6 Must-Have Guitar Pedals For Any Skill Level

By Monica | Guitarist Gear

Jun 13
must have guitar pedals

Guitar pedals are the next stage of playing guitar. Once you did a pretty decent job at the basics of this instrument, you can already experiment with a myriad of sounds.

Of course, the sound and tone of your guitar will remain static if you don't augment it. After all, it is designed that way. If you are looking for a way to open a whole new world of possibilities, you should include guitar pedals in your rig. These particular amenities will change the tonal characteristic of your guitar. They can make it suitable for various genres and playing techniques. Sounds savvy, right?

It doesn't matter if you are a pro or amateur. Guitar pedals will always come helpful, one way or another. Nevertheless, investing in these devices won't hurt your pocket either.

So what are the guitar pedals that you need in your pedalboard? Well, here is a checklist to get started.


The Must-Have Guitar Pedals: A Quick Round-up

Boost Pedal

There is a reason why boost pedals come first on this list. Because these stompboxes are pretty basic and straightforward, anyone can get them in a swift.

Of course, the purpose of a boost pedal is also simple: it provides an extra boost to the signal of your instrument. If you are a dedicated guitar player, you already know how crucial such capability is. Nobody can turn down the offer of getting more sounds from our amp from the get-go, after all.

If the signal is boosted, the volume being generated increases. Once this happens, the amp will give you harder input and generate a lot of gains.

Overdrive Pedal

Another guitar pedal that many guitar players want to include in their collection is the overdrive. Whenever a guitar geek mentions the word "overdrive," there's a good chance that he/ she is referring to an overdrive pedal.

The "overdrive effect" takes place if a tube amp is pushed beyond its recommended range so that it can give your instrument a clean and reverberating tone. Any guitar player would love to hear such kind of tonal variation.

Compared to distortion effects, the overdrive can work very subtle. It is capable of creating warm tones that have been overdriven. You can say that when a signal passes through an overdrive pedal, the tone will get compressed and saturated.

Distortion Pedal

Distortion pedals are among the top-selling stompboxes in the market today. They are typically confused with overdrive pedals because of their seemingly similar capabilities. But as early as now, let me break that notion already. Although they are akin to each other, a distortion pedal should never be able to replace an overdrive pedal or vice-versa.

As a must-have guitar pedal, a distortion stompbox is the one that creates the hard-clipping effect. Technically speaking, overdrive pedals generates soft-clipping, making it the opposite of a distortion pedal.

But what does hard-clipping means? On a normal basis, regular soundwaves have the standard round top and bottom. When you apply distortion to the notes, the soundwaves will get flat or clipped. Needless to say, the more clipping that is created, the more distorted the sound becomes.

But then again, distortion pedals are sometimes converted into an overdrive pedal by lessening its gain. That's the very reason why these two guitar stompboxes are often confused with one another.

Fuzz Pedal

Guitar experts know that fuzz pedals are among the oldest stompboxes being used by mankind. It is using a simple circuitry that can alter the signal of the guitar. Specifically, it can make the rounded signal into a square soundwave. In this type of soundwave, the clipping gets too hard.

A fuzz pedal can either use two different transistors. They are silicon and germanium. In the past, silicon is the standard. But due to their cost, they were eventually replaced by germanium. However, it was immediately discovered that a germanium transistor is very prone to noise and changes to temperature, making them extremely unreliable.

Thanks to the advent of technology, silicon became cheap. They eventually returned to the scene and replaced germanium transistors. This type of transistor produces for gain to the signal. However, you cannot guarantee that they are 100% clean.

Reverb Pedal

A true lover of guitar pedals will always prioritize reverb pedal. This certain nuance is due to the distinct effect that this stompbox can give. Specifically, a reverb pedal directs the signal of your instrument into its springs. The resulting effect is a vibrating sound that many guitar players like to hear.

Originally, reverb pedals have a bulky construction. Fortunately, technology was integrated into the equation. This has caused the drastic decrease in the size of these pedals. There are various units of reverb pedals that can fit even those pedalboards that have a small footprint.

The reverb effect is quite nice, especially if you want to add ambiance to the sound of your instrument. If you want to go beyond, choose reverb pedals that contain different variations such as church, spring, and hall. They would change the character of your instrument, making them stand out in the mix.

Compressor Pedal

The role of a compressor pedal is as clear as its given name. Specifically, this stompbox compresses the signal that your instrument emits by stabilizing the audio input on the basis of a certain threshold.

This kind of effect is seemingly ubiquitous today. After all, a majority of recorded music is somewhat compressed. Some come very subtly while some are dampened and noticeable.

The greatest benefit that a compressor pedal can give is equalizing all the notes so that they can be on the same degree or amplitude. Once achieved, they will get equal volume. It reduces the flaws in the tone because of sophisticated overtones.


The ones that I have listed here are among the essential guitar pedals that your collection should have. Each of them can bring unique effects and tonal conversion to the signal of your instrument. In any genre or playing style, you will find these stompboxes useful.

Did you learn from this guide? If you have questions or suggestions, just ask me in the comment section below!


About the Author

Hi everyone! Im Monica and I am an avid lover of guitars and everything in-between. My current profession is not really music-related. It is quite discouraging but I just don't want to drop my zeal--especially not to guitars! I created GuitarTrance.Com so that I can keep up with my hobby. Of course, I want to engage with the community as well! Hope we can all get along!