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Understanding Pedals

What Are Pedals?

-Pedals manipulate the sound waves produced from the guitar. The variance of these waves is synonymous with the particular pedal being used.

Much like cooking, these pedals are meant to flavor the sound of your guitar tone, not overpower it. Do not allow these to be crutches or masks for bad technique.

Distortion Pedals

While one of the most common pedals, this was actually a beautiful mistake. When some of the earliest guitar amps were maxed out on their volume, the sound became crunchy and prone to feedback. These pedals, like this Boss Distortion will commonly have at least a volume, distortion, and tone knob.

  • Volume: is your overall dimmer switch on your dining room chandelier

  • Distortion: will affect the severity of the wave clipping, audibly = grittiness

  • Tone: will reveal the sounds and colors of the guitar itself (sometimes, off-white is what we need in a room)

Overdrive Pedals

Quite similar to distortion, and also able to deliver a distorted effect, however, this multiples the force of your sound. Think of the power of a garden hose as it drips out versus when you put your thumb over the end of it. This is meant to pull out more output from your instrument.

Delay Pedals

This effect pedal will copy your initial signal and repeat it back to you at various speeds. These pedals will often come with an: FX, Feedback Control, and (2) Speed Control Knobs [one being for macro vs micro tuning]

  • FX: is the balance between your input signal and the delayed sound

  • Feedback Control: the number of repeats

Chorus Pedal

Offers a delay in signal as well as modulation. The pitches played on your guitar will physically alter through a chorus pedal, how much is up to you. It is common for chorus pedals to come with: rate/speed, depth, fx level, and tone/EQ knobs.

  • FX Level: this is your dimmer switch for the severity of the effect (wet vs dry)

  • Tone: will remove frequencies coming from your output (may clear up your sound if it gets too muddy)

  • Rate/Speed: is the speed that the copied signals are being repeated back to you

  • Depth: the severity of the modulation


There are many different manufacturers and because of that, the layout and functions may differ slightly depending on which model you choose. When in doubt, I highly recommend Youtube reviews. You can often find spec outlines from the manufacturer themselves.

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