What Are Guitar Pedals Used For?

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  May 3, 2022

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Effects units are electronic devices that alter how a musical instrument or other audio source sounds. Some effects subtly “color” a sound, while others transform it dramatically.

Effects are used during live performances or in the studio, typically with electric guitar, keyboard and bass.

A stompbox (or “pedal”) is a small metal or plastic box placed on the floor in front of the musician and connected to his or her instrument.

What Are Guitar Pedals Used For?

The box is typically controlled by one or more foot-pedal on-off switches and contains only one or two effects.

A rackmount is mounted on a standard 19-inch equipment rack and usually contains several different types of effects.

While there is currently no firm consensus on how to categorize effects, the following are seven common classifications:

  1. distortion,
  2. dynamics,
  3. filter,
  4. modulation,
  5. pitch/frequency,
  6. time-based
  7. and feedback/sustain.

Guitarists derive their signature sound or “tone” from their choice of instrument, pickups, effects units, and guitar amp.

Guitar pedals are not only utilized by famous guitarists but also players of other instruments all over the world to add extra sound effects to their music.

They are designed to alter the wavelengths of the sound the guitar makes so that what comes out of the amplifier is different than the music made without using the pedal.

If you didn’t know what are guitar pedals used for, you have come to the right place.

What Are Guitar Pedals Used For?

In this article, you will find everything there is to know about the uses and purposes of different guitar pedal models.

What Are Guitar Pedals?

If you have never even seen a guitar pedal, then you are probably wondering what they look like. Guitar pedals usually come in the shape of small metal boxes, and their dimensions are often no smaller than 10×10 inches and no larger than 20×20 inches.

Guitar pedals are controlled using your legs, or more specifically, your feet. There are multiple types of pedals out there, and they all have different modes and subcategories of effects that you can cycle through by pressing the device with your foot.

Also read about all these different types of effects pedals can produce

What Are Guitar Pedals Used For?

Guitar pedals are categorized by the effects that they produce. There are so many of these different effects and categories that it would be almost impossible to list them all in one place.

In fact, new ones are constantly being invented and reinvented by altering the properties of ones that are already known.

Boost, distortion, overdrive, wah, reverb, equalizer, and fuzz pedals are the most important guitar pedals out there. They are almost always found in the arsenal of the most experienced guitar players.

How to Properly Utilize Guitar Pedals

Most beginner guitar players don’t even know that they need a guitar pedal. This is a widespread misconception because the sound created by plugging the guitar straight into the amp isn’t bad, and you can play many of the modern songs straight up.

However, after you come to the intermediate level of your music skill, you will start to notice that the sound you are creating is missing something. Yeah, you guessed it right. What you are missing are the sound effects that guitar pedals enable you to produce.

When Do You Really Need a Guitar Pedal?

This is a tough question to answer, and it’s a constant point of disagreement for most guitar experts. Some say you don’t actually need a pedal until you’re already a full-blown professional, while others say that everyone needs one, even complete beginners.

We can tell you that the most unique sounds in music history were created using guitar pedals. A full set of them, mind you, not only one.

Also read: how to build your full pedalboard in the right order

The greatest guitar players in the world all had an exceptional lineup of guitar pedals that were almost sacred in their eyes, and they rarely, if never, thought about changing them.

That being said, it’s entirely possible to play the guitar without using any effects and modifying your sound. However, you might be able to learn faster and discover new ways to hone and improve your skills if you start using a pedal from the start of your journey.

Not to mention how fun it can be!

Finally, if you’re planning on creating a band with your friends and playing some of the most popular metal and rock songs, then you will definitely need a stomp box.

This is especially true if you think you might be able to play in front of an audience, as the listeners will appreciate your band a lot more if your songs closely resemble the original versions.

Uses of Popular Guitar Pedal Types

Here, we will talk about different ways and situations where you might need a guitar pedal in hopes to help you decide what type to buy if you are into it. The essential ones are most certainly the boost pedal and the overdrive pedal.

Boost pedals provide an increase to your guitar signal, hence making the sound more clear and louder.

They are commonly used in power metal songs and different eras of classic rock. On the other hand, distortion pedals are better suited for thrash and heavy metal music, as well as the punk genre.

Other, more advanced pedals include the wah, reverse, EQ, overdrive, and many more categories. However, you will only need those if you become a professional and decide on a particular music niche.

Also read: distortion pedal top choices and there uses


By now, we are confident that you already know what are guitar pedals used for, and how they help professional musicians add uniqueness to their art. The majority of guitar teachers and players recommend buying a simple guitar pedal to those who are new to playing the guitar.

Boost and overdrive pedals will introduce you to the exciting world of modifying your sound with different effects. They can help you play good music in front of an audience until you are in need of more advanced effects.

Also read: these are the best guitar fx pedals to buy right now

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Neaera and a content marketer, dad, and love trying out new equipment with guitar at the heart of my passion, and together with my team, I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2020 to help loyal readers with recording and guitar tips.

Check me out on Youtube where I try out all of this gear:

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