When you buy a new synth or drum machine, guitar pedals are probably the last thing on your mind. However, their sound quality and creative potential are undeniable, so let’s check out some of the best budget effects pedals.
Not only are pedals relatively affordable, but they can help you create more distinctive sounds with your instruments. There is a clear difference between using the average monosynth dry, for example, and using it with two or three effects pedals chained together.
How to choose the best budget effects pedals
If you’re just looking to add a few mono effects in line on a single instrument, the method is simple. Doing things in mono is cheaper, but as your setup grows, you’ll find the most economical way to use effects pedals is to run them as parallel processors from the aux sends of a compact mixing desk. If you want your signal level optimized, this process requires additional tools like the Radial EXTC.
When you start to explore, the scope of effects available is staggering. From effects that add spatial dimensionality, vary the tonal character, or allow you to control the dynamics. We’ve selected a few to get you started that are not only affordable but offer value through versatility.
TC Electronic Flashback 2
The Flashback 2 is a two-in/two-out stereo delay and looper pedal with eight algorithms and three storage slots for saving your own patches.
The operation is easy enough to understand, and you have the added bonus of features like the app-controlled TonePrint preset system and the MASH footswitch giving you more dynamics. The range of sounds you can get is excellent for a pedal this size, and the inclusion of the algorithm modeled on the famous 2290 delay from the 1980s is undoubtedly welcome.
tc electronic Flashback 2 Delay
TC Electronic Hall of Fame 2
Like the Flashback, the Hall of Fame 2 is also a two-in/two-out effect with eight tweakable reverb types and three slots for custom TonePrint presets.
The MASH footswitch gives you more expression control, which is extremely useful if you’re planning to take the DAW-less route for creating and performing music. Overall, it’s a decent-sounding reverb that offers algorithms to suit both synths and drums.
tc electronic Hall of Fame 2
Boss DS-1w Distortion
The trusty DS-1 has recently been added to the Boss Waza Craft line of pedals. It’s a sound we know and love on almost everything. From leads and basses to drums, and we’ve even heard it used on vocals by The Beastie Boys.
The DS-1w has two distortion modes: standard and custom. While standard gives you the original DS-1 sound, custom mode tightens the midrange, producing a more aggressive sound on some instruments. Read more about the DS-1w here.
Boss DS-1w Distortion
Electro Harmonix Mod 11
As the name suggests the Mod 11 gives you eleven different modulation effects and tap tempo. If you’re not familiar with EHX, authentic tones are the name of the game.
Sure it might not be stereo, but these pedals sound great on synths and keys. If you’re looking for something with a slightly vintage edge, the Mod 11 is worth checking out.
Electro Harmonix Mod 11 Modulator
Need to compress your leads and basslines? The Kinematic gives you a VCA compressor and controllable envelope filter in one simple device. Some might find it a little synth specific, as you can’t set your attack and release like some other pedals.
That being said, decent compressor pedals are pricey, and this provides three patch points for linking with other modular equipment. You can modulate the filter or level, and use the envelope to control another device, which expands the possibilities.
More about effects:
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- TC Electronic Flashback 2: TC Electronic
- TC Electronic Hall of Fame 2: TC Electronic
- Boss DS-1w: Boss
- Electro Harmonix Mod 11: Electro Harmonix
- Dreadbox Kinematic: Dreadbox