Clicky

Guitar String Guide – Picking The Best Guitar Strings

Picking Strings For Your Style Of Playing

It could be argued that guitar strings are the most important components of a guitar, because, without them, you can’t play the guitar…. Apart from my terrible attempt at humor, I stand by the statement that strings are very important to guitar tone, playability, and overall sound.

When I first started to pick strings out it was overwhelming to say the least, I found it really hard to know what string would be the best for my sound, and felt like the guy at the guitar shop was just trying to sell me his favorites.

Guitar String

Price Point

Type Of String

Ernie Ball Regular Slinky Nickel Wound (3 Pack)

$

Nickel Wound Steel

Elixer Strings Electric Guitar Nano Web

$$

Polymer Coated

D’Addario EXL Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings

$$$

Nickel Wound Steel

Ernie Ball Cobalt Regular Slinky

$$

Cobalt Strings

So I wanted to write a guide for picking the best guitar strings for your style of playing, whatever that may be. By giving the basic facts about what strings are and what they are made out of I am hoping you will be able to decide for yourself what is best for you.

Through my travels to the guitar store I have found different kinds to be better for me and I have stuck to playing with those. But I feel I have an overall picture of what types of strings are out there and have done some research to gain a better understanding technically.

(Truth be told, I barely ever go to the guitar store anymore as I have found better deals online, so keep that in mind if you find something you like.)

When picking strings I think it is first important to understand:

Your style of playing

What level of guitar player you are

How strong your fingers are

The tone you want the strings to bring out

What kind of feel you want the strings to have.

The below guide will help you decide what kind of strings will be best for you. Let me know what you think in the comments section!

The Components To Picking The Best Guitar Strings

In my opinion, guitar string characteristics can be broken down into three basic categories. These categories combine to change the sound and feel of the string and by understanding them we can use them for guidelines on how the string will sound, and what it could be used for. The categories are:

Gauge Of The String:

The gauge of a guitar string defines how much metal is used to make the string. Technically it can be defined as the diameter of the string, which makes it easy to understand because as the numbers get bigger the string diameter gets bigger. Bigger number thicker string.

There are many variations of string gauge set-ups but there are four that are pretty commonly put together in string packs. We will go over the usual combination in each of the four common string sets, however, some manufacturers are different so just be mindful.

Extra light (.009, .011, .016, .024, .032, .042)

Extra light strings would be the smallest strings out of the four main categories of gauges. There are lighter strings out there for sure but this is a rough guideline.

They would be the most flexible on the neck and when you are playing. They would bring out the brightest tone and probably would break the easiest, nothing against them just the truth.

These strings are great for beginners because they provide an easier action while playing so your hands don’t get as tired. This way anyone learning can practice for longer and be able to shred that much quicker!

Light (.010, .013, .017, .026, .036, .046)

As you can imagine light strings are similar to extra light strings, but a bit larger in diameter overall. They are still prime for beginner players and may even be better since they are easy to play, but bring out more of the tone spectrum.

They are great for if you want to really shred the neck and play really fast. However, some metal guitarists use heavier gauges due to the fact they use lower tuning structures.

Medium (.011, .014, .018, .028, .038, .049)

Medium strings can be seen used for rock and blues quite often. In these genres, guitarists may look for strings that offer the flexibility to bend the string combined with the rigidity of a heavier gauge to get a solid rhythm and bring out more of the tone spectrum.

Heavy (.012, .016, .020, .032, .042, .054)

These strings are the heaviest and largest in diameter. They provide a thick sound and bring out the full tone spectrum in the string. They can be used really well for strong rhythmic picking, in playing where you don’t need to bend the string to get the right sound, and where smoothness is your goal. These strings can be found used by many jazz guitarists who often get flat wound heavy gauge strings.

They are also the hardest strings to play and require the guitar player to have strong hands in order to play for a while. As a beginner, tread carefully with heavy strings or you could be faced with some sore hands.

Custom String Gauge Variations

A cool thing about strings is as you get to know different kinds you will find gauges that suit what you like for each string. If you like certain gauges on the top end of your strings and a different gauge on the other, you may be able to find a pack of strings with that gauge combination.

There are many combinations that can be found straight out of the pack. Another option is to find deals on different gauge packs and combine what you want from them. If all else all of those string packs could provide for some handy “just in case” strings.

Slinky Top Heavy Bottom
Ernie ball Skinny Top Heavy Bottom Nickel Wound

The Material The String Is Made Out Of:

String material will make a big impact on the sound of your plucking and how it feels to play the guitar. It is important to understand the different string materials that are out there so you can avoid bringing home undesirable strings.

Each string type is unique in its own way and some are very different from others, but I have found sticking with the popular strings for the respective guitar and genre is a good way to go. The list below isn’t fully comprehensive either as it sums up what you would find at most guitar shops.

Nylon – Nylon strings are predominantly used for classical guitars and acoustic guitars. They are made out of nylon (duh) so they are basically plastic strings. But don’t be fooled and associate plastic with cheap.

When playing classical guitar nylon strings become absolutely essential and getting the best nylon strings can be a make or break to getting the perfect tone. These strings can also be used for folk, bluegrass, and other mellow and round sounding uses.

D’Addario EJ43 Pro Arte Nylon Classic
D’Addario EJ43 Pro Arte Nylon Classic

Nickel Plated Steel

Nickel-plated steel strings are most common for electric guitars and basses. The steel provides a solid and bright sounding tone and the nickel rounds it off and also provides protection.

D’Addario EXL 115-3D Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings, Medium/Blues-Jazz Rock
D’Addario EXL 115-3D Nickel Wound Electric Guitar Strings, Medium/Blues-Jazz Rock

Steel

Plain steel strings will give the most twang out of the bunch. If you get a pure steel string I would caution you as they can become damaged and can age really quickly.

D’Addario PL010-5 Plain Steel Guitar Strings
D’Addario PL010-5 Plain Steel Guitar Strings

Nickel

Plain nickel strings are a bit rounder sounding and can be muffled compared to the twang of pure steel or a string with steel in it. Pure strings can also be pricey so watch out if cost is an issue!

Fender Pure Nickel

Cobalt

Cobalt is a very precise string material. It is perfect for ripping a solo or if you want a string that will pick up all the subtle nuances in your playing. Cobalt strings could be a bit too precise if you are aiming for something a bit dirtier.

Ernie Ball Cobalt Regular Slinky
Ernie Ball Cobalt Regular Slinky

Chrome

Chrome is similar to stainless steel wound strings. They are brighter and provide a bit more twang. This is because these are harder metals so they are less forgiving.

D’Addario ECG23 or 24 Chromes Flat Wound Strings
D’Addario ECG23 or 24 Chromes Flat Wound Strings

Polymer Coated

Polymer coated strings are found primarily on Elixer strings but also other manufacturers offer them. They offer enhanced protection to the string so the string stays true longer.

Color Coated

These strings are pretty much just fun. They can be coated with different colors to add more flare to the look of your guitar. I knew someone with the below strings for their bass and it looked pretty awesome.

DR Strings NMCE-10 DR Neon
DR Strings NMCE-10 DR Neon

How The String Is Wound

Winding can produce a great deal of variation in the feel of the guitar string as well as the tone. It is a feature that is often overlooked but if you are serious about getting the perfect feel on the fretboard then definitely understand the three main types below.

Round Wound

Round wound strings have the largest ridges where the string has been wound with another material. These strings are the brightest and most balanced toned string. They are also found on most guitars and are the most common way a string is wound with a secondary material.

Half Round

Half round strings are a mix between flat-wound and round wound strings. So as you could piece together the sound and tone you get from them is a mix between those two as well. They are a bit brighter than flat wound, but a bit smoother than the round wound strings. Sometimes sitting on the fence isn’t a bad idea.

Flat Wound

These strings are rarer than round wound strings but are used fairly often within the jazz community. They are a very smooth string and are the best string to use if you want to properly use a violin bow like Jimmy Page. They produce a somewhat rounder and warmer sound but can be viewed as dull. These strings are especially great  on a bass guitar. If you own a fretless guitar as well then flat wound strings would be a must, and probably came stock on the guitar!

Some Of The Top Guitar Strings

Ernie Ball Regular Slinky Nickel Wound .010 - .046

Ernie Ball Regular Slinky Nickel Wound .010 - .046

The regular slinky nickel wound strings from Ernie Ball are a top favorite among many guitar players. They are a bright sounding string made of steel and wound of nickel. The .010 - .046 custom gauge combinations makes for a solid playing experience. They also are reasonably priced so you can afford to pick up some “just in case” stings.

Check out the super slinky and hybrid slinky as well for a bit of a different take on a classic nickel wound string.

Elixer Strings Electric Guitar Strings w Nano Web Coating, light

Elixer Strings Electric Guitar Strings w Nano Web Coating, light

Elixer strings come stock with their famous nanoweb coating. They are often found on acoustic guitars with a bronze wind but the nickel wound strings for electric are pretty solid as well. Bronze has a softer tone than nickel so is great for acoustic.

D’Addario Strings: AKA The XL Strings

D’Addario make some really vintage sounding strings. They have a bright sound but avoid any unwanted overtones and shrill. Some could also say these strings have a bit more sustain than others, but I think that comes down to personal taste and rig setup.

How Often Should Guitar Strings Be Changed?

I am a big believer in testing a string on a guitar to know if it should be changed. There is a certain sound and feel an old string gives that makes me know it is time to get rid of them. However, that advice is pretty brutal so in order to know if your guitar strings should be replaced the following are telltale signs to a replaceable string:

Sound: you will start to hear the string become dull over time. It will lack the same crisp sound new strings have out of the pack. Your bends won’t be as solid and strumming won’t be as impactful.

Look: it is fairly easy to physically see if strings need to be replaced as well. If they start to look frayed in any areas, rusted or discolored, or if there is any gunk built up around the frets.

Time: old strings get old, that is just the way it is. Sometimes it is just time to replace your strings, especially if you have a gig coming up and haven’t replaced your strings in a while. Old strings are prone to breaking and the last thing I want is to have to fix a broken string in the middle of a set.

How Often Should Guitar Strings Be Changed?

If you are a new player, putting on strings can seem like an uphill battle. If you are a seasoned vet putting on strings can be a serious nuisance. Ultimately it is a task that needs to be done and if you do it smart it can be easy as eating an apple pie on Sunday.

To get the strings off and then on again quickly, look for a tool like the one below that will assist in turning the tuning keys. This can be a really annoying part of replacing strings and the quicker you can get it the better.

Once you have the string in place and ready to tune, try to stretch the string out a bit before tightening it to the right pitch. Do this by carefully, very carefully, taking your thumb on one end of the string, and nest the rest of the string in your palm to create tension. Apply enough tension to stretch the string a bit but not enough to break it. Move up and down the neck and then tighten the tuning key to tune once it is stretched just enough.

When changing strings you may notice a variation in the action on the fret board. This is because some variations of gauges, brands, and string materials alter the height on the fret board and against the neck or bridge.

You may notice some buzzing and clicking if you really hate the sound you can take it to a guitar tech to get it fixed. I’d find a set of strings you really like and then get your guitar set for those. Avoiding a few unwanted back and forth trips from the shop without a guitar!

Hope this guide helped in terms of narrowing down your choices for choosing the best guitar strings. Check out some of our other articles on guitar pedals if you are keen to increase your sound!

Top 4 Volume Pedals In 2016 – Review By The Lead Guitar

I put together this review of two high-end volume pedals and two cheap volume pedal options so you can find the one that works best for you. One of the biggest things I found was that I could really tell the difference between the cheap pedals and the high end pedals, so if you have the budget it might be worth the extra bit of cash.

As a bonus, it should be noted, with some of these volume pedals you can use them to control other pedals if they have ability to connect an “expression” pedal. Some types of pedals that utilize this are tremolo pedals or chorus pedals; we put together a list of the best pedals if you click those links.

There is also one pedal on this list that breaks the rules. It is a volume pedal but ultimately has way more utility than just a volume pedal. It is also a fairly small pedal so the amount of value you can get out of such a small package is delightfully surprising! 

Finding The Best Volume Pedal:

As a guitar player, I am constantly trying to adjust my volume for each part I play. For a solo I need to push it like crazy and be as loud and out there as possible. However, when I need a soft rhythm track right after the solo I need to either pick quieter or adjust my guitar volume on the guitar body and potentially compromise my tone. Well, that was the case until I got a volume pedal.

At first I didn’t really know if I would like it, or even use it for that matter, but after playing with it for well over a few months now I don’t think I would ever go back to not having one. When I was picking out my pedal it was tough to sort through the noise and find the one that was best for me.

​The Top Volume Pedals:

Ernie Ball VP Potentiometer 

This pedal is a pretty decent pedal that doesn’t impact tone very much, but also isn’t as expensive as the Boss volume pedal which makes it pretty appealing. It should be noted this pedal is ONLY for passive instruments and not active instruments, they made a different model for active instruments like a keyboard, or if you have active pickups in your guitar or bass guitar.

Since it is for passive instruments, it doesn’t actually need a power source, it basically just impedes the signal from your guitar or other passive instrument. In my opinion, that is pretty worthwhile as I have quite a few pedals and only so much room/plug-ins using my daisy chain.

Ernie Ball Volume Pedal

The VP Potentiometer is pretty easy to use and it is a fairly straightforward pedal. The pedal face controls the swell and volume using their respective knobs. The footpad allows you to control the volume/expression of the pedal. When the pedal is in the heal down position it allows you to utilize silent tuning so you wont blow out the speakers with the clicks of the tuner.... okay, a bit exaggerated but you get what I mean.

A feature of this pedal that should be highlighted is the fact that it has a switch behind the jack under the footplate to toggle between two different swell rates. This can be nice so you can fine-tune your sound/how you want the pedal to react; making it personalized to your use.

All and all this pedal is great for what you pay for. It doesn’t break the bank account and is a pretty solid volume pedal that keeps true to the tone of your guitar and amp. I would recommend this pedal to anyone who is on a budget but needs a great pedal to use.

Boss FV-500H Volume Pedal - High Impedance 

The Boss FV-500H volume and expression pedal is going to be the contender for the top volume pedal out there in terms of quality. Boss designs and constructs all of their pedals to the highest standard in terms of durability and construction. The FV-500H is no exception to this, it is also a pedal that sounds great and has solid usability.

The best thing about this pedal, besides the construction and durability, is the fact that it can be used as a volume pedal and simultaneously an expression pedal as well. This can be really useful if you have a tremolo or another type of pedal that allows for expression pedals.

Boss Volume Pedal

The pedal also has a very smooth travel so the resulting effect is not going to be clunky and heavy. It has a true tone to it and you can’t really notice the effect too much. It can also be used in silent tuning like the VP Potentiometer, which if it didn’t I would be surprised at this price point.

If you were looking for a high quality design that will last the test of time then this pedal would be the one to get. It is definitely stronger than the VP Potentiometer and has ability for use as an expression pedal, but if you are just looking for a straight up volume pedal then the Ernie Ball may be a better option.

Hotone SP-10 Soul Press WAH/Volume/Expression 

The Hotone SP-10 Soul Press is a bit of a different duck on this list. Reason being is that it is a wah, volume and expression pedal which basically breaks it out into the multi-effect category. I traditionally have a distaste for multi-effects units because I have found they are cumbersome to use and don’t produce the same quality as a stand-alone effect.

However, the SP-10 is definitely a different story. I mean, it has its issues but when it comes to finding a volume effect pedal, you may as well look at maximizing other effects within one expression pedal if you don’t have them already.

These types of pedals take up a lot of room on an effects board and can be kind of cumbersome to tour with. As long as the pedal is built well, and you are satisfied with the tone then I would say go for something like this.

The SP-10 is a well-built pedal that will last a decently long time, maybe not as long as a boss pedal but it definitely holds its own. As far as a volume pedal goes, it definitely can be compared to the Ernie Ball and has a decent tone quality like the Boss does, maybe not as good as the Ernie Ball.

Soul Press Volume Wah Exp.

It is also a fairly small pedal, which is fairly handy if you have a set area on your pedal board for these kinds of pedals. It is a bit bigger than a boss pedal so will fit in most pedal boards with no issue.

As a Wah pedal, the SP-10 has a pretty good tone, kind of similar to that of a crybaby wah pedal. Since it is a bit smaller it can take a bit of getting used to in order to really get to know the action of the pedal.

Since it is also an expression pedal it can be used for other types of pedals to action the rate, level, and other controls by using your foot. If you had a tremolo or even some reverb pedals you can hone the sound and add expression into your playing.

All and all this pedal is a fairly solid unit that would come recommended as a strong buy. I like how it is small, has a great tone, can be used in many different ways and is still built to last. It is easily switched between expression, wah and volume so you can get the sound you want when you want it.

BEHRINGER FCV100 

Like I said at the beginning of this article, when it comes to volume pedals I think you really get what you pay for, especially compared to some other pedals out there. If you have the extra cash that you can afford a minor splurge on a decent volume pedal, I would suggest splurging.

However, if you are on a budget, or you don’t really know if you will use a volume pedal and want one you can use and burn after, then this would be a great option for you. Also, probably not best to burn pedals….

The Behringer FCV100 is a cheap but effective volume pedal. It does the job it is supposed to do, is built fairly well and is probably the best cheap volume pedal out there. The variance on tone is audible but not too bad considering the fact that a case of beer is worth more than this pedal. That makes it really appealing to me!

Behringer Volume Pedal

The controls are pretty standard and similar to the other volume pedals on this list, and surprisingly it can be used as an expression pedal as well. If I were to have bought this pedal as a trial for a volume pedal, which I was close to doing, then I would have probably used it for a bit, purchased a better volume pedal and made this one a permanent expression pedal.

That is a longwinded way of saying this is a decent pedal for what you are paying for. Not quite as durable as a boss, not quite the tone as an Ernie, but all and all decent for the price point.

Top 5 Mini Guitar Pedals (For Packed Pedal Boards)

Mini guitar pedals are a newer development when it comes to guitar effect pedals. Most mini pedals take their sound from a larger sibling and compact it down into a small package for ease of use and transport. In this list we take a look at the top mini guitar pedals that are out there.

I personally really like mini pedals because they are… well… mini. I play in a band and lugging all of my gear around can be a real pain sometimes. I am always looking for ways to lighten up what I have to bring with me.

While guitar effect pedals are not huge individually, when you put a ton of them together their weight and size can add up quick creating a bit of a nuisance. This is when you are going to want to take a look at mini pedals and what is out there on the market to either replace what you have, or to have an extra pedal for jamming/traveling.

Lets take a look at the top 5 mini guitar pedals we found and see what is what! This list is in no particular order. Here are the pedals we are looking at:

Mini Pedal

Type

Price Point

Ditto Looper Pedal

Looper Pedal

$$

Holy Grail Mini Reverb Pedal

Reverb Pedal

$$$$

Nano Clone Chorus

Chorus Pedal

$$

Fuzz Face Mini

Fuzz Pedal

$$$$

Dunlop Mini Cry Baby Wah

Wah-Wah Pedal

$$$

Holy Grail Nano Reverb Pedal

Holy Grail Nano Reverb Pedal

A mini reverb is great little pedal to pick up. For me, the reverb pedal is one of those pedals that is in use a lot but doesn’t change that much from song to song. This is why I think I am drawn to mini reverb pedals instead of getting a huge pedal that takes up space on my pedal board.

If you have read our article on the best reverb pedal then you probably took note of the Holy Grail. It is a rad reverb with a great sound and has three kinds of reverb built in. The Holy Grail Nano is basically the exact same as the larger Holy Grail as well, so it also has three different kinds reverb and the same control knob as the big dude.

Some say the sound a bit worse on the Nano due to its size, so be forewarned. But if you need a small addition to your pedal board in the reverb department, definitely take a look at this guy.

TC Electronics Ditto Looper Pedal:

Ditto loop pedal

Usually when you think of a looper pedal you think of a boheamath like the Boss RC-300. It has multiple loops you can store and basically you can create a band in a box using it.

The Ditto Looper Pedal is not that. But it is a cool little unit if you want to loop basic parts in a song. It has 5 minutes of storage and will store your track you looped even after you turn it off. But there are no presets and it is not loaded with controls, so if you are looking for a wild loop pedal then click here.

It is a perfect pedal for a casual looper that needs a small unit to create easy loops in a song. It has a volume control knob and a click button to start and stop the loop, turn it off and create unlimited overdubs.

Electro-Harmonix Nano Clone Chorus Pedal

Nano Clone Chorus Pedal

I think one of the most well known users of the Small Clone chorus pedal had to be Kurt Kobain. He used it in “Come As You Are”, among other songs, and it sounded really warm and a bit grungey.

The Nano Clone has the same great sound quality, although some argue a bit less, as the Small Clone, but in half the size. Just like a mini reverb pedal, a mini chorus pedal is a great option if you are looking to conserve space. It is a pedal that is used here and there and won’t change too much from song to song, so you don’t need a ton of options within the pedal.

Fuzz Face Mini

fuzz-face-mini

I love the fuzz face. I think it has one of the best fuzz sounds out there and can provide some really cool harmonic tones. The one issue I have with the fuzz face is how big and awkward it is on my pedal board. This is why I think the Fuzz Face Mini is an awesome pedal to think about.

I do hear a bit of a difference in fuzz tone between the mini and the regular fuzz face but to be honest, I really don’t mind the difference in tone. It can kind of add a bit of a unique factor to what I play.

I do really love the size of this pedal and the fact that it doesn’t take up too much space on my pedal board. It kind of blends in with the boss pedals on my board, and lets be honest, boss makes a nice pedal to stick on a board.

Dunlop Mini Cry-Baby Wah

dunlop-mini-wah-pedal

There isn’t too much to say about this pedal except that it is pretty cool and definitely works! I don’t really know if I am as big of a fan as this as the regular cry-baby but it needs to be in this list.

The reason why I had to put this pedal on the list is that Wah-Pedals are notorious for taking up to much space on a pedal board, or at least I think so. Also, it is a bit of a feat of engineering as it is half the size but at the same time packed with more than the regular Cry Baby. It has three different mode settings for getting a high, low and mid tone out of the wah sweep.

So there you have it, a list of mini pedals that are pretty sweet in our view! For today’s pedal packed boards, us guitar players all need to conserve enough space in order to not piss off the drummer and their rig…. Especially if you play in small little venues!

Best Loop Pedal? (TCE Ditto & Boss RC Standoff)

The loop pedal is as simple or complex as you want it to be depending on how you use it. When looking for the best loop pedal for you, I would suggest understanding what you are going to use it for and how complex you want your loops to be.

In this review we will take a look two of the big hitters when it comes to looper pedals, we are talking about the TC Electronic Ditto Loop Pedal series & the Boss RC series. We will do our best to explain the features on all of the pedals, but with some of these behemoths it might be tough to capture everything they can do within a medium like this!

The Guitar Looper Pedal Standoff: TC Electronics Ditto Series & Boss RC Series

The way we will format this article is in the way of a Mexican standoff, well not really Mexican but definitely a standoff. The pedals that are in play are below, and we have paired them together with their equal, or not so equal, counterparts. Each pedal is rated based off of the relative price point and overall quality, basically our perception of the value you are getting:

TC Electronics

Rating

VS

Boss

Rating

VS

VS

VS

The above pedal competition is basically grouped by complexity from the simplest pedal to the most complex version. It should be noted, that an increase in complexity also comes with an increase in price; so keep that in mind when you are drooling over the complex pedals… but if you have some cash, they would be the ones to take a serious look at as the looping capability is truly endless.

First Up: Ditto VS RC-1

This group of pedals are simple to use, don’t have too many controls and will loop the hell out of whatever you want to loop. They both have storage for storing a loop and are true-bypass so your signal isn’t effected when the pedal is turned off.

TC Electronics Ditto Looper Pedal:

This little guy is a great loop pedal for those who want a simple to use and easy pedal. It has 5 minutes of storage time in it and basic controls for dialing in the level/volume of the loop. It also has a click button to start and stop the loop and to control the loop options explained below.

Ditto loop pedal

The controls are pretty intuitive but can be a bit touchy since you are controlling everything with on single button. One-click to start recording a loop and the next click stops the recording and begins the playback. Any click after that will add in a layer on top of the original loop. Double clicking will stop the loop all together. A simple single click again will start it back up again. To erase the loop you just need to double click and hold.

A really cool feature of this pedal for its small size is the undo/redo function. If you record a loop over the last layer and don’t like it, you can hold down the button while it is playing and it will undo it. If you want the part back in the loop you can hold it down again and it will add it back in which can definitely come in handy if you are learning how to use a loop pedal.

One other thing to note is this looper pedal is great at keeping your tone intact. It was specifically made for guitar players and tone was a huge consideration for these guys when they made the pedal. Sometimes these kinds of pedals will take your tone and alter it a bit, which isn’t really the most desirable aspect of a pedal when it comes to looping.

Boss RC-1 Loop Pedal

The Boss RC-1 looper pedal is a simple but effective pedal that is built like an absolute tank. Like the Ditto, the RC-1 has a volume/level control knob and is activated by the stomp pad button.

RC-1 Loop 15 minute loop memory

Where this pedal surpasses the Ditto though is in its visual loop indicator. It pretty much counts you into your loop and helps ensure proper loop timing. The RC-1 also has more storage than the Ditto. You will be able to store up to 12 minutes of one track so you can really create some long songs to loop!

The controls for this pedal are basically the same as the Ditto as well. Simple one button control that is very intuitive after plugging it in and experimenting for a bit. It also has a great sound quality and was designed specifically for guitarists and bassists. However, I would have to say the Ditto is a bit better in this regard.

Check out the RC-1 in action in the below video:

Next Up In The Best Loop Pedal Stand-Off: Ditto X2 VS RC-3

TC Electronics Ditto X2

The Ditto X2 is an interesting pedal to say the least. It is not your typical “more complex” looper pedal that stores more tracks, or has better memory and display settings. Instead the X2 includes an extra click button and an effects switch that can help create some really interesting sounds.

TC Electronics Ditto X4

Just like the regular Ditto, the X2 has 5 minutes of looping memory, unlimited overdubs, the undo/redo function, and true bypass for keeping tones in mint condition. But it is definitely not the same pedal.

The X2 builds on the original Ditto by offering the effects switch mentioned above, a USB port for uploading and downloading backing tracks, stereo input/output, a battery pack that holds 2 batteries (pretty cool idea for extra battery power) and also a hidden extra switch by the batteries that allows you to switch between two different loop control modes.

Most of the extra features are pretty straightforward additions that we don’t really need to go over. However, the effects switch feature should definitely be explained, as they are pretty cool.

The effects switch, which is controlled by the additional button, can switch between a stop function, reverse loop and ½ speed loop. The stop feature is absolutely great because it provides a simple and precise way of stopping your loop, without having to double click. The reverse loop is like a reverse function on a delay pedal, however, this time it will reverse a whole loop not just what you play. The ½ speed function is a little weird in my opinion. When you engage the ½ speed effect and record it will record/play at ½ speed and drop down an octave, however, as soon as you disengage the effect button it will speed everything back up and what you recorded will be up an octave. It is kind of cool but would take some getting used to.

Take a listen below:

Boss RC-3

The RC-3 is a very different pedal to the X2 in the sense that instead of including different kinds of effects within the pedal like the X2 did, the RC-3 improved upon the memory and controllability of the RC-1.

Boss RC-3 Loop Station

The RC-3 has a different output knob than the RC-1. The outer ring of the knob controls the volume and the inner ring of the knob controls the rhythm track volume. Which leads us to another added feature: the rhythm track. The rhythm track will add a beat to the background of your loop. This feature can be really cool to practice to, but they do sound a bit hokey in my opinion for using it live.

Another great upgrade to this pedal is the ability to store multiple loops as well. The RC-3 allows you to store 99 different loops for later use and is easy to control with the write/delete button and the arrow buttons. With the added memory comes some other added tech such as quantization so if you mess up your timing a little bit the quantization will make it right so you don’t have to re-record the loop section.

All and all I really like the additions and upgrades on the RC-3. It still is a really simple to use pedal and has the ability to be a band in the box by allowing you to store multiple loops. I personally would pick the RC-3 loop pedal as the best loop pedal in the middle grouping.

Final Guitar Looper Pedal Stand-Off: Ditto X4 vs RC-300

TC Electronics Ditto X4

The changes on the X4 can be put pretty simply. It is basically two regular Dittos, mixed in with the effects button and effects of the X2 plus extra effects and they have added an additional stop button that enables you to have a stop button and play effects.

TCE Ditto X4

The two separate loopers can either be synced with the original loop or be in “serial” mode to be able to control separate loop timings. This means the two loopers can be mutually exclusive or stacked on top of each other.

There is also a decay knob that can control how an overdub fades over time. With this knob you can either have the new overdubs be stacked one on top of the others infinitely or you can have them decay and

This pedal also has a midi control input as well so you can control the sound, as well as sync with any other effects. Like all of the Ditto pedals the tone of your guitar stays intact and every loop sounds amazing.

Boss RC-300

The RC-300 is a behemoth and not just in its physical size. It has a huge amount of creative potential and is probably the best loop pedal on the planet in my opinion due to the fact it is hugely popular with some of the best loop artists out there. Its functionality and ease of use is consistent with all other boss pedals but it has endless capability.

Best Loop Pedal: Boss RC-300

The RC-300 offers 3 hours of recording space within the pedal’s memory so you can record a ton of songs and store them within the pedal. There is also 99 phrase memory settings so you can store entire set lists in the pedal for any live applications.

The RC-300 also takes a page out of the Ditto’s book by including 16 on board effects to modulate the input sound. There is also an expression pedal so you can accent your effects the way you want them to sound and add a bit more flare into your playing.

The biggest reason I like this pedal the most is the fact that it has 3 different tracks with individual record/play buttons and individual stop buttons for all three of the tracks. However, there is still a switch to control all of the tracks at once.

Honestly though, the best way to understand this pedal is to watch it in action in the video below. It can be used in so many different ways it is unreal.

The Best Tremolo Pedal (Voodoo, EHX, Boss & Joyo)

Tremolo-Front-Banner

The Tremolo Pedal: What It Is & A Brief Look

In this article, we will take a look at some options for the best tremolo pedal. Now, like all of our articles, this review is based by researching reviews, comments on what is popular and what we think from our own experience. The best tremolo pedal for you may be different for someone else, so make sure to take a listen to how they sound in the videos we provide!

The tremolo guitar pedal is an effect that has been around for a very long time, dating back to the 1940’s. The tremolo was first manufactured by DeAramond which was also the company associated with inventing the guitar pickup. These guys weren’t kidding around when it comes to top inventions!

Tremolo Pedal

Price Range

Rating

Voodoo Labs Tremolo

$$$

Boss TR-2

$$

EHX Stereo Pulsar

$$

Joyo JF-09

$

The tremolo pedal, known for its warm and round pulsating sound, is a very simple effect in terms of the electronics inside. This means as a guitar player you can get away with sourcing more affordable options. It is a pedal that is pretty hard to muck up, meaning the cheaper designs often are passable if not comparable to the more expensive designs. I don’t know about you but saving few dollars on new gear is definitely a big win for a hungry musician like myself!

The list below includes five of the most popular and best pedals on the market, including a cheap tremolo pedal option that we think is pretty awesome! If you are building your pedal board, make sure to check out our articles on the chorus and reverb pedals as well, here and here. All three of these pedals pair really well with each other in our opinion, and from what we have heard, the opinion of a lot of players out there.

Best Tremolo Pedal Shoot Out: The Pedals​:

Voodoo Labs Tremolo Pedal: Round, Warm and Pulsates Like Crazy

Voodoo-labs-tremolo-pedal-picture

The Voodoo Labs Tremolo Pedal is one of the most popular pedals out there, and for good reason. This pedal replicates a vintage tremolo played through a tube amplifier. When strumming it with a Fender Stratocaster, like in the video below, you can really hear how warm it sounds. Kind of reminds me of being in a hazy 60’s bar or something like that.

The pedal itself is fairly straightforward and due to its four control knobs it is really customizable to get a good sound and dial in the perfect tremolo sound. The four knobs control intensity, slope, speed and volume of the effect.

The speed and volume controls do pretty much exactly what you would expect of them, volume controls level and speed controls how fast the tremolo is. One thing to mention and something that we feel deserves praise is the range is for the speed function; it has quite a wide range so you can get a reaalllllyyy slow tremolo or extremely fast effect.

The intensity function controls how much of the effect is mixed in with the dry signal, the higher you go the more tremolo effect you will hear. Then there is the slope, which is a cool function as it changes the slope of the waveform. This enables you to control how sharp or round the tremolo will sound, when you dial in the knob to sound sharper, you can get some really cool helicopter type of sounds to occur!

Take a listen to the effect below in the video from our friends at Sweetwater!

Boss TR2 Tremolo Pedal

Boss-tremolo-image

Ahhhhhhhh… the TR2, another strong pedal from the engineers over at the Boss shop. If you have read my reviews before you know I like Boss. They may not be the most unique pedals out there and some critics may be very harsh when it comes to these pedals (a lot of these critics will only buy non big name pedals, which are great if you can afford them but they are not for everyone). From my experience, Boss pedals are pedals that do not break the bank account, have a good sound and are really built to last… all good things in my humble opinion.

The TR2 is no exception, coming stock with the standard body shape of all Boss pedals and three dials to control the effect, the TR2 is a great tremolo pedal for anyone who is looking for a pedal that will last the test of time and produce a great sound.

The three knobs (rate, wave and depth) control the following:

· Rate: Speed adjustment of the tremolo effect

· Wave: changes the waveform from triangle to square

· Depth: strength of the effect

Electro-Harmonix Stereo Pulsar Tremolo Pedal

The EHX Stereo Pulsar Tremolo is a solid pedal that creates a very rich and warm vintage tremolo effect. I pretty much think of it as surf meets the bayou. I really like the look and feel of this pedal as well, really makes it seem as though the pedal is a vintage old pedal from back in the hey-day of psychedelic rock.

It is designed simply and the controls on it are fairly familiar to the previous two pedals we have reviewed. There is a rate knob, depth knob and a wave shape knob and a wave shape switch. The LED indicator light is tied to the rate knob that comes in handy as a visual way to see the rate speed.

The rate knob adjust the speed of the tremolo effect, the depth knob adjusts the amount of tremolo that will be applied to your signal, just like the TR2. Where this pedal sets itself apart though is in its wave shape functions.

It has two ways of changing the wave shape; the first is the switch that is kind of like an override that changes the overall shape from triangle to square. Then there is the knob that will effect the type of rise and fall of the wave form, going from a slow rise and fall to a very intense rise and fall. Best heard in the video below:

Joyo JF-09 Tremolo Guitar Pedal

ehx-stereo-pulsar-tremolo-image

The Joyo JF-09 would be a great example of the best cheap tremolo pedal out there. Like a lot of the Joyo pedals, the JF-09 definitely does not break the bank account. However, since this pedal is a Tremolo, and we already discussed that Tremolo pedals are so simple you can get away with a cheap version, it is still a pretty solid option.

The pedal itself is extremely simple and has less customization options than the pedals we have reviewed above. It has two knobs, a rate knob and an intensity knob. Since we have discussed what a rate knob and intensity knob do then we won’t go into too much more detail then the rate knob is the speed and the intensity is the depth.

I would suggest buying this pedal if you want to test out Tremolo and have never played around with it before, or if you cannot afford the other pedals listed above. Where this pedal lacks a bit is in its warmth, it is a bit more tinny then the other pedals but what can you really expect since it is a fraction of the cost.

Enter your text here...

Big Muff Pedal Review (Pi, Tone Wicker & Deluxe Muffs)

Big Muff Banner Image

The Big Muff pedal is probably one of the most popular fuzz pedals on the market. If you happened to read our article on the Best Fuzz Pedal, you will know it has been around for a long time, dating back to the late 60’s and early 70’s.

The Big Muff has been used by legends like Ernie Isley of the Isley Brothers, David Gilmore of Pink Floyd, and some say Jimi Hendrix may have bought one of these pedals before he died but unfortunately no one has been able to actually confirm it.

The Muff’s popularity didn’t stop in the 70’s either. Its use continued strong into the 80’s and 90’s and definitely well into modern times. Some notable users of this pedal include Jack White, Billy Corgan, and The Edge from U2.

Due to the Big Muff’s history of success and its favoritism among the touring community, many different versions of the Muff exist today. Anyone from the everyday guitar player to the touring rock star can find a Muff that will provide the exact sound they want!

In this big muff review we discuss various Electro-Harmonix Big Muff variations and what they offer individually. It is a close look at all of the different muff’s out there and why the big muff is one of the best-known fuzz pedals!

Big Muff Pedal: Pi and Friends

The Original Big Muff Pi

Best Fuzz Pedal: Big Muff

There is no better place to start this review than taking a look at the original Big Muff Pi. It is the pedal made that started it all and the reason the Big Muff name exists and thrives today.

The Big Muff Pi’s sound is known for having a crunchy high-end fuzz tone with a high amount of sustain to carry each note into a fuzzy abyss. The pedal has three control knobs for volume, tone and sustain so you can try and tame the sound to your liking.

Like we mentioned earlier the Big Muff Pi is known for having loads of sustain, even when you back the sustain knob off completely it still carries the sound a long way. It is also fairly heavily geared towards the high end on the frequency spectrum so you can really cut through the mix if you are playing with a band.

Big Muff Pi With Tone Wicker

This version is a slight variation of the original Big Muff Pi in two ways. The basics are the same and it still definitely has all of the punch the muff is known for.

Where this version separates itself is in the controls it allows for tone. This is a very nice feature to have since the original muff is pretty set in its ways in terms of clarity and tone versatility.

The Big Muff Pi with Tone Wicker has two extra controls that are small but offer a decent amount of variation and tone customization. There is an added switch to further control tone, aside from the knob, that switches from brining out high frequencies in one setting and lower frequencies in the other setting.

The other switch that provides further versatility is the tone wicker switch. This switch seems to clean up the signal path and allow for a clearer and crisper fuzz tone to shine through. With the tone wicker it is possible to dial down sustain without the pedal losing power and punch or getting muddy.

Deluxe Big Muff Pi

deluxe-big-muff-pi

If we are talking in terms of versatility and controllability the Deluxe Big Muff Pi guitar pedal is going to take the cake for the best muff out there. It is fully stacked with seven control knobs, two control switches and two engage buttons. If you were looking for a fuzz pedal that allows you to fully master and perfect your fuzz tone, this would be a pretty decent pedal to look at.

The Deluxe includes all of the strength of the Pi as well as its volume, tone and sustain knobs. However, this pedal goes above and beyond with the inclusion of an attack knob, gate knob, two knobs for controlling mids, as well as a switch for high or low tone and a switch for a bass boost. To take a look at the individual knobs see below:

Volume – Like all the Muff pedals the volume knob controls the amount of level of the fuzz.

Tone – The tone knob sweeps between low and high tones depending on what you need for any given part or song.

Sustain – The sustain knob takes away or adds sustain within the pedal. Watch out with this guy as it is easy for the sound to become muddy! But if you use it correctly it can add some serious awesomeness to your playing.

Attack – This is a unique control knob on the Deluxe and in my opinion a really valuable control. This knob allows you to increase the level of the pick attack. This means you can either set it to the left to get rid of the attack for a more muddle or muted pick stroke or turn it to the right for a very precise and edgy pick stroke.

Gate – This knob is a basic noise gate. You can use this pedal to eliminate fuzz or unwanted noise, which can be very needed in the world of fuzz at times.

Mids section w/ click button – This feature on the Deluxe pedal is my favorite and really sets the Deluxe apart from the other Muff pedal varieties. The mids feature is the ability to enhance the mid frequencies within the pedal and can be turned on or off at the click of a button. This is perfect for if you need a boost in a song or are need to switch up your fuzz sound to something with more mid frequencies.

The mid feature has two knobs associated with it on the far right hand side of the pedal. The top knob controls the level of the mid boost. Pretty self-explanatory but it is a needed and well-added control knob nonetheless. The knob below the level knob is a frequency control. It allows you to further control the tone while the mid button is engaged. You can also buy an external control pedal to sweep the frequencies or use it as a texturizing effect.

Best Phaser Pedal (MXR, EHX, and Boss)

The phaser’s signature swirling, pulsating and all around trippy tone give it a lot of versatility in playing music like reggae all the way to metal, plus anything in between. There are many different kinds of phaser pedals out there including a lot of great custom pedals and a lot of big brand pedals. This review will focus more on some of the bigger brand name pedals out there. These types of pedals typically are a bit more value to the dollar and for the everyday guitar player. If that sounds like you then this review will hopefully help you find best phaser pedal to put in your line up!

What A Phaser Pedal Does:

The phaser pedal is a modulation pedal like the chorus and tremolo pedals are. These pedals take the incoming signal and alter heck out of it to give your guitar an extremely texturized tone. The tremolo pedal alters the volume of the signal, the chorus pedal alters the pitch of the signal and the phaser pedal alters the phase of the signal, hence the name phaser.

Pedal

Rating

Phase 90 Script

EHX Small Stone

Boss PH-3

This means the pedal takes the incoming signal and moves part of the waveform into “stages” before mixing it back into the original signal. It does this by utilizing all-pass filters where each all-pass filter is a “stage”. You will notice when looking at various phasers that they can be classified as an n-stage phaser, where n would be the number of all-pass filters within it. Some pedals have options to switch between multiple stages where other pedals only have one set stage. This is what technically gives the pedal the full and intense swirling sound it is known for, giving it the perfect sound for a ripping guitar solo in a metal ballad to some island chords in a reggae song.

For an audible example check out the sound clip below:

Many great musicians have used the phaser pedal in a lot of great music. If for some reason you didn’t know what the phaser pedal was prior to reading this review, which would be kind of interesting since you probably were searching for a review on phaser pedals, you can be confident in saying you have heard it before possibly even without knowing it! If you like music from Radiohead, most psychedelic bands out there, or guitar greats such as Tom Morello, Eddie Van Halen, and many others you probably have a good idea about the phaser pedal and how it sounds. For the heck of it check out Paranoid Android by Radiohead and listen to the use of the phaser pedal:

Now that we have explored what the phaser pedal is, lets take a look at the pedals!

The Best Phaser Pedal For Guitar: Notable Brand Edition

MXR Phase 90 & Phase 90 Script:

MXR Phase 90 Phaser Pedal

The MXR Phase 90 and the Phase 90 Script are classic phaser pedals and are extremely well known. While being well known isn’t really a staple for making it on this list, the reason why they are well known definitely is. The phase 90 has been widely seen on some of the most famous pedal boards throughout the test of time. Eddie Van Halen may have thought it was the best phaser pedal for him since he consistently used it in his music and it could be found on his pedal board while playing live. This is because it is a strong phaser pedal, it is built well and most of all produces a great tone.

The phase 90 itself is fairly simple, well actually really simple. It has a basic click button on the front, and LED indicator to show if the effect has been engaged or not and then a big dial for the speed of the phase. The speed essentially alters how quick or slow the pedal “swirls”.

MXR Phase 90 Script

Now at first glance you might just say the difference between the phase 90 and phase 90 script is just the fact that the script has hand written letters on it. But as we know that is not the only difference between the two pedals. The phase 90 script is a bit more expensive than the phase 90 due to some slightly altered internal parts. These parts have been put in place to model the original Phase 90 pedal circuit. These different parts create a subtler vintage sounding phase giving it on a more traditional phaser tone. If you were after a more classic sounding phaser pedal then the Phase 90 Script would be a definite option.

Take a listen to the two pedals back to back in the video below:

Electro-Harmonix Small Stone Nano Phaser

Small Stone Phaser Pedal

The Small Stone Nano phaser pedal is another classic phaser. The original, and much larger Small Stone, was a favorite pedal in blues, alternative and competed with the MXR phase 90 on the pedal boards of many well known 70’s bands. Both the Small Stone and the Phase 90 are 4 stage phaser pedals but the Small Stone has a touch bit more versatility then the Phase 90.

Like the Phase 90, the Small Stone has an LED indicator and a knob to dial in and control the rate (or speed) of the phase shift. However, the Small Stone has one feature that the Phase 90 does not have. It has a switch to control the “color” of the phase shift, which alters the frequency that the phase is affecting giving it a deeper of more shallow feeling. When switched in the up position, the color effect is turned on giving the phaser a deeper and fuller swoosh sound.

The Small Stone is a great pedal that carefully emulates the pedal’s original quality. It would be a great choice for the best phaser pedal on the market, even beating out the Phase 90.

Boss PH-3 Phase Shifter

Boss ph-3 phase shifter

The Boss PH-3 is a digital phaser pedal and like all Boss pedals, it is a really well built pedal that will stand the test of time or any road abuse you may or may not throw at it. The PH-3 is the most versatile and controllable phaser pedal on this review. While many boutique and expensive phaser pedals offer many different controls and customization options, the Boss PH-3 is a fairly priced phaser pedal coming from a trusted brand. It is perfect if you want to get to know the phaser pedal a bit better or if you know what you want you can tweak it to sound the way you want between different phase stages. You control this by turning the right hand knob, and as you can see in the picture to the right it switches between 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12. Plus the PH-3 has an option for selecting fall, rise and step phase functions as well.

Like the Phase 90 and Small Stone, the PH-3 has a control for the rate, or speed of the effect. However, the PH-3 includes two additional effect controls to help dial in the sound of the effect exactly the way you want it to sound. You can control the depth of the phase as well as the resonance of the phaser pedal. These controls can definitely be quite handy in getting the right sound you want to use in each song.

Check out a video of the PH-3 in action:

Best Guitar Tuner (Electronic, Chromatic and Pedal Review)

Welcome to our guide for the best guitar tuner! In this guide I will talk about some of the different kinds of tuners I have come by, the benefits of each kind and also highlight some tuners out there that are worth taking a look at to purchase.

The guitar tuner is a staple for any guitar player whether you have just bought a new guitar and haven’t even played it yet, or are an advanced gigging artist. It is a tool you will need and will want to always have on you or with your gear.

​The Best Guitar Tuner: Ways of Tuning and Why Get A Tuner

First we should note, there are many ways to tune your guitar other than buying a tuner. You can listen to a piano or other tuned instrument and match the pitch, or you can tune to other strings by holding down an equivalent note on another string. You could get a tuning fork and go the old school route or you can just plain wing it and hope for the best. All of these are strategies but in my honest opinion they are not that great. Why? Because you are relying on something that may not be in tune in the first place and thus may be tuning your guitar out of tune... as convoluted as that sounds.

Tuner

Type

Price

Rating

Poly Tune 2

Pedal

$$$

KLIQ UberTuner

Clip-on

$$

Korg GA-1

Plug-in

$

Due to this fact, I would suggest taking a look at some tuner options and find the best guitar tuner for you. There are many kinds of tuners out there, some cheap, some expensive, some with bells and whistles but most tuners will do what they need to do, tune your guitar! For this review I will be focusing on three types of tuners: the plug-in electronic guitar tuner, the digital guitar tuner pedal, and the chromatic guitar tuner.

The Best Plug-In Electronic Guitar Tuner:

The electronic tuner is a cheap and effective way to tune your guitar. There is nothing too complex about these kinds of tuners. Essentially you take a patch chord, plug one end into your guitar and the other end into the tuner, turn the tuner on and tune your guitar. Most of these types of tuners run on regular AA batteries and are small to fit in a gig bag or even in your pocket. The below electronic tuner is a great electronic guitar tuner:

Korg GA1 Guitar and Bass Tuner

best guitar tuner korg ga1

The Korg GA1 is a great and standard plug in electronic tuner. It is easy to use, has solid accuracy and an simple but effective interface. Korg makes great key-boards, electronic instruments and musical equipment and makes everything with solid quality.

The tuner has a basic on off switch, a switch for picking the sound, the semi tone/how flat the sound is if you want to tune flat, and a switch for picking either guitar or bass. You plug your guitar in to one end of a patch chord and the tuner in the other, pretty basic but is awesomely accurate.

The one drawback, and it’s a pretty big drawback in my opinion, to the plug-in electronic guitar tuner is the fact that you need to unplug your guitar from your pedals, amp or anything else it is plugged into in order to tune. However, the next two tuner types, the guitar tuner pedal and the chromatic guitar tuner, you do not need to unplug anything!

The Best Clip-On Chromatic Tuner

The chromatic tuner is a tuner that allows for some better variation in terms of tuning then a digital or electronic guitar tuner. Now you may be thinking, variation in tuning? What is this guy smoking, isn’t tuning supposed to be exact? It is, but what I mean is in how you tune your guitar. A simple guitar tuner like the one above, is great for standard tuning, and maybe some other kinds of tuning involving flats and some different notes. However, a chromatic tuner tunes to what ever the note that is being played is, without having to follow a set program/signal. This can be very beneficial in case you want to tune your guitar to a different kind of tuning then the standard E, A, D, G, B, E tuning.

Clip on guitar tuners are great because they are small, easy to throw in a gig bag or have on stage and they tune with excellent accuracy. They are also not too expensive so they won’t break the bank account. The clip on tuner tunes without direct input signal from the guitar, it simply clips on to the headstock of the guitar and tune away!

The two chromatic clip-on tuners below are solid chromatic tuner options and each has some pluses and minuses associated with them:

The KLIQ UberTuner Guitar Tuner

best guitar tuner KLIQ

The UberTuner could be viewed as one of the best guitar tuner options for a clip on tuner. It has a big heads up display that is easy to read and runs off of a simple 3V battery that comes with the tuner.

It can be used for a guitar, violin, bass or ukulele and is extremely accurate for all those instruments. It has a basic on/off button and comes with a back lit screen so it is easy to see in all lighting conditions. 

The Snark SN-5 Guitar Tuner

best guitar tuner snark sn-5

The Snark is one of the most popular clip-on tuners out there and there is good reason for it. I like the KLIQ better due to the large display, however, the Snark definitely has an accurate reading display although a bit smaller than the KLIQ.

It is a very accurate tuner and is priced extremely fairly which makes it pretty desirable in my opinion. It can also be used on bass guitars or violin so is great to have in a band setting as it can be easily passed between artists.

The Snark SN-5 also has the ability to be a BPM indicator with a range from 40-250 BPM. You can turn it on via the button on the left hand side and it essentially visually indicates the desired BPM using a flash of an aspect of the display.

The Best Guitar Tuner Pedals

The tuner pedal is a great option especially if you already have a pedal board. You can slap the tuner on the board and rest easy that you will have a tuner wherever you go and it won’t get lost like the other two types may. I mean, it could get lost but if it is with all of your other pedals then I think you have more to worry about then just being out of tune…

The benefit of a tuner pedal is that you are able to get an accurate tune knowing that the signal is directly passing through it. You can also use tuner pedals as a quick way to cut the signal going to your amp say, in between songs or when you are not playing.

The below two guitar tuner pedals are the top choices for the best guitar tuner out there.

The Poly Tune 2 by TC Electronics

Best Guitar Tuner TC Electronic PolyTune

The Poly Tune is a cool tuner because, first and foremost, it is very accurate and it has a few different options that make it a bit more versatile. The Poly Tune has a setting that tunes all strings simultaneously. You essentially strum all of the strings and it shows you all strings quickly on one display so you can do a quick tune on the fly. It also has a setting where you can tune one string at a time for a more precise tuning.

A great feature the Poly Tune has is that it can distribute power to your other pedals as well and act as a power bank. You can plug in power to the in plug then use a daisy chain to power the rest of your pedals, pretty awesome in my opinion and very useful.

The Boss TU-3 Tuner

Best Guitar Tuner - Boss TU-3

The TU-3 is a solid Boss pedal. Like all the Boss pedals, they are made extremely well and are built to last the test of time. The TU-3 offers solid and accurate tuning and comes in at a pretty fair price point.

One thing to note about the TU-3 is that it is not true bypass and it has a buffer instead. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it should be known.

Best Compressor Pedal (Popular and Cheap Compression Pedals)

Compression is a tool you are definitely going to want to consider adding to your toolkit in order to get the most out of your tone. In this article I will outline what compression is and go over the pedals that I think are the best compression pedal options out there based on price, popularity and controls.

Compression is a kind of pedal that when you first plug it in and turn it on it will be a bit tough to judge what it is actually doing. However, when you take it away after playing with it for a while you will truly miss it. The compression pedal is kind of a best-kept secret for touring and gigging guitarists. It helps create a studio like sound when playing live and helps you ensure your tone and guitar sound is going to be on point and mesh with the rest of the band.

It goes without saying but a compression pedal will only go so far unless you are in tune. Check out our picks for the best guitar tuner! ​

Compression Pedal

Price

Rating

MXR Dyna Comp

$$

Keely C4 4 Knob Compression

$$$

Joyo JF-10

$

What Is Compression? 

Compression is very much like it sounds. It compresses your guitar signal and based on your settings will limit the amount of certain signals entering the signal path and going down the line. Simply put it can make the elements of the signal that are too loud go quieter and the elements of the signal that are too quite go louder. It balances out the sound of your guitar and helps you maintain consistency in your playing.

This can be extremely helpful for controlling your guitar when you are playing live or jamming with other people. I know in my own experience I can get excited or amped up when I am playing live and thus start to strum my guitar a bit too hard, or pick a quiet part a bit to aggressively. In these moments of human error, I know I can rely on my compression settings to ensure no bad sounds get amplified through the monitors and to the audience.

Compression pedals can come in all shapes and sizes and can include a wide variety of controls. Some pedals only have limited compression controls while others are extremely detailed and precise. When choosing a compression pedal it is important to take into consideration what you need out of it and where you are in terms of level of playing.

Best Compression Pedal: Popular Pedals

MXR Dyna Comp Compressor

MXR M102 Dyna Comp Compression Pedal

The MXR Dyna Comp compressor pedal is an extremely easy to use and effective compressor pedal. Like all MXR pedals it is a very well constructed unit and can be relied on during the test of time. It has also been around since 1975 and is known as being one of the most popular and best compression pedals out there.

The Dyna Comp has two dial knobs that control the output of the pedal and the sensitivity of the compression. The output knob is fairly self-explanatory; essentially the louder you want your guitar the more you will turn this knob up. The sensitivity knob is the amount of compression added to the signal. The lower the sensitivity the drier the signal, the higher the sensitivity more compression is added.

Keely 4 Knob Compressor

Keely 4 Knob Compression Pedal

This is a fairly boutique pedal to be on this list but it is definitely one of the best compressors out there in my opinion. It has unbelievable tone control and hardly makes any noise when engaged, which can be a downfall for some compressor pedals on the market.

The pedal has four control knobs on it: a level knob, sustain knob, attack knob and a clipping knob. The level and sustain knobs are basically the same type of controls as the output and sensitivity knob on the Dyna Comp respectively. The level knob controls the overall output of the pedal and the sustain knob controls the amount of compression put on the signal.

The attack knob controls how quickly the compression timing is activated and can be a beneficial control to tweak the tone of the pedal and your guitar to make it a bit more aggressive or to back it off a bit.

The clipping knob is an interesting control unique to the Keely 4 Knob Compressor and almost acts as a pre gain or pre level for the signal entering from the guitar. It can be very helpful if you are experiencing some natural distortion or clipping if you have sustain cranked. With this knob you can dial it back to get a clean sound with a tone of sustain.

Boss CS-3 Compressor/Sustainer Pedal

Boss CS-3 Compression Pedal

Boss is pretty much on all of my lists because I just really like how well their pedals are constructed and where they come in for price point and the quality you get. The CS-3 is no exception to that and is a solid compressor pedal that simply gets the job done.

It isn’t fancy and nor is it claiming to be. The CS-3 produces a solid compression and it would be a great first compression pedal to pick up if you are just getting started with playing live with a band or by yourself!

The CS-3 has 4 knobs to assist you in reaching perfection in your tone. There is a level knob to control the overall level of the pedal. A tone knob to help mix in either low or high frequencies. There is an attack knob, similar to the Keely compressor, to enhance the aggressiveness of your signal. Finally a sustain knob to control the amount of compression applied to the signal.

Xotic Effects SP Compressor Pedal

xotic-sp-compressor-pedal

This is really cool pedal in my opinion and it sounds great! At first glance I was a bit shocked at the price compared to some of the other pedals out there and the options they come with. However, after diving into this pedal I realized how versatile it really is.

The construction of this pedal is very solid for its size and it is surprisingly heavy for a little pedal the size of some of the Donner pedals we have reviewed, which are cheaper pedal options overall. There is nothing cheap about the Xotic Effects SP Compressor though.

On the face of the pedal it has two knobs to control the volume of the pedal and the blend of the compression from the dry signal to a compressed signal. There is also a three-way tone switch to toggle between Hi Lo and Mid compression.

Where this pedal gets interesting is when you unscrew the back to access the battery and chipboard. There are four switches in the back compartment to assist in picking the best tone and compressor settings for you. I personally really like this feature of the pedal because with compression, you may not be changing it too often and sometimes when all of the controls are on the front they can get switched around in transport.

Best Compression Pedals: Cheap But Quality

When talking about cheap pedals I always feel like I need to say you do really get what you pay for. This is especially the case for compression as it is usually the first pedal that your guitar signal hits and controls the overall signal.

When you cheap out here you run the chance of accidently cheaping out further down the line. However, the below pedals are the best you can get on a budget, and like a lot of struggling musicians out there, I understand you may not always be able to get the best of the best.

Behringer Compressor/Sustainer CS400

Behringer Compressor Pedal

Behringer is a bit of a king when it comes to cheap pedals. They get the job done and do not hurt the bank balance one bit. However, something to take into consideration is the noise these pedals can make and sometimes you even get radio signals through them, but hey, maybe you want to listen to some radio while jamming!

However I have owned these pedals before, they are especially great for just starting out with an effect and experimenting with it to see if it is right for you and your style of playing.

The CS400 is kind of a carbon copy of the Boss CS-3 when it comes to the control knobs. It has the exact same four knobs for level, tone, attack and sustain. If you are looking at getting the CS-3 but don’t have the budget, go for the CS400 instead!

Joyo JF-10 Dynamic Compressor

Joyo JF-10 Compressor Pedal

I really like Joyo pedals when it comes to cheaper pedal options. I think I would say this is the best cheap compressor pedal because it doesn’t make as much noise as the Behringer pedal does.

It does the trick and when it comes to compression is pretty solid for the price. It has three control knobs on the face of the pedal. The knobs are for sustain, or amount of compression, the level to control the overall output of the pedal and also the attack knob to control how aggressive the signal is.

I like the design of this pedal as well. Although it doesn’t add any audible benefits it sure looks cool in your pedal board. I mean, can you really go wrong with having a cool ass scorpion on the front of the pedal? I think not.

Best Wah Pedal (Cry Baby, Vox, Multi Wah, Bad Horsie)

The wah pedal is one of the most iconic pedals out there. It has been used by guitar legends such as, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa and Eric Clapton not to mention countless other artists in many hit songs. In this review we look at four different wah pedals to help you find the best wah pedal for the sound you are striving for!

I personally love the sound of the wah pedal because of its ability to create human like tones from the guitar. This may sound goofy, but there is no simpler way to explain the sound the wah makes than to say “waka waka” over and over.

Your voice makes a similar kind of sound that the wah pedal can produce by moving the pedal from top to bottom. However, for a less goofy and more audible example of the wah pedal in use, take a listen to Jimi Hendrix’s song Voodoo Child In the below video:

Cry Baby, Cry: A Brief History Of The Wah Pedal

The wah pedal, also known as the wah-wah pedal, was created by accident in the mid 60’s by an engineer by the name of Brad Plunkett. At the time he was a junior engineer for the Thomas Organ Company and was tasked with replacing an expensive circuit switch with a cheaper transistorized solid state mid range boost circuit. However, we don’t need to bore you with the technical jargon.

Basically they were messing around with a solid-state amp and wanted to control the tone better. They put the circuit into an organ volume pedal casing, because they were an organ company, and the result was a footswitch that could create sweeping tones at the touch of your foot.

At the time there was nothing like it on the market and as we know it became extremely popular. Known for being used heavily in psychedelic blues in the late 60’s, funk in the 70’s and much more versatile uses in modern day music, it is a must have for any guitar player.

Considering the Wah came out around the same time as some gain pedals did it is no wonder that a fuzz pedal matched with the perfect fuzz or distortion sounds unreal! Check out our picks for the best fuzz pedal and distortion pedal options.​

The Best Wah Pedal: Classic 

Dunlop Original Cry Baby Wah

This is the original wah pedal. The design of the modern day Original Cry Baby stays true to the construction and electronic design that Brad Plunkett created at The Thomas Organ Company. In modern day, there are a dozen different versions of the Cry Baby wah pedal out there but there is something special about the sound of the Original Cry Baby Wah.

best wah pedal cry baby

This was the wah pedal that was first used in so many hit songs by guitar legends Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. When these guys used this pedal it revolutionized blues music and psychedelic styles of playing. If they used it, I will use it 100%.

Its rugged metal casing, and well-built foot control pedal makes this an awesome pedal that will last the test of time. It is extremely simple to use, nothing fancy at all, but in this case simple is the best way to go.

When used with a clean setting it creates the classic sounding funk wah tone known and loved in the genre. When paired with a distorted fuzzy tone it can make an epic solo sound even better or create a psychedelic washing sound in the background of what you are playing.

All and all this is the pedal to go for if you are searching for the classic tones and sounds of the original wah pedal. Definitely a contender for the best wah pedal out there!

Vox Classic Wah

Best Wah Pedal Vox

Vox also made a wah pedal in the late 60’s and was quite popular, offering a different tone and construction to the cry baby wah pedal. The modern day design of this pedal is sturdy and well constructed; it is a strong pedal with a great tone and will definitely last the test of time.

The tone when the Vox Classic Wah is engaged is a warm, tubey sounding signal with lots of play and versatility in the foot pedal movement. This is could be a contender for the best wah pedal for funk music as it has a warm tone for rhythmic parts but also a big growl when it needs to.

There are subtle differences between the Vox Classic Wah vs the Dunlop Cry Baby Wah. The main differences between the two are basically the tone and whether or not they are true bypass. To me, the Vox pedal is a bit warmer and tubey where the cry baby is a bit crisper. One thing to consider as well is the Vox pedal is not true bypass and the Cry Baby is.

Check out the below video that compares the two:

Best Wah Pedal: Versatility 

Dunlop Multi Wah

Today there are many different wah pedal variations out there. Throughout history different guitar legends wanted different tones, sweep ranges and controls on their wah pedals and manufacturers complied. Because of that you can buy many different guitar player’s wah pedals online or at your local guitar store. However, if you don’t know what sound you are going for or want to create your own tone why not buy a pedal that can accomplish that?

best wah pedal dunlop multi wah

This is why I wanted to include the Dunlop Multi Wah into this review. We went over where the wah came from and the two best classic wah pedals on the market. Now we need to talk about the modern day wah pedal.

The Multi Wah looks and feels like a cry baby wah pedal. However, it is vastly different. Mainly because there are several controls that allow you to adjust the pedal’s sound for various songs, or to tighten up the sound you like best!

Although pretty basic, the controls on the wah pedal offer some great versatility. There is a large dial on the right hand side of the pedal that controls 6 different settings. Setting 1 has more treble and as you switch to setting 6 the sound contains more bass signal and becomes pretty fat.

On the left hand side across from the large setting dial, there are two smaller dials that control the sweep range of the wah pedal, going from very little range to a lot of range, and the boost control that increases the wah level by up to 15 db. The boost on the wah is toggled on and off by using a small red kick button on the back right side of the pedal.

All and all this is a great pedal for anyone who is striving for the perfect tone and wants versatility in their wah experience. Definitely a pedal to consider bringing it home with you.

Steve Vai Bad Horsie 2

best wah pedal bad horsie 2

I wanted to include this pedal in this review because I think it is a pretty cool design. The sound is also really great and it was made with the influence of Steve Vai so can’t really go wrong there either.

The best feature I think this pedal has is the fact that it is a switchless wah pedal. Meaning you do not need to click in the small button at the bottom of the wah like you need to with the Cry Baby, Vox Classic Wah and Multi Wah. Instead, all you need to do is put your foot on the pedal and the pedal engages the wah.

There are also some controls on the Bad Horsie 2 that make it pretty desirable. Two dials on the side of the pedal to control the level and intensity of the pedal. These controls can be engaged when you click the button on the contour of the pedal, appropriately named contour mode.