Guitar effects units are electronic devices that alter the sound of a guitar or other musical instrument through sound wave manipulation. There are three kinds of effects pedals commonly used in rock music, jazz music, and folk music styles. The type of effects pedal you use is determined by its functionality. Understanding effect pedals can help you achieve better tone control and customization as well as increased ease of sound adjustment.
Spring Reverb A spring reverb creates an old-fashioned kind of "hammock" tone. It is great for creating an atmosphere that simulates being on the road during a live performance. Spring reverb sounds good with distorted guitars, especially blues-based ones. Its use is limited to creating a subtle and rich tone on the guitar. It can become too overpowering for certain guitars.
ReverbNation One of the more popular effects pedals is the reverb, which makes sounds different depending on where you're walking. One of the most common uses for this pedal is when the sound is being emitted from somewhere too distant for the human ear, such as the back of a car. When you're walking through the park and you want the park to sound different from what you hear out your window, a reverb pedal is a great way to achieve this effect. These sounds can be varied, creating a wide range of harmonic complexity and tonal range.
Time-Based Effect Time-based effects operate on a predictable cycle. They can add interest and variety to a guitar's sound and can create the illusion of space. Many time-based effect pedals allow the user to change the frequency and/or the level of the effect.
Dynamic Effects Most guitars have one or two knobs that control the volume of the tone, but only a few are dedicated to the dynamics of the sound. Dynamic effects pedals give you the ability to compress or over-damp a guitar signal. This process takes two knobs and changes the level of the signal, often dramatically. Most compressors on the market today will do most of the work for you. However, if you're not comfortable with complex adjustments and knobs, there are compressors with manual adjustment capabilities available.
Ring Modifiers Ring modulation is another useful guitar effect pedal, allowing you to modulate a signal without affecting its volume. Instead, the ring modulation changes the pitch of the sound as it passes through the amplifier. Usually, the ring modulation comes after the amplifier has been configured, but some plugins (including the "Sonic Shredder" plugin) will let you configure this knob right in the audio interface. Ring modulation can be used with almost any other effect pedal. It's particularly useful when you want to change a parameter in a signal, then play a note at the same time, so that the two sounds are blended.
Audio Boost Monitors One of the more popular plugins out there, Audio Boost offers a similar level of processing power to the compressor but comes with a little less "oomph". Many compressors will compress a signal to make it have a more uniform volume, but the attack phase of an audio boost pedal takes all the "oomph" out of the signal, resulting in a signal that sounds a lot different. For instance, when a compressor takes out all the "rumble", the sound will become much less defined. A compressor with an attack phase that has a bit less attack will take out more "rumble", resulting in a signal that sounds smoother. However, using a high gain reduction and a short attack time will also result in a compressed signal that sounds very different. Using Audio Boost with a compressor on a signal with a bit of a mid-range frequency, such as a clean DI signal, will result in a signal that sounds closer to the compressor's original sound.
Analog Delay Pedals There are many analog delay units available on the market today, and if you do some research on the Internet, you'll find that many people favor these pedals. These units will allow you to add a wah or a variety of other sounds like a tape delay. When you are recording, simply turn on the Analog Delay and connect the guitar to the effected pedal, which is normally a footswitch on the unit itself. The delay tone of the pedal will be controlled by your guitar's pickup switch.