Best Guitar Pedal 2017 – The Complete Buyer’s Guide & Reviews

If you have an electric guitar, sooner or later you will start looking into pedals.  Guitar pedals are the things that essentially make the electric guitar sing the way it does.  It is, however, not always easy to buy a guitar pedal.  It can be quite overwhelming, but don’t worry.  This article was written to help you find the best guitar pedal.

Now, it is important to point out that there are many different kinds of pedals, all with different characteristics.  This article will cover a little bit of everything.  From distortion, to wah-wah to reverb and chorus, we will include them all.  Even some multi effects pedals.

The type of pedal that you buy would obviously depend a lot on the type of sound that you have in mind.  Some like clean spacey sounds while others want something more hardcore.  We will try to cover the whole spectrum on here.

So don’t be too worried, don’t be too overwhelmed.  Take a look at our top picks, as well as our considerations and in depth reviews and you will be well on your way to getting the perfect guitar pedal to get just the sound that you are looking for.

best guitar pedal reviews 2017

Things To Consider When Buying The Best Guitar Pedal

There is such a wide range of pedals that serve such a wide range of functions.  Therefore, there is quite a lot of things that need to be carefully considered before you buy your guitar pedal.

It happens quite frequently that guitarists, especially beginners, want to buy a pedal without really understanding what the different effects are and what they sound like.  We will list some important things here for you to consider before you buy the wrong pedal.

The truth is that you will most likely buy a number of pedals over your guitar playing career.  There is not a single pedal that addresses all of the things you might want to alter in your sound.  Think of pedals as a collection.  As you advance in your playing and in your taste, you might want to keep adding different sounds to your repertoire.

So, apart from discovering what exactly each pedal does (you will be able to see in the reviews) there are a number of things that you should keep in mind when buying your pedal.  Considerations that vary from personal taste to your amplifier and your chosen genre of music.

Here are some of the most important things to try to keep in mind when you buy your guitar pedal:

Clean/Distorted One of the first things that guitarists want, generally speaking, is distortion.  They want that dirty, screaming electric guitar sound.  If this is what you are after, you need to be looking at fuzz, overdrive or distortion pedals.  Other types. Like delay and reverb only change the character of your tone, or add effects that might drastically alter the sounds you produce, but will not give your guitar that dirty electric tone.
Your amplifier This is an important one.  Most amplifiers these days have some effects built in.  Be sure to play around with the sounds offered on your amp so that you know what it is that you have, and what you need.  If your amp already has a distortion channel, for example, check that you are happy with the type of distortion.  You might even want to supplement it with a distortion pedal if you are looking for an even heavier sound.
Analog vs Digital. All pedals work with either analog or digital signals.  The older pedals all work with analog, while a lot of the new technology is digitally based.  You will always find some people who swear by either the one or the other.  The truth is that it really comes down to personal preference.  When digital technology was being used in effects pedals, initially, they sounded much worse than their analog counterparts.  But in recent years there has been so much technological improvement, that the digital pedals can sound just as good and in some cases even better than the analog ones.
Noise. Noise should be a constant concern for any electric guitarist.  There is no general rule of thumb when it comes to noise.  The combination of pickups, cables, pedals, power supplies and amps will determine how quiet or noisy your rig is at the end of the day.  When you buy a new pedal, be sure to check how well it interacts with the rest of your board in this regard.
Power supply. Most pedals (apart from volume pedals) need some sort of power supply to work properly.  If you are going to add a pedal to your existing rig, you have to check that it is compatible with the power supply you are using for your rig.  If you are buying a single pedal just check what it uses for power.  You will have to buy either some batteries, or a power adapter in order to get your pedal fired up.
Volume and tone. When you are putting together a pedal board, you want to maintain consistent volume and tone when you change sounds.  It can be very frustrating when you activate (for example) your delay and all of a sudden your level drops and you can’t hear a thing.  Or if you activate your distortion and the added gain blows everybody’s ears off.  The pedal you buy should give you the option of adjusting the output volume and tone to such a degree that it can blend seamlessly with the rest of the sounds you use.
Multi Effect Some pedals actually contain a whole bunch of different effects all inside one pedal.  These are called multi effects pedals.  If you buy a multi effects pedal, there is quite a number of things that you would need to look out for.  Remember that you can put a multi effects pedal onto an existing pedal board.  You would just need to be mindful of how it blends with the rest of your sounds.  Also check the output gain levels.  If the multi effects pedal has a built in preamp (and many do) be careful that the gain is not too high, as this might damage your other pedals or even blow your amplifier.

In short

Buying a pedal, whether it is your first one, or just the latest one in your ever growing awesome rig is always a lot of fun.  But here is a quick summary of things to keep in mind to make sure you are getting the right thing:

  • Know whether you are getting something that will keep your tone clean, or distort your sound.
  • Get a pedal that works with your amp. Look at what your amp already has and get something to supplement the sound
  • Make a choice between analog or digital sounds…or go for a combination!
  • Watch out for the noise level of your new pedal.
  • The volume and tone of the new pedal has to blend in with the rest of your rig.
  • Consider a multi effects pedal if you want to get a little bit of everything.

Best Guitar Pedal 2017 – Top 10

NameSizeType
Dunlop GCB95 Cry Baby Wah Guitar Effects PedalMedium-large (long) pedalWah-pedal
Boss DS-1 DistortionStomp box, smallDistortion
MXR M234 Analog ChorusStomp box, smallChorus
Zoom G1Xon Medium box and expressionMulti Effects Pedal
Joyo JF-12 Voodoo Octava Guitar PedalStomp MediumOctave and Distortion
BEHRINGER VINTAGE TUBE OVERDRIVE TO800Stomp box, regularOverdrive
Donner Yellow Fall Vintage Pure Analog DelayStomp box, extra small.Delay
Ernie Ball MVPMedium – Large volume pedalVolume
DigiTech RP55 Guitar Multi-Effects ProcessorMedium sizeMulti Effects
TC Electronic Ditto LooperSmallLooper

What did not make our list:


Electro Harmonix Small Clone

I always say that Electro Harmonix make some of my absolute favorite pedals.  The small clone is no exception.  It is a real pity that I had to leave this one off the list.  Unfortunately, there was only space for 10 pedals.

This is one of those rare all analog chorus pedals.  The look is very straight forward, but it actually is a very impressive little pedal.  It is versatile, compact and affordable.  It simply had to be left out because we already had a good chorus pedal on our list.

MXR M75 Super Badass

Another highly versatile pedal from MXR.  And just as the name suggests; this pedal is a badass.  It allows you to really crank up the gain.  It does not hold back!

The reason it fell short of our list is because it is just a bit too hardcore for the scope of this list.  Have a look at our distortion pedal reviews if you think you need a bit more.

The ultra-high gain and long sustain means that this pedal is very well suited for heavy metal or grunge music.  The distortion pedals on this list tend to be more versatile so that can cater to a slightly wider spectrum of guitarists.

But if you are into the heavy stuff…this is your pedal!

Our Pick For The Best Guitar Pedal 2017

The pedal we decided to choose as our number one pick had to be something legendary.

Something that has been around for a while.

Something that is synonymous with the electric guitar.

Something with the endorsement of Jimi Hendrix.

What would that be you ask?

Well, it’s the Dunlop Cry Baby Wah Pedal of course!

As you will see in our review below, this is the pedal that has been around since the 60’s and can still be seen on the pedal boards of guitar heroes all over the world.  Our number one best guitar pedal!

 

In-depth Analysis & Reviews

After an intense, but highly enjoyable process of trying out a wide range of different pedals, we have narrowed down our list of favorites down to 10 of the best.

We will have some in depth information on here about each one.  If you read through these ten reviews and keep all of our considerations in mind you will be well on your way towards buying the perfect guitar pedal for your rig.

Whether it will be your first one, or your 100th one, this information should be able to assist you to make a well-informed choice about your purchase.

Best Guitar Pedal #1: Dunlop GCB95 Cry Baby Wah Guitar Effects Pedal

This pedal is an absolute classic that has stood the test of time.  If you don’t know what this pedal sounds like, go and have a listen to Jimi Hendrix’s iconic Voodoo Child (Slight Return).  This is the pedal, and that is the song that started the wah-wah revolution!

The pedal works equally well with clean and distorted sounds.  With the pedal rolled all the way back to the heel position, you get a very nice and thick jazzy sound.  With the pedal all the way to the toe position you can get a punchy soul-like tone that really sticks out.  The, of course, when you rock it back and forth you get that classic wah-wah effect that this pedal made famous in the first place.

This is a very versatile pedal that will go well with just about any setup.  There is a reason it has been around for such a long time.

Conclusion:

The pedal that was good enough for Jimi Hendrix, is definitely the pedal that is good enough for us.  It has a very firm grip on the sole of the foot as well as a solid metal build.  It is durable, versatile and super expressive.  Highly recommended wah-wah pedal!

Pros
  • Affordable price.
  • Good grip on the pedal.
  • Durable, solid steel build.
  • Analog design.
  • Works with 9V battery or AC adapter.
Cons
  • Some of the newer digital wah pedals are more versatile and expressive.
  • High end tones can be too sharp for some.
  • Can be a heavy addition to a pedal board that is trying to keep things light.

Best Guitar Pedal #2: Boss DS-1

Our next entry is a distortion pedal.  Of course this list needs a good distortion pedal.  But this is not just any distortion pedal.  This is one of the most popular and most loved distortion pedals on the market.

When you start using pedals, you will soon realize that boss makes a lot of different pedals.  The thing with Boss is that all their pedals, and the DS-1 is no exception are incredibly reliable and affordable.  On top of that, the quality is also very good.

As far as distortion pedals go, this one has all of the usual bells and whistles.  It has a tone knob, so you can set the range of frequencies you want the pedal to highlight.  It also has an output volume know that lets you set the volume.  Last but not least, it has a gain control.

With the gain control on a low to medium level, you can get that nice clear crunch tone, while when you put it high, you can obtain a much heavier tone that can be used for metal and hard rock genres.

The pedal is powered with either a single 9V battery, or with an AC power adapter.  Standard multipurpose power banks will work fine with this and other Boss pedals.

Conclusion:

What I personally love about this distortion pedal is that you can use it on a low gain setting to just bring a little bit of dirt to your existing tone without interfering with the quality of your signal too much.   It takes up very little space on a pedal board and is reliable and versatile.

Pros
  • Affordable.
  • Durable high quality in accordance with Boss reputation.
  • Works well in tandem with other pedals.
  • Very versatile in terms of application.
  • Can be powered with 9V or standard Boss power supply that also work with a range of other boss stomp box pedals.
Cons
  • Limited amount of gain for heavier sounds.
  • Can be a noisy pedal.
  • The distortion tends to sound a bit muffled at high gain levels.

Best Guitar Pedal #3: MXR M234 Analog Chorus

A simple, but very effective pedal.  Another one of my favorites and it comes highly recommended.  This pedal can give you a very clean and clear ethereal chorus sound that won’t interfere with your existing tone in the slightest.  Welcome on any pedal board.

The MXR M234 works on a totally analog signal.  That way it manages to produce a very clean effect that has minimal alterations to your existing tone.  This is also one of the most affordable chorus pedals you can buy.  Especially considering how expensive analog pedals can be.

The MXR M234 manages to specifically target the selected frequencies on the tone knob and really bring them out to make them shine

The pedal produces absolute minimum buzz while still giving you a beautiful original effect.

Conclusion:

There is hardly a pedal on the market that would give you such a clean and clear analog sound with such a wide range of manipulability for such a reasonable price.  Highly recommended professional quality pedal.

Pros
  • Affordable for the high quality.
  • All steel casing (very durable).
  • Works well along with other effects without interfering with main signal.
  • Clear analog effect sound.
  • Can be powered with or with power supply.
Cons
  • Sometimes the battery power does not work.
  • Can interfere with signal volume.
  • Not everyone likes the flat blue color

Best Guitar Pedal #4: Zoom G1Xon Guitar Effects Pedal with Expression Pedal

This is a pedal that is absolutely perfect for guitarists who want to have a little bit of everything without breaking the bank.

On this single unit you can access just about every sound imaginable.  Think of it as 100 different pedals all in one.

From the digital interface you can access controls to things like gain, delay, reverb chorus etc.  It also allows you to save your settings.  So you can save different combinations of sounds on a particular patch and then access them again with the simple press of a foot.

On top of the effects, it also has an expression pedal.  The expression pedal can be programmed to serve any number of functions.  It can serve as a wah, volume or pitch bend to name a few.

As with all multi effects pedals, you will have to compromise a little bit on the quality of some sounds.  It is all digital and a very good way to start familiarizing yourself with different kinds of effects.

Conclusion:

As far as multi effects pedals go, this is an excellent place to start.  You have a little bit of everything.  If you take your time to get to know how to use this unit properly, you will get years of usefulness out of this pedal.  Both live and in the studio, it can do the job!

Pros
  • Very versatile.
  • Light in weight.
  • Small size for a multi effects
  • Includes an expression pedal
  • One of the most affordable multi effects pedals available
Cons
  • Not all effects sound equally good.
  • Might not cut it for professional standards.
  • Inconsistent output level.

Best Guitar Pedal #5: Joyo JF-12 Voodoo Octava Guitar Pedal

This is a very interesting, and really cool pedal.  It is quite unique in the sense that is not a multi effects pedal per se, but it gives you two quality effects in one pedal.

The Joyo JF-12 gives you high quality distortion and octave effects in one pedal.  It is an extremely popular pedal, and for really good reason.  Both the octave and the distortion components of this pedal are of a high quality.  Since the two effects are often used at the same time, it makes sense that this combination exists.

The pedal has true bypass as well, which means that you can use it in a pedal board with a lot of other effects, and bypass it without affecting the signal to any of your other pedals.

Solid steel casing for extra durability is always another positive addition.

 

Pros
  • Two quality effects in one peda;.
  • Easy to use interface
  • True bypass.
  • High Gain output
Cons
  • Of putting green color.
  • Issues with the bass frequencies in the octave setting.

Best Guitar Pedal #6: Behringer Vintage Tube Overdrive TO800

Okay.  We have to be honest about this pedal.  It is a cheaper rip-off version of the classic Ibanez tube screamer.  It is really obvious.  From the color to the fact that it is an overdrive pedal.

The reason it made out list though, is more than justified.  It does such a good job at copying one of the most iconic overdrive pedals of all time, and it does all of this at half of the price.

This has a classic low gain crunch sound to give you the perfect amount of dirt for that bluesy sound that so many guitarists are after.  You can also push the gain higher for an even heavier sound.

Conclusion:

Classic tube screamer sound for a fraction of the price.  Works well with low and high gain settings.  Very versatile pedal if you are looking to bring some dirt to your tone.

Pros
  • Very affordable
  • Easy to use, and easy to replace
  • Clear digital signal
Cons
  • Ugly pedal design.
  • Not as good quality as the Ibanez Tube Screamer

Best Guitar Pedal #7: Donner Yellow Fall Vintage Pure Analog Delay

Sometimes you find very impressive things that come in the tiniest of packages.  The Donner Vintage is one of those things.  What an incredible, high quality delay pedal in such a small package!

Delay is an essential effect on just about any rig.  You can use it either to create surreal spacey sound design effects, or you can use it to just slightly beef up your existing tone.

The build and setup of this little pedal is very basic and intuitive.  Set it up with a simple battery and power supply and you will have the hang of it in minutes!  Simple to use, but with great sound.

Conclusion:

Pure analog Whole circuit delay in a full Aluminum-alloy classic, stable and strong casing.  It has true bypass provide transparent and clear tone. 3 Knobs: echo, time and feedback to create just the right effect

Pros
  • Very compact and easy to use.
  • Super affordable for such a high quality delay effect
  • One of the most popular delay pedals on the market.
Cons
  • Bigger delay units are more versatile.
  • Better suited for more modest effects needs.
  • Range of the delay can be lacking.

Best Guitar Pedal #8: Ernie Ball MVP

By far one of the most underrated pedals out there.

Every pedal board needs a volume pedal; it is not called the MVP for nothing.  Regardless of the genre of music that you play or what kind of pedals you intend to use alongside it.  We all need a good volume pedal.

What is really great about the MVP is that it doesn’t need any power, you just feed your line into it on the one side, and out of the other and you are ready to go.

The easiest thing to forget, but by far one of the most important aspects in ant setup.

Conclusion:

Another one of the excellent value for money entries on this list.  If you are looking for a reliable volume pedal at a very reasonable price, this is the pedal for you.  It does nothing flashy, but will give you a newfound sense of control over your entire rig.  It can be used to create a sense of balance between the different sounds on your board, but it can also be used to create unique swell effects.  Learn to use a volume pedal properly and it is much more exciting and useful than most people anticipate.

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Easy to use
  • Solid hard steel build
  • No need for a power supply or battery
Cons
  • String connecting the pedal to the mechanism often breaks and is very difficult to replace
  • Heavy pedal to add to a board

Best Guitar Pedal #9: DigiTech RP55

Another multi effects pedal on our list.  This one is even more affordable than our Zoom entry.  It does not include an expression pedal like the Zoom, but it does have a bunch of other useful effects and features.

It comes with a total of 11 Amp Types that you can choose from on the digital display of the device.  Not all of the amp sounds are completely convincing, but they are good enough to give you a nice idea of what these things sound like.

You can also select from 5 different Cabinet Types and 20 separate Studio Quality Effects.  But what is really cool and fun about this pedal is that it even has a built-in drum machine with 30 different patterns to choose from.

Conclusion:

This is a really fun pedal that is a great way for any beginner to get themselves out there and start exploring different kinds of effects and sounds.

Pros
  • Very affordable
  • Easy to use.
  • Good introduction to different types of effects.
  • Built in drum machine
Cons
  • Can be noisy.
  • Some effects are bad quality.
  • Design of the pedal very light and it does not feel sturdy.

Best Guitar Pedal #10: TC Electronic Guitar Ditto Looper Effects Pedal

Very cool, very popular and totally different from anything else on this list.  The TC Electronic Guitar Ditto Looper Effects Pedal is something that will really make your effects pedal board stand out from the rest.

Despite its really small size and movability, this pedal actually has a total of 5 minutes’ loop time with unlimited overdubs.  This means that with this one tiny addition to your pedalboard you have access to an infinite amounts of layers of sound that you can lay on top of one another to your heart’s content.

This pedal has an all analog signal and true bypass, so if you are not using it, it won’t affect your signal in any way.

Conclusion:

This is the single most compact quality loop station you can get.  If you are not going to be making loops that are longer than 5 minutes, there is nothing more you could need.  It hardly takes up any space on the pedal board and the quality of the loops are top nothch.

Pros
  • High quality
  • True bypass
  • Analog sound quality
  • Works well on acoustic and electric instruments
  • Affordable
Cons
  • 5-minute limit
  • No click.

The Final Thoughts

So many pedals to choose from!  And so many really great sounds to play around with.  Pedal shopping is super fun, but can be quite overwhelming.

We hope that our detailed reviews and list of considerations helped to give you some direction in the process of buying your new pedal.

Does our list have your favorite pedal on it?  Did we leave anything out?  Let us know in the comments.  If you like the article, please share it with all of your guitarist friends.

Until next time, keep practicing and keep rocking.

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