Best Guitar Effects Pedals

If you’ve read my article on the different types of guitar effects pedals and are getting ready to make a purchase or two, then this gear page is made for you.  I’ve reflected on the hundreds of hours I’ve spent researching and playing different pedals and have broken down my top favorites in each of 13 different categories.  This article focuses on my top recommended best guitar effects pedals for all types of players and musical styles.

Do you need to buy a pedal from all 13 categories to find your sound?  Like I said in my article, of course not.  You may only need one, two or three pedals to give you an incredible assortment of tones to dial in your sound.  The variety of pedal types described below are simply there to cover all the bases and give you choices that align with the style of music that you play.  For example, if you love heavy metal, then jump right to the section on distortion pedals and you can probably ignore other pedals types, such as chorus which is generally not used by metal players.

Because there are seemingly endless mass-produced and boutique pedal makers out there with sometimes bizarre and non-descriptive names for their creative concoctions, I’ve generally stuck with the brands and models that I can personally vouch for and/or those that have stood the test of time.  I can basically guarantee you that if you’ve decided to buy a pedal from a certain category, that all of the pedals listed below will work great for you.

I think the “Good, Better Best” model works really well for pedals and here is how I’m defining each term for use in this guide:

Good: A quality pedal that includes the basic features necessary at an affordable price.  Suitable and played by amateur and professional guitarists around the globe.

Better: A more full-featured product that might have some more bells and whistles.  Geared toward those whose music may rely heavily on a single pedal or two for their particular sound so they want to splurge a little bit to get the one pedal just right.

Best:  These pedals are often hand-made and are going to cost you a pretty penny to get your hands on them.  Cult followings have developed around many of these pedals for their legendary effects on tone.

Now, some experienced guitar players or pedal aficionados might read my list of recommendations and claim that I’ve missed certain “legendary” pedals that are truly the best.  And while some of these comments may have some valid points, I have my reasons for their exclusion.  The most common examples are cost and availability.

For example, a much-revered overdrive pedal called the King of Tone by AnalogMan is indeed a superb overdrive pedal, but it also costs around $300 and has a waiting list of over a year.  For the vast majority of players looking to learn and love the guitar, this pedal is neither affordable nor worth your time.  So I’ve put an upper limit of about $150 on all pedals on my list and they’re all readily available online or in stores.

Enough with the introduction already, let’s get started!

Top Overdrive Pedals

Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer Overdrive Guitar Effects PedalBoss BD-2 Blues Driver Overdrive Guitar Effects PedalFulltone OCD Overdrive Guitar Effects Pedal
ModelTS9 Tube ScreamerBD-2 Blues DriverOCD
Product LinkProduct LinkProduct LinkProduct Link

Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer

  • Any list of top overdrive pedals is going to start with the classic Ibanez Tube Screamer.  Used on countless recordings, it creates very warm tones mimicking those of a cranked-up tube amp.
  • It’s very responsive to your guitars volume control, so you can play rhythm chords with just a touch of overdrive until it’s your turn to step forward and take your epic solo.  Turning up the volume knob on your guitar will immediately crank-up the grit and crunch coming out of your amp.
  • The list of TS9 Tube Screamer devotees is simply too long to list here, but some of the highlights include Stevie Ray Vaughan, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Carlos Santana, John Mayer, Kirk Hammett, Billie Joe Armstrong, Buddy Guy, Noel Gallagher, The Edge, Trey Anastasio, and the list could go on and on….

Boss BD-2 Blues Driver

  • Don’t let the name of this brilliant pedal limit your consideration for your pedal arsenal. While it is basically a near-perfect pedal for playing the blues, it is by no means limited to that genre.  Plenty of rock players love this pedal as well for its ability to provide the sound of a true vintage tube amp.
  • This is one of the most dynamic pedals I’ve ever played, which means it is very responsive to playing technique, the level of attack you hit the strings and the volume knob on your guitar. You can dial in the precise amount of gain you want to apply just by adjusting the guitar volume knob, and not really have to constantly mess with the dials on the pedal itself.
  • Boss pedals are known for their tank-like construction which will basically last a lifetime, regardless of how many times you toss it in your gig bag and onto the floor of your friend’s basement or your local gig.

Fulltone OCD

  • This built-in-the-USA pedal offers guitarist looking for that sweet overdriven tube amp sound a full-spectrum of tones from which to choose. Relatively light clean tones to sustain-laden distortion mania and everything in between are ready at the turn of a dial or a flip of a switch.
  • Unique to this pedal is the inclusion of a High Peak/Low Peak switch that broadens the range of tone even further and is great for switching between guitars with single coil pickups and humbuckers.
  • The output buffer can be set to either true-bypass or enhance bypass mode depending on your needs to work among other pedals and signal chains.

Top Fuzz Pedals

Electro Harmonix Nano Big Muff Pi Fuzz Guitar Effects PedalFulltone OF-2 Octafuzz Fuzz Guitar Effects PedalDunlop FFM2 Fuzz Face Guitar Effects Pedal
BrandElectro HarmonixFulltoneDunlop
ModelNano Big Muff PiOF-2 OctafuzzFFM2 Fuzz Face
Product LinkProduct LinkProduct LinkProduct Link

Electro Harmonix Nano Big Muff Pi

  • This pedal is capable of overdrive and distortion sounds, but it is perhaps most famous for its fuzz that has been used by tons of legendary guitarists on classic rock songs.
  • In addition to pure fuzz, this pedal is also known for rich, creamy, violin-like sustain and sound.
  • Fans of the Big Muff Pi include David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins, Jack White of The White Stripes, John Frusciante of The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys.

Fulltone OF-2 Octafuzz

  • This well-built offering from Fulltone is really like having to pedals in one. The small switch between the dials allows a guitarist to deploy an octave effect or a traditional fuzz effect.
  • The cool octave effect can be heard on Jimi Hendrix’s “Band of Gypsies” as well as many Stevie Ray Vaughn songs.
  • Some famous users of this pedal include James Valentine of Maroon 5, Joe Perry of Aerosmith and Reverend Horton Heat.

Dunlop FFM2 Fuzz Face

  • The round Fuzz Face pedal has been around since the mid-60’s and is famous for its warm, vintage fuzz tones.
  • This unique pedal forgoes the modern silicon based electronics and sticks with germanium transistors that are slightly mismatched to provide the legendary sound.
  • If you love any of the following guitar gods, then you might have fun with a Fuzz Face because they all used them: Jimi Hendrix, Duane Allman, Pete Townshend, George Harrison, David Gilmour and Eric Johnson.

Top Distortion Pedals

Boss DS-1 Distortion Guitar Effects PedalPro Co RAT2 Distortion Guitar Effects PedalMXR M116 Fullbore Metal Distortion Guitar Effects Pedal
BrandBossPro CoMXR
ModelDS-1 DistortionRAT2M116 Fullbore Metal
Product LinkProduct LinkProduct LinkProduct Link

Boss DS-1

  • This may be the best bang-for-the-buck pedal of any on the entire list.  Since its introduction in 1978, this pedal is used by both beginning and world-class guitarists from all corners of the musical world.
  • Known for a broad dynamic range of distortion, from just beyond tube break-up to full on scream, the Boss DS-1 will not disappoint any hard rocker or metal-head.
  • Fans of the Boss DS-1 pedal include Kurt Cobain, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and Glenn Frey

Pro Co RAT2

  • If the sound of a raging vintage Marshall stack is what you’re going for to play rock or metal, then this classic pedal would be a solid choice for you.
  • This versatile and affordable pedal can also be dialed back for great, mellow sounds reminiscent of a vintage Fender tube amp.
  • The Rat pedal has lots of famous users, including Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters, James Hetfield of Metallica and Jerry Cantrell of Alice in Chains.

MXR M116 Fullbore Metal

  • If you’re into more contemporary metal sounds, this powerful pedal will give you all the gain you’ll ever need. And to keep the noise that generally comes with such ultra-high gain levels away from your sound, this smart pedal also includes a built-in noise gate.
  • This monster metal pedal also includes dedicated EQ dials for full and precise customization of your metal tones.
  • Rockers and head bangers who play with the MXR M116 pedal include Wolfgang Van Halen, and Pat O’Brien of Cannibal Corpse.

Top Reverb Pedals

Boss RV-6 Reverb Guitar Effects PedalTC Electronic Hall of Fame 2 Reverb Guitar Effects PedalMXR M300 Reverb Guitar Effects Pedal
BrandBossTC ElectronicMXR
ModelRV-6Hall of Fame 2M300
Product LinkProduct LinkProduct LinkProduct Link

Boss RV-6

  • The engineering wizards at Boss have continued to evolve their reverb pedal, and this sixth iteration does not disappoint.  It’s loaded with features and offers no less than eight reverb effects ranging from subtle rooms to giant concert halls.
  • One of the coolest dial settings is ‘Dynamic’ mode where the pedal automatically adjusts the depth of the reverb effect based on your playing touch.
  • This sophisticated pedal also allows modern guitarists to choose between mono and stereo operation as well as an input for an optional expression pedal to control the depth of the reverb effect while you’re playing live.

TC Electronic Hall of Fame 2

  • This pedal takes the term ‘fully-featured’ to another level! Not only does it offer eight types of reverb effects and mono/stereo switching, it also includes the ability to store three different custom effects for quick recall when playing.  You can connect this pedal to TC Electronics TonePrint Editor for PC, Mac and iPad.
  • Another great feature of this pedal is what TC Electronic calls Mash technology. The foot-switch button that you stomp on normally just turns the pedal on or off.  The Hall of Fame 2 foot-switch is pressure-sensitive allowing the guitarist to apply a level of expression to the reverb effects that you hear.  It’s like having two pedals in one.
  • For those of you debating on whether you prefer buffered or true bypass pedals, you don’t have to worry with the Hall of Fame 2. It’s delivered in true bypass mode but you can easily switch to buffered bypass mode to prevent high frequency loss from long cable runs and/or a full pedalboard.

MXR M300

  • This pricey studio-grade pedal doesn’t come with a million bells and whistles, but what effects it does strive for, it accomplishes them extremely well. The six distinct reverb styles simply sound amazing.  ‘Nuff said.
  • An extra input jack is available to connect a volume/expression pedal to blend two different knob setting configurations.

Top Delay Pedals

Donner Yellow Fall Delay Guitar Effects PedalMXR M169 Carbon Copy Delay Guitar Effects PedalElectro Harmonix Canyon Delay Guitar Effects Pedal
BrandDonnerMXRElectro Harmonix
ModelYellow FallM169 Carbon CopyCanyon
Product LinkProduct LinkProduct LinkProduct Link

Donner Yellow Fall

  • This pure analog delay pedal from Donner is a total bargain, yet its quality is reasonably on par with other more expensive models.  It is designed into a narrow mini-pedal housing, so it won’t take up much room on your pedal board.
  • The Echo and Feedback knobs allow the guitarist to adjust the delay effects.
  • The Time knob adjusts the delay times from 25ms to 620ms so it can be used on a wide variety of music that might be more suited to different lengths of delay.

MXR M169 Carbon Copy

  • This fully analog delay pedal relies on old-school “bucket-brigade” technology which delivers incredibly natural, rich and warm delay effects.
  • Up to 600ms of delay time is available and is coupled with an optional modulation button to offer even more tonal variation.
  • I currently use this pedal for my delay and I’ve been very happy with the effects it provides.

Electro Harmonix Canyon

  • This unit is a bit pricey, but because it is really two full-featured pedals in one (delay and looper), it is definitely worth a look.
  • On the delay side, the Canyon pedal includes ten different styles, ranging from pristine digital reproductions of sound to accurate simulations of the warm analog tape echo effects of yesteryear. It also includes a tap echo feature so you can precisely set the delay time to match the song you’re playing.  The range of delay times on this pedal exceed virtually all other units on the market with an incredible 3 seconds of delay available to truly epic sonic effect.
  • The looper can record up to 60 seconds of playing and it evens save the loop after you’ve powered down enabling you to pick up right where you left off between practice sessions.

Top Compressor Pedals

MXR M102 Dyna Comp Compressor Guitar Effects PedalBoss CS-3 Compression Sustainer Compressor Guitar Effects PedalKeeley Compressor Plus Guitar Effects Pedal
ModelM102 Dyna CompCS-3Compressor Plus
Product LinkProduct LinkProduct LinkProduct Link

MXR M102 Dyna Comp

  • This no-nonsense two-knob all-analog compressor has been solidly working well for guitarists since the 1970’s, and at an affordable price.
  • In addition to evening out the dynamics of your playing, it generates tremendous sustain to make your notes sing into the air.

Boss CS-3

  • This robust pedal includes four knobs to separately dial-in the tone and attack of compression, the level of sustain and the overall sound level.
  • I find this pedal really delivers on producing a smooth and balanced response to your style of playing, whether you have a light or heavy touch on the strings.

Keeley Compressor Plus

  • Keeley compressors are considered some of the finest in the world. Made in the USA, this relatively new offering has received rave reviews from the guitar world.  And I can personally vouch for the fanfare because this pedal is currently on my pedal board and it’s not leaving anytime soon.
  • It does a great job of smoothing out the dynamics of your playing and giving your notes plenty of natural sounding sustain, giving you a real polished tone.
  • For those that have heard that compressors are only really necessary when playing single-coil guitars, let me tell you that this pedal works great for humbuckers too. Robert Keeley has included a switch that when toggled between single-coil and humbucker mode, automatically adjusts the level of attack to balance out the tone for you.

Top Wah Pedals

Dunlop GCB95 Cry Baby Wah Guitar Effects PedalVox V847A Wah Guitar Effects PedalFulltone Clyde Standard Wah Guitar Effects Pedal
ModelGCB95 Cry BabyV847AClyde Standard
Product LinkProduct LinkProduct LinkProduct Link

Dunlop GCB95 Cry Baby

  • The Cry Baby pedal was one of the first Wah pedals and started back in 1966.  It’s built in the USA and is known for its durability no matter how hard you rock it.
  • Current rock stars that love their Cry Baby Wahs include Slash, Kirk Hammett, Eddie Van Halen, Zakk Wylde, Jerry Cantrell and Joe Bonamassa.

Vox V847A

  • This latest offering from Vox builds on the legacy of its classic predecessors that invented the Wah-Wah effect during the 1960’s in an attempt to emulate the sounds of a human voice and that of a trumpet being muted.
  • The chrome top really adds a clean and sophisticated look to this pedal that won’t be missed if you’re playing in a dark room or on a dark stage.
  • Two famous guitar gods to play a Vox Wah Wah pedal were Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton, so I’ll just leave it at that.

Fulltone Clyde Standard

  • This special Fulltone Wah pedal is named after Clyde McCoy who was a big-band trumpet player in the 1960’s. He became famous for developing a muted sound on his instrument that contemporaries called a wah wah sound.  Vox was the first company to try to emulate this in a guitar pedal.  The Clyde Standard is Fulltone’s incredible effort to recreate that classic Vox pedal, and make it even better.
  • The key to this pedal sounding as good as it does (and costing as much as it does) is the handmade tuned core inductor.
  • Several famous bands rely on the Fulltone Clyde Wah pedal including The Rolling Stones, The Black Crowes, Joe Satriani and Oasis.

Top Chorus Pedals

MXR M234 Chorus Guitar Effects PedalBoss CH-1 Chorus Guitar Effects PedalTC Electronic Corona Chorus Guitar Effects Pedal
BrandMXRBossTC Electronic
Product LinkProduct LinkProduct LinkProduct Link

MXR M234

  • Similar to the Carbon Copy Delay pedal from MXR, this chorus pedal uses all-analog bucket-brigade technology to create super shimmery chorus effects that sound very natural.
  • Basic knobs allow for control of level, rate and depth, plus two additional knobs allowing the guitar player to cut high and low frequencies for added control of your tone.

Boss CH-1

  • This popular Boss workhorse pedal produces swirling chorus sounds through its rate, depth, EQ and level knobs.
  • It includes a second output to enable stereo sounds to be produced.

TC Electronic Corona

  • This high-tech pedal includes separate mono and stereo inputs/outputs, 2 distinct chorus effects (classic and tri-chorus) and knobs to control speed, depth, color and level.
  • It even includes a USB input to allow you to download/upload custom chorus settings by famous guitarists through TC Electronics unique TonePrint app, all for free.

Top Phaser Pedals

MXR M101 Phase 90 Phaser Guitar Effects PedalMXR EVH Phase 90 Phaser Guitar Effects PedalTC Electronic Helix Phaser Guitar Effects Pedal
BrandMXRMXRTC Electronic
ModelM101 Phase 90EVH Phase 90Helix
Product LinkProduct LinkProduct LinkProduct Link

MXR M101 Phase 90

  • Simple is good, right?  Well, MXR certainly thinks so.  And so do countless guitarists from all sorts of different genres who have benefitted from the lush sounds produced by the Phase 90.
  • This classic analog pedal, which has been in production for the past four decades, features a grand total of one knob to control the speed of the shimmery and swooshing phaser effects that you’ll hear, but it’s all you’ll need.

MXR EVH Phase 90

  • Eddie Van Halen himself collaborated on the tonal design of this phaser pedal with the MXR and Dunlop Manufacturing teams to re-create the sound the guitar hero used on his early Van Halen albums.
  • Similar to the “regular” Phase 90, this upgrade includes a Script switch to let the guitarist toggle between vintage and modern versions of this classic phaser pedal.
  • You simply can’t go wrong with the legendary red, white and black stripes that mimic EVH’s famous Frankenstein guitar.

TC Electronic Helix

  • Taking a more versatile and high-tech approach, the Helix Phaser pedal includes 4 knobs to control speed, depth, feedback and mix, plus double inputs and outputs for mono/stereo sound and a three-way selector button to switch between vintage, smooth and TonePrint modes.
  • Like other high-end pedals from TC Electronic, the TonePrint feature allows digital connectivity to download/upload phaser presets from genuine rockstars that you love via Android and iOS.

Top Flanger Pedals

TC Electronic Vortex Flanger Guitar Effects PedalBoss BF-3 Flanger Guitar Effects PedalMXR EVH117 Flanger Guitar Effects Pedal
BrandTC ElectronicBossMXR
Product LinkProduct LinkProduct LinkProduct Link

TC Electronic Vortex

  • The flanger pedal offers two, no wait actually three, different flanger modes.  The first two modes are classic tube-type flanger and a softer sounding tape-flanger, which are fully dialed-in by the four control knobs (speed, depth, feedback and delay time).
  • The third flanger mode utilizes TC Electronic’s TonePrint feature which is perfect for the guitarist who also likes to play with mobile device apps and customization.  The pedal can be connected directly to your mobile device and custom presets, made by your favorite guitarists who feature a flanger sound, are available for download/upload directly to your pedal!
  • An additional set of inputs are included to allow for full stereo effects.

Boss BF-3

  • This third-generation flanger from Boss includes three different flanger modes (standard, ultra and gate/pan) plus a fourth option called momentary which turns flanging on instantly, all of which are controlled by three knobs for rate, depth and resonance.
  • A tap tempo, which is usually only found on delay pedals, is also included in this impressive pedal.
  • An additional output plug is included to allow for full stereo effects.


  • If you’re striving for that legendary Eddie Van Halen tone, then this pedal is for you.
  • In addition to the four knobs controlling speed, width, regeneration and manual, this special pedal includes an EVH button to activate the “unchained” tone.
  • And the black EVH stripes on the white body are just plain cool.

Top Looper Pedals

TC Electronic Ditto Looper Guitar Effects PedalBoss RC-1 Loop Station Looper Guitar Effects PedalBoss RC-3 Loop Station Looper Guitar Effects Pedal
BrandTC ElectronicBossBoss
Product LinkProduct LinkProduct LinkProduct Link

TC Electronic Ditto

  • In a simple and space-saving design, the one-knob Ditto looper only does one thing, but it does it very well for a good price.
  • The one knob and foot-switch controls allow you to perform all basic looper tasks: record, undo/redo, stop and erase.  And it will store your loops even when you power down or disconnect the pedal.
  • Up to 5 minutes of recording time is available and all loops are recorded in 24-bit uncompressed high-quality audio.

Boss RC-1

  • Like most pedals from Boss, you get a lot of bang for the buck. And the latest version of their simple-to-use Loop Station is no different.
  • This unit allows you to record, playback, overdub and undo/redo loops with a total of 12 minutes of stereo recording time.
  • Dual inputs and outputs allow you to use this pedal as a mono looper with a single amp, or in true stereo when connected to more sophisticated sound rigs.

Boss RC-3

  • Truly the best of the best, this amazing Loop Station packs an incredible number of features into a standard stomp-box enclosure. Most other loopers with this many options are sold as rack-mount units and cost way more money.
  • In addition to stereo operation, this pedal allows for 3 hours of onboard recording and loop storage. An incredible 99 onboard memory slots are available for storing your loops for later recall.
  • This powerhouse pedal also includes a USB 2.0 port so you can transfer WAV loops from your computer to add to the numerous rhythm loops, including real audio drum loops, already onboard making you a one-person band!

Top Tuner Pedals

Korg Pitch-black Tuner Guitar Effects PedalTC Electronic Polytune 3 Tuner Guitar Effects PedalBoss TU-3 Tuner Guitar Effects Pedal
BrandKorgTC ElectronicBoss
ModelPitchblackPolytune 3TU-3
Product LinkProduct LinkProduct LinkProduct Link

Korg Pitchblack

  • This standard tuner pedal has easy to read LED displays for both meter and note name and it mutes the input signal for silent tuning.
  • Four display modes are available including full meter mode, strobe mode, half strobe mode and mirror mode.

TC Electronic Polytune 3

  • The name Polytune was derived from this pedal’s unique ability to tune polyphonically, which is a fancy word for tuning all strings at once. So you can simply strum all the strings of your guitar together and it will give you feedback on each one.
  • This pedal also includes chromatic and strobe tuning for both standard and alternate tunings.

Boss TU-3

  • Check out the pedalboards of your favorite guitarists you will likely find a Boss TU-3 pedal on it. These road-proven tanks are fully-featured yet easy to use.
  • It allows tuning of several different instruments, including 6 and 7 string guitars and 4, 5 and 6 string basses.
  • Another interesting feature of this pedal is its ability to tune both chromatically by note letter, but also by string number. This is particularly useful when using alternate tunings, popular in rock and heavy metal music.

Top Noise Gate Pedals

Electro Harmonix Silencer Noise Gate Effects PedalBoss NS-2 Noise Suppressor Effects PedalTC Electronic Sentry Noise Gate Effects Pedal
BrandElectro HarmonixBossTC Electronic
Product LinkProduct LinkProduct LinkProduct Link

Electro Harmonix Silencer

  • This versatile and moderately priced pedal includes control knobs for adjusting the level threshold, regulated reduction and a time-based release that remains open for up to 4 seconds until the signal drops below the threshold.
  • Also included are send and return input jacks for silencing of an entire effects loop.  This feature is especially handy if your amp does not include a built-in FX loop.

Boss NS-2

  • The advanced circuitry inside this noise suppression pedal is intended to target only the unwanted hiss and noise of the signal chain without negatively affecting your natural playing dynamics.
  • I particularly like the LED light that indicates when the reduction effect is taking place. It helps you finely adjust the threshold and decay knobs to keep the unwanted noise out and the good stuff in.
  • Also included are send and return input jacks for silencing of an entire effects loop.  This feature is especially handy if your amp does not include a built-in FX loop.

TC Electronic Sentry

  • This pedal features two modes, a classic hard-gate and a hiss-mode that zeroes in on specific frequencies that are associated with unwanted hissing sounds.
  • Like other high-end TC Electronic pedals, the Sentry utilizes the TonePrint tool, which lets guitarists connect the pedal directly to a computer to download custom presets created by an incredible listing of famous guitarists.
  • Also included are send and return input jacks for silencing of an entire effects loop.  This feature is especially handy if your amp does not include a built-in FX loop.