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There are so many effects pedals and stompboxes out there that it’s nearly impossible to try them all. My company, Pedal Genie, has over 1,600 pedals from 120 different builders for you to test out at any time. In fact, Pedal Genie rents guitar and bass effect pedals with no due dates or late fees. Try as many as you like, keep them as long as you want. [editor’s note – Pedal Genie is kind of like Netflix for effects pedals, it’s super cool. With his expertise, it’s also why we asked Tony to help us with these picks!]
Don’t be afraid to try anything, regardless of brand, looks or price. You never know what’s going to make your rig sing or surprise you with something you’ve never heard before. What we’ve done is taken a look at five must-have effects pedals that retail under $200, in five different (common) categories you might be looking at: drive, chorus, reverb, wah and even a cool filter pedal for synth-like tones. So take a look, and better yet, take a listen or test drive with Pedal Genie.
Radial, more often known for their bulletproof DI and utility boxes, makes a few standout effect pedals as well. The Texas Overdrive has Level, Tone and Bite controls for each of two independent channels, giving you a wide range of sound options in a single Radial-rugged pedal. It’s a Tube Screamer with a lot more on tap that simply doesn’t get enough love.
Top Reason to Buy: the sound, man: singing, ringing and well-defined.
Pros: quiet, top-mounted jacks, silent switching.
Cons: single drive knob, no remote channel toggle or independent switches.
The three position Mix toggle of the Moog MF Chorus gives you access to light and airy chorus, a thicker and syrupy version and in the last position, a rich vibrato. With delay times longer than most chorus pedals, and in true Moog fashion, you can get it into interesting slapback territory with ease. The extra controls let you coax wobbly and swelling sounds not usually associated with a chorus pedal. A nice touch.
Top Reason to Buy: from subtle chorus to wild feedback, this is a tweaker’s chorus pedal.
Pros: useful expression input, stereo output (TRS), LED pulses with modulation.
Cons: not the best choice for classic ’80s chorus textures.
The Boss RV-6 packs eight great sounding digital reverb effects into the classic Boss stompbox. The spring, plate, hall and room are all accurate and quiet. The modulate and dynamic (modulation) add creamy and dreamy effects to the mix, nearly worthy of their own pedal. But it’s the shimmer and +delay modes that push the RV-6 into boutique territory. In shimmer mode, pull back on the tone knob for a very pretty but not obnoxious octave effect. Couple the +delay effect with the 100% wet output and you’ve got ambient and shoegazing sounds on tap.
Top Reason to Buy: best shimmer reverb for the price.
Pros: stereo I/O, expression input, will do 100% wet.
Cons: traditional Boss side-mounted jacks.
While it’s billed as a fixed wah effect, which admittedly has a limited utility, it’s the extra features of the Electro-Harmonix Cock Fight that push it into extremely useful territory. The Bottom knob lets you restore lost bass due to filtering. The wah toggle switch has a “talk” setting with formant characteristics. And then there’s the Fuzz switch, available pre- or post-filter. In talk mode with pre-heavy fuzz you can get near synth-like tones. Very cool.
Top Reason to Buy: wah, fuzz and filter effects in one box that also works well on bass.
Pros: expression input for near standard-wah functionality, bonus fuzz and “talking” wah effect.
Cons: no auto-wah, side-mount jacks.
Yes, the DigiTech Dirty Robot is a filter, but man is it expressive and controllable. Seven (!) knobs can change the sound dramatically: Mix, Mod, Start, Stop, Sens, Time and Drift. And yes, you may have heard Robot Voice before but there are so many other sounds available here. Small changes to one knob yield a myriad of possibilities from all the other knobs. This one is definitely for twisters.
Top Reason to Buy: great synth and filter tones for guitar and bass.
Pros: funky AF, stereo I/O.
Cons: side-mounted jacks, hard-to-read pedal text.
It’s Pedal Genie’s mission to connect musicians with the right effects. Not just the ones they want, but the ones they never knew they needed because they didn’t have the opportunity to find out. For one low monthly fee, Pedal Genie offers musicians endless opportunities to evolve their sound, whether that means expanding, refining, making a subtle shift, or switching things up entirely.