Guitar Pedal Guide for Beginners (Effect Types & Tips)

It’s virtually impossible to wrap your head around all the different tones that have been created since the invention of the electric guitar almost 100 years ago. Have you ever wondered why that is? 

After all, a guitar only has six strings. How many different tones can a guitar really produce? 

Thanks to guitar effects pedals, there’s practically an unlimited amount of tones guitarists have access to. There are tons of different kinds of guitar pedals, and they all affect your sound in different ways. 

Strap in because today we’re going through a crash course of guitar effects and how they work in our guitar pedal guide. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, we’ll cover everything you need to know in our comprehensive guide. 

guitar pedal guide

Guitar Effects Pedals Explained

Before we dive into the more advanced concepts, let’s cover the basics you’ll need to know as far as what guitar pedals are and why they’re necessary in our guide to guitar pedals. 

What Is A Guitar Pedal?

Guitar effects pedals are devices that alter the sounds of your guitar’s tone. 

Guitarists plug into a pedal through an instrument cable, and they can control the effect parameters with a series of knobs and switches. Inside the pedal, complex circuitry is used to apply the effect to your tone, which is then sent out from the pedal to your amplifier using another instrument cable. 

Are Guitar Effects Necessary?

The short answer is no, but this wouldn’t be much of a guide to guitar pedals if we left it there. All you need to play the guitar is the guitar itself. But, the guitar is a lot like cooking. Without any seasoning, your cooking is bound to be bland and uninspired. 

Guitar effects are like seasoning in this regard, and guitarists use them to add interest and sonic appeal to their playing. While you may not need every pedal for electric guitars below, there are bound to be a few essential guitar pedals you’ll want to add. 

Types of Guitar Pedals

There’s a seemingly endless array of different guitar effects on the market. Below, we’ll cover the different types of effects pedals.

Distortion Pedals

Distortion pedals are among the most widely used effects in the business. As the name entails, a distortion pedal takes your signal and distorts it, adding crunch, gain, and sustain to your natural tone. Distortion pedals usually offer a few different parameters that can alter the pedal’s sound, such as gain, tone, and sustain.

Guitarists often use distortion effects pedals to add sonic interest to a song section, such as the chorus. Distortion pedals suit more aggressive music styles, such as hard rock and metal. With more aggressive types of music, it’s common for distortion pedals to be used throughout entire songs. 

Practically every famous rock guitarist since the 70s has used distortion pedals to craft their sound. Players like Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine are renowned for their work with distortion effects. Modern guitarists like Mischa Mansoor of Periphery have also used distortion pedals to craft their sound. 

Overdrive Pedals

The overdrive pedal is similar to distortion, with one key difference. Unlike a distortion pedal, which takes your original guitar tone and distorts it, an overdrive pedal takes your original sound and pushes it to the max. This effect makes your guitar sound distorted or like it’s being driven to the max while still maintaining some of your amp’s original tonal character. 

You can use an overdrive pedal similarly to a distortion pedal, but it’s considerably more versatile. This guitar pedal can be used to create a more distorted sound for specific passages. You can also use overdrive to add sustain to lead guitar playing or add an extra “push” to an already distorted guitar sound. 

An overdrive pedal is perhaps the most popular guitar effect pedal, and you’ll find overdrives on the pedalboards of every type of guitar player. Whether you play country or blues, rock or metal, you’ll want to add an overdrive to your setup. While there are many great overdrives available, none have stood the test of time, like the Ibanez Tube Screamer, which has been a pedalboard staple for the last four decades. 

Curious to hear the sound of an overdrive pedal at work? Listen to the solos from Dimebag Darrell of Pantera or Zakk Wylde of Ozzy Osbourne and Black Label Society. Some of the most famous riffs from Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin also make liberal use of the overdrive pedal.  If you want to sound like these guys, you’ll need a quality overdrive. 

Fuzz Pedals

Fuzz is another effect that comes from the same family as distortion and overdrive. In its most simple terms, the fuzz effect is essentially distortion on steroids. This effect gives the sonic impression that your amplifier is pushed to the point where it’s about to explode. It’s the musical equivalent of tearing apart two strips of velcro. 

A fuzz pedal takes your signal and applies hard square wave clipping to it. The resulting sound has extreme distortion, and it sounds as if you’ve covered your tone in a thick layer of fuzz, which is where the pedal gets its namesake from. 

Fuzz guitar pedals offer a few parameters, such as distortion and sustain, so you can control the sound. However, there’s only so much control you have over a fuzz pedal. These things have a mind of their own, which is what makes them so attractive. A proper fuzz pedal will make your guitar sound like it’s about to catch fire.  

Fuzz is a specialty effect, and most guitarists rarely use it. But, when you hear it, you know that it’s fuzz. Fuzz was especially popular with post-grunge bands like The Stooges and Queens of the Stone Age, who were both notorious for pushing their Big Muff pedals to the max. Perhaps the fuzz effect’s most famous application can be heard on the iconic riff of the Rolling Stones’ classic tune, Satisfaction. 

These days, there’s no shortage of fuzz pedals on the market. Like the Dunlop Fuzz Face or Electro Harmonix Big Muff, some of the most classic designs will always be the most iconic and storied fuzz guitar pedals on the market. 

Boost Pedals

A boost pedal is a final member in the distortion/overdrive/fuzz family of guitar pedals. These boost pedals are typically simple in design, and they’re usually more affordable than distortion or overdrive pedals. A boost pedal acts as an additional amplification stage between your guitar and amplifier. 

As the name entails, a boost pedal will take your signal and boost it, which adds thickness and saturation to your sound without affecting your tonal character as significantly as distortion, overdrive, or fuzz would. Boost is often layered with other gain effects to add additional character to your sound. You can also use boost to add some extra volume to your sound during solos and lead sections. 

Boost pedals are more of a utility than an effect, so they don’t carry the fame that other guitar effects pedals do. Rest assured, boost is one of the most popular guitar effects pedals on the market, and top lead guitarists rely on them to take their solos and leads to the next level. 

Delay Pedals

Delay pedals belong to the family of time-based effects, along with reverb. Delay pedals take what you’re playing on guitar and play it back on a delay. Depending on the delay pedal settings, you can delay the original passage by a matter of milliseconds or by several seconds. 

The delay pedal is one of the most versatile guitar pedals on the market. It can achieve various sounds depending on how you set the parameters and the circuitry inside the pedal. 

Digital delay pedals can achieve longer delay times, and they provide the purest reproduction of your original playing. Meanwhile, an analog delay pedal typically offers less delay time, but they have a warm tonal character that’s prized by vintage tone enthusiasts.

As one of the most popular effects worldwide, there’s no shortage of iconic examples of delay being used. The Edge of U2 has famously leveraged the delay effect on some of the band’s most significant records, including “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and “Pride (In The Name Of Love).” Van Halen notoriously leverages the delay effect on the classic tune “Cathedral” as well. 

Delay pedals are often layered with other time and modulation effects like reverb, chorus, or flanger to achieve a wide range of far-out tones. Lead guitarists will use a delay set at a few hundred milliseconds to add a soaring character to their fretwork. Coupled with some overdrive, it’s challenging to achieve a more iconic lead guitar tone. 

Reverb Pedals

Reverb is one of the first guitar effects to exist, and it’s a time-based effect that’s somewhat similar to delay. 

Reverb is a naturally occurring effect that changes its character depending on the room you’re playing in. Large rooms with lots of hard surfaces provide a colossal reverb sound, while studio environments and small rooms with soft wall coverings provide almost no reverb. 

Reverb effects give the impression that you’re playing guitar inside of a large room that reverberates heavily. Depending on the pedal’s parameters and the type of reverb the pedal makes, the effect may be subtle or wildly exaggerated. 

There’s also a broad range of different reverb effects designed to mimic the sound of individual rooms. Plate and spring reverb are the most popular, but other styles produce different tones. 

To revert to the seasoning analogy above, reverb is like the salt of the pedal world. You can use a lot or a little to improve the overall tonal character of your sound. Reverb is used across all musical styles and genres, especially blues, country, rock, and alternative. 

Since a reverb pedal is such a ubiquitous effect, practically every guitarist uses it in their playing. Famous reverb pedal examples on records include Led Zeppelin’s iconic “When the Levee Breaks” and Phil Collins’ smash hit “In the Air Tonight.” 

Looper Pedals

A looper pedal is one of the most exciting effects on the market, and it can turn you from a humble guitarist into a one-man-band. Looper pedals are more of a tool than an effect, as they don’t affect your original tone. A looper takes what you’re playing and records it before playing it back for you in a loop. 

A looper pedal allows players to record a particular riff, chord progression, or part of a song with their guitar and loop it over itself like a backing track. A looper pedal is an excellent tool for new guitarists who are honing their chops, as well as singer/songwriters who need to beef up their productions when they’re playing out.

Most looper pedals provide multiple tracks you can loop over. Players step on the pedal to begin recording a passage and step on it once more to complete the recording when they’ve played through the part. Continuing to step on the pedal allows the guitarist to add new tracks on top of the loop they recorded. 

If you’re looking for a famous example of loop pedals, look no further than Ed Sheeran’s recent hit “Shape of You,” which notoriously leverages his custom-build Chewie Loop Station to loop the main riff of the song. 

Chorus Pedals

Chorus pedals belong to the family of modulation effects, and they’re one of the most popular and widely featured guitar effects. 

Chorus works by taking your original signal and duplicating it multiple times. The duplication is played back, offset slightly from your original signal. The resulting tone sounds like a wall of guitarists all playing the same passage

Chorus pedals usually have several parameters that allow you to make changes to the application of the effect. Standard controls affect how present the effect is compared to your original signal and the modulation rate and depth. 

Slight chorus effects add to the thickness and depth of your tone, while a more dramatic effect provides a distinctive “warble” tone that’s graced some of the most famous rock records of the last four decades. 

Many guitarists rely on a chorus pedal for their signature tone, but perhaps no one applied it more famously than Kurt Cobain on Nirvana’s hit “Come As You Are.” Kurt plugged into the iconic Electro Harmonix Small Clone chorus pedal to deliver the song’s distinctive main riff. It’s also been used by Slash on Guns ‘N Roses hit “Paradise City” and Prince’s “Purple Rain.” 

Phaser Pedals

The phaser pedal falls under the umbrella of modulation effects along with chorus. All modulation effects work on the same premise and apply that premise in different ways to achieve various tones. 

Like chorus, a phaser pedal takes your original guitar signal and duplicates it. The duplications pass through several all-pass filters where the phasing is adjusted slightly. A low-frequency oscillator is then applied, and it modulates the delay time between the original and the copies. 

The resulting effect sounds like it’s almost as if the amplifier is being moved further away and then closer to you, which is the sound of the audio signal’s phase being modulated. 

Phaser provides a distinct sound that falls in and out of favor with guitarists every generation or so. In the 80s, phaser tones were everywhere, and you can hear them on recordings like “Eruption” by Van Halen and Randy Rhode’s solo on Ozzy’s “Bark at the Moon,” which both make liberal use of the iconic MXR Phase 90 pedal. Years later, the phaser reappeared on Incubus’ hit “Clean.” If the pattern continues, the phaser is due for a renaissance in the coming years.

Flanger Pedals

Flanger falls into the same category as chorus and phaser, but this effect uses modulation differently, which captures a decidedly different tone. In a way, the flanger effect is the application of both a chorus and a phaser effect, and the resulting tone provides a unique “whooshing” effect that guitarists love. 

A flanger duplicates your original guitar signal and plays it back at a slight delay and slightly out of phase. Engineers first unlocked the flanger effect by manipulating tape reels slightly with their fingers and recording the output onto another tape machine. The slight delay and phase shift was the origin of the iconic flanger pedal. 

A great example of the flanger effect is the main riff of Heart’s hit “Barracuda.” Guitarists most often add flanger to add some sonic interest to bridge sections, and you can hear these applications on hits like The Doobie Brothers “Listen to the Music” and also the bridge of the Eagles’ classic, “Life in the Fast Lane.” 

Pitch Shifter Pedals

Pitch shifting guitar pedals are one of the most unique and recognizable guitar effects, and you can use them to produce some genuinely far-out tones. 

Pitch shifters take your original signal and dramatically change the pitch either upwards or downwards. Some guitar pedals output the shifted pitch, while others blend the shifted pitch with the original signal, producing some wild sounds. 

Pitch shifters come in a variety of types, and they affect your sound in different ways. When guitarists speak of pitch shifters, they’re most likely talking about a unit similar to a DigiTech Whammy Wah, which features an expression pedal that allows the player to control the shift in pitch with their foot in real-time. 

Pitch shifting is a specialty effect that doesn’t have many applications in music. Still, some guitarists have leveraged the pitch shifter to create their signature playing style. Tom Morello instantly comes to mind when discussing pitch shifters, as his work with these pedals has put them on the map. 

You can hear examples of this strange and exciting effect on Audioslave’s “Like a Stone” and Rage Against the Machine’s “Know Your Enemy.” Both examples make use of the Digitech Whammy Wah to achieve the wildly pitch shifted tones. 

Tremolo Pedals

Tremolo is one of the first guitar effects ever, and it was so popular in the 1950s that they often built it into guitar amplifiers, which was a significant selling point at the time. Tremolo works by affecting the volume of the output signal coming from your guitar. 

You can imitate the tremolo effect’s sound by rapidly turning your guitar’s volume off and on. Depending on the effect parameters, you can change how dramatic the drop in volume is and how quiet the volume is at its lowest point. Regardless of how it’s applied, tremolo is a decidedly vintage effect that adds a classic character to your playing.

For great opportunities to hear what the tremolo effect sounds like, you’ll probably need to dig through your old record crates. Two of the best examples of tremolo are the Rolling Stones hit “Gimme Shelter” and the main riff from Creedence Clearwater Revival’s swamp-rock anthem “Born on the Bayou.” 

Octave Pedals

Octave pedals are similar in design to pitch shifters. In fact, an octave pedal is a type of pitch shifter. Unlike a pitch shifter, which can shift your original notes to any pitch, octave pedals can only move your original notes up or down an octave. If you’re unfamiliar, an octave is the same pitch as the original note but at a higher or lower frequency. 

This guitar pedal takes your original signal and doubles or triples it. When it’s engaged, the pedal plays the original note, as well as one or more octaves, depending on the settings on the pedal. 

Adding a lower octave to your playing provides added body and low end while upper octaves offer a robot or alien-like quality. Upper and lower octaves can be blended to make you sound like multiple guitarists at once. 

The octave effect is a favorite among guitarists and bassists alike, and while they use it sparingly in popular music, there are a few great examples of octavers at work. Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine uses an octaver to a significant effect on “Calm Like A Bomb,” and Mike Einzinger of Incubus leverages one for the iconic riff of Incubus’ “Nice To Know You.” 

EQ Pedals

EQ pedals (equalizer pedals) are a useful utility for any guitarist to add to their pedalboard. They’re an ideal way for tone freaks to dial in the perfect tone on their amp, especially if the amp offers limited controls. 

An EQ pedal provides multiple frequency equalization bands so that guitarists can sculpt their tone to their liking with EQ controls that far exceed what’s available on an amp. 

Equalizer pedals typically provide five, seven, or nine bands of equalization to play with. Most guitarists will dial in an EQ setting and leave the pedal running at all times, while others will apply the pedal in their signal chain during choruses for an added sonic boost. 

EQ is also quite useful during solos, as you can boost specific frequencies to help your guitar cut through the mix. 

Top guitarists widely use equalizer pedals, but since they don’t affect your tone beyond allowing you to sculpt frequencies, there aren’t clear examples of EQ stompboxes at work. Whenever you listen to your favorite guitar player, there’s a good chance they’re using an EQ pedal to tailor their signature guitar tone. 

Compressor Pedals

Compressor pedals fall under the same sonic category as equalization pedals, and they do precisely what the name entails. A compressor takes your original signal and compresses it to eliminate the peaks and troughs which are characteristic of soundwaves. The resulting guitar tones sound like they are tighter and more responsive.

Compressors lend themselves exceptionally well to heavier styles like hard rock and metal, but perhaps the best application for this pedal is during funky riffs and licks reminiscent of the 70s and 80s sound of pop and rock. Since a compressor amplifies softer sounds while reducing loud ones to provide one consistent volume, they aren’t well-suited to nuanced styles like jazz or blues. 

Compression is applied almost universally in music. When a guitarist records their tracks, they’re almost certainly running through a compressor during mixing. Pedal compressors are ideal for guitarists looking to reproduce studio-quality tones in their live playing. If you play hard rock, metal, or funk, a compressor is a smart choice to add to your pedal board.

Wah Pedals

The wah pedal is arguably the most memorable guitar effect globally, and the wah is responsible for some of the most iconic songs in rock music. 

Musicians like trumpet or trombone players were using hats and plungers for years to create wah-wah tones, but guitarists could perfect this effect when it was moved to the floor, where it exists as an effect pedal. 

Wah pedals are very similar to the tone knob on an electric guitar. When it’s rolled to zero, the electric guitar’s tone is exceptionally bass-heavy with almost no high frequencies. When the tone knob is at its maximum, it allows bass and treble frequencies to come through. A wah pedal functions on this same premise. The guitarist can control the potentiometer’s motion inside the pedal with their foot instead of their hand.

The wah wah pedal can be used in many different ways. It adds sonic interest to solos and lead playing, and it’s one of the signature sounds of funk. Seemingly every generation, a new guitar player comes along and redefines what the wah-wah is capable of. 

If you’re looking for excellent examples of the wah wah pedal, look no further than Jimi Hendrix’s revolutionary single “Voodoo Chile,” which uses the original Jim Dunlop wah pedal to deliver the signature lick. 

The wah wah also brings the main riff of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” to life, and it’s been employed by some of rock and metals most iconic shredders, including Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Zakk Wylde, and many more. 

Volume Pedals

A humble utility with tons of different applications in every music genre, a volume effect is a useful add-on to any guitarists’ pedalboard. 

A volume pedal functions like a wah wah in the sense that it features a rocker pedal that’s controlled by the player’s foot. Instead of serving as an additional tone knob, it works like a volume control, allowing players to adjust their playing volume in real-time using their foot. 

This guitar pedal can be used to adjust the overall volume of your playing, or you can use them to create a “swell” effect where your playing fades in and out of the mix. Many players will often keep their volume effect in position to provide about 80% of their total volume so they can push the pedal into its fully-down position to give a volume boost for solos and lead sections.

Since a volume effect is more of a utility, it’s challenging to identify on recordings. You’ll hear the volume effect on tons of songs from the iconic guitarist Jeff Beck, as well as on Steve Vai’s “Whispering a Prayer” and the Van Halen classic “Cathedral.” 

Acoustic Simulator Guitar Pedals

Acoustic simulators are among the most interesting types of pedals, and they do precisely what their name entails; they make your electric guitars sound like an acoustic. Acoustic simulators use digital signal processing to take your original input signal and apply filters and equalization to mimic an acoustic sound with an electric guitar. 

Singer/songwriters and cover bands most often employ acoustic simulators to provide the acoustic guitar sound when they need it in a song. It’s easy to reach for an acoustic in the studio and add it to the verses or bridge section of a song. Since this isn’t possible when playing live, an acoustic simulator can step in and do the job for the electric guitars. You’re able to mimic the acoustic tones you need without having to change your electric guitars. 

A quality acoustic simulator can accurately model an acoustic guitar, but its application is almost exclusive to live music. You won’t hear acoustic simulators on many recordings since a genuine acoustic guitar will always sound better than electric guitars run through a simulator pedal. 

Noise Gate Pedals

Anyone who has ever played through a high-gain amplifier can quickly realize that there’s an awful lot of unwanted noise and feedback to contend with. 

High gain circuits are notorious for producing feedback, and other electrical components amplify that effect, such as lighting. Thankfully, a noise pedal can mitigate your noise issues and restore whisper-quiet operation to your amplifier. 

Noise gates are precisely what the name entails. They act as a gate to prevent unwanted noise or feedback from making it to your amplifier. Noise gates allow the player to set a threshold that noise and feedback can’t pass through. The gate allows your playing to come through but prevents any of the unpleasant noise from reaching your amp. 

This electric guitar pedal is popular with metal and heavy rock players and guitarists who use single-coil pickups, which are notorious for picking up 60-cycle hum from lighting and other electrical components. 

Electric guitars are notoriously noisy in general, which makes a noise gate one of the most useful effects for electric guitars. Modern metal players like Misha Mansoor of Periphery, Guthrie Govan, and Tosin Abasi of Animals as Leaders rely on this piece to restore whisper-quiet operation to their rigs when they aren’t engaging in punishing riffs or mind-melting shreds. 

Tuner Pedals

The humble tuner pedal is one of the most often overlooked yet entirely necessary effects on any guitarist’s pedal board. Tuner pedals allow you to quietly tune your guitar before your set or in between songs without disturbing your audience. 

Most tuner pedals are chromatic, so they can tune your guitar to any note necessary, which is vital for guitarists who use altered or dropped tunings. Some tuner pedals are polyphonic, allowing you to strum all the strings on the guitar and tune them all at once instead of adjusting each string individually. 

It’s wise to stick with a true bypass tuner as they won’t add any additional color to your sound when you aren’t using them, which is a common issue with a buffered effects pedal. 

Multi-FX Pedals

To this point, we’ve covered over a dozen different pedal types, and each one can be a handy addition to your pedalboard. But, most electric guitar players aren’t interested in lugging two dozen pedals to their shows with them. Plus, pedals are far from cheap, and purchasing quality individual units can quickly run well north of $1000. 

This is where multi-effect units come in. Multi-effect guitar pedals are one of the ideal pedals for beginners because they provide everything you’ll need. A multi effects pedal allows guitarists to unlock a world of tonal possibilities with a single investment. Most quality multi-effects processors provide practically every effect under the sun, and most multi-effects units offer several different versions of the same effect. 

Multi-effects guitar pedals come encased in one streamlined unit so that guitarists can bring one large pedal with them instead of dozens of smaller single effects. High-end models allow you to use seven or more effects simultaneously, whereas cheaper models typically only allow you to use a few effects simultaneously. 

A multi-FX pedal has onboard storage, so you can save your sound into preset patches that you can recall whenever you need them. These pedals also offer several knobs to control each effect’s parameters and a large display so you can see which patch you’re using and make changes to each effect. It’s also common for a multi-FX to offer an expression pedal so you can control volume and wah effects with your feet. 

As a jack of all trades, multi-effects pedals aren’t known for the same quality as single effects units are. The manufacturer’s goal is to provide players with dependable and reliable versions of practically every effect. It would be impossible to make an affordable multi-effects unit if they were built with the same degree of care or research and development of a single pedal. 

If you’re looking for the highest quality sound, you’ll want to invest in individual effects. But, if you’re more interested in having a full complement of effects at your fingertips and you’re willing to sacrifice a bit of tonal quality, you can’t go wrong by purchasing a multi-effect pedal. 

Signal Chain Flow and How it Affects Your Guitar Tone

Your guitar’s signal travels in a straight line from your acoustic or electric guitars to your amplifier. Any of the effects you place in your chain will affect the sound of everything that comes after it.

While there’s no right or wrong way to set up your effects chain, you can invite unwanted noise and feedback into your chain if you have your pedals in a strange order. 

As a basic guide to guitar signal chains, you’ll want to set up your chain similarly to what you’ll see below. This is how I arrange my effects, and it’s one of the best guitar tips I’ve ever received. Feel free to make changes to this arrangement to understand how different guitar signal chains affect your effects’ performance and sound. 

Signal chain flow:

Dynamic effects -> filters -> pitch shifters -> volume pedals -> gain effects -> modulators -> time-based effects.  

To clear that up a bit, dynamic effects include things like compressors and graphic EQ pedals. Filter effects include wahs and envelope filters. Next up are any pitch-shifting effects, such as octavers or pitch shifters. A volume pedal would typically come next, but you can also move the volume pedal to the end of your signal chain to achieve slightly different tones. 

Next up will be your gain effects, which can include distortion, overdrive, or fuzz. Then you’ll add any modulation effects, like phaser, flanger, chorus, or tremolo. Finally, keep your time-based effects like reverb or delay at the end of your signal chain. Setting your pedalboard up in this sequence can help ensure a great sound and reliable performance. 

Essential Guitar Effects Pedals

After learning about different types of guitar effects pedals, most guitarists begin to wonder which pedals they can’t live without and which will end up collecting dust in their studio. 

While you can create amazing music without ever plugging into a single effect pedal, most guitar players have a few essentials that they rely on to deliver their signature sound. Every player’s list of essential pedals will change depending on the style of music they play and their personal preferences. 

As a rule of thumb, here are the essentials that most guitar learners find they can’t live without: 

  • Tuner pedal
  • Overdrive or distortion pedal
  • Graphic EQ
  • Delay
  • Reverb 

A tuner pedal is arguably the most essential pedal there is, and it ensures that you’re always playing in tune with yourself and the band. Depending on your style, an overdrive or distortion pedal is another practical requirement. 

If you’re lucky enough to own a fantastic tube amplifier, you may be able to omit any additional gain effects from your setup. A quality distortion pedal or overdrive like the Ibanez Tube Screamer is sure to find its way to your pedalboard for the rest of us. 

A graphic EQ is another essential that many guitarists rely on. This pedal provides a world of additional control over your amp’s sonic character that far exceeds the typical 3-band EQ found on most amplifiers. 

Rounding out our selection of essentials are a few time effects: delay and reverb. Delay is one of the most useful guitar effects in any player’s pedal chain, and it’s helpful in creating a world of different sounds. Plus, it’s the perfect way to add extra interest and body to your solos. 

A reverb pedal is another indispensable time effect, and it will add character and life to everything you play. If you’re lucky enough to own an amp with great onboard reverb, you may be able to omit a reverb pedal. 

When it comes to guitar effects pedals, there’s no right or wrong way to use them! Pedals are fun to add to your playing, but so much of that fun comes from experimenting with different guitar effects and seeing how you can incorporate them into your playing to create a signature sound. 

This concludes our guide to guitar pedals. Be sure to sound off in the comments and let us know what pedals you rely on for your sound! 

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