Looking for effect pedals yet lacking inspiration? Today, we’ll discuss a new factor to consider while selecting the correct pedal: learning about every pedal brand in the world. So, here are the top 17 best guitar pedal brands in the world for 2023.
The electric guitar, arguably the greatest noise generator ever invented, can produce an infinite variety of sounds, all of which can be explored with the help of effect pedals. These colorful cases have inspired risk-takers from Hendrix to Slayer to compose some of the most iconic songs in history. As they flip the switch, effect pedals become integral to a guitarist’s or bassist’s daily routine, helping them discover and develop their great musical identity.
In our quest for the “one thing” that will forever alter our artistic path, we can become lost in the weeds of the search. So we’re here today to discuss a great approach to investigating these pedal options, as it’s much easier to connect with a product or a brand when you have all of the available options and background information at your fingertips.
Let’s look at the 17 best guitar pedal brands on the market in 2023, analyzing their history and the best and most popular solutions they offer.
Top 17 Best Guitar Pedal Brands In The World 2023
1. Universal Audio
Universal Audio, one of the most revered and historically significant studio equipment firms, has poured decades of knowledge and skill into a new line of effects pedals that surpasses the present offerings in terms of realism and breadth.
Since the company’s establishment in 1958 under Bill Putnam’s leadership, Universal Audio has been developing groundbreaking audio recording methods. Bill Putnam Sriconic. was a dedicated pioneer widely regarded as the originator of contemporary recording techniques; he was a favorite engineer of legendary performers like Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Ray Charles, and dozens more.
His innovations in recording technology are still widely used today. Putnam was the first engineer to employ artificial reverberation in commercial recordings, and he is credited with developing the current recording console, the multi-band equalization, and the voice booth. Putnam also collaborated with his friend Les Paul to create the first stereophonic recordings.
Bill’s sons re-established the company in 1999 to produce reproductions of vintage analog recording gear in the same vein as their father and to create new digital recording tools that capture the spirit and sound of their analog forebears.
Universal Audio has recruited some of the industry’s most talented DSP engineers and digital modeling experts to create the groundbreaking UAD Powered Plug-Ins to achieve this goal. UAD plug-ins have the most accurate analog emulation available since their DSP experts collaborate with the original hardware manufacturers.
Claim To Fame: (Dream ’65)
The Dream ’65 Reverb Amp pedal by Universal Audio is a spot-on recreation of the most popular 1 x 12-inch combo amp ever recorded. The pedal’s three speaker choices and three amp variants (stock and two typical upgrades) accurately reproduce the original model.
The Dream ’65, made possible by UA’s fantastic mic, cab, and Dynamic Room Modeling technology, has wowed guitarists with its lifelike recreation of a tube amp. In addition, the “4-cable” mode on every UAFX pedal lets you supercharge your amplifier with two more channels without using the amp’s preamp.
Contemporary Offerings: (UAFX Golden)
The Golden Reverberator pedal from Universal Audio allows guitarists to replicate those stunning studio reverbs live on their pedalboards. The Golden Reverberator pedal has three different forms of reverb, allowing for rapid transitions from spitty and splashy to lush and atmospheric.
While the Golden Reverberator’s foundation is in the classics, it uses its robust DSP to improve the original devices’ capabilities by adding features like several modulation types and the ability to move between settings while preserving the effects’ tails.
Plate reverbs were an integral feature of the 1970s epic studio recordings due to their pleasing sound, shimmering tails, and ability to blend in easily. The plate has three separate plates to blend your guitar lines with a sweeping ambiance. Use it to give a singing solo a new dimension or strumming chords a warm, reverberant wash for enveloping soundscapes.
The inherent changeability of spring reverb makes it challenging to simulate convincingly. As a result, Universal Audio spent over three years creating the Spring 65 to accurately simulate the natural reverberation of real tanks. As a result, spring 65 will amaze you with its pinpoint precision, and it comes with three different types of tube-driven tanks to select from.
The 224, one of the first professional-grade digital reverb devices, gained acclaim for its transparent reverbs and extensive customization options. However, if you’re looking for something a little different, the Hall 224 is a delectable option with a contemporary vibe that’s great for experimental and ambient guitar work. To find the ideal space for your guitar parts, select from three different-sized halls and adjust the decay of the high, medium, and low frequencies separately.
Only a few decades have passed since the invention of the massive early electronic instruments to the present day when full personal music studios can fit on the top of one’s lap. However, some music equipment from decades ago was so well-engineered that it is still widely used today, despite the rapid speed of technological progress.
Eventide is an American audio, radio, and communication corporation that has a division dedicated to making DSP software, guitar effects, and digital audio processors. When it comes to digital audio processing, Eventide was an industry frontrunner from the start. Its products are still used as industry standards today in studios, post-production houses, and broadcasting stations.
Recording engineer Stephen Katz, inventor Richard Factor, and patent attorney and businessman Orville Greene founded Eventide. The company’s roots may be traced back to New York City, specifically the basement of Greene’s Sound Exchange recording studio.
Due to a limitation of studio space, Katz asked Factor to develop a tool that would enable them to reload the analog tape to a precise position on their multitrack recorder. The resulting tool was an OEM success for Ampex. Among the early products on the market was a 2-second delay designed for telephone research and an electrostatic deflector designed to disperse chemical reagents in nanoliter volumes.
So when Eventide debuted the H910 at the AES convention in December 1974, they welcomed it with universal praise. The former head of Eventide’s audio section and the company’s original engineer, Tony Agnello, created and designed it. One early version of the HK 941 was a hand-wired prototype that looked like a box with a music keyboard controller perched on top.
Claim To Fame: (H90)
Eventide’s H90 Harmonizer reinvents the multi-effects pedal by fusing the studio-grade flexibility of the famous rack unit with a pedal’s compact form factor. The H90 takes the fifteen two algorithms already present in the pedal, which are all based on the same ARM architecture as the H9000, and builds upon this solid basis with ten more algorithms.
On top of that, the pedal’s control set is vastly more extensive than the H9 Max’s single knob: five push knobs, seven LED buttons, a trio of footswitches, and a display are all intended to facilitate instant adjustments without sacrificing the Harmonizer series’ profound editing options, which are further improved via the control software.
In keeping with its origins as a rack unit, this pedal offers many I/O configuration possibilities, such as MIDI, two expression pedals connections, and USB connectivity.
Contemporary Offerings: (TriceraChorus)
TriceraChorus pedal is a vintage-inspired three-chorus effect that adds the rich, velvety depth to your instruments and vocals that you’ve been craving. This pedal provides a watery, fully-customizable chorus sound by combining Eventide’s MicroPitch detuning with a rich bucket brigade-style chorusing.
This pedal gives you an infinite stereo spread of pulsating and modulating waves, with three separate chorus voices and effects for each. In addition, the “swirl” footswitch enables you to create various psychedelic flanging effects similar to those produced by the Univibe.
Because it is meant for extreme modulation and the most ethereal chorus textures, Eventide made sure to include all the necessary parts in the pedal’s construction. The effects of this pedal are driven by the left, center, and right chorus voices, which can be detuned to give your sound even more dimension.
With the 3-phase LFO, you can vary the delay periods for each chorus voice to create a unique pan throughout the stereo field. All three modulated delays in the TriceraChorus work together to create a hazy chorus wash reminiscent of the heady ’80s.
If you’re starting with TriceraChorus, it’s recommend checking out the Chorus mode for a classic chorus sound. If you put it into Chorale mode, it will sound like an old-school rackmount tri-chorus unit, and its heavenly harmonies will blow you away.
The third and final effect, vibrato, causes an even more pulsated trill with lovely detuned pitch shifts. Also, try out the “Swirl” feature to psychedelically flange your carefully designed chorus effect.
According to Eventide, this effect is a cross between a phaser, a Uni-vibe, and a rotary speaker. This additional modulation is applied at a very low-frequency range to fully use the stereo field and achieve a swirly effect. In addition, you can hold down one of the LED buttons on the TriceraChorus to activate a “momentary” mode.
This transient mode can produce some fascinating modulation for individual notes when used in conjunction with the Swirl effect. Again, as a production tool, this can improve specific sections of a song.
More than forty years have passed since BOSS pedals first appeared. During that time, certain pedals have stayed in production while others have been upgraded or even retired. As with any collectible, there is a fetish market for rarer Boss pedals, which we will explore; however, we also want to shine a light on the classics that are still in production and widely available.
BOSS debuted the OD-1 Overdrive, PH-1 Phaser, and SP-1 Spectrum pedals of the now-iconic small line in 1977. There have been generations of artists using the bright line since it was first introduced 40 years ago; it has now spawned 120 different pedal versions and sold well over 15 million units.
Many musicians use their pedals, from established professionals on the road to amateurs in their practice rooms. You’d be hard-pressed to find a professional guitarist who has yet to utilize a BOSS pedal at some time in their career. Four decades after their introduction, BOSS stompboxes are still revered for their exceptional sound, sturdy construction, and innovative usability.
While these fundamentals remain the same, technological advancements in pedal components, have allowed for constant improvement. They’ve always had a solid drive to be at the forefront of the industry regarding innovation and soundness.
Their pedals combine digital signal processing with tried-and-true analog circuitry, all thanks to their extensive study and experimentation. While different designers may use different approaches, everyone’s end goal is the same: to produce the finest sound possible. With over 50 models, the current BOSS small lineup meets the effects needs of guitarists, bassists, and other artists worldwide.
Claim To Fame: (MT-2)
Among distortion pedals, the Metal Zone deserves its reputation as a top pick. Distortion tones produced by its novel dual-gain circuitry are incredibly robust. You’ll experience extreme saturation, an extended sustain, and hefty mids and lows reminiscent of a bank of overdriven amplifiers.
It has a 3-band EQ with a semi-parametric midrange control, providing complete control over your sound and a wide variety of extreme distortion effects. The Metal Zone pedal is essential for any guitarist who plays hard rock or metal.
Contemporary Offerings: (DD-8)
Since the release of the DM-1 ’78, the BOSS name has been synonymous with great delay pedals. Their latest and most incredible creation is the DD-8, which is highly reliable. The 11 settings on this compact delay pedal range from clean repeats to glitchy modulation, and the maximum delay time is 10 seconds.
The 40-second looper on the pedal is perfect for use as a warm-up tool, for sound checks, or to create quick backing tracks. And it’s a breeze to use tap tempo to sync your repeats to music. In addition, a carryover feature lets you employ delay trails even after the effect has been disabled.
It also offers three separate output modes and a multitude of stereo I/O for a wide range of sound possibilities. Finally, the DD-8’s external footswitch jacks let you tap the tempo on the fly, adjust the looper’s time, and give your sound an ethereal sheen.
The DD-8 can create vintage-flavored ambient soundscapes; glass echoes to accompany your solos, or both. In addition, you can use special effects such as shimmering and modified echoes. Invoke relocating ambient textures in Warp mode and explore glitchy galactic voids in GLT. In the late ’80s, the +RV mode of delay and reverb became iconic as a hallmark of the hyper-processed guitar sound.
- Stereo Mode
Featuring full stereo and three distinct output modes, the DD-8 produces a massive sound. Using the independent setting, you can easily and quickly recreate Steve Vai’s characteristic sound by routing a short delay to Output 1 and a long delay to Output 2.
The ping-pong effect is achieved by adjusting the delay time in the panning setting. By switching to a wide stereo, your sound will be more three-dimensional. The DD-8’s flexible options make it useful in various situations.
For wet/dry setups, you’ll need the effect and dry outputs, which are separated and can be used with any mono or stereo device. You can use the amp’s parallel effects loop to mix in only the delay effect by turning off the dry signal.
The first three knobs are renamed versions of the standard Effect Level, Feedback, and Time. Input and output through jacks A and B double the delay period, usually in GLT mode when using the Time knob. You can also adjust the Tap division value and delay durations of up to 10 seconds are possible when an external tap tempo switch is used.
It’s possible to choose between hard bypass and keeping the delay tails via a switch on the back panel. The output mode can be changed using a simple on/off/jack-in routine, allowing for the Analogue delay’s wider stereo spread and the Standard delay’s channel delays to be activated. Once a preference is saved, it will remain even when the device is turned off.
4. tc electronic
Strong guitar effects pedals have been TC Electronic’s specialty for many years. Starting in the 1980s, even their first designs were praised for their high craftsmanship and innovative technology. Their legacy with digital reverb is just as impressive. In addition, you can hear TC’s unique algorithms, from major motion pictures to timeless albums.
Danish brothers Kim and John Rishoj started TC Electronic. First, using their knowledge as musicians, they created the stereo chorus/flanger that would later become known as the SCF. Next, they produced the TC2290 digital delay, a recording industry classic in its own right.
In the future of 2011, the creation of the TonePrint pedals and Polytune catapulted the Danish corporation into superstardom by getting tons of great artists to design their TonePrint and make their distinctive sounds available to the public.
Many famous musicians, including John Petrucci and Steve Vai, have made their pedal settings available for download online. TC Electronic is a firm with deep roots in the music industry that continues to expand as its engineers push the envelope with innovative guitar effects and bass cabinets.
If you want a pedalboard with all the effects you can imagine, go no further than the TC Electronic Range pedals. You can pick from various pedals in two distinct pricing points, including many delays, reverbs, distortions, and modulations. You can achieve the sounds you want using their ‘Analogue’ series pedals, which are cheap and easy.
On the other hand, the digital series of pedals will accommodate your needs if you’re looking to take things to the next level and crave a little more versatility. Using the TonePrint feature of the Digital TC Electronic pedals, you may access the guitar tones of other guitar legends by simply uploading them through USB.
The pedals are very customizable, as their accompanying software for Windows and macOS allows for extensive editing of the effect’s parameters, allowing you to dial in a replica of your ideal tone. Again, the TonePrint can be saved or shared after being transferred to the pedal via USB.
Claim To Fame: (PolyTune 3)
The PolyTune 3 is the next generation of guitar tuners, and it is faster, more dependable, and easier to use than its predecessors. It has an accuracy of 0.1 cents and a no-nonsense approach to tuning guitars and other instruments; strum all the strings to see which ones are out of tune, then tune them individually.
PolyTune 3’s built-in, true bypass-switchable circuitry means you may use it to improve your tone while using an extremely lengthy wire. The treble and transient responsiveness are much more like plugging into an amplifier. However, other things have been enhanced in the PolyTune 3.
Using alternate tuning modes makes experimenting with new approaches to your art quick and painless, even during a frenetic performance. In addition, the LED screen now automatically dims to allow for easy tuning in any light condition, whether indoors or out.
Contemporary Offerings: (Hall Of Fame 2)
Based on the popularity of the original Hall of Fame, one of the most famous reverb pedals, TC Electronic has released the Hall of Fame 2, which adds new shimmer reverb algorithms and a revolutionary Mash footswitch for creative effects.
The reverb’s volume and decay time can be modulated by the amount of pressure given to the Mash footswitch, much like an expression pedal. If you’re a fan of TonePrint presets, you’ll be pleased to discover that the Hall of Fame 2 reverb pedal offers three of them. As a result, you’ll have access to three individualized reverberation options.
TC’s shimmer reverb algorithms raise the reverb pitch by an octave to create ethereal, ambient sounds. The Hall of Fame 2 pedal has a shimmer reverb as one of its more recent algorithms, and it sounds excellent with grunge, worship, and other ambient music.
Although the MASH footswitch looks like any ordinary pedal switch, it boasts impressive technological advancements. Since the pad responds to pressure, you can use any of the eleven reverb kinds as an expression pedal. This reverb pedal from TC Electronic contains three open spaces for the company’s TonePrint technology in addition to the eight preset reverbs.
Artist-created settings can be transferred from the TonePrint mobile app to pedals like the Hall of Fame 2 using the TonePrint feature. Make your one-of-a-kind verbs with the help of the TonePrint editing software. The Hall of Fame 2 pedal saves up to three TonePrints for greater sonic variety on stage.
The Hall of Fame 2 features standard settings, including Decay, Tone, and Level, and a rotary switch for toggling between different reverb styles. But people are blown away by the amount of command the MASH footswitch provides.
Depending on the reverb mode, the footswitch adjusts the volume of the Plate reverb or the length of time the reverb lasts in the Church reverb. Although getting used to the MASH could take some time, once you do, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.
A simple toggle switch allows the user to set the desired amount of pre-delay. In contrast to the relatively distant and ambient tone provided by the extended set, the short setting makes your reverbs sound like you’re playing against a wall.
Some may be surprised that the company began making guitars and amplifiers immediately after Fender began making separate outboard effects units.
Between 1954 and 1986, over a dozen were released, with the vast majority coming out in the 1960s. These ranged from instant classics (of which a few are available again in reissue form) to outlandish experiments that were forgotten nearly as soon as they tried them.
The Fender Volume Pedal was released in 1954 and is considered the company’s first effect. However, the earliest and most rudimentary volume pedals may be traced back to before WWII, making them roughly the same age as electric guitars.
Fender’s volume pedal debuted in the same year as the Stratocaster guitar and was a large, primary, sturdy, and affordable instrument. It had a single purpose and fulfilled it admirably: rocking from front to back, and it remained a staple of the Fender lineup for precisely 30 years. One of the five original Fender Classics effects pedals was reissued in 2008.
In ’59, Fender released the Eccofonic tape echo unit in response to the widespread interest in echo at the time. Although Fender sold the device as its own, this effect unit, like those that followed it, was not created and built by Fender.
After a year under the Fender brand, the short-lived Eccofonic firm went its own way. Fender introduced its tape echo unit, the Echo, in ’63, four years after the last faint ring of the Eccofonic tape echo device from ’58–’59 faded away.
Still, it was more of a signal transmitter than a signal processor), and it featured more advanced controls such as delay time, regeneration number of echoes, and intensity echo volume.
Tape loop cartridges were built to last more than a thousand hours, and they could easily swap out spares. The EEC was a far more popular model for Fender than its predecessor from the late ’50s, so much so that it remained in production until 1968.
Claim To Fame: (Reflecting Pool)
Using Fender’s original Reflecting Pool pedal, you can get everything from quick slapbacks in tight spaces to decaying tape echoes in huge arenas. The three quality settings complement the delay types available via the Mode selector.
Each of the three reverb types comes with three distinct versions for flexibility. The Fender Reflecting Pool may be the only solution for delay and reverb effects due to its tap tempo feature, three configurable delay time subdivision levels, and separate switches for the reverb and delay sections.
Contemporary Offerings: (Pinwheel)
It’s a rotary pedal, just like you’d expect to get from Fender. However, this pedal’s capacity to be adjusted in terms of drive, tone, and volume means that it can produce a wide range of sounds, from thin and ethereal to heavy and distorted.
This is the first of their listed boxes, and it tries to simulate three types of rotary cabinets. In the first setting, you get a 122 Leslie; in the second set, a 145 Leslie; and in the third set, Fender’s Vibratone, a slightly more current example.
- Speed Control
The pedal has a dynamics switch on the back that adjusts the rotors’ rotational velocity in response to how hard you play. The front panel features a sensitivity knob that you can use for this purpose.
This pedal’s three settings allow for further experimentation when blending tones. Access to the Vibratone, which only featured one rotor and speaker, in addition to the standard 122 and 145 sounds, expands your sounds.
This pedal has a wide range of inputs and outputs. Due to its capacity to modulate and preserve the complete stereo output, you want to hook up to twin monitors if possible. In addition, you may choose between guitar and keyboard modes on the device’s back. You can adjust these to make The Pinwheel sound exactly how you want it to, regardless of the instrument you’re playing.
New York is home to MXR, a giant effects manufacturer. Keith Barr and Terry Sherwood established the company in 1972, and in 1974 they formally incorporated it under the name MXR Innovations. Jim Dunlop, the current owner of the MXR trademark, has maintained and expanded production of the line’s classic effects pedals.
Barr and his business partner Terry Sherwood ran a Rochester, New York, audio repair company, where they were frequently astounded by the subpar condition of the guitar effects brought in by clients. Barr and Sherwood concluded they could provide guitarists with a more functional, stylish, and cool effects pedal.
Since its inception, MXR has provided guitarists with incredible tones, some previously only available in expensive recording facilities, all packaged in a compact, portable enclosure. The reaction was instant and massive. After building and selling a handful of Phase 90s out of the trunk of a car at concerts, MXR expanded their lineup with the Distortion, Compressor, and Octave Fuzz.
The rapidly expanding business soon began mass producing and shipping stompboxes to customers worldwide. Guitarists everywhere began using MXR pedals, and soon the colorful chains of boxes came to represent improbable tones and boundless potential. Van Halen, Led Zeppelin, and The Rolling Stones are some legendary bands whose iconic records use MXR pedals.
Thanks to the simple controls and rock-solid dependability of MXR pedals, those guitar heroes could faithfully play the music from their hit songs live and in the studio. Unfortunately for MXR, the music industry is fickle, and the company’s fortunes shifted in the 1980s as competing manufacturers closed the gap.
Although MXR’s foundational items were never out of style, the company ultimately had to shut down. Knowing this, Jim Dunlop purchased the MXR label and revitalized it. The Phase 90, Distortion +, Dyna Comp Compressor, and Blue Box Octave Fuzz were appropriately Dunlop’s first MXR products.
With Dunlop’s purchase of MXR, guitarists once again had access to these legendary effects, and Keith Barr’s legacy of innovation lived on with the eventual release of numerous new creations. Some of the most iconic effects pedals of the past few decades include the Analog Delay, ’78 Distortion, and Noise Gate.
Bass players can find pedals tailored to their unique demands in the Bass Innovations series, and the MXR Custom Shop is where the company’s most forward-thinking concepts are tested.
Claim To Fame: (M169)
A basic analog delay pedal, the Carbon Copy provides you with a well-judged, entirely analog series of repeats that will immediately elevate your tonal game. You can choose a slapback delay, add subtle chorusing with the mod button, and additional secret controls for this function hidden within the pedal.
Still, people prefer to set the delay time high, keep the regeneration at a similar level, and imagine themself in the 1970s at Pompeii, where every note we play is pure genius. If a simple delay pedal can improve your playing in this way, it has paid for itself many times over.
Contemporary Offerings: (5150 EVH)
The EVH 5150 pedal, co-created by Eddie Van Halen, is an exact acoustic copy of the blue channel of an EVH 5150 III. The high volume and string-to-string clarity of a full-sized amplifier is also present in one compact pedal. The pedal features a 3-band equalizer, so you may fine-tune it to fit in with your existing setup.
A built-in amplification and compression feature helps the instrument cut through the soundscape. In addition, the 5150 Overdrive maintains its quietness at higher gain settings thanks to a Smart Gate function controlled by a single knob that mimics the M135 pedal.
A reliable small device, the 5150 Overdrive is a great choice. The build quality is excellent, as is to be anticipated from an MXR product. You can yank on the knobs, plug in the jacks, push the buttons, and flip the switches confidently.
The battery pack may be quickly and easily accessed and removed from under the device. The pedal wobbles a bit due to the protrusion, but the included adhesive rubber feet fix that problem and prevent the pedal from sliding about on smooth floors.
The addition of a noise gate to a high-gain pedal is highly desirable. You can change the threshold, and the indicator light on the knob turns on whenever the gate is active. All frequency ranges—from the bass to the treble—react instantly and accurately.
Using only the 5150 to modify your sound might be sufficient. You may adjust the volume from a warm, bluesy setting to a high that will melt your face. There is a lot of distortion, even at noon.
The extra compress and boosting from the ‘boosting’ function provide a minor but detectable bump (+6 dB.) But, not surprisingly, it doesn’t provide the usual sensation of stimulation. Instead, it’s more like an added texture, broadening the harmonic spectrum and providing more depth to what is already an inspiring sound.
Recognition increased demands for pedals of his design, and the startling discovery that he could sell pedals with his name on them followed the success of the e-books. As a result, after more than ten years, there are already close to thirty unique Wampler pedals to pick from.
From his early days of pedal modding to the current mass production of his unique boutique pedals, Brian Wampler, Owner of Wampler Pedals, is contributing to the creation of some of the best guitar tones in the world, one pedal at a time.
First and foremost, a guitarist, Brian has always been a “gear nut,” experimenting with various guitars, amplifiers, effects pedals, and combinations thereof in search of the perfect tone. From the time he was a little boy fascinated by his older brother’s band practice, Brian has been on a never-ending hunt for beautiful tones.
Almost ten years later, Brian’s boutique guitar pedal company is responsible for some of the best guitar tones in the world. Brian tried every available pedal early on, but nothing gave him the sounds he was after. As a result of not being satisfied with the tones he heard in his head, he began modifying and adjusting his pedals in small ways.
Eventually, even the improved pedals didn’t cut it, so Brian began creating new designs that sounded unlike anything else. This was the beginning of Wampler Pedals, and the rest, as they say, is history. With a wide variety of currently available products and more on the way, Brian Wampler is making it his mission to introduce exceptional guitar players to the world’s best guitar sound.
However, the time it takes for a guitar pedal to go from concept to market might be considerable. Therefore, Brian has assembled a stellar crew to guarantee that every pedal they produce is of the same high standard as if he had produced it personally.
Each effect pedal is constructed to last a lifetime of heavy use in the studio and on the road using the best materials available. Many businesses begin with the purpose of providing a valuable service or product at an affordable price.
Unfortunately, quality can sometimes be the first thing to go as businesses expand. Although Brian’s original concept for creating sturdy, tone-packed boutique pedals that inspire musicians has evolved as Wampler Pedals has grown, it has never changed.
Claim To Fame: (Tumnus)
Even though the original Klon Centaur lies smack in the heart of the overlap between the circles labeled “rare” and “expensive,” several excellent clones are available, and the Tumnus is one of the better units. It’s a great-sounding recreation of the most elusive overdrive in the business, and it fits in a small-form-factor enclosure that’s just the size of a 1590A, so it doesn’t take up much room on your pedalboard.
While the Klon is typically described as “transparent,” we’ve always found it to be distinctively colored, chewy in its driving character at lower gain settings, and crunchy and dry when the gain is turned up. The Tumnus shares these characteristics as well.
Although not transparent, it can be used as a slightly colored boost in front of a tube amp with the gain turned down and the volume turned up. Of course, it’s sacrilegious to use a cheap Tumnus to drive a tube amp to saturation, but it would be crazy to shell out for the real thing if you only need it for this one purpose.
Contemporary Offerings: (Belle)
For almost a decade, Nashville cats have been pumping their amps and stacking their stomps using a specific batch of pea-green German drive pedals.
Wampler Belle, his creation, incorporates this genre-defining overdrive pedal’s transparent personality and soft saturation. The Wampler Belle, like the original circuit it was based on, provides a ton of stackable gain with a distinctive quality that works well with amps and axes.
Countless musicians in Nashville, like Brian Wampler, have favored the other green OD for over a decade because of its clear tone and organic feel. The Wampler Belle is a fine-tuned version of this iconic German circuit, providing extra front-end gain and harmonic excitement for vibrant country leads, slick blues solos, and meaty moderate-rock crunch.
- Tone Shaping
Despite extreme tonal manipulation, Belle will not alter the signal’s midrange. Instead, the flexible double-filter Color control of the Belle is where the magic happens. Without sacrificing the all-important intermediate frequencies, you can fine-tune the high- and low-frequency components to your specifications.
Those who enjoy the OG green will appreciate the Wampler Belle’s expanded sonic palette, courtesy of the instrument’s Bass and Clipping knobs. The cab gets a heart-pounding thumb when the Bass knob is turned past 3 o’clock.
However, you’ll agree that turning it up adds a response many will find lacking in the original and allows you to chisel out troublesome bass frequencies in a dense mix. Wampler’s Clipping switch, located on the side, is also distinctive. To enhance harmonic saturation and achieve a compressed attack ideal for lead and solo breaks, activate this at any moment.
When you get a Fulltone pedal in your hands, you will know it immediately due to the weight of the box, the resistance of the potentiometers, and the exceptionally high degree of finish present throughout the pedal.
Although he began his career as a Session Guitarist, Composer, and Performer in 1991, 2018 marks his official launch of Fulltone as a band. After being featured in Guitar Player Magazine as a winner of their Ultimate Guitarist competition, he began receiving calls from others inquiring about purchasing pedals.
A passion for music, good instruments and sound, and the will to create indestructible goods gave birth to Fulltone pedals. An early appreciation for vintage pedals led him to found Fulltone out of frustration with the inconsistent and fragile nature of similar existing products.
As a result, all their effects pedals have either True Bypass switching or their unique Enhanced Bypass with an LED status indicator. The Fulltone 3PDT is the only Double Throw footswitch in the world, and they designed and made it.
Because regular pots are so fragile that they’ll crack with even light pressure, They created and had them fabricated mainly for Fulltone. Their Southern California workshop is where every Fulltone pedal is conceived, produced, and tested by hand with the finest parts available.
Claim To Fame: (OCD)
Depending on the model, the OCD might range from barely audible compression and hardly audible driving. It has a distinct tone that can sometimes overpower your amp’s natural sound, but it’s similar to the TS or the Klon, which all have recognizable tones. OCD is sometimes advertised as a “transparent” overdrive, but people wouldn’t use that term because it significantly alters your tone in nearly every setting.
Contemporary Offerings: (’69 MkII)
If you crank down your guitar’s level, the Fulltone ’69 MkII cleans up like a classic Fender amp, ready to produce fat and harmonic fuzz whenever needed. This is a new secret weapon for the Rolling Stones. Featuring two carefully selected and tested germanium transistors, the ’69 MkII fuzz is perfect for fans of the first two Hendrix albums.
Due to their extreme sensitivity to temperature changes, controlling the bias is crucial for most Germanium transistor fuzzes. Here, the third Input Bias control is a small knob, and there’s also a tiny Contour knob for fine-tuning bass, treble, and everything in between.
Any fuzz enthusiast would do well to include this one in their arsenal; it is among the most practical and adaptable Germanium Fuzz Faces currently available.
The ’69 mkII can only be powered by a center-pin-positive power source due to the Germanium transistors it uses. As a result, the ’69 mkII is best powered by the optional Fulltone FPS-2. In addition, the ’69 mkII and other pedals that require reverse polarity may be powered using a multi-pedal power source.
With just four knobs, you can fine-tune the input level and add the proper amount of fuzz. In addition, the effect’s midrange, harmonics, and sustain can all be fine-tuned with the contour control, and you may set the volume to match your amp perfectly.
9. Walrus Audio
The members of Walrus Audio are a diverse group of creative minds in the music and engineering industries searching for the sweet spot where sound modification is both an art form and a live performance.
The actual breakup on overdrive, a rich, punchy distortion, an endlessly extended reverb, a self-oscillating delay—these are just some of the sounds that have inspired us over the years and from their favorite businesses. After months of sound-tweaking, they have developed a set of guitar pedals that is as flexible as it is functional.
Walrus Audio is located smack dab in the middle of Oklahoma, in the thick of Tornado Alley, where more than fifty tornadoes touch down each year. Yet, walrus Audio, an Oklahoma City-based collective of musicians, circuit-benders, and artists, has been thriving despite the constant threat of natural disasters since the group’s inception in 2011.
However, they could only have gotten to where they’re are now by experimenting with various circuits to create something unique and valuable that was also dynamic. You can never be sure of the results of a part swap in an analog circuit.
Some ideas that don’t make sense on paper can become masterpieces, while others that do make sense can sound dreadful. Colt explains that Walrus Audio’s success can be attributed to the company’s dedication to developing and refining its products through trial and error.
The number of effects pedals available from Walrus has grown to over a dozen. Power supplies, full bypass loop switchers, and preset controllers are some pedalboard-based tools and accessories included in the lineup. When it comes to aesthetics, Walrus Audio is unrivaled in the market.
Also, be aware of the company’s reputation; everything is built by a quality-obsessed team of builders who pay close attention to minor details. These creators, companions, and visionaries have a lot of information to impart and are continually wondering what further they can do to help move the world forward.
Claim To Fame: (Jupiter V2)
It’s a versatile little fuzz, similar to the Big Muff but with additional tonal shaping controls. You may adjust the compression level with the Level and Fuzz Tone knobs, the three-position Clipping switch, and the Mid Scoop Boost.
Last but not least, it contains a Bass Boost option for honing in and clarifying the tone at greater saturation settings. Although there are more versatile fuzzes at this level with additional knobs, this one sounds fantastic despite its shortcomings. If you want to tone down the violence or even simulate a depleting battery, Jupiter’s built-in noise gate may help you do that.
Contemporary Offerings: (Eons)
Throughout the ages, people have attributed thunder to the gods, thinking that it reverberates from on high while we cower in fear below.
But only the bold of explorers have ever caught sight of the stoic and tenacious beast that lives in the highest mountains, according to mythology. This beast has more gnarled and twisted horns than the Earth itself, and it uses them to sound an alarm and scare away any potential threats.
The highlight of the Eons is its five-position mode switch, which gives you access to five distinct “states” that span the whole spectrum of fuzz’s history. A traditional soft-clipping silicon-style fuzz with a warm responsiveness and mellowed upper end is what you get in the first preset.
The second option also similarly uses clipping but boosts the volume and emphasizes the bass. Third, precisely, it’s a harsh and dynamic fuzz in the style of germanium soft clipping. The LED clipping diodes produce a significantly deeper shade in the final set.
This setting works wonderfully for reducing amplified instruments and other sources of excessive volume. Fifthly, for a great Eons experience, silicon hard-clipping transistors are combined with silicon soft-clipping diodes and light-emitting diodes. In this setting, your voice will be compressed and compressed, giving it a harsh quality.
- Voltage Control
Despite the Eons’ “5-state” designation, a wide range of tones is accessible via a variable voltage knob that alters the “fuzzy voice” of each state.
For example, the lowest 3V settings on Eons generate a harsh, stuttering tone reminiscent of a gated fuzz—a trendy setting among garage rockers. You may turn it up to 18 volts for enormous, distorted walls of sound, or you can adjust the knob to create a fuzz tone that falls halfway in between.
Keeping with the same basic layout, a five-way mode switch provides access to several fuzz effects that you may fine-tune via a set of five dials. Standard dirt pedal features include volume, gain, bass, and treble adjustments, but this one has a secret weapon: a fifth knob that allows you to starve the circuit from 18 volts down to a ‘battery-on-its-last-legs’ 3 volts.
Regarding guitar effects pedals, Electro-Harmonix is a name that has become synonymous with quality. EHX, founded in the 1960s by the late great engineer Mike Matthews, is responsible for many legendary guitar effects. The Memory Man, Small Stone, and Big Muff are just a few of the pedals that have profoundly impacted guitarists of all ages and led to the development of an infinite variety of sounds.
Since its founding in 1968 by Mike Matthews, the New York City-based company Electro-Harmonix has been instrumental in creating the sounds of contemporary popular music. Matthews began his career in sales at IBM, where he utilized his unusual blend of business sense and technical knowledge.
He learned the ropes of the business there, which he put to good use when EHX took off in the ’70s. Over the years, Matthews has claimed that his initial invention, the LPB-1 boost, helped to change music by pushing amps to their sonic limitations, and the popularity of his straightforward booster contributed to the growth of his fledgling business.
Fuzz box manufacturer EHX followed up on the success of the LPB-1 with the Big Muff Pi, which was able to accurately recreate the overdriven sound of artists like Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones. EHX’s initial pedal made a lasting impact by emulating the sounds of several well-known bands and musicians.
Many guitarists consider the Big Muff Pi the best fuzz box available due to its massive pressed steel chassis and unusual moniker. The Big Muff Pi was pivotal in establishing EHX as a formidable player in the rapidly expanding guitar effect manufacturing industry. Its design has been widely imitated, but its sound has never been recreated to the same degree.
The fuzz box Matthews built under contract for Guild inspired him to invent the guitar pedal everyone wanted; rumor is that Jimi Hendrix himself bought one from Manny’s Music in New York during a 1968 visit. According to an interview with Premier Guitar, Matthews also possesses a signed personal check from Carlos Santana that he used to buy his own Big Muff Pi in 1971.
Nearly half a century after its introduction, the Big Muff Pi continues to sell well, with Matthews estimating that around 3,000 pieces are sold each month. The LPB-1 boost is also popular, with EHX selling around 600 units each month.
Both of these innovations were crucial in establishing EHX as a global powerhouse, and the company’s headquarters and primary assembly and product finishing facilities remain in Queens even today.
Claim To Fame: (Big Muff Pi)
It all began with the Big Muff Pi pedal. Many famous performers, including Hendrix and Santana, used the Big Muff Pi distortion pedal because of its velvety smoothness and violin-like sustain. This pedal has been a staple of the rock guitar setup for the past three decades, and its sound has become instantly recognizable.
The Electro-Harmonix edition of the 1970s’ iconic Big Muff Pi features the same three controls as the original, allowing the player to achieve the highest possible harmonic distortion and sustain. You can change the volume with the Volume pedal.
The Big Muff Pi’s Tone knob offers a wide variety of sounds, from rich bass to piercing treble, while the Sustain knob ensures a long sustain with the ideal amount of harmonic distortion.
Contemporary Offerings: (Op-Amp Big Muff Pi)
Corgan and EHX meticulously designed the Op-Amp Big Muff Pi to capture the sound and feel of the original. This effect accurately reproduces the distorted and explosive sounds of Billy’s pedal. Although EHX has yet to reintroduce this particular version of the Big Muff, its distinction from standard transistor-based Big Muffs and its affiliation with a particular band have led to a proliferation of knockoffs.
Small as it is, the pedal still features the standard Big Muff controls of Volume, Tone, and Sustain, as well as a switch that allows you to bypass the Tone control entirely. It provides the trademark Big Muff Pi blend of distortion and fuzz, but the devil is in the specifics.
The sound has more coarseness than what you could get from a conventional transistor-based Big Muff, a gritty crunch that works well with grunge riffs and thick ‘n’ heavy chord work.
In 1978, EHX temporarily abandoned the four-transistor circuitry of the original Big Muff Pi in favor of a design based on op-amps (integrated circuits) that required one fewer gain stage. Unfortunately, only a few thousand of this variant, known as the IC, were produced before production switched back to transistor circuits.
Corgan’s sound typically consisted of layering five, ten, or twenty guitar parts with changing intensities and voicings rather than a single full-range performance.
So whether you’re looking for scorching, snarling leads or sad, lingering pedal-point drones, the Op-Amp Big Muff Pi has you covered. In addition, the tone bypass function, which lets you briefly override your settings for bursts of raw power, was praised by reviewers.
11. EarthQuaker Devices
Like many other effect manufacturers, Earthquaker Devices started with a single guy and a malfunctioning overdrive pedal. However, Jamie Stillman would spend a lifetime keeping Earthquaker Devices unique from other effects companies.
Earthquaker is a pedal company with a strong DIY attitude and an unwillingness to bow to anyone. They produce pedals the way they want, emphasizing fun and fair treatment of employees.
Musician Jamie Stillman established EarthQuaker Devices in 2004. Stillman ran the Donut Friends record label out of his home in Kent, Ohio, between 1993 and 2002, publishing over fifty albums by punk, metal, and shoegaze bands who went on to amass a cult following across the world.
After fixing a malfunctioning overdrive, Stillman got the idea to create his own effects pedal. This hands-on experience sparked his interest in electronics, and he eventually got obsessed with circuit design, selling his custom creations on eBay while also maintaining several part-time jobs.
Stillman’s first mass-produced pedal, the Hoof fuzz, came out in 2007. Stillman could leave his day job, hire his first staff, and devote himself full-time to developing and building effects after the Hoof became a hot topic of conversation in several internet forums.
Jamie claims that between 2006 and 2010, he manually constructed up to 2,000 Devices. Stillman assembled and shipped the first EarthQuaker Devices out of the basement of his West Akron home. He did everything from populating the circuit boards to soldering the enclosures and printing the screens.
Stillman turned his cellar into a full-time pedal factory, employing nine people to crank hundreds of pedals weekly. EarthQuaker Devices’ present location is a two-story, 15,000-square-foot space that underwent extensive renovations in 2015.
EarthQuaker Devices has settled into its new home with 40+ workers and 40+ Devices. Jamie Stillman does research and development (R&D) in-house and creates each Device to exact specifications to accomplish his creative vision, turning EarthQuaker Devices from one musician’s passion project into a livelihood for the music society of Ohio.
Claim To Fame: (Plumes)
The Plumes is a low to medium-gain overdrive pedal with a few neat features; EarthQuaker Devices is known for its wide variety of unusual effects pedals. For some reason, the sight of overdrive in a green shell triggers a Pavlovian response often reserved for the most well-known drive pedals, and EarthQuaker has developed a circuit that can provide that kind of gain.
This pedal gains secret depths thanks to its three clipping modes, which you can access via a toggle switch. The Plumes is a versatile overdrive/boost with a low gain that may be used subtly or cranked up for a more powerful sound. There’s a lot of wiggle between the various clipping modes and the three knobs on top of the Plumes for Level, Gain, and Tone.
Contemporary Offerings: (Plumes Small Signal)
Because it uses JFET op-amps, this strong OD has a lot of sparkle and definition. LED clipping, op-amp clean boost, and transparent silicon diode clipping are the three settings that allow you to introduce grit into your playing, goose your amp, and boost yourself, respectively. Additionally, the Tone knob allows for fine-tuning your clipped voice.
First, instead of using a standard JRC4558 circuit and bipolar transistor buffers, Plumes opts for JFET op-amps. In addition, it increases the input impedance to roughly ten megaohms. Finally, it takes a 9-volt input and converts it to +/- 9 volts inside so that Plumes can run on that.
Compared to its forerunner, Plumes has less noise, better signal integrity, more headroom, more dimensions, and greater clarity. It also provides a substantial amount of compression and an abundance of sustain.
Plumes are one of the most adaptable OD stompboxes since it has three clipping modes, while many overdrives only have one. In Mode 1, you can take advantage of the symmetrical LED clipping that provides an abundance of crunch and compression.
The atmosphere here is perfect for raw, gritty rock ‘n’ roll sounds. Mode 2 is an op-amp clean boost with a lot of headroom. In this mode, the soft-clipping diodes are bypassed entirely, leaving you with a straight op-amp drive that is ideal for gently breaking up your clean amplifier.
Finally, mode 3, an asymmetrical arrangement of silicon diodes, generates a familiar-sounding drive with improved clarity and transparency.
- Tone Knob
About 75% of the Tone knob’s range is usable on most overdrive pedals. The other options either result in muddy sounds or extremely high mids that are painful to listen to. In light of this, Plumes adjusts its behavior. Across its range, the Tone knob comes in handy.
It’s as if EarthQuaker Devices took the effective range of a standard overdrive’s Tone control and distributed it uniformly throughout Plumes’ whole volume range. When turned counterclockwise, Plumes’ Tone control produces deep, clean bass that isn’t boomy or muddy. If you turn the Tone knob to the right (clockwise), you’ll get more brightness and clarity without damaging your hearing.
You rarely see a guitar pedals company like Mooer Audio, which specializes in great economic clones of popular pedals and amp simulators. The “sleeper” brand in clone pedals, Mooer is quickly becoming a household name. However, most musicians will not openly claim to be Mooer fans, making the pedal the equivalent of a dirty little secret in the pedal community.
A Short Background on Mooer Pedals Mooer Audio, based in Shenzhen, China, has been producing its miniaturized guitar pedals for several years. Recording such wonderful tones in such tiny enclosures has been an essential factor in its unparalleled success.
Since these pedals are so compact, you’ll have more room on your pedalboard to accommodate other effects. Companies like Mooer have capitalized on the growing popularity of “miniature effects pedals” for use on “pedalboards,” with a specialized effect available to meet virtually any musical requirement.
Mooer Pedals’ size in comparison Despite their size, you can easily navigate the Mooer Mountains thanks to their clear divisions. Although they started off producing only micro pedals, they introduced a Pro Series that will include pedals like the Pedals and Miniature.
Anyone with even a basic knowledge of guitar pedals over the years can immediately recognize the similarities between Mooer pedals and their more expensive relatives, like the Ninety Orange Phaser and the Green Mile Overdrive.
Preamps It was at the 2017 NAMM show when Mooer debuted their new line of miniature preamp pedals with an integrated Cab Sim. These pedals may stand in for your regular amplifier when you’re in a jam, or they can do the job permanently if you’d instead never use an amp again.
It lets you record with your guitar connected directly to the interface, allowing you to get a tremendous direct guitar sound and still use your other effects pedals in front of the preamp, just like you would with a regular guitar amp. The range’s preamp pedals recreate well-known guitar sounds at a lesser price.
Claim To Fame: (E7)
Mooer’s E7 is a versatile synth pedal with ambient reverb and delay. Incredibly, such a little polyphonic synthesizer with an arpeggiator exists. You can fine-tune a patch using the controls for attack, speed, mix, and EQ; however, people recommend turning the mix down.
Though it’s excellent for pads, especially with the attack backed off, it doesn‘t have a lot of range of motion. It’s hard to complain about the pricing, especially considering how well it complements external delay and reverb effects.
Contemporary Offerings: (Lofi Machine 25)
The gentle crush of this straightforward and user-friendly box will soothe your spirit and sound neither obtuse nor unpredictable in your mix unless you specifically design it to do so. Your stress will melt away as you feel the soft crush of this uncomplicated and user-friendly box, and it won’t sound obtuse or unpredictable in your mix until you make it such.
- Toggle Switch
Switching the filter between Bass, Guitar, and Synth modes, all with descriptive names, improves the instrument’s compatibility with the chosen instrument and provides a relatively intuitive plug-and-play mechanism.
The same can be said for this one; it practically begs to be played. This feature’s focus on ease of use will appeal to guitarists. However, the synth player could be left wanting more.
- Mix Knob
In a pedal like this, it is desirable to adjust the intensity of the effect. This feature allows you to create the ideal layer of effect you’re going for by producing both pleasant and easy lo-fi on the ears.
Most guitarists already aware of Strymon expect the firm to continue to wow them. This group of pedal enthusiasts from Southern California has been getting a lot of attention on these pages over the last few years for their innovative and great pedals.
The Westlake Village, California-based company Damage Control was established in 2004 to produce high-quality goods without sacrificing. To advance and redefine musical technology was the goal of Damage Control. Damage Control ceased production of its line of products in 2009.
Instead, it began producing pedals under the Strymon brand, maintaining its original concept while shifting its emphasis to incorporating premium components and high-powered processors in its guitar effects pedals. Among the first Damage Control pedals to hit the market were the Liquid Blues and the TimeLine.
By switching to Strymon, you can take advantage of their newer DSP technology pedals. One is the El Capistan tape echo pedal, the Flint dual pedal that simulates vintage tremolo and reverb circuits. Seeing a gap in the market, Strymon developed a series of isolated power supplies specifically designed to make their pedals sound great without the hum and distortion.
Strymon’s MIDI Conduit hub was released as the trend of MIDI-controlled guitar and keyboard pedals gained traction. Strymon pedals began using Conduit almost immediately once it became available as a MINI interface.
In keeping with what makes Strymon so potent, the company has not added extra features to their pedals as many others have. As a result, Strymon pedals are renowned for their superior performance and pleasing atmospheric sounds and tones. Many musicians swear by Strymon pedals, which can produce everything from airy delays and reverbs to the incredible tape echo duplication of the El Capistan.
Claim To Fame: (TimeLine)
Due to its exciting delays and user-friendly interface, the Strymon TimeLine may replace your more expensive and antique effects pedals. For instant inspiration, the TimeLine comes equipped with 200 presets, and for fine-tuning in real-time, 12 delay devices with dedicated hardware controllers.
Select a delay, adjust it as needed, and then save it under a new name. In addition, repeats can be shaped and distorted differently for studio-clean, vintage analog, and early digital sounds using the Filter and Grit knobs. You may also utilize the TimeLine’s built-in stereo looper to record up to 30 seconds of music, giving you plenty of time to experiment with new delay effects and incorporate them into live performances.
Contemporary Offerings: (Orbit)
The Orbit Flanger from Strymon is an effects pedal that emulates the sweeping tones of classic analog flanging effects. From choral-like detuning to roaring jet engine sounds, it’s all at your fingertips with the help of intuitive front-panel controls.
You may tailor the pedal’s sound to the performer’s needs thanks to the pedal’s extensive I/O and in-depth editing secondary capabilities. This effects pedal represents a great method of recreating the classic analog tones made famous by bands like The Beatles, Van Halen, and others.
Studio engineers have been using flanging on recordings since the ’60s. On their album Revolver, the Beatles made effective use of this technique. For the “Unchained” riff, Eddie Van Halen turned up the flanger.
Despite being a digital product, the Orbit dBucket Flanger pedal still provides that classic flanger sound, only in a pedal that meets modern standards and utilizes cool processor technology. You can find the swooping sound of a jet plane or that frothy swirl in Orbit.
You may adjust the Orbit’s rate, length, mix, regeneration, and manual controls via its front panel. These five knobs cover a wide range of flanging possibilities. In addition, there are a plethora of secret bonuses that provide granular control over the audio.
For example, if you find a particular sound very helpful and want to access it fast in the future, you can designate it as a Favorite. Press the Favorite footswitch to revert to your previous preferences quickly. Instantaneous alterations are possible via the expression pedal’s input.
Strymon pedals are soon becoming the gold standard for high-end, professional effects. They claim to provide “unparalleled” client service and provide “unparalleled” audio equipment. These pedals from a California firm are known for their superior build quality and robust processors.
There are so many customization options available in each design that are often more extensive than at first glance. Strymon’s pedals are commonplace on the boards of working musicians worldwide due to their sturdy build and great sound.
In the United States, electric guitar effects units manufactured by Keeley Electronics are standard fare. Robert Keeley started the company that would become his home base in Oklahoma City by modifying existing effects pedals from Boss and Ibanez.
After receiving his degree in electrical engineering in 2001, Robert Keeley started his own company. Although he had experience with guitar amplifiers (he had modified his father’s Peavey Deuce), he eventually abandoned that pursuit after realizing that the market was “very saturated and getting more so every day.”
His solution was to take a teaching position at a small technical college, where he could put “some of his best pupils” to refurbish old effects gear, starting with a Ross compressor. Word-of-mouth promotion and the support of celebrities like Brad Paisley helped his business thrive when there were few established players in the market for hand-built effects.
Keeley’s reworked Ibanez TS9 is used by guitar legends like Ike Willis, Jon Herington, and Peter Frampton. Keeley says he was motivated to modify the original design after perusing criticism on online forums frequented by guitar players. He has been working on his effects pedals ever since, starting with a boost pedal.
Since its inception in 2001, his compressor has sold over 27k copies. Due to their rapid success, Keeley Electronics has been called “one of the world’s top-selling guitar effects pedals” by Guitar World. Keeley attributes his success partly to his careful selection of low-tolerance electrical components.
The original factory burned down, so they built a new one to produce guitar pickups and flight cases; it temporarily moved effect pedal manufacture to a different building in 2009.
Claim To Fame: (Compressor Plus)
Keeley’s compressor pedals are well-known worldwide, and the Compressor Plus pedal carries on the company’s tradition of excellence by including player-requested upgrades. To get the best of both worlds—dynamic range and more body—try using the Blend knob.
In response to user feedback, the Keely Compressor Plus now features a Tone knob for fine-tuning the effect of your guitar’s specific sound. In addition, the Attack switch has been streamlined to allow for quick sound adjustment. People recommend this pedal for anyone looking to smooth out the highs on a snarling Tele or add some body to their tone with any guitar.
Contemporary Offerings: (Fuzz Bender)
Incorporating high-gain silicon and seamless germanium transistor, the Keeley Fuzz Bender is a great three-transistor guitar fuzz pedal. When used as an active equalizer, two gyrators create huge fuzz tones that are impossible to achieve with conventional fuzz circuits.
This incredible stompbox features over 20dB of gain and is stocked to the gills with out-of-the-ordinary tones, which you can take to the next level with Gate Control for a nuanced blend that offers up glitchy, ripping sounds and more.
Robert Keeley is well-versed in reimagining conventional pedal layouts. The Fuzz Bender is an innovative take on the classic 3-transistor Tone Bender design. Keeley’s latest innovation includes an active equalization stage, which is unusual, and a hybrid array that combines two silicon and one Japanese-made germanium transistor.
There’s no shortage of classic fuzz tones, but the sensitive, versatile control set also makes it easy to dial in a wide variety of interesting, one-of-a-kind ones.
The two-tone knobs may look mundane, but they are part of an active gyrator EQ stage that provides 20 dB of boost and cut to simulate the behavior of mixing-desk controls. Thus, you may mold a wide variety of voicings that conventional fuzzes can’t come close to matching.
The sustain and character of the fuzz tone are also affected by the bias knob’s manipulation of the transistors’ hot/cold bias. These two characteristics push the Fuzz Bender above mere retro sound imitation.
The vastly adjustable wild bias knob adds even more flexibility. The bias knob produces a wide range of sounds, from rich and creamy to bright and spitty and glitchy, with virtually octave-divided higher harmonics, popular with extreme noise chasers.
Various possibilities exist for shaping very unusual textures, thanks to the fuzz’s ability to straddle the line between faithful recreations of traditional fuzz sounds and tones that defy easy categorization.
Behringer has gone from obscurity to prominence because of their massive lineup of reasonably priced pedals that can hold their own against the industry’s most well-known brands. In the late ’80s, Uli Behringer started the company to make quality and other musical instruments available to a broad audience at a reasonable price.
Behringer has expanded their product line over the years to include various audio accessories. In the years afterward, they’ve built up a reputation for themselves because of the widespread adoption of their pedals, which are notable for two main reasons: their typically plastic structure and remarkable parallels to popular pedals from other firms.
It was in 1989 that a man named Uli Behringer founded the company that would become known as Behringer. As part of the more prominent Music Tribe family of brands, Behringer is only one of several. Music Tribe isn’t a household name, but they have massive production capacity because they own Music Tribe City in China, a massive manufacturing complex with on-site housing for workers.
Music Tribe’s massive infrastructure guarantees large production quantities, which maintains cheap production costs. Behringer has better price control than businesses that rent space in third-party facilities because they run their production. This is a critical piece of information on their pricing structure.
They have their facilities and don’t make exact copies of popular pedals, instead taking inspiration from them. To compete with higher-priced brands like Boss, Behringer will employ cheaper materials like plastic for its pedal bodies while maintaining the same functionality.
It’s more likely that your signal will degrade if you have a lot of pedals plugged in at once. Buffered pedal circuits preserve the instrument’s tonal integrity by amplifying the guitar’s signal before sending it to the amp. Despite their low price, Behringer’s pedals include a buffer in the circuitry that prevents considerable signal loss when multiple pedals are stacked between the guitar and the amp.
Having a buffer is usually only found on high-end pedals; therefore, including one on Behringer’s cheap pedals significantly boosts their desirability.
Claim To Fame: (SF300)
Guitarists of all skill levels will find a use for the Behringer SF300 Super Fuzz. With such a low price, even beginner and intermediate guitarists can experiment with effects by constructing their pedal boards.
The Super Fuzz is ideal for the working musician, someone who has been playing for a while, regularly plays in gigs, and understands that affordability and performance are far more important than a big brand name. Finally, you can understand the pedal’s popularity given the meager price offered by this Behringer model, which includes functionality often seen on much more expensive models.
Contemporary Offerings: (TO800)
Since the Ibanez Tube Screamer is a staple of every pedalboard, it’s no surprise that many companies have attempted to create their versions of the effect. Likewise, no one should be surprised to learn that the budget pedal manufacturer Behringer has created its version of the fabled green overdrive stomp boxes.
The TO800 is aimed squarely at guitarists of all skill levels. Thanks to advancements in electronics, companies can now produce great effects pedals for pennies on the dollar.
Any guitarist who has previously played a Tube Screamer will feel at home with the TO800’s configuration. The effect is activated with a hinged pedal and three knobs. The controls include a “drive” knob, “tone” knob, and “level” knob.
Turning the pedal’s “drive” knob adjusts the overdrive’s level of distortion from zero to maximum. Tone lets you tweak the volume of high- and low-frequency sounds independently. The volume knob is used only for the preamp’s volume.
The TO800 can be powered either by a 9v battery or a DC adaptor, such as Behringer’s PSU-SB. In tests, the pedal scarcely consumed the battery’s power. Throughout the evaluation period, which lasted about 8 hours, there was no indication that the battery was running low.
This tube overdrive pedal is modeled after the distortion produced by overdriven valve amplifiers in the analog era. Since this natural distortion sounds so good to the ear, tube amplifiers are in high demand.
Tube overdrive pedals accomplish this by increasing the signal’s input gain past the point where the signal clips. In addition, Overdrive pedals use mild clipping, which yields a more organic sound than the severe clipping used by fuzz pedals.
The TO800, like the rest of Behringer’s pedals, is encased in plastic. It’s hardly bulletproof, but it’s not precisely flimsy, either. The chassis is coated in a vintage-inspired shade of green that calls to mind another iconic overdrive pedal.
16. Mission Engineering
If you’re looking for high-quality volume and expression pedals, go no further than Mission Engineering. They’ve made a name for themselves as industry leaders because of their dedication and creativity in this deceptively straightforward field. Ben Burnley, Misha Mansoor, Dustin Kensrue, and Robert Trujillo are some well-known people who have tried it.
Mission Engineering was founded in a garage in Petaluma, California, in 2009 to create the Mission SP-1, the first switching expression pedal compatible with today’s digital amplifiers and effects. They’ve now gone on to open multiple locations, create the first programmable multi-expression controller, and develop the first stereo full-range active speaker specifically designed for use in modeling instruments.
They bought the Stagecraft company in 2015. You can find speakers and amplifier cabinets for Mission and other independent audio manufacturers at this St. Louis plant. It’s safe to assume that Mission Engineering has it in stock for any multi-fx volume or expression pedal you’re looking for. Their EP-1 expression pedal is a best-seller and a reliable worker in the industry.
They also have specialized expression pedals for brands like Kemper and Line 6. Even expressive pedals like the VM-1 and the VM-Pro with a buffer are available. Mission Gemini is great amplification because it combines bit-perfect USB audio, Bluetooth connectivity, and coaxial full-range speakers with conventionally constructed cabinets.
Gemini offers the ideal speaker solution for use with modeling amplifiers and software-based guitar systems, with a wide selection of mono, stereo, active, and passive configurations and a variety of cabinet designs.
Claim To Fame: (SP1-ND)
The SP-1 was the flagship expression pedal by Mission Engineering. It revolutionized the category with its seemingly infinite sonic possibilities and rugged, professional design that they made with touring in mind. With the SP1-ND, you can now control and modify various effects processors with expression inputs using NeuralDSP’s sleek Quad Cortex modeler and profiler.
Connecting the SP1-ND to the Quad Cortex’s pair of expression inputs gives you instant access to silky smooth expression at your feet. The pedal’s integrated toe switch also makes it easy to involve and disconnect effects without additional hardware, a feature that guitarists greatly appreciate.
The SP1-ND has a rubber pedal surface for nonslip operation and a metallic-grey appearance that goes perfectly with the Quad Cortex.
Contemporary Offerings: (Expressionator)
The Expressionator is the first multi-expression controller that can be programmed. To control many effects at once or independently, you can link up to three effects that support expression to a single expression pedal. Expressionator is a digital device that takes an expression pedal’s input, saves it digitally, and outputs three separate analog signals through digital potentiometers or control voltage.
All your preferences and programs are stored in flash memory and ready to run upon power. The Expressionator may be utilized with modules, keyboards, rack units, and MIDI, thanks to its per-channel switchability between passive expression and +5V CV out.
As an input, you may plug in nearly any TRS expression pedal. For example, if you only have a passive volume pedal, Expressionator can make it act like a linear expression pedal.
A pedal’s location on each channel is remembered by the Expressionator, such as an analog splitter, so you may keep an effect set as you switch modes. For example, set the level to 50%, and Expressionator will keep it there while you use your expression pedal to adjust the wah. You can regain control of the volume at any time by switching back.
You can customize each effect’s beginning, ending, and duration by programming its corresponding channel. Not every effect requires a separate expression pedal. For example, the expression pedal may be programmed to simultaneously adjust the volume, delay times, and reverb mix of various effects.
17. Source Audio
The founders of Source Audio are a group of ex-Analog Devices executives. Considering the abundance of pedal manufacturers, that durability is noteworthy. Source Audio is not considered a boutique vendor because its prices are fair compared to the value they provide, and they always follow through with delivering the products they promise. Source Audio makes some direct sales but sells through guitar shops.
This manufacturer of guitar effects pedals, Source Audio, is located in the greater Boston area. They have the C4 Synth, a pedal format modular rack synthesizer, the Nemesis Delay, and the Ventris Dual Reverb and Collider Delay+Reverb for electric guitar and bass.
The Hot Hand Wireless Effects Controller, worn on the finger and based on an accelerometer to transmit an expression signal to an effect such as an envelope filter, is another invention of theirs. Digital signal processing (DSP) is Source Audio’s primary effect creation method, and the company is well-known for programming its processor chips.
While employed at rival semiconductor company Analog Devices, coworkers Roger Smith and Jesse Remignanti formed Source Audio in 2005. Controller Ring uses an accelerometer developed by Analog Devices to translate hand motion into a digital signal.
The unit’s 11 wah filters allow for various wah effects, including wahs and loudness swell. SA debuted the Soundblox Pro Series during the 2010 NAMM exhibit. In addition to the same effect types as the equivalent Soundblox pedals.
Likewise, Source Audio’s Bass Distortion pedals marked the company’s debut in the bass effects pedal market in 2010. Like the Soundblox Pro Multiwave Distortion for guitar, the Bass Multiwave uses signal processing, though it does it in a way that better accommodates the bass guitar’s lower frequency range.
The Source Audio Collider packs 12 of the company’s best delay and reverb effects into a tiny pedal with tons of juice and clear knobs. The Collider’s straightforward interface makes it simple to experiment with different pairs of delay and reverb engines.
Claim To Fame: (Nemesis)
You can get lost in tape or analog delays or go crazy with pitch shifts, reversals, filter modulation, rhythmic taps, and more. You may quickly and easily create any sound you can imagine with the help of Source Audio’s Nemesis Delay, which is equipped with 24 different effect engines.
One can use the 128 available presets to store their personal preferences in sound. The Nemesis Delay is a severe performance tool with features like tap tempo, an expression input, and external switching. The Neuro Mobile App allows users of Nemesis Delay to access sophisticated MIDI editing tools and control choices from virtually anywhere.
You can make any delay effect you can think of using a Nemesis Delay. Source Audio has done a fantastic job of recreating the flutter, warmth, and color hallmarks of classic tape and bucket brigade delays.
Contemporary Offerings: (C4)
Source Audio’s C4 Synth Pedal is a tiny, long-lasting effects pedal for guitar or bass that channels the sound of a classic Eurorack modular synthesizer. The C4’s four essential knobs, three guitar/bass synth effects, and many patch storage and recall methods contribute to the instrument’s ease of use, lightning-fast response, incredible tracking capacity, and limitless sonic potential.
So plug in your guitar and start playing to immerse yourself in an ocean of incredible synth tones. Then, connect the C4 to the Neuro Desktop Editor or Neuro Mobile App from Source Audio to take your sound design to the next level.
- Neuro Compatible
With the Neuro Editors for desktop and mobile, you can make retro-futuristic synth patches that are out of this world. You can create sounds with the C4’s vast array of effects, including its four parallel voices. Everything from the timeless synth tones you’ve always wanted to use on your guitar or bass to the fleeting moments of musical brilliance you’ve ever imagined is at your fingertips.
There is a three-way toggle switch in addition to the Input/Sensitivity, Mix/Volume, Control 1, and Control 2 knobs to access the onboard preset menu. Pressing the Alternative button on the unit’s top reveals a second bank of presets you can access via a pedal and additional envelope sensitivity and volume controls.
The presets on the C4 Synth are essential, with the instrument’s four voice blocks, three oscillator wave patterns, and twenty filters. As a result, all sorts of sounds, from the classical to the experimental, are at your fingertips. You may save 120 presets, select from six of them using the pedal’s in-built controls, and access the rest through MIDI.
At last, we can declare that once you open that first pedal, you’re in for a lengthy ride. In most cases, fostering your imagination doesn’t require much effort or money, making it a worthwhile practice. Thinking about what your sound is missing and how your first pedal can fix that is useful.
Consider if you’d like airy reverb sounds or those from the past if you’d like loud, feedbacking distortion, a sweet, subtle overdrive, and so on. You may adjust the parameters of even the most basic pedals to produce a wide variety of tones, which you can then combine with the guitar and amplifier of your choice to create a personalized sound.
This industry has innovated various circuits and technologies, with some businesses even creating hybrid pedal solutions. For instance, the Hall of Fame 2 pedal is responsible for a sea change in how businesses implement cutting-edge technology into what we refer to as the new analog. In addition, they came up with TonePrint, which stores your settings and provides precise pedal control.
Even if there is room for improvement in this technology, they are headed in the right direction. Of note in this context is Mooer, which provides nano-sized technological pedals that mimic classic pedals but are more affordable. When planning for growth, this company should be among your top picks.
Electro-Harmonix is the obvious choice if the desired sound is a throwback metal sound. Thanks to Electro-Harmonix, we are unquestionably “richer” in instantly recognizable tracks thanks to Big Muff’s distinctive sound.
Nonetheless, if we’re talking about solutions of the same quality but with a more recent pedigree, Strymon is one of the most intricate available. Since the company’s founding in 2004 and its rebranding in 2009, much has altered regarding delays, reverbs, and other effects. This company operates at an unfathomable level; trying it once will forever alter your perception of pedals.
Brands like these are constantly adapting and changing, so it’s helpful to understand where they came from to understand better how you might feel about their current offerings.
Death metal enthusiast here. I am a Romanian musician and producer with over 13 years of experience in the music industry. I’ve experienced all types of Metal up until now, playing Melodic Death Metal, Brutal Death Metal, and Black Metal with different bands. Learning by doing is my base principle, which is why I’ve been drawn to sound design from an early age. Read more…