One of the best ways to add color and style to your electric guitar sound is to experiment with guitar effects pedals. Effects pedals are a relatively inexpensive way to add a new dimension to your playing, and they can be a lot of fun, too. These days, stomp boxes (as they're sometimes called) are enjoying a bit of resurgence with many smaller, boutique companies creating vintage style effects pedals of all types. This article will highlight the main types of effects pedals and introduce you to some of the coolest pedals available today.
The Most Common Guitar Effects Pedals
While guitar effects pedals might seem to come in infinite varieties, there are a few basic types of sound modulation that most pedals employ. The most common types are distortion, delay, flanger and phase.
The first effects pedal most people buy is a distortion pedal, and because of the incredible popularity of this effect, there are countless distortion pedals on the market. Here is a small sample of some of the coolest ones.
- Ibanez TS808 Tube Screamer Reissue - The TS808 is one of the standard bearers of distortion pedals. This reissued model uses the same circuitry found in the original, highly sought after pedals. The TS808's most appealing trait is its warmth. Don't buy a distortion pedal without giving this one a try.
- Fuzz Face - The Dunlap Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face is another classic, cornerstone effects pedal. Made popular by none other than Jimi Hendrix, this pedal produces that classic 1960s fuzz sound that never gets old. Plus, it looks incredibly cool.
- Rat - The slogan for this classic pedal is Stomp on a Rat! If you want that wall of sound, larger-than-life distortion that still has a great, warm tone, try out a Rat.
There are nearly as many delay pedals as there are distortion pedals these days. Here are some of the best ones.
- Boss DD3 - The Boss DD3 is the classic, clean, no-nonsense delay pedal. With plenty of configuration options and Boss' famous reliability, this is an excellent option that will handle all your delay needs.
- Hughes & Kettner Replex Delay - This pedal is a serious piece of equipment. It replicates the sound of the vintage echoplex tape delay systems that sounded incredible, but were incredibly temperamental and hard to maintain. If you love Andy Summers' sound on The Police albums, this pedal will help you get it.
- MXR Flanger - This classic pedal gives you the wild, sweeping, modulated flanger sound. Think early Van Halen (particularly the opening riff of Unchained) if you want to remember how cool a flanger can sound.
- Moogerfooger - Designed by Bob Moog, the inventor of the Moog keyboard, the Moogerfooger is an incredibly versatile and unique flanger that is guaranteed to blow your mind.
- Small Stone - The Russian made Small Stone has a massive phaser sound that can range from wide and sweeping to a narrow vibrato. Stylistically, the pedal looks and feels like a Soviet tank. This one's a classic.
- MXR Phase 90 - The MXR Phase 90 is simplicity in orange. This one has one knob, and that's all it needs. Another classic you should definitely listen to before you decide to buy another phase pedal.
Plug In and Play
The best thing about guitar effects pedals is that there are limitless combinations of sounds you can create by combining pedals. Turn on your phaser and your delay at the same time, or just use the flanger and the distortion pedals together. The more you play around, the more magical accidents you will stumble across. Make sure you have plenty of 9-volt batteries on hand, and have fun!