About Guitar Effects
Very few subjects dealing with electric guitar are as deep and unending as effects. The guitar effect is an industry unto itself, with players still using everything from old amps with built-in reverb and tremolo to brand-new technology like Line 6's Helix multi-effects. Effects are so pervasive that most guitarists keep multiple stompboxes in their rigs at all times. From single pedals designed to enhance the guitar's tone to designs that create otherworldly sounds, there are enough types, brands, and formats to keep every guitarist's gear addiction satiated for a very long time to come.
Where the journey started
Sun Records introduced the world to slapback tape echo in the 1950s with the sounds of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins. Soon guitarists were wanting ways to replicate those tones live. The very first effects designed specifically for electric guitar were spring reverb and tremolo, often built in to tube amplifiers in the early '60s. Tape delay units like the EchoSonic, Echoplex, and Roland Space Echo brought a new world of repeating possibilities to players. And Jimi Hendrix, with his Fuzz Face, Octavia, and Wah Wah pedals, kicked the doors of guitar effects innovation wide open. Players such as U2's The Edge, Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello, and King Crimson's Robert Fripp have defined brand-new styles of playing based around guitar effects.
Types of guitar effects
While there is an ever-growing list of effects for guitar out there, most fall into four main groups: distortion, time based, modulation, and filters. Distortion pedals include overdrives like the Ibanez Tube Screamer, distortions like the BOSS DS-1, and the classic fuzz such as Electro-Harmonix's Big Muff Pi. MXR, JHS, Line 6, and TC Electronic all make stellar time-based delays and reverbs. Examples of these include the BOSS DD-7 delay, Line 6 DL4, TC Electronic Hall of Fame reverb, and Eventide's Space reverb pedal. Chorus, flanging, phasers, vibrato, and rotary effects fall into the modulation category. Iconic examples of these effects are the vintage Songbird Tri-Stereo Chorus rack unit and the popular G-Force multi-effects units. And of course no pedalboard would be complete without filter effects like the Dunlop Cry Baby wah pedals, MXR M108 EQ, and Electro-Harmonix Q-Tron envelope filters.
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