For guitarists who are looking for new sounds, beyond the limits of their guitar’s six strings, effects pedals offer an endless range of possibilities. Studio engineers created the first guitar “effects” in the 1940s by manipulating reel-to-reel tapes. Later, bulky stand-alone effects units were used.
Effects first moved outside the studio when they were built into amps in the late 1940s. Then, with the invention of electronic transistors, came the first effects pedal (or stompbox)—the 1962 Maestro Fuzz Tone pedal. It can be heard in the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”
Effects pedals now produce an almost limitless palette of sounds. For example, a fuzz box boosts a guitar’s signal high enough to cut off or clip the highest frequencies, resulting in a grittier tone. Overdrive pedals provide a distorted sound, filled with “crunch” to add additional texture. Wah-wah pedals fluctuate tone to imitate the sound of mutes inserted into and removed from brass instruments. Reverb pedals produce an echo sound and can emulate sound produced in a large church, stadium, or hall.
Multiple pedals can be arranged in a chain, with reverb as the last step before the amplifier and a wah-wah pedal as the first one plugged into the guitar. Other pedals with individual effects, such as delay, compression, and modulation, can be employed in this chain, though some guitarists prefer a multi-effect pedal that can control several preprogrammed sounds.
Whether through a series of pedals or an all-in-one model, effects pedals give musicians tools to customize their sound, making it scream, cry, melt, or echo. Recordings by big-name artists are simply a guide; the real pioneers today are often recreational musicians who combine their own creativity with technology to make their own distinctive sound.
Pedals are an intermediate step between guitar and amplifier, interrupting or changing the electronic signal produced by a guitar’s pickups. Today, effects pedals are smaller than ever with advances in technology and smaller electronics. Mini and micro pedals like the ones detailed here, allow musicians to squeeze more options into a limited space.
The Bonetender from Lovepedal is a germanium voiced, Mark II style fuzz box inspired by the British sound of the ’60s and riffs from the likes of Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, and Mick Ronson. It features external gain and level control, 9VDC input, true bypass LED status, in a 3.625 by 1.5-inch aluminum case.
Try this:?www.lovepedal.com?SRP: $159
The Z.Vex Fuzzolo has a rich subby texture, aggressive midrange, and plenty of volume. It features volume and pulse width control knobs, 9VDC input, and is switchable for passive or active pickups in a 3.5 by 1.5-inch aluminum design.
Try this:?www.zvex.com?SRP: $129
Godlyke’s TWA Fly Boys mini FB-03 Echo pedal provides 600 milliseconds of gorgeous, transparent delay time and clean, clear tone, perfect for slapback and rhythmic doubling effects or for adding depth to solos. Its lightweight, aluminum chassis measures 3.75 by 1.5 inches.
Try this:?www.godlyke.com?SRP: $79
The Electro-Harmonix Soul Food is designed to fatten guitar tone in all the right places. Uses range from clean boost all the way to heavy amp saturation, without adding coloration and compromising tone. It’s built into a small 4.3 by 2-inch case.
Try this www.ehx.com SRP: $83