Effects pedals, or stompboxes, are effects units designed to sit on the floor or a pedal board and be turned on and off with the user's feet. Typically, effects pedals house a single effect. The simplest stompbox pedals have a single footswitch, one to three potentiometers (knobs) for controlling the effect, gain or tone, and a single LED display to indicate whether the effect is on or not. More complex stompbox pedals have multiple footswitches, numerous knobs, additional switches and an alphanumeric display screen that indicates the status of which effect is activated. An effects chain, or signal chain, may be formed by connecting two or more effects pedals together.
A guitarist’s or bassist’s effects chain can largely determine the uniqueness of that player’s tone. Perhaps the most common effects pedal is a distortion or overdrive pedal, which either provides a distorting effect or overdrives the guitar’s signal into the amplifier—a tone that is highly popular in many genres of music. Other popular effects pedals include a wah-wah pedal (designed for sweeping a guitar’s tone control), fuzz, delay, flanger, phaser, reverb, chorus, compression, looping and boost. Many guitarists also use an EQ pedal to further shape and customize their sound. With all the brands and effects available at Guitar Center, your effects pedal options are virtually endless.
To preserve the clarity of the tone, it is most common to put compression, wah and overdrive pedals at the start of the chain, modulation (chorus, flanger, phase shifter) in the middle, and time-based units (delay, echo, reverb) at the end. When using many effects, unwanted noise and hum can be introduced into the guitar’s sound. Some performers use a noise gate or noise suppression pedal at the beginning or end of a chain to reduce unwanted noise and hum.
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