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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!
That’s why we’ve come up with the top 5 pedals in the most popular categories of stompboxes you could ever need!
- Ernie Ball VP Jr – Best Guitar Volume Pedal
- Zoom G1Xon – Best Guitar Effects Pedal
- Fulltone OCD – Best Guitar Overdrive Pedal
- Moozikpro Hunk Micro – Best Cheap Guitar Pedal
- BOSS Audio DS1 – Best Guitar Distortion Pedal
“Keep it simple, stupid!” That’s the theme we’re sticking with today as we take you through what it means to start your pedal collection!
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 Buying Guide. We’ll keep it simple without calling you stupid!
Our 5 Top Guitar Pedals For The Best Effects in 2020
1. Ernie Ball VP Jr – Best Guitar Volume Pedal
- Jr size to better fit on pedal boards
If you’re using passive, magnetic pickups on your electric guitar, then you’ll need the Ernie Ball VP Jr potentiometer passive volume control pedal to reach those smooth swells and subtle fade-outs!
The passive potentiometer has been revamped to be smaller than ever! It’s 4 (w) x 11 (l) x 2.5 (h) inches in size! The compact design means it’s lightweight and you’re getting more floor space for all the pacing and jamming you plan on doing!
This guitar volume pedal has been made to withstand even the most rockiest band sessions you could put it through. Made with aluminum, stainless steel, and nylon bushings, you’re getting ultimate strength, uniformity, and smoother surfaces for perfect operation.
Ernie Ball has designed the pedal to be impervious to almost anything you could imagine spilling on it! Soda, alcohol, oils, you name it.
How? The main center shaft is made with stainless steel and is large enough to create a broad stress bearing surface that’s layered with a non-slip deck mat that adds to its strength factor and water-proof qualities.
The pontentiometer has a 250k ohm resistance, tuner output, and two volume swell rates. The pedal also allows for quick disconnects without changing out the pot to prevent smoldering. It doesn’t get simpler than this!
- Jr size
- Compact and lightweight
- Mono volume control
- 2 swell rates
- For passive signal
- Reports it doesn’t last
FAQ’s About the Ernie Ball VP Jr
Does this Pedal Need Batteries to Operate?
No, it’s a passive volume pedal so it doesn’t require a power source.
How does the Tuner Output on the Volume Pedal work?
It’s a full-time tuner and doesn’t require you to keep heel down for it to work.
Does the Ernie Ball VP Jr have a Bypass Volume Control?
No. While you can adjust the swell rates with the taper switch, there is no bypass volume control.
Can the Ernie Ball Pedal Pots be Cleaned?
While there are some pedals that can be cleaned and work like new again, the Ernie Ball pedals are better just being replaced. While it can be expensive, they do last a long time.
Ernie Ball VP Jr Specs:
- Type: Volume
- Tuner: Yes
- Battery Source: N/A
- Weight: 2.6 lbs
- Dimensions: 4 (w) x 11 (l) x 2.5 (h)
The Verdict on the Ernie Ball VP Jr
Buyers of the Ernie Ball VP Jr love the compact but nearly indestructible volume pedal! They say it’s fluid to use, small and lightweight, and very simple to use – one jack and you’re set to go!
However, for the price of this volume pedal, it seems it doesn’t last long enough to get maximum use out of it before it completely dies! Some users with this issue said it didn’t even last a year.
But then again, many users haven’t experienced this issue at all!Check Price
2. Zoom G1Xon – Best Guitar Effects Pedal
When you want to change your tunes out with every song that you play, you’ll need the best multi effects pedal that can hone in on your desired effect and keep up! The Zoom G1Xon Effects Pedal can do just that!
This pedal features 100 effects including distortion, delay, reverb, and modulation effects! You can even pick up to five effects and use them simultaneously or synchronize them into a unique chain order to suit your own style.
The multi-effects pedal also features a built-in expression pedal to allow for volume, wah-wah, filtering, and overdrive. It really has everything you need in one pedal!
It also has a built-in chromatic tuner, Looper, and 68 rhythm patterns. The pedal also sports three jacks. An input jack for your guitar, input jack to play along to your jammin’ songs, and an output jack for an amp or headphones.
Even better, you can choose to power this pedal with four AA batteries or hook up an AC adapter for plug-in power!
If you want everything in one pedal, this multi-effects Zoom G1Xon is going to enhance your performance like no other pedal can!
- 100 effects
- Built-in expression pedal
- Built-in chromatic tuner
- Built-in Looper
- 68 rhythm patterns
- Not software compatible
FAQ’s About the Zoom G1Xon Effects Pedal
Does the Zoom G1Xon come with the AC Adapter?
While the pedal comes with the option to plug in the AC adapter, you have to purchase it separately.
Can the Looper be used at the same time as the Rhythm Patterns?
Yes! The 30 second looper is an excellent feature of the very affordable effects pedal. Layer your beats, keep it simple, or switch up the music genre and play away!
Are the Zoom Effects Labeled and Named?
Zoom has some of their own effects loaded in the pedal, but for other effects that they’re modulating, they do list the name and model of the pedal to help you gain the effect you’re after.
Does this Effects Pedal have Amp Models?
It essentially works as a full preamp with cabinet amp models too. It features 22 popular amps such as Vox, Marshalls, Fender, and more!
Can the Effects Pedal withstand Heavy Stomping?
The base of the pedal is made out of solid metal. The top and sides sport a hard-molded plastic. While it’s durable enough for some level of stomping, heavy stomping probably isn’t recommended.
Zoom G1Xon Specs:
- Type: Multi-effects
- Tuner: Yes
- Battery Source: 4 x AA
- Weight: 1.4 lbs
- Dimensions: 6.1 x 9.3 x 2 inches
The Verdict on the Zoom G1Xon Effects Pedal
The Zoom G1Xon is the best guitar effects pedal for beginners because it allows users to quickly learn about various effects, not have to fuss with downloads, and use batteries for the portability factor.
However, more experienced pedal users find it unsatisfactory for their needs. They don’t like that it isn’t compatible with software, it’s not built like Zoom’s heavy duty pedals, and it eats battery life with heavy use.
But, for all those whiners, experienced or not, you’d be looking at a pedal that’s twice the price. At this price point, there’s no reason to complain here!Check Price
3. Fulltone OCD – Best Guitar Overdrive Pedal
Everything about the Fulltone OCD Obsessive Compulsive Drive pedal is top-notch! Even though it’s a little pricey, it’s more than worth it if you’re more than picky about your guitar’s tone. You’re not fussy, you’re OCD!
The overdrive pedal will help you crank it and drive those hard overtones without compromising the unique sounds of your Strat, Les Paul, Telecaster, or whatever it is that you play.
You don’t always have to crank those overtones either. Tune down on the volume just a little and switch into LP and the OCD pedal will still provide a beefy, thick sound.
With the Obsessive Compulsive Drive overdrive pedal, you’ll be able to achieve those tube-like tones either in Clean Drive or Overdrive.
The pedal also features an HP/LP switch to kick into high gain when you’re in HP and add some color to your tunes. Or you can stick with LP and keep your tunes dirty and course while you overdrive it without it distorting too early!
It also includes a 9v battery for its power source! A freebie is always appreciated!
- High quality
- HP/LP switch
- Clean drive
- Battery powered
- Made in USA
- Not for everyone
FAQ’s About the Fulltone OCD
What does HP/LP stand for?
HP stands for High Peak and LP stands for Low Peak.
Is this a True Bypass Pedal?
Yes! Fulltone is very proud of their true bypass creation that keeps your tones true and ensures your signal is going straight where it needs to go.
What is the Anti-Pop Circuit on the Fulltone OCD?
It’s an active system that eliminates all the popping, snapping, and thumping that you’d usually hear at high frequencies with true bypass pedals.
Can an External Power Source be used on the Obsessive Compulsive Drive Pedal?
While the pedal is battery powered by a 9V battery, you can attach an 18V adapter to really maximize your overdrive.
Where are the Fulltone Pedals Made?
They’re handmade in California, USA.
Fulltone OCD Specs:
- Type: Overdrive
- Tuner: No
- Battery Source: 9v
- Weight: 1.2 lbs
- Dimensions: 10 x 7 x 4 inches
The Verdict on the Fulltone OCD Pedal
Practically every single buyer of the Fulltone OCD Obsessive Compulsive Drive love the pedal! It’s built like a tank, projects true, tube-like sounds, and enhances and thickens your tones all while protecting the personality of your guitar!
However, there are only very few buyers that remain unimpressed. Their reasons? While it’s unclear, we’re pretty convinced they’re not even sure why they don’t like it themselves.
But, for the player who knows exactly what they want and aren’t afraid to beef up their highs and their lows, this is the pedal for you picky and fussy overdrivers!Check Price
4. Moozikpro Hunk Micro – Best Cheap Guitar Pedal
If you want something simple, highly practical, and downright cheap, then you need to consider the Moozikpro Hunk Micro Distortion Pedal! It has everything a beginner needs to expand their practice world from mediocre to hardcore nastiness – in a rockin’ way!
There’s not much about the Hunk Micro, but it sure does pack a punch! It runs off a 9v battery, it’s made with aluminum alloy, and it’s lightweight and compact. That’s why it’s the Mirco!
It’s a pure analog circuit delay pedal that allows you to gain crunch and serious bite but remain smooth and clear without distortion from the output. It’s a tough little bugger!
Since it’s a true bypass pedal, it has an LED indicator to give you peace of mind that your signal is unaltered and uninterrupted!
The mode switch is easy to toggle between Normal Mode and Boost Mode. There is also a Gain control to regulate distortion, Tone control to go from mellow to bright, and a volume control.
To make the ridiculous price even sweeter is the two free patch cables that get thrown in! If you’re thinking the price is mistaken and missing another zero on the end, this might be the first time you’d be happy to know you’re wrong!
- 2 patch cables
- Easy to use
- True bypass
- Lightweight and compact
- Some reports of quality control issues
FAQ’s About the Moozikpro Hunk Micro Distortion Pedal
Is the Moozikpro Hunk Micro a Looping Pedal?
Unfortunately, this pedal doesn’t have looping capabilities.
Can you Connect Effects Pedals to the Distortion Pedal?
The patch cables that are included allow for effects pedals to be connected.
Does the Pedal have an LED Screen?
No. It doesn’t have an LED screen. Screens are mostly seen on tuning pedals not distortion pedals.
Moozikpro Hunk Micro Features:
- Type: Distortion
- Tuner: No
- Battery Source: 9v
- Weight: 7.5 ounces
- Dimensions: 5.7 x 2.5 x 2.2 inches
The Verdict on the Moozikpro Hunk Micro Distortion Pedal
Most buyers of the Moozikpro Hunk Micro Distortion Pedal love the simplicity, the solid metal housing, and definitely the cheap price!
However, the price was too high for a handful of buyers that received a dead pedal. While quality control is always a serious consideration for potential buyers, most reviewers didn’t get a lemon.
5. BOSS Audio DS1 – Best Guitar Distortion Pedal
- Tone, leveland distortion knobs on face
The BOSS Audio DS1 has a long rap with the pedal industry and famous musicians, but it’s definitely one of those “hate it” or “love it” kinda relationships.
If you want some awesome gain with high treble screaming, then the rock on hard with the BOSS DS1! You won’t have to worry about muddy, thin, or fuzzy sounds when in high gain because the DS1 has a unique distortion circuit that maintains your guitar’s characteristics while providing rich harmonics.
The easy to use three-knob interface allows for a myriad of colors to be added to your sounds.
Because the DS1 has both a transistor and op-amp gain stages for a two-stage circuit, heavy metal rockers can reach full sounds even while in low frequencies!
The tone control is where you can really reach those highs or lows. The innovative tone design of the DS1 allows for a much wider and sensitive frequency range than most other distortion pedals. If you’ve got a vintage-style amp, use the DS1 to boost out muddiness and maintain low-end definition!
With the classic DS1 sound, you can mimic legendary, signature sounds of the rock stars or find your own!
- Mild to heavy gain
- 2-stage circuit
- Unique tone control
- Boosts at low distortion
- Some reports of bad sound
FAQ’s About the BOSS Audio DS1
How to Get Rid of the Buzzing with the DS1?
Some users find issue with thinning or buzzing when using this pedal. You should note that the tone control is treble heavy, so if you want more of a warm distortion, just turn down the tone. Lovers of the DS1 have learned all the tricks of the nifty pedal!
Is this a True Bypass Pedal?
This is a buffered pedal that boosts your signal even when you’re not using it.
What is the Indicator on the BOSS Audio DS1 for?
It’s the Check Indicator that informs you to check the battery.
How Long does the Battery Last with Continuous Use?
Of course battery life will be determined with actual use time, but generally, a carbon battery will provide about 50 hours of use and an alkaline battery will provide about 80 hours.
What Accessories come with the DS1
The package comes with the pedal, an Owner’s Manual, safety leaflet, and a 9v carbon-zinc battery.
BOSS Audio DS1 Specs:
- Type: Distortion
- Tuner: No
- Battery Source: 9v
- Weight: 1.1 lbs
- Dimensions: 4 x 6 x 3 inches
The Verdict on the BOSS Audio DS1
Besides the attractive price point of the BOSS Audio DS1, it has been a favorite distortion pedal for decades. It lasts, it’s consistent, and it works exactly as expected!
But, most users who are on the other side of the fence have mainly experienced issues that are the result of user-error.
Finding the right balance when it comes to distortion takes technique, skill, and finesse. You just need to know how to use the DS1 to its full potential and then you wouldn’t be such a critic!Check Price
Guitar Effects Pedals 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
These types of 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!
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!
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
- Pedal Pad
- 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!