Guitar pedals are something guitarists, especially those who play electric guitars, are obsessed with. These pedals are used to alter, add effects and process the sound of your electric guitar.
In order to produce interesting sound effects, even vocalists and other instrumentalists tend to use guitar pedals and produce wonderful results. The market today has a lot of options for you to choose from but you have to take into consideration certain important factors before purchasing one of the best guitar pedals.
While there are many guitar pedals, some of them have become iconic over the years because of the high quality materials used to make them and the kind of music they are able to produce as a result. While you should take into consideration as many guitar pedals as possible, the few iconic ones should be top most on your list.
Factors To Be Considered Before Buying The Best Guitar Pedals
This is a very crucial segment and you must pay close attention to each and every factor mentioned in this section. In order to buy one of the best guitar pedals, you must take into account all these factors related to this guitar accessory.
1. Types Of Guitar Pedals
This is probably the most crucial factor that will determine the pedal that you ultimately purchase. No matter what kind of guitar you play, there are a variety of guitar pedals that help to enhance and add effects to the sound produced by your guitar.
There are certain key pedals that you must have adequate knowledge about in order to figure out which pedal is best for the genre of music you prefer playing. Other than the output that these pedals deliver, they are quite similar in terms of their design and their general functioning.
1. Distortion Pedals
The distortion pedal is the most commonly used and the most well crafted pedal that you will come across. It is surely one of the best guitar pedals of all time.
As the name suggests, distortion pedals assist in distorting the sound produced by your guitar. It adds some volume to the sound and the ultimate result acts as a contrast to the natural sound of the guitar.
Once you recognize the kind of sound these pedals produce, you will notice that they have been used in the chorus parts of most songs you have heard. If you do not have a trained ear, you will not be able to figure out the difference between a fuzz pedal, an overdrive pedal and a distortion pedal.
2. Reverb Pedals
Reverb pedals are usually pre-installed in amplifiers. Hence, if you already have an amplifier, purchasing a reverb pedal separately will not be necessary.
When guitarists want the sound of their guitar to have an echo effect, they go for this pedal. Imagine the sound you get to hear when you are talking in a huge hall. Reverb pedals produce a similar kind of sound.
3. Wah Pedals
Just as the name of this pedal suggests, the wah pedal makes a “wah” sound. It is almost akin to the sound of a baby crying slowly. The wah pedal is used most commonly in funk and rock solos just as Jimi Hendrix used it in the song ‘Foxy Lady’.
4. Overdrive Pedals
While a distortion pedal changes the sound of the guitar, overdrive pedals merely push the guitar signal to a greater extent. The sound produced is thicker and heavier.
The original sound of the guitar is retained to a large degree by these pedals. Overdrive pedals are mostly used with valve/tube amplifiers.
5. Delay Pedals
Just as the name suggests, delay pedals catch the sound of the guitar, a particular chord or note, and then play it after some time. Depending on the feedback time, the chord or note can be played once or multiple times.
It offers delay for long periods of time and produces a very clean sound. Musicians usually differentiate between digital delay pedals and analogue delay pedals. Analogue catches the nuances in the sounds.
However, whether to use the digital or the analogue delay pedals, the choice is completely up to the one playing the guitar.
6. Fuzz Pedals
Want to make some noise? Fuzz pedal is the way to go. When you hear the sound of a fuzz pedal, it’s almost as if the amplifier is going to blow off. It produces a sound that is frizzy, heavy and very noisy.
7. Boost Pedals
Boost pedals are used to strengthen the sound of the guitar which is going into the amplifier. It does so without any amount of distortion. It makes the sound thick and fat to the point that the amplifier delivers a very loud sound.
8. Chorus Pedals
Chorus pedals produce music that sounds like many guitarists are playing at the same time, only with a different guitar and at a different pace as compared to you. It makes your bass lines thick.
9. Phaser Pedals
Phaser pedals are similar to chorus pedals as it makes the sound thick. Additionally, it produces a sweeping effect as if the speaker is moving to and fro. It is as if the speaker is moving close to you and back.
10. Flanger Pedals
This is used to produce a whooshing sound. It is similar to a chorus pedal but more conspicuous than the chorus. The sound produced rises up in pitch and then goes low again.
11. Tuner Pedals
Tuner pedals are an essential buy for all guitarists. What makes this pedal so special is that you can easily tune your guitar during a live set using this, without anybody hearing you tune.
12. Volume Pedals
Those guitarists who do not wish to use the volume pot on the guitar to use fade-ins and volume swell, must use the volume pedal. Pressure has to be applied on the front and back of the pedal in order to produce the kind of sound you desire.
There are a few more types of guitar pedals and by the sheer number you can understand how important and frequently used, these devices are.
It is best to know from before that guitar pedals are not inexpensive devices. They cost quite a lot of money. You must have some idea of an approximate budget in order to buy the best guitar pedal.
Along with the budget, you must also have adequate knowledge about your own requirements. A lot of pedals might be available to you at affordable and standard rates but you have to check whether they have in them what you desire.
The sound effect produced by the pedal must be to your liking and as per your needs. To find out about good yet affordable products, check the reviews and ratings of certain products. If you require more than 2 effects then it is best to buy a multi-effect pedal which tends to be less expensive compared to single effect guitar pedals.
It is best to go ahead with a guitar pedal from a well known and trusted brand, especially if you are purchasing one for the first time. While there are a lot of lesser known brands that are equally good, it is better to go for brands that are commonly used by professional musicians.
4. Watch Demos
Most of these guitar pedals come with demo videos that you can watch in order to learn about the particular pedal and how it works. It is advised that you check these demo videos before going ahead and making the final purchase.
Keep in mind all the factors mentioned above before you purchase a pedal for yourself. Here is a list of some of the best guitar pedals 2020. Even though these are the best ones, you must not keep your choices limited and must widen your horizon so that you can find the perfect guitar pedal.
Top 15 Best Guitar Pedals 2020
1. Donner Yellow Fall
The donner yellow fall pedal has been designed to produce sound that is exceptional, clear and sturdy. In order to do so high quality materials have been used to make this pedal. It is yellow in colour and has a design that will look quite stylish on stage and otherwise.
This one is a delay pedal and produces a classic delay sound. The tones are warm and smooth and some of the best jazz, pop and rock songs have been made using this delay pedal.
A transparent tone is ensured by the True Bypass circuit and the touring reliability of the device is taken care of by the casing which is made of aluminium alloy. The amount of power that is required by this pedal is 9V and the current consumption is 36 mA.
The controls on the pedal are easy to operate and quite flexible. There is a big Time knob on it which is used to adjust the time for the echo from 20 ms to 620 ms. The delay level is controlled by the Echo knob and the number of repeats is adjusted by the F.Back knob.
A vintage analog delay sound, that is rich and natural in texture, is produced. Lastly, the donner delay pedal possesses a very powerful chip that produces a clear and pure tone. The package includes an owner manual that you must read through carefully to know more about the device.
2. Dunlop GCB95
The Dunlop cry baby is one of the most popular and commonly used, by amateur and professional players alike, wah pedal in the world. It has been a hit in the music industry ever since the 1960s when it was first introduced.
Jimi Hndrix, Eric Clapton, David Gilmour and many other great guitar players have used this pedal in some of their most iconic performances. It has a rugged, die-cast construction that is so strong that no matter how often you go on tours, this one will last for a very long time.
This wah pedal is celebrated for its versatile nature where if you toe it down, you will get more treble and if you and if you heel down, you will get more bass. Depending on your style of playing the guitar, the speed and effect will vary.
Feedback of a desired overtone can be easily created using the boost in a particular frequency. It has a 100K ohm Hot Potz potentiometer that helps the device to emit a wah sound that is quick and abrupt. A 9 volt battery powers this pedal and it comes with a one year warranty.
The brand has been known for years to produce some of the best guitar pedals and hence, this one should definitely feature on your list of pedals that you are considering to purchase.
3. Donner Guitar Pedal Board Case DB-3
The Donner guitar pedal board is portable and made of aluminium alloy. In order to facilitate the complicated arrangement of wires inside, this pedal board has a hollow design. An additional elastic string is used to fix the power supply and this is very unique.
All kinds of volume supplies are supported by the pedal board be it, Donner DP-1/DP-2, Voodoo lab, T-Rex and so on. All you need is a buckle and you can fix any type of power supply to the bottom of the pedal board.
For those guitarists who are looking for the best gear to practice at home or even for a gig, the Donner pedal board is the best option. This pedal board is available in three different sizes- mini, middle and large. You can always select the size as per your requirements.
The pedal board comes with a solid carry bag in which you can easily carry the board as you travel from one gig to another. This bag is thick and will protect the pedal board no matter what.
The platform of the pedal board has perforated slots that help in cable management. A free velcro is provided to mount the pedals on the board. This guitar pedal board deserves to be on the list of best guitar pedals 2020 for all these excellent features.
4. Ernie Ball VP Jr. P06180
Here we have a stylish silver coloured potentiometer manufactured by Ernie Ball, a brand that has been making some of the best guitar pedals of all time. This one is a volume pedal that can be effectively used for the volume swell and the fade-ins.
This model has quite a compact design and the amount of floor space it allows is commendable. The resistance on the device is 250k ohm which is perfectly suited to passive instruments and their audio path.
Two varieties of volume swell rates are provided to the user by a micro taper switch and this switch can be found under the footplate, behind the jack area. When in the heel down position, the pedal can be silently tuned by the tuner output.
This volume pedal has been very well designed and crafted by the workers of Ernie Ball. what makes it strong, uniform and smooth is the material it is made up of, that is, aluminium. Lasting beauty is ensured by the anodized grain finish.
The bodies and shafts of these guitar pedals have been made to endure any kind of physical condition and provide service for a long time. You may spill oil or even alcohol on the deck mat but be rest assured that all these will be endured.
You will not have to go through the hassle of soldering in order to change pots as the quick to disconnect wiring harness does this. The Kevlar cable that is attached to the controls by stainless steel springs helps to move the pedal travel to the controls.
Rapid and frequent cycle tests are made on the device to ensure that it works properly and to its fullest potential.
5. Vox Stomplab2g
The Vox guitar pedal is a multi-effects pedal that is able to alter the sound of the guitar using many different effects such as distortion, reverb, volume and so on. This one is a compact device that emits sound that is powerful.
The body of the pedal is made of metal which gives it a sophisticated look. Depending on the genre of music that you are playing- rock, blues, country and so on- you can choose which effect to play with.
The Stomp lab series have guitar pedals that not only have a top quality design but also produce top quality sound. You can be rest assured that this guitar pedal will remain your companion for many years to come.
As mentioned earlier, this device is able to produce multiple types of sounds. While this is advantageous in many ways, it can also become confusing at times for the guitarist. Even if you are not a professional, the Vox pedal is convenient and easy to use for all.
You do not have to be concerned with the names of the effects as these have been divided as per the genre of music. There are ten musical styles on the device that produce a variety of sounds. There is no dearth of options in this matter.
6. Moog EP-3
The Moog EP-3 is an expression pedal that controls and manipulates the variable parameters of electronic equipment of music such as an electronic guitar, digital amplifiers, stomp boxes and so on.
This particular model weights merely 2 pounds and measures upto 6*3*4 inches which is a perfectly balanced size and weight. It has been crafted and designed by some of the best workers in the company.
Any keyboard, synthesizer or pedal with an expression or CV input can work with this expression pedal. The device is strong, reliable and highly durable in nature. A new cam system has been installed on the pedal that ensures a smooth performance.
Alongside all these features, it also has a polarity switch by which compatibility with non-Moog products can be ensured. On the front panel there is a ¼” output jack with the help of which you can use the 6.5’ cable.
Want to purchase a strong and long lasting guitar pedal? Here we have one of the best guitar pedals for you that will give you excellent service for many years to come.
7. Asmuse Multi Effect MG-100
The Asmuse multi-effect pedal is available in silver color and it can produce a total of 58 effects. Almost 8 of these can be used all at the same time, producing sound that is unique and unusual in every way.
This multi-effect pedal has been designed with a 6 band graphic EQ that is specially made for an electric guitar. More playability is achieved with the phrase loops that go upto 40 seconds.
It has a built in drum machine that produces PCM sounds of CD quality. The entire functioning and operating is made easy and convenient by the graphic interface of a large color TFT LCD panel.
It features 13 classic amp models with True Simulation of Analog Circuit (TSAC). It also comes with a total of 72 presets and a vintage 3-band passive EQ modelling for each and every amp model. Battery or DC power adapter is used to power this device.
The charge on the battery lasts upto almost 8 hours as 6*AA alkaline batteries are used. The distance for transmission is about 30 meters and it is used in electric guitars, acoustic guitars as well as bass products. This is one of the best guitar effects you will come across.
8. Boss Multiple Effects ME-80
Here we have yet another pedal that facilitates multiple effects. The Boss multiple effects guitar pedal ME-80 is designed in a way that makes it compact and quite powerful. It has a simple knob-based interface with 8 categories of effects that can be used simultaneously.
The device is portable and powered by a battery. It offers you with the individual stompbox style on/off that is highly flexible. Instant recall of multi-effects set up is also provided for. There are now unique foot switches that have a better system of control than previous designs.
These help in efficient patch selection, effects switching and shaping of the sound while on stage, playing the guitar. It comes with a free software called Boss Tone Studio that makes a variety of tones possible to be played. It also helps if you wish to create sounds graphically, on the computer.
This device will fit right into whatever your style of playing is. You can craft your own tunes as per your wish and desire and this device will support you through it.
This pedal is so versatile that not only can you use the onboard expression pedal for foot volume but also use it to produce the wah sound.
This was just one of the many things you can do with this multiple effects Boss pedals. It surely deserves to be on the list of best guitar pedals because of its versatile nature that allows the pedal to be moulded as per the desire of the player.
9. Dunlop 535Q
Another multi-wah guitar effects pedal from Dunlop, the 535Q Cry Baby is a model that will leave you satisfied and enjoying the musical experience. This wah pedal is quite versatile in nature.
What makes it easy for you to create the wah tone that you desire, is the fact that it has control over some of the most important parameters. Be it a narrow, broad, subtle or loud sound, this pedal can produce all of it with ease. There is an adjustable, switchable boost that will help the sound to be heard loud and clear.
The device runs on a single 9 volt battery. The cry baby is a pedal that has been used by some of the greatest guitarists who have lived since its introduction in the market. You must take it to be a privilege and honour that you are playing the very same device played by so many icons.
You have the full freedom to choose the frequency center and the range of effect. It offers 6 new wah ranges and the ‘Q’ dial helps you to select the options you desire. It is facilitated by a hardwire on/off switch as well.
This particular model is available in black color. It has the Fasel inductor which makes the sound that comes out of it seem soothing and expressive to the ears of the listener.
Dunlop is a family owned company in California that was founded in 1965. It started off as a small endeavour and has now transformed into one of the leading companies that manufacture musical accessories like capo, electronic effects, picks, slides, strings and so on. This legendary product could only belong to a stalwart like Dunlop.
10. Boss Volume FV-500H
This particular Boss model which is a volume pedal has been made keeping in mind the needs of some of the most demanding customers. It comes in a new design which is not only stylish but strong as well to endure anything. It is comfortable and convenient to operate.
The device has a die-casting body made of heavy duty aluminium. The pedal rubber helps the player to play comfortably and also has non-slip action to prevent the foot from slipping while playing.
It has an expression pedal function and a convenient tuner output jack. Accompanied by all this is the adjustable pedal feel. The pedal ensures bare minimum tone loss and this is something that has been confirmed by customers themselves who have used it.
This volume pedal measures upto 14.2*5*3.5 inches which means that it is quite large. This is probably one of the very few drawbacks of this pedal. Even though it doesn’t weigh much, the size is big which might be a matter of difficulty for some.
However, keeping aside these minor drawbacks, this Boss volume pedal surely qualifies as one of the best guitar pedals in the market. You must consider it as a top ranking option when you head out to purchase a guitar pedal.
11. Dunlop Crybaby GCB-95
Dunlop cry baby series has been a hit in the music industry and it is quite evident from the number of times it has made its presence on this list. The design of this pedal is compact, easy to carry around and it is available in black color.
This is a classic wah pedal that comes with 2 free patch cables. A quick and abrupt wah sound is facilitated by 100k ohm hot potz potentiometer. The wah pedal is powered by a 9 volt battery or Dunlop ECB-03 AC adapter.
You can be rest assured that this pedal will last for many years to come and this durability is guaranteed by the heavy die-cast construction of the pedal. This makes the device reliable and strong.
The base of the device is made of rubber and non-slip material that ensures that the pedal does not move around while you are playing. The product weighs only about 2.47 pounds which makes it a lightweight product easy for you to carry around for gigs and tours.
The Dunlop cry baby pedals are some of the most popular pedals that have been used by many iconic guitarists since the 1960s and this includes Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and many celebrated musicians.
There have been a lot of wah effects that have come and gone in the span of so many years. However, the Dunlop pedals are such top quality products that it has been the first choice for many amateur and professional musicians.
12. DigiTech Element XP
Want to create the perfect guitar tune? The DigiTech Element XP guitar multi effects pedal will help you in this journey. If you wish to experiment and discover your own sound, this pedal is surely the way to go.
The device has 58 different effects which includes 12 amps, 9 cabinets and 37 stomp boxes. You have a large array of options to choose from to make your own music. The product also has a guitar tuner and a headphone jack to prevent loud sounds waking up people in the house.
There are 20 different tones and effects in the tone banks and the FX bank, each. This device literally provides so many options that it feels like you are in a music store. It has a ¼” guitar input and also a ¼” output jack.
You can connect these jacks to either an amplifier or a mixer. It has a built-in chromatic tuner, an expression pedal and even a drum machine with 45 high quality drum patterns. You can now spend hours jamming to some of your favourite songs using this wah pedal.
This device will inspire you to create some original tunes that are unique. The different settings that are at your disposal can be used at free will to make music that is soothing to the ears. This device definitely ranks as one of the best guitar pedals.
13. Jim Dunlop GCB95
This Jim Dunlop wah pedal is similar to the 1966 Thomas Oregon wah wah sounds and it can be said that Dunlop was inspired by it. The wah pedal adds an extra flavour to the sound of the guitar. The only difference between the two is that Jim Dunlop ensures more durability as the device is sturdier than the Thomas Oregon pedal.
This device emulates funky wah sounds and ensures that the loss in your tones is curbed to a large extent. Clean tones and consistent tonal integrity is also ensured by the True hardware bypass circuitry.
It consists of a 100k ohm potz potentiometer that emits sound that is quick and rapid. It offers two sources of power to be consumed. A 9V battery can be used or you can also use an AC adapter.
With the battery, the advantage is that once charged, it lasts for a long time and it enables you to play outdoors where there are no power sockets. On the other hand, with the AC adapter, the advantage is that the battery dying of low charge on the stage is something that will hardly ever happen.
This device will never distort the original tune that you produced. The device is also protected from frequent short circuits, over heating, over current and so on. The current that is drawn by the pedal, while using, is 900 mA.
This pedal, much like most Dunlop pedals, is compact and easy to carry around. Hence, it acts as a boon when you are on tour or you have multiple gigs on a single day. Travelling around with it is quite convenient.
14. Digitech Element XP
The Digitech Element XP guitar multi-effects pedal is such a product that will help you to explore, experiment and discover unique tunes and more importantly, your own sound. This device boasts of having 37 different pedals, 12 amps and 9 speaker cabinets.
Along with these, this multi-effects pedal also has a pre-installed tuner and a headphone jack so that you can jam to your favourite songs without disturbing people in the house or your neighbours.
You no longer have to waste money on buying batteries as the device comes with a power supply. There are already 100 presets in the device for you to start from and then if you wish so, you can create a 100 more and save them.
It has various preinstalled drum tracks as well that you can easily play and jam to just by touching one button. It comes with 10 ft instrument cable. The entire bundle has been packed by getting rid of as much unnecessary costs as possible and yet, not compromising on quality.
Lastly, it can be said that this multi-effects pedal is easy to use and will guarantee you all the comfort. It is also lightweight in nature and hence, can be carried around from one place to another without any difficulty.
15. Boss Distortion DS-1
The first distortion pedal manufactured by Boss was introduced in 1978 and it was able to produce sound that was bold, hard-edged and smooth at the same time. This has been a staple distortion pedal for many guitarists for years now.
The DS-1 model is one of the bestselling distortion pedals and this is so not only because of its compact design but also the quality of sound that it emits. Various rock legends have used this pedal to compose some of the greatest hits of all time.
Before this model, most distortion pedals produced sound that was muddy and harsh. This changed with the introduction of the Boss DS-1. with hard rock, metal and punk gaining popularity, so did this distortion pedal.
There are three knobs on the device that help to produce different kinds of sounds. There is the distortion knob that has a wide range of sounds- the driving amps getting a mild boost or even full-throttle gain as per your desire.
There is an innovative tone circuit on the device that if turned right, increases the highs and decreases the lows and if turned left, increases the lows and decreases the highs. When you are using the device as a booster, this tone circuit can be useful to maintain a low-end definition.
The product has a super tough construction that will ensure its longevity and protect it from any harsh physical circumstances. It is lightweight and hence, you can easily carry it around for gigs or music tours. All these excellent features makes the DS-1 distortion pedal one of the best guitar pedals.
FAQs on Guita Pedals
1. What Pedals Should Every Guitarist Have?
While there are a range of guitar pedals available, the few important ones are- the distortion pedal, overdrive pedal, fuzz pedal, wah pedal, reverb pedal, delay pedal and a few more. However, one important factor that you must take into consideration is the genre of music that you mostly play.
There are multi-effects pedals available as well. These have more than one pedal on them and this can be helpful for those musicians who do not usually stick to a single genre of music.
2. Are Guitar Pedals Necessary?
This depends on the musician and the kind of sound he wishes to produce. For minimal effects, pedals like the distortion pedal, chorus pedal or even wah pedals may be used. However, for more pronounced effects, pedals like the overdrive or fuzz pedals can be used.
It is not mandatory to use guitar pedals. Many musicians play without one and the music produced is beautiful still.
3. Should I Get A Distortion Or Overdrive Pedal?
If metal and rock are the genres of music that you like then what you need is some high gain for which a distortion pedal is the best. If you wish for even higher gain then you can go for a distortion and an overdrive pedal both.
It actually comes down to the genre of music that you prefer. Combining distortion and overdrive sounds can be fruitful and result in music that is to your liking. All you need to do is keep dialing back the gain till it sounds just right to you.
4. What Is The Best Brand For Guitar Pedals?
This is a question that has been answered to a certain extent in the product reviews. Some of the best brands for guitar pedals are- Donner, Boss, Jim Dunlop, Digitech and Ernie Ball. These brands rank highest because of the high quality pedals they manufacture and the service they provide to customers.
Brands like Dunlop are quite popular as they are quite old and have been used by some of the greatest guitarists of all time. Such factors and others determine which is the best brand for guitar pedals.
5. Can You Use A Bass Pedal For Guitar?
Yes you can use a bass pedal for your regular guitar. Many guitarists even do so because they want the bottom end frequencies of certain pedals to be enhanced. Bass pedals are mostly used to enhance the bottom end frequency of a bass and this can be used for a regular guitar as well.
If you wish to customize the sound of your guitar and play around a little with the strings to manipulate it then you should definitely get yourself a guitar pedal. When it comes to choosing the best guitar pedal, it can be quite difficult considering the plethora of options that are there.
You must take into account all the different factors mentioned above starting with gaining knowledge about the types of pedals, the budget, the brand and so on. Other than these factors you must also take suggestions from people who have already purchased guitar pedals or those who have adequate knowledge about it.
Some research on your end will surely benefit you. The excitement of purchasing a pedal that will alter the sound of your guitar can be overwhelming but that does not mean that you will purchase the first pedal you lay your hands on. You do not want to end up regretting hence, take a wise decision.