Guitar Effects

Welcome to the first in a series on technical articles on many different aspects of music.

In this article I will discuss effect devices for Electric Guitar.

There are basically two schools of thought of using effects for Guitar.

  • The Stomp Box – i.e. BOSS Pedals
  • The Multi-effects. – i.e. Korg AX1500,  Line 6 POD, etc

The Stomp Box

Stomp boxes have been around for a very long time and since people like Hendrix made them popular back in the late sixties guitarists have been using them ever since.

They are simple and effective. You set your sound using a few simple knobs. When you want to engage the sound you simply “stomp” on the pedal. Many different pedals can be used together in a daisy chain. Also the order in which they are placed (which is material enough for a whole other article) can also affect the sound.

There are several drawbacks though,

  • Single effect pedals are usually expensive.
  • To create complex sounds you need many pedals.
  • Linking many pedals together can generate unwanted noise and signal loss.
  • Most of these devices are battery powered.

Although this last point is a problem, power supplies can be usually bought for stomp boxes. I recently came across a very interesting unit from a company called Voodoo Labs who make a unit called “Pedal Power 2”. This unit powers a variety of pedals from one “Black Box”.

Enter The Multi-Effects Unit

Then we come to multi-effects units. These are made by manufactures such, as Korg or Line 6 and are basically a collection of stomp boxes all rolled into one unit. They usually contain a wide array of sounds (In a future article tweaking and setting up your multi-effects unit will be discussed) and some even allow interfacing to your Personal Computer so that one may download new patches from the Internet.

Most recent models like the Korg AX1500G also contain amplifier modeling which means that even if you plug into your PA system or a small amplifier can recreate the sounds of classic amps such as Marshall, Vox, etc. Also most multi-effects units are usually cheaper than the collection of stomp boxes they represent.

So Far So Good.

Then why do not all guitarists choose multi-effects units? 

Well for starters most Guitarists unlike their keyboard-playing counterparts seem very resistant to change.

Whilst keyboard players pride themselves in having Keyboard X V2.15 instead of V2.14 Guitarists in general are in the thought pattern that old is good. Hence the reason Valve Amplifiers are still around and the planets biggest artists play guitars designed more than fifty years ago like the Fender Telecaster or Gibson Les Paul.


There is another way of course, and that is to mix and match. Follow your ear and sticks to what sounds good. If you like a multi-effects unit well use it. And if that particular song sounds great with that stomp box well throw it in as well below is my own line up of effects devices for electric guitar.

Just plug in and play!

By Ernest H Slade

Useful Links

BOSS Effects Pedals

Korg Website – ToneWorks Multi-effects

Check out the Pro’s setups.