Best Guitar Pedals 2021: All Effects, Budgets & Brands

There’s nothing sexier to a guitarist than seeing a few high-quality guitar effects pedals that can up your sound and that you can make your name with!

And, don’t deny it, we know you could all use some more cool factor else you wouldn’t be here!

Line 6 HX Stomp setup on pedalboard

That’s why we’ve rounded up the best guitar pedals in the most popular effects categories and price ranges.

If you’re so new that you don’t even know what you’re looking for or if you’ll need a pedal board or not, then make sure to sneak on over to our pedal guides too.

Best Guitar Pedals by Effect Type

Pedals on a Budget

A Fuzz Pedal In Use

Pedals for Bass Guitar

Best Pedal Accessories

Hands On Pedal Reviews

Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer

Pedal Effects Explained

Building Your Pedal Board

Guitar Pedal Buying Guide

Types of Guitar Pedals

When it comes to pedals, everything is subjective! There’s no right or wrong, front or back, and this way or that way. It’s about what you like, what you want, and how you want to get it.

But, where do you start and how do you choose the best guitar delay pedal or the best distortion pedal? It’s like being a kid and walking into an ice-cream parlor that has several flavors of ice-cream and triple that in toppings! So let’s break it down for you by type.

1. Compressor

These are signal processors of a sort. A simple way to explain its use is to even out and control the volume and sustain of your playing. If you play one string too lightly and another too loudly, the compressor will regulate the signals to ensure sound is even and balanced.

2. Distortion

Each distortion pedal is going to have its own “flavor”. But, all distortion pedals are made for one thing – to give your sounds an aggressive, crunchy, and spicy bite! Since distortion can heavily change the tone of your guitar, you can use the control to take it anywhere between mild to heavy. The milder the distortion, the more you’ll be able to hear the original tone characteristics of your guitar and/or amp.

3. Gain Boosts

Gain boosts are also known as clean boosts and they’re pretty much inline preamps. They’re specifically made for high-gain playing to boost signals when using amplifiers and overdrive effects. You can also use them if you’ve got a complex pedal chain of effects to compensate for signal loss.

4. Volume

Less exciting is the volume pedal. While they’re not necessarily an effect, they can produce some enhanced swells and subtle fade-outs. They’re not as effective as gain boosts for volume, but for a nice touch on a solo piece, they’re handy to have.

Types of Guitar Pedal Effects

The effects are a game-changer to your playing. They can add everything to your tunes or completely destroy it in a matter of one strum. But, frequency effects can add a lot of harmonic complexity that can help you create your own signature chain and tune!

1. EQ

Most beginner guitarists aren’t going to go anywhere near an EQ pedal since they’ll do just fine with a tuner. But, more experienced players are going to want precise frequency adjustments in a way that a chromatic tuner just can’t provide. Typically, an EQ pedal has 7, really anywhere between 5-10, bands that can manipulate your bass, mids, and treble frequencies.

2. Wah-Wah

Saying “wah” just once will give you an idea of how the wah-wah pedal works. It gives a vocal-style “wah-wah” effect of your playing. By stepping on the pedal, you’re sweeping the filter manually to span the frequency spectrum for the wah-wah effect.

3. Octave/Pitch Shifter

Octave pedals can be simple or extremely complex pieces of technology. Essentially, the take the note you’re playing into an octave higher or lower. Thinking outside of the square when it comes to octaves can be creative and fun. But, you will lack “traditional” tones since the more alterations you make, the more unrealistic it sounds.

Types of Time Effects Pedals

The best guitar pedal board is, without doubt, going to have a type of time effect pedal on board! The effects of these pedals are completely subjective, and when you’re left to your own devices, you can create some off-this-planet, artificial sounds or incredibly realistic ones!

1. Delay

Think of the delay effect like an echo effect except you can control the timing and the repetition! Analog delay pedals have a reputation of sounding more natural and realistic. Digital delay pedals allow for a wider range of customization and experimentation with distinct characteristics that you just might love!

2. Reverb

You may already have this setting on your amp because it’s one of the fundamental effects you can have on an electric guitar. It’s the setting that creates space or depth to your sound. Depending on the setting, you can have it sound as natural and tight as you want or as airy as being in a large hall – alone.

Building Your Pedalboard

If you’re starting to notice your pedals are piling up, your cables are getting tangled, and your effects chain keeps failing you, then you might need a pedalboard!

Benefits of Pedalboards

  • Reduces set up time
  • Keeps pedals organized
  • Protects pedals
  • Enhance overall sound
  • Prevent cable and technical failures

If you’re sold on getting a pedalboard, then you need to decide on how you want to acquire one. You can…

Since you haven’t quit your day job for carpentry and you want something better than a pre-fab pedalboard, you could just seek out the most popular pedalboard builders to do it for you! Some highly recognized professionals include:

  • Casey Hanson
  • Custom Audio Electronics
  • DC Pedal Board
  • Helweg Custom Pedalboards
  • LA Sound Design
  • Paul Lenders
  • Trailer Trash

But, if the wildish designs they come up with and gut-churning prices don’t agree with even your funky style and budget, then you should consider these top brands to buy online from.

  • Brady Cases
  • Coffin Case
  • Gator
  • Pedal Pad
  • Pedaltrain
  • SKB
  • Stompin’ Ground

It’s all about Power!

When collecting pedals, you’ll want to take note of the power requirements. Are you keeping it simple with 9v pedals or do you have a 9v here, an 18v there, and a 24v somewhere?

Not using an appropriate power supply can put your power source and pedals on the fritz, not to mention your tone!

While you could just use a power strip for your pedals, it’s definitely going to take away from the whole sex appeal you’re trying to get.

You could opt for:

  • Multi-output port power supply.
  • Two pedal power supplies – eg. one for 9v and another for 12v.
  • Specialty power units that combine both 9v and 12v in the same unit.
  • Battery-powered pedals.

If you’re willing to do what it takes to look like a professional, then maybe you should check the King of all pedalboard power suppliers – Voodoo Labs Pedal Power! You’ll pay a pretty penny but you’ll have all the attention you could want to get your 15 minutes of fame!

Stomp and Stomp Some More!

Sometimes there’s nothing like hitting it out to a buddy’s pad and stomping on all his glorious guitar effects pedals! So, when you want a few of your own where should you turn to buy guitar pedals?

If you’ve tested them out that the store, at a mate’s house, or even had the chance to knock around a few of your own, then don’t be afraid to buy online! You’ll stomp out the best deals to stomp and stomp some more at home!

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