One of the greatest things about playing the is that you can experiment with a myriad of sounds. If you have a versatile model, you’ll usually be able to try out and delve into different musical styles with just your instrument and amplifier; but there are also add-ons that allow you to achieve new sounds, effects and variations, that undoubtedly are a universe apart: guitar pedals.
Of the guitar pedals, the compressor is what reduces the dynamic range; ie, the difference in volume between the highest peak and the lowest peak. Its effect regulates the volume, increasing the weaker or lower notes and limiting those higher or stronger; therefore, when live, it offers a more controlled and near studio sound, and helps mask interpretation errors. This type of pedal is often also used to increase the ‘sustain’ notes, considerably extending its duration.
Of the guitar pedals, the compressor can be the most complex to understand because its tuning parameters are highly technical.
As its name suggests, this pedal serves to ‘boost’, as it’s used to raise the decibels -ie, volume- at certain times.
Overdrive pedals color the sound, saturating it and resulting in a sweet, warm and deep distortion. In short, they emulate the slight distortion that’s experienced with tube amps and is so difficult to achieve using transistor amps.
Distortion pedals feature a variation of this function. They give a much higher saturation and therefore a more powerful, compact and cold distortion; hence they are more often used for rock and metal music.
The delay pedal is one of the most interesting effects you can add to your pedalboard, as it gives plenty of room for trying out and experimenting. In fact, for many it even becomes addictive! With this pedal you’ll be able to multiply and delay the sound signal, causing the classic ‘echo’ effect.
The last essential components for every pedalboard. Modulation pedals, as their name suggests, modulate the tone frequency in different ways, depending on the particular type of pedal you’re using. Basically, there are three types: the Chorus pedal, which creates a vibration signal and overlaps it with the original signal (giving the impression that they’re two instruments in unison, one of them slightly detuned); the Phaser, whose effect causes a kind of ‘sweep’ signal (like the sound of helicopter blades); and the Flanger, which could be understood as a mixture of the other two.