Effects pedals are almost as important to the history of the electric guitar as guitars and guitarists themselves. While artists have always experimented with what unconventional sounds they could make come out of their instruments, the introduction of effects pedals really kicked this experimentation into overdrive (pun intended).
Almost as soon as guitars became amplified, guitarists found ways to add effects to them. In the 1950s, manufacturers rolled out amplifiers with built-in effects. Throughout the 60s and 70s, pedals steadily grew in popularity and variety. And, they haven’t slowed down since.
Some effects pedals are so consequential that they even get history-making songs named for them. The first song George Harrison recorded for his landmark debut solo album, All Things Must Pass, was called “Wah Wah.” It’s named for the effect that Harrison used during the recording of the Let It Be, the final Beatles album. “Wah Wah” is a whiny noise, and the song is a not so subtle dig at the other members of The Beatles.
While we can’t possibly list every single effects pedal, we’ve rounded up a few good ones (yes, including a wah pedal).
1. Donner Yellow Fall Vintage Pure Analog Delay Guitar Effect Pedal
This compact, affordable pedal from Donner performs like something from a more expensive brand. It has a sturdy build and an analog circuit. It has an echo knob, a knob for adjusting the delay of the feedback, a knob for controlling the time delay, and a bypass switch. The LED light indicates that the pedal is in use.
Pros: Affordable, analog circuit.
Cons: Most of the pedal is analog, but the delay chip is digital.
2. Zoom Electric Guitar Multi Effect
While there’s an undeniable charm to the look and feel of analog effects pedals, sometimes you need a convenient machine that can do a whole lot of different things. This multi-effect from Zoom has 71 built-in effects, a looper and 68 built-in rhythm patterns.
Pros: Affordable way to get many effects, long time analog users were impressed by the quality of this digital pedal.
Cons: There’s a learning curve to familiarizing yourself with the effects, and several users found the manual not very helpful.
3. Dunlop Cry Baby Wah Guitar Effects Pedal
This pedal does one thing, but it does it well. It weighs almost 4 pounds and is made from a die-cast construction; if you’re really rocking out, you don’t have to worry about being too gentle with this pedal. This pedal creates the classic wah effect, and the Cry Baby is an iconic model.
Pros: Study design, classic sound.
Cons: Not a true bypass.