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14 50 Greatest Effected Guitar Sounds

6 The Evolution Of FX

ines the history Dave Hunter exam esent day of pedals to the pr

Our pick of some truly inspirationa l effects-heavy gu itar sounds on record

26 Effects d Explaine

tion to roduc An int the major f each o ypes, with t s t c e effe g advic in y u b


How To… Pedal Order 101 What goes where is crucial to great tone


How To… Buffers & Bypass Buffering and True Bypass demystified


How To… Design & Build Your Own PedalBoard Create a gig-ready DIY FX ’board


How To… Switching Devices

Advanced ways to switch in your effects


How To… Power To The Pedals!

The vital role of batteries and power supplies


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Guitarist Guide To Effects

82 The 101 Best Stomp Boxes Of All Time‌ E ver

70 Real-lidfes Boar

Our definitive gu ide to the best an d most desirable effects pedals ev er to brave a stic ky stage

edal the p ife e n i al-l xam We e s of five re rists a setup ging guit g i g pro


116 Star Sounds


Take up this special Guitarist magazine subscription offer

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A oth selec erw tion inte o nt o rldly p of son n deliv edals ic c e hao ring s

The cla ssic ef of the m fects that defi ne six ost fam ou pioneer s pedal s



Memories, Man!

Effects-pedal ads th rough the ages 5 OUTPUT

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The 50 Greatest Effected Guitar Sounds

Guitarist Guide To Effects

THE ROLLING STONES Satisfaction Guitarist: Keith Richards Effects used: Maestro Fuzz-Tone FZ-1 Find It On: 40 Licks (2002)

© Dezo Hoffmann / Rex Features

One morning in May 1965, at a Florida motel, Keith Richards awoke from a dream and – fuzzyheaded – fumbled around, grabbed a guitar and played an idea running through his head into a nearby tape recorder. “On the tape you can hear me drop the pick,” he recalled, “the rest is me snoring.” Yet this germ of an idea soon grew into the Stones’ biggest hit – and with the addition of an early Fuzz-Tone pedal, a hit that forever changed the way guitarists wanted to sound. Yet Richards wasn’t thrilled. “If I’d had my way,” he grumbles, “Satisfaction would never have been released. The song was as basic as the hills, and I thought the fuzz guitar thing was a bit of a gimmick.”

Minus The Bear


Black Sabbath



Touch Me I’m Sick

Electric Funeral

Song 2

Guitarist: Dave Knudson

Guitarists: Mark Arm,

Guitarist: Tony Iommi

Bassist: Alex James

Effects used: Line 6 DL4

Steve Turner Effects used: Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi, Univox Super-Fuzz Find It On: Superfuzz Bigmuff (1990)

Effects used: Colorsound

Effects used: Home-made

wah, Rangemaster Treble Booster Find It On: Paranoid

Find It On: Blur (1997)

Find It On: Planet Of Ice

(2008) With the aid of a pair of Line 6 DL4s running independently, guitarist Dave Knudson triggers simple repeated guitar loops like he’s playing a separate instrument to create the angular, mesmerising intro to this 2008 track.

The Dark Lord’s first use of a wah to colour one of his riffs into a darker shade of black came on the band’s second album, adding articulation to each note with a Rangemaster modified by his roadies for treble boost.

These fuzz addicts ended up naming a compilation after their two favourite pedals. Turner’s Big Muff provides the gnarly abrasion in their defining song’s opening riff, before it’s joined by Arm’s Super-fuzz and its second dose of dirt (0.12).

distortion pedal

It might be one of the most air-guitar’d songs of all time, but the famous ‘woo-hoo!’ moment (and all the distorted parts of the song) are actually played by bassist Alex James, doubletracking a clean bass part with a monstrously filthy distorted one to create a headbanging wall of low-end dirt. The fuzz came courtesy of a home-made distortion box that has “since got lost”, according to James.


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For newcomers to the wonders of effects pedals, the jargon used to describe them, the sometimes obscure differences between them and even the sheer range on offer can be confusing. Here, we examine each of the main types of effects in turn, and explain what they sound like and the basics of how they work – plus, we offer some buying pointers for different budgets. Time to get stomping‌

Contents 28 | Overdrive 29 | Distortion 30 | Fuzz 32 | Boost 33 | Compression

34 | Wah 35 | EQ 36 | Talk Box

38 | Chorus 39 | Phaser 40 | Flanger

41 | Vibrato 42 | Tremolo 43 | Rotary Speaker 44 | UniVibe 45 | Reverb

46 | Octave 47 | Ring Modulation 48 | Pitch Shifter 49 | Tape Echo 50 | Delay


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Which pedals go where? Here are some basic setups to get you on the road to stomping success


he order in which you place your effects pedals can have a big effect on your overall tone. This is because different pedals react differently depending on what’s coming into them, be that your pure guitar signal or the effected signal from other pedals. While your pedals’ physical position on the floor has practical considerations for you as a player, it’s their position within the signal chain that is all to do with sound. The big question: which way is ‘right’? It’s important to say from the outset that when it comes to pedal order, no one way is universally ‘right’ or ‘best’. Instead, it’s more helpful to start with some basic, standard approaches

that can act as a springboard to finding your own ideal setup. Let’s refresh our memories about basic pedal types, in the context of signal chain order.

Volume / dynamic effects These are volume pedals, tremolo, compressor; they take your signal and affect its dynamics in terms of level. They tend to come first in your signal chain because you generally want those dynamics to happen before more involved or extreme signal changes. Some players will put their volume pedal last in


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line for a kind of ‘master volume’ control on the floor; indeed, there are different kinds of volume pedals with different impedances to better suit being either first or later in line.

modulations tend to work better before drive and distortion; more clarity, less mushy weirdness and so on. More modern pedals – especially anything with a buffer or digital circuits – generally works better after drive and distortion.

EQ & filter effects

Reverbs & delays

Most commonly, this would be a wah-wah pedal. They tend to be first in line for many players (second if they’re also using a volume pedal). As an experiment, try putting an overdrive and a wah-wah on the floor. Start with the overdrive first in line, then swap them around and compare sounds. What you’ll notice is that the wah tends to sound a great deal more pronounced when it comes after the overdrive. Some players really like it that way; most tend to prefer the wah before the drive.

There are two common placements for reverbs and delays. If you’re using them in-line with other pedals, put them very last in line: the thinking being, you want to echo and reverberate the sound of everything that’s come before. The other approach is to use these pedals in your amplifier’s effects loop, if it has one. Most amps’ effects loops sit between the pre- and power-amp sections. Patching your reverbs and delays in there keep them clearer and cleaner sounding, instead of getting lost in a melée of noise and confusion from other pedals. Again, plug in and hear it for yourself.

Drive & distortion effects There’s a colossal variety of drives and distortions available. ‘Standard’ practise is that they come after volume and EQ effects, but before modulations and reverbs/delay. There are exceptions – vintage-style fuzz pedals can really struggle after wah-wahs for example, but by and large, start by trying your drives and distortions after wah wah. One extra tip that many players find useful is that if you’re using more than one drive or distortion, put the most distorted pedals first, and the least distorted pedals last. This means the lower-gain sounds effectively ‘boost’ the heavy distortions, whereas if you put them the other way around, you just end up with an over-gained, indistinct mess. Again, try it.

Wet/dry rigs You’ll often hear the terms ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ used when discussing effects. Wet simply means ‘effected’, while dry means ‘unaffected’. Wet/dry rigs came to prominence predominantly in the 1980s along with stereo rack systems. The essence was that you’d have the middle, centre speaker/amp just putting out your dry signal (usually including wah and distortion), while a separate left and right, stereo rig would handle your delay and reverb effects (diagram 5), and perhaps your modulations too. It doesn’t have to be fully stereo – you can also achieve great sounds by having a simple wet/dry two-amp set up, as shown in diagram 4. Whether you consider drive and distortion effects as part of the ‘wet’ sound is up to you. Most players tend to think of drives and distortions as part of their core tone, so leave them in the ‘dry’ rig. Nothing is set in stone – and experimentation is definitely key to finding the order that suits you best. At the very worst, it’s a whole load of fun finding out!

Modulation effects These are your choruses, vibratos, phasers, flangers and so on. This is where the biggest area of disagreement tends to occur between players in that some prefer their modulations before drive and distortion, and others the other way around. As a very general rule, it’s often that more extreme, vintage-type


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Fancy building your own, custom-designed pedalboard? We walk you through the basic steps

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How To Design & Build Your Own Pedalboard

Guitarist Guide To Effects


efore we start any of this, it’s worth saying that buying a purpose-made ’board will be quicker, far more convenient and potentially less expensive than the DIY method. That said, there’s a good feeling of achievement involved in making something from scratch, so here goes… First, decide what pedals you want on your ’board – it might be something completely custom and specific, or you may want something with more versatility to enable pedal changes over time. Get your pedals and lay them out on a surface, including all the interconnecting signal and power cables. Arrange them as you’d want them to be on your pedalboard, making sure the switch positions, pedal orientations and so on make practical sense when you’re playing. Take care when placing pedals very close together – can you get the jacks in and out? Do you need to? Will there be room to upgrade any of your existing pedals? When you’re happy, take a quick photograph or three to remind you how it’s all arranged, and measure the extent of your sprawl. Where is your power supply going? You now know how big the ’board surface needs to be. Write the measurements down! Now it’s time to design the ’board itself in terms of materials, shape and structure. If doesn’t have

to be wooden and rectangular, but that is probably the most practical/easy solution, especially if this is your first attempt (and you’re not a welder).

Pre-planning tips

Consider this before you design your ’board Are you planning on putting something under the ’board, such as your power supply? If so, you need a way of creating space underneath, high enough to keep whatever is under there off the floor. If you don’t want to put anything underneath, it’s still a good idea to have some feet on the bottom of your ’board to help stop it from slipping around the floor, and also so you can get your fingers underneath when you go to pick it up. It’s helpful to have the ’board angled up at you slightly. Higher at the back, lower at the front. How are you going to transport it? If you have a bag or case in mind, in might influence the dimensions of the ’board right from the outset.

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Subscribe and never miss an issue again… It costs just £27.99 a year to subscribe to Guitarist’s digital edition, and you can complete your collection with our back issues on the next page…

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Back issues

February 2013 #364

January 2013 #363

December 2012 #362

Arch Angels – Guitarist reviews the PRS JA-15 and Knaggs Chena Tier 3, we chart the history of the semi-acoustic guitar, plus interviews with Steve Lukather, Ed Sheeran and Soundgarden.

Gear Of The Year – The best guitars, amps and effects of 2012, plus reviews of the Marshall DSL revamps, Manson E-series, interviews with Al Di Meola, Whit Smith and Orianthi, and much more.

The New Vintage – We get our hands on the gorgeous Fender American Vintage series guitar, talk to Richard Hawley and Dweezil Zappa, look for vintage tone for £100 and loads more besides.

November 2012 #361

October 2012 #360

September 2012 #359

All About Amps – Without them we’d be playing very quietly, but just how do guitar amps work? And what are the best amps to buy for your needs? We tell you all this and more in our huge amp special.

Inside The Mind Of Vai – Guitar legend Steve Vai tells us all about guitars, tone, technique and his new album, plus we review the Joe Satriani signature Marshall, Strymon Flint and a wealth of other gear.

The Wisdom And Learning Of Robert Cray – The blues legend tells us his guitar philosophy, we review the Music Man Game Changer and Roland G-5 VG Strat, and Ry Cooder and Mike Stern sit down for a chat.

Summer 2012 #358

August 2012 #357

July 2012 #356

The Acoustic Issue – Our 27-page feature tells you everything you need to know about acoustic guitars, from how they’re made, to tips and tricks for making your playing and recording sound better.

Raising Standards – We sit down with the new 2012 Standard models from Fender and Gibson, and find out just how good they are, and whether they meet the needs of modern professional players.

Disraeli Gears: 45 Years On – We mark the anniversary of Cream’s seminal album by charting its massive impact on music and talking to those in the know about the record’s difficult birth.

June 2012 #355

May 2012 #354

April 2012 #353

Slash – We spoke to the Cat In The Hat about his second solo album, his approach to recording and why he loves his Les Paul. This issue also features our tribute to the late, great Jim Marshall.

Rory’s Glories – 40 years on from the start of Rory Gallagher’s solo career, we got up close and personal with the Irish guitarist’s legendary gear. Plus we test the Kemper Profiling Amp and Marshall JTM1.

Son Of A Burst – We mark the release of Whitesnake legend Bernie Marsden’s PRS SE model by putting it up against his incredible original 1959 Gibson Les Paul. Can a Korean guitar compete with an icon?

March 2012 #352

February 2012 #351

January 2012 #350

Nuno Bettencourt – the Extreme guitarist talks about life with Rihanna. Plus reviews of the EVH 5150III, Rasmus Guthrie Govan and much more, while Eric Bibb and Rodrigo Y Gabriela are interviewed.

Johnny’s Jag – Smiths legend Johnny Marr spills the beans on his amazing Fender Jaguar model, we review new products from Gretsch, ESP, Taylor and Bogner, and Steve Earle shows us his guitars.

We Can Be Heroes – We delve into the world of tribute bands to find out just how it all works. We also review gear from Charvel, Epiphone and Fender, plus Billy Gibbons talks tiny strings…

Subscribe to Guitarist’s digital edition and download digital back issues via and browse the selection of print back issues at AUDIO & VIDEO From issue 364, Guitarist’s digital edition is packed with audio examples & video demos!

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