One of the greatest things about the art of playing the guitar is being able to use additional tools and equipment that create the opportunity to make a virtually limitless array of sounds in different styles, helping you formulate that unique style that defines your very own signature. Effects pedals not only can enhance the guitar-playing experience, but also widen the possibilities to inject that new, wild, and funky quality to your performance.
But before you go get your wonderfully calloused hands (and foot) on any pedals, let’s arm you up with some important and essential information about them, to ensure that you’re putting the right supplies in your arsenal. No equipment in the world will instantly make you a better guitar player, so include this introduction as part of your neverending study of the craft.
What are effects pedals for, anyway?
In a nutshell, effects are used to alter the sound of your guitar—it sounds simple, yes, but it also opens up a limitless amount of possibilities, from subtle, barely noticeable improvements, to out-of-this-world musical acrobatics that your audience won’t believe came from a guitar. The bounds of your instrument’s potential can only be defined—or limited—by the human factor: you. The key to everything: practice.
There are different types of effects for different purposes:
– includes overdrive, gain, fuzz, and (big surprise) distortion pedals that add overtones and clips your guitar’s sound for that gritty tone.
– involve manipulating the volume, allowing the player to change it from low to high or high to low with little effort. Compressors, on the other hand, is another pedal under the same category, squashes your sound signal, keeping your volume level no matter how gently or wildly you play.
– this is where the equalizers and wahs fall. You’ll need the EQ effects if you’d like to control your sound’s frequencies, allowing you to balance those highs with the bass. Wah pedals come in two types, namely stomp boxes and rockers. You can tell from the names that these two effects are used by either rocking the pedal back and forth to create that waving, “wah” sound (hence being called the “wah” effect), while the other is used by—you guessed it—stomping on the pedal. Stomp boxes produce a more intense “wah” sound the harder you play.
– there are many modulation effects including Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Ring Modulator, Tremolo, and Vibrato. These are the effects you need for those laser-like, whooshy sounds and tones that resemble an organ.
– Octavers and Pitch Shifters are utilized to give your guitar sound a higher pitch on your cue. Take it an octave or two up, or create harmonies with your guitar audio signals using these effects.
– This interesting set of effects allow the player to mimic the echoes of the venue (Reverb) for that big, bold sound, provides stylized, interval-driven audio (Delay), and gives the illusion of multiple guitar players by recording audio signal and playing it back on cue while you perform along with it (Loops).
This infographic will be your handy guide in choosing which effects you’ll test and try out while you’re still trying to find your “voice.” Purchasing everything and ending up just using three of the pedals is not just a waste of space on your pedalboard, but obviously a waste of money (good pedals are NOT cheap!). Do your research, go into guitar forums, check out webinars and lessons from IGPA.org, and when you’re ready, stomp away into creating your own musical madness.
Knowledge is power! Check out our EXCLUSIVE IGPA Newsletters and get access to loads of guitar resources here and here!