Putting a rig together is great fun, but it helps if you have a purpose in mind when buying guitar pedals. Our guitar pedal buying guide below has the lowdown on the main types of pedals.

Of course, it's only a guide so do what you feel needs to be done to get the sound that's in your head!

Read on for our guitar pedal buying guide by pedal type. You can also check out our guitar pedal buying guide genre by genre, which highlights the different types of pedals you'll need for each of the main genres of music.

What Are the Main Types of Guitar Pedal?

Guitar pedals are used in many different scenarios, from providing distortion or fuzz to adding delay, tremolo or reverb effects. Pedals are divided into the following categories:



Boost and Overdrive

Boost and overdrive pedals increase the amplitude of your guitar signal. Clean boosts tend to provide up to around 20dB of gain, which is usually enough to increase the volume without adding any distortion to your sound, particularly at lower gain settings on the pedal.

Boost pedals are ideal to use as lead boosts for solos, and at higher settings can gently push a valve amp already on the edge of breakup into natural overdrive. You can even use one to boost the signal at the end of a long pedal chain before it hits the amp.

Overdrive pedals tend to use a combination of volume and gain controls to boost the signal as well as to dirty it up using soft-clipping. Like a boost pedal, the volume control on an overdrive pedal increases the signal's amplitude, while the gain control routes the signal to diodes or transistors which soft-clip the signal.

This process of soft-clipping works in the same way as the valves of a tube amp when they begin to saturate, producing that lovely gritty, organic sound we know and love.

Read more on diode clipping

Guitar Pedal Buying Guide: Boost & Overdrive Pedals To Try

Fredric Effects Golden Eagle

Fredric Effects Golden Eagle

The Fredric Effects Golden Eagle is an impeccable clone of the Klon Centaur, including the charge pump and buffers. Known for its transparency, the Golden Eagle is nonetheless capable of fattening up your core tone and adding gain too.

Hungry Robot The Lumen

Hungry Robot The Lumen

The Hungry Robot The Lumen is a unique FET overdrive with an active tonestack, making it very amp-like in its response and giving it an effective EQ section.

Stompnorth Midgie Booster

Stompnorth Midgie Booster

The Stompnorth Midgie Booster brings silicon and germanium clipping to a MOSFET transistor capable of up to 20dB of boost.



Distortion

Distortion is one of the most popular guitar pedal effects. It's designed to mimic a screaming tube amp, rather than encourage a tube amp to reach natural distortion like an overdrive pedal. Distortion pedals span a huge range of sounds, from classic rock through to modern metal.

They generally hard-clip the signal, which produces a more aggressive sound than overdrive, and one of the key selling points of many distortion pedals is that you can find various "flavours" based on popular amps. Can't afford that rare and expensive 100-watt head? Get a good quality distortion pedal that's designed to emulate the sounds of the amp you want and you're good to go! 

Guitar Pedal Buying Guide: Distortion Pedals To Try

Raygun FX Dual Soda Drive+

Raygun FX Dual Soda Drive+
The Raygun FX Dual Soda Drive+ is a two-channel boost/distortion/fuzz handwired in the UK. It's fantastic value!
Greenhouse Effects Outlier
Greenhouse Effects Nobrainer

The Greenhouse Effects Outlier is a high-gain distortion pedal ranging from Plexi crunch to metal muscle. 

Zander Circuitry Cranium

Zander Circuitry Cranium Murine Distortion

The Zander Circuitry Cranium Murine Distortion pulls together the best bits from the various iterations and modifications of the popular RAT distortion pedal. 


Fuzz

Fuzz is the primitive ancestor of distortion. The effect became popular in the 1960s when musicians including Keith Richards, Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix began using some of the first examples on their recordings. 

Like distortion, fuzz uses transistors and diodes to hard-clip the signal, but often more extreme clipping is used to produce a square wave, which produces that classic buzzy tone. The original fuzz pedal circuits were pretty simple, although some subsequent designs have introduced more complexity.

You may think fuzz pedals can only be used in a limited number of genres, but the effect has proven to be incredibly versatile, put to good use in genres ranging from 1960s R&B to Pop, Rock and Doom Metal.

Guitar Pedal Buying Guide: Fuzz Pedals To Try

 Fredric Effects DuoFace

Fredric Effects DuoFace

The Fredric Effects DuoFace combines two flavours of Fuzz Face (silicon and germanium) in a single pedal, with independent bias controls for dialling in the perfect 'Face sound.

Zander Circuitry American Geek

Zander Circuitry American Geek

The Zander Circuitry American Geek takes all that's great about the classic silicon Big Muff circuit and ramps it up a notch.

Fredric Effects Super Unpleasant Companion Nouveau

Fredric Effects Super Unpleasant Companion Nouveau
The Fredric Effects Super Unpleasant Companion Nouveau packs the Shin-Ei Companion Fuzz and the Shin-Ei Superfuzz circuits into a gorgeous mini-wedge enclosure.
Red Noise Stone Blender
Red Noise Stone Blender

The Red Noise Stone Blender is is a modern take on the Sola Sound Tone Bender, offering a beautifully muscular fuzz sound but with added versatility thanks to the 4-way clipping diode selector.



Reverb

Reverb effects are extremely popular with guitarists as they add a sense of space to an otherwise dry guitar signal. 

'Spring' and 'plate' reverbs were developed to emulate the effect of sound reflecting off of multiple surfaces in a room. Spring reverb was developed by Hammond in the 1940s for its electronic organs but became popular with guitarists in the early 1960s with the release of Fender's Reverb Unit - the sound of Surf. Plate reverb came along in 1957. Developed by EMT, it relied on the vibrations of a huge steel plate. 

 Luckily, these days reverb effects can be squeezed into a guitar pedal. Some focus on a particular type, while others are multi-mode. Typical reverb sounds you might find in a pedal are spring, plate, hall, chamber and cathedral. But you might also find more ambient sounds, such as modulated reverbs, that drag the effect into the 21st century. 

Reverb is a diverse and flexible tool and deserves a space on every guitarist's pedalboard.

Guitar Pedal Buying Guide: Reverb Pedals To Try

Greenhouse Effects Deity

Greenhouse Effects Deity Reverb
The Greenhouse Effects Deity Reverb gives you the option of 3 different reverb modes for those who want to cover a lot of different ground sonically. Go from natural hall-like reverb to dynamic modulation then a lush, chorus-like effect with upper and lower octaves with the turn of a dial.
Hungry Robot The Wash V2
Hungry Robot The Wash V2
The Hungry Robot The Wash V2 is an ambient tap-tempo reverb with superbly lush, inviting and three-dimensional effects waiting to break out. Complex internals replicate a Binson multi-head delay as well as multiple internal feedback loops and a "ripple' effect. Hauntingly beautiful.


Delay

Like reverb, delay adds space to your guitar sound, but in a different way. Rather than modelling the reflections of your sound, it effectively duplicates your signal and plays it back, sometimes adding in decay and modulation along the way. 

Delay is the perfect effect if you want your solo to sound big, spacey and epic - think Pink Floyd - but subtler settings can help to highlight certain phrases or give the song a particular feel (consider how The Edge uses multiple delays together for unique and complex rhythms).

Analogue delays have shorter repeat times, typically around 300ms, but digital versions are capable of much longer repeat times of several seconds in length, which allows you to experiment with ambient, ethereal soundscapes. Combine delay with a reverb for the ultimate space-shaping setup.

Guitar Pedal Buying Guide: Reverb Pedals To Try

Raygun FX Aurora Mini Lo-Fi Delay V2

Raygun FX Aurora Mini Lo-Fi Delay V2

The Raygun FX Aurora Mini Lo-Fi Delay V2 offers textural, lo-fi sounds in a compact format and at a great price, with the option to toggle between two different delay lengths. More versatile than you might think, and hugely characterful.

Greenhouse Effects Roots Echo

Greenhouse Effects Roots Echo

Another great value delay, the Greenhouse Effects Roots Echo provides up to 500ms of delay time, allowing you to go from slapback echo to ambient soundscapes with a near-endless trail of warm, lush repeats. The clever dual-function footswitch allows you to access a self-oscillation mode when you hold down the fotswitch.

Pedal Knowledge: How to Use Delay Pedals



Modulation

Under the category of "modulation pedals" we can include effects such as chorus, phasers, vibrato and tremolos. 

Chorus is intended to replicate the sound of several guitars (or voices) by delaying the original signal and passing it through an LFO (low frequency oscillator). Depending on your settings, you can take chorus from a subtle shimmer to a full-on wobble. 

A phaser varies the volumes of two identical signals, which creates a phasey, swooping effect as the levels change. Its most indetifiable but most unuseable setting can make your guitar sound like a jet fighter passing at low altitude, but more subtle settings can lend welcome movement and depth to your guitar sound.

Tremolo modulates the amplitude of the signal. It's sometimes confused with vibrato, which modulates the pitch of the signal to produce a similar (but different!) effect. Like spring reverb, it's a favourite of Surf musicians, but has many other applications too - think "How Soon Is Now" by The Smiths, or "Blow Up The Outside World" by Soundgarden.

Guitar Pedal Buying Guide: Modulation Pedals To Try

Raygun FX Vintage Tremolo

Raygun FX Vintage Tremolo

The Raygun FX Vintage Tremolo is a great value addition to your pedalboard, ranging from subtle to choppy and inspired by a 1970s Colorsound Tremolo pedal.

Greenhouse Effects Logos Chorus-Vibrato

Greenhouse Effects Logos Chorus Vibrato

The Greenhouse Effects Logos Chorus-Vibrato produces chorus in distinctive, musical and innovative ways. It features 3 chorus modes, each with 8 different settings, as well as a dedicated vibrato effect. Waveform shaping, LFO, modulated intervals, reverb and bonus hidden features are all par for the course with the Logos. 


So there you have it - our round up of the main types of guitar pedals you can buy. We are always adding new pedals to our range, so be sure to visit us again soon!

Originally published 30th January 2020. Updated 6th September 2020, 25th September 2021



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