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Effect Pedals Explained

Distortion / Fuzz

Distortion and fuzz pedals take the input signal and makes it sound "dirty" or "fuzzy". It is said that the first recorded distortion sound came from a broken channel on a mixer that made the sound rough and raspy. Early musicians who were looking for this sound would poke holes in the speakers of their amps to get a grittier sound. Eventually the sound was replicated by the use of electronics. Some distortion devices can really boost the original signal, sometimes causing feedback. Find distortion effects at NoiseFX.


A flanger takes the original sound and delays it ever so slightly to give a sweeping "jet" sort of sound. The first flange effects were created with an original sound copied onto multiple tape decks. The copied sound could be sped up or slowed down by manually touching the tape reel. Today's flange effects are much more simple to use normally with the ability to adjust the speed and the depth of the flanged sound. Find flangers at NoiseFX.


A chorus takes a signal then delays or detunes it slightly and mixes it back with the original giving a deeper, fuller sound. You will find that a lot of newer chorus pedals have two outputs. Operating in stereo gives you many more sonic possibilities as the processed sound can pan back and forth between two channels. Find chorus pedals at NoiseFX.


A filtering effect is normally designed to pass a range of audio frequencies directly through while reducing the amplitude and intensity of other ranges of frequencies. Normally on a filtering device you will be able to control the "pass band" which is the frequency range which is allowed to pass straight through the effect. Filters typically give you a wide range of "sweeping" sounds. There are also envelope filters that simply add more of the filtering effect depending on the strength of the input signal. Find filters at NoiseFX.


The word Tremolo is Italian for "trembling" or "shaking". As far as effects go, a tremolo makes the volume of the input signal increase and decrease at a specific rate making the signal sound as if it's shaking. Many tremolo effects give you the ability to choose or adjust the type of wave pattern the effect uses to produce the tremolo effect. A sine wave pattern will give a smoother transition between the two volume levels and a square wave pattern will sound as if the two volume levels are switched back and forth. Usually you can control the rate and depth of the effected sound. Find tremolo pedals at NoiseFX.


A compressor is mostly used in studio recording to maintain a constant output level though there are many compressors available now that are in pedal effect form. A compressor basically makes quieter sounds louder and louder sounds quieter attempting to make the final signal about the same volume level. Typically you can adjust the amount of the compressor effect as well as a threshold or the level at which the compressor begins functioning. A compressor can normally give your sound more punch, apparent loudness, and presence. Find compressors at NoiseFX.


A wah (or wah-wah) is great for getting swelling, sweeping sort of sounds. It works by changing the frequency of the input signal's sound controlled by the user usually by using foot pedal that rocks back and forth. An auto wah is capable of creating the same sort of wah sound but instead of a manual foot control, it is usually manipulated either by how soft or loud the input signal is or based on a time period that is set by the user. Find wah pedals at NoiseFX.


A delay effect essentially takes the input signal and plays it back after a set amount of time. Depending on the delay device used and the settings, you can adjust the delay time from a few milliseconds all the way up to many, many seconds. Many delays have the ability to control the amount of feedback or regeneration that controls the amount of the delayed signal that will go back in to the input signal. Most delays are designed to eventually fade out the signal captured in the delay. There are, though, many delay devices with the ability to repeat or loop the captured signal infinitely. Delays can be very versatile. A shorter delay time creates a doubling effect, as though two instruments were being played simultaneously. Slightly longer delay times with the feedback control turned down give sort of a "slap-back" sort of sound. Long delay times, say from a half a second to a second or more, with the control set for more feedback can give you lush sounding airy sort of sounds. Find delays at NoiseFX.

Bob Scott

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