Guitar effects are available in such a large variety with old tones being reinvented and new tones being extracted from the twisted minds of guitar players, the choices and possibilities are endless. Nevertheless, most effects are primarily variations on four distinctive tone and sound patterns including Distortion, Reverb – Delay, Dynamics, and Pitch Modulators.
Single and Multi-effects Processors
Guitar effects have evolved into a complicated variety of configurations. The earliest units were hand made for the artists themselves and most were a single effect built into a pedal or stomp box, a nick name most of us use. As evolution and demand for modified sounds grew, multiple effects and processors were built into floor pedals. the next phase of effects began with rackmount, and tabletop units. Many of these units also include loopers, drum machines and headphone jacks for noiseless practice purposes.
In Studio Effects Processing, this category includes compressors and noise gates, but for guitars, we will extend it to include gain and presence boosters, volume pedals, and tremolo effects, which include rotating swirling speaker effects as well. Compressors and gates are available as separate effects and are almost always built into multi-effects processors.
The category of distortion has three subdivisions initially based on the original tones and sound of overdriven tube amplifiers played at full volume with more stacks of speaker cabinets than is imaginable. These include distortion, overdrive, and fuzz.
This category covers effects that include reverbs, delays, and echo effects. These effects are now being built into some terrific sounding and affordable guitar amps. the tides are changing, although they are still more commonly purchased in stomp box configurations. Multi-effects processors are becoming extremely popular and are evolving at a rapid rate. Choose your processor carefully, the array is dazzling and confusing. Get a processor only after you understand what will serve your purposes best.
Pitch Modulation Effects
This category is comprised of units that affect pitch such as flangers, phase shifters, chorus, wah pedals, pitch shifters, and has grown to include envelope and resonance filters, ring modulators, talk box modulators, and includes full blown synthesizers controlled by MIDI guitars.
Modeling in and of itself is not a effect but a modern way of reproducing vintage and modern guitar effects including acoustic instruments, amplifiers and speaker cabinets, and even the sounds of our personal guitar heroes. Modeling has primarily found its greatest use in the professional studio. It’s becoming quite popular particularly in the home studio also, where it is not feasible or affordable to have a large number of amps and cabinets and effects equipment. It then becomes possible to recreate almost any sound that fits your vibe in your own home studio using simplified controls for the home producer.
Stomp Boxes in This Corner and Rackmount, Single or Multi-Effects Processors in This Corner.
An argument bound to cause controversy. There is such a multitude of high quality multi-effects units and processors available, costing up to several thousand dollars or more. Guitar Players Center questions whether lots of inexpensive single-effect stomp boxes, which add a hissing noise to your rig, are even feasible or necessary anymore. Realistically speaking if you look in the racks of the top guitar players, you will find a combination of stomp boxes and top end processing equipment. There are certain stomp pedals that can be used in many combinations that give the unique and personal tones you may be looking at where personal taste comes into play. I’m not arguing that pedals aren’t fun to use though.
You could also buy the same setup as your favorite guitarist, but that might prevent you from playing outside of the bun in terms of finding your sound (a sound your mother would recognize if she heard you on the radio). Or using highly versatile multi-effects processors that combine modeling sounds of both vintage and modern effects in one convenient floor pedal that can give you the exact sound of your guitar heroes and leave you with the choice of developing your own vibe also. GPC will continue this article tomorrow with the focus on what setup fits your needs.
Let GPC know how your personal feelings and experience with guitar pedals and processors. What do you think is the best way to go? Share this with your friends and other interested guitar players.