Guitar Sound Effects

The more you play rock guitar, the more you’ll notice different guitar sound effects, or just guitar effects. As rock music has progressed, guitarists wanted better control over the sounds and tones they were getting out of their gear. They also wanted to be able to duplicate sounds they could get in a studio atmosphere when they were playing live.

The way to do this was to introduce pedal or rack mount effects units into the mix. Now guitarists could really differentiate themselves from other artists with unique guitar sound effects and styles.

The early guitar effects units (and effects units in general) were often custom built "experiments" designed to mimic the different sound effects. For example, the early analog (versus digital) delay-type effects were actually multiple strips of magnetic tape that had identical recordings on them. These tapes would have their own playback heads so each could be played back at different speeds, or slowed to stretch the sound out.

Now-a-days, effects units come in both analog and digital flavors. There's a crazy assortment of effects pedals, rack mounted units and pedal boards to choose from, and way too many different manufacturers to cover here.

That said, it’s pretty much up to you to try out different pedals and/or rack units to find the ones that satisfy that sound in your head. You should start off slow so you don’t go insane with all the choices. It can get pretty tricky when you start chaining pedals together!

For the most part, you can't go wrong with a few mainstream manufacturers. These guys have been around for decades and make good solid FX pedals.

Here's a handful you can check out: Boss (owned by Roland), DigiTech, electro-harmonix, MXR (owned by Dunlop), Line6.

Something that I struggled with early on was trying to figure out what each effect is supposed to do. My guess is that you might just have the same question, so let’s go over the main guitar sound effects units you're going to run into on your rise to the top...

  • Distortion Based Effects
  • Filtering Effects
  • Pitch Based Effects
  • Time Based Effects
  • Volume Effects
  • Other Effects
  • Pedal Boards

Do you already have a favorite guitar sound effects unit? Let me know why you like it.

Of course, guitar effects units aren’t the only things that make up your sound. The Guitar Gear section will have more info on guitars, amps and accessories for you to check out.