Category Archives for "Guitar Pedals"

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. ​

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

​Alright guys!!! I am super excited to be putting together this review for the best loop pedals on the market! Loopers have a special place on my pedal board and not just physically. Reason being is that I occasionally play solo as well as in a band. Loopers give me the ability to expand my sound as a solo artist and increase the potential of what I can play. 

The loop pedal is as simple or complex as you want it to be depending on how you use it. When looking for the right effect, I would suggest understanding what you are going to use it for and how complex you want your loops to be. As well, it is good to note what other effects you are using. Are you looping really fuzzy effects or cleaner more ambient effects like a chorus pedal?

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

​​​The Standoff: TC Electronics Ditto Series
& Boss RC Loop Machines

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 unit is rated based off of the relative price point and overall quality, basically our perception of the value you are getting.

The below review is basically grouped by complexity from the simplest 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 In The Guitar Looping Face-Off:
Ditto VS RC-1

This group is the simple to use group, don’t have too many controls and will loop the hell out of whatever you want to repeat. They both have storage and are true-bypass so your signal isn’t effected when the pedal is turned off. However, if you are looking for something that will allow you to get really experimental with your looping, then feel free to skip this section as these pedals are better for adding a bit of colour to your playing. 

TC Electronics Ditto Looper Pedal:

This little guy is a great option for those who want a simple to use and easy effect (see full specs). It has 5 minutes of storage time in it and basic controls for dialling 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 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 this effect.

One other thing to note is the Ditto 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 is a simple but effective effect that is built like an absolute tank (see full specs). 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 it surpasses the Ditto though is in its visual indicator. It pretty much counts you into your loop and helps ensure proper 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!

The controls basically the same as the Ditto. 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 terms of tone.

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

Next Up In The Stand Off To Find The Top Loop Pedal:

Ditto X2 Vs RC-3

This next group gets a bit more complex​ and if you opt in for one of these guys you will be able to experiment a bit more than with the above two. This is because they have more features, options and effects to let you loop your mind  away. 

TC Electronics Ditto X2

The Ditto X2 is an interesting pedal to say the least. It is not your typical “more complex” effect 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 (see full specs).

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 and learn more about the X2 here:

Boss RC-3

The RC-3 is a very different 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 (see full specs here). 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 really simple to use 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 as the best loop pedal in the middle grouping.

And THE Final Stand-Off !!!!!! 

Ditto X4 vs RC-300 Loopers


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 (see full specs here).

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 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

It 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 with the X4 Looper.

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 some of the top artists out there. Its functionality and ease of use is consistent with all other boss pedals but it has endless capability (see full specs here).

This pedal is almost more of a station than it is a "pedal". It has a ton of variables that can be messed around with to ultimately rock anyone who uses it. But beware, as this thing can be kind of confusing when you are first getting used to how it plays. The first time I tried this loop pedal I had to turn it off due to a major headache from concentrating so hard! Well... thats an exaggeration but you get what I am trying to say. ​

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.

dHope you enjoyed what I put together about the best loop pedals on the market! Please take a look at my headphones post (read the guide here) when you have a minute and share your experiences with my readers in the comments. Thank you!

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.

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.

It's a conventional sounding pedal but there is only one control choice beside the color switch. Saying this doesn't  necessarily imply that there aren't simple phaser pedals out there that give you more control (we'll cover a few), yet they're not the standard, and are regularly more costly than their computerized partners.​

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 in 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.

It's flexibility makes it all around perfect for basement rockers and expert guitarists alike. The advanced tone doesn't sound canned at all and is ideal for adding a gleaming impact layer to a guitar track in the studio. The extra control improves it for session guitarists than say, the MXR Phase 90, and is a decent decision for the individuals who appreciate pedal tinkering. With such a great amount of space for tweaking, it's likewise one of the best phaser pedals for the ivories... ahem... keyboard players.

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

Best Compressor Pedal | Ultimate Reviews

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 effect 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. It 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 is important to also know it goes in the pedal chain. Some people like compression before or after effects like fuzz or distortion, while some like it to be before any type of ​pedal or even amp reverb. I personally like to have this pedal right next to my tuner, so it is essentially the first pedal on my board. 

Some people may be asking if the actually need a one of these things? To that I would say, if you are asking then you should go out and try one. Chances are you don't know what you are missing until it is gone... or was never there in the first place.

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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.

These effects 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

MXR M102 Dyna Comp Compression Pedal

The MXR Dyna Comp 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 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 of the effect is added.

What is pretty cool about the Dyna-Comp is it is actually an analog compressor. So it is probably the most similar to any old school compressor that you would have found on late 60's early 70's tracks. I purchased this guy a little while back and really like it. It can sound kind of gritty on your clean tones but honestly I like that. Kind of gives my solid state a tube amp feel. I would say though, you may want to buy this one as well as another effect that gives you more options, since it is pretty limited. 

One thing though, if you are looking for a really clean sounding effect then you may want to go to one of the digital compressors or something that is designed to be a bit more modern. All and all though, this is a dope pedal!​

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 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 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. Just like the boss pedals we have reviewed in other articles like the best distortion & chorus pedals, the CS-3 is no exception to that and is a solid unit 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.

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 option 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 Chorus Pedal Options (Top 3 of 2015 MXR, Boss, & Electro Harmonix)

The chorus effect is known for broadening a sound and adding a beautiful air around the signal we put through it. It does that by repeating the same sound overtop of itself multiple times, but in a very different way than the delay pedal. It is the same pitch but with slight modulation so the sound becomes fuller. It almost sounds like the tone is submersed underwater.

Chorus has been used in audio recordings and composition for many years. It was first integrated into music by grouping like sounding instruments together like the human voice or string ensembles. Today we can recreate it using technology so individual instruments and artists can use the effect with ease.

Early composers realized how outstanding the same part repeated multiple times using the same instrument can sound. Some of the best classical music uses the chorus effect just by adding in 3-4 layers of the same part. In a choir people sing the same parts and it makes the part sound amazingly full compared to having just one instrument play the part.

The unfortunate thing about creating a chorus effect naturally is that we are not all composers that have access to multiple musicians and instruments. Luckily for us we can achieve a similar result through technology.

Using technology we can duplicate an audio signal coming from one instrument and modulate it to create an awesomely full chorus effect. Most chorus effects are designed to be pedals, rack plug-ins or even tabletop units.

The basic mechanics of the chorus pedal are fairly simple. The incoming signal gets split and one of the signals pitch gets slightly modulated and the timing gets slightly changed. The two signals get paired back together and the result is a signal that sounds airy and broader.

In today’s day the chorus effect has been extremely well used in some of popular music’s greatest hits. You can hear it clearly used in Nirvana’s hit Come As You Are. Also, it was used very widely in the 80’s. So if that is a time period you love, you will most likely love the chorus pedal. However, if you don’t like the 80’s, you still might love the chorus pedal! 

It is a modulation pedal at its basics. We did a review on the best phaser pedal which was also a modulation pedal, click the link to check it out! ​Also, the chorus pedal pairs really well with a delay pedal to give a really submersed and ambient sound. 

Take a listen to “Come As You Are” below:

The Best Chorus Pedal Options For Guitar

In this review we take a look at three of our top picks for the best chorus pedal out there. These were picked due to the tones they produce, popularity, durability and price. Chorus can be a very subjective sound for what you think sounds best, so make sure to listen to the videos posted below as well!

MXR Analog Chorus Pedal

Best Chorus Pedal MXR Analog

The beautiful thing about this pedal is that is an analog pedal. Meaning it keeps true to the input signal without digitally modulating it. This gives it a really warm and natural feel.

The controls on this pedal are straightforward and awesome. There are two EQ knobs to get your high and low-end sounds mixed perfectly. There is a level knob that controls the amount of chorus mixed in with the clean tone. There is a rate knob that controls the speed at which the timing of the split signal gets altered. As well as a depth knob that controls how deep the sound feels.

The pedal comes stock with a beautiful aqua blue, specifically suiting to the underwater sound of the chorus pedal. The MXR Analog Chorus Pedal is an outstanding warm sounding chorus pedal with a great tone. It definitely deserves a spot on the list of the best chorus pedals out there!

Take a listen below:

Boss Super Chorus Pedal

Best Chorus Pedal Boss-CH-1

The Super Chorus is a more modern sounding pedal then the MXR Analog Chorus Pedal as it is a digital chorus pedal. However, there maybe previously made analog super choruses out there I have not found.

It is a very simple to use pedal with 4 control knobs and a signature boss style stomp switch to toggle it from true bypass or chorus. There is a knob to control the EQ, however, I am partial to having more than one EQ knob but one is better than none! It also has a knob for effect level, a knob for depth and a knob for the rate.

It is a clean sounding chorus pedal that errs closer on the side of the highs then the low frequencies. It is used best with a brighter sounding amp. The pedal pretty much matches the volume of the guitar not adding or taking away any signal strength.

All and all this is a great sounding pedal if you are looking for a generally brighter sounding chorus pedal or looking to get the stability and durability of a boss pedal!

Take a listen below:

Electro Harmonix Small Clone Chorus Pedal

Best Chorus Pedal Small Clone

This pedal is on the list due to the tone it creates, as the tone is unbelievably nice. It is one of the most true chorus sounding pedals out there and has been used by some of history’s great musicians, including Kurt Cobain.

It is extremely simple to use. It has one knob on it to control the chorus. This means a lot of the guesswork can be taken out of the picture to create a great chorus tone through the EQ knobs like you do with the MXR or Boss pedals, but for some players I know this will be a huge downfall for it. It also has a switch that can toggle between deep or shallow chorus sounds.

It is an analog pedal as well so one can really hear the warmth in it. I think it sounds warmer then the MXR personally, but decide for yourself and listening below:

Best Cheap Chorus Pedal

Joyo Classic Chorus Pedal

Best Chorus Pedal Joyo Classic Chorus

This pedal is on this list because it is a great sounding chorus pedal for its price point. It is the cheapest pedal on the list and could be a strong contender that could classify as the best cheap chorus pedal on the market. Because of this though, it won’t sound quite as smooth and warm as the MXR or bright and full as the Super Chorus but it will do the job a chorus pedal needs to do!

For how cheap it is it really does sound full. Most cheap pedals out there sound a bit flat and empty when the effect is engaged. Pretty much because of the cheap parts used in the circuitry. However, the Joyo Classic Chorus Pedal almost sounds as warm as the MXR Analog Chorus pedal, but not quite. This would definitely be a better suggestion than a Behringer pedal in this instance because the Behringer Chorus pedal does have a bit of a metallic sound, tinny and too light.

Take a listen below:

Best Reverb Pedal In 2017…. Time To Get Wet!

best-reverb-banner

The best reverb pedal will be an important addition to your pedal board in order to really texturize your tone. To find what you need in terms of sound, you must know what you need and want out of the pedal.

Do you want something cheap to start out with or a something rock solid that will last a decade... or six? Or maybe you want something with a bit more flare that will allow you to use it creatively?

In this review we go over the top reverb pedals going into 2016 based on their sound, controls, and price. But first, lets look at the history of this awesome effect. 

History of The Reverb Effect

To understand reverb, we must first take a look at the root of its name. Reverb is short for reverberation and is defined as the collection of reflected sounds from the surfaces in an enclosure.

You have most likely experienced it for yourself if you have ever yelled in a gymnasium, or talked loudly in a church. The effect occurs is when a sound bounces off of something and is returned to your ear slightly changed from the original sound. Using the church example, if you yell at the top of your lungs, although I wouldn’t recommend doing this in a church, the sound wave coming from your mouth will expand throughout the room hitting the walls, ceiling and nooks of the church. Then the sound will bounce back in different ways causing your ear to hear the sound differently.

In music, reverb has been in play since the beginning of time and is probably the first “effect” that was ever utilized. However, back then, controlling reverb was basically changing rooms to get a different sound. Musicians played in huge halls, churches, caves and other acoustically varying venues that produce different reverberation. Lucky for us, in the modern day we have technology that can replicate this and bring it even further.

At the beginning of the recording boom in the 30’s engineers started to play around with different ways to record a solid reverberation artificially. Back then, one common way was to record a sound in an acoustically dampened room, play back the sound using a loud speaker in a larger room, tunnel or some sort of stack and then record the resulting sound as the reverb.

Hall Of Fame | The Lead Guitar

This effect and recording technique is still used in some studios today, as some would argue there is no better reverb than it occurs naturally! However, not everyone has a spare dungeon to record into at band practice…

Then came the invention of digital reverb where a circuit is used to create a line delay digitally and creates reverberation within the signal resulting in the desired effect. The first ever effect pedal was the EMT 250 in 1976 and it started a gold rush in reverberation technology. The results of which can be seen in the below pedals and can be plugged straight into your pedal chain.

It should be noted that reverb pedals should be added in the pedal chain as a texturizing pedal. This means, add it to the back or end of your pedal chain. You will essentially want it to color the rest of your pedals and if you put it before then you will most likely lose the effect to the rest of the chain and it will sound muddy.

Reverb is all about texturizing your tone. It is an essential tool but by no means the only pedal that can help texture shine through. Check out our reviews on the best chorus pedal, the best phaser pedal, and best delay pedal options for a start. 

In General, The Best Reverb Pedal Options of 2016:

TC Electronics Hall Of Fame Reverb Pedal

Best Reverb Pedal Hall: Of Fame

The TC Electronics reverb pedal is one of the most versatile reverb pedals on the market for its price point. It has a simple to use design controlling 11 different tones. As well, the TC Electronics pedal has a special option of being able to download and install different tones to the pedal through a USB chord, which are available through the TC Electronics website.

The best thing about this pedal is the fact that it has 11 different types of reverb built right in, including some of the most popular and well- known types including spring, plate and hall effects. It also has controls for reverb decay, level, and tone to maximize the tone differentiation of the pedal, even within the different types of reverb.

It comes it at a fairly modest price point for a solid pedal, of course, there are cheaper varieties out there but you get what you pay for like most guitar pedals. It also is built very well so you can rest assured this pedal will last the test of time. It also is a fuller sounding reverb then the lesser quality counterparts.

Since it has such variety in terms of sound it is best heard on the below video by Pro Guitar Shop Demos. You can hear the difference between all types of reverbs as well as some differing tone settings:


Electro Harmonix Holy Grail

Best Reverb Pedal: Holy Grail

The Holy Grail is well named. It is a strong unit that produces a solid tone for all sounds so it can be thought as the best reverb that gives you “life”. It doesn’t have the same amount of controls that the Hall of Fame does, but it does have three different modes that you can alternate between in order to get the best tone needed for a particular song.

The controls on this pedal are fairly straightforward. It consists of a click button switch, a knob that controls the level of reverb as well as a three level switch that dictates the type of reverb created. The style can alternate between a hall, a spring and a “flerb” reverb.

The first option of reverb is the “spring” reverb. Which is a classic the sound of a bouncing spring verb. It is a bright sounding reverb that can be described as “slap back”, essentially slapping the sound back to the ear. The spring reverb when turned up can create an awesome sounding “surf” style of guitar. Think of the beach boys as well as the song “Wipeout”.

The hall effect is essentially replicating the sound of being in a large hall. It has a bit more “wetness” then the spring effect and sounds a bit fuller which can be nice touch to any indie, rock or alternative sounding song. The hall verb is a classic sounding reverb and can really texturize any guitar tone and style of music as if you are playing in a large hall or room. Technically it can be described as having a long decay.

The “Flerb” reverb is a mix between a Flanger and a reverb pedal. If you haven’t heard what a Flanger pedal can do, make sure to check out our review on the Flanger pedal. Basically the Flanger is an oscillation of the same signal creating a swirling sound. Mixed with a reverberation effect it can create a very interesting sound

Boss Reverb Pedals: The RV-5 and FRV-1

Best Reverb Pedal: Boss RV-5

As you may have read in our other reviews like the Fuzz, Distortion and Overdrive reviews, you may have heard us say that Boss is a standard in guitar pedals. This is because of the construction of these pedals and the sounds they are able to produce at such a reasonable price.

The Boss RV-5 is a great pedal that has 6 different tones built in to emulate different room types. The six different types include the basic and standard room, hall, plate and spring verbs as well as a gate reverb and a modulate effect. The modulate effect can be quite wet and results in a fairly out there and “trippy” sound when used properly.

As well, the RV-5 has controls for the level, tone and time of the reverb to make sure your tone is right for the sound you want! Like all Boss pedals it has a solid construction that will last the test of time. It is a full sounding reverb and all and all would be a solid choice for your first  pedal to get used to the sound.

FRV-1

Best Reverb Pedal: Boss FRV-1

Boss and Fender came together to create the FRV-1 modeled after Fender’s classic ’63 reverb amp, a classic sounding amp used for anything from surf to blues. Fender is and was a pioneer in sound technology so it is only suiting that the Boss pedal masters and Fender teamed up to create this legendary pedal.

Like the spring setting on the Holy Grail, the sound that comes out of the FRV-1 is a bright sounding effect with a ton of action. However, this pedal is specifically designed to only be a spring reverb and does not have any other settings, thus it would be the only downside for this pedal. If you are looking for a great sounding spring reverb pedal, then this would be a solid option as one of the best spring verb pedal options out there!

The controls on the FRV-1 are straightforward and easy to use. There is a mixer knob, a tone knob and a dwell knob that can basically be thought of as a time or length knob.

​Electro Harmonix Cathedral Stereo Reverb

Best Reverb Pedal: Cathedral Stereo Reverb

The Cathedral is a monster of a pedal. It comes stacked with 8 different reverb options including two options from the Holy Grail pedal, the spring and flerb settings. Plus the pedal has 5 different control knobs to truly customize your tone.

The different options within this pedal are the grail spring, an “accu” spring, a hall, room, plate and reverse reverb plus the grail flerb and an echo setting.

The five different control knobs on the Cathedral are blend, time, damping/tone, feedback and pre-delay. These five knobs plus the 8 different reverb options allow you to get extremely detailed in regards to your tone. Which makes this pedal a strong contender your next choice in reverberation technology.

It can be dialed back to give a slight reverb sound and also, like the name would suggest, can be maxed out to get some very ethereal sounds from it. It is one of the most versatile reverb pedals on the market, but also allows for intense creative ability.

The Cheaper Reverberation Options Out There

As always, we wanted to include some options out there for beginners or anyone who may be on a tighter budget. However, I will say with reverb it is an effect that you may want to splurge on since it is such an important aspect of tone. But it is understandable if that is not an option so the below pedals will do you good, at a lesser price. 

Behringer Reverb Machine

Best Cheap Reverb Pedal: Reverb Machine

The reverb machine is a great pedal for beginners who want to have a taste the effect and all its glory. The reverb machine combines 11 different effects that allow you to experiment with different sounds all from within the body of a cheaper pedal.

The controls on this pedal include mix, decay, tone and time like most of the other effect units we've seen. However, there is one feature that is different from some pedals which is the trails section, which you can turn on and off. This aspect of the pedal controls the resonance of the pedal, when it is on the pedal rings more abundantly then when it is off.

Donner Reverb

Best Cheap Reverb Pedal: Donner

Like most Donner pedals, the Donner reverb comes in the same body style. It is a tough and well-built cheaper reverb pedal. It sounds fairly full for the price point and is definitely a plus.

The controls on the Donner pedal include a level control, tone control, reverb amount control as well as a switch that controls three different types of reverb. It is fuller sounding then the Behringer, however, it doesn’t have as much versatility (only 3 reverb options vs 11).

It is a great pedal for a beginner or someone who is on a tight budget. Like all Donner pedals it is a solid quality even though it is cheap, probably because of their use of the pedal body through most of their pedals.

Wrapping It Up

So, there you have it folks. ​

Best Fuzz Pedal for Guitar | Ultimate Review Series

A fuzz pedal can create an epic sound for lead licks, thick rhythm sections and can be used creatively to get some intense sounds. In this review we look at contenders for the title of the best fuzz pedal out there. These pedals are some of the most well known pedals on the market as well as a few cheaper alternatives if you are just starting to play or need some budget conscious options. 

The Sound

Like we had mentioned in our review of the best overdrive pedals and distortion pedals, the fuzz pedal is classified as a “gain” pedal. However, this effect is very unique compared to the overdrive and distortion.

It is known for a thick signal cut and was originally heard in 1961 in Grady Martin’s song “Don’t Worry”. In Martin’s song a faulty pre-amp that cut the signal from his 6 string bass resulted in a distorted “dirty” sound. However, the effect didn’t truly catch on until 1965 when Keith Richards used a Maestro FZ-1 Fuzz Tone in their hit song “Satisfaction” to create the iconic tone in one of the Rolling Stones’ greatest songs.

After the Stones popularized the fuzz pedal the effect hit the market in a rush. Manufacturers started to create effects that had unique sounds and capabilities and sounded completely different from each other.

It forces the signal from the guitar to take on the pedal’s unique characteristics due to the pedal’s circuitry. Your guitar’s natural signal and tone is pretty much washed out by the circuitry in the pedal altering it and creating its own sound.

We won’t get too technical in this review but it is important to know about two different variations of transistors, germanium and silicon, so you need to figure out how to be able to pick the one most suited to your playing style.

Historically speaking the first pedals were manufactured using germanium transistors, which are known for being warm and round. After the electronics industry developed silicon, manufacturers started using it for transistors in fuzz pedals. Silicon is known for having a brighter and crisper tone. Each type of transistor has its ups and downs and finding the best one will really depend on what is best for you.

The Best Fuzz  (That Are Notable and Popular)

Dunlop JDF2 Germanium Fuzz Face

Best Fuzz Pedal: Fuzz Face

The fuzz face is a strong contender  as it was used by one of the most iconic guitar player’s of all time, Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix is known for utilizing this effect and the sounds it can create better than anyone else, in my opinion. He had a very loose & stylistic way of playing that utilized the harmonic tones, crunchy signal clipping and overall boost that a fuzz pedal gives you.

The fuzz face has many different mods that you can buy off the shelf, and not have to worry about doing it yourself and potentially breaking your pedal. Although it is one of the best pedals to DIY mod since the design is relatively simple.

The tone on the germanium fuzz face is as you can imagine a bit warmer and round sounding than the silicon fuzz face, and personally I like the warm round sound a bit better so that is why I chose this version for the review. Plus the germanium was the first version of the effect.

All fuzz face modulations have the same basic design composed of a click button switch, a level knob and a fuzz knob[1]. When the fuzz is turned down to its lowest setting it still has a decent amount of fuzz that comes through.

This pedal will require a bit of learning in order to get the hang of it as it requires some solid use of the guitar’s tone controls. Some of the best guitar players I have seen who use this pedal, crank it up to the max and control the pedal only using the guitar’s volume and tone knobs/switches.

When it comes to sustain however, the fuzz face doesn’t have as much as the Tone Bender or Big Muff even, however the tone extremely on par if not better. The fuzz face can also really clean up well when the volume knob is turned down, which is probably due to the lack of sustain.

British Pedal Company Tone Bender MKII

Best Fuzz Pedal: Tone Bender

The Tone Bender is truly a piece of history, and that is why it has to be on this list. It was one of the first pedals to hit the market and was/is used by some really famous and talented guitar players including Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin. With that being said it doesn’t come in cheap, this pedal is for the serious guitar player looking to perfect their tone.

It was the British answer to the American Gibson Maestro FZ-1 pedal, the first fuzz pedal to be manufactured. However, the FZ-1 is not in production currently as Gibson discontinued the final copy in 1990.

It is warm, but crunchy and full of personality. It naturally has a ton of sustain and really makes your licks scream. You can really hear the vintage sound that is re-created by this pedal. If you are looking for a classic fuzz tone with loads of sustain then you may want to strongly consider this pedal.

You can hear a full breakdown of the pedal here:

Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi Guitar Effects Pedal

Best Fuzz Pedal: Big Muff

The Big Muff is probably the most popular from a consumer standpoint. It has also been around for a long time dating back to the late 60’s early 70’s. This pedal has been used by legends like Ernie Isley of the Isley Brothers and David Gilmore of Pink Floyd, and some say Jimi Hendrix may have bought one of these pedals before he died but there is no way to confirm.

You may have heard it being used by The Smashing Pumpkins & other 90's grunge rockers as well. It has a very distinct sound as a fuzz pedal that is hard to mistake as anything else.

One of the best parts of this pedal is that no matter if you have the tones & knobs set to the extremes or anywhere in the middle, you will be able to know it is a big muff pedal due to its thick fuzz & high amount of sustain. 

Before we get down to business discussing the Big Muff Pi, it is important to mention that the Big Muff has many modern day variations that we may discuss in a future article. We will be focusing on the classic Big Muff Pi for this review.

The Big Muff Pi’s sound is known for having a crunchy high-end fuzz[1] 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 is known for having loads of sustain, even when you back off the sustain knob 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.

Zvex Fuzz Factory

Best Fuzz Pedal: Fuzz Factory

The fuzz factory is a pedal that was designed more recently then the previous three and has some great tones that shine through. Due to its more recent design, it has a few more customization options then the previous three as well.

It has 5 control knobs on the face of the pedal plus a click button type switch. The knobs from left to right are as follows: volume, gate (noise gate), comp (built in compressor), drive and stab.

The volume controls the overall output volume. The gate controls a built in noise gate to help keep the pedals buzz under control. There is a built in compressor when dialed in can result in some pretty crazy synth like sounds. The drive knob obviously controls the amount of drive and finally the stab knob controls the stability of the fuzz.

Incredible for rock'n'roll, clearly. The one issue is that it's either on or off. There's no halfway point where there only a tad bit of drive, for maybe a few blues songs. Really mental pedal for nailing out some enormous riffs though! If coordinated with some nice delay it sounds great. You will learn to adore it. I kind of wish it had a MIDI out though. It is incredible to have the capacity to control the wavering or a pot by means of a lace controller or something but for now I would say it is a pretty solid pedal if you are looking for something a bit different! 

All and all the tone on the fuzz factory can be altered quite a bit and is a very versatile effect. The fuzz is thick and punchy and due to the germanium transistors is warm as well.

Wampler VELVETFUZZ

Best Fuzz Pedal: Velvet Fuzz

The Velvet Fuzz is on this list because it is an effect that is not as intense as the others listed above but is still of great quality. The reason it is not as intense is because it doesn’t totally deconstruct the tone of the guitar, instead it lets it shine through the fuzz. Which can be a nice touch for some types of playing, like if you wanted the tone and sustain of a fuzz pedal over an overdrive or distortion pedal, but didn’t want it to over ride the sound of your guitar.

I can truly understand why they named this pedal the “velvet” fuzz pedal because the tone it does carry is smooth, warm and fuzzy. It has a decent amount of sustain as well for the type of tone that comes through.

For The Budget Conscience

It can be said with confidence that when it comes to fuzz pedals you get what you pay for since the internal circuitry is such a crucial element in creating the best sound. Do be warned that these pedals may sound a bit empty and in some cases can be tinny compared to their higher end counterparts. But, if you are just starting out playing the guitar and want to have some fun with the dynamics and thickness of fuzz, then a cheap one may be the way to go.

Behringer Super Fuzz

Best Cheap Fuzz Pedal: Super Fuzz

Behringer is the king of the budget conscious guitar pedal. You get a lot of bang for our buck with these pedals. The one major downside to Behringer pedals though is the cheap plastic casing that houses the electronics. They are not meant for a touring guitarist who may abuse the pedal because they will definitely break.

However, the tone is fairly thick for a cheaper option, which is nice to see. Also, the control options on this pedal are a real added bonus.

There are four control knobs on the face of the pedal: volume, treble, bass, and gain. Plus there is a switch on the left hand side of the pedal that offers 2 different fuzz options and a boost option, which is still pretty fuzzy.

Donner Fuzz

Best Cheap Fuzz Pedal: Donner Fuzz

The Donner fuzz is another signature cheap pedal. Donner offers many different pedal varieties that have essentially the same body style and amount of controls. I imagine this is an aspect of why they can manufacture these pedals so cheap and then pass the savings along to the consumer.

The Donner pedal is a smooth sounding fuzz pedal with a volume, tone and sustain knob to control the signal in the pedal. The construction of this pedal seems a bit more sturdy then the Behringer option but with less controls as well.

Danelectro Fuzz

Best Cheap Fuzz Pedal: FAB Fuzz

The Danelectro FAB Fuzz is definitely the sturdiest of the three cheap fuzz pedal options in this review. It has a pretty standard sounding fuzz tone and is a very good option for starting out.

Listen to the Danelectro Fuzz in action below: