What Guitar Pedals Do I Need?

The question of what guitar pedals do I need is answered relatively, if you’re an acoustic player who only plays by the open bonfires when camping then none my friend, if you wish to become the next operatic synth rock bands lead guitarist then probably all of them. 

For this reason we’re breaking this down into what effect pedals suit specific genres from the point of necessity, others can be added but what would help me get those tones. We’re also going to suggest some guitar and amp types to give an overall rig solution. 

The loopa!

So you want to go out there on your own and conquer the world then first off you’re going to need a loop pedal, our advice is to look at the offerings from BOSS as they have every level of looping covered from beginner to expert and everything in between, as you progress on up through their range you’ll be familiar with the functionality so the learning curve will be easier on you. 

An octaver will be very useful in order to get some bass lines going on. 

Something pad like such as a synth like the Meris Enzo or a reverb with long trails and/or shimmer will allow you to add textures to play over.

Also consider a freeze pedal such as the Gamerchanger audio plus pedal or EHX freeze which can also create pad type tones but in a more organic & intuitive manner. 

Guitar wise acoustics are often the way here and something which can get those lower tones without sacrificing treble is key. 

Percussion can be produced by tapping your guitar or via a drum machine type pedal, many BOSS loopers have drums built in but for something more advanced you could look at digitech too. 

The key here is to learn the looper then slowly start adding in the other pedals until the “one man band” concept is nailed down.

Blues players delight.

It’s entirely possible to run a strat or les paul style guitar into a cleanish tube amp and be done with it, the headroom on these amps tend to be enough so when you dig in on the guitar your volume will increase quite well and do make sure the amp has a nice reverb onboard.

Should you wish to start getting some grittier tones then you have two options, turn the amp up until your ears bleed or head into the realm of overdrives. 

Our Joe Walsh Double Classic https://analogalien.com/product/joe-walsh-double-classic-compressor-overdrive-pedal/

Was designed with Joe himself to create the perfect blues tones with control over both the high and low tones and adding in a compressor which can tighten up the dynamics, push the overdrive for more gain or act as a boost when set in post (after the drive). 

In our opinion no self respecting blues guitarist should be without their analog delay and there are few out there better than the MXR Carbon Copy. 

A pretty simple set up yes but it’ll give you exactly what you need to sound blue. 

Classically Rocking

There’s some overlap here with blues but guitar and amp wise a great jumping off point is a humbucker loaded guitar and a british sounding amp ala a Marshall. Pedal wise fuzzes boosts and classic overdrives are where to look. Our FuzzBubble-45 https://analogalien.com/product/fuzzbubble-45-overdrive-fuzz-pedal/ was designed to nail this tone perfectly featuring both fuzz and overdrive based on classic rock tones. Other Drives to consider are variants on the Marshall Guv’nor and the BOSS OD-1. You’ll certainly need a delay and again we have to point you towards the MXR Carbon Copy.

For an all in one solution our Rumble seat https://analogalien.com/product/rumble-seat-overdrive-delay-reverb-pedal/ nails the overdriving marshall tones and has switchable analog delay and reverb, it’s not unusual to see a guitars with just this pedal an LP and a tube amp producing great classic rock tones on stages the world over!

80’s metal and grunge

Style wise there’s a lot of difference here but gear wise there’s a lot of similarity. 

Amps can vary but you’ll want something with tubes in and run it hot, lean towards the jcm 800, 5150 territory for hair metal and towards fender/mesa style for grunge.

Then get these, BOSS DS-1or ProCo RAT EHX Bigmuff for those Smashing Pumpkins tones, EHX Small Clone or Boss CE-2w, any flanger or phaser such as the MXR phase 90 and a huge room for the reverb (or a boss RV-6) and an EQ pedal set with a slight mid hump/bass cut for lead tones! Sorted!


Ok, when it comes to genres of music metal adds a new one every time someone blinks so this will sum up a great jumping off point. 

A guitar with humbuckers and coil taps, a 5150,jcm 800 or mesa triple rec, SUNN Model T style amp (look at what your favourite band uses), a tubescreamer to tighten up the high gain tones, a BOSS MT-2w or HM-2 depending on how heavy you want to get (the MT-2 has more variety in tones, the HM-2 does 1 tone well and that’s the Swedish death metal tone).

The Digitech Drop is a great tool for getting those low tuned tones without the need to change guitars constantly and as such has become a mainstay in the metal community.

The delay can be digital or analog delay according to personal preference.

Then spice with the newest, craziest sounding modulation you can find and call it a new genre of metal 🙂 

Operatic Synth Rock

All of the pedals! 

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