Your Guide to Buying the Right Used Effects Pedals

Like if this guide is helpful
Your Guide to Buying the Right Used Effects Pedals

If you are a guitarist, one or more effects pedals can be useful additions to your musical inventory. An effects pedal (or effects unit) is used to electronically alter the sound produced by an instrument such as a guitar. Each pedal will give a different tone to the music.

Effects pedals can be very expensive, but as they are built to be hard-wearing, can be easily picked up used for a good price at music stores or online auction sites. This is especially useful if a musician is not sure which pedal to buy and wants to try a few out without wasting money.

About Effects Pedals

Effects units can be housed within a guitar itself, within an amplifier, or as a separate unit. The most common unit is the pedal, or "stompbox". Pedals can be used on their own or linked together for more specific or unique effects. Effects pedals are most often used on electric guitars, but they are also available for acoustic varieties too.

Choosing Effects Pedals

A guitarist must tailor the effects they require to the kind of music they play, to their personal style, and also to their budget. For example, a folk guitarist will require different specifications to a heavy metal guitarist, who again will require something different to a pop guitarist.

Types of Effect Unit Housing

The housing of the effects pedal will determine its portability, adaptability and price.

Housing Type

Description

Built-in (in guitar, and in amplifier)

Usually include any or all of the following: reverb, distortion, wah, fuzz, and delay. Can be customized to include others. On an amplifier, controls are often in a row along the top, and on a guitar the control can be built into a plate on the front or in a row along the side.

Rackmounted

Built into a standard 19-inch case in order to fit with other musical or electronic equipment. Usually found in recording studios and on mixing desks at gigs, rackmounts can hold a full complement of effects and are operated by hand dials rather than foot pedals.

Pedal

Usually only hold a single effect, but can be linked together. Designed to be operated with the foot, an effects pedal is a small, hard-wearing metal box with dials to correct tone and volume and one large switch. These are useful for live performances due to the non-requirement of using the hands for operation. Pedals by different brands are often a fairly uniform size due to transport and storage needs - see below.

Obtainable Effects

The range of effects that can be obtained from pedal use is large and varied. Here are examples of some of the more popular effects and examples of where they are most often used.

Effect

Description

Wah, or wah-wah

A wah-wah pedal alters the frequency spectrum of a guitar - i.e. it changes how loud it sounds at certain frequencies. Usually creates a funk-style sound and is often heavily used by psychedelic rock bands - very popular in the 1970s!

Delay or echo

Delay pedals produce an echo effect by recording the guitar note and re-playing it after a slight pause. The length of the pause and volume of the echo can be set on the pedal itself. It is a very versatile pedal that can be used for many types of music.

Chorus

A chorus pedal mimics the multi-toned effect obtained by orchestras and choirs using only one instrument. It subtly alters the pitch, volume, and timbre of the guitar note and mixes this altogether to create a vibrato effect. Pop guitarists are known to use the chorus pedal.

Phaser/flanger

These pedals both work by splitting the audio signal from a guitar and modifying one part of it, then splicing them back together. The phaser creates a rippling sound effect, and the flanger creates a "whoosh" sound reminiscent of an aeroplane. Both frequently appear in hard rock songs and to give a sci-fi tone to a piece of music.

Distortion/fuzz

As explained by the name, distortion pedals make your guitar sound distorted and sometimes not like a guitar at all - they clip the soundwave from the guitar to create different effects. A particular type of distortion pedal is called a "fuzzbox" - this clips the wave into a near-square shape to create a "fuzzy" sound. Distortion is most often used for heavy metal and hard rock guitars.

Multi-effect

Multi-effect (or "Multi-FX") units are extremely versatile and can be used to either store pre-set effects or create and save your own effects. They are used more by table-top musicians than guitarists but play a part when several pedals cannot be used for some reason. Multi-FX units have recently become more popular with musicians that regularly play small venues.

Using and Connecting Effects Pedals

Effects pedals can be used alone or connected together to further alter a guitar's notes. Alone, the pedal is simply connected between the guitar and amplifier with normal audio leads and pressed with the guitarist's foot to switch the effect on and off as required.

When pedals are connected in a chain, it becomes important to preserve the clarity of the guitar's sound - too many effects can introduce unwanted hum and background noise. With this in mind, it is common for most guitarists to put wah, overdrive and compression effects at the start of the pedal chain; modulation such as phasers, chorus, or flangers in the middle; and delay of reverb at the end of the chain. If signal noise is still a problem, a noise-gate pedal can be placed at the end of the chain to reduce this.

Storage and Transport of Pedals

The most popular way of storing and transporting pedals is a pedalboard, which is a sheet of plastic or metal with spaces to place pedals into. Some pedalboards are made to fold up into a briefcase, others are simply a partitioned flat board.

If only one or two pedals are in use, a plain canvas bag can be used for transport as long as it is handled carefully. Effects pedals are usually durable and hardwearing; however, if you do buy used pedals, be aware that some cosmetics may not be perfect due to normal use and transport.

Find Used Effects Pedals on eBay

To purchase a used effects pedal, head to the eBay homepage. Start by opening the All Categories tab and clicking on the link for Musical Instruments, followed by Signal Processors & Effects. From this page, you can browse all available item listings, or narrow your search further by using new options, such as "rack mounted" or "pedal", that appear on the left side of the page. Alternately, try entering specific terms into the search bar that appears at the top of each eBay page. For example, to find a used Behringer delay pedal, type "Behringer delay pedal" into the search field. This will bring up all listings, and you can browse from there.

Conclusion

Effects units in all forms are very useful tools for musicians, and in particular guitarists, for both live performances and recording studios. Some genres of music, such as heavy metal, are very rarely heard without effects added to the guitars.

Used effects pedals are easily available in music stores and online on sites such as eBay and are a worthwhile investment - a used pedal will generally be in excellent working condition and considerably cheaper than buying a new pedal. This may be especially important to musicians who are just starting out with a band and require several pedals at once or those who play live regularly. Even if a guitarist has never used effects, it may be worth them trying a used pedal out to see if the tone of their music can be improved or even simply better fitted to the genre that they play.

A rarer but much esteemed effect available on modern Guitar Effects Pedals is the Talk Box. A Talk Box emits the signal of the guitar playing into the player's (or another band member's) mouth and allows them to ''shape'' the sound by moving their mouth. Whilst Talk Boxes are normally used to subtly change the guitar sound itself, some Talk Boxes allow singers to sing normally and have their voices altered to sound like a guitar.

Choosing a New or Used Guitar Effects Pedal

New

New Guitar Effects Pedals have the benefit of often coming with warranties or guarantees (always check the seller's policy on this) and will be untouched by other players. Whilst they will be more expensive, they will likely perform to a higher quality and for a longer period of time before the need of maintenance and/or repair.

Used

Great care should be taken when buying a used Guitar Effects Pedal . Particularly with the larger units with multi-effects, there can be a lot of complex technology and an abundance of moving parts. When buying a used Guitar Effects Pedal, consult the description and ask the seller for further information on the condition of all moving parts. Also check for worn rubber as this can need to be replaced, especially on foot treadles which suffer from pressure at the top of the pedal and require good grip for close control of sound.

Find a Guitar Effects Pedal on eBay

Guitar Effects Pedals can be found on eBay in the Effects Pedals category. To navigate to this from the eBay home page, first click the All Categories link in the left hand navigation bar. From here, search for and click the Musical Instruments category and then open the Guitars page. In the Categories drop down on the left, click Accessories and finally tick the Effects Pedals option in the left navigation bar. Results can then be filtered by Guitar Type, Brand, Condition, Price and more.
Guitar Effects Pedals can also be found from searching for keywords in the search bar found at the head of every eBay page. The results can be filtered accordingly to provide more a more accurate selection in particular categories.

Conclusion

Selecting the right Guitar Effects Pedal is essential to achieving the perfect sound for an artist or band. Investing in the wrong type or model can create an entirely different effect and can be an expensive mistake to make. Bear in mind that every make and model will produce a different sound, even if they offer the same effects. Popular effects like Distortion and Wah-Wah have had years to develop, and each manufacturer have developed differently, so be sure to try out any Guitar Effects Pedals of friends or in stores before committing to purchase one on eBay. With such a comprehensive and variable marketplace for Guitar Effects Pedals, make sure to contact the seller for any required information which isn't listed in the product description. With the information included in this guide, the journey to finding a perfect Guitar Effects Pedal on eBay should be made much simpler and easier.

Have something to share, create your own guide... Write a guide
Explore more guides