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Guitar Effect Pedal Types


Guitar Effect Sounds



Guitar Effect Pedal Types | Effects Pedal Sounds

Page Update 3/7/2016


Chorus Pedals

A chorus pedal and chorus stomp box effects basically takes your guitar sound and makes it sound like multiple guitars.  A chorus stomp box adds a swirling type effect to make a fuller and richer sound to your guitar tone.  The chorus effect pedal takes your sound signal and adds a very short rotating delay.  Many chorus pedals have adjustment knobs to change the swirling effect to make it more or less intense.  Taking the effect down a bit makes it sound very smooth and adds a nice depth to a solo or chorus of a song.  Chorus Pedals are sometimes called Super Chorus Pedals as well.

How To Use A Chorus Effect Pedal? 

When a song calls for a chorus effect you will tap the chorus stomp box to engage the short rotating delay signal to effect your guitar sound with the chorus effect.  Hit the pedal again to disengage the chorus.  For example, If you would like a chorus effect on your guitar solo, tap the pedal right as the solo starts, and then tap it again to stop the chorus effect at the end of the solo. 

What is a Delay Pedal?  How Does A Delay Effects Pedal Work? 

Delay pedals duplicates the sound of your guitar and delay the sound adding depth and a bit of sustain to your guitar sound.  Delay guitar effects can be either single delay effects or multiple delay cycles.  A single delay is sometime referred to as slap echo or slap delay.  Jimmy Page used a lot of slap echo effects in certain Led Zeppelin songs like "Houses of the Holy".  Delay Pedals can be Digital Delay or Analog Delay.  Digital Delay Pedals tend to produce smoother guitar tones.  Analog Delay is sort of the older way in which delay was produced.  Mike McCready used a lot of Analog Delay in his side project concert video for his group Mad Season.

How To Use Digital Delay Or Analog Delay Pedals?  How Does a Digital Delay Pedal Sound? 

What to Delay effects sound like on a guitar? If you have heard Another Brick in the Wall or Run Like Hell from Pink Floyd, you get a good example of how delay sounds through a song.  David Gilmour uses a heavy digital delay on those songs and you really have to sit and listen to the song and try to mimic the sound on your pedal to see how it's done.  It's a pretty distinctive sound that is created.  On guitar solo's a Delay Pedal can add depth and fill a lot of space.  Recording a solo with delay can make you sound more professional as well.  Sometimes less is more with a digital delay pedal too.  Make sure you don't add to much as it can jumble your guitar notes.  Experiment with different delay times to suit your needs.

What Is Distortion?

Perfect Distortion is one effect that most guitarists strive to achieve most of their lives. I

Distortion is attained by taking a guitar sound and clipping it to give a high gain or distortion effect. Regular distortion effects tend to be less smooth that an Overdrive Distortion.  It's all in what your looking to achieve with your guitar sound.  Tube Distortion basically happens from overdriving or pushing the tubes in a tube guitar amp.  Distortion Pedals try to emulate different distortions through either solid state, tubes, or tube simulations.

How to Use A Distortion Effects Pedal?  

Basically, when a song calls for a distortion effect you will tap the stomp box or distortion pedal to engage the distortion signal to effect your guitar sound.  Hit the pedal again to disengage the distortion effect.  It's that simple.
There are so many different distortion pedals to choose from, so it's really a matter of taste.  Think about what kind of distortion you want to achieve and find out how your favorite guitarists achieve this distortion.  Check out your guitar magazines or the internet and see what they are using.  Many famous guitarists have signature pedals to achieve their sounds as well.

Overdrive Distortion

This effect is basically just another name for a distortion pedal. The overdrive effect is typically a smoother distortion than a regular effects pedals and has a more vintage sound.  Most overdrive pedals try to emulate amp tube distortion through solid state circuitry.  Some pedals even involve power tubes or pre amp tubes to emulate or create overdrive.  Others pedals use tube emulation to achieve the overdrive sound.  It just depends on what your looking for.  Overdrive Effect Pedals can sound great with a little gain added from your current amp.  They tend to give your sound that little extra boost you may need.  Just watch that your sound doesn't get to muddy with to much overdrive added.  It's a great idea to go to your local guitar shop and try out as many overdrive distortion pedals as you can to hear the one that you like best.

Tube Distortion Pedals

Tube Stomp Boxes either have power tubes or preamp tubes installed to create a Tube Distortion effect.  Some Tube Distortion Pedals use tube emulation circuitry to recreate a tube type distortion sound.  Research your Tube Distortion Pedals to make sure that they either have tubes or emulate tube sound.


Compressor Pedal? How to Use a Compressor Pedal?

A Compression Pedal is closely related to a volume pedal.  It tends to smooth out the signal going to an amplifier.  A compressor effect pedal lessens the output signal when an input signal gets in the red or a little to loud.  Especially helpful when recording guitar solos and a notes signal tends to get our of a normal range.\

What is Sustain? What's a Sustainer Pedal?  How To Use a Sustainer Pedal? 

Typically, some sustainer functions are built into compressor pedals.  A Sustainer pedal holds a note of music for a longer time.  It lengthens or extends a note that you may play on your guitar for a period of time that you specify.  To use a Sustainer Pedal you would hold and depress the pedal when you want to hold or extend a note on the guitar. It's a cool function when you are on stage and may need that extra push in a certain part of a song or guitar solo. 

Flanger Effect

The Flanger effect sounds almost like a plane takeoff from a runway.  An example of a Flanger being used is on the Van Halen song 'Unchained'.  Eddie Van Halen uses a Flanger effect throughout the beginning and the chorus of the song when he's playing the low E string (tuned down to D - Drop D). When Eddie is chugging along on his low E string (tuned to drop D) you really get the true sound and effect of this pedal. While the sound is unique, sometimes it's difficult to fit this overbearing guitar effect into a mix.  Less may be more with Flange effects and it's best to mix and experiment to find the best application for the flanger sound. Read alot of reviews and make sure you find a pedal or effect that sounds authentic. Some cheaper models have a bit of a plastic type sound that's not as authentic as you would hear by Eddie Van Halen.  By the way, Eddie sells his own EVH Flanger pedal that will get you the exact Van Halen sound you may need in your gigs or recordings.

What is the Flanger Effect? 

The Flanger Effect pedals emulate the sound of a tape being slowed when recording by depressing something to the tape reel (Also known as a flange). The Chorus effects sounds similar to the flanger, but the flanger tends to be a more definitive type sound and not used quite as much as a chorus effect.  Adjust the knobs on the pedal for more depth or more or less effect level.  For the most part, Flanger effects tend to be used for a specific part of a song and not throughout the whole song.

Fuzz Guitar Effect Pedal? 

The Fuzz guitar effect basically tries to emulate the sound of distortion in its early stages.  Back before distortion was actually an effect, the way to get distortion out of a speaker was to either have it blown out or to poke holes in the speaker cone mesh fabric.  This would give the overdriven fuzz type distortion effect.  Now a days with technology they can reproduce the fuzz effect with effects pedals.  Typically the fuzz sound is associated with Jimi Hendrix. Many of the distortion sounds you hear on tracks like "Purple Haze", "Foxy Lady", and "All Along the Watchtower" have a characteristic fuzz type sound.  This is the typical sound that fuzz pedals try to emulate with their electronics and circuitry.  Check out different brands of fuzz distortion effect pedals below.

Multi Effects Pedal Boards

These pedals have multiple effects which may include chorus, delay, phaser, wah, flanger, pitch shifter, digital delay, and more.  It just depends on the unit which effects are included in the multi-effects pedal. It's a good idea to research the many multi effects units available to see how many guitar effects are included, how to manipulate the effects, and if multiple effects can be programmed or used together.  For example, can you have a chorus and delay programmed at the same time.  Multi effects pedal boards can be a little more complicated to use due to the fact that many can be programmed.  The value added to having programed effects that can be used at the push of a pedal is a great option for gigging musicians.  For example, if you are playing a song with chorus effect and need to use a wah effect on the solo, programmable units can be of great importance.  Research some of the units below to see which unit would benefit you the most.

Noise Gate

This effect basically tries to eliminate unwanted noise, hiss, or buzz in a guitar amp signal.  This will in fact give a more clear sound with less amplifier hum especially with a guitar.  Sometimes a noise gate can remove too much signal, so be careful not too use to much noise gate effect in your effects chain. If this happens you will experience a nullified sound from your musical instrument, so you will then need to back off of the effect a bit.


An Octave Pedal takes the sound of your guitar and adds a pitch that's an octave lower (Octave down) or an Octave Higher (Octave up) and blends the notes to give you a changed pitched sound.  Octave Pedals are also considered pitch shifters or pitch shifting type devices because they affect the pitch of the sound to blend an octave.  Some pedals don't have both Octave Up and Octave Down functions so research your pedals well before you purchase one. In fact most are Octave Down. 


How does a Phase Pedal Work?  Well to make it as simple as possible, the phaser effect takes the signal and copies itself while it's out of phase.  Some say a phaser sounds a bit like an airplane.  Phaser effects are subtle and depending on depth of sound can give your solos that little extra bite.  Experiment with different phaser controls to help your recordings get a more professional sound.

What does the phaser pedal effect sound like? 

The phase effect sounds much like a swishing type sound.  An example of a phaser turned to the low setting is on Eddie Van Halen's solo for "Eruption".  If you listen closely you can hear the phaser swishing to get that distinct sound.


Pitch Shifter Effects

What is a Pitch Shifter Pedal?  How Does Pitch Shifter Sound?

Pitch Shifter pedals takes the sound of your guitar and adds a pitch that harmonizes with the sound at a higher, lower, or multiple pitch.  Pitch Shifter pedals are also considered pitch shifting type devices because they affect the pitch of the sound to blend harmonies and octaves.  Pitch Shifters are closely related to Octave Pedals and are sometimes called harmonizer pedals.


What is A Reverb Pedal? 

Reverb Pedals basically takes your guitar signal a makes it sound as if your in a large space such as a hall, room, or warehouse.  Some different types of reverb are plate reverb, spring reverb, and digital reverb.  Plate reverb happens when a transducer vibrates a plate of sheet metal.  Spring reverb works the same as plate reverb except a metal spring is used instead.  Digital reverb uses modern day digital technology to create an echo type effect.

How Does Reverb Sound? 

Your guitar signal running through a reverb unit will sound as if your playing in a large room or hall.  Imagine yourself in a large area where the sound echoes from the walls and decays at different levels.  Reverb length depends on the settings of your reverb pedal unit. 

Talk Box

The Talk Box effect is a unique effect box or pedal which has a speaker connected to a long tube.  The tube connected to the talk box actually goes to the guitarists mouth to create the talk box effect. The tube is normally taped to the side of a microphone of a performing guitarist.  The guitarist either talks, changes the shape of his or her mouth, or the position of is or her tongue, and the sound travels through the talk box creating a guitar tone that sounds as if it's talking. 

What Does the Talk Box Sound Like? 

The easiest way to explain the talk box sound is to give examples of songs, bands, and guitarists that use the talk box effect. 

  1. Aerosmith - Joe Perry uses the talk box in the beginning of "Sweet Emotion"
  2. Alice In Chains - Some say Jerry Cantrell uses a Talk Box on the main riff in "Man in the Box" although it almost sounds like a wah wah pedal
  3. Tool - The solo in "Jambi" utilizes the talk box effect pedal played by Tool guitarist Adam Jones
  4. Peter Framton - "Do You Feel Like I Do" & "Show Me The Way"
  5. Pink Floyd - Talk box is used on "Pigs" by David Gilmour
  6. Bon Jovi - "Livin on a Prayer" by Richie Sambora
  7. Foo Fighters - "Generator"
  8. Van Halen - Eddie Van Halen Uses Talk Box on "Can't Get This Stuff No More"

Tremelo, Rotary, Whammy, And Equalizer Effects Pedals

Tremelo Guitar Pedals include variations of a music note to where the volume swells and decreases similar to Vibrato.  Rotary and Vibe Pedals simulate a Rotating Speaker type sound.  Equalizer Pedals simply have a built in equalizer knobs so that you can adjust bass, mids, and treble.  Whammy Pedals simulate the sound when using a trem or whammy bar on your guitar.  For example, recreating a dive bomb on your guitar that sounds like using the whammy bar. 

Volume Pedal 

A Volume Guitar Pedal is especially useful for performing guitarists or musicians.  Basically, A volume pedal allows a guitarist to add or decrease volume of his or her guitar by either depressing or letting off of the volume pedal.  For example, if more volume is needed on a guitar solo the guitarist should depress the pedal to get more volume during this part of the song. The pedal should be depressed if you need less volume after the guitar solo is played. Volume Pedals are sometimes combined with other functions like Wah or Pan Pedals (Sends the sound of the guitar from speaker to speaker).

Stereo Volume Guitar Pedals have extra outputs to attach to a stereo capable amp.  Mono Volume Pedals have only mono outputs.  Volume pedals can be used for other instruments like keyboards as well.

Wah Wah Pedal 

A Wah Wah Guitar Pedal takes the guitar signal and when the wah pedal is depressed and let off it creates a pitch that sounds like a wah wah.  The pedal allows only parts of the frequency to pass at a time and when you move your foot pedal it creates the differences in frequency.  The Auto Wah Effect usually does not have an expression pedal.  The frequency change is done automatically by the circuitry of the auto wah pedal.

How is a Wah Wah Pedal Used? 

  • Guitarists Who Uses Wah Wah Pedals
  • Songs That Use Wah Wah Pedal Effects

Many times guitarists tend to use a wah wah on their solos.  This effect tends to cover up mistakes a little bit so it's sometimes looked down upon in guitar circles.  But the wah wah has been used by so many famous guitarists it's hard to believe a cool effect like wah could ever be looked down upon.  It's become a staple in many songs recorded by famous guitarist including Jimi Hendrix, Slash, Clapton, Eddie Van Halen, Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), Jerry Cantrell (Alice In Chains), Tony Rombola (Godsmack), Adam Jones (Tool), and many many others.

Examples Of Songs Using The Wah-Wah Effects Pedal Include

  1. "Voodoo Chile" - Jimi Hendrix
  2. "Rooster" - Jerry Cantrell - Alice In Chains
  3. "Dazed & Confused - Jimmy Page - Led Zeppelin
  4. "White Room" - Clapton - Cream
  5. "Slither" - Slash - Velvet Revolver