It all started when I was 14 and I got my first guitar rig. I had my Les Paul copy and a little combo amp. I thought I was ready to rock until a friend sold me his Big Muff fuzz box. Once I had that in my signal chain I could make my little rig sound like Hendrix’s Marshalls. I thought it couldn’t get better. Then, I added a flanger and a chorus pedal and got a cool new half stack that sounded awesome plugging straight in. It was loud enough to blow out the windows with four 12″ speakers and 100 watts of tube power. When I added my flanger to that rig the combination of the two made it sound like the world was ending.
Pedals are definitely a cool in expensive way to change things up in your rig. Lets go through a few basic different kinds of pedal effects:
Chorus: A chorus effect simulates a doubled signal or a Leslie, it basically it makes your guitar sound like two guitars.This is most effective on clean sound where it really makes the guitar shimmer. Every time I have a clean sound when I record or play live I have my Chorus pedal kicked in. I have also more recently been using it on extreme settings to really warble up the sound on certain guitars on my music to give it more color. Chorus is considered a modulation effect.
Flanging: Flanging effects are a more extreme type of modulation effect. Depending how you have it adjusted it makes whatever signal you have running through it go up and down ( a good example would be Van Halen’s song Aint Taking about Love) . That crazy tone on Eddie’s guitar on the track is Flanging.
Phasing: A phasor simulates tape phasing. (Think Eddie Van Halens tone on his solo guitar track Eruption and most of Eddie’s solos as well) it makes the guitar sound more swishy… I usually hit my phasor when I solo to this day. It makes the guitar jump out since it also adds a little treble boost as well…
Delay: Delay pretty much adds echo and reverb type effects to your signal. There are various types of delays but these days the most common are either digital delay ( cleaner ) and analog delay ( a little dirtier like the vintage delays ) they’re both cool but totally subjective what works better for the individual player.
Last but not least Fuzz/ Distortion: This will make a clean amp sound like full blown marshall on 10. there are many different kinds of fuzz/ distortion pedals that fill the range of the many shades of driving an amp to the hilt. Again totally dependent on what the individual is looking for and how much gain he needs.
Over the years I have built a nice collection of old and new pedals. I have used them on countless recording sessions both for my projects and when I’m playing on other people’s projects. I’m also always on the hunt at swapmeets and yard sales for cheap older pedals. Cheap pedals are cool even though they are usually noisier than the pricier pedals and usually kill your tone when they are not activated but the fun is putting them on tracks where you want it to stand out in the mix. I’ve had great luck adding phaser to leads and extreme chorus to guitars on bridge sections of songs to make the backing guitars sound crazy .
I have had better luck with older pedals that sound more raw so you can make them do crazier stuff than the new much more polite versions just won’t do. Not that the cool up scale ones aren’t cool too for certain things but I’m always into stuff where I can make it sound like it’s going to blow up.When used in the right place it really can make a recorded track come alive. The beauty is your only limit is your imagination and you can use your old guitar pedals on pretty much any audio source both live and in your studio. I have even mixed in a fuzz pedal on a snare drum track to make the snare cut through the mix better. Now go out there and pull out your old pedals and do some experimenting……