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Best Guitar Pedals

Best Guitar Pedals – Comparison Table

Before we get too deep into a look at the guitar pedals reviewed, let’s first get a good overview, a quick feel, if you will, for what the guitar pedals are, and what they may have to offer you and your music playing experience. This will just be a quick look at the pedals, and if you want a more in-depth analysis, you will find it below the table. Here’s a list of the best guitar pedals of 2018.

Guitar PedalPurpose/effectSettings/controls
Boss Tu-3 Chromatic Tuner PedalChromatic tuner with bypassButtons for changing tuning options
Boss Audio DS-1 Distortion Guitar PedalAdds distortion effectTone, Distortion, and Level knobs
Boss DD-7 Digital Delay PedalElectronic delay on signals sentE-Level, Feedback, Delay time, and Mode knobs
Dunlop GCB95 Cry Baby Wah Guitar Effects PedalCreates a ‘wah’ sound when activeNo controls; depressing the foot pedal changes sound
Electro-Harmonix Little Big Muff Distortion PedalAdds distortion, fuzz, and attackVolume, Sustain, and Tone knobs
MXR 10 Band Graphic EQ With 18V Power SupplyControls prominence of signalsSliders for controlling frequencies from 31.25Hz to 16KHz
MXR M102 Dyna Comp CompressorCompresses signal, evening out the signal to amplifierOutput and Sensitivity knobs
Ernie Ball VP Jr. P06180 250K Potentiometer For Passive ElectronicsControls volume on the fly via active circuit resistanceDepressing pedal controls the volume
Digitech CF7 Chorus FactoryChorus effectLevel, Speed, Depth, and Chorus Mode knobs
Ebtech Hum EliminatorCuts down on amp hum in the lineNo controls, jacks for two lines in and two lines out

But there isn’t just one magic guitar pedal that will do all of that for you, believe it or not. Most guitarists tend to go along with at least two guitar pedals, and those who rely heavily on effects can have entire racks of guitar pedals that they bring to every concert that they play, with literally dozens of pedals on the rack or the board. This is how you can get the same guitar to go from sounding like a heavily distorted chainsaw to sounding like a robot to making that ‘wah’ sound that you probably heard in Jimi Hendrix’s take on ‘Voodoo Chile’ (also known as the most famous take).

Now that we’ve gotten a quick look at the pedals that we’ll be looking at today, let’s look a little bit more in-depth at the pedals, and what you can use them for, and how they can help to improve the sound that you are able to get out of even the most modestly priced of guitars. Let’s go, then, and talk about the best guitar multi effects pedals.

1

Boss TU3 Chromatic Tuner Pedal – The Necessity

If you’ve ever been to a live concert, you’ve likely seen the people on stage use this exact pedal. They stomp the pedal, and it creates a ‘bypass’ (meaning that when you’re tuning your guitar, people don’t hear the sounds of tuning through your amplifier), and then the musician on the stage looks down at the pedal while retuning their stringed instrument. It happens at literally every show, probably about three or four songs after they’ve last tuned it or been handed the guitar by their guitar tech (who is using the same pedal backstage to tune the guitar).

When it comes to best guitar pedals 2017 has to offer you, there is no guitar pedal that can compete with the ease of use of the Boss TU3. There are plenty of cool pedals out there, sure, but this is a necessity, whether in your practice area or on stage in an arena with 30,000 people where you can’t hear yourself. There’s a reason that you can find chromatic tuners on almost every stage; most people can’t tune a guitar by ear. And even among those who can tune their guitar by ear, trying to tune it just right in a crowded room with people talking (to say nothing of the din or roar of a crowd) is almost impossible.

So, if you’re looking for that one pedal that can help you out immensely, to say nothing of being one of the best guitar pedals 2017 ever had available, this is the place to start. It should literally be the first pedal that you ever buy if you have an electric guitar (or an acoustic guitar with some sort of pickup system).

PROS
  • Affordable
  • Easy-to-see, even in the dark
  • Works very well, and doesn’t accidentally pick up the noise around you when you’re trying to tune
CONS
  • Switching between tunings could be simpler
2

Boss Audio DS-1 Distortion Guitar Pedal – The Rock And Roller’s Choice

This is another one of those iconic guitar pedals that it seems like almost everyone uses. If you’ve been to a rock and roll show at any point in your life, it is very likely that the musicians have had this on their stage, and that it is what gave them the ‘crunch’ of distortion that drives so much of rock and roll these days.

If you’re looking to get a professional sounding crunch out of your guitar, and you don’t have an amp made by someone like Line 6 that comes with a lot of effects built-in, then this is the choice for you. I use them myself, as do most punk rock bands, most rock and roll bands, and a lot of the metal bands you see on stage these days. It’s a very simple pedal to work with, too. The level knob is basically going to act as a volume knob, and tone and distortion knobs will allow you to get just the right amount of distortion into your music. Stomp the pedal (try to hit the black pad that says ‘Boss’ on it) and the distortion effects begin. If you end up playing a song (or even just a few chords) that don’t require distortion, stomp it again. It can be powered by a 9V battery, but honestly, you’re better off getting an adaptor that will power it, because it will chew through 9V batteries at an astonishing rate (and people leave these things on by accident all the time).

Definitely one of the best guitar effects pedals for beginners, especially given how much of our modern music runs on distortion. Also, one of the best guitar pedals for metal and punk rock, if that’s something that you are into.

PROS
  • Very easy to use
  • Provides all the distortion that most people will ever need
  • Extremely common and affordable
CONS
  • Eats through 9V batteries like punk rock eats through guitar strings
3

Boss DD-7 Digital Delay Pedal – The White Knight

One of the things that gave Brian May of Queen the sound that he got out of his guitar, the really fat and sustained sound, is the use of multiple delay pedals and multiple amplifiers set up in sequence. He hits a string, the sound goes to the first amp (he uses mostly VOX amps, last I checked), then it goes to a second amp after a minor delay, and then after another delay, it goes to a third amp. If you want to get a similar sound, then you are going to want to get a Boss DD-7 Digital Delay Pedal; it’s easily one of the best guitar multi effects 2017 pedals, and it can stretch any sound.

It works quite simple too. You simply manipulate the E-level, feedback, delay time, and delay mode knobs till you get the delay sound that you like. Then you wire the inputs and outputs, and that’s all there is to it. Stomp the box to turn it on, stomp the box again to turn it off, and enjoy using it to your heart’s content! If you’re looking to get a thicker sound when you’re playing guitar, this is definitely the pedal for you.

PROS
  • Easy to use and simple to master
  • Professional grade
  • Presets make delaying easy without need for a lot of knowledge
CONS
  • Will absolutely chew through 9V batteries; get an adaptor instead
4

Dunlop GCB95 Cry Baby Wah Guitar Effects Pedal – The Jimi Hendrix Model

There is a world-famous song, played by one of the greatest guitarists of the last hundred years, and it was made entirely possible because of an effects pedal just like this one. That song was ‘Voodoo Chile’, and it was played by Jimi Hendrix in a way that no one had ever heard before. In fact, his take on it was so popular that he’s more known for that song than almost any other. Interestingly, it’s basically a combination of delta blues guitar styles that came together to be an iconic rock song, but this pedal made it all possible. This is one of the best guitar pedals of all time (to say nothing of being one of the most famous).

It is also a guitar pedal that can be used by anyone in the rock industry to get that awesome ‘wah’ sound that is so popular in a lot of funkier music. Heck, back in the 60s to the early 90s, this pedal was pretty much responsible for the entirety of the funk scene and a good part of the rock/blues scene and the crazy sounds that were being gotten out of guitars at the time. Using it is simple. To turn it on, you push on the forward end until it clicks, then you rock the pedal back and forth to get the ‘wah’ sound you desire. When you’re done, push it forward till it clicks again, and it is turned off.

A word of warning for those of you who like to play guitars with very hot pickups, though; most of the time when I use this with my Gretsch White Falcon, I end up picking up radio signals (not a joke. Listened to a whole college football game on my amp because of this pedal). If you’re looking to get that ‘wah’ sound, this thing needs to be in your lineup.

PROS
  • Very easy to use, and produces such a funky sound
  • Almost impossible to accidentally activate
  • Extremely durable, made by Dunlop
CONS
  • Somewhat expensive
  • Will need to be plugged into a wall to work
5

Electro-Harmonix Little Big Muff Distortion Pedal – The Classic Pedal

The guitar world is one of the few markets in which older technology is still revered. The Little Big Muff is based off of older technology from Electro-Harmonix that does the same thing (just not in as small a box), and the Muff has been made for almost half of a century at this point.

It can be used basically like the Boss Audio DS-1 Distortion Guitar Pedal mentioned up above. It generates distortion, but it’s not high-attack distortion, but rather more of a ‘fuzzy’ distortion. This model is the remake model that is being assembled in New York City.

It’s also a model that is well worth the money and will give you a sound that you just cannot get anywhere else. Believe it or not, people like Hendrix and SRV (Stevie Ray Vaughn) used this to get a great distortion sound, and you can too. Just make sure that you have an adaptor to run it to a wall.

PROS
  • Amazing sound and amazing distortion and fuzz
  • Volume, Tone, And Sustain knobs allow a lot of customization of the fuzz
  • Easy to use setup
CONS
  • Needs to be plugged into an outfit, really
  • Small on/off button
6

MXR 10 Band Graphic EQ With 18V Power Supply – The Sound Shaper

When it comes to guitar pedals that you just don’t see enough of until you get into professional levels, the MXR 10 Band Graphic EQ is one that always comes to mind. It gives you an immense amount of control over the sound that you’re going to be getting out of your amp, and it does it without the need for expensive EQ boards and someone to work them.

Those red sliders control volume, gain, and the output that you get from the various frequencies that your guitar operates on. You can manually manipulate the output of frequencies from 31.25Hz to 16KHz in order to shape the sound just the way that you want to. Now, there is one thing that I should caution you about. Remember, and I cannot stress this enough, that the gain slider (and gain knob in general) is NOT a substitute for the volume knob.

That’s how you end up with a lot of unintended feedback, and that makes your amp sound just terrible. This is a great pedal for the kind of person who has spent the last two decades buying new pickups for their guitar, chasing after the perfect tone for their guitar and their music, but it may be a bit too complex for people who are on the newer side of the guitar learning curve. Definitely not the best guitar multi effects pedals for beginners, is the point I’m making here.

PROS
  • Allows you to shape the sound with a lot of ease and a lot more money in your pocket
  • Easy to use, and the on-off system is a breeze
  • Very durable (as is most of the equipment MXR has ever made)
CONS
  • Really needs to be plugged into the wall
  • The on/off switch could be a bit bigger
7

MXR M102 Dyna Comp Compressor – The Professional Sound Equipment

There are people who play guitar for a living and spend their whole lives trying to get just the right sound, and this is the kind of thing that those people almost all have. Then, of course, there are people out there who are playing for fun, or at low-level gigs in bars and the like, and who just want professional sound quality. Both groups can greatly benefit from purchasing a compressor pedal.

It’s not going to be on a list of best new guitar pedals 2017 produced, because it’s not a new idea, but it is something that you will find does a great job of cleaning up the sound quality of your signal going to the amp. It’s also very simple; it’s got an output and sensitivity knob, and it’s got the on/off switch. Use the knobs to set the sound just how you like it, and stomp on and off as desired. Simple, and something that can make your sound to the amp sound a lot more ‘studio’ and a lot less ‘guy running a lot of pedals into a low-end amp’.

PROS
  • Simple design
  • Makes the sound of your guitar a lot more professional
  • Very tiny design, too. You can easily fit this in a pocket
CONS
  • Needs to be run to an adaptor, really
  • On/off switch could be bigger
8

Ernie Ball VP Jr. P06180 250K Potentiometer For Passive Electronics – On The Fly Volume Control

Unlike the earlier foot pedal, this isn’t so much an effects pedal as it is a volume control pedal. I know, a lot of people don’t see a need for it; so much of rock (and especially metal) music seems like it is literally designed to be played as loud as it can possibly be, and so most people don’t see the reason that they should have a pedal that can make them more quiet.

But if you don’t have a professional person or crew to run a soundboard, if you’re a band that’s just started touring, you may find that you will need to control your own volume level, and you won’t want to run to the amp and turn it down all the time. That’s where the Ernie Ball VP Jr. 250K Volume Pedal comes in. Basically, when pushed all the way down, your volume is at 100 percent. The further back you rock the pedal, the less volume you’re putting out. It’s easy to use, it allows you to adjust as you play, and most importantly of all, it is well put together and will stand for many years of you using your foot to adjust the sound levels on the fly.

PROS
  • Durable, and with a name that you can trust in the music business
  • Easy to use
  • Allows you to adjust volume on the fly
CONS
  • Fairly expensive
  • Very bulky
9

Digitech CF7 Chorus Factory – The Chorus Pedal

I know, I know, a lot of you were probably worried I wouldn’t mention a chorus pedal. Look, here’s your chorus pedal, so calm down.

A chorus pedal is basically used to get more sound, get kind of a backing sound, to your guitar licks and chords. When you use a chorus pedal, it is going to add a bit of backing to whatever you’re playing, and the Chorus Factory CF-7 has 7 settings that you can use to get the right amount of chorus for whatever you’re doing (and the right manner of chorus). It allows you to control the Level, Speed, Depth, and the Chorus Model with the use of knobs on the box, and it is just a good way to thicken sound if that’s what you’re looking to do. Probably more something that an easy going rock musician will need, not something that a lot of hard, driving, high attack musicians are going to have any use for.

PROS
  • Easy to use
  • Big on/off switch
  • Provides seven chorus models
CONS
  • Will eat through 9V batteries like you wouldn’t believe; plug it into a wall, trust me
10

Ebtech Hum Eliminator – The Solution To Your Pedal Hum Problems

Yes, I know that this isn’t actually a guitar pedal, but seeing as the other nine entries on this list are, I feel that the EBTECH Hum Eliminator is worth a mention. When you add a lot of line length between your guitar and your amplifier, especially in the form of many small cables run from pedal to pedal, you are going to find that you sometimes get a ‘hum’ in the amp. And that hum will drive you insane.

But what can you do? You need to have the pedals in there to get the sound that you want, after all! Well, the EBTECH Hum Eliminator will help you cut down on the hum that you experience, and will make sure that you are able to have all those pedals without too much notable hum. A must have if you’re going to run more than two or three guitar pedals, definitely.

PROS
  • Very small for what it does
  • Reduces the hum
  • Makes you sound more professional
CONS
  • Somewhat expensive

Best Guitar Pedals - Buyer's Guide

Now, if you’re looking to pick up the best guitar pedals for you, trying to get just the right sound, the above list will help you out immensely. But if you’re looking to understand a bit more about the guitar pedals that are out there, here are just a few things that you should consider.

Do I Need An Adapter?

There are quite a few adapters that you can get to run to your guitar pedals, and I would definitely suggest that you get one. Personally, I use the 1 Spot adapter, and I have a plug in that allows me to run up to 8 pedals off of one line. Definitely something that I would suggest looking into.

You don’t ‘need’ to use an adaptor, however. The truth is that you can get by without one just fine, but you are going to have to spend a whole lot of money making sure that you keep 9V batteries in the pedals. Then there’s also the fact that the pedals will not only eat through those 9V batteries, but they will also not automatically turn off when you unplug from the wall if you’re using batteries. I would suggest that you get an adaptor, in other words. They’re going to save you money in the first year of use, believe it or not.

Which Pedals Are Right For Me?

Now, this is a question that is hard to answer. If you’re playing any sort of guitar and any sort of music, for example, the Boss TU3 Chromatic Tuner Pedal is a good option, because you will always be able to find value in being able to tune your guitar on the fly, and the bypass means that you won’t be making noise while you’re trying to tune.

The DS-1 Distortion Pedal, also from Boss, is another pedal that a lot of people will be able to find use in. If you’re not playing something that requires a ‘twang’ or a natural, ‘acoustic’ kind of sound, then you will find that this distortion pedal is useful.

After that, you’ll have to do your own research and know what you’re playing and what you need. For example, I wouldn’t recommend a chorus pedal for music heavy on distortion. I wouldn’t recommend a Little Big Muff for you if you’re playing more country kinds of music. Find somewhere nearby that you can test drive a pedal before buying it if you’re worried that you don’t need what you’re buying.

How Many Pedals Is Too Many?

This is another hard to answer question. If you find that you have a pedal that you only use once in a great while, or never use?  That is a pedal that you don’t need. Try to remember KISS; Keep It Simple, Stupid. The more pedals you have, the more that can go wrong.

Conclusion


Now that you’ve read all this, I hope that you have learned at least a little bit about the best guitar pedals on the market right now. I know that many of them aren’t new names, but sometimes, the older technology is the best. There is a lot to be said about a pedal, mind you, that is still in great demand, decades after it first came out, and the truth is that ideas like the Electro-Harmonix Little Big Muff Distortion Pedal stay around because they are so needed.

So, let’s announce some of the ‘must haves’ in this list. The best value here is the Boss TU3 Chromatic Tuner; it’s something that literally any guitarist will be able to use and to find value in, believe it or not, and something that will help with tuning on the fly immensely. The old-fashioned pedal, of course, has to go to the Electro-Harmonix Little Big Muff, which has been being made in one form or another since the mid-1960’s.

The essential device, of course, is the Ebtech Hum Eliminator, which you are likely to need if you buy more than a few of the entrants on this list. Finally, the overall winner of this list has got to be the Dunlop GCB95 Cry Baby ‘Wah’ Pedal. It’s been used in music for decades, and will likely continue to be used in music, and it’s a timeless design. If you’re looking to find the right guitar pedals and effects for your rocking and rolling, this is a great list to start with. Good luck, and go out and enjoy playing your guitar today!