Want some advice on picking the right guitar pedals for various genres, including blues, rock and metal? You've come to the right place!
Below you'll find our guitar pedal buying guide genre by genre. Although each musical genre has specific pedal requirements, there are some common pedal types used in most if not all styles of music - for example, compressors can be a useful tool in all genres to rein in any wayward volume spikes and even massaging and pumping the sound for musical effect.
Find out more below in our genre-specific guitar pedal guide. You can also check out our effects pedal buying guide, which outlines the key pedal types and what they bring to your sound.
Aaah, the blues. From the original bluesmen, through the 1960s British blues boom, to the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan's sizzling Texas blues, this is a surprisingly diverse genre.
To pull off authentic blues, you’ll need a mildoverdrive pedal to push your amp into on-the-edge breakup.
Stick a compressor in the chain to wring out all the nuances of your performance: up the attack a touch for more of that sizzle and spank, and set it to deliver additional sustain for those weeping top string bends.
Reverbis optional here. It can add ambience and depth to your sound, however in a band environment you may find it unnecessary. If you do use the effect, choose a pedal which has a suitably vintage vibe rather than a pristine modern sounding one.
You’ll need: Overdrive Compressor Delay
For all those fast chicken pickin' passages, a compressor is your best friend. Set the attack so that it brings out all that genre-defining twang, and ensure that it levels out your sound so that the quieter notes still stand out nicely in a band situation.
Use an overdrive for added grit and girth. It doesn’t need to be on all the time...maybe save it for lead runs.
A slapback delay will underline your picking perfectly and add dimension. Make sure you don’t set the level too high though!
You’ll need: Compressor
If you play jazz, the most important thing is to have a decent amp and guitar combination: a hollow or semi-hollow guitar will help with those smooth, airy tones.
But if you want to up your game, try adding acompressor pedal. It can help add sustain to your sound, and if your playing is super-dynamic it will help lift those quiet parts up a notch or two.
You’ll need: Wah
Wah is the quintessential funk sound – think 'Theme from Shaft' by Isaac Brown.
By controlling the filter effect with your foot, you can achieve dynamic, spiky 'wacca wacca' sounds or soulful vocal tones for the ultimate funky rhythm.
A phaser is optional, but it can add more movement and 1970s-style swirl to your sound.
You’ll need: Compressor Distortion or Overdrive Reverb Delay
Optional: Fuzz Wah Phaser Chorus Tremolo
Yes, you can do rock with just the basics but this is a diverse genre where anything is possible, so feel free to layer up your sound.
You’ll definitely need anoverdrive ordistortion pedal, achieving a gamut of sounds from breakup to crunch to saturation. You can evenstacka couple of pedals for more nuanced and flexible tones.
Don’t underestimate a compressor here too. It can add sustain, girth, attack and perceived volume to your sound. The latter is especially important if you’re fighting with an animal behind the drums!
Reverb will add room ambience and underline your playing. Experiment with settings to see what works for you.
From here, the possibilities are almost endless. If you favour classic rock you might want to addfuzz, octave and vibe pedals for quintessential Hendrix, while more modern, atmospheric styles of rock may call forchorus and ambient reverb.
And don't forget delay if you’re playing solos! It’s equally useful as a subtle slapback to thicken your sound, as a modulated tape-style delay to add texture, or used in precise patterns as perfected by the Edge from U2. Depending on what you’re going for, either a digital or analogue delay should be on your wishlist.
You’ll need: Distortion Compressor
Optional: Fuzz EQ Delay
Overdrive won’t cut it here: you’ll need to get yourself a full-ondistortion pedal. Pick one which can deliver the gain and tonal focus required for your specific sub-genre.
A fuzzcan help you bring the pain and add girth at the bottom end. Something with LED clipping will give you a super-aggressive modern flavour, while a fuzz based on silicon diodes would suit classic sub-genres better.
A compressor can really help to emphasise low-end chug as much as it can add body and attack to high-gain tapping and bends.
If you don’t own an amp with a versatile EQ section, consider adding an EQ pedal to your board. It will really help shape your sound, from scooped Metallica-style riffage to more modern styles. You can even kick it in for solos!
An alternative to a dedicated EQ pedal is to place a distortion with a good EQ section at the end of the signal chain to help get the sound you need.
Like rock, metal uses delay in diverse ways, so experiment and see what works for you. Suffice to say, it will fill out your sound and underline your playing if set well. Digital delays come into their own for metal, keeping your sound crisp and defined and providing plenty of settings.
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