Multi-Effect Pedal Buying Guide

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Multi-Effect Pedal Buying Guide

Guitar effects pedals offer the chance to add a variety of different sounds and effects to any playing practice and performance. Effects pedals are available in two basic types, single pedals, and multi-effect pedals. Single pedals only produce one type of effect, whereas multi-effect pedals produce a variety of effects.

About Multi-Effect Pedals

Multi-effect pedals are boxes with various controls to create different effects. They are typically placed on the floor and have one or more foot pedals to turn effects on and off. According to how the controls are set, the pedal modifies the sound being transmitted from the instrument.

The advantages of buying a multi-effect pedal instead of multiple single pedals include cost, space, convenience, and ease of connectivity and use. In addition, many players find themselves experimenting with effects they had not thought to use or would not otherwise be able to play with. There is some debate as to the quality of multi-effect pedals in comparison to dedicated single pedals, but the general consensus is that modern high-quality multi-effect pedals give as good a sound as that of many single pedals. For the beginner especially, they are an excellent choice.

With this in mind, it is worth taking some time to research the particular brands and models before making any decisions on a purchase. Reading product reviews is an excellent way to do this. In addition, be sure to check out the model’s specifications on the brand’s website or in the product description.

Choosing Multi-Effect Pedals

Multi-effect pedals vary in the range of effects they offer and their quality.

Range of Effects

Multi-effect pedals offer a superb range of digital effects, some models offering as many as 50 different effects or more. These can be broken down into various categories, as shown in the table below. Delay based pedals are a popular type of effects pedal and are capable of producing a wide variety of interesting effects by inserting delays into all or part of an audio signal and then modifying it in various ways. Distortion based pedals are another popular type and create various levels of distortion, from gentle bends to harsher sounds with complex layers.

Delay Based Pedals


Delay Pedals


Pedals insert a delay into the audio signal. Effects include echo, slapback, and sustain. The length and mode of delay can be altered.



Chorus Pedals


Pedals insert a delay into part of an audio signal and then alter its pitch. The other part of the signal is not delayed. This results in a multi-layered choral effect.



Phaser Pedals


Pedals insert a delay and then add highs and lows, resulting in a swirling effect.



Flanger Pedals


Pedals double the audio signal and then delay it, resulting in a dramatic effect.



Reverb Pedals


Pedals create various reverb effects by reflecting sound. Effects include hall and room, which aim to simulate the effects of playing in a large hall or room. Other effects include various echoes and shimmers.



Looper Pedals


Pedals insert a long delay into the audio signal. A loop can then be created.


Distortion Based Pedals


Distortion Pedals


Pedals cut the audio signal, compressing the sound wave so it is flattened. Warm tones are created by adding melodies. Harsher tones are created by adding discordant sounds. The amount of distortion is the same regardless of volume.



Overdrive Pedals


Pedals cut the audio signal to create the kind of sound produced by a tube or valve amp. This is a clean, warm sound at lower volumes and a more distorted, discordant sound at higher volumes.



Fuzz Pedals


Pedals clip the audio signal, compressing it dramatically so that the sound wave is almost a square wave. This results in an extremely distorted, fuzzy sound.


Equaliser and Filter Pedals


Equaliser Pedals


Pedals increase some signals while decreasing others, resulting in finely controlled and optimised sound. Types of equaliser pedal include parametric and graphic equalisers.



Filter Pedals


Pedals increase some signals and decrease others, but in a more dramatic way to equalisers. Types of filter pedal include resonant filters, wah wah filters, and envelope filters.


Pitch and Volume Modulators


Tremolo Pedals


Pedals rapidly vary the volume of an audio signal, creating a trembling effect.



Vibrato Pedals


Pedals vary the pitch of an audio signal, creating a pulsating effect.




Tuner Pedals


Pedals allow players to quickly and precisely tune their guitars.



Features to look out for when purchasing a multi-effects pedal include easy editing and recording functions, memory function, power options, number of foot switches, user friendly controls, number of effects and built-in drum machines.

Editing and Recording Functions


Pedals with easy editing and recording functions will enable players to quickly create and store their sounds.


Memory Function


Pedals can store varying numbers of created sounds. Check the memory specification if this is an important feature.


Power Options


Most pedals are capable of running off either batteries or mains power. AC adaptors are often included as optional accessories. Battery life should be given in the specification.


Foot Switches


The more foot switches a multi-effect pedal has, the more effects can be simply recalled. Pedals can be used variously for expression or volume.


User Friendly Controls


The best multi-effect pedals will be user friendly to enable easy and intuitive performance. Features such as LED lights that show which effects are active are a nice touch.


Drum Machines


Built-in drum machines offer various rhythm variations to be played. Some models have numerous rhythm variations, so check the range if this is an important feature.


If buying for a bass guitar, it can be helpful to look out for models especially aimed at or recommended for bassists.

Other Considerations

Other considerations might include cost, size, portability, connectivity, and accessories. If the pedal is to be frequently carried around, it might be preferable to purchase a more lightweight and compact model. Accessories may include pedal boards, pedal bags, and power adaptors, and cables.

Find Multi-Effect Pedals on eBay

Multi-effect pedals can be found simply and quickly on eBay. The quickest way is to simply conduct a direct search by typing terms such as “multi-effect pedal” or “multiple effects pedal” into the search field at the top of the eBay home page. This will bring up a large number of listings which can be browsed, though not all listings may be relevant.

A more thorough way to find appropriate listings is to navigate through the various categories. From the eBay home page, scroll over All Categories, select Musical Instruments. Scroll down to Guitars and select Accessories. Under Item Type select Effects Pedals. A number of further criteria can be selected from the categories. Under To Fit Guitar there are options to select electric guitars, bass guitars and acoustic guitars amongst others. Under Brand, a list of popular brands is given. Under Condition new, used or refurbished items can be selected.


Multi-effect pedals are pedals used by musicians to create and insert special effects into their performance. The main advantage of multi-effect pedals over single pedals is their versatility and convenience. Multi-effect pedals offer a huge number of digital effects, including delay based pedals such as delay, chorus, phaser, flanger, reverb and looper, distortion based pedals such as distortion, overdrive and fuzz, equaliser and filter pedals, pitch and volume modulators such as tremolo and vibrato, and tuner pedals. They are an excellent option for beginners and those wanting to experiment with multiple effects, but who would not necessarily purchase specific single effects pedals. Features to consider when purchasing a multi-effect pedal include its range and quality of effects, range and quality of built-in drum rhythms, editing, recording and storage capability and the number of foot switches. How intuitive and user friendly the controls are is also an important factor and can make a big difference to the playing experience and performance. If buying for a bass guitar, check out which models are especially aimed at bass players, who may require a different range of effects to other guitarists. Review models from the top brands as these ensure the product is made to certain standards in quality. Read product descriptions carefully and if there are any queries ask the seller for further information.

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