When you first pick up the guitar things can actually be pretty simple – just add a pick and you’re well on your way to learning your favorite tunes. But at a certain point, you’ll decide to really take this craft seriously. At that point, you’ll want to add a guitar effects pedal.
However, we’ve noticed that most resources only recommend the best guitar effects pedals in general – failing to take into account the needs of a complete beginner. That’s why today, we’re going to answer the question you undoubtedly have on your mind right now: what guitar pedal should I get first?
In our review of the best guitar pedals for beginners, you’ll find recommendations that will help you elevate your playing experience and perfect your craft. More importantly, though, we’re going to break down what you need to look for when shopping for the best beginner guitar pedals. We’ll explain how to differentiate between beginner pedals and pedals for more advanced guitarists. And, you’ll learn what a difference the right pedal can make. We’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s start with a brief overview of what guitar pedals are used for in the first place.
What are Guitar Pedals Used for?
Guitar pedals are devices that alter the sound of your guitar in some way. They connect to your guitar with a patch cable and plug into an amplifier. The first guitar pedals were introduced in the early 1900s and they’ve come a long way since then.
Nowadays, there is an almost endless variety of guitar pedals available on the market – from distortion and overdrive pedals that help you create a heavier sound, to modulation effects like chorus and flanger pedals that can make your playing sound otherworldly.
There are also more specialized pedals like delay and reverb pedals, which create echoes and ambiance respectively. These are just some examples – but ultimately, the world of guitar effects is yours to explore.
How do Guitar Pedals Work?
As a beginner who is new to guitar pedals, you’re probably wondering how these work and how you actually go about using them. In short, guitar pedals work by altering the signal that comes from your guitar before it reaches your amplifier.
This means that the sound you hear coming out of your amp will be different than the sound that’s actually being produced by your guitar. The way in which a pedal alters your sound will depend on the type of pedal it is. We’ll talk about that more in-depth later on in our buyer’s guide. First – let’s discuss the importance of getting the best beginner guitar pedals when first starting out.
Why You Need the Best Beginner Guitar Pedals When First Starting
As you probably already know, not all guitar pedals are created equal. There are specific models for acoustic guitars or electric guitars in particular – and there are certain models for advanced players and beginners. Getting the best pedal for your unique circumstances and experience level will make all the difference in how you play.
For one, using a pedal will help you better understand how different sounds can be created with a guitar. This knowledge will come in handy later on when you start writing your own songs. Additionally, it’s important for beginners to have a few go-to sounds that you can rely on. These sounds will help define your playing style and allow you to gain more confidence when performing. The best beginner guitar pedals can provide these essential sounds – giving you a foundation to build on as you develop your skills.
How to Choose the Best Pedals for Guitar Beginners (Buyer’s Guide)
Before we start unveiling our recommendations for the best pedals for guitar beginners, we want to explain how we came up with them. Our buyer’s guide will help you gain confidence while shopping so you know what to look for in a guitar pedal for beginner players. Here, we’ll go over a few key features that separate the best from the rest – and more importantly, that beginner players absolutely need.
Start by Considering the Guitar You Have & the Type of Music You Want to Play
First and foremost, it’s important to consider the guitar you’re playing and the type of music you want to create. To kick things off here is a quick overview of the different effects guitar pedals can produce:
- Fuzz – A heavier, distorted sound that is well-suited for rock or metal.
- Overdrive – A slightly distorted sound that can give your playing more “edge.”
- Distortion – A more extreme version of overdrive that creates a very heavy sound.
- Chorus – Makes the guitar sound like it’s being played in harmony with itself.
- Flanger – Creates a “swooshing” effect that makes the guitar sound like it’s phasing in and out.
- Delay – Repeats the sounds you play after a brief pause so it sounds like two guitars are playing at once.
- Reverb – Adds ambiance and depth to your playing by simulating different environments (e.g., small room, large hall, etc.).
As you can probably imagine, different guitars pair better with different pedals – and ultimately, some pedals are just more versatile than others. For example, if you’re playing an acoustic guitar, you might want to look for a pedal that doesn’t require an amplifier.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to play heavier styles of music like metal or rock, you’ll need a distortion or overdrive pedal that can give your sound some extra edge. If versatility is what you’re after, though, there are plenty of great multi-effects pedals on the market that come packed with a wide range of features. These are perfect for beginner players who want to experiment with different sounds. This is typically our recommendation for beginner guitar players who haven’t solidified the type of music they want to play quite yet.
Make Sure the Pedal is Easy to Use & Has a Small Footprint
As a beginner, you probably don’t want to be overwhelmed with too many features or controls. The best guitar pedals for beginners are those that are easy to use and have a small footprint. In other words, they should take up as little space on your pedalboard as possible. This way, you can focus on playing – not fiddling with controls. Additionally, it’s important to make sure the pedal you choose has clearly labeled controls so you know what each one does.
Don’t Forget about Power!
Last but not least, you’ll need to consider power when choosing a guitar pedal for beginners. Most pedals will either run on batteries or an adapter. If you’re planning on using the pedal for practice at home, we recommend going with an adapter. This will save you from having to constantly change batteries. However, if you’re planning on using the pedal for live performances, you might want to consider a battery-powered option so you don have to worry about being tethered to an outlet. Of course, as a beginner, you probably won’t have to worry about this anytime soon.
So, What are the Best Guitar Pedals for Beginners? Our Picks for 2022
Now that you have a better understanding of what to look for in a beginner set of guitar pedals, it’s time to get to what you came here for. Below, we’ll address the question – what guitar pedal should I get first?
We’re going to unveil some of our picks for the best guitar pedals for beginners of all sorts. No matter the type of guitar you play or the sound you’re going for, you’ll find a great recommendation down below. We’re going to start with a simple distortion pedal – a great choice for any beginner.
BOSS DS-1 Distortion Pedal: Best Distortion Pedal for Beginners
At just over $60, the BOSS DS-1 Distortion Pedal is a worthy candidate for anyone seeking the best distortion pedal for beginners. It features three simple knobs so you don’t have to get bogged down by too many controls: adjust the just tone, level, and distortion to achieve your desired sound. While some pedals can really affect the way your guitar sounds, this one lets your guitar’s true sound shine through.
One of the main things we love about this model that earned it the ranking as the best distortion pedal for beginners is its durable build. You can take this thing anywhere with complete confidence knowing it’s up for the challenge. And, you don’t just have to take our word for it – it comes equipped with an impressive 5-year warranty.
Electro-Harmonix Canyon Delay and Looper Pedal: Best Beginner Guitar Pedal with Delay
We recommend most new players start by getting the best distortion pedal for beginners. After that, though, you’ll want to invest in a delay pedal. And when that time comes, you’ll have quite a few options – many people swear by the Boss DD-3T or Ibanez Analogue Delay Mini. And don’t get us wrong – these are great choices. However, the Electro-Harmonix Canyon Delay and Looper Pedal offers more bang for your buck in our opinion.
It packs a whole lot of power into a smaller footprint than many other pedals in the same class. And, it offers a host of awe-inspiring effects – from pristine digital delay to warm, warbly tape echo. In total, you get 10 different effects – along with a fully featured looper! This is one of the more versatile products you’ll find on our list of the best guitar pedals for beginners. The one area it lacks is its 1-year warranty – pretty lackluster compared to the BOSS lineup. However, you can shop in confidence knowing this pedal will stand the test of time and deliver the sound you’re looking for over the years to come.
BOSS RV-6 Digital Delay/Reverb Pedal: Best Beginner Guitar Pedal with Reverb
Yes – this is the second appearance by BOSS on this list. And there’s a reason for that. These guys are among the most trusted and well-respected brands in the industry – and for those seeking the best beginner guitar pedal with reverb effects, this is our pick.
This compact, versatile reverb pedal offers rich, expansive sound – while helping you maximize the real estate by your feet. Even beginners will be able to dial in sophisticated, top-level reverb tones quickly and effortlessly using this pedal. And yet, your straight guitar tone always remains pure while the effects are blended in smoothly. With 8 different sound modes to choose from, you have a diverse range of ready-to-play reverb effects at your fingertips. And, this versatile pedal supports mono or stereo operation.
MXR M234 Analog Pedal: Best Guitar Pedal for Beginners with Chorus Effects
Looking to create classically lush, liquid textures on a simple, easy-to-use analog pedal? The MXR M234 is our pick for those seeking the best guitar pedal for beginners with chorus effects. You simply cannot beat the sound quality and continuity of an analog pedal – and this one proves it.
It features simple rate, level, and depth controls along with knobs for cutting high and low frequencies. This presents guitarists with the ultimate tone control. And, the heavy-duty housing and durable jacks/switches ensure this pedal lasts a lifetime – even if it spends more time on the road than at home!
Dunlop Fuzz Face: Best Guitar Pedal for Beginners with Fuzz
Last but not least, we want to share our pick for the best beginner guitar pedal – especially with fuzz effects engrained. Making its first appearance on this list is Dunlop – another well-respected brand in the music industry. And, the classic fuzz sound this pedal helps you create is reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix and others that inspired this sound. It’s been carefully crafted to embody the original germanium PNP transistor design and vintage specs. The reason we consider this one of the best guitar effects pedals for beginners is the simplicity it offers. There’s not much to it, and yet, the sound is immaculate!
Final Thoughts on the Best Guitar Pedals for Beginners
There you have it – the best guitar pedals for beginners. Whether you’re looking for reverb effects pedals or distortion pedals, or any other effect – we hope this list has provided you clarity on which is best for you as a beginner player. By now, you should have your answer to the question – what guitar pedal should I get first?
Stick with the buying advice we recommend above and you’ll have no issue finding your perfect pedal – no matter what you play or how you play it!