What is great guitar music?
Is it something which invokes a feeling, be it sadness, acquiesce or joy? Is it ear-bleeding noise which washes away the stress and strains of everyday life, or is it just expression?
It is what you want it to be, but a guitar is a language spoken the world over which does not need words. By picking up a six-string and strumming away, you can instantly communicate your deepest thoughts and fears, loves and laughs to anyone willing to listen. Guitars have an innate beauty which everyone can enjoy, but only those who play can properly understand.
The possibilities are endless, not only for the most accomplished musicians of our age, but even beginners wishing to make music. However, it is not always as simple as picking up a book of chords and a guitar. There are many different methods to accentuate the music you make, one of which are guitar pedals. For a newcomer, the many different types on offer could be confusing, so we have put together a list of some of the basic pedal types on the market and what they mean, to get you started on your guitar odyssey.
The distortion pedal is probably the most common guitar pedal out there, and it does exactly what it says on the tin. It takes your guitar signal and adds, crunch, bite and volume which contrasts the natural sound. This is a hugely popular pedal for songs, which make a lot of noise and is often heard in the chorus of songs. Do not confuse distortion with a fuzz pedal or overdrive pedal. These do sound similar, but a trained ear will be able to notice the difference.
The reverb pedal might not be an essential part of your kit, because if you have an amplifier the odds are it has reverb already installed. Some amps do not allow you to turn it off at will, which is where the reverb pedal comes in. It adds a large, echoey sound to your music, and is so named because it reverberates off the walls.
When it comes to switching styles, an acoustic pedal can be effective, allowing you to quickly alternate between clashing styles for changes in mood. These pedals take your guitar signal, whatever you happen to be playing, and make it sound like it is acoustic. These are popular with singer-songwriters on stage who want to flit between sounds for songs with drastic changes of tempo or feel.
The wah pedal makes the sound you might expect, a consistent ‘wah’ noise perhaps best demonstrated by Jimi Hendrix. It is popular in funk but is also notable for the distinct noise it can make in rock solos. Guns N’ Roses epic ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ used it to great effect, with Slash’s solo building dynamic tension and savage wah licks at the climax.
A chorus pedal is great for a solo singer with a guitar because it takes the signal and plays it slightly out of time to you, with different guitar noise. This creates the effect of multiple guitars playing the same thing and thickens up your sound to make it meatier and more substantial. You can hear the effects in many songs by Queen, and in Nirvana’s ‘’Come as You Are’.
*We appreciate the support of our partners. As always, the views and opinions expressed here do not necessarily match those of Ear to the Ground Music or its editors.