Boss, patrons of all things pedal, have taken pity on our poor wallets and unleashed a 3 for 2 deal on us all until the 17th of November. Which is fantastic… if you know what you’re looking for. With a staggering 48 effects pedals on offer, however, it can be difficult for any new guitar enthusiasts out there to know exactly what’s right for you. So, we’re here with some suggestions to guide you on your path to pedalboard.
Before anything else, it’s worth noting that everyone should have a tuner pedal – they’re inexpensive, portable, and they mute your signal when activated. If you don’t already own a Boss TU-3 Chromatic Tuner, do it now!
A good first port of call is an overdrive or distortion effect, since they’re often the basis of a guitar sound. The only difference between them is the level of extremity: distortions add more gain to the signal than overdrives do, so they sound heavier. Boss overdrive and distortion pedals are appropriately named – the BD-2 Blues Driver suits blues music, the MT-2 Metal Zone suits metal, and so on – so if you have a certain sound in mind it should be relatively easy to know where to start.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with choice or simply don’t know what you want, consider the OS-2 Overdrive Distortion as a good middle ground which ticks both boxes. Those of you who own a nice-sounding amp should also look at the BC-2 Combo Drive, a transparent overdrive which works well with enhancing a good fundamental tone.
Honestly, overdrives and distortions are the hardest effects to recommend because they’re so personal, so it really is down to you. What I do recommend is coming to the store and trying them. There are eighteen different kinds, after all…
Delay is another common effect because it’s versatile and effective: a subtle delay can bulk up a lead or solo, but a louder delay can used as a rhythmic musical device. Think of the drumbeat from When The Levee Breaks or the main riff of Temper Trap’s Sweet Disposition. With that in mind, try pairing your drive of choice with the DD-3 Digital Delay to fill out those lead lines or make some crazy rhythms of your own. Also look at its bigger brother, the DD-7, which has much longer delay times and a tap tempo function for only £20 more.
Finally, round it all off with something to really personalise your sound. The CH-1 Super Chorus is useful for clean arpeggios and making chords sound rich, whereas the OC-3 Super Octave, a personal favourite of mine and also used extensively by Jack White, can beef up your lead lines by adding an extra octave (or two) below what you play.
My top pick: OS-2, DD-3, free CH-1
It’s not very often that you see a bassist with a pedalboard – the bass guitar’s typical role in a band doesn’t necessitate a large variety in tone. I say typical role because bass-led bands like Royal Blood and Death From Above 1979 (the earlier, better version of Royal Blood) prove the contrary, so don’t let convention ruin your fun. Hell, I have the RV-5 Digital Reverb and DD-3 Digital Delay on my post-rock bass pedalboard. Our assistant manager and resident bassist, Emmett, visibly recoiled when I told him. You too could have this power.
Now, a gig-worthy bass rig is typically much bulkier and heavier than a guitar rig. It’s the price you pay for playing the coolest instrument. Thankfully, there are two god-sends for the gigging bassist included in this deal – the GEB-7 Bass Equaliser and BB-1X Bass Driver. Having these two in your chain ensures you get a great sound through any amp. The Bass Equaliser is a seven-band EQ , while the Bass Driver is a bass overdrive, signal boost, preamp and D.I. all rolled into one. After personally lugging around a 4×10” cab, head, bass guitar and pedalboard in order to have ‘my sound’ on tour, I’d heavily advocate including at least one of these guys in your selection. Your back will thank me in years to come.
For your third pedal, fans of the aforementioned two piece bass-led outfits could opt for the FZ-5 Fuzz for a massively distorted sound which fills some of the space a guitar would occupy, or maybe the ODB-3 Bass Overdrive for adding a more subtle grit. Meanwhile, the SYB-5 Bass Synthesizer offers synth sounds that would be at home in funk, dubstep, and everywhere in between. Or the Reverb. I dare you. Start a movement with me.
My top picks: BB-1X, SYB-5, free GEB-7
It’s true that acoustics don’t have as many bespoken effects to their name, but don’t be put off. Many acoustic guitar amps actually come bundled with three effects in particular: delay, reverb and chorus. These add depth and resonance to your guitar, so why not invest in some better versions, such as the RV-6 Reverb, DD-7 Digital Delay, and CE-5 Chorus Ensemble? These are respectively the most capable and adaptable versions of each effect, which will be particularly useful for finding the settings which suits your acoustic best.
If you’re a busker or looking to expand your sound without expanding your one man band, definitely check out the RC-1 and RC-3 Loop Stations. These pedals record and loop phrases you play, allowing you to build up multi-layered songs with just one or two instruments. The only difference in the two, besides price, is their capability – the RC-3 can import and export .mp3 and .wav files to your PC and has dozens of hours of loop time, whereas the RC-1 is for those of you who prefer to just plug in and play.
My top picks: RV-6, DD-7, free CE-5
Finally, and most importantly – don’t listen to me! Come into Red Dog Music, try them all out on our Boss pedal demo setup and tell us which ones you like the best!