Category Archives for "Guitar Pedals"

The Best Overdrive Pedal (For Blues, Metal & Rock)

The Best Overdrive Pedal (For Blues, Metal & Rock)

Finding the best overdrive pedal can be a make or break for getting your tone just right, and ultimately fitting in with your unique style. If you play any form of metal, blues or rock then you may want to consider your options carefully, as there can be a lot of variation in the types of sound created by each product, and as always the best one is the one that matches your unique style.

Below we will review different types of overdrivers on sound, style, genre and price in order to give you the best view of what may be right for your sound!

Overdrive, Distortion and Fuzz: An important Discovery

The history of overdrive is a topic that is widely debated because there are multiple variations of the story of how it was first discovered. However, one legend has it that there was a guitar player who threw his guitar at his amplifier in a fit of rage and the guitar crashed into the amp and knocked something loose. The guitar player picked up his guitar and started to play and a crunchy, dirty and distorted sound came out.

The result turned into our modern day overdrive, distortion or fuzz effect that can now be re-created in a compact guitar pedal.

Technically the sound associated with these types of pedals is created by “clipping” the signal coming from the guitar and going to the amplifier.

Imagine a big wave in the ocean going under a bridge and hitting the bottom of a bridge. The waveform breaks up because the top is “clipped” off by the bridge and thus changes the wave. This is what is happening to a distorted guitar. The signal hits resistance and changes the sound wave, creating a “dirty” kind of sound.

At first it wasn’t a desirable quality in an amplifier. But over time with creative input and artists experimenting with the sound, the crunchy and gritty tone that is recognizable a lot of modern day music was created. It is an especially crucial element to any guitar player’s sound who plays metal, blues or rock.

There are three main types of pedals that create a “dirty” guitar signal. They are mentioned above. Obviously this is an article on the overdrive pedal, but if you want to check out our review on the best distortion pedal then just follow the link! 

The Sound of the Effect

As you can hear in the above video, the sound associated with this effect compared to the distortion pedal and fuzz pedal is a softer more full toned sound. It boosts your signal enough to break up the waveform but keeps the tones of the guitar natural and true.

It isn’t as harsh as the distortion and fuzz pedal’s sound. This can be a very desirable quality for a lot of different genres because you can craft the tone of your guitar more and keep your tone consistent while giving it a bit more energy.

Typically overdrive pedals have three dial knobs for drive, tone and level (or volume depending on the pedal) as well as a foot switch to turn it off and on. Each pedal is powered by either battery or a 9v connection, if you have more then a few pedals then be sure to check into buying a power supply or daisy chain if one of your pedals can distribute power.

The Best For Rock

If you are just starting out or play a wide variety of music, it would be beneficial to find an overdrive pedal that is very versatile and can be used for generally all kinds of music.

Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer - Classic

This is a classic sounding overdrive and is found on a lot of pedal boards. It mimics a mid/deep sounding tube that is pushed to the max. It has a simple to use interface with a nice feeling stomp pad type pedal.

It is very versatile but brings out some nice low and mid tones. It has a very tough design that can handle whatever you throw at it, plus it is simple to use. This is a great all around product and is rated as one of the top pedals out there. It is a fairly priced pedal and doesn’t break the bank account for the quality you are getting.

Take a listen below:

Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive

Boss is a staple for guitar pedals and there is good reason for it. These pedals are tough and can handle some rigorous conditions when touring and gigging.

The Boss SD-1 overdrive pedal is a good balance of crunchy mid/high and low heavy tones. If you are looking for a pedal that accomplishes a wide variety of genres and sounds, this one would be a solid option.

It can also be used as a “boost” to your amp’s drive or even clean sound. If you turn the drive down to zero and put the level where you want it can add a decent boost to your sound for those louder moments.

However, this pedal is not as heavy sounding as other pedals on the market. So keep that in mind if you are playing heavy metal or rock.

Boss OD-3 OverDrive

The boss OD-3 Overdrive pedal brings out a bit of a heavier sound then it’s brother the SD-1 pedal. The OD-3 has a heavier gain and low end tone that comes through when it is engaged.

Like the SD-1, it is a tough pedal that can be very versatile. You can see a comparison of the two in the video below.

Best Overdriver For Blues

Blues is the best example for why one would want to use an overdrive pedal vs a distortion or fuzz pedal, however, the fuzz can add some great elements in blues. The overdrive allows the tone of the guitar to surface through the clipping signal that results in a very emotive and bluesy sound.

Donner Blues Drive Classical Electronic Vintage Overdrive Guitar Effect Pedal True Bypass Warm/Hot Modes

This is a nice versatile pedal that can be used for playing both heavy blues and lighter more melodic blues riffs and comes in at a nice price point, giving you a solid effect that doesn’t break the bank.

The Donner Blues Drive allows you to toggle between two modes, one warm for that produces a softer sound and one hot for playing heavier music. By buying this overdrive pedal you essentially get two pedals in one with great tones for blues!

Think of Stevie Ray Vaughn in either his version of little wing, which uses a softer warmer overdrive or in “pride and joy” where he uses a heavier “hot” overdrive.

Boss BD-2 Blues Driver Guitar Effects Pedal
Best Overdrive Pedal Option: Blues Driver

This is another staple guitar pedal from the engineers at Boss. These guys really know how to make a great tough pedal at a good price. Although slightly more expensive then the Donner Blues Drive, it is much more rugged and can handle tough conditions, resulting in a pedal that lasts the test of time.

The boss BD-2 has a very classic sound to it which makes it very desirable for old school blues that requires a bit of a raunchy sound but not too overpowering where the tones of the guitar are lost. This pedal provides great versatility in an overdrive pedal that comes extremely close to replicating a vintage tube.

DigiTech DSB Screamin' Blues Overdrive Analog Distortion Pedal

This guy is a little bit raunchier then the previous two above. It is not called the Screamin’ Blues Overdrive for no reason! It would be a perfect pedal to give a heavy guitar solo a bit more edge.

The Screamin’ Blues pedal also has a more flexibility in terms of the controls for tone. It has two knobs to control tone, one for low tones and one for high tones. This enables you to maximize what you want for the particular part of song it is engaged for.

It is a similar price point to the Boss BD-2 pedal but definitely has it’s own sound. Pairing these two pedals on a pedal board would be a perfect duo for having a pedal for a general boost and overdriven tone, and then having an option to really crank it up and experiment with some heavier tones.

Electro-Harmonix Soul Food Distortion/Fuzz/Overdrive Pedal

This is a really cool pedal. It is a great pedal for blues and rock since it is a very neutral sounding and doesn't take away from your natural tone. This means you can utilize the power and tone of say a Fender Strat and keep intact the elements of what make a Strat a Strat.

When the drive is turned down it allows your signal to be boosted without any change in the tone at all. Paired with a great reverb pedal it can allow great clean solos and rhythmic parts.

When the drive is turned up, the tone that comes out is crunchy but warm. A great sound for a strong dirty blues solo that would be familiar in a hazy pub in Chicago in the 60s.

​Best Overdrive Pedal For Metal

When constructing your tone for metal, most would say to look for a pedal with strong low end and nice balanced high tone. This is because when you are ripping a guitar solo you want it to cut through the rest of the band. This is accomplished by utilizing the high frequencies. However, when you are playing a rhythmic section that needs to be full and punchy, the low end will help you accomplish this.

MXR Wylde Overdrive Effects Pedal

This pedal was made for legendary guitar player Zakk Wylde, who may be most recognizable as the guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne and founder of the heavy metal band Black Label Society. As a guitarist, he rips fast, accurate and heavy and needs an overdrive pedal to match.

A lot of the great gritty harmonic tone that is desirable in heavy metal music comes from the amplifier the guitarist is using. Which means when you are talking overdrive and distortion pedals, you probably don’t want something that wipes out the tone of the amp completely and overpowers it with the pedal’s specific sound.

The MXR Wylde is a heavy sounding overdrive that adds an awesome punch and boost but doesn’t overpower the amplifier’s natural tone. It will enhance the natural tone of the amp but allows you boost your sound without compromise.

It has a nice low-end sound with balanced highs. The gain is a beautiful crunchy sound when it is full on but can be backed off if need be to give your signal an extra boost if you prefer to utilize the gain on your amp.

Fulltone OCD Obsessive Compulsive Drive Pedal

The OCD is a very full toned thick sounding pedal. It is a great option for metal guitarists because it has such a full sound. It will add a punch and chug in the rhythm section but still has enough force to cut through. It is actually an overdrive pedal but can almost pass off as a distortion pedal because of its thick low-end sound and heavy gain. You can give it a listen in the below video posted by Sweetwater.

Best Tremolo Pedals – Voodo, Joyo, Boss, and 3 more…

Tremolo-Front-Banner

Best Tremolo Pedals -
Voodo, Joyo, Boss, and 3 more...

Chop that signal! Make it tremble, make it wobble, as if it was suddenly dragged through a black hole along unimaginable quantities and qualities of star dust, detritus, and toxic gas.

Well, that’s perhaps the most exaggerate and edgy form of tremolo. A good guitar tremolo pedal may be able to produce this effect, along with many others, such as soothing guitar textures, or a spacey near-reverb that sounds like the dream of a koala...

Here’s an overview list of each tremolo pedal we’ll review:

  1. Voodoo Lab Tremolo: Very straightforward tremolo, features a slope control for waveform tweaking. Usually $150. Check Current Price.
  2. BOSS Audio TR2 Tremolo Pedal: A classic and hugely popular tremolo effect- it's vintage, yet high-quality. Usually $99. Check Current Price.
  3. Electro Harmonix Stereo Pulsar: Check Current Price.
  4. Joyo JF-09 Tremolo Guitar Pedal: Check Current Price.
  5. Diamond Pedals Tremolo: Most expensive little guy on the list, features a tap tempo footswitch and several timing accents. Usually goes for $249. Check Current Price.
  6. Fulltone Supa-Trem ST-1 Tremolo: Features a volume knob with an added 15 dB of gain, and extra switches to vary the speed. Goes for around $139. Check Current Price.


So what is tremolo for? Short answer? Anything you want! Just plug it to your guitar and amp, play around with the settings, then combine it with other effects, knock yourself out!

"6" Picks for Top Tremolo Pedals

These babies and boys are here mainly for their sound quality, durability, and brand reputation, but we’ve also considered pedals that are fairly easy to find online, regardless of which country you’re in, and that at an average price of $150 USD, certainly won’t break the bank. So here we go - the shoout out - the top six tremolo pedals we picked for you...

Voodoo Lab Tremolo

And to start with, we have a tremolo pedal by American manufacturer Voodoo Lab. This one also includes a photocell tremolo circuit, and pretty straightforward controls. You get an “intensity” knob, which is similar to “depth”, a “slope” which lets you alter the waveform (though it be cool it it included an actual drawing of which waves are at each end), the mandatory “speed” knob, and (good to soothe any volume drop paranoia) a good ol’ “volume” knob.

The aim with this one was to re-create the tone of tube amp type vintage tremolos, so it might be a good bet for thee if you fell in love with tremolo not because of the harsh helicopter-like effects we’ve discussed before, but for the dreamy and seductive tone of the tremolo some amps used to feature. Considering that, it’s a pretty straightforward, nostalgic sort of tremolo. Probably not as versatile as the other pedals on this list, but sometimes nostalgia is exactly what you need for certain tones or styles of music. Also, you can always tweak it within your effect chain, so the pedal is really as versatile as you want it to be. Example? The VL Tremolo sits with guitarists like Jack White, Dean Fertita from Queens Of The Stone Age, and Devin Townsend. Bottom line? It’s got a sound all its own and that’s respectable in any stomp box. The only thing I’m not a fan of is the design. I understand those grey lines over the black case are supposed to be waves, but to me it looks like a big footprint.

The Voodoo Labs Tremolo Pedal is one of the most popular pedals out there, and for good reason. This pedal replicates a vintage tremolo guitar effect 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 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 tremollo 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 above in the video from our friends at Sweetwater!

BOSS AUDIO TR2 Tremolo Pedal

Ahhhhhhhh… the Boss 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, Bosstr tremolo 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.

Now, perhaps it’s because the Diamond is a newer pedal and it has some catching up to do, but when it comes to guitar tremolo pedals that are used by professionals, the list for this one is just mind-blowing.

Who do you see there? Caleb Followill, Dan Auerbach, Billie Joe Armstrong, Noel Gallagher, Eric Clapton, Stone Gossard, Daniel Kessler, Graham Coxon, Tom Morello… jeez! It’s amazing that such a classic piece of machinery can go for $99, or even $70 bucks if found used and in good condition. 

This vintage tremolo effect is probably that popular due to its ease in functionality. You get 3 super straightforward knobs. Just the rate one (how fast the chopping goes), depth, and two forms of waves, with the choice to find a sweet spot in between. The one on the left in Boss TR-2 is a triangle wave, which means that the lowering and upping of volume is gradual, making the chopping effect much more subtle (which is actually why Juan Alderete prefers the PN-2). The second wave is squared, so that makes the chopping effect much more harsh, since the lowering of the volume occurs all within a harsh millisecond. Playing around with these 3 knobs is super easy, and super fun, so even if you have to maneuver to the settings you want in the next part of the song while playing live, this little green guy makes it hassle-free. The only complaint people have about this one (and I can vouch by that) is that it does produce a bit of a volume drop when triggered. Now, the seasoned guitarists with a trick or two under his sleeve in terms of pedals will probably have some way of boosting the sound when engaging this thing. That might explain while, even with the volume drop ‘issue’, so many players cherish wouldn’t trade the Boss TR-2 for any other tremolo pedal.

The Boss 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 is a solid pedal that creates a very rich, warm and vintage 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 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 with True Bypass Wiring

The Joyo JF-09 would be a great example of the best cheap tremolo pedal out there. As you will read in a lot of the Joyo tremolo review, the JF-09 definitely does not break the bank account. However, since this pedal is a Tremolo, and we already discussed that these are so simple you can get away with a cheap tremolo pedal 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 the Joyo tremolo pedal if you want to test out this effect and have never played around with it before, or if you cannot afford the other pedals listed above - after all Joyo tremolo pedal would be one of the best guitar pedals under 50 you will find out there. 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.

Diamond Pedals Tremolo

If you’re like really serious about Tremolo, Diamond trem the really nice one, and probably the most complete, but that’s also why it’s the priciest. Diamond is a small Canadian manufacturer that aims to put sonic excellence on top of everything. They’re nearly boutique pedals and every item they put out is a rigorously crafted piece of machinery. The Diamond Tremolo is pretty much everything you’d expect from a Tremolo pedal. It’s got a speed knob, depth (which also determines how harsh the effect is), volume knob (great to avoid those famous volume drops), and– something no other pedal has on this list– a knob that lets you choose a bunch of different timing accents, creating rhythmic tremolo effects that you will not find in any other pedal. If that wasn’t enough, Diamond Tremolo also has a tap tempo footswitch, that can also be used to engage the “double speed mode”, just a way of switching to super fast tremolo at the tap of a foot. You can tell that a great deal of work went into making this pedal, so it should come as no surprise that it sits on the pedalboards of artists like Ed O’Brien from Radiohead, and Tycho. 

Fulltone Supa-Trem ST-1 Tremolo

Going into another boutique and very versatile option, the guys at Fulltone nailed it with this one by adding a mini-volume knob right next to the two big knobs.

Players have found that since the volume knob actually features a 15 dB boost, you can turn the two big knobs (“Speed” and “Mix”) all the way down and use this as a straight-up boost pedal.

Further, fulltone supa trem features a hard/soft footswitch which lets you choose between a sine-wave or a square-wave for a machine-gun like stutter.

Finally, a cool thing about the fulltone supa-trem is that it uses a photocell, which is a piece of technology that old tube amps used to use, so it claims to add no noise at all, while providing a very clean, crisp and analog tremolo pedal tone.

The potential downside with fulltone tremolo one is that it doesn’t feature a tap/tempo button, and it’s a bit hard to know where to set the “Speed” knob right to the setting you like. Some guitarists mention in fulltone supa trem reviews that you can set the “speed” and “mix” knobs with your foot, but how accurate can that be?

A very cool feature, however, is that the red LED light lets you see the speed of the tremolo effect at all times, even if the pedal is bypassed, so you can sort of make sure it’s the right speed before engaging the pedal.

Finally, here’s the list of pros that use the ST-1: It includes names like Joe Bonamassa, Jonathan Wilson, and Justin Vernon.


Now, since we went into details of each model which we consider to be the best tremolo pedal on the market, let’s take a look at some questions you might have regarding good tremolo pedals:

What does a tremolo pedal do?

Almost needless to say if you’re here, but Tremolo is a fascinating effect. For guitarists, it usually means the use of an electronic effect to rapidly turn the volume of a signal up and down, creating that trembling effect that gives it its name.

What is a tremolo indeed? The term goes back to the word “tremolando!”, which is Italian for “trembling”, a term that has been used from as early as 1617 to describe a natural effect produced when the players of bowed string instruments would move the bow back and forth, kind of like picking to produce the rapid repetition of a single note.

Of course, we discussed here the former term, which constitute some of the best guitar pedals! If you’re looking to add some of that shuddering effect to your guitar playing, or even bass tremolo, the above are the some of the top rated guitar pedals (not to be mixed with a vibrato pedal - to be discussed in a separate post!) we recommend.

A more educated answer would be that tremolo is typically used to give an additional amount of texture to guitars or keyboards, or even vocals, that is simply hard or downright impossible to replicate with natural playing.

You would need somebody to stand next to your amp and mute and unmute it repeatedly to even come close, and that person would need to have perfect timing, before the mute switch in your amp is eventually ruined, of course.

So tremolo is a great way of achieving that effect of chopping up the signal, whether it’s ultra harsh, as in, complete silence between each wave or just a more subtle up and down.

In this regard, most tremelo pedals will have some sort of “rate” setting, which is the speed of the effect, and a some way of controlling the wave shape, which will alter how harsh the chopping is.

Can’t I get tremolo from an amp? Or a multi-effects processor?

Some amps, especially vintage ones, might already include a tremolo effect. Do note that these will usually be ultra simple and, when using them, you don’t get to enjoy the convenience of having a little box unit to control the effect right at your disposal, near your feet.

Also, most multi-effects processors will include a tremolo effect. While these will vary a lot depending on the manufacturer and product model, you have to consider that what you’re getting in those instances is a digital version of tremolo, as opposed to analogue circuitry, which gives you that vintage betremolo vi, especially with the Diamond Head and Boss pedals on this list.

It’s also very common to feel that hitting the tremlo effect while you play results in a volume drop. While most multi-effects processors will have little or no ways to help you find some source of extra gain that can be triggered at the same time you engage the tremolo, some of the pedals we’ll see do feature a way of dealing with this. Namely, their own friggin’ volume knob.

What are some tremolo use examples?

One of my favorite examples, though performed on bass, is this video by Juan Alderete from The Mars Volta, using a PN-2 from BOSS (they don’t make em’ anymore), distortion, compression and some other effects to achieve an insane helicopter sort of sound.

Other good examples include “Bones” by Radiohead, “Gimme Shelter” by good ol’ Mick and Keith, and some guitar subtleties on “Child” by The Maccabees.

Just some clear examples. Blues and country artists do use this effect a lot, so you can probably name more.

How does this effect function? Presumably the most widely recognized and least complex (with current innovation) is to adjust input voltage by means of circuit. This is the way your ordinary Manager tremolo works. In this situation, a voltage controlled enhancer (VCA) alters flag adequacy with a particular waveform to make the tremolo sound.

These tremolo pedals frequently stable decent and work dependably, yet like listening to vinyl, there are numerous individuals who incline toward a portion of the flaws of other innovation.Different sorts of innovation includes a low-recurrence oscillator, which bolsters the flag again into the amp in-stage, bringing on a tremolo sound. The low-recurrence oscillator makes impact by controlling the speed and to the extent I know, just delivers a sine wave.​


The tremolo is an effect that has been around for a very long time, dating back to the 1940’s. It 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!

This 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 an effect 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 above includes some of the most popular and best pedals on the market, including a cheap option (may be the best budget tremolo pedal in the market) 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.

You got your pedal, now where do you put it? 

Anyway, let’s say you went with one of these babies, now where does a tremolo pedal go in terms of an effect chain? Since the effect is quite subtle and sometimes, depending on your intention, you want it to really chop up the signal, the best bet is to put the tremolo at the very end of a chain, at least after your more notorious effects like distorsion, pitch-shifters, or compression.


TA-TA-TA-TA! Happy signal choppin’!

Best Distortion Pedal Review (Cheap & High End Pedals)

best distortion pedal

Okay Metal-Heads, blues rockers and funky f***ers.... too far?.... nahhh..... this is a much anticipated review of the best distortion pedals you can find. Period. Some of these pedals will melt your face while others... well not so much. Keep on reading to find out which pedal will be the one you need to deliver a hard hitting punch to the rest of your bandmates & fans. 

Like a lot of our reviews, it is important to remember the best type for you is going to be the pedal that matches your sound and the kind of music you play. If you have read our article on the best overdrive pedal that will sound familiar. Whether you play metal, blues, rock, funk or honestly any other type of genre of music, different distortion pedals will have different characteristics. This article will review the individual characteristics of some of the best on the market so you can choose the one that is right for you.

It can be classified as a “gain” pedal. “Gain” pedals are pedals that increase the signal strength coming from the guitar and causes the signal to “clip” and distort the sound. There are three main types of “gain” pedals, overdrive, distortion and fuzz pedals and we will take a look at all three pedals in a future article and compare them to each other.

However, for this article we are going to be focusing on the Distortion Pedal. It has a heavier sound then an overdrive pedal but not quite as intense as a fuzz pedal can be. It is probably one of the most popular types of gain pedals because it is in the middle between the overdrive and fuzz pedals in terms of its tone and level of intensity.

Distortion can be used in many different ways for many different genres of music. However, some genres use it more predominantly than others, such as, metal, post rock, heavy rock, and it can be heard in classic rock as well.

Picking The One For You

When picking a distortion pedal, it would be wise to understand the options that can be available with different types of pedals. Understanding the tones that you want to obtain and when and where you want to use it within a song will be crucial to think about, so planning what you need is a solid strategy.

Different pedals have different customization options, tones and overall sounds. Below we will discuss the tone of each pedal, what it can be used for (in some cases who may have used it) and the options it provides for customizing your tone to what you want.

It is actually quite surprising how different some of these pedals sound from one another. It comes down to quality of parts, types of transistors and internal ​electronics. Some will provide an extremely fat sound where others may be a bit thinner. Some may have a ton of grit to them while others will be smoother. The tone switches will have varying ranges of bass and treble so you can get different sounds depending on the type of tone you have set. But enough of the differences, lets get to the pedals. 

Best Distortion Pedal Comparison:

Boss DS-1 Distortion Pedal

Boss DS-1 Distortion Pedal

This is another classic pedal from the engineers at Boss. It is one of the most popular distortion pedals on the market for a reason. Its sound is full and punchy and comes in at a fair price point. This would be a great first pedal to pick up in order to get a feel for distortion and how to use it since Boss pedals are known for being tough and long lasting. You can pick it up, experiment with it and then be able to understand your sound a bit better.

It should be noted it is also a great pedal for experienced players. It is tried, tested and true and can be relied on to have a consistent tone over time. It has been used by Steve Vai and Dave Grohl, so if those guys think it cuts the cake then I do to.

For the controls on the pedal’s interface, you will find a tone knob, distortion knob, and volume knob for customization. Plus it is equipped with a stomp pad type of control switch (I sometimes prefer the stomp pad compared to a click button as it provides a better feel when your foot hits the button, but that comes down to personal taste).

The tone on this pedal is fairly average; there is nothing too special about it as it is a pretty standard distortion. When the distortion knob is turned up it can almost take on a fuzz pedal sound to get some variation going and versatility out of your distortion pedal.

This would be a great all around unit for a beginner through to advance user. It produces a great sound that works well with most tube amps & solid state amplifiers. Some could say this is a middle of the road distortion pedal in terms of tone and overall playability. We would agree. ​

Take a listen to Pete Thorn from Sweetwater review the pedal:

Proco Rat2 Distortion Pedal

Pro Co first came out with The RAT in 1978 but the pedal didn’t gain notoriety and popularity until the late 80’s when they came out with The RAT2. Throughout the late 80’s and into present day times, it has been used by some of the top players in rock history including Jeff Beck, Joe Walsh, Thom Yorke, Joe Perry and many more.

On top of the pedal you have a distortion knob and a level knob just like the DS-1, however instead of a tone knob it has a filter knob. The filter knob allows the guitar’s tone to shine through (when turned to the left) or the pedal’s unique tone to shine through (when turned to the right). It has a click button to engage the true bypass system to turn the pedal on and off.

Its sound is slightly more harmonic and heavy then the Boss DS-1 due to a different opamp used in the circuit board, however, most of the circuitry is similar to the DS-1. Unlike the DS-1, the RAT2 comes out of the gate heavy when the level is even turned down to low.

Boss MT-2 Metal Zone Distortion

Like the name suggests this pedal is geared a bit more on the heavier side for metal and heavy rock. It has more versatility then its cousin the DS-1 due to 2 dual control knobs that act as an in pedal equalizer. The equalizer controls can be quite useful as the centre right knob controls both the high frequency tones and the low frequency tones and the centre left knob controls the amount of mid frequencies in the mix as well as the tone of the mid frequency.

The pedal has a fairly harmonic sound to it and can scream when the distortion is turned up all the way. The only downside to this pedal is that the guitar’s tone can become quite muddy if the equalizer is set poorly. Spending some careful time dialing in this pedal will be very important.

All and all this is a solid pedal for its price range if you are looking to find something that has more versatility than the DS-1 and still could keep up to the RAT2 in terms of heaviness.

Dark Matter Distortion Pedal

The TC Electronic Dark Matter is a clear sounding effect that is all about tone. It has a high level of sustain which helps highlight and reward every nuance of your guitar playing.

The Dark Matter pedal can be viewed as a middle ground between overdrive and distortion. The guitar’s tone can shine through the clipping of the input signal but still offers a high quality punch that a distortion pedal offers. It definitely can resemble a vintage Marshall tube amp pushed to the edge of its capabilities, giving you a hard, crunchy distortion with clarity.

This pedal has knob controls for high-end tone, low-end tone, gain and level as well as a switch for two different styles of voicing. The tone is a great mix in between your guitar’s natural tone and a very versatile distortion that you can alter to your liking.

This is a great pedal for someone who wants a bit more punch than an overdrive can offer, however, if your style is more geared toward metal and heavier playing then you may want to look at one of the other pedals.

Wampler Triple Wreck Distortion Pedal

This is a heavy, heavy pedal first and foremost, and could be a solid contender for the best distortion pedal on this page for the heavier sounding pedals. Although it is a pricier option you are getting what you pay for.

The pedal has an influx of controls so tone customization can be extremely precise. It is essentially an “amp in a box” in the sense that it has a full range of customization options to get the tone perfect, so in theory, you could plug it in to a set of bare speakers and create an amazing tone, however, we wouldn’t suggest it as a you can never replace a great amp.

On the face of the pedal you will see a three-band EQ for highs, mids and lows allowing you to tweak the sound of the pedal to your liking. It also includes a switch to change between a warm sounding and a heavier distortion with a bit more spark and punch.

What sets this pedal apart is the fact that it has a built in boost switch and control for the boost itself. This is an already extremely heavy pedal and the engineers at Wampler thought, “Hey, why the hell not add a boost pedal in here??”But it turned out to be a great decision because when the boost is engaged, you multiply your distortion and can get that classic sounding squeal you need for solos and lead licks.

Watch this Youtube review to get a full profile of the pedal’s sound. The video is long but is the best and most thorough video review out there for this pedal.

Best Bass Envelope Filter Pedals

Envelope filters! Those things that make your bass or guitar go “quack” or “bow”, that sound at times like you were playing underwater, but mainly make you feel as if you were dressed in a full-sequined outfit and playing a bass shaped like a glittery star while wearing platform shoes. Bootsy Collins, we’re looking at you!

We’ll look more into the technical aspects of what filtering is and how to apply it to a bass guitar below. First, here are the filter pedals that we consider to be the best bass envelope filters, currently on production: 

  1. MXR Bass Envelope Filter M82: Probably the best bass envelope filter still being made, great for preserving the low end, classic analog sound, and a truly funky look. Usually seen for $150. Check Current Price.
  2. Source Audio SA143 Soundblox Pro Bass Envelope Filter: Not the most pedalboard friendly option, but if you’d like 22 pre-set filter effects, as well as saving your own settings, it might be worth it. Price is usually around $230. Check Current Price.
  3. Mooer Envelope Filter Analog Auto Wah: Now this is the most pedalboard friendly option. Tiny filter, but still packs 4 controls and all-analog circuitry. Goes for around $88. Check Current Price.
  4. Electro-Harmonix Bass Balls Twin Envelope Filter Pedal: A super rudimentary, straightforward pedal that’s two filters in one case. Just one knob for response (sensitivity) and a switch to toggle some built-in fuzz. All you need really! Usually $135. Check Current Price.

Reviews: Our favourite envelope filter pedals for bass guitar

MXR M82 Bass Envelope Filter w/ 9V Power Supply and Patch Cables

This is truly a classic envelope filter pedal built for the modern age, and specifically for bass! What we love about the MXR bass pedal is that apart from featuring some crisp-sounding all-analog circuitry, it gives you tons of control over the sound.

You get 5-knobs to play with, out of which the ones that truly set this boy apart are the separate dry and filter effect controls. This means you get to decide how much of the original signal is left after the effect is applied, which definitely helps with preserving your low end. The size of the filer is adjusted with the Decay and Q controls, and it’s got the much needed sensitivity knob. 

The MXR M82 comes in a sturdy case that won’t cause much of a problem if you’ve got decent pedalboard space to spare, and it’s got a beautiful space-style paint job. Funky as the sounds you’ll get. You can listen for yourself:

No wonder mxr m82 bass envelope filter has gotten so popular over the last few years among best mxr pedals. Some notable users include Justin Chancellor from Tool, Marcus Miller, and none other than funk veteran Bootsy Collins.

Source Audio SA143 Soundblox Pro Bass Envelope Filter

Now, if the classic bass envelope filter sound isn’t enough for you and you’re looking for something more spacey and processed, source audio bass envelope filter pro is notorious for producing crazy sounds that are reminiscent of dubstep and electronica.

When it comes to edgier sounds like that, words don’t usually do them justice, so here’s a complete demo where you can hear both the classic auto-wah sounds from this pedal, as well as the other crazy settings:

This is a very versatile pedal, but it definitely comes with its set of quirks. It’s all digital, the encasing is almost completely made of plastic, and the size of it only would make think twice.

That being said its variety of filter sounds are definitely second to none on this list. If it’s about expanding your filtering options, however, I’d also consider the Line 6 FM4 or even the Moogerfooger MF-101 guitar filter pedals if you’re looking for an analog filter pedal that can also make some craaazy sounds.

Mooer Audio Micro Envelope Analog Auto Wah Effect Pedal

And now for the tiny option! If pedalboard real estate is your main concern and not even an M82 bass envelope filter would fit your current setup, this is probably the one.

Mooer pedals are made in China, with efficiency and cost-effectiveness (nice way of saying cheap eh?) in mind rather than a very unique sound or boutique qualities.

That being said, this thing just delivers amazingly for the price. Here’s what it sounds like with bass.

It’s surprising that it has four controls in a bass filter pedal as small, but it features decay, tone, and Q controls, along with a big sensitivity knob in the middle. It would be nice if there were a nice version (basically what you can call best envelope filter pedal) or if it had a dry/wet option for low end preservation, but for less than $90 bucks it’s hard to ask for more.

Also, if you’re into Mooer envelope pedals you should also consider their Bass Sweeper. It’s also an envelope filter, but it features a clean/fuzz switch that adds a certain character and dirtiness to the funky bass pedals effect… AND it’s like $50. Listen here.

Electro-Harmonix BassBalls Twin Dynamic Envelope Filter Pedal

And at last, we come to the adequately-named bassballs envelope filter from New York’s Electro Harmonix. What we love about this envelope filter guitar pedal is its minimalist approach to the filter, since it features only one big response knob as the sole control upon the two filters that are simultaneously engaged.

What people praise about the BassBalls is its “vocal” sound, great for bass solos, and bottom line quite a unique filter. Here’s how it sounds with bass:

The new version of bassballs filter features a built-in fuzz that truly enriches the harmonic quality of whatever is being filtered. It would be nice it you were able to control the amount of fuzz though, but this thing is like $70.

But even if it’s a one-trick pony, its signature sound has made it very popular with a wide spectrum of pros over the years. Some of its praises come from Jack White, Flea, Cliff Burton and Roger Waters.

Honorary Mentions for Best Envelope Filters

No list of the best envelope filters for bass guitar, would be complete without at least a mention of these two pedals:

The Digitech Bass Synth Wah has long been discontinued, but it’s a true legend even outside the circle of bass guitar players. It is said that most bass lines on Daft Punk’s album Human After All were processed through one of these, and it’s also (along with the moogerfooger MF-101) how Thundercat makes his bass sound so funky on tracks like “Them Changes” and “Wesley’s Theory”, his collaboration with Kendrick Lamar.

Finally, the DOD FX25B was also a widely used during the 80’s, most notably by Flea himself. We guess it was what he favoured before he picked up the M82 from MXR (mxr envelope filter) but it’s definitely the one he’s using during that jam session we showed above.

These funk bass pedals are mentioned here for your consideration, but since they’re discontinued that means they are a little hard to come by, and thus were not fully reviewed. If you have the time and patience to pursue on of these however, more power to you, but you can rest assured that most of the bass envelope filter pedals we mentioned (mxr bass envelope,  soundblox envelope filter,  boss envelope filter,..) would cover most of your envelope filter and synth sound needs. 


Best envelope filters for bass:
Buyer's Guide & FAQ

But seriously, apart from being a staple for any funk musician, these funk guitar pedals can be definitely used for lots of other purposes and genres. You can find them as Q-Wah pedals, or Auto-wah, but they are mainly variations of the same thing.

In a nutshell, a device that filters out certain frequencies from your signal, and emphasizes others. Usually, sounding a bit like what Flea had going on during this jam session: 

What does a bass envelope filter do?

In audio, a filter is any circuit or algorithm that adjusts the shapes of the frequencies that pass through it. In doing so, it is effectively altering the relative levels, and thus the sound of each frequency.

There are several types. A low pass filter, for example, lets the low frequencies pass through but cuts the highs. The high-pass filter is the exact opposite. A band-pass filter lets only the mid-frequencies pass. In this sense, filters are used for EQing.

As filters get more complex, they become more noticeable effects. Such is the case of the envelope filter, which also has certain variations in tone, as it uses resonance (a type of feedback) for the emphasis of some frequencies. The “envelope” in this case, is the changing in the levels of each note played, going from an initial spike to when the note dies off.

For more info on filters in general, we recommend this very complete article from Ovni Labs.

How to use an envelope filter pedal for bass?

So the envelope filter not only alters which frequencies pass through, but the shape of that “hump” that occurs when a note is played. Understanding this, will help you make better use of the controls that are inherent to most filters.

“Attack”, for instance, is the time that elapses from when the filter is triggered, to the moment when it peaks, reaching its maximum level. The time from that high point to when the note dies is the “Release”, also found as “Decay”.

Then you have the “Sensitivity”. This is the degree to which the envelope filter will react to the notes you play. This is probably the most important and expressive knob in any envelope filter, as it really opens or closes the frequencies, so it has a much more noticeable impact on the sound.

When you trigger your envelope filter, down on the sensitivity knob usually means open, and the filter closes more and more as you turn the knob up, causing a more dramatic and accentuated effect. Some pedals also feature a “Q” knob. This usually controls the gain of the filter, so it messes with the intensity of the effect regardless of the original signal.

Getting to the point where you love what the filter is doing to your playing, is all about messing around with these controls, but also modifying your playing as well. When testing out one of these bass envelope pedals, or checking them out on Youtube, you’ll notice that the filter reacts very differently depending on how hard or soft the instrument is played, or whether the musician is doing low or high notes.

Naturally, you can also accomplish very varied results with a filter depending on whether your original signal is compressed, passing through a preamp, or any sort of processing. 

Happy pedal hunting!

Boss DD-7 Digital Delay Pedal Review

Boss DD-7 Digital Delay Pedal Review

Boss DD-7 Digital Delay Pedal

The Boss DD-7 is the latest addition to the successful range of Boss delay pedals. Among others, the line includes the popular DD-3, DD-5 and DD-6.

The Boss DD-7 Digital Delay is designed in a way that incorporates all of the best features of the delays that come before it and packs them into their signature stomp box enclosure. The engineers at Boss have really outdone themselves with this one, and here is why:

The Boss DD-7 Compared To The Delays Before It

The best way to find out what the latest model stands out is to compare it with the previous models. Boss took the reviews and suggestions of their audience into consideration, resulting in the specifications of the DD-7 being a combination of the DD-2’s classic warmth, the DD-3’s pedal look and the DD-5’s evolved functionality. Boss really did their homework this time and worked hard to replicate the DM-2’s sound via the Analog mode of the DD-7.

The DD-5 was the first Digital Delay by Boss that had a tap-tempo feature included, which was used by plugging in an external switch like the FS-5U. The DD-6 decided to go ahead with stereo inputs and exclude the external footswitch, much to the dismay of many loyal users. Boss was quick to take customer feedback into account. Once again the external footswitch jack is equipped on the DD-7, all the same keeping the stereo inputs maintained. So a lot of thought was put into creating the DD-7.

Features:

  • Approximately 6.4 seconds delay time
  • For sounds emulating chorus, a Modulation Delay mode is present
  • The ever popular Boss DM-2 is emulated through the Analog Delay mode
  • Tap Tempo feature through external footswitch
  • Feedback, Delay Time and Effect level is controlled via external Expression Pedal
  • Approximately 40 seconds of sounds is offered on sound recording through the Hold mode
  • Stereo Inputs and Outputs, with Wet/Dry routing and panning

Sound & Performance

Features aside, it is important to look at the sound quality the DD-7 delivers and how well it executes it. The controls are intuitive and simple, offering the standard Feedback, Effect level and Delay Time functions. Itis very fast and easy to dial in the required amount of both delay and feedback delay.

The sound itself is very clear and crisp, giving a fantastic reproduction with an added hi-fi warmth. The sound is very modern, and feels more alive and soulful. This is definitely one of the best delays that Boss has produced.

The Hold mode is great if you like messing around with basic loops, but there is no feature to save loops. If that is what you want, then you may want to look into getting a dedicated looper, like the RC-300. The DD-7 is still a good choice to give you some experience with looping.

The Modulate mode gives a chorus-like sound to the output. Its control is limited, so it isn’t possible to adjust the depth and rate of the effect. But again, the DD-7 is a good entry level item to help you determine whether or not you want a pedal dedicated to chorus effects or have a small area on the pedalboard to do so.

The Analog mode is the most remarkable feature of this pedal, give a warm and smooth sound output that will put your mind off buying a dedicated analog delay pedal. Certain sound purists argue that the feature is not a perfect emulation of the one provided on the Boss DM-2, but for now it is as good as it can get and is a breath of fresh air in the otherwise sharp digital delay sounds.

The Reverse mode changes any sound played through it by giving it a psychedelic twist to it and basically reversing the signal. This is great for amping up some parts of a song or adding an unexpected flavor to a guitar solo, anyone say Hendrix??

The Tap tempo can be used without an external footswitch by simply pressing the footswitch for 2 seconds, followed by tapping the tempo. But this is sort of wonky for live use so we recommend getting the FS-5U footswitch.

I think it is safe to say that the Boss DD-7 Digital Delay is the king of the delays in the Boss line up for now. It offers something for everyone; analog as well as modern delay sounds, unique and interesting effects, and a tap-tempo that is optional. All these functions will make a great addition to any pedalboard.

Boss RC-300 Looper Pedal Review

Boss RC-300 Looper Pedal Review

Boss RC-300 Loop Station

1. Introduction To The RC-300

Are you looking for an in-depth review on the Boss RC-300 Loop Station? We thought so and we’re more than willing to share our two cents on Boss’ frontrunner looper. If you have read our previous article on the best looper pedal on the market, then you may already be familiar with this bad boy. However, we wanted to dive a bit deeper since it is such a beast of a loop station. 

This looper is under stiff competition with other loopers in the market – think, Jam Man Delay from Digitech. Not to mention its predecessor, the RC-50 Loop Station is still not out of the picture.

So, what makes the RC-300 Loop Station special? Is it worth your precious time and money? We’ll find out as this review goes deeper into its features. Let’s now delve in to the main part of the subject in focus and see what makes the RC 300 such a great loop station.

2. Size, Dimensions

The Boss RC-300 Loop Station comes in a noticeably enormous size compared to the models that came before it. It’s a little bit over 21 inches wide and nine inches from back to front. It comes in a jagged metal construction with a total of eight foot pedals and a built-in expression pedal to allow you to shape your sound.

3. Features:

  • · It’s jam-packed with features that you can find in most loopers out in the market – tempo-shifting functions, reverse playback, different stop modes, auxiliary inputs, undo/redo functionality, and rhythm tracks.
  • · This looper makes the process of switching between tracks easier by giving each one a dedicated “Record/Play/Overdub” and “Stop” pedal so you can record onto track one, then hit the pedal for track two and start recording onto it instantly. This feature is perfect for live musicians!
  • · Just like the RC-50 Loop Station, the RC-300 features a variety of outputs for subs and guitar amps; this simply means you can have your bass thumping out of a bass stack instead of your guitar amp. It also comes with standard 99 internal memory locations, with three tracks stored in each location. Another awesome thing about this looper is its internal memory can store up to three hours of recording, way better than its predecessor.
  • · You can also connect the RC-300 using a USB cable straight to your computer which will allow you to increase the amount of loops you can store.
  • · The RC-300 also has built-in effects where you can add phaser, flanger, chorus, pitch-bend, distortion, tremolo, lo-fi effects, and delay to your recordings.
  • · Furthermore, the unit allows you to alter the pitch of recordings without changing the tempo, this is referred to as its transpose function. There is also a particular effect to turn your guitar into a bass, that’s important for “one man band” musicians. They’ve also included a number of vocal effects to make your alter the way your voice sounds – you can sound more masculine, robotic, feminine, you can even experiment on the different levels of voice sounds available and we think that this is a totally cool feature of the RC-300.
  • · Another awesome thing about the new Boss looper is that effects can be set up for use in combination with any of the three available tracks. Depending on how you split up tracks for your songs, you can add wild pitch bends to a lead part without affecting the rhythm. You can also apply the effects to all tracks, if you like.
  • · The RC-300 Loop Station also has the largest selection of rhythm backing tracks (23 of them). It also has 17 different time signatures, each with close to 10 rhythm backing tracks.
  • · In addition to ensuring that your overdubs stay in time with the original recordings, this looper ensures your 3 tracks fit together properly. If you’re a beginner, turn this function on and if you’re more of an experienced user, you can simply turn this function off. It definitely makes the looping process much easier than doing it unassisted.
  • · Another plus that we noticed is that the actual operation of the pedal can be done entirely hands-free. Imagine being able to create a three track loop with multiple overdubs on each using just the foot pedals! This is clearly a huge advantage for live players, and the ability to bring in and take out different tracks according to your preference make the RC-300 Loop Station fitting for complex, hands-free composition.

However, more complex things still require fingers to operate like selecting a specific rhythm track and setting time signature. Luckily, the options that entails the need for you to stoop over and operate the control panel can all be set prior to a performance or between songs. This will result in some silence, though. The good news is, silence won’t happen mid track.

4. The Verdict

In general, the Boss RC-300 Loop Station has all the features and more that a looper could ask for. It’s quite versatile and can be used during live performances, for complex compositions, as a dependable practice instrument, or anything that’s weirdly in between.

It’s great for performing artist that either work alone or as part of an actual band and the impressively massive memory allows you to store more than enough data without the need to obsess over whether you have enough space or not. Boss definitely has come a long way from the RC-50 and has done an excellent job with designing the feature packed RC-300. This device is totally a worthy investment!


The TC Electronics X4 Delay Pedal (Lead Guitar Review)

flashbackx4delaypedal
flashbackx4delaypedal

The Flash X4 Delay Pedal is TC Electronic's flagship delay and looper pedal. It’s a culmination of TC Electronic’s many years of experience crafting amazing delay tones. But the question is, is this model worth purchasing? We’ll find out whether this delay pedal is worth your time and money in this review. The TC Electronic

Flashback X4 offers a broad range of features which we will assess in this review. But before getting into the features, let’s look at the pros and cons.

Pros

  • The looper is extremely flexible and easy to use
  • This pedal offers an excellent range of delay types
  • You can instantly access three different presets
  • The Tone-Print feature is undeniably easy to use, adding significant control over the X4

Cons

  • It’s a bit large due to the incorporation of the tap tempo footswitch
  • At times it feels like the pedal is trying to do too much at once, similar to a multi effects pedal but FAR from it.

Types of Delay The X4 Offers

The TC Electronics Flash X4 offers twelve different delay types and four preset positions. This includes the typical delay modes which are found on any digital delay pedal, in addition to several modes which will prove handy in certain situations.

One feature that is fairly handy would be the the four preset slots. The slots are Tone-Print positions that allow for the creation of any preset from the Tone-Print Editor. With the editor you’ll be able to create and save delay tones on any of the provided three instant preset slots accessed by the foot switches.

I really like the preset features because of the ease of use they provide when playing live. Instead of having to turn the top-left knob to access your Tone-Prints or to change between different delays types, you are able to easily access your favorite settings directly from the footswitches.

Details on The Flashback x4 Looper Component

The Flashback X4 boasts an inbuilt looper as well as a delay. You can enable and disable the looper using a small toggle switch that you’ll find on the pedal’s face (its in between two knobs). Once enabled, four foot switches will control different looper functions. This looper has a maximum recording time of 40 seconds, which isn’t as long as some of the pedals in our best loop pedal article, but for a delay/loop combo its pretty alright.

A dedicated knob will help you control the loop’s volume level. There is a separate level knob makes it quite a breeze to mix your levels correctly. Which can be helpful if you accidently record something too loud and need to adjust it.

One of the top features is that you can use the looper while using the different delay types, something that’s uncommon with other pedals. The X4 Looper is hugely flexible and is among the best loopers we’ve seen integrated onto a delay pedal.

A Closer Look - I/O

x4-back

On the back, you’ll find the input/output expression pedal input as well as the USB and MIDI options. The Expression Pedal feature might not be a big deal, but it’s nice to see that it’s present.

The Flashback X4 features both MIDI In and Thru. Some artists will find that extra capability useful. You can read the Flashback X4 manual for more information on features like the Expression Pedal or the MIDI.

Tap Tempo Footswitch

One thing I have started to gravitate away from are pedals that lack a dedicated tap tempo footswitch. The ability to quickly tap the tempo using your foot rather than turning a knob or pushing a button is a handy feature to say the least, and one that comes stock on the X4. Features like this are what make the X4 superior to the other smaller Flashback pedals TC Electronics offers.

Tone-Print

TC Electronic Tone-Print is an app and editor that allows you to customize presets and upload them onto your pedal. The X4 comes standard with presets from some famous guitarists. The smartphone app enables you to customize presets and load them wirelessly onto your pedal through your guitar pickups… pretty insane if you ask me!

While there is an option to connect your X4 to your Mac or PS via USB, you can just use your smartphone to ‘beam’ your Tone-Prints onto your pedal. Considering that the app is entirely free, that is an impressive feature!

Sound

The days where both digital and analog delay pedals sounded awful are far behind us. While there are some bad-sounding pedals out there, most delay pedals sound true to the signal. The X4, however, sounds fantastic.

The analog-style delays sound authentic, giving a nice, warm feel. The Space delay creates a beautiful, rich atmospheric floor that you’ll build on. With the surprisingly useful Reverse delay, you’ll have a nice smooth sound. Such a broad range of delay types ensure that you never feel like the Flashback X4 is missing something.

Ease of Use

As more features get incorporated on pedals, they typically become more complicated. The more presets, effects, and footswitches available on some pedals make it quite fiddly. Fortunately, the X4 is pretty straightforward. Just turn the far-left knob to choose the delay type or to select a Tone-Print. Take advantage of the three middle knobs to control the parameters: delay time, delay level, and feedback. So far so simple, but it gets even better. Hold down one of the 3 main footswitches to keep a delay setting for future use.

The looper works superb, thanks to the four footswitches. Each footswitch’s function is well labeled and easy to see. The large chunky knobs feel pretty secure. The large size ensures that it won’t flip over or roll around by accidentally tugging a cable, not the craziest benefit but still something to mention.. The pedal is conveniently rugged and will last a long time.

Firmware Updates

The Flashback X4 benefits a lot from firmware updates. Upon purchasing this pedal, it’ll be worth keeping an eye on firmware updates for bug fixes and improvements. The quickest way of checking for updates is searching for ‘Flashback X4 firmware update.'

Our Verdict

The Flashback X4 Delay Pedal has been around for quite a while. It has already built up an excellent reputation for being an incredible delay pedal. We confirm that it’s a good model and a favorite choice if you’re seeking a pedal which will offer you an extensive range of useful features. Those who play for fun might not need this large and diverse pedal. Hands-down, the X4 is worth considering as it is a quality product from a reputable manufacturer.

Proper Order of Pedals In A Pedal Chain: The Basics

Best Pedal Board

I have been writing and reviewing guitar pedals for a while now and there is a question I get asked by beginner guitar players quite often. That question is, "what order do I put my pedals in"? 

While there is not an exact formula for placement of guitar pedals, as you can get some crazy sounds by breaking the rules, there are a couple basic rules of thumb that can be applied. In this article, I will go over how I structure my pedal board and give some reasons on why I do the things I do. 

The Pedals I Use:

Let's first get an understanding of the pedals I am using. Now, my pedal board has changed over the years and will probably continue to do so, but I think I have found a set up I like. I should mention I have other pedals that I use and some I have bought and sold that are not in my chain, these are just the ones I am using right now: 

First, My Tuner​: Poly Tune II

Best Guitar Tuner Page Image

I use the Poly Tune II tuner pedal as I really like how it can supply power to my other pedals through the use of a daisy chain. It has a full strumming tuning mode, which I personally never really use, and also a really accurate single string tuner. It is a decent pedal at a decent price point. 

A tuner should always go first in the chain. This is because you want to tune off of the most natural guitar signal you can get, the one coming straight from the guitar. You can also use a tuner pedal as a switch to cut your signal to the PA by turning on the tuner. Can be quite useful in live situations. 

Next Up: Compression

MXR M102 Dyna Comp Compression Pedal

This is one of the most recent pedals I bought, and boy am I glad I bought it! I am talking about the MXR Dyna-Comp compression pedal. It is a classic compression that basically can be considered one of the first compression pedals out there. I put the compression after my tuner, because like the tuner, we want to focus on the natural signal from the guitar and compress that. We don't want to apply compression to all of our other effects! 

After Compression, Comes Dirt! = FUZZ Pedal

The next section of my pedal board, composed of two pedals, is the dirty section of my pedal board. Or alternatively, the section where I put my "gain" pedals. These are the fuzz, distortion, and overdrive pedals... The ones that give your tone some balls. 

In the signal chain, you want to have these affecting your dry signal so you can get the most out of the type of gain pedal you have. Personally, I like putting my fuzz first as I like the tone it generates by itself. You can put an overdrive ahead of a fuzz pedal, but it tames the fuzz a bit too much for my liking. I don't have a wah pedal, but if you did, then you can either put it before or after the fuzz/distortion. You will get a different tone depending on the placement so pick the one you like the best. 

On my pedal board, I use a germanium fuzz face to get that vintage fuzz tone with a warm sound. Next in line to the fuzz face is my Boss OD-3 overdrive pedal. This combined with my fender amp gives a nice tubey sound. 

After the Dirt, It Is Time For Some Color: Tremelo & Chorus

Boss-tremolo-image

The next and final section on my pedal board is for colouring my tone. The pedals in this section of your pedal board are reserved for adding texturizing effects and colouring effects to your signal. Some pedals you can experiment with in this section are chorus, tremelo, vibe pedals, octive pedals, phase shifters and many other types of pedals. For me personally and my style of playing, I like to use a tremelo pedal, a chorus pedal and a delay pedal. 

I typically have a tremelo pedal into a chorus pedal (sometimes I switch these two around) and then I go into my delay pedal at the end. This is because I want to colour my tone with the tremelo and chorus pedal, and then have all of the sounds fed into the delay pedal so the delayed sounds actually have effects as well. If I were to put a delay pedal first, then it would delay the clean tone only, which isn't what I want to go for. 

Well, there you have it, my pedal board! If you have any questions or comments let me know below and I will address them with pleasure. ​

The Fuzz Face Pedal: Germanium VS Silicon

To an untrained ear, the differences between germanium vs silicon fuzz may seem minute. However,  the two kinds of transistors produce a really different tone from one another. Traditionally, fuzz pedals used germanium transistors. This is because silicon is a more recently found element. Germanium transistors have been described as more vintage sounding tone because of this. 

The tone quality to a germanium transistor is warm and round with a vintage quality fuzz. But, don't take my word for it! Below is a quote from Robert Keely of Keely Electronics. Although they are one of Dunlop's competitors, he describes the sound of a germanium transistor really well. 

Subjectively, the sound of Germanium offers a smoother, more ear pleasing distortion. Whether that’s technically due to greater capacitances, lower bandwidth (Germanium can’t handle those higher frequencies that can sometimes lead to harshness) as well as lower gain, can sometimes lead to more gratifying sounds. There’s another phenomenon called Miller capacitance, which is the capacitance between the pins and the internal structure of transistors or tubes— which leads to smoothing and roundness, attributes that sound better to us guitar players." - Robert Keely, Keely Electronics 


It can be concluded the Germanium Fuzz face has a warmer and rounder feel and sound than the Silicon Fuzz Face. If you are going for a vintage sound and want something that is a bit warmer then definitely consider germanium as your go to transistor. 

However, if you are looking for a crisper, more transparent fuzz then read below! ​ 

Fuzz-Face-Mini

Germanium was the primary transistor for fuzz pedals until silicon came around. Not all germanium transistors are born equally. What I mean by this is that each germanium transistor sounds a bit different from the next. Germanium transistors can occasionally be faulty right from the factory as well, so it is important to make sure your fuzz pedal is tested. Fuzz Face pedals, for example, are all tested in the factory so you won't have much to worry about. 

Silicon is a much more precise material when it comes to transistors and creates a much purer signal. Also, it is a better material for ensuring quality so you won't ever have to worry about it not working. It is also cheaper than germanium, which obviously helps out the pocket book.

In terms of sound quality, a pedal made with silicon transistors will sound much brighter and will have a bit more edge to it. Silicon Fuzz Face pedals typically have higher gain as well, 

A Brief History Of The Fuzz Face Pedal

The Fuzz Face pedal is a classic fuzz pedal. If you have read our previous article, The Best Fuzz Pedal, then you may know it was first built in the mid-1960's[1] at a time of revolutionary rock and roll. A period when artists, inventors, and engineers were working around the clock to develop new sounds and electronic abilities. The fuzz pedal, although a fairly simple development, blew the minds of many of the first people who heard it. It's dirty and distorted fuzz compiled with the warmness it produced led many artists to experiment and write with these new pedals. 

One of the most influential  guitarists who helped the fuzz pedal blow up in popularity was Jimi Hendrix. His use of the fuzz pedal and the harmonics that it is known for was one of the most creative uses at the time. Hendrix's fuzz pedal of choice was the Fuzz Face. 

Throughout time, the fuzz face has been modded and developed to include different tonal elements. One of the most common mods is changing between silicon and germanium transistors. There are two main types of Fuzz Face pedals due to this fact, the germanium fuzz face and the silicon fuzz face. 

Below we describe the differences between germanium and silicon fuzz face pedals so you can know what one may suit your style of playing better. 

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

​Guys! Today is the day! Voluuummmeee Pedals! 

While these pedals may not get as much fame and fortune as the fuzz, delay, reverb, & more "popular" kinds of pedals. For the pro's, this pedal is a crucial piece of the pedal board, especially when playing in a band. See, as a beginner, you may not be concerning yourself with the volume of your guitar.

Most likely, you will be thinking louder is better... which it can sometimes be... but with experience you will start to realize that when you are playing in a band​ and either need to rise above your buddies or fall in-between their notes, you will want a volume pedal. 

I put together this review of two high-end volume pedals and two cheap 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 pedals you can use them to control other pedals if they have ability to connect an “expression” pedal. Some types that utilize this are tremolo pedals or chorus pedals; we put together a list of the best of those if you click the 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 volume. 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. The only thing is, since most of these pedals resemble wah pedals, they can take up some space on the board. 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 Pedals To Control The Noise!

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 pedal below 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[1]  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 choice 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.

There You Have It, A Comprehensive List of the Best Volume Pedal Options​

So, there you have it folks. A list of the top volume pedals you can find. Some are better than others and some are WAY better than others. You will need to go to your guitar store & try them yourself. A little word of advice once you find one though: purchase it online! You can find way better deals online than in the store, at least from my experience. ​

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