Hear that sound during a guitar solo? Whether it's sustained, distorted, or has a wah-wah tonality, chances are it comes from a guitar pedal.
Pedals, also called effects pedals, have been around for nearly as long as electric guitars have existed. Their initial introduction was practical, helping jazz and big-band players sustain notes and compete with brass and wind instruments. Although other types of effects exist, guitar pedals distort and alter the wavelengths, so that a different sound comes out of the amplifier.
Much like how piano and organ players control a series of pedals with their feet, guitarists employ a similar action when playing live or recording in the studio. Due to the size, many players, in fact, use their legs in addition, hence why a pedal is occasionally called a "stomp box."
Types of Guitar Pedals and Effects
Hundreds of effects and guitar pedal types exist. However, they're grouped by what they do to a signal: boost or distort, modulate, echo and delay, and filter or model.
Due to the technique and sonic qualities, beginners are usually steered away from pedals initially. However, even intermediate students listening to a recording wonder how their favorite guitarists create particular sounds. This foundation often serves as an introduction to what guitar pedals are and what they're capable of doing.
Among the more common varieties:
- Distortion: A distortion pedal is one of the most widely used, and for good reason. It's versatile, makes a significant impact immediately and is commonly heard throughout rock music. On a general level, this guitar pedal ups the volume, helps you sustain a note and gives your instrument's sound some color.
- Reverb: Because some amplifiers already have a reverb effect, this guitar pedal isn't the most essential. Whatever the method, a reverb pedal expands the sound while also adding an echo.
- Wah: The most onomatopoeic pedal out there, this effect is responsible for the wah-wah tones you hear in many classic rock songs.
- Delay: This pedal's mechanism delays what you play for a predefined period, so that you hear the notes or chords after you've strummed the strings. Pedals may also have a repeating aspect.
- Overdrive: This signal-distorting pedal pushes the soundwaves harder, which results in a heavier sound with a bit of distortion.
- Fuzz: Another distortion option, a fuzz pedal gives the sound coming out of your amp a heavy, if not slightly harsh, and crackling quality that often enhances the bass notes.
- Boost: As it sounds, this pedal enhances the strength of your electric guitar's signal passing into the amplifier but does not distort it.
- Chorus: You can dub yourself in the studio - or you can attempt to use the chorus pedal, which makes it sound like multiple guitarists are playing the same chords with you.
- Flanger: Flanger pedals also enhance the sound but additionally cause the pitch to rise and fall, almost like a slow vibrato.
- Phaser: While a phaser also doubles your sound, it also gives it a wave-like, oscillating distortion effect.
- EQ: An advanced guitar pedal, the EQ ultimately adds a mixing quality, giving you a greater degree of control over bass to treble frequencies.
- Looper: Both a practice tool and for playing live, the looper pedal basically acts as playback, repeating the same progression over and over until you release your foot.
- Compressor: Sometimes, you want to create a more intense, almost monotone effect. Rather than having the pitch naturally fade, the compressor pedal helps sustain each note at the same volume.
- Tremolo: Adding more of a dynamic effect, tremolo pedals ultimately cut the volume out partially and then bring it back up.
- Volume: This pedal also adds a bit of a crescendo to your sound but places it toward the front of the note.
- Tuning: Although you can mess around with the pegs, this pedal makes the process more efficient and even helps you reach alterative tuning if the song requires it.
Find a Wide Range of Guitar Pedals
Whether you're just getting into effects or you know exactly how you want your instrument to sound, browse all common types of guitar pedals at Alamo Music Center from Fender, Boss, MXR and more brands. We offer no-interest, 48-month financing and extended warranties for your purchase.