A Beginners Guide to Effect Pedals
If you’re looking to experiment with your sound but are unsure where to start, you’ve come to the right place. We have combined some of the most popular and our personal favorite effect pedals together to create A Beginners Guide to Effect Pedals. Keep reading to find out more!
What is an effects pedal?
An effects pedal is an addition guitarists often use to shape and create their own sound to their taste. Guitar effect pedals can improve the tone of your sound, or used to experiment with interesting tonal textures. Effects pedals will assist you in finding your own sound, and giving you that extra oomph you needed.
A distortion pedal is one of the most popular and commonly used effects pedals amongst guitarists. Distortion pedals intentionally clip and distort the waveform of the guitar signal, this effect is distinct and is easily noticeable. Distortion pedals add depth, weight and darkness to your sound, and is usually heard in rock or punk music.
Overdrive pedals often get mistaken for distortion pedals, however are actually very different. Distortion pedals work to distort your sound, whereas overdrive pedals drive/push your guitar signal harder. Overdrive pedals retain most of the original sound of your guitar and amp, but gives that push for a heavier and thicker signal.
A fuzz pedal takes your sound and clips it, to make an almost unrecognizable sound. The fuzz tone is a saturated guitar signal, altering the sound to a plain square wave with amazing sustain. A fuzz pedal uses 2, 3 or more transistors to amplify the signal to a point where it starts to sound distorted, or “fuzzy”.
Delay and echo effects are in the earliest possible rock recordings, in the 50’s when “slap back echo” was a thing. Nowadays, delay pedals offer a wide variety of options for guitarists. Delay pedals can offer you that classic slap back, or extremely long delays (timed with the tempo of the song). A delay is a stomp-box effect, it records and plays back the music fed into it.
Reverb occurs when a sound hits a hard surface, and reflects back to the listener at a variety of amplitudes. A reverb creates a complex echo for the viewer to listen to and apeciate. Reverb pedals simulate and exaggerates natural occurring reverbs. A reverb pedal adds to the drama, atmosphere and ambience of your overall sound.
A wah pedal alters tone and frequencies of the guitar signal to create a distinctive sound. Wah pedals mimick the human voice saying the onomatopoeic name “wah”. Like all pedals, the wah pedal works by changing the tone of your signal, and the sound from bass to more treble as you move your foot on the pedal. Wah pedals are some of the most common stompboxes used today, found in genres like funk, metal and so much more.
A chorus effects pedal does exactly as the name suggests, makes a singular guitar sounds like it is multiple like a chorus. The way a chorus effect pedal works depends on the pedal you use and the guitar you play with. A chorus pedal generally works by thickening your signal by copying it, altering the copied signals, and playing them back delayed.
A tuner guitar pedal is an effects pedal that can help to correctly tune your guitar. The tuner pedal works by plugging your electric guitar into the pedal with an instrument cable. The pedal identifies the signal as a pitch, and displays that pitch on the display on the pedal. This method of tuning is the most reliable and doesn’t involve or rely on any external factors.
The purpose of a volume pedal is to reduce the signal chain and allow the user to do swells and similar effects. A volume swell is a gradual increase, followed by a gradual decrease in volume. Volume pedals offer an effect far more subtle than others, and their purpose is often overlooked. If your playing style means you change the volume 2-3 times during a performance a volume pedal may be a great fit for your pedalboard.