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Just the word can send most guitar players into a tweaked-out frenzy. Cold sweats, wild-eyed hysterics flowing Vesuvius from their cracked, dry mouths.
Everyone has the pre-requisite DS-1 distortion in their closet, the delay pedal your Uncle let you borrow that you never returned, the assorted modulation boxes you swear you'll need for that next shoegaze project you're starting...
But then the real addiction starts: vintage Shin Ei era fuzz boxes on eBay, one-off boutique creations made with WWII airplane parts.
It is a deep, deep rabbit hole. And before you know it, it's a rabbit hole that indefinitely will lead to you, five cats and a pedal board that spans the length of your 10- by 10-foot studio apartment.
We at Chicago Music Exchange are here to justify that pedal addiction—even when their total value exceeds your student loan balance. That's because these wonderful little boxes are more than "just guitar pedals."
Let's take a look at their multiple uses:
1. Vocal Effects
It's an obvious one but not used nearly enough. While it may take some knob tweaks and a well-placed daisy chain, the right effects pedal slapped onto vocals can take you from zero to hero! Ever try vocals through a BOSS DD-3 Digital Delay set to slapback on stage? You should. Chorus effects inserted on gang vocal recordings? Your gang has now grown by a factor of three! Even a light dusting of fuzz can take you from sounding like Tiny Tim to Tom Waits with the click of a footswitch!
In recent years we've also seen the rise of vocal-specific stomp boxes. If you're already a pedal-head jonesin' for a new fix, check out our collection of Vocal Effects!
2. Acoustic Guitars
A dash of overdrive on your dreadnought? Yes please! Liven up that that coffeeshop gig with a jet engine full of flanger! Audience not silently crying, reflecting on your emotional outpouring? Give your feels a boost, with a boost or gain pedal!
Play piano, huh? That's cool. You know when a whole band is playing through vintage tube amps and the one keyboard is running direct 1/4" into the soundboard? Oh yeah, that sounds just great...
If you play a Fender Rhodes and you're not using pedals, donate that thing to the Goodwill. Overdrive, chorus, delay—literally any pedal—will take your ivory tickling from "Chopsticks" to Stevie Wonder. Run that through a Fender Bassman or a Ampeg SVT, and you'll be holding hands with the devil. Welcome to the fold my friend.
4. Modulation/Noise Effects
The very seed that gestates into this terrible addiction often begins with one question: "How did they find that sound!?" The answer is simple: Plug everything with an audio output you own, into every pedal you own! Tape players, iPods, Gameboys, laptops, your mom's old cell phone—the sky is the limit!
Nothing sets you apart like a unique sound, and the tools for said sound are sitting in your closet—unused, untouched and collecting dust, much like Chicago's unfinished Super Subway station...
Now get out there and make some noise!
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