Effects pedals or “FX pedals” are electronic devices powered by mains or battery power designed to alter an instruments sound. Some of the effects are faintly applied to a sound or sometimes used to change the instruments sound altogether. These devices are both used in a studio environment and more commonly for live performances.
Early products where housed in either a tabletop unit or rack mounted for the studio. As technology progressed, the devices became smaller and turned into pedals or fitted to the instrument its self. The pedal sometimes called “stomp box”, is a small to medium sized device, which is placed on the floor in front of the musician and connected to the instrument usually with a conventional guitar lead. The mechanism is commonly controlled by one or more foot-pedal on-off switches [clean-dry], which alter a wide variety of effects.
The rack mounted units can contain hundreds sometimes thousands of effects for the musician to choose from. There are seven common classifications of effects, which include distortion, dynamics, filter, modulation, pitch, time-based and feedback. Musicians will create their “signature sound” from their choice of instrument, effects units, and guitar amp. As a wider variety of effects pedals became available, musicians started mounting them on pedal boards to create a ready to use chain of pedals.
There are some interesting effects pedals here from a choice of classic types, with individual sounds from each box or multi-pedals with selectable effects.
You have the choice to use a bank of effects pedals or one or two multi-effects boxes. Individual pedals can be interlinked and are mostly designed to do so with interconnecting jacks or leads. There is a certain clarity when individual effects pedals are used, since there are no layered menus and the foot switch generally just turns the box on and off with the pre-sets being adjusted prior to a performance. The down side of this individual effects box solution is multiple cables and connections, with the accompanying set-up and pull down time. This said fitting the whole set in a pedal box can cut the complication somewhat.
Choosing a multi-effects pedal will generally cut your foot controls down to one or two units and maybe a foot pedal for swell and other effects. Many of the foot control switches will be multi function, or multi layer, bringing you different effects or groups of effects after multi clicking the switch. This style of control takes a little time to get used to, but can offer some stunning effects combinations.
Overdrive and various forms of distortion pedal are the most popular types, with those that bring traditional and vintage sounds the top sellers. Sample loops that you can record and replay at will are also popular and a really useful aid to solo performers. This means you can play and record your own backing track or part of it and introduce it as part of your set.
Most of the effects pedals will work with a 9 volt battery, generally the PP3/Block type, but for stage use there are external sockets so a remote power supply can be used. You can also consider the bank style power supply, which cuts down on power supply and cabling.