There are many different types of pedals guitar, each with its own specific function. We have grouped these into four broad categories to help you choose which ones might be most useful to you:

Gain-Staging Effects

These pedals sit at the beginning of your signal chain and shape the basis of your overall tone. They include effects such as clean boosts and distortion. We have a separate Buying Guide devoted to this category as there is a wide range of pedals that can fall into it, from pedals that are mild enough for your clean sound, to the bone crushing power and aggression that Kurt Cobain used on “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

Unlocking Sonic Potential: A Guide to Different Types of Guitar Pedals

Pitch Effects

These tinker with the timing of your signal, adding or subtracting an octave. Many players have built entire signature sounds and riffs around these types of pedals. Examples of pitch changing effects include octavers, which add a doubled note to the guitar, and chorus pedals which thicken up the tone with a sweeping effect that sounds a bit like a voice modulating at a varying rate.

Modulation Effects

This category includes the likes of chorus, flanger and phaser pedals. Chorus pedals create a thick, rich sound by repeating your guitar’s signal and adding a shimmering texture to it. Flanger pedals, on the other hand, can have a psychedelic sweeping sound that changes based on the rate and depth that you press down on the foot pedal.