Foot Pedals

The control pedal or "stompbox" as it's more affectionately known, is among the most common form (and for guitar die-hards the most desirable) of guitar effect unit.

An average arrangement for the stompbox will contain a metal box encasing the unit's circuitry, along with that is a footswitch to change the effects on or bypass it, in addition to one or more rotary controls to change the parameters in the effect. Somewhere from the unit you'll usually obtain an input jack for that signal out of your guitar, along with an output jack on the other half, which will carry the signal on out from the unit and so on towards the amp and other unit.

Stompboxes could be chained one by one (i.e. the output from unit leading in the input to a different), together with the last output from your chain entering your amp. Because they units typically (although not always) only incorporate one sort of effect each (i.e. one box for distortion, one for chorus, one for compression, etc) this can be used strategy to incorporate many different effects into your guitar sound, layering up or minimizing the amount of effects by switching the boxes off or on via their footwitches.

Gathering an accumulation high quality stompboxes and utilizing them in this way is something that's highly coveted by a lot of guitarists, as they are able select precisely what they want, unit by unit, providing them with near total control for the shaping with their sound. Nevertheless it's only some of the approach to take, but on that shortly.

The quantity of pedals produced both past and present for various different effect types is just too massive to penetrate real detail here, although some people might famous brands and models you might want to take a look at to offer an idea of what's being offered are; BOSS (DS-1 Distortion, CH-1 Super Chorus, DD-7 Digital Delay), Electro Harmonix (Memory Man, Big Muff, Small Clone), MXR (Phase 90, Dyna Comp), and DigiTech (Hot Head, DigiVerb, Multi Chorus).

Multi-Effects Units

Having read the above, some of you could be feeling a tad disenchanted. Even enabling the fact there's a chance you're buying budget pedals, you could wind up spending a fair length of time and cash getting every one of the ones you need to craft your sound. Will there be ugh of mixing an entire pile of effects into one unit? There exists indeed, available as multi-fx units.

Multi-fx units come in many shapes, sizes and prices, however a normal one designed to replace numerous stompboxes is a floor unit, including a few footswitches and selectors. Most above a certain price will even provide an expression pedal, which you'll assign as a wah-wah pedal or volume swell, or indeed to many other parameters.

Most advanced examples may also include some way of "amp-modelling" - this can be circuitry within the unit meant to simulate different types of guitar amp, allowing you to eliminate a physical amp altogether and play by way of a list of conventional speakers. Additionally it is an opportune setup for recording since you can record direct to your recording device (say, your computer's soundcard) without first the need to mic up your guitar amp.

A few examples from the type are, in charge ME & GT series, the road 6 POD XT (Line 6 were pioneers in amp modelling), the Vox Tonelab series as well as the Zoom G series.

Many though feel that this type of unit can be a compromise, and you simply won't have the tonal quality away from them that you will with a pair of individual effects pedals. The jury's from that in terms of I'm concerned. There's no doubt they have greatly improved over time and can continue doing so.

I remember trying an early example from Zoom. I had been impressed with the ability to combine many effects into one small unit, even so the results weren't particularly great. Overdrive and distortion tones specifically were an actual problem because they lacked some of the warmth you'd receive from a standard amp or effect pedal, along a harsh 'digitised' sound. Compare that to the units Zoom among others now produce and so they seem some sort of faraway from those, with hindsight, primitive examples.

Some recommendations

One thing's for sure, you certainly obtain a lot more bargain currently, in comparison to when I bought my first electric. Previously the premium brands, such as BOSS and Electro Harmonix dominated, with valid reason - the budget alternatives were cheap and not particularly cheerful.

That's fast changing though, so with all the budget-conscious planned I'll create a few recommendations.

Firstly I want to point you in the direction of Behringer's array of stompboxes. These cover all you will likely need with regards to overdrive, distortion, modulation, compression, delays and reverbs. I currently utilize the Behringer CS400 Compression/Sustainer in my setup and am pleased together with the results. The bulk of these pedals are priced new for less than 30 (about 50 USD) each, so they're a great way of starting your collection.

Lots of debate rages on YouTube and elsewhere regarding the merits or otherwise of these pedals. Surely something priced so low cannot match the caliber of much higher-priced units? Well, perhaps they do not quite match them, speculate I mentioned higher than the affordability factor here is pretty amazing. Behringer house the unit in durable plastic instead of the metal cases additionally used for stompboxes, which is probably key to keeping costs down. It doesn't follow though that will make them sound worse.

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