How to Use an Effects Pedal

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How to Use an Effects Pedal

An effects pedal is an accessory commonly used with electric or bass guitars. It allows musicians to change the tone of their instruments and add effects, such as electronic sounds or the classic wah-wah effect familiar from music of the 1960s and 1970s. Before purchasing an effects pedal, learn how to select, connect, and adjust the unit.


Selecting an Effects Pedal

Some of the most common bass and electric guitar effects pedals are distortion, wah-wah, reverb pedals, and chorus. Distortion pedals alter the sound of the guitar to make it more raw and gritty. Wah-wah pedals create a warbling sound that is popular in classic rock music. Reverb pedals create an echo effect and elongate each note. Chorus pedals replay a delayed and slightly detuned copy of each note, making it sound as though multiple guitars are playing at the same time. Some pedals offer multiple effects and they are typically more expensive than single effect pedals. However, they are versatile and useful for musicians that play more than one genre.


Connecting an Effects Pedal

Most effects pedals have two power options: battery or mains socket. Batteries are ideal for portable units, but adaptors provide a reliable stream of power. After choosing a power source, connect a 6 mm power cable from the guitar to the input jack of the pedal. Connect another 6 mm power cable from the output jack of the pedal to the input jack of the amplifier and switch the pedal on.


Adjusting the Sound of an Effects Pedal

Musicians can experiment with effects pedals to learn how they change the guitar's sound. Start by setting all the knobs on the pedal to their default positions. While playing, turn the knobs incrementally to hear the effects they create. After achieving the desired effect, consider placing marks on the knobs to make it easier to find the positions. After setting the effects pedal, it is fairly easy to use. Simply play the guitar, press down on the pedal to activate the effect, and release it to return to the guitar's normal sound.

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