guitar pedal board

Guitar pedals are a dime a dozen. There are just so many types, variations, blends, and flavors. I could write an encyclopedia on guitar pedals available.

Manufacturers know that guitarists love pedals. And so they keep making more. And more. The good news is that you don’t need that many guitar pedals to sound good. After all, there is no “talent booster” pedal yet. And there probably won’t ever be. But if you are practicing and want to spice up your playing, perhaps a pedal or two can work wonders. Here are the five essential guitar player pedals you need to have.

Distortion Pedal

In most cases, this is the first pedal you should get. If you play rock, pop or punk, a distortion or overdrive pedal is a must. You see, there’s clean guitar sound and there’s saturated or distorted guitar sound. Even though that is a massive oversimplification, it still holds true. And there are different types of saturation (distorted) sounds. The most common ones are overdrive (mild distortion), fuzz, and distortion. The good news is that there are plenty of pedals that can provide a variety of distortion flavors. You can dial in how much distortion you want, and that is very useful. Once you get more acquainted with distorted sound, you’ll begin to get a feel for what you like. There are pedals that specialize in very specific types of distortions. This can range from a sweet warm overdrive to a screeching aggressive dirty distortion. Keep in mind that many amplifiers come with a feature to add in distortion.

Reverb Pedal 

Reverb is like garlic: it makes everything better. A good reverb pedal will add space to your sound. Oh, but what does that mean exactly? It means that you can practice in your cramped room while sounding like you are in a nice theater. Just like with distortion, reverb also comes as a feature in some amplifiers. You can add as much reverb as you want. Add a lot to give the impression you are playing in a massive cathedral. That’s right. It is all up to you. But beware: reverb will amplify every single thing you play. And that includes mistakes. 

Chorus Pedal

One of the sweetest sounds there is. And depending on whom you ask, one of the most annoying ones. If reverb is like garlic, then chorus is like sugar. It’s easy to go overboard and make it unbearable. A chorus pedal is typical for most guitar players’ pedalboards, regardless of genre. Rock, pop, jazz, country, Latin, and many other styles of music use guitar sounds with a chorus at some point. Some amplifiers also feature chorus, although it is a bit uncommon to find. 

Delay Pedal

Delay pedals provide one more clean sound that guitar players love. You can add just a bit to sound bigger. You can get a fantastic clean sound when used judiciously with chorus or reverb pedal. Please look up the word judiciously. Then again, you can also go crazy with your delay pedal if that’s your thing. And when it comes to crazy, a good delay pedal won’t disappoint. You can set the delay time and depth. It can be used to add a bit of spacing to your sound or to make the audience feel they’re on LSD. Both are valid, depending on the context.

Volume Pedal

For some, the volume pedal is the first to get. It does not create an effect per se. Instead, it just increases or decreases the volume while your hands are busy playing. This is important for parts that might require a little bit more volume. Or a little bit less. Once you learn to use the volume pedal well, you can use it to create volume swells. For instance, you can hit a chord and then raise the volume on the pedal. This creates a swell that is quite pleasing. This particular effect has been used by countless guitar players.

Guitars pedals can be so cool. But keep in mind they’re no replacement for practicing. And there are so many more types of guitar pedals, it’s astonishing. For some, a tuner pedal is also important. That might have been the case years ago. However, you can now have a very accurate tuner right in your hands. Feel free to leave us a comment.