If you’re a songwriter and you can plug your instrument of choice into a 1/4″ jack, you can use pedals to color your songs with texture and elegance. Stomp boxes can aid you in creating sounds you just can’t make otherwise, thus inspiring unique moments that can add personality and dimension to your songs. Get started by checking out seven of our favorite pedals below!
1. Keeley 4 Knob Compressor
Compression is most commonly used on vocals, but guitarists love it too! Compression can increase loudness by turning the gain on a track up without causing overdrive or distortion. This comes in handy during live performances, hence the Keeley 4 Knob Compressor. Boosting your signal can give you that extra edge you need and emphasize intense moments in a song.
2. MXR M169 Carbon Copy Analog Delay
In addition to your digital delay pedal, it’s always good to have an analog delay pedal on hand. Analog delays are good for creating soundscapes and unique moments in music that a digital delay can’t quite replicate. It isn’t a precise instrument like digital, but is instead a tool to color the sound of your music. It’s great for playing around when writing atmospheric songs, and perfect for serious studio time when you need to get a warm, oscillating sound in your song. Using this analog delay can turn a boring middle eight into a thought-provoking breakdown.
3. Smallsound/Bigsound Mini
This boutique fuzz/overdrive pedal can be used for bass, guitar, and keyboard, making it quite versatile. You can adjust gain, volume, bass, and treble to create anything from a broad, radio-friendly overdrive to a grainy, pixelated texture. This little pedal’s ability to create such broad arrays of sound make it a great addition to any songwriter’s arsenal. With such a powerful device, you can go from an eery, quiet moment to an explosive overture of madness.
4. Red Witch Medusa Chorus and Tremolo
A neat little pedal with a lot of power, the Medusa is completely unique in that it can produce a tremolo and chorus effect at the same time, making it a great space-saver on your pedalboard. With such a wide range, you can make a warm, swampy chorus effect on your refrains, or a bright, somewhat delayed chorus tremolo sound on your verses. Use this little rectangular stomp box to add dimension to your lead or rhythm, and flavor the sound of an entire album.
5. Electro-Harmonix Pitch Fork
Pitch shifters can raise or drop notes on your guitar three entire octaves. Such dexterity can add layers of dimension to your solos or deep, growling tones to your chunky riffs. In conjunction with other pedals, such as a fuzz or expression pedal, you can create completely unique sounds otherwise only possible via a synthesizer. The sky’s the limit with the Pitch Fork.
6. Pigtronix Mothership Analog Guitar Synthesizer
A pedal from another world, the Mothership can be combined with an expression pedal to create sounds reminiscent of a retro arcade game. Much like the Electro-Harmonix Pitch Fork, imagination is the key with this pedal, as you can use it with almost every instrument imaginable. Just try plugging this beast in and start playing, and you’ll add a robotic symphony to your newest song.
7. TC Electronic Hall of Fame Reverb
Reverb is essential for most mixes. It can add room and warmth to a track, or something more bright and springy. Using it tastefully can add an element of eloquence to a musician’s arsenal, making a simple note sound like bells ringing in a cathedral. Each note becomes a precious commodity with a reverb pedal, which will leave you writing beautiful, sparse songs. On this tiny, four-knob pedal, jut dial in your combination between decay (how long you hear the reverb), tone, FX level, and type (of which there are 10!). True bypass is the icing on the cake of this tiny red stomp box.
What’s your favorite pedal? Tell us in the comments below!