Guitar Effects Pedals and Processors
Guitar effects can bring a wide variety of sounds for a guitarist to use. The sheer variety of tones that an electric guitar can produce is nearly limitless with the wide variety of effects available for use in conjunction with an amp. By learning what options are out there, a guitarist can fairly easily access whichever tones they desire with fairly minimal investment in extra equipment.
Individual Guitar Pedals Vs. Processors
Individual pedals and effects processors are functionally a little different and depending on what a guitarist wants, one may work better than the other. Processors provide a huge variety of effects, for a cost much lower than buying each pedal individually. However, for someone that only needs one of two pedals, the processors will cost significantly more and are far less intuitive to use.
Processors also aren’t exactly the same in terms of tone as the actual pedals being emulated in most cases. On the other hand, processors will usually have better interactions between multiple effects, while long strings of individual pedals might not end up sounding as good without a lot more effort and thinking. More effects driven guitarists that want a wider variety of sound may be better served by purchasing a good quality effects processor. However, people that only need a couple of pedals, will probably have an easier time just buying the individual pedals.
Overdrive and Distortion
These are perhaps the most common types of guitar effects pedals and most guitar effects processors will usually have multiple options. The terms are commonly used interchangeably (as well as terms like crunch, fuzz, dirt, gain, etc). The usual distinction is that distortion pedals actually create the sound, while overdrive pedals are more focused on interaction with the amp. Either way, the effect is to create a distorted sound to some degree, which can make some things sound much better, but basic guitar chords can become less pleasant sounding as the amount of distortion is increased.
Wah Pedals and Envelope Filters
Wah pedals and envelope filters create the more psychedelic effects by filtering out some of the frequencies of the guitar signal. This can create a very vocalish effect similar to someone literally saying “wah.” The difference between a wah pedal and an envelope filter is that a wah pedal is controlled by the guitarist physically using the pedal, while an envelope filter will automatically create the effect based on its settings.
There are three basic types of volume pedals, the standard volume pedals, envelope volume pedals, and tremolo pedals. A volume pedal works similar to a wah pedal in that the guitarist used the pedal directly to effect the setting, but instead of just filtering part of the signals, it increases or decreases the signal volume. An envelope volume pedal works like an envelope filter, automatically adjusting the volume according to the settings. A tremolo pedal is usually quite similar to an envelope volume pedal, just more extreme to the point it gives an almost stuttering sound that is similar to the effect created with tremolo picking.
Chorus pedals effectively split a guitar signal and mixes it back in to create the impression of two or more guitarists playing at once. This type of guitar effects pedal can create a variety of sounds depending on the pedal itself and the settings.
The listed pedal types, while the more common ones, are only a fraction of the options available. In addition, most guitar effects processors will, on top of the variety of pedal types, have multiple variants of each type of pedal. It would be good practice to try different effect settings when working on material from guitar lessons dvd to get a feel for how these pedals sound in different situations.