The idea of using effects pedals, or “stomp boxes” as they’re so lovingly referred to, has always been a bit of a touchy subject for me. I have always been an extreme advocate of the “guitar cable is my main effect” approach to electric guitar playing, so much so that my approach to pedals has usually been one of disdain. When I used to see a player with an entire arsenal of effects in front of him on the floor, my usual reaction was one of mistrust, repugnance and disgust at the thought that someone would actually need “this much help” when it came to getting the sounds they needed.
But over time, my feelings on this subject have changed to one of more acceptance and understanding about just how much of a creative tool these pedals can be. I suppose my main dislike for them came from hearing guitarists whose sound ended up being way too “processed” as a result of these devices, and also the fact that these players seemed to so heavily rely upon them, as to never have a “natural” sound of their own! But of course, as is now the case with any electronic or digital form of sound reinforcement, it’s really based on what the artist has in mind as far as their own sound that really matters. In the end, it should be yet one more creative tool in the chain of command between guitarist and amp, and this should know no boundaries.
Studio players are perhaps the biggest beneficiaries of what these pedals can do, since they may be required to, at the drop of a hat, come up with many new sounds and ideas as required by the producer or artist of the recording. As a rule, those folks really don’t give a hoot as to where or how you got that sound, just that you did, in fact, get it! Of course there are the traditional ones we are all pretty familiar with, that are quite recognizable; The Wah-wah, fuzztone, overdrive or distortion, phase shifter, flanger, echo, chorus box and even the octave divider. I have always hit the stage with mainly a delay pedal of some kind, just so I could have 2 or 3 delay settings at my disposal for some “long” delays, as well as short “Rockabilly” Sun Records –like sounds. Other than that, it’s just good ole reverb and tremolo for me, both of which can be supplied by a nice vintage amp.
These days, it’s far more common to see the typical guitarist onstage with a pedal board, or also in the studio, and the selection is mind-boggling. There is even a very strong movement towards some of the older pedals, in a sort of “retro” effect pedal reincarnation!
Whatever approach you end up taking, effects-wise, you’ll surely find that it’s the “getting there” that is rally half the fun, and you should always keep your ears open to new and more and more intriguing sounds that await you! So good luck with it, and don’t be a “stomp box snob” like I was….feel free to have as much fun with them as possible…you’ll be glad you did!