After the skills of the player and the amplifier, guitar pedals have the most effect on the sound being produced. These simple devices transform it into something unique to each guitarist. There are so many pedals to choose them that it is impossible to say which one is better than the other – this is a completely subjective matter. Using different guitar pedals at the same time allows you to create endless combinations and playing around with them is almost as fun as playing the instrument itself.
A tuning pedal, also called simply a tuner, is probably the most fundamental pedal you use. A tuning pedal is used for tuning your guitar to a specific pitch. Nowadays tuners come in the form of clip-on tuners or smartphone apps but a tuning pedal is with no doubt the most accurate form of a tuner.
To explain very simply what overdrive pedals do, think of them as amplifiers for your amplifier. They cause your amplifier to go into overdrive and create a heavier sound with a specific distortion. Overdrive pedals also allow you to set the gain of the tone. They are often used when playing heavier rock or metal.
Distortion pedals are often confused as being the same as overdrive pedals. However, distortion pedals focus solely on producing the distortion with your sound and don’t add any gain or have anything to do with the amplifier. Distortions caused by a distortion pedal are much harsher than the overdrive ones.
Wah pedals make the exact same sound as their name suggests – “wah”. It can be compared to a toddler crying out continuously in a loud voice, “wah wah wah”. Wah pedals are sometimes also referred to as wah wah pedals, due to how they’re often used in a steady rhythm. It gives the guitar a very ‘vocal’ effect. Wah pedals were an indispensable element of all funk and disco music.
Chorus pedals emulate what a ‘chorus’ of guitarists would sound like. It recreates the sounds you play but slightly out of time with your own sound and with slightly different guitars. This adds to your own sound, making it sound more wide and full. Chorus pedals are great for adding depth.
Reverb pedals create a reverberation effect around your guitar sound, meaning the sound ‘stays’ longer after it is produced. There are many types of reverb pedals that give off slightly different effects. Spring reverbs are the most traditional ones and can be used to make you sound more vintage-like. Plate reverbs are similar but allow for more control over how much ‘reverb’ is added. The most advanced digital reverbs can be set up to adjust not only the amount of reverb but also the decay or the room size.
This list isn’t even close to exhausting all the different types of guitar pedals but should give you a general idea about how they work and what you can do with them. Remember to experiment with different effects to see what is best for you.