Guide to Guitar Effects Pedals: These are an important component used in most studio setups and use even while performing on stage. Learn how you can use these to transform the songs that you have at your disposal. Earlier, used mostly with synths, these are now used extensively with guitars.
If you are keen on playing the guitar, especially the electric guitar, chances are that you are already familiar with amplifiers and effects. The effects units in particular are responsible for transforming the sounds, and the youngsters in particular like it.
Even for all the songwriters and music producers out there, who also play the guitar, these effects units help them to get a variety of sounds, which impacts the overall sound of the song.
In the case of guitars, these effects boxes are triggered using pedals, and that is why they are also known as Guitar Effects Pedals.
In case you are still not clear what it is, examples of common effects units include wah-wah pedals, fuzzboxes and reverb units.
Table of Contents
Effects Units Features
Here are some of the important features of Guitar Effects Pedals.
- Effects units are electronic devices that alter the sounds of a musical instrument and other sound sources.
- The effects can range from subtle to quite dramatic
- These are used in the studio and also for live performances
- Used mostly with electric guitars, bass, and keyboards, and other electric / electronic instruments. However, these can be used with acoustic instruments such as drums and even with vocals
Zoom G1XN Guitar Multi Effects Pedal
Zoom G1XN comes with 8 effect modules and 54 effect types, 80 patches (40 user defined and 40 preset patches), Advanced ZFX-3 processing engine, 96kHz sampling, 24-bit A/D/A Conversion and 32-bit signal processing.
DigiTech RP355 Modeling Guitar Processor
The DigiTech RP355 Modeling Guitar Processor features 126 Amps, Cabinets, Stompboxes and Effects, Built-In wah, whammy and volume pedal, USB Audio Streaming for computer recording, 60 High-Quality drum patterns, and has Built-20 Second Looper.
Boss ME-70 Guitar Multi-Effects Pedal
The Boss ME-70 is a multi-effects unit that comes with 10 types of OD/Distortion, 10 types of Modulation, Reverb, Delay, Compression and Noise Suppressor, and more.
Popular Guitar Effects
So what are the various types of effects that musicians use? Effect can vary from subtle to dramatic, and come in various types.
Here are the more popular ones.
Chorus, Phaser, Flanger, Tremolo, Vibrato, Wah-wah, Delay/Echo, Reverb, Overdrive/Distortion, Noise gate, Acoustic Simulator.
As you can see, Guitar effects indeed come in a wide variety, however, if you hear them closely, most of these are simply variations on four basic effects, and those are:
- Pitch Modulation
Various Effects Explained
Here’s a brief explanation of the popular effects. If you have played an instrument like electronic keyboards before, you may already be familiar with some of these.
You do get different guitar effects pedals that mimic the sound of these effects.
Reverb units simulate sounds produced in a large hall, by creating a large number of echoes that gradually fade or decay.
This effect produces an echo effect by adding another electrical signal that sounds at a slight time-delay to the original one.
Another common one, this effect mimics the sound of choirs and string orchestras. It sounds as if several singers / musicians are being played together.
In case you are not very skilled, this effect can come in handy. A tremolo effect produces a slight, rapid variation in the volume of a note or chord.
Opera singers and violinists use this often (naturally). The same effect can now be provided with
Vibrato effects that produce slight, rapid variations in pitch.
Meant to mimic the human voice, this effects pedal alters the tone of the signal to create a distinctive effect known as the “wah” effect.
Guitarists love this effect, these create “warm”, “gritty” and “fuzzy” sounds by “clipping” an instrument’s audio signal, which distorts the shape of its wave form and adds overtones.
Want to quickly switch from electric to acoustic? Use this effect! Acoustic Simulators enable electric guitars to mimic the sound of acoustic guitar.
Phaser / Phase Shifter
Used a lot for onstage performances, this effect creates a slight rippling effect, amplifying some aspects of the tone while diminishing others. It works by splitting an audio signal in two and altering the phase of one portion.
Use a lot in studio recordings, a flanger creates a “jet plane” or “spaceship” sound. It simulates a studio effect produced by recording a track on two synchronized tapes and periodically slowing one tape by pressing the edge of its reel (the “flange”).
These are quite effective during recordings to help you get a cleaner sound. With Noise gates, you can set a frequency threshold, which can be used to eliminate unwanted sounds such as “hum”, “hiss” and “static” sounds. Any sound below the threshold is removed, clipped or diminished.
If you have playing the guitar for some time, sooner or later, you’ll reach the stage where you’ll experiment with various effects. These effects can really provide you with a wide range of sounds, that can sound great onstage or in the studio. The type of effects you would require will also depend on what type of sound you are trying to generate. Though you can use software based effects as well, for portability and live use, guitar effects pedals are more suitable.