Many are those who would say that a guitar pedal should be a direct reflection of the guitarist and the style they play. Seeing how even the best pedals are all built to meet roughly the same operational standards, there is perhaps some truth in what passionate guitarists say. The biggest problem with looking at things subjectively, however, is that it prevents you from determining the true value of things in a more pragmatic manner.
With that in mind, we should perhaps point out that there are indeed differences between guitar pedals in different price ranges and that you cannot expect a low-end pedal to behave the way a professional model would. It isn’t just the acoustics that suffers from a sub-par pedal but the guitarist’s convenience and general comfort. Let us then find out what are the ten best guitar pedals the market has to offer and what characteristics to look for when buying one.
Best Guitar Pedals Reviews & Buying Guide
#10 MXR EVH117 Flanger Guitar Effects Pedal
MXR is known to be one of the biggest guitar pedal brands out there and the EVH117 Flanger is a perfect example of why that is. It is a world-class device by most standards, one used by some of the most famous musicians in the industry, including Van Halen. It comes with bucket-brigade technology that produces wooshing and sweeping tones. The EVH Switch calls up Van Halen’s “Unchained” guitar tone so you can produce the exact sound like the original. Although it requires two 9V batteries to run, it can also be powered with an 18-volt AC adapter.
- Enjoys an original bucket-brigade design
- It is equipped with highly controllable parameters
- Can be switched to an ‘Unchained’ tone with a special switch
- Very comfortable due to its ingenious construction
- A bit expensive
- Will not work properly through an FX loop
#9 Wampler Ego Compressor Guitar Effects Pedal
With the Wampler Ego Compressor Guitar Effects Pedal, you will get superb tones with ease and speed. This pedal, made is the USA, is a high-quality product that offers amazing blend control for your favorite tones. The pedal comes with high-grade film capacitors and resistors that are known for their response and sound. It also has a completely true bypass feature and it allows you to get sustain only which is ideal for playing with distortion. This guitar pedal is used by musicians around the world and can be used for any genre.
- Features high-grade film capacitors and resistors for a better response
- Its blend control allows you to get sustain only
- It is a handcrafted device
- Can deliver a true bypass
- Generates a bit of noise when the compression gets a bit heavier
- Its user interface is a bit too complicated
#8 BOSS Audio Systems GE-7 7-Band EQ Pedal
BOSS is another world-renowned guitar pedal manufacturer and the GE-7 7-Band EQ Pedal is probably one of the most highly recommend gadgets for musicians. The pedal offers you 7-band EQ which is quite unique when it comes to pedals. The pedal ranges from 100 Hz to 6.4 kHz which lets you control your guitar just the way you want to. The boost/cut of 15dB plus or minus also helps you get the most out of your guitar. Although its performance can be described as simple, it works really well and produces clean, rich, and warm tones.
- Great for live performance displays
- It is equipped with a recording direct-in feature
- Comes with a superior tube amp
- It is rather maneuverable all things considered
- It requires a noise suppressor for certain frequencies
- The EQ is a little small
#7 Jim Dunlop MXR M101 Phase 90
The MXR M101 Phase 90 from Jim Dunlop is probably one of the most popular guitar pedals available. It is used by professional and amateur musicians and can be used in any genre including rock, jazz, metal, or even alternative. It can also be used on keyboards, bass guitars, and for vocals to polish any tone. It requires a single 9V battery or can be powered through an AC adapter. It helps produce a rich and warm analog tone to any instrument. You can also add dramatic swooshing and shimmery velocity to your tone at will, a nice feature to have at your disposal.
- It delivers a rich, warm, analog tone
- Can add a shimmery velocity and a dramatic swooshing
- Versatile enough to handle any classic recordings
- It is very easy to operate
- Its effects are a bit odd
- Delivers a bit of a slow oscillation noise
#6 Pro Co RAT2 Distortion Pedal
Seen as one of the very best in the distortion category, the Pro Co RAT2 Distortion Pedal is a clear winner for more than a few reasons. You get superb distortion, fuzz, sustain, and overdrive. With it, you get a real gritty sound with this pedal which is heard mostly in rock and other genres of music. The pedal was made for hard rock and metal but can be used for pop, hip-hop, and other genres as well. It can be used on bass guitars as well and produces equally spectacular sound and tones. Furthermore, in terms of responsiveness, it is quite possibly one of the very best and most popular guitar pedals out there.
- Can be used as a primary distortion
- Perfect for delivering a sparkly clean overdrive
- Its RAT 2 function allows you to use it for an extra kick
- Delivers excellent arena rock rhythms
- Not great as a secondary distortion
- Sounds muddy with extended range guitars
#5 Electro-Harmonix Soul Food Distortion/Fuzz/Overdrive Pedal
The name Electro-Harmonix might not be the most well-known, but the Soul Food Distortion/Fuzz/Overdrive Pedal is a gadget that draws a lot of attention. It is compact, lightweight, and extremely responsive. You get a true bypass or buffered bypass mode option as well the overdrive tone that makes playing your instrument an absolute pleasure. One of the standard features of this pedal is its affordability. The design of the pedal is another factor that has made this pedal one of the best in the market, a design that allows you to operate it at almost any angle with no limitations whatsoever.
- It features a transparent overdrive
- Its boosted power rails deliver great definition
- Enjoys a very responsive interface
- It has a selectable true bypass
- It could hurt if it were a bit sturdier
- Decent transparency but people generally expect more
#4 Zoom MS-70CDR MultiStomp Chorus/Delay/Reverb Pedal
Don’t want individual pedals for reverb and delay? Get the Zoom ZMS70CDR MS-70CDR MultiStomp Chorus/Delay/Reverb Pedal and you will not be disappointed. It offers delay and reverb functions that make your guitar sound like a professional. You even get a good amount of chorus on this pedal which is perfect for performing. There are 86 different classic effects and a built-in tuner. It is compact and lightweight and the interface is quite simple and easy to use, but perhaps its biggest advantage is that it is easily customizable.
- Its easy-to-use interface features an LCD display
- It comes with a footswitch and analog-style cursor keys
- Features no less than 86 unique effects types
- Can be powered by either USB or AC
- The user interface takes a lot of getting used to
- It has a small bypass problem
#3 MXR M169 Carbon Copy Analog Delay
The quality of MXR gadgets proves itself once again with the MXR M169 Carbon Copy Analog Delay pedal. The rich and warm delay tone you can add to your instruments through this pedal makes it one of the best. You get about 600ms of delay time which can be adjusted with a switch found at the top of the pedal. There are options for dry or wet blend “mix” or “regen”. The pedal, though compact, offers a raw delay that is quite unique in style and function.
- Offers a rich, all-analog delay
- Delivers up to 600 milliseconds of delay time
- Its modulation controls can emulate tape echo tones
- Benefits from a bucket-brigade technology
- A small clicking noise can be heard with certain guitars
- It has no tap tempo or subdivisions control
#2 TC Electronic Hall of Fame Reverb Pedal
Often considered as the best reverb pedal out there, the TC Electronic Hall of Fame Reverb Pedal is a feature-filled gadget that knows how to perform. The pedal has been used by top musicians like Michael Jackson and Dire Straits. What you get with this pedal is 10 different reverb types, a stereo I/O, as well as deep tone options to help you really customize your reverb experience. The tones and control features are perfect and perform like the high-quality device it is, a responsiveness few other guitar pedals can achieve.
- Its TonePrint function offers instant access to custom pedal tweaks
- It has a true bypass with zero tone loss
- Delivers stereo in & out in tone with any set-up
- It features an analog dry through with maximum tonal integrity
- Its switches are a bit sensitive
- Some issues with the power button can be expected
#1 TC Electronic Flashback Guitar Delay Effect Pedal
Offering some of the best looping and delay features, the TC Electronic FlashBack Delay and Looper Guitar Delay Effect Pedal is a great gadget for both professional and amateur musicians. There are 11 delay times that work extremely well and there is some audio tapping included as well. The built-in 40-second looping ensures you can record better music on the go. With audio tapping, you can choose your delay times quickly. It helps detect tempo when the strings are strummed and works accordingly. There are other switches and knobs on the pedal that can be used for feedback, FX level, delay time adjusting, and type selector.
- Delivers 11 delay types to choose from including Looper
- It has a 6 seconds delay function that you can use
- Offers zero loss of tone through its True Bypass function
- Can deliver expansive delay options with subtle repeat and time-warp
- It has a sensitive input jack
- You might find it a bit bulky
More products also worth checking out:
Guitar Pedal Buying Guide
Once you have figured out what style best suits you, the very next task is to find the instruments to match. As you may already know, a good guitar requires a decent guitar pedal, especially if you plan on performing intricate, complex pieces. One of the main issues with guitar pedals is that they do not all meet a specific standard in terms of acoustics and responsiveness, which means that decisions are usually made according to more subjective criteria. Before we get into that, however, we should perhaps first figure out what makes a good guitar pedal to begin with.
What is A Guitar Pedal?
If you are a beginner and just learning how to play the guitar, you would have surely heard of a guitar pedal. They are special gadgets that connect to your amplifier and guitar and help to produce a variety of sounds and effects. They include connection points for your guitar input and an output going to your amplifier. The top of the pedal comes designed with a special foot switch that is utilized manually to switch the pedal on and off. With various types of guitar pedals available including their own effects and variations, it can be a challenging task to choose one that suits your needs the best; even more so if you are a student of a specific music style.
Types Of Guitar Pedals
Whether you own an electric, acoustic or bass guitar, there are various types of guitar pedals that can be utilized to enhance and add sound effects to your playing. However, there are some key types that you should be aware of when buying the right one for you and the kind of music genre you play. Despite the fact that they rarely differ in terms of design and general purpose, guitar pedals do indeed differ in regards to the output they deliver.
- Compressor – This function produces a punchy effect, stabilizes the volume level and adds smoothness.
- Distortion – One of the common sound effects, this type gives a grit effect that is fuzzy. This effect distorts the original sound adding an overtone that may sound very loud but isn’t.
- Reverb – Another common type of effect, reverb gives the sound effects of sitting in a large hall like a cathedral.
- Delay – This type of effect is delayed as the name suggests, leaving you with an instant echo effect, adding the similar tone and audio signal just after the original.
- Chorus – Similar to the reverb effect, this one creates a choir like sound owing to the changes in pitch. It also produces a slight delay to the original audio signal.
- Wah – This type of effect produces a sound that depends on how you position the foot pedal. It adds a great “wah” sound to the rhythm you play.
- Flanger – Producing a spacey sound, this effect inverts the audio signal produced, giving you shorter delay times.
- Phaser – Producing tiny ripple effects, a phaser amplifies certain sounds and diminishes others by breaking the signal into two.
- Multi-effects – These pedals are much more expensive than single effects pedals. Giving you a variety of sound effects, this type can produce tones that sound like different instruments.
Choosing The Best Guitar Pedal
Guitar pedals are not cheap. Some might be priced at affordable rates, but do they cater to your requirements? How much can you spend? Choose a pedal that produces the sound effect you need. If you require more than one, budge your finances depending on the various brands and their ratings and reviews. If you require more than 2 effects, it is perhaps better you choose a multi-effect pedal as it is much cheaper than single effects guitar pedals.
Make sure you know the type of guitar pedal you require. As mentioned above, if you need more than one or two effects, it is recommended that you go for a pedal that comes with a variety of sound effects, a versatile piece that usually commands a price tag to match. If, however, you are new to playing the guitar, you can gradually grow and enhance your skills while choosing one type of pedal at a time to grow your pedal board experience.
Yes it important to go for a brand that is well known and easily recognizable, and yet there are lesser brands that meet roughly the same standards. Look for brands that are used by other aspiring musicians or even professionals, devices that enjoy their fair share of positive reviews which you can study, to help you determine the right brand for you, keeping in mind your budget as well.
Most pedals available today come with demo videos to help buyers understand the working and functions of each pedal. Always check these so that you can understand a pedal’s features before making a purchase; the best way to do that is to check and see if the manufacturers included any type of demo that you can learn from. At the very least, you will gain a deeper understanding of what a good pedal should be all about.