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The best guitar pedals of 2023

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Guitar pedals are an essential component of any creative musician's toolbox. All this thanks to their infinite abilities to shape the tone and their ability to radically change the character of the instrument. Also known as stompboxes because of the way they are controlled, guitar pedals are tiny effects units that are often placed on the ground. They use knobs and footswitches to apply any number of changes to the guitar's sound, from echo and distortion to reverb and pitch shift. Pedals aren't just for guitars. With the right equipment, they offer unique creative options for keyboards, vocals, drum machines and almost any other sound source. Whether you're looking to give your guitar some subtle pre-amp polish or want to create a giant otherworldly wall, this collection covers all the best guitar pedals of all types.

How we chose the best guitar pedals

The guitar pedal market has come a long way since ορική εισ of the first stompbox back to 1948. Many of the pedal manufacturers on this list have been in the industry for nearly that long. Electro-Harmonix was founded in 1968, BOSS released their first chorus pedal in 1976, and Ibanez released their first tube-style distortion box in 1979.

We've included the newer reissue versions of many of these aforementioned classic pedals because of their ubiquity and versatile sound, which allows them to appeal to many players in a variety of genres. This list also includes pedals from relatively newer manufacturers like Xotic and JHS. These brands have however built a reputation for creating high quality products and sounds. While we've aimed to highlight the most versatile and desirable versions of widely used guitar effects, keep in mind that there's rarely an objectively "best" option when it comes to creativity and sonic experimentation. Sometimes, different tasks require different tools.

The best all-in-one: Line 6 POD GO

Why he made the cut: The Line 6 POD GO features a wealth of built-in effects and controls that inspire creativity in a backpack-friendly design.

Diopter

  • I / O: 1/4″ Instrument, Stereo FX Loop, Stereo Out, Amp, Expression, USB,
  • Belongings: Distortion, fuzz, tremolo, chorus, vibrato, delay, reverb, amp emulation
  • Energy source: 9 volt DC power supply (included)
  • Dimensions: 9 x 14,1 x 3,46 inches (L x W x H)
  • Weight: 5,2 Kg.

Advantages

  • Over 250 built-in effects, including customizable amp simulations
  • Built-in USB interface for recording, reamping and preset editing
  • Very light and portable design

Disadvantages

  • Some lighter components lack durability

If you want to get the most out of a single guitar pedal for your electric guitar, the Line 6 POD GO is our favorite multi-effects unit. It offers a user-friendly interface, a portable design and a wealth of over 250 built-in presets and effects. It features creativity-oriented expansion options such as headphone output, effects loop, USB connectivity, and third-party IR compatibility for loading your favorite reverb and amp setups.

Best of all, it weighs only 5,2 kg and can fit in a backpack. The lightweight design makes it ideal for touring and stage use. The Line 6 POD GO is our best overall pick because it includes an almost infinite number of sound combinations. Beyond that, it's also uniquely suited for studio use thanks to its built-in USB recording interface. Users can use POD GO to record and loop pre-recorded samples and guitar parts to apply effects. They can also take advantage of the unit's software editor on a Mac or PC. POD GO is an incredibly intuitive tool for creative exploration thanks to its built-in expression pedal, large LCD screen, and plenty of buttons and encoders. While we think some of the components could stand to be sturdier due to their light weight, the POD GO should withstand the normal rigors of touring if properly cared for.

Best Amp Emulation: Universal Audio UAFX Dream '65

Why he made the cut: The Universal Audio UAFX Dream '65 packs one of the most faithful simulations of a legendary American tube amp into a high-tech box.

Diopter

  • I / O: 1/4″ instrument, stereo in/out, USB,
  • Belongings: Amp emulation, amplification, reverberation
  • Energy source: 9 volt DC power supply (not included)
  • Dimensions: 5,5 x 3,62 x 2,56 inches (L x W x H)
  • Weight: 1,24 lbs

Advantages

  • Fender Deluxe style reverb and vibrato
  • Three distinct speaker-microphone combinations and three amplifier variations
  • Bluetooth powered presets and advanced editing

Disadvantages

  • No XLR outputs, recording interface functionality

The UAFX Dream '65 is one of an acclaimed line of new amp emulation pedals from Universal Audio. It's also one of our all-time favorites that we've tried. Features an incredibly faithful modeling of a vintage Fender '65 Deluxe Reverb. This includes all the decay, reverb and tube-style vibrato that comes with it. Unlike a conventional amp, the UAFX Dream '65 also allows users to access modified module emulations and even different speaker and mic configurations at the flick of a switch. While it's hard to beat the real deal if you're stuck deciding between a traditional amp and a pedal amp, the UAFX Dream '65 easily holds its own in both live sound and recording studio settings. Plus, you can pick it up and use it with headphones.

Best Budget: BOSS GT-1

Why he made the cut: The Boss GT-1 packs over 100 effects into a rugged and portable unit at an affordable price.

Diopter

  • I / O: 1/4″ instrument, stereo in/out, USB, headphones, AUX, expression
  • Belongings: Delay, modulation, reverb, overdrive, looper, amp emulation
  • Energy source: 4 x AA batteries or 9 Volt DC power supply (not included)
  • Dimensions: 6 x 12 x 2,9 inches (L x W x H)
  • Weight: 2,9 pounds

Advantages

  • An expression pedal and a large effects bank in a small package
  • Built-in USB interface
  • big value for money

Disadvantages

  • The control has a moderate learning curve

The BOSS GT-1 multi-effects pedal offers some of the best bang for the buck in the guitar pedal market. This is largely due to its compact design and extensive array of amp simulations and effects. It would go very well with our favorite beginner electric guitars and as a result a small amp. It may not have the same tonal flexibility or intuitive interface as more expensive all-in-one guitar pedals. However, the GT-1 features a 24-bit recording interface, a 32-second looper and 198 preset patches in a battery-powered package that can easily fit into a backpack or bag, making it a fantastic choice for guitarists on a budget . Users can even edit presets or download others' favorites through BOSS's Tone Studio and Tone Central interfaces on any PC or Mac.

Even more guitar pedals to transform your guitar sound:

FAQ

Q: How much do guitar pedals cost?

Guitar pedals can cost anywhere from about $40 new to over $1.000 for sought-after vintage models.

Q: How do you use a guitar pedal?

The most basic way to use a guitar pedal is to put it in the middle of a connection between a guitar and a preamp. For example, to add a distortion pedal to a basic guitar-amp connection, simply plug the guitar into the pedal's input and use an additional cable to connect the pedal's output to the amp's input. Many pedals are powered by 9-volt batteries, but AC adapters — especially ones that can power multiple pedals, like the Truetone 1 Spot — are the most reliable way to power a pedal.

Q: What does a compressor pedal do?

Compressor pedals add definition to your playing by increasing the attack of each note, balancing the volume between soft and hard playing, and increasing sustain when holding notes. Because they can often add extra volume and body to a signal, compressor pedals are often used as “boost” pedals when soloing. They're also great when used in more subtle settings for their ability to make a guitar sound "mixed" or as if it's part of a final recording.

Final thoughts on the best guitar pedals

Adding a guitar pedal to your setup is one of the easiest ways to explore the instrument's full creative potential. If you're new to pedals, we recommend starting with a distortion or overdrive pedal, a reverb pedal, and a tuner. As your collection grows, consider our list of the best pedalboards to help you create the most suitable effects setup for your personal style and creative needs. Above all, collecting and arranging guitar pedals is a creative journey in itself. Don't be afraid to break the rules, experiment and push your effects to the absolute limit.

Why trust us?

Popular Science began writing about technology more than 150 years ago. When we published our first issue in 1872, there was no such thing as 'gadget writing', but if there had been, our mission to demystify the world of innovation for everyday readers means we would have outgrown it. Here at the present, PopSci is fully committed to helping readers navigate the increasingly terrifying array of devices on the market right now.

Our writers and editors have combined decades of experience covering and reviewing consumer electronics. We all have our own specialty obsessions—from high-end audio to video games to cameras and more—but when we're looking at devices outside of our immediate wheelhouses, we do our best to seek out trusted voices and opinions to help people to the best recommendations. We know we don't know everything, but we're excited to live through the analysis paralysis that online shopping can cause so readers don't have to.





VIA: popsci.com

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