Pedals 101 - A few nice add-ons for your Stratocaster
Do you still remember hearing that weird, catchy single-coil guitar sound on a specific song that you love? Chances are the one responsible for that tune is the guitar player, his guitar, his amp, and yes. You guessed it right – his guitar effects pedals.
Being introduced to effects pedals can be a bit intimidating at first, especially when you’re planning on pairing it with a specific guitar model. Reason is because there a lot of options available at the market, varying from cheap stomp boxes to expensive multi-effects units. One can have a fairly hard time picking one.
With all the plethora of effects pedals available, it’s important to figure out first what type of guitarist do you want to be. You can range from being a bedroom musician who records his playing and posts it on Instagram, to a church musician, or even one who plays music for a living. Next thing you’d want to consider is what type of music you will be playing. Genres vary from country, soul, ambient, rock, to metal. Once you’ve identified your preference, you may now proceed with considering the pedals you are going to use.
This article will help you in narrowing down what type of effects pedal you’ll need and how it will add flavor to your Strat. Whether it is for a home-studio setup for recording, or on a gigging musician’s pedal board, these basic babies will surely help you get more out of your single-coil tone.
Let’s start with the basics:
Probably one of the most popular effects pedals available, the distortion pedal can be heard on almost all rock and metal records out there. Discovered as early as 1945 from an experimenting project, the distortion later on became one of the most relied upon pedals by some of the greats. Kurt Cobain (Nirvana), Jimi Hendrix, and Kirk Hammett all use distortion type pedals. It’s perfect for guitarists who are into rock and heavy music. The BOSS-DS1 is a staple for many rigs out there.
Another must-have on any guitarist’s board, the overdrive is fairly different from the distortion pedal. It simply cranks up the signal from your amplifier without really affecting the sound that you are getting out of your rig. While overdrive pedals are also used by rock and metal players, these are mostly utilized by those in the blues and jazz genre, particularly because of their minimal grit produced, which makes the clarity of the notes stand out. John Mayer, Eric Clapton, and Paul Gilbert have their respective use for overdrive. The Ibanez Tubescreamer is an industry standard.
Arguably one of the most fun to play with, the delay pedal simply repeats your original signal on a rhythmic pattern. It can vary from subtle slap-back trails, to long, ambient-pad like trails. The Edge from U2 is probably one of the icons that first come to mind when talking about delay. The MXR Carbon Copy has been around boards for a long time.
One of the most identifiable effects, usually amplifiers come with a reverb on the settings, but it is also great to have dialing options on your reverb pedal. A reverb provides a spacey, ethereal sound to your guitar signal, giving it that warm, ambient character. A great reverb pedal with a lot of options and tones available is the Hall of Fame 2 by TC Electronic.
Probably the most important one, the tuner simply put, makes sure that you will play in tune. It gives off the note for a tuning of your preference, the standard being EADGBe. It’s always a good idea to invest in a good tuner. The Turbo Tuner by Sonic Research is a good find.
Another fun sound to play with, the chorus pedal adds a synth-like effect to your guitar signal. It gives that distinct “wet” element that goes well with a song verse, or even on a plucking-style guitarist. The Fender Bubbler Chorus gives out superb tones.
Last but certainly not the least, the phaser pedal is one of the most distinct sounds attainable via an effect pedal. It gives you that lush, wave-like sound that goes well with almost any particular song. And of course, the MXR Phase 90 will always be an industry standard.
And there we have it! These are just some of the tools that make almost any Strat model sound stand out from the crowd.
It’s worth mentioning that the key role of an effect pedal is that it should always make guitar playing more fun! Sure, shredding away the guitar in itself is an absolute joy, but adding all these tools to your arsenal can both improve your guitar skills, and add that exciting element to your playing.
Once you start figuring out what sound you’re chasing, you may then experiment with different sets of pedals and gear readily available in the market. Set no boundaries, my friend. The tonal possibilities are endless!