Approximate reading time: 8 Minutes
Best Guitar Pedals 2020

The Best Guitar Pedals in 2020!  ·  Source: Strymon/EHX/Chase Bliss/OBNE/Friedman

2020: A year like biting into a rotten apple. But as miserable as it was, it also witnessed the release of some fabulous effects pedals. Because the need to create is still burning bright with musicians around the world, and stompboxes are a source of inspiration for writing songs and sculpting tones. Meanwhile, guitarists have been tinkering with their pedalboards, ready for their first gig in 2021! Here’s our list of the Best Effects Pedals of the Year for electric guitar.

Chase Bliss Audio CXM 1978

The Chase Bliss Audio CXM 1978 HAS to be on this list. It is a thing of beauty, both visually and sonically. Moving faders, MIDI control, 32 Bit AD/DA and three classic reverb algorithms: this pedal is destined to become a classic. I look at it and think of all the hours of creativity it holds. I suspect it’s also a wonderful studio tool, one that will reward you time and time again.

Chase Bliss Audio CXM 1978

Chase Bliss Audio CXM 1978

Creating a box of sonic magic like this obviously involved an incredible amount of work. It puts a smile on my face when I hear musicians creating with this pedal!

Video

Strymon NightSky

In a similar vein to the Chase Bliss above, I think the new Strymon NightSky will have musicians itching to make music. Yes, it is yet another reverb, but it takes a totally different approach to the CXM 1978, but one that’s just as stimulating. If you want to generate some unusual spacial textures, NightSky could be the tool for you. This is way more than just a reverb pedal; it can do much, much more.

Strymon Nightsky leaked

Strymon NightSky

With onboard pitch shifting, modulation, distortion and more, this blue box has lots of ways to twist and turn your reverb effects. To me, it’s more like a full-on studio rack effect than a stompbox – just in a more friendly pedal format and minus all the annoying menus and sub menus. Check out our review here.

Video

Spaceman Effects Sputnik III Germanium Fuzz

I do love a good fuzz pedal and if I had my own way, the top 10 best pedals would all be fuzz pedals – every year! But the Spaceman Effects Sputnik III Germanium Fuzz was just so tasty that it was always going to be a strong contender for a place on this year’s Best Pedals list. Spaceman Effects make some truly wonderful effects and this latest fuzz pedal is definitely one that will please lovers of fuzz.

Spaceman Effects Sputnik III

Spaceman Effects Sputnik III

The Sputnik III has NOS Soviet germanium diodes and transistors for some great fuzz tones that will fatten up your guitar lines and add some sustain. Every musician should have a good fuzz pedal in their arsenal and this is an extremely good one. Time to love the fuzz! Go and get one of these.

Video

Hologram Electronics Microcosm Granular Pedal

This pedal is all about creative noise-making. It’s perfect for a rainy day writing session, and has a box of tools and tricks you can get lost in creating weird and wonderful new music. As the name suggests, the Hologram Electronics Microcosm Granular Pedal uses granular effects that are combined with a looping feature. Packing in a low-pass filter with resonance, a 60-second looper, MIDI control, 11 granular effects, a stereo reverb, pitch modulation and 16 memory slots, this baby has plenty to keep you busy with.

Hologram Electronics Microcosm Granular Pedal

Hologram Electronics Microcosm Granular Pedal

I love the sense of completeness and potential here, with all these lovely tools in one box. It’s inviting you to go off at musical tangents and make some delightful noises with, whether you play the guitar or another instrument.

Video

Acorn Amps Mind Killer Dual Distortion

I know everyone was getting all hot under the collar about the limited edition runs of the Sunn O))) Life pedal. But I much preferred the tone of the Acorn Amps Mind Killer Dual DistortionThis dual distortion has plenty of girth that will help you smash your power chords into the skulls of your enemies!

Acorn Amps Mind Killer Dual Distortion with Blue LED eyes!

Mind Killer Dual Distortion with Blue LED eyes!

If you’re looking for something a little different for your next boutique distortion, this must be on your list to check out. It ticks all my boxes, offering some gorgeously filthy dirt tones. And it’s drenched in Dune references, adding to the coolness factor. Delicious.

Video

Friedman Smallbox

If you want that Marshall Plexi tone in a solid, no nonsense pedal, the Friedman Smallbox is the pedal for you. Dave Friedman knows all there is to know about this tone, which is why players like Eddie Van Halen, Jerry Cantrell and just about every other A-list guitar player has asked him to mod their amps and build them effects.

Friedman Smallbox with Gain Structure switch

Friedman Smallbox with Gain Structure switch

Having that gain structure switch on the side makes this pedal even more useful. I can see a lot of players using this Plexi-in-a-pedal to get those classic Marshall tones. Use the switch to go from classic Plexi-style gain to a more modern, higher-gain setting. This box will be a boon if you need to cover both tones with your band.

Video

Origin Effects MAGMA57

The Origin Effects MAGMA57 pedal was designed to recreate some classic ’50s amp flavours and pack them into a compact pedal format. The amps modelled here are highly sought after retro amplifiers with amp and vibrato sections that generated some sumptuous tones.

Origin Effects MAGMA57 attempts to capture the Magnatone 200 amp tone in a pedal

Origin Effects MAGMA57 attempts to capture the Magnatone 200 amp tone in a pedal

Look, this thing is simply a winner: a high-quality preamp and luscious amp-like vibrato that cover a lot of bases. If you want to cop those tones without having to buy and lug around a vintage amp, this pedal should be on your radar.

Video

SolidGoldFX NU-33 Vinyl Engine

This magical modulation pedal from SolidGoldFX NU-33 Vinyl Engine has you covered for both hi-fi and lo-fi modulated guitar tones. It’s got built-in vinyl noise and gives you options like ramping the speed up and down. It sounds glorious, with a warmth that just makes you want to play.

SolidGoldFX NU-33 Vinyl Engine

It’s a beautiful sounding chorus/vibrato pedal. I think the built in “vinyl engine” complements the effect perfectly, with a heavy retro flavour. This is a superb creative tool for any player looking to play with their listeners’ emotions. A must for this year’s list.

Video

Old Blood Noise Endeavors Black Fountain V3 + Tap Tempo

This Old Blood Noise Endeavors Black Fountain V3 + Tap Tempo was a welcome update to the OBNE line. This box offers some wonderful delay sounds that become more accessible thanks to the added tap tempo function. It’s a digital recreation of an old oil can delay. It’s luscious, gooey and makes you want to hear more.

Old Blood Noise Endeavors Black Fountain V3 + Tap Tempo

Old Blood Noise Endeavors Black Fountain V3 + Tap Tempo

The pedal has three modes labelled Modern, Organ, and Vintage that each give a different timbre of delay voice. That flexibility makes are useful textural tool to have on your board. My favourite aspect of this effect is its organic, vintage sound and feel. It’s a world away from what you’d normally associate with a digital effects pedal. You have to hand it to OBNE. These guys build exceedingly desirable pedals, and this was one of my favourites this year.

Video

Coppersound Pedals Triplegraph octave pedal

A collaboration between Coppersound Pedals and Jack White, this pedal was so over the top that I fell in love with it. The Triplegraph octave pedal looks like it’s a total blast to play with, putting it firmly on my list for 2020. It combines a digital octave effect with a momentary kill switch and an effects loop, giving you plenty to play around with.

Coppersound Pedals and Jack White release the Triplegraph octave pedal

Coppersound Pedals and Jack White release the Triplegraph octave pedal

Each of the three morse-code telegraph-style keys triggers a different part of this unique effect. It’s an amazing design with an overblown sense of the ridiculous that makes for a gloriously outrageous pedal!

Video

What were your favourites from 2020? Let us know in the comments below!

This post contains affiliate links and/or widgets. When you buy a product via our affiliate partner, we receive a small commission that helps support what we do. Don’t worry, you pay the same price. Thanks for your support!

by Jef

One response to “Best Effects Pedals 2020: 10 Stompboxes You Need on Your Pedalboard”

  1. pfrf says:

    All these pedals sound great, I want one of each, but that Sputnik lll is amazing.
    I don’t need another fuzz pedal but wow I think I need just one more fuzz pedal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *