See What Effects Pedals Can Do For Your Guitar Playing
When you are trying to learn to play the electric guitar, you have probably listened to a song and heard some pretty cool sounds being made during a lead or maybe throughout the whole song.
It could be a wah sound or it could be a sound that you have never heard before. Most of these sounds will be coming from an effects pedal.
You can buy effect pedals that give you one particular kind of sound or you can get a multi-effects pedal that comes pre-loaded with many different types of effects. It all depends on the kind of music you want to play. Click here to check out the Digitech TRIO Multi Effect Pedal on Amazon.
As you progress in your journey to learn how to play the guitar, buying and experimenting with different pedals can be a great tool that you can use to express yourself. Effects pedals also give you the ability to find your unique voice in this huge world of both, past and present guitar players. Click here to check out this handy pedal board by Vangoa.
The Wah Pedal Or Crybaby
Wah pedals are used by many guitarists. They look like a gas pedal on a car but you can push the pedal both forward and backward.
You control the length of the wah with your foot and you can make it move up and down, fast or slow.
Jimi Hendrix used this a lot and the song, “Voodoo Chile, Slight Return,” is a great example of that effect. You will find this effect used in funk songs, as well. Click here to see this Dunlop Cry Baby Pedal on Amazon.
In the 1960’s, more and more guitar effects were being invented and explored.
More and more musicians wanted to use amplifiers for their instruments and Vox was the premier manufacturer of many of the tube amps during that time.
The Vox company was looking to save money and needed a more inexpensive way to make a switch on the amplifier that could boost the mid-range tones.
They had asked an engineer named Brad Plunkett to try to come up with a cheaper way to get this sound. Plunkett ended up making a circuit that he could change the frequency of the tone by rotating a knob.
He asked a buddy to plug his guitar into the mess of capacitors and wires and when Plunkett started rotating the knob, the wah-wah sound came out of the amplifier.
He and his buddy loved the effect that was produced, but then quickly realized that a guitar player already had his or her hands full with the fretting and strumming of the guitar. He noticed an organ volume pedal laying on the table and replaced the inside parts with the circuits, wires and pot that he had put together.
He liked the sound that was produced and so did the Vox company.
They really had no idea what to call it and someone had suggested that it sounded a lot like a baby crying and thus, the Cry Baby was named.
A wah pedal works by filtering out certain sounds and allowing only certain frequencies to come through, depending on whether you are moving the pedal up or down.
By the 1960’s, many of the younger guitar players were exploring the sounds that you could get out of this instrument when using an amplifier. Cream used this pedal to record the song, “Tales of Brave Ulysses.”
Frank Zappa used the wah pedal and may have introduced the pedal to Jimi Hendrix, who took the use of this pedal to a whole new level. The song of Jimi’s that best illustrates his use of the wah pedal is, “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return).”
The wah pedal will never go out of style and there are so many great songs that have been written that have used this effect.
The most amazing thing about the wah pedal is that the sound it creates is instantly identifiable but at the same time, very unique to each player.
A flanger is used to get a sound that is like a space-ship, moving from one side to another. An example of a flanger type song is “Barracuda,” by the group, Heart.
A flanger can sound like other effects, such as vibrato or chorus because these effects all work by very slightly, delaying the sound. However with the flanger, the delay is altered over time as you are playing. You can check out this Eddie Van Halen EVH117 Flanger on Amazon.com.
There are different control knobs on flangers, but most often there are four. These controls might be named differently, but they do the same things.
- Rate-this makes the sweeping sound, fast or slow.
- Depth-will make the sweep more or less noticeable.
- Resonance-determines how high the sweep will go.
- Manual-this is how you determine where the center of the sweep is.
The flanger effect can sound similar to a phaser effect or a chorus effect, depending on how you set it, but it can go even further with its time delay effects. It is often described as sounding like an airplane landing or taking off.
One thing you need to be aware of is where you put your effects, if you are using more than one effects pedal.
If you put your flanger after the distortion, you will get a much cleaner sound.
If you put it before the distortion, you can get some great sounds when using harmonics.
Turn up the rate, depth and resonance, and you can get a great vibrato effect after hitting a harmonic. This BOSS Flanger has always been popular and you can CLICK HERE if you want to inspect it a little closer on Amazon.com.
You can get a tone that is totally spaced out or use it in a more subtle way.
That’s the fun thing about effects, though. You can spend hours discovering the small nuances, as well as the over-the-top sound that you can get from this pedal.
This effect is most often used for hard rock or metal and as you are exploring the sounds, you will come across sounds and effects that you have heard in other popular songs.
Compression is a subtle effect and controls the volume while giving the sound an intensity. You can use it to get your notes to sustain without having to use distortion.
When recording, compression is very important in controlling the overdrive and volume of the instruments.
You can use compression to boost your sound when using a tube amp. Some tube amps don’t have enough gain or distortion and using a compressor pedal can help to give you better tone. The Xotic SP Compressor Pedal is a versatile and affordable pedal of choice. CLICK HERE to see it up close on Amazon.com.
There are a variety of controls on a compression pedal and each particular pedal is different.
The level control allows you to adjust the volume of your sound. If you have a tone control on your pedal, you can give your tone more brightness.
If you have an attack knob, this determines the emphasis on the beginning of the note.
If you have a sustain knob, you can set it for how long you want the note to last or sustain after you hit the string.
It is quite useful for rounding out the sound of your guitar when the pick hits the strings when you are playing clean.
However, if you want to play with distortion, the individual notes will sound clearer and have better tone, rather than being totally distorted.
Experiment with different compression pedals until you find one that is best suited with your particular gear. For a pedal that has more control than the SP, you can CLICK HERE to see the Wampler Ego Compressor V2 Pedal on Amazon.com.
Everyone should be using a compression pedal or effect when playing the electric guitar.
It can help you to sound more professional and help you to better hear the notes you are trying to play when practicing.
Have fun experimenting and share your experience with others if you find something that works and sounds good together.
Distortion is another common type of effect. It creates a fuzzy sound and the amount of distortion is created using the gain volume. The BOSS DS-1 has always been a favorite used by many guitarists. CLICK HERE if you want to check it out on Amazon.com.
A distortion pedal adds gain to your overall sound. This will give you chunkier sound for rhythms and a more sustained sound when you are playing leads.
Most guitar players use some level of distortion in their playing and it’s important not to go overboard with the use of your distortion.
Once again, the pedal you use is a matter of personal preference. Not everyone likes the same sound, so it’s entirely up to you what you like.
If you are buying a new pedal at a music store and you don’t have your guitar and amp with you, see if you can borrow the pedal to take home in order to test it with your gear.
When buying a new pedal of any kind, you should take your guitar and amp with you because the sound you hear coming out of another amp is not going to sound like yours.
The controls will usually consist of a level control, a gain control and tone control.
When you are testing a pedal for the first time, be sure to put your amplifier on the clean setting and be sure that it’s turned up enough.
Turn the level control of the pedal all the way down and then, slowly turn up the level of pedal until the distorted level is the same as your clean volume.
You don’t want to blow out a speaker in your amp or blow out your eardrums by having the distortion level too high when you turn it on. If you don’t have much of a budget, but still want to get a good distortion pedal, check out the MXR M75 Super Badass Distortion pedal. The name says it all. CLICK HERE to check out the specs and the price on Amazon.com.
You don’t want to have your battery going dead in the middle of a gig. You can get a power bank to plug all your pedals in.
Some may need their own outlet because of the power pack that comes with certain pedals need a higher level of power.
Experiment and read reviews of the many different distortion pedals that are available.
If you hear something you like that another guitar player uses, just looking at the brand and model number of the pedal may not be enough because, very often, modifications have been made to the pedal.
Most amplifiers will have distortion built into them, but that will only give you one particular sound. That is why you see guitar players using a wide array of effects pedals.
Take your time and pick something that you like. Remember that even if your favorite player is using a particular pedal, you may not get the same sound, unless of course, you have the same guitar and amp.
It can be quite fun searching for the perfect distortion pedal, so do as much research as you can, look and listen to other guitarists’ setups and you should be able to find the perfect distortion pedal that will help you to create your unique sound.
If you want to play rock music, you should invest in an overdrive pedal.
Although most amplifiers have overdrive built in, you can get more control by using a pedal and if you have a tube amp, you won’t be pushing the tubes too hard.
If you have a solid-state amp, using an overdrive pedal will make you sound like you are using a tube amp. Therefore, it would be a great investment, regardless of what kind of amplifier you use, in order to improve your sound. The Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive has always been a popular choice. If you want a closer look, CLICK HERE to see it on Amazon.com.
The drive control will determine just how much overdrive you add.
The tone controls how much treble you add to the signal.
The level control will determine the volume of the pedal.
You can use it to make your sound crunchy for rhythms or it can give you that extra push for leads.
It just takes some experimentation to get familiar with the different sounds you can get out of your guitar and amp.
The level of overdrive will also be determined by a particular song, if you are playing cover songs. CLICK HERE to check out the MojoMojo Overdrive Pedal on Amazon.com.
There are effects processors that have hundreds of effects built into them, so that you only need one source to create tons of different effects.
Most of these effects processors will have a few pedals that you can pre-program and turn off and on.
As you improve in your guitar playing, you are definitely going to want to explore the different sounds you can get out of your guitar and you need to figure out which equipment is worth the investment.
If you never plan on playing a rock song on your guitar, then you may not want to get yourself an overdrive pedal.
As you learn how to play guitar, you are going to want to expand your knowledge and your skills and you need to stay inspired.
I have this Boss ME-80 Multi-Effects Pedal and you can dial in a variety of tones and effects. It’s pretty simple to program and you will get your money’s worth out of it. CLICK HERE to get a closer look on Amazon.com.
Everyone likes a different sound and there are many other types of effects that musicians and recording engineers use to create different sounds.
Use these sounds to enhance your guitar playing and never try to cover up sloppy playing with an effects pedal.
If you are learning how to play someone else’s song on the guitar, be sure that you learn it using no effects and then, add your effects in.