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best creative guitar pedals

Best creative guitar pedals: Get your creative juices flowing

Experimenting with creative guitar pedals is the perfect thing to do if you’re stuck in a rut. Playing around with some new gear is just what you need to create a spark! There are some pedals out there that can do some amazingly esoteric things – and sound great doing it.

Another point of note, everything here are dedicated effects pedals. We’ve already gone over some of the best guitar multi-effects. So, if you’re looking for a new guitar pedal to get you inspired, here are some of the best creative guitar pedals you should look into!

Best harmonizer creative guitar pedal: Eventide H9

eventide h9 harmonizer
Best harmonizer creative guitar pedal
Eventide H9
The Harmonizer revolutionized guitar sounds in the 80s, and Eventide has packed some of the best settings into a pedalboard-friendly unit.
Pros
The highest-quality sounds you can find in an effects pedal
Simple one knob interface
Software editor for dialing in new sounds
Great I/O
Cons
Expensive

Make no mistake, the H9 might be the most powerful economically sized guitar processor available. It includes the company’s respected harmonizer and a number of superb guitar effects like chorus, delay, echo, tremolo, and reverb.

The gargantuan options can be dialed in via the pedal’s simple one knob interface, or through the H9 Control software editor that can be used on PC, Mac, or iOS devices. Bluetooth connectivity so you can use it live.

It has robust stereo I/O for audio and MIDI and expression pedal input. It comes in three versions – standard, CORE, and Max.

Best creative guitar pedal multi-effect: Line 6 Helix HX Stomp

line 6 helix stomp
Best creative guitar pedal multi-effect
Line 6 Helix HX Stomp
The HX Stomp is an ergonomic multi-effect pedal that packs in all the Helix sounds, DSP, and I/O.
Pros
Helix line offers multiple pedal models
Realistic amp, cabinet, and effects simulations
24-bit/96kHz DSP
Cons
Pricier than other options
Takes some time to dial in sounds

The Helix line offers a lot of different models, and the HX Stomp is the perfect balance of features and affordable price. And even though it’s small it packs quite a punch.

It comes with multiple amp and cabinet simulations from some of the best in the business. The library of effects is what you’d expect, with Line 6 pulling sounds from their line of popular 4-Series. All of this runs at 24-bit/96kHz audio quality.

When it comes to a creative guitar pedal multieffect that works for guitar and bass, this is one of the best options. The wealth of sounds, flexible I/O, and range of editing options make this a complete creative workstation.

Best creative guitar pedals to play other instruments: Electro-Harmonix 9 Series

electro-harmonix 9 series guitar pedals
Best creative guitar pedals to play other instruments
Electro-Harmonix 9 Series
The 9 series is a unique lineup that lets you turn your guitar into a host of different instruments. It’s easy to dial in and tracks flawlessly.
Pros
Add keyboards, strings, synths, and mellotron sounds to your signal with this EXH line
Tracks flawlessly
Easy to dial in
Cons
Some of the sounds are very esoteric

If it isn’t clear, Electro-Harmonix is at the forefront of the innovation of creative guitar pedals. Their 9 Series is an diverse line that puts the sounds of Mellotrons, basses, synthesizers, keyboards, and organs directly into your guitar rig without needing any special pickups or additional gear.

Each model comes with four simple controls and a mode selector. There are two volume knobs over dry and wet level, as well as dual controls over the selected setting. There are mono in with effect and dry outputs.

Best pitch shifter creative guitar pedal: DigiTech Whammy 5

digitech whammy 5
Best pitch shifter creative guitar pedal
DigiTech Whammy
The 5th iteration of DigiTech’s gamechanging Whammy comes with a host of pitch shifting and harmonization settings.
Pros
All the harmony settings you could want
Treadle gives you expressive effect control
Cons
It’s got a very specific sound that won’t fit into every style

The Whammy was one of the trailblazers when it comes to creative guitar pedals. This fifth iteration combines the best of all models to make it one of the best pitch shifter pedals. The feature set is rich, with a wealth of whammy, harmony, and detune settings that run in Classic (monophonic) or the polyphonic Chords mode.

Other new features include single note bends, chordal pitch shifting, dive bombs, and true bypass switching. MIDI compatibility lets you integrate with any MIDI-capable device to send/receive pitch-bend information. The Whammy DT is an even more feature-rich model, including DigiTech’s DropTune pedal as well.

Best synthesizer creative guitar pedal: BOSS SY-1 Synthesizer

BOSS sy-1 synthesizer
Best synthesizer creative guitar pedal
BOSS SY-1 Synthesizer
There’s no company more reliable than BOSS. The SY-1 gives you a total of 121 synth sounds.
Pros
Incredible amount of sounds
Stellar DSP processing
Expression pedal control
Cons
It will take you a while to discover all the sounds

It’s now possible to fit an arsenal of synthesizers onto your pedalboard. Organs, pads, basses, and more are available over 121 sounds across 11 categories. Choose the type of synth sound with the rotary selector and select between 11 variations.

Dual concentric controls set depth and tone/rate as well as dry and wet signal levels. High-quality DSP ensures the most realistic sounds. It tracks perfectly as well, providing a latency-free experience.

It creates interesting routing scenarios, as it has an interior effects loop. The send is also a direct out. The external control can be used with tap tempo or octave shifting, or an expression pedal can provide continuous control over rate and depth.

Best accompaniment creative guitar pedal: DigiTech Trio+ Band Creator

digitech trio band creator
Best accompaniment creative guitar pedal
DigiTech Trio+ Band Creator
This band-in-a box gives you accompaniment. It takes a little while to dial in, but it can track your playing and perform along accordingly.
Pros
A band-in-a-box that can track along to your playing
On-board looper
Great songwriting tool
Cons
Takes a bit to dial in

This is a great songwriting tool. It will actually listen to the guitar signal and auto-create a bassline and drum pattern! You can select between 12 song genres and styles. The onboard looper stores sequences.

It’s got an effects loop and external control. There are mix controls for drums, bass, and loop levels, and 5 loops can be stacked for some serious sound-on-sound!

Best reverb creative guitar pedal: Earthquaker Devices Afterneath

Earthquaker Devices Afterneath
Best reverb creative guitar pedal
Earthquaker Devices Afterneath
The Afterneath is meant to be ambient, doing things that other reverbs can’t. Or won’t. Through the 6-knob control set you can get sounds you had no idea a reverb could do.
Pros
Very unique time-based sounds
Surprisingly affordable considering what it can do
Mode control adds another level of depth in sound options
Cons
Might be too u0022out thereu0022 if you’re looking for something simple like spring or plate.

It might be one of the oldest effects, but you can get really creative with reverb. The Afterneath is designed to be what other reverbs wish they could do. It’s ambient, creative, and offers a sophisticated control scheme, which gives you so many sound options.

The 6-knob control set will take some playing with. But that’s the fun part! The dry signal path is analog, while the effect signal path is digital. This gives you the best of both worlds. You can choose between tails or no tails.

It’s made by one of the most respected boutique companies, and is designed to be big, bold, and unique. Step into the Afterneath. You won’t be sorry.

Best octave generator creative guitar pedal: Electro-Harmonix XO Micro POG

electro-harmonix micro pog
Best octave generator creative guitar pedal
Electro-Harmonix XO Micro POG
The industry standard polyphonic octave generator features three simple controls and very cool sounds.
Pros
Easy to dial in
Dry output adds routing options
Very durable
Cons
None

As far as creative guitar pedals go, this one might be the most familiar. With just an octave up, down, and dry blend control you can get some seriously gnarly sounds. Thicken up your sound, make your six-string sound like a 12-string.

It tracks extremely well and works flawlessly with chords and single notes. It’s a simple pedal with a lot of utility. And you’ll see them on professional pedalboards the world over. It also comes in a much more elaborate version – the POG 2.

Best creative pedal for drop tuning: DigiTech Drop

digitech drop
Best creative pedal for drop tuning
DigiTech Drop
This pedal is great for heavy music where a lot of downtuning is used. It’s a useful way to not have to drag multiple guitars around.
Pros
Nine different tunings
Switch can be momentary or latching
Cons
Doesn’t sound 100% like a downtuned guitar

With up to an octave of drop-tuning via semi-tones you’ll never have to lug extra guitars around again. And you can use it in real-time, meaning you can use it to accent parts. The Drop is a polyphonic downward pitch shifter with multiple modes.

A switch selects between a full octave down – with or without the dry signal. The footswitch can be set to latching or momentary operation.

Best EQ creative guitar pedal: Source Audio Programmable EQ

source audio programmable eq pedal
Best EQ creative guitar pedal
Source Audio Programmable EQ
State-of-the-art-DSP gives you 28 total bands and the Octave Extend function lets you use it with bass guitar.
Pros
Cutting edge DSP
28 total bands
Octave Extend lets you use it with bass
Very affordable
MIDI integration
Cons
Some might want something simpler to use

Offering a step forward in what pedal equalizers can do, this pedal from Source Audio features state-of-the-art digital signal processing. It has seven frequency bands, each offering 18dB of cut/boost across four presets.

This means there are a total of 28 bands that can easily be recalled with the footswitch on the pedal or with MIDI integration. And with 12dB of gain boost you can use it to drive your amp or boost your signal for lead parts. The Octave Extend function means you can even use it with bass guitar.

FAQ

What 5 pedals should every guitarist have?

This is subjective, but a good overdrive or distortion, delay, EQ, modulation, and reverb is a great starting point.

Who makes the best guitar pedals?

There are so many terrific manufacturers. BOSS, Electro-Harmonix, MXR, Ibanez are great choices. And if you’re going the boutique route, JHS, Wampler, Earthquaker Devices, and Strymon all make stellar products.

Do beginner guitarists need pedals?

Need? No. But they allow you to experiment with new sounds and styles.

Is there a guitar pedal that does everything?

If you’re looking for a guitar pedal that offers as many options as possible, a multi-effect is the best fit. No pedal does everything, but modern multi-effects offer amp and cabinet simulations, a lot of effects, and multiple I/O options.

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