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Now, Slate Digital, the company know for very very good emulation of hardware outboard unit, have released this very good pdf booklet about mixing vocals.
Vocals are extremely tricky to get right given the dynamic nature of the human voice, the broad range of frequencies it covers and the somewhat hard to obtain sweet spot of modern music mixing.
If guitars were rifles, pedal effects would be ammunition.
There’s only so much you can achieve with a clean guitar sound, and it’s more than safe to say that effects such as Chorus, Flanger, and Phaser are capable of completely shifting and changing your tone, for better or worse.
Now, skilled guitar players instinctively know the differences between various pedal effects, but most of the time people are more concerned about where and when they can use a certain type of sound rather than wreck their heads trying to explain ‘how and why’.
Today we are going to attempt to thoroughly examine some of the key differences between chorus, flanger, and phaser effects, so buckle up and stay for a while.
The ‘chorus effect’ is easily one of the most iconic pedal effects among guitar players.
We could go as far as to call it ‘choir-us’ mainly because it’s supposed to make the guitar sound much bigger than it actually is.
It’s ideal for single-guitar bands, troupes, and performers who want to duplicate (or triplicate) their sound in a live setting and for studio musicians who don’t particularly like laying down numerous tracks where they can achieve the same effects with a pedal as simple as this.
How it works
The Chorus effect modulates the pitch of your tone ever so slightly; it basically reproduces the exact signal of your guitar’s vibrations but at a slightly different pitch and time.
The potential of the chorus effect is vast, which means that it can subtly enhance the depth of your tone or it can simulate another live guitar, depending on how you set its parameters.
In a bit more technical terms, the chorus effect is achieved when the pedal takes the signal before melding it with pitch-modulated copies of the original signal.
Depending on the model and parameters, the post-produced signal copy can be singular or there could be numerous. The more ‘layers’ the pedal makes, the bigger your tone will become.
How to use it properly
Essentially, it’s a straightforward effect that doesn’t exactly require much skill and experience to be used, although it’s kind of addictive in the sense that it may leave you with the feeling that you always need ‘more’.
It’s a modulation pedal, which basically means that it’s supposed to sit at the back end of the signal chain, right after wah-wahs, compressors, overdrives, or distortions.
Due to the fact that chorus pedals aren’t necessarily the most intricate contraptions and feature only a handful of control knobs, you’ll typically only have depth and rate to worry about.
Set these parameters low to enrich your sound in a subtle, delicate way; when set at halfway you’ll add plenty of character to your tone while going anywhere beyond this point is not recommended if your signal chain is encumbered as it is.
Flanger in a nutshell
The flanger effect is one of the most enigmatic guitar gizmos to this day; it was artificially created (by accident) in old-school studios back in the tape-recording days (4-track and 8-track machines) by touching the flange (the rim of the tape), although nowadays the process of ‘flanging’ has been tamed and digitalized.
The ‘flanger’ effect sports characteristics of numerous other pedal effects – it’s based on delay pedals, but its unpredictability often leads it towards phasers, overdrives, and distortions, obviously depending on its parameters.
Furthermore, this effect was created by playing two tracks at the same time, which further means that it also shares some similarities with choruses to some extent. As we’ve already discussed, chorus pedals modulate and blend the altered signal with the original one, which is partially what happens with the ‘flanging’ effect too.
How it works
Flanger works in the same way as most modulation pedals do; this pedal splits the signal in 2 identical paths where the original is untouched and the second one is just slightly delayed (measured in milliseconds).
The tweaked signal is then modulated both by speeding it and slowing it cyclically. The ‘modulated’ signal is then blended with the original signal.
What’s most important to understand about flangers is that their altered signal is actually tweaked at ‘random’ unpredictable intervals whereas other modulation pedals offer more control and precision.
The randomness of this effect is the reason why some people use it as their go-to pedal and other guitarists avoid it.
How to use it properly
Flanger pedals are by default wild and pretty hard to tame, but there are more ways than one by which you can gap the small obstacles they present.
The most intimidating parameter of typical flangers is the ‘manual control’, which basically allows guitarists to pick and choose which frequencies they want to alter.
When untouched, the pedal will automatically calculate compatible frequencies and reinforce them (incompatible frequencies will always nullify each other), leading to a slightly clearer tone without sacrificing the punchy feel.
Most flangers typically feature ‘resonance’ or ‘intensity’, both of which relate to the same thing. This parameter affects the effect’s intensity by clipping or feeding a portion of the delay straight back to the original input.
By increasing the ‘intensity’ you’ll add more grit to your tone and achieve a more distorted high-gain sound.
Phaser pedals sound almost identical to laymen and beginner guitarists, but in actuality, they share more differences than similarities.
This effect can potentially be used to achieve a mild flanging effect only if its parameters are basically untouched and set on ultra-low settings.
A well-known fact among veteran guitar players is that the phaser effect was introduced to the scene around the same time when flangers came to be. This is probably the reason why new-school players typically don’t make a clear distinction between the two.
In a nutshell, Phasers create a swirling-like sound, much akin to a plane taking off with the only difference being that it is constantly circulating in the fashion of stereo speakers.
One of the most notable benefits of Phaser pedals is that it allows guitar players to create a much bigger atmosphere and ambient, even with smallish amps and relatively mediocre gear.
How it works
Flangers and phasers operate on similar principles; the original signal is divided into two paths, one path is modulated and the other is completely untouched.
The modulated signal path passes through a series of all-pass filters, which shift the signal’s phase revolving around a variety of (pre-calculated) frequencies. In this regard, the Phaser is not as unpredictable as the flanger, but it’s not as controllable as the chorus.
The modulated signal path is later mixed with the untouched signal path, which results in the ‘swooping’ circular tone.
How to use it properly
The Flanger effect is significantly less punishing towards beginner players; its parameters are not as sensitive, and it’s a bit more versatile altogether.
As far as we’re talking about the signal chain, most people don’t use both flanger and phaser pedals, so you should ideally place either of the two near the end of the chain (after distortion, equalizers, compressors, delays, and choruses).
Typical phaser pedals (such as MXR’s Phase 100) feature simplistic tone controls like Intensity and Speed. The ‘intensity’ basically governs the number of phased stages whereas the ‘speed’ affects the rapidity of signal shifts.
In simpler words, the ‘intensity’ knobs allow you to create different ‘geometric’ signal patterns while the ‘speed’ knobs are there for you to finalize and shape them in more concrete ways.
Similarities between Chorus, Phaser, and Flanger
Essentially, Chorus, Phaser, and Flanger pedals belong to the ‘modulation effect’ category.
Aside from this little formality, they’re also meant to be used in similar ways and operate under similar principles.
All three of these effects divide the original guitar signal path in two after which they alter it in different ways. Although the outcomes are vastly different, these split signals all utilize delays to modulate the frequencies.
From a more practical side, all of these effects have been made available in both pedal and plug-in formats.
The initial modes of achieving chorus, flanger, and phaser (particularly the last two) were almost unwieldy and required a dose of technical expertise, whereas today these effects are beginner-friendly and suitable for use by immediate beginner players.
In technical terms, these pedal effects always leave one signal path completely untouched, which means that at least ‘half’ of your tone will remain exactly the same as it originally was, even though this is not entirely a quantifiable matter.
Even though there are numerous minor other similarities, the most crucial and highlighted ones are:
Chorus, Phaser, and Flanger effects all belong to the ‘modulation’ category
The same method of operation and functional principles
The unfiltered signal path is always non-modulated and identical to the original
All three effects utilize delays to affect the filtered signal path
Modern-day pedals have made these effects more accessible to beginner guitar players
Differences between Chorus, Phaser, and Flanger
Now that we’ve touched upon the similarities between Chorus, Phaser, and Flanger it’s time to dig into the main course – the key differences that separate them.
Though there are many dissimilarities between them, we’ve plucked out the most notable ones and grouped them in the appropriate categories, starting with…
The Chorus effect is, essentially, much different from Phaser and Flanger, at least sound-wise. It’s ‘mellow’ tonally whereas Phaser and Flanger are closer to overdriven types of sounds.
Even when the parameters of a Chorus pedal are set to their extremes the end result still boasts clarity when isolated. However, choruses are seldom used as standalone effects.
This pedal effect is more of an ‘adhesive’ type in the sense that it extends itself across the spectrum of other effects used in the chain. Phasers and Flangers tend to dominate the chain with their grit.
Differences in application
Distortion effects are commonly associated with rock & heavy metal while chorus, phaser, and flanger effects can be used in pretty much any music genre and can fit into any playing style.
These effects are as versatile as the player’s creativity; in that regard, they can be used in almost any song or performance piece, although exceptions should be obvious.
Since phasers and flangers affect the frequencies of the guitar’s signal in a relatively similar way, they almost cross each other out.
In simpler words, most guitar players use either a phaser pedal or a flanger; rarely both.
Differences in versatility
In this particular scenario, ‘versatility’ refers to the flexibility and freedom as far as tweaking with control knobs and parameters are in question.
Tuning up all the knobs to their extreme would make any sound muddy, but especially so in the case of phasers and flangers.
As mentioned before, these effect types tend to dominate the signal chain, which oftentimes diminishes the presence of other pedals and effects.
In that regard, Phasers and Flangers are slightly less versatile than choruses.
Obviously, Phase and Flange pedals are fairly different between themselves too. Phasers are slightly easier to control, but more importantly, they offer a more calculated and more predictable approach to tone-tweaking.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Flangers don’t affect the tone so drastically and can be used for extended periods of time without compromising the tone’s integrity.
The swirling of Phasers makes them ideal for song parts that need to be accentuated (particularly solo sections) whereas Flange pedals can easily substitute for overdrive and distortion when need be.
Every pedal effect type is different. Moreover, every model is different from another; two different pedals that belong to the same category can be so strikingly different that some people would assume they serve different purposes.
Even so, the contrasts between Chorus, Flanger, and Phaser are undeniable and to a certain extent obvious.
From the variance in sound, over dissimilarities in application to differences in application, by now we hope that we’ve helped you make a distinction between these pedal effects.
Musicians all around the world are always in search of the perfect, most exquisite, and unique tone. Some resort to their ability to manipulate different sounds, others resort to using different kinds of gear.
The truth is somewhere in the middle. A good musician knows his limits and aims to compensate his weaker points with better instruments and amps.
However, the best musicians are constantly challenging themselves, pushing the boundaries, and are consistently improving and upgrading their arsenal.
Truth be told, the diversity of instruments, accessories, and gadgets a guitar player could introduce to his rig back in the day wasn’t as eclectic.
There were only a couple of renowned brands, and the price ranges were substantially narrower.
There were cheap pieces of gear, and then there were expensive, boutique models available to the most prestigious players via sponsorships and endorsements.
Nowadays, luckily, a guitar player can easily morph and shift his (or her) sound with even the most heavily limited budget.
You may need a couple of months to save up enough money for a decent amp; you may need a couple of weeks to save some cash for an instrument upgrade; luckily, you’ll need much less time to come up with even money for a new pedal.
The vast majority of guitarists already have at least a couple of pedals in their rig, most likely a distortion/overdrive, a delay pedal, and maybe a basic compressor.
What we recommend to players who are looking for a new way to approach their instrument is a quality tremolo pedal. If you don’t know where to start your search for one, you’re in the right place:
Even though J. Rockett might not be as famous as Boss or TC Electronics, you can rest assured that the quality of pedals this brand has released is equally strong.
Mr. Moto is a highly customizable, fairly sensitive pedal that can accommodate pretty much every musical style or genre.
It packs two standard control knobs that govern the tremolo’s depth and speed, but it also allows you to modify the actual shape of the tremolo effect with the ‘wave’ function; at the same time, you can also introduce a fully independent reverb effect with the ‘Verb’ knob.
Although this is a highly versatile pedal, its straightforward design makes it ideal for both beginners and experienced guitar players.
If you are a skilled player who’s into classical styles of music as well as into experimental and improvisational genres, we strongly believe you are going to love the Monument V2.
Essentially, this is a highly versatile pedal that features two separate sets of Tremolo modes – harmonic and standard.
This pedal will allow you to tweak the volume, the division, rate, depth, and shape of your tremolo, but it will also allow you to completely alter your guitar’s voice with as much as a flip of a switch.
You may need some time adjusting to its responsiveness, but you can rest assured that the rewards are guaranteed.
TC Electronic is one of the industry leaders in the guitar accessory department, and their Pipeline Tremolo pedal is a true representative of their quality.
At first glance, this is a relatively plain pedal that has a small footprint and is easy to use, but looks can be deceiving.
As a matter of fact, the Pipeline Tremolo is as eclectic as can be; it features six pre-set tremolo shapes as well as a custom bank, and it rocks depth, speed, and volume control knobs that offer superb well-roundedness.
Furthermore, you’ll be able to switch between vintage, tone print, and square tremolo voices; this makes this pedal an excellent choice for both starter guitarists and veterans.
Beginner musicians have heard of Ernie Ball’s strings; more experienced players have probably played on the Music Man guitar while those who’ve really dug deep know that this brand also offers a variety of instruments and accessories.
The Expression Tremolo pedal features the design of a wah-wah pedal with a ramped foot platform, a built-in spring reverb complementary effect, and five pre-set tremolo waveforms, including slow-rise, slow-fall, harmonic, square, and sine.
What’s more, it’s actually not even that expensive, even though it offers substantially more versatility and unique features than typical mid-range guitar pedals.
Pedals designed by EarthQuaker Devices are not for the faint of heart. Most of their models offer wild, often unpredictable results, which makes them perfect for experimental musical endeavors.
The Hummingbird is one of the chirpiest and grittiest tremolos in the middle price point category that offers a ton of different voices, ranging from old-school vintage-like timbres, over classic and nostalgic tones, to modern, new-age hues.
This pedal features three different active modes, adjustable rate, depth, and level. In fact, out of the myriad of EarthQuaker ‘Devices’, the Hummingbird is actually the most consistent and reliable one.
Boss is arguably one of the most iconic names in the guitar pedal world, and here we have their TR-2 Tremolo pedal.
Essentially, this is a vintage-sounding pedal tailored for musicians that have an eclectic taste for all things sonic, and it’s packed in a neat, very familiar casing comprised of solid, stainless steel.
It features Rate and Depth control knobs, as well as wave-adjustment controls that are as easy to use as they are sensitive.
Let’s pull down the curtains with JHS Tidewater, which is one of the best tremolo pedals you could possibly find while on a cash-strapped budget.
It’s one of the tiniest pedals on the market that could easily fit in any kind of pedal rig and its versatility is more than you’d bargain for the money.
It offers volume, mix, and speed control knobs, as well as a 3-way mode switch. Even though it might be a bit clunky due to its peculiar (crowded) design, it’s still among the best-sounding, best-rounded tremolo pedals out there.
The search for tone is a never-ending quest most musicians embark on after trying out a couple of different instruments and amps.
Most of tonal ‘originality’ is in the fingers of the players, though, but there are other means by which you can influence how your instrument sounds like.
Not many people are in such a position where they can afford to buy dozens of amps and guitars, so the best alternative is to shape up your sound with guitar pedals.
Today we are going to talk about when and why you should use different kinds of guitar pedals, which work in harmony, and how to create the ultimate setup in the easiest way possible.
A foreword about guitar pedals
Guitar pedals are meant to introduce ‘effects’ that directly influence the behavior of the instrument.
Some alter its tone slightly while others drastically change it, and knowing which pedal to use will mean the difference between shaping up a unique set of voices and ruining your guitar’s tone.
The smartest way to approach guitar pedals is to get to know your instrument a bit better and see which models will complement your axe the most.
Guitar tonewoods & pedals that work best with them
Guitars made of alder and basswoods are in a very balanced position on the tonal spectrum, sitting right in the middle between warm and bright.
Pedals that drastically affect the tone will have a slightly diminished effect on them, but on the upside, these guitars typically work great with every guitar pedal type.
Mahogany-made guitars are dominant in the lower-end price point categories; cheap guitars typically feature these tonewoods and are much warmer than, for instance, guitars made of Walnut.
Maple is one of the brightest-sounding tonewoods while Rosewood is one of the warmest.
The reason why you should consider the composition of your guitar is quite simple; axes made of bright-sounding tonewoods typically work best with overdrive and distortion pedals, pitch-shifters, and phasers while warm-sounding guitars tend to get the most out of wah-wah pedals, delays, and other ‘cleaner’ effect types.
At the end of the day, you can always even out the differences your guitar has with tone knobs on the amp you’re using, but it wouldn’t hurt to go with the flow rather than trying to ‘swim upriver’.
Guitar amps & pedals
There are far more amp brands and manufacturers than there are guitar tonewoods, which makes the issue of choosing the perfect pedals for your amp a fairly complex question, so let’s stick with the basics for the time being.
The most common types of guitar amps are analog and digital amps. In short words, tube amps lend their unique tone and tonal versatility to pedals while digital amps are basically meant to be used as they are.
Regardless of whether you have a solid-state or a tube amplifier, analog amps will help you find a ‘starting’ tone, which you will be able to shape even further with guitar pedals. Think of an analog amp as a sketch of a painting that requires the finishing touches.
Digital amps normally feature ‘artificial’ presets based on analog amps. Even though you’ll be able to make tweaks and adjustments on them, a good deal of your pedal’s tone-shaping potential will be lost on them.
In conclusion, you should avoid major tone-altering pedals, such as distortions, phasers, and pitch-shifters if you are using a digital amp, whereas you are free to use any pedal you like if you own an analog one.
Types of guitar pedals and when to use them
Let’s get started with the main course – when and why to use each guitar pedal type. In this section, we will briefly explain the most notable characteristics of each guitar pedal before stating where they can be efficiently used, where they should be avoided, and why.
Whenever there’s talk of guitar pedals, most people immediately picture a distortion pedal.
Basically, distortion effects form a category that consists of various sound-distorting effects, such as overdrive, fuzz, crunch, and obviously, distortion effect pedals.
What all of these pedal types have in common is that they ‘clip’ the guitar’s audio signal; this way they are reshaping the structure of the instrument’s waveforms by adding warm and bright overtones at the same time.
Plainly speaking, distortion effects add ‘grit’ to the tone in varying intensities. Overdrive and fuzz pedals are a bit ‘weaker’ than rock-hard distortion pedals, but they’re all meant to recreate the sound of a high-gain analog amp.
Interestingly enough, these pedals work perfectly well with analog amplifiers, and you might think ‘why do I need a high-gain amp sound if I can already achieve it on my amplifier?’; basically, gain ‘stacks’, and you will be able to merge different gain stages of different gain frequencies this way.
When to use:
You should use distortion, overdrive, fuzz, and crunch pedals to add punchy overtones to your tone, and this can be done in any number of scenarios. In mellower musical styles distortion effects are used to pronounce solos or dynamic bridges whereas these pedals are active non-stop in genres such as rock and metal.
Distortion effect pedals are clear-cut and very pronounced, so they generally don’t leave much space for experimentation with music genres they aren’t already popular in.
When not to use:
On the flip side, there are certain music styles where distortion effects would work against you. Genres such as polka and pop music, as well as musical styles that do not have the guitar in their spotlight wouldn’t welcome distortion pedals with open arms.
You may hear faint and weakly distorted guitars in certain pop songs, but you may not necessarily need a distortion pedal to achieve such sounds and timbres. Usually, a mediocre analog amp is all you need, provided that it has at least a 3-band EQ.
Amplitude effects alter the dynamics (volume) of your guitar. Several types of pedals fit into this category, including Booster pedals, Compressors, and Noise Gates. Since these three serve three distinctly different purposes, let’s address each of them separately.
Boost pedals (boosters) enhances the audio signal’s amplitude. In simple words, it ramps up the volume, exceeding the limit of the amp.
When to use:
Boosters are ideally used for guitar solos, as they can be used to immediately strengthen your guitar’s volume without any signal loss.
When not to use:
Prolonged use of booster pedals will inevitably make other players struggle to keep up with the audio output, so it shouldn’t be overused.
Compressors are basically catalyst pedals that balance rampant sounds and noises. They are capable of taming punchy lows and calming thundering highs automatically. Generally speaking, compressor pedals ‘crop’ the dynamic range of your instrument, preventing the sounds from leaving the pre-configured bounds.
When to use:
Compressors are a necessity in complex, multi-pedal signal chains where the signal is all over the place. These pedals create a safety net that will prevent the tone from becoming unexpectedly warmer or brighter, which makes them perfect for any kind of pedal chain.
When not to use:
The only time you don’t need a compressor is if you are not using other pedals, to begin with.
Noise gate operates in a way that is completely different from compressors; rather than containing the frequencies, they keep background static and hum at a minimum.
In that sense, noise gates actually ‘expand’ the guitar’s dynamic (lower) range, allowing the quietest, barely audible sounds to replace bass-driven tones.
To put it plainly, noise gate pedals do not ‘eliminate’ hums, hisses, or static; they simply replace these sounds by even quieter ones that can’t be perceived by human ears.
When to use:
If you are standing close to your amp on stage, or if some of your pedals are creating feedback or static, a noise gate pedal will be able to take care of the issue.
When not to use:
Sometimes static and feedback sounds are what musicians are after, especially in rock and metal music genres. Noise gate pedals will prevent you from finding these sounds.
While dynamic-altering pedals set frequency-based ‘borders’ around your tone, filter pedals strengthen or weaken different frequency regions.
While dynamic-altering pedals are generally active all the time, filter pedals are passive most of the time and are only activated when such effects are needed.
The wah-wah pedal is a perfect example of a filter pedal; it alters the entire frequency spectrum of the guitar when activated, creating unique and peculiar noises.
When to use:
Filter pedals change the guitar’s tone drastically, and they are best utilized when you want to accentuate certain parts of the song, such as the ending of a solo for example.
When not to use:
Filters rarely work well when used as standalone pedals, so you shouldn’t rely on them too much if you don’t have a quality distortion/overdrive pedal in your rig as well.
Modulator effect pedals change the strength of the signal, by either mixing it with another signal or by splitting it in two. Some of the most popular modulators are chorus pedals, flangers, phasers, tremolos, and vibratos.
Generally speaking, all of these effect pedals affect the strength of your guitar’s signal, creating different variations in terms of pitch.
Chorus pedals aim to replicate the effect of actual choirs or string orchestras; these pedals split the signal into numerous smaller fragments, each being slightly different than the next in timbre.
Flanger pedals create artificial effect sounds that resemble those that airplanes make; phaser pedals are quite similar, but instead of mixing two distinctly different signal parts, only one part is actually altered (phased).
When to use:
Modulation effects can be dramatic or mellow, dramatic or subtle. They can completely change the dynamic and feeling of a song, or they can simply add nuanced details, making a riff a bit fuller, but unchanged.
These pedals are generally great to use in practically every scenario as they enrich the guitar’s tone and timbre by adding extra layers to the signal.
When not to use:
Modulators are very difficult to master, and oftentimes they can lure musicians into thinking that they need ‘more’. Actually, ‘less is more’ applies here perfectly, especially if you don’t have a well-shaped idea of what fragments of the song you want to modulate.
The pedals that fall under this category are so different that a general definition wouldn’t be able to encompass them all.
What they all have in common is that they all change the time at which the signal ‘hits’, whether it be by delaying it, making it ‘echo’, or playing it back as a ‘loop’.
Delay pedals ‘duplicate’ the signal, playing the second one back right after the initial one. The duplicated instances and the speed at which they are emerging after the original signal can be specified with most pedals.
Loop pedals are basically used to create ‘backing tracks’ or better said, ‘backing riffs’. Musicians can record a lick with them and play it back within a repeating cycle.
Reverb pedals can be used to simulate sounds that would have otherwise be produced in acoustic spaces, like for instance halls or churches.
When to use:
Just like modulators, time-based pedals can be used to fill in the sonic gaps in your guitar’s tone regardless of the situation. They can make your tone sound a bit fuller, and they are perfect for experimentation with other guitar effect pedals.
When not to use:
Time-based effects create ambiance but take away the ‘clean’ bit of the song. They shouldn’t be used with hooks and parts that are meant to be ‘catchy’.
Guitar pedals are wonderful tools that can completely reshape how an instrument sounds and projects through the amp.
We hope that we’ve provided you with useful tips on how different types of pedals can be utilized, and keep in mind that these are only pieces of advice; you are free and even encouraged to experiment and think outside of the box. After all, that’s what music is all about.
For many decades now, the electric guitar has seen constant evolution and change when it comes to the approach of altering its basic tone.
It’s not only that we have plenty of different effects, amps, and other devices that help us achieve different sonic settings, but we even have improved versions of the old effects that take things to a whole new level.
And it goes both in terms of sonic qualities and in terms of functionality and features. And, of course, one of the most popular effects that pretty much changed the game in the world of electric guitar and modern music, in general, is the wah-wah effect.
This pedal, which adds voice-like qualities to your guitar tone, finds its use both in lead and in rhythm sections.
And, at the same time, it’s extremely fun to use, making your music quite appealing. At the end of the day, it’s one of the best expression tools that a guitarist can find these days.
However, with so many products available on the market today, it can get hard to find the right wah pedal for your needs.
We decided to dive more into this topic and bring you some examples of the best wah pedals that we could dig up online.
Going through these, there will be something for anyone’s playing styles and genre preferences.
Of course, no matter the type of effect, Boss is always one of the top brands to choose from. Although not that well-known for wah pedals, they still have a good one called PW-3.
And it’s a fairly simple pedal with straightforward features. But aside from the basic functions, we also have an additional switch for two modes. There’s the “vintage” mode, as well as the “rich” mode.
The “rich” one is pretty interesting as it brings more of that low end into the equation. On the other hand, the “vintage” mode is subtler and manages to keep things calmer.
Additionally, this pedal comes in a well-made casing.
To put it simply, it can handle even some rougher on-stage settings and you won’t really need to worry whether this pedal will give up on you, even after heavy prolonged use.
After all, it’s not like you’d expect anything less from Boss. PW-3 a simple go-to choice with some versatility added to it.
Electro-Harmonix is another somewhat unexpected pedal manufacturer that you’d not expect to see on a list of best wahs.
However, when you hear their Wailer, you’d be surprised at how amazing their capabilities are in this particular territory. In so many ways, it reminds us of those old school-oriented wahs, just like Dunlop’s classic Cry Baby.
However, it also has the company’s very unique circuit that gives it that “crying” or “wailing” tone, as its name already suggests. Additionally, this wah is packed into a very light yet durable casing.
It’s a very useful one for anyone who’s looking for a cheap, simple, and durable pedal that still delivers awesome tones.
When you set out on to become a guitar player, there are so many different things that one should learn. And it all goes way past just the techniques and music theory.
The problem with this seemingly simple instrument is that it comes with an additional set of features and challenges, including a variety of different effects and other devices that can either enhance the tone or just help you perform music in different ways.
There’s even some science involved in making a perfect rig.
Be that as it may, delay pedals remain as one of the essential components for electric (or even acoustic) guitar players.
Without them, your tone might just be too “dry” and uninteresting. Sure, some may resort to using reverb pedals, but the delay or echo effect has its own charm and makes the tone more appealing in most of the contexts of modern music.
But this comes with its own set of advantages – what are the best delay pedals that you can find these days?
Well, the problem is that we have an over saturated market and so many different brands and models to choose from that it gets difficult to filter out the good stuff.
This is why we decided to do our own research and a rundown of the best delay pedals that you can find on the market these days.
TC Electronic has always been pretty good at keeping things simple and very functional and versatile at the same time. This is exactly what we can see with their Flashback 2 delay.
Aside from three basic controls for volume level, feedback (number of repeats) and delay time, it comes with 8 different delay modes, as well as 3 additional slots for the company’s famous TonePrint feature.
These are specially designed presets that were made in collaboration with some of the biggest guitar heroes of today.
Yes, there might be some weird looks that we have Behringer on the list of the best pedals of any kind. However, some of their pedal models actually work rather well, at least for their ridiculously low price.
For instance, we have their VD400 Vintage Delay that has pretty much everything that you need if you need just a simple echo effect.
There are just three basic controls that you find on pretty much any delay pedal – volume (labeled as “intensity”), repeat rate (of feedback), and delay time.
Yes, it has only 300 milliseconds of delay, but it’s an actual analog delay and it’s a budget-friendly pedal. What more could you ask for?
Electro-Harmonix is yet another old brand that’s been around for quite a while.
Although typically popular for their amazing Big Muff Pi fuzz pedals, they also have other exciting effects, one of them being the appropriately named Canyon delay.
Of course, just like almost all of the delay pedals today, it features three basic controls.
However, it’s all enhanced with two pro-level features – 10 different delay type presets and a total of 62 seconds of loop time. These are pretty amazing additions to such a seemingly simple little pedal.
In fact, many of the amateurs and semi-professionals will always have a hard time setting up vocals the right way. But the last thing you want is to have a quality singer sounding awful in the mix.
With this in mind, we’ll try and explain a thing or two on how to properly EQ the vocals.
Choice of a microphone is essential
Before we get fully into it, we need to point out that the quality of the input is of essential importance of any type of recording or a live show.
There’s no amount of editing and mixing that can help you if the original recording sounds awful.
So before even getting anywhere near the mixing console or your EQ plugins, make sure to have a suitable microphone for what you need.
Look into different polar patterns and think whether you need a dynamic or a condenser mic.
Each microphone picks up audio differently and will focus more on specific sets of frequencies. This is the reason why you really need to take this into consideration before recording or tweaking the EQ knobs.
It’s all about the vocalists
If you’re recording entire bands, or setting up the EQ and levels for live shows, there’s an order of operations you’ll need to respect.
Start with the lower-end spectrum and go from drum sets, then move to bass guitars, guitars, keyboards, and then the vocals.
The idea is to make them all work together and not have them go into each other sonic “territories.”
And before setting your hands on lows, mids, and highs on the mixer’s EQ, you’ll first need to be setting the gain knobs for each of the instruments.
But while setting the EQs of all the individual instruments, bear in mind that you’re giving enough “room” for the vocals. If you do everything step by step and tweak the way you should, laying the vocals on top will be like a breeze.
The way you should be looking at the EQ is that you not only boost but also cut specific frequencies. This is especially made easy with parametric EQs.
Depending on the type of the microphone, the singer’s voice and technique, the room you’re recording in, and the rest of the band, you’ll need to be cutting some frequencies in the vocals.
And these unwanted frequencies can be all over the spectrum. In addition, the vocals can have a lower end boost to them if the singer is too close to the microphone. This is also known as the proximity effect.
The microphone will also pick up the other instruments, and that’s also something you’ll need to be thinking about while setting up the EQ.
Tweaking over the spectrum
So when doing the vocals, you should first start with high pass filters and cutting off everything below a particular frequency.
Some may suggest that you cut off everything below 100 or 150 Hz, but this depends on various factors and the given situation.
After dealing with the lower end of the spectrum, focus on the lower mids or the higher low-end range – somewhere around 330 to 360 Hz.
This is a bit of a “muddy” area, and if we’re talking about male vocals, you might get a really muffled sound if these frequencies are pronounced.
Start cutting a few dB at a time and listen to what happens. The point here is to allow the vocals to stand out in the mix by cutting frequencies in this area.
Go up the spectrum and try and find potential issues if there are any. For instance, the higher mids or the 2.5 to 4 kHz area might add some unwanted harsher “grinding” vibe to the tone.
However, if you cut this area too hard, you might lose some clarity. So be very patient and focused when tweaking these parts.
Then we have the higher-end spectrum where all the sibilance is and where all the harsh consonants might pop out.
This is usually between 5 and 7 kHz, and you’ll need to find the exact spot to filter out in this area, depending on the singer. Again, cutting too much here will reduce overall clarity.
Everything above 8 kHz can help you add that cutting edge to the lead vocals.
However, this is also where all the cymbals and high-end noises are. If you overdo on these frequencies, you might pick up too much of the unwanted stuff in the vocal mic.
Of course, cutting is a bit more complicated if you have an analog mixer. You’ll need to be looking at the “Q” control, or the bandwidth, as well as the frequency range knob for lows, mids, or highs.
Of course, everything these days is more accessible with digital mixers or plugins.
Listen to the whole picture
After setting it all up, you’ll need to take time and listen to the whole picture.
If something sounds like it’s lacking, try and boost these frequencies a little bit, without bringing too much of the unwanted noise.
For instance, if you think there needs to be more lower-end in the vocals, boost narrowly somewhere around the 200 Hz area. If you need more clarity, try narrow boosts around the 6 to 8 kHz territory.
In case you’re doing a live show indoors, it would be a good idea to walk around the venue and hear if every part where the audience should be doesn’t have any unwanted noises.
At the end of the day, setting up vocal EQs is not only about the vocals. It’s about the whole picture and helping singers stand out in the mix without making everyone’s ears bleed.
It’s pretty mind-blowing to see how much technology has advanced and how it shaped the music world. What was once literally considered to be science fiction is now possible through simple and affordable software.
When it comes to music recording and production, one thing comes to mind – the legendary Auto-Tune.
It was first introduced in the 1990s by Antares Audio Technologies, and it drastically changed the approach to how vocals are recorded and processed. The principle is simple, any noticeable variation in pitch that doesn’t fit the song can be adjusted and corrected.
But even though it’s so helpful, Auto-Tune was also met with criticism.
Many consider this to be cheating, as almost anyone can now sound good in the studio, in combination with this software and heavy editing possibilities of many DAWs. But nonetheless, it fins use both for correction and the obvious use, as is the example of the “robotic” voice in modern music.
In this brief guide, we thought about covering some of the best alternatives for Auto-Tune.
After all, the software became so widespread and the standards, at this point, require a lot of pitch-altering and similar processing that it’s almost impossible to make a representative vocal recording (or even instrumental) without at least some meddling in the style of Auto-Tune.
So, here’s what we decided to include…
So first, we would like to look into the Waves Tune plugin, which provides both basic and more complex pitch altering. But whichever of these uses you require, the plugin will handle it all well.
The interface is pretty intuitive, although it might take a little time for some users to get accustomed to it. But what’s really exciting, and what makes it stand out in our view, is the addition of the real-time vocal pitch correction. It’s a fairly advanced feature, although it’s accessible even for non-professional users.
If you’ve been into music recording and production, there’s a high chance you’ve already been introduced to Melodyne by Celemony Software. The great thing about it is that this is one of just two products made by the company.
This means that they’re fully focused on quality and functionality, rather than an abundance of random numerous mediocre plugins. And they’re updating their stuff all the time, so everything works like a charm, no matter the operating system.
Melodyne, which is now in its fourth full version, also features the company’s now-famous Direct Note Access technology. This means that you’re able to tweak individual notes in an already polyphonic audio file. This is a very advanced feature and we can’t remember another plugin with such a great addition.
Cakewalk + Roland V-Vocal
Now we head over to V-Vocal, which comes as a collaboration between Cakewalk and the legendary Roland. This particular plugin can not only correct and adjust the pitch, but it also allows you to mess with the timing, add some dynamics to it, or even put a vibrato. These are all essential features when recording and processing vocals, or even some specific instruments.
While it might seem just a little confusing, once you get a hang of it, V-Vocal will be a good ally in adding pitch correction to an audio track.
It even lets you zoom in drastically in order to take care of some seemingly unnoticeable and “microscopically” small mistakes. Many producers, both professional and amateur, have been using it for years.
Mu Technologies Mu Voice
You don’t often find such an advanced plugin like Mu Voice by MU Technologies. Interestingly enough, it’s not a demanding piece of software, yet it provides you with so many controls and options for detailed pitch correction.
It includes a very unique package of tools and lets you edit everything without the annoying pitch curve editing. What’s more, it works with ultra-low and unnoticeable internal latency, about 5.8 ms. This means that you can even use it in live settings without even noticing any performance lags or other related issues.
Steinberg Pitch Correct
Steinberg pretty much cemented their place in the world of music production and mixing, both with their famous Cubase DAW and the revolutionary VST protocol. Expectedly, they also have an abundance of other great products in this sphere, one of them being the Pitch Correct plugin. It first appeared in Cubase 5 and was later included in many other versions.
It handles the processing pretty well, but it’s also very potent for any real-time settings as well. It’s fairly easy to work with, although it’s not as advanced as some other examples on this list. Nonetheless, this is a great tool for home-recording enthusiasts who are used to Cubase products. It can also find use in some professional settings for minor tweaking.
Zynaptiq are not one of those big and famous companies. However, they still make some of the best products on the market. The one we’re including here is their PITCHMAP.
Now, what’s very interesting with this particular plugin is that it gives the user an option to mess with all the melodies and harmonies in real-time using a MIDI keyboard, or any other type of a MIDI controller. You can even suppress individual sounds in the mix or add synth-like effects.
To add to all this, PITCHMAP has a very intuitive interface, allowing easy and fast handling. To put it simply, you just can’t go wrong with Zynaptiq’s PITCHMAP, no matter the musical style that you’re working with.
Here, we would also like to include the Revoice Pro 4 plugin, which is made by Synchro Arts. So aside from the regular pitch editing, you can also add vibrato to the vocals and mess with the pitch and also edit the audio’s timing.
At the same time, the audio quality remains as good as the original one. This is a very advanced professional plugin, with the main focus on keeping the audio resolution.
First off, things started off a few years ago as a crowdfunded project. The goal was to have “smart” earplugs that would not take away any enjoyment from any kind of live music experience.
EarDial plugs are made from completely transparent hypoallergenic silicone.
The idea here was to make them as discrete as possible and not cause any kind of irritating reactions on your skin.
Although pretty light, these earplugs are well made and are not that easy to damage.
Being so elastic, they’ll fit well into an average ear. They’re designed to be easily inserted and pulled out via a special grip bump and grip indent.
But EarDial’s secret weapon is their high-fidelity noise filter inside the silicone construction.
This filter is designed to filter out all the messy parts of the spectrum and let only the good stuff through it.
You should hear all the music without being too much affected by the plugs while also being able to talk to people around you without anyone yelling in each other’s ear.
The plugs themselves offer flat 20dB attenuation, which should be more than enough for any average concert, music event, or anything involving loud noises.
At their very end, there is also earwax protection that will keep the precision filter intact and clean.
They come along with a very compact aluminum casing with a specialized storage tray.
Nothing too fancy, but it’s surprisingly practical. After all, you want to keep them clean and not carry these in your pocket without a casing.
Comfort and Design
The first thing that we could notice is that the material is really soft, making them pretty comfortable to hold in your ears, even for extended periods of time.
In addition, they’re fairly unnoticeable.
They won’t stick out of your ear, unless for the small pull-out handle. If you’re in a standard music venue, there’s almost no way someone will notice you have something in your ears.
Why are they called “smart” earplugs?
These earplugs come with a specialised app for iOS and Android devices. Well, it’s nothing that works with the plugs themselves – there aren’t any Bluetooth or other connections in the EarDial.
The app is actually measuring the intensity of noise around you. It then calculates how much time at this level you’ll be safe from permanent hearing damage, with or without EarDial plugs.
There’s also some additional info about how noise may affect your hearing in the app itself.
It’s nothing high-tech so the “smart earplugs” label is not fully justified. Nonetheless, the app is still pretty useful.
How they compare to “conventional” hearing protection
Despite this, the EarDial is significantly different compared to any other conventional earplugs out there.
The first and most important thing that we can notice is that they don’t “suffocate” the music. While they reduce the noise and keep you safe from noise, many of the plugs you find today make everything sound so muddy.
Thanks to the sophisticated filter, EarDial plugs do 20dB flat attenuation. This way, the sound spectrum is not significantly altered and you don’t get that heavy bottom-end boost.
EarDials are also smaller compared to other plugs.
This is pretty useful for aesthetic reasons, but it might be just a bit annoying when you want to pull them out. Some have even complained that they’re too small for bigger ear canals and that they don’t hold too tightly in their ears.
On the other hand, the size and the material make them pretty comfortable compared to standard foam and silicone plugs. They’re pretty soft and elastic and are, in most cases, easily adaptable to ear canals.
Obviously, they’re significantly more expensive compared to most of the standard earplugs.
However, we would argue that the price is justified.
First, you get great comfort, making it possible to have them in your ear for hours without being bothered too much.
Secondly, they’re pretty easy to carry around in the small compact aluminium casing.
The biggest strength comes with the high-fidelity noise filter. It’s as if the unwanted noise magically disappears with music and speech getting through the filter just fine.
If you’re constantly exposed to loud music or just loud noises, then EarDial will definitely be worth the price. If you’re a frequently gigging musician, earplugs are a must (especially if you’re a drummer).
But as most earplugs are not exactly comfortable and tend to make everything sound too muddy, some may get discouraged to get themselves a pair. EarDial, on the other hand, will be the perfect solution.
Some have also argued that these help with shooting ranges or high-noise construction works and loud machinery.
We didn’t test them out in these particular scenarios, but would rather recommend you go with other designated hearing protection for those settings. As for concerts, music events, and your own live performances, EarDial is the way to go.