As with all musical instruments, guitars have a distinctive sound. While guitarists can achieve a wide variety of sounds to suit their specific musical style, there is a natural limit to the sound range that can be achieved. However, there are ways to increase the range of sounds and effects, most often through the usage of guitar effects pedals. Musicians, by their very nature, are always looking for new and creative ways to produce different sounds and effects, and guitar effects pedals are a great way to achieve this goal. A beginner guitarist may not be overly familiar with these pedals, or how they can be used effectively.
What guitar pedals to start with? There are a lot of different pedals from which to choose, but some of these are more basic, and as such, are a better choice for beginners. The great thing is, although these basic pedals are easy for beginners to use, they also provide plenty of advanced techniques that a guitarist can grow into as their skill levels increase. It is great when a person can buy something and get immediate successful results, and then constantly grow into more advanced features without the need to purchase yet another device.
What Are Guitar Effects Pedals?
Guitar effects pedals are used to create different sound effects with a guitar, effectively altering the normal sound. Sometimes these are called “effects pedals” or “stomp boxes.” Usually, these pedals are used to create a sound distortion or a special effect. However, they can also be used to create more traditional guitar sounds, but those which are slightly altered in some way. For example, they can be used for equalization, or to control volume. Using guitar pedals is a straight-forward process, as they are simply connected to the guitar and the amp. It generally takes some practice and experimentation with various settings and notes in order to achieve the desired sound effect. In fact, through experimentation, you might even discover some new sounds that you never even knew you wanted to achieve.
Guitar effects pedals require their own power supply. You can insert a battery into the pedal so that you do not need to play near an electric power supply. Many pedals have a red warning light to indicate a waning battery power level. For those times when it is necessary to play for extended periods of times, without the risk of battery failure, plugging into a wall power supply is recommended. The pedal can then be connected via a guitar cord to the input jack of the amp, and the opposite end of the cord connected to the guitar jack. It is also possible to string more than one pedal together to create various sounds. To do this, you can simply connect them one to the other using a guitar cord.
It is also important to note, especially for beginners, that some pedals can greatly increase volume when used. Before playing when using pedals such as boost and overdrive, the volume on the amp should be turned down for the safety of the speakers.
There are various types of these pedals to choose from. Some are considered to be “the basics,” and as such, are good selections for beginners. However, there are also more advanced, specialized and sophisticated pedals as a guitarist advances in his or her skill level and desires an even greater range of sound.
What Are Some of the Guitar Effects Pedals that Beginners Should Get?
There are some guitar effects pedals are basics, and as such, are good choices for beginners. Although most people think of these pedals are being designed to create different sound effects, there are also a few that are just good for basic play. For example, a tuning pedal is very handy to have, and can be used for actions as muting when switching guitars. This pedal is also great for getting a very clear concept of the pitch of a guitar’s strings.
A volume pedal is another basic that is often overlooked by beginners. Guitars already have a volume knob, but a volume pedal provides even more control. These can be used either before of after the amp for different volume control needs. A stereo volume pedal can be used to expand tonal range.
Of course, there are plenty of different special sound effect guitar effects pedals to choose from as well, which can be a lot of fun to use and explore. With so many options to choose from, it can be often be a bit confusing for a beginner to decide what guitar pedals to start with. A few basic ones that are good for beginners include overdrive pedals, delay pedals, wah pedals, looper pedals and multi effect pedals.
Thankfully, gone are the days when guitarists had to really crank up their amplifiers to “off the charts” settings in order to achieve the desired sound distortion. Today, overdrive pedals are used for this effect, and so much more. Overdrive pedals provide the ability to shape the tone and precisely choose the amount of gain, at any volume. Some musicians also use these pedals to boost the amp’s crunch channel into distortion, which is a very popular sound effect to use during guitar solos. Overdrive pedals are extremely popular in rock and blues. As compared to a boost pedal, the overdrive pedal adds more texture and distortion, but less distortion than would be achieved with an actual distortion pedal. Overdrive pedals, like this one here on Amazon, are very versatile, and a good choice for beginners to start with.
When one thinks of delay pedals, musicians such as Hendrix come to mind. Delay pedals can be used to create the common vocal-like effect that is so popular in music. It serves to open or narrow down the guitar’s voice, and it creates a very recognizable sound. Essentially, it is a timing-based effect. It serves to copy an incoming signal, and then, after a period of time, it plays it back one or more times. Delays pedals differ from echo pedals in that they can create the echo, but also more. Just like an echo pedal, the delay pedal creates a duplicate sound and then time shifts it. However, delay pedals also provide more ways to then manipulate the sound. Depending on the pedal used, it is possible to create multiple levels of delay, complex repeats, and other effects. The end result is the ability to create everything from the fairly simple repeat, to a very complex and interesting sound. Delay pedals are very versatile and fun to work with,and can be well-utilized by guitarists of all levels, including beginners. My personal favorite is this one on Amazon.
The wah pedal is used to create the very distinctive “wah-wah” sound that is so popular in music. These pedals have the ability to alter both the guitar signal’s frequency and tone. The end result is a sound that mimics a human voice saying “wah-wah.” This “wah effect” is reminiscent of a trombone player using a mute to create a crying, expressive sound. It is a popular pedal that is used in a wide variety of music, including metal and funk. They work by changing the tone of the guitar’s signal. A wah pedal provides the ability to move the resonant peak’s frequency up and down, resulting in the “wah-wah” crying sound.
Wah pedals are quite versatile and can be used to create sound manipulated effects. Rocking the pedal back on forth on each note will give each note the signature “wah-wah” sound. This is a technique that is fairly simple and easy, and as such, is a popular one for beginners. However, as the beginner advances in his or her skill level, the pedal can be manipulated to the beat instead of with each note, to create a funk rhythm. This is one of the great things about getting a wah pedal as a beginner, as it can be utilized effectively and successfully right away but provides plenty of room to grow with more intricate and advanced techniques.
The looper pedal is a great choice for a beginner (this one on Amazon is awesome!) to start out with. Most guitarists, at one point or another, have had situations where they wished they could just clone their playing. A looping pedal is one way to achieve this desire, as well as create a number of other interesting effects. Essentially, these pedals provide the ability to record a passage of music, and then play it back in a loop. Once the loop is played back, many pedals provide the ability to overdub the first musical passage with additional passages. Depending on the pedal, the direction of the loop as well as the tempo can be altered. It is easy to imagine the myriad of effects, rhythms and sounds that can be created when one has these capabilities.
Besides the obvious advantages to use a looper pedal to create great effects during play, there are also other reasons why these pedals are great for beginners. Many guitarists use these pedals to practice various solo techniques. A looper pedal makes it easier to figure out the perfect harmony, and to experiment with different playing techniques. This can also come in handy during songwriting sessions, since the repetition provided by the looping effect is a great way to help perfect melodies and perfect musical passages.
Looper pedals are also a great way to create a “live band” effect during a solo. Because they provide the ability to add various loops, these sounds can be layered. The end result is percussive, bass, melody and other loops that the solo guitarist is able to play along with and build upon. While there are many advanced techniques such as this that can be achieved with a looper pedal, they can also be used very effectively by the beginner, and then provide plenty of room to experiment, grow and perfect more advanced techniques.
Multi Effect Pedals
The multi effect pedal is sometimes referred to as simply a “multi-FX” pedal. Essentially, it is a single guitar effects pedal that provides multiple electronic effects. These pedals allow the guitarist to preset various effect combinations, which provides for a lot of different effects when playing. It is like having a toolbox of musical effects that the guitarist can call upon while playing. The various effects can be combined in different ways to create a lot of different sound techniques. It is common to find effects such as reverb, flanger, phaser, chorus and distortion on a multi effect pedal, and more advanced pedals may include looper functions.
A multi effect pedal is a great addition for any guitarist that plays live performances. Because it allows so many different sounds to be preset, it provides for a lot of versatility when on the stage. It is a great pedal for the beginner, because it provides such a wide range of versatility, and can be used in simpler ways successfully even by a novice. Additionally, it is a great investment for the beginner, because it provides so much functionality for him or her to grow into. Definitely check this one out on Amazon.
In conclusion, although guitar effects pedals may seem a bit confusing and even daunting to the beginner, there are plenty of ways that they can be used easily. Starting with just a couple basic pedals, and then working with those to get a decent level of mastery can be the best way to get started. It is important to realize that as with all things, there is a beginner, basic way of using these effects pedals, and then more advanced methods that person can grow into as their level of expertise and mastery increases. Any one or more of the guitar effects pedals listed above could be used successfully by a guitar beginner, while providing the groundwork for more advanced techniques. Once a person masters these basic pedals, there are also other various guitar effect pedals to explore as well. As is the case with almost everything in life, the best way to master these pedals and their techniques is to just jump in and start learning and exploring.