Just about every popular guitar and bass player these days seems to have an array of great effects units. As you can see in the next 75 pages or so there is a dizzying choice of effects ranging from traditional effects that have been around since the inception of rock n roll like distortion, overdrive, reverb, tremolo, and wah wah pedals, to more recent digital effects like phrase loopers, octave pedals, and modeling effects such as the Line 6 POD. As a guide to the perplexed we offer our Effects Pedal Buyers Guide which will help guide you through the terminology and help you start your collection of effects for fun and profit.
Here are some of the most requested effects units:
Distortion and Overdrive – easy to use, these are among the first effects in every guitar players bag of tricks. Distortion was first popularized in the Rolling Stones “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” because of the way it made a guitar sound like horns according to Keith Richards.
Reverb and Tremolo – These effects were features of some of the earliest guitar amps and were heavily featured in the surf guitar sound of the Beach Boys. Reverb gives the reverberation that comes from the sound reflected off the walls of a concert hall, a studio, or any other “live” room. Tremolo (also known as Vibrato) is the warbling effect of volume or pitch moving up and down.
Chorus, Flangers, and Phasers – The chorus effect repeats the note played with a subtle delay to make you sound like more than one of you. Flangers and Phasers add subtle pitch effects to create more radical sounds.
Loopers – A looper is great effect for creative musicians. Play or sing a phrase and the looper repeats it while you play or sing over it. You can layer several tracks live each with different effects, instrumentation, etc.