Everything You Need to Know About Buying a Guitar Pedal

A guitar pedal is something every beginner guitar player wants to own, but they might not know exactly why. They aspire to the same levels of playing as the greatest guitarists and want to emulate their sound.

When you listen to some guitarists play it makes you wonder how they can get that certain sound.  

Many bands and guitarists have an immediately identifiable sound. Guitarists often ask one another how they get that certain sound for that song or solo.

Everyone has a certain genre that they play in for the most part and those certain genres have their own sounds applicable to that style of music.  This could be one of many reasons why you may wish to purchase a new guitar pedal, or you may just wish to be heard more clearly while soloing with the band.  

There are many reasons you might need a guitar effects pedal, so personal technique and touch aside, most players have a pedal or a few that they use to play certain parts of songs or just to create that certain sound for a song. Sometimes you may just want to try something different with your sound to explore new places for your music to go.

Here are a few things to consider.


If you are looking to buy a new guitar pedal, it is prudent not to just buy the first pedal that you see on the internet or the store shelf, especially just because your friend has one or because a favourite artist plays through one.  It is best to do your research first.  

Look around online and find out what other people are saying about certain products.  You do have to be careful though, especially online when listening to demos as it probably won’t sound like that going through your amp, but it will give you a ballpark feeling for identifying the sound you may be going for.  

The most important thing you can do at this point in your search is to take some pedals home and play them through your own guitar and amp set-up. If you only take one home you won’t have much to compare to so take two or three home that give you the same effect but are different brands or different cost points. When testing these pedals at home, be sure to use exactly the same settings on your amp and guitar for each test so as not to bias the results of your research.  This is a good way to see if one pedal brings our more bass or treble than another in your amp. 

Once you find the right one, you may find that your usual amp settings won’t work for this pedal and you may have to adjust the bass or the mids a bit to get what you need out of your new set-up, so keep the settings fairly neutral when testing and do a fair demo of each in this manner.


If you are like a lot of people, the budget may be a little tight, so unless you have a little experience already with owning pedals and have been eying up that new boutique pedal you saw in the magazine, then go ahead (but try it out first).  Most of us however, have to keep an eye on the bottom line, but at the same time we don’t want to sound like a 1930’s scratched piece of vinyl either.  

But either way, we are in luck because there is a great selection of pedals out there in different price ranges. There are even some excellent all-in-one pedals that sound good and are sturdily constructed, but again, remember your budget and if you really only need that one sound you are going for then keep looking and keep it focused. Decide your budget before looking around and remember the magazines really know how to make those products look slick.  


If your budget is under control, it’s time to consider durability. You have to ask yourself some questions such as, will you be travelling with your new set-up or will it be attached to a new pedal board you are thinking of putting together?  You will be using your foot on these pedals and you don’t want to be surprised when you pull a cheaper looking pedal out of the box once you get home.  

You want the pedal to be of good solid construction, but just to be clear, you should never really jump on these foot pedals anyway, but it should feel solid to you. This is your sound you are building here so you want to see a little quality and good workmanship involved.

Online Purchase

Should you buy a pedal online, and how do you demo one at home? These days there are many good online sites and they should offer at least a 30-day return policy.  It is a good idea to check out their return policy before buying. Once you get it in the mail, you can then demo it.  Just be sure to return it in the same condition you got it if it does not meet your standards.  

This is true if you are demoing one from the local store as well.  If it is defective or just not the sound you thought it was, then send it back.  It is still advisable to demo the pedal even if purchased online.


As a musician you may occasionally reach a plateau in your playing and if you find yourself really getting motivated and enjoying the musical space the new pedal is providing you, then chances are that this pedal is working for you. But, don’t go out and buy a new pedal just because you’ve plateaued in your learning for a bit.  Remember your budget!


Thank you for reading.  I hope that you have enjoyed researching a few tips on buying a new guitar pedal. Adding the right pedal to your guitar rig can really inspire and help you get that sound you’ve been searching for, and you just can’t beat going down to the local music shop and talking to the folks there about it, but remember that truly good tone comes from your fingers.

Best of luck with your search!


About the Author

Marc-Andre Seguin is the webmaster, “brains behind” and teacher on JazzGuitarLessons.net, the #1 online resource for learning how to play jazz guitar. He draws from his experience both as a professional jazz guitarist and professional jazz teacher to help thousands of people from all around the world learn the craft of jazz guitar.

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