that anyone can handle.
Without further ado, let’s get down to the most used electric guitar pedals and answer the question, “What pedal should every guitarist have?”!
First we’ll look at the best guitar pedals for beginners and introduce our favorite guitar pedal brands for new guitarists.
Best Bass Effects Pedals 2023
Whether you’re a beginner or looking for great guitar pedals on a budget, we always recommend PMT’s Big Top FX.
This diverse selection of Circus Stomp Boxes gives you studio-quality tones with a simple interface that makes dialing in great sounds easier than ever.
Featuring classic effects units like Fuzz, Distortion, Boost, Flanger and more, you can practice with Ringmaster Looper and drive everything with Big Top Power.
First of all, we have the most used and useful pedal ever created – the Distortion Pedal!
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If you’re wondering “what is a distortion pedal?” – The clue is in the name. It basically takes your signal (from the guitar) and distorts it, adding volume, crunch and sustain to your sound. This effect is often used in the chorus of your favorite songs for a contrasting sound to the natural guitar tone.
A distortion pedal can often be confused with a fuzz or overdrive pedal, but a trained ear can definitely hear the difference. We won’t go into too much depth here, but if you want to know the difference between the three, you can read more about it here on our dedicated blog.
A distortion pedal will change the sound of your guitar and give a different response depending on what guitar you are using.
Below, Duggan shows us one of the most famous distortion pedals, and how it makes our guitar sound more aggressive.
Different Types Of Guitar Effects Pedals
If you’ve already got an amp, chances are it has built-in reverb effects – so you don’t need a pedal.
However, some amps don’t give you the ability to turn it off at will via a foot pedal. A reverb pedal basically gives an echo effect and adds more weight to your guitar. Think of the sound you hear when you walk into a church or cave—a loud, expansive sound that echoes off the walls.
If you want to completely overwhelm your voice with reverb so it sounds like you’re in a big cave, you can turn the reverb all the way up and turn it on when calling for a song. We’ve actually covered some of the best reverb pedals in our Best Reverb Pedals blog, so check back for a list of great options.
We recommend the Electro Harmonix Holy Grail Nano, or theBOSS RV-6 reverb – both industry standard reverb pedals.
Noatronic Lets Players Control Effects Pedals Wirelessly From A Guitar
Wah pedals produce exactly what they are named for – a “wow” sound! If you slowly say to yourself, “Whoah, Whoah, Whoah,” that’s the same sound that the pedal makes.
Imagine a baby crying in slow motion and you get the idea. The wah sound is perhaps best captured in “Foxy Lady” by Jimi Hendrix and is widely used in funk and rock solos for its really cool sonic effect.
The most famous wah pedals are the Jim Dunlop Crybaby wah pedals – but the new Electro Harmonics Wyler wahs are also a wonderful option.
Overdrive pedals are very different from distortion pedals – and without being too technical – they push the guitar signal harder, instead of completely changing the sound like a distortion pedal.
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An overdrive pedal maintains the very original sound of your guitar, but drives the amp to give it a heavier, thicker signal.
Ideal for use with valve/tube amps as they push the tubes to their limits and allow them to exhibit the more natural distortion these amps are known for.
We wrote about the best tube amps for home use here, but if you want great practice amps, we wrote about them here too!
One of the best overdrive pedals ever made is the Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer, closely followed by the BOSS OD-1XorBOSS SD-1. Check out our video below to hear BOSS pedals in action:
What Order Do I Put My Guitar Effect Pedals In?
Slow pedals take your original signal—a chord or guitar note, for example—then play it back exactly as the pedal first heard it. It can play the note once or multiple times, depending on your settings. This is commonly referred to as “response time”.
The main difference is that digital delay pedals offer longer delays and a “cleaner” precision sound, but some guitarists prefer analog effects because of the subtle nuances and unpredictability of tone.
It comes down to personal preference, but both options sound good. Some industry standard delay pedals are the Electro Harmonics Memory Boy guitar delay pedal, the BOSS DD-3 digital delay, the Steinman Timeline delay, and the MXR M169 Carbon Copy analog guitar delay pedal.
Fuzz pedals provide guitarists, bass players, and even keyboard players with a large amount of distortion that sounds very different from normal distortion sounds.
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Fuzzy pedals make your guitar sound like it’s pushing your amp to the point of blowing up. A fuzz pedal changes the sound of the guitar signal to heavy, fizzy and extremely noisy which depending on the pedal you choose, can deliver a heavy bass sound or a “broken” spitting amp.
There are a wide variety of fuzz pedals, but some of the most popular choices are the Electro Harmonics Big Muff Pie, the BOSS FZ-5, and the Dunlop FFM3 Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face Mini Effects Pedal. Check out our Top 5 Best Fat Pedal blog for some great sounding samples.
Boost pedals increase the volume of the signal entering your amplifier. This means you don’t need to use distortion to get the volume up if you want the chorus or lead line to jump out.
A boost pedal boosts the signal without distortion and can be used to fatten up the sound, ‘pushing’ the amp harder and louder – without the added grit of a distortion pedal.
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One of the most famous and respected boost pedals in pedalland is the MXR Micro Amp, like the Blackstar LT Boost Pedal’s Orange Two Stroke Boost EQ.
Chorus pedals actually make your guitar sound like there are different guitarists playing the same thing you’re playing, but with different guitars and a little out of time with you.
This effect makes everything you play a little “sparkly” and thickens your guitar or bass lines. We recommend experimenting with them as you can use them to add weight to your voice or as a full effect to complement your signal.
The most famous chorus pedal has to be the Electro Harmonics Little Clone, as it appeared on Nirvana’s “Come As You Are” and many other famous songs.
Guitar Pedalboard Setup
A phaser pedal is like a chorus in that it thickens your sound but it also adds a sweep effect – almost like the speaker on the amp is moving around or moving up and down.
If you see the speaker moving away from you and back again – you’ll get an idea of what it sounds like. You can change the length of the effect and the speed of movement through the pedal controls.
The MXR Phase 90 is one of the most used phase pedals, made famous by Van Halen, Smashing Pumpkins and more.
A flanger is similar to a phaser pedal, but adds a hissing effect. This effect is more noticeable than the chorus.
Weird Guitar Pedals (for Wild, Creative Effects)
The EQ pedal is designed to allow you to adjust certain parameters of your sound, such as bass, midrange and treble. Used by more experienced guitarists who want to add
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