Shopping for the best guitar effect pedals is fun, but due to the fact that there are so many brands and models, it can also feel a bit hard at times. That’s why we’ve compiled the review of the finest pedals you can find in 2021, so without any further ado, let’s get straight to it.
Here are the best guitar effects pedals 2021:
- Death by Audio Apocalypse
- EarthQuaker Devices Rainbow Machine V2
- Caroline Guitar Company Meteore
- Catalinbread Zero Point
- TC Electronic’s Sub ‘N’ Up Octaver
- Danelectro Billion Dollar Boost
- Electro-Harmonix Silencer
- Fender Mirror Image Delay
- TC Electronic Fangs Metal Distortion
- Catalinbread Sabbra Cadabra
1. Death by Audio Apocalypse
The best pedal for hard rock
Death by Audio is a strange name for a brand, but they’re among the industry leaders in the pedal making department of the market. Most of their models are boutique high-end pedals, such as Reverberation Machine, Fuzz War, Absolute Destruction, and of course, the Apocalypse.
DBA’s Apocalypse is a combo distortion and fuzz, and what that means is that you’ll be able to play around with frequencies while shifting through five fuzz effects. The EQ filter knob is highly responsive, and it will shift the signature of your tone from bassy, over mid, to treble-y.
It would be fair to say that this is primarily a fuzz pedal with the option of adding distortion on top of it. All of the fuzz effects are distinct and clearly different from one another, especially if you change the initial settings for each mode.
Lastly, Apocalypse rocks a true bypass feature, which allows you to disconnect it from the chain should anything go out of place. It’s a classic feature that can help you get out of a pinch.
|Image credit: Death By Audio Check Price on Amazon||
One of the main reasons why we recommend this pedal for hard rockers is because it provides exquisite fuzz effects and more than enough dirt for your tone. It also offers a fair amount of versatility, although its bigger footprint might leave you with a bit less space on your pedalboard.
2. EarthQuaker Devices Rainbow Machine V2
Unique pedal for adventurous guitarists
EarthQuaker Devices’ Rainbow Machine V2 is definitely one of the weirdest pedals you should try out in 2021. It’s cool, crazy, and unconventional to the boot simply because it borrows functions from several other pedal types, packs them up, and delivers the end result with often unpredictable results.
The ‘tracking’, being the last control knob, is the only setting on this pedal that is somewhat consistent. It alters the decay between wet and dry signals, and it’s pretty straightforward to use. The ‘pitch’ dabbles with polyphonic pitch-warped frequencies while ‘magic’ creates the so-called aliasing effect (basically, it feeds the main signals back to themselves and between each other).
However, that’s not all this pedal can do. It also features the ‘secondary’ knob which adds an additional octave. The amount of unique tones you’ll be able to get from the Rainbow Machine is endless, although finding consistency might be somewhat of a daunting task.
|Image credit: EarthQuaker Devices Check Price on Amazon||
The Rainbow Machine is a pedal meant for adventurous guitarists who are not afraid to experiment with their tone. On the flip side, people who are looking for a simple straight-to-the-face pedal that they can control should probably try elsewhere. Though it’s slightly harder to use than average, the Rainbow Machine is very rewarding to guitarists that want to stand out and raise some hell while they’re at it.
3. Caroline Guitar Company Meteore
The best reverb pedal
Caroline makes some of the most popular and best-selling pedals out there, mainly because their models are different, unconventional, and packed with dozens of controversial features.
The Meteore sports a classic design and its features are not crazy simply for the sake of being crazy – they actually provide so much versatility to every guitarist who commits hard enough to nail down its steep learning curve.
The most notable features of Meteore are attack, size, regeneration, and the infamous Havoc switch. Attack pumps up the gain within the preamp, and level affects the loudness of this pedal. The ‘regeneration’ knob prolongs the decay time by adding overtones. The ‘size’, obviously, affects the behavior of the reverb effect itself. The ‘Havoc’ switch will, when held, prolong the duration of the delay infinitely.
|Image credit: Caroline Guitar Company Check Price on Amazon||
Caroline’s Meteore is much more than just a reverb pedal. It offers creative ways to shape your tone without touching its essence. It’s quite easy to use, it’s decently strong, and it will sit just right in pretty much any pedalboard.
4. Catalinbread Zero Point
The best flanger
Despite the fact that it looks pretty modern, Catalinbread’s Zero Point flanger pedal is a classy one. It’s loud enough to cover your back on stage, and it’s accurate enough to shine in studio recording settings.
The most notable benefit of Zero Point flanger is that it features a single setting. Once it’s on, the flanger will dominate most of your signal, so we recommend avoiding the scenario where flange, overdrive, and distortion pedal effects are active at the same time.
On top of that, it has a very small footprint and will take up minimal storage space both in your rig and in your pack. It isn’t exactly versatile due to obvious reasons – there’s just one feature onboard, which means that you only get to control whether it’s powered on or off.
|Image credit: Catalinbread Check Price on Amazon||
Zero Point flanger pedal is definitely meant for guitarists who know what they are looking for. It offers much, but it’s pretty hard to control it, let alone master it, so if you are out on the market looking for a quality flange, we recommend checking out the Zero Point pedal.
5. TC Electronic’s Sub ‘N’ Up Octaver
The best modulation pedal
TC Electronic’s Sub ‘N’ Up Octaver is a tone-altering beast. It’s basically a monophonic octave with capabilities of polyphonic tracking; what’s best about this guitar pedal is the fact that it can be used to cover up small missing gaps in your tone, or it can add so many layers of overtones that it would seem as if you were playing with an orchestra.
The control knobs are pretty self-explanatory – the ‘dry’ knob adjusts the presence of the dry signal; the ‘up’ shifts your pickup’s frequencies up an octave, and the two ‘sub’ knobs are there to enhance the harmonies with additional ones.
Moreover, TC Electronic has introduced the TonePrint editor – it’s a feature that you can use to perform instant modulations. It comes extremely handy for parts that generally require a capo accessory.
|Image credit: TC Electronic Check Price on Amazon||
TC Electronic’s Sub ‘N’ Up is easily one of the best guitar effect pedals you should be checking out in 2021. It’s highly responsive and it will help you shape your tone in unique and crazy ways, but more importantly, it has a small footprint and is available at a very approachable price.
6. Danelectro Billion Dollar Boost
The best boost pedal
Danelectro has a great catalog of professional musician’s equipment, and we’ve picked their Billionaire BB-1, the Billion Dollar Boost pedal for our review.
This is a very straightforward pedal that comes supplied with simple, plain features. There are three tone control knobs, including volume, bass, and treble, all of which are quite self-explanatory. Additionally, there’s a Flat/Low Cut switch that filters out certain frequencies if flipped on.
The pedal comes in a rugged die-cast case and packs a moderately-sized footprint. Furthermore, the BB-1 also comes equipped with a true bypass.It doesn’t actually cost a billion bucks, but it’s surely worth a couple hundred, even though it’s available at a bargain price.
|Image credit: Danelectro Check Price on Amazon||
Solo guitarists whose tone is often eaten up by the maniac drummer or overly enthusiastic bassist should consider the Billion Dollar Boost pedal. This booster goes a long way at amplifying your signal’s strength, but it also gives you just about enough versatility to make up for the non-enhanced frequencies, allowing them to stay present and relevant.
7. Electro-Harmonix Silencer
The best noise gate
Electro-Harmonix’s Silencer is one of the best noise gate pedals ever made. It’s amazing how much it can do with only three control knobs. The ‘thresh’ (threshold) governs the level required for the gate to open; the ‘reduction’ adjusts the decibel degrees in the range between -70 decibels and 4 decibels; lastly, the ‘release’ specifies for how long it will remain open when the frequencies drop below the given threshold.
It sports a sleek design, a small footprint, and it’s one of the coolest little effect boxes Electro Harmonix had put out onto the market so far.
|Image credit: Electro-Harmonix Check Price on Amazon||
The Silencer is among the coolest pedals in our top 10 reviews. It’s a must-have for guitarists that have packed their pedalboard with a dozen of high-gain pedals, and it certainly comes in handy even if you’re using just a couple.
8. Fender Mirror Image Delay
The best delay pedal
A delay pedal is essential in any pedal rig, especially if you’re playing live concerts. That’s why we present to you Fender’s Mirror Image Delay, which is one of the most popular and top-rated new pedals from everyone’s favorite brand.
It sports five control knobs, including depth, rate, feedback, time, and level, as well as two switches (Dotted, and Variation), so it’s pretty safe to say that it’s a vastly versatile guitar effects pedal. You’ll be able to choose between tape delay, digital, and analog types.
|Image credit: Fender Check Price on Amazon||
Mirror Image Delay packs a ton of useful features, but what makes it stand out from similar delay pedals is the fact that it sounds so strong and consistent too. Everything about it is perfect – its casing is highly durable, the indicators are put on clearly visible spots, the features generally work in harmony.
9. TC Electronic Fangs Metal Distortion
The best pedal for metal
Most metalheads turn to Boss’s Metal Core and Metal Zone, and even though those pedals are absolutely amazing, that sound has already been found and established as a norm. If you’re in a metal band and want to sound slightly different, but still metal, we recommend TC Electronics’ Fangs.
The Fangs is a straightforward pedal with tons of gain, and what makes it so unique and exquisite is TC Electronics’ driver unit. You’ll be able to adjust gain, volume, bass, and treble via control knobs, it sports a true bypass, which allows you to single it out from the chain, and it’s as responsive as can be.
|Image credit: TC Electronic Check Price on Amazon||
Fangs is one of the latest models in the TC Electronic catalog, and it’s meant for both modern metal players and traditional metalheads. It’s strong, responsive, and durable – everything you need to trash out the next venue you’re gigging at.
10. Catalinbread Sabbra Cadabra
We’re wrapping up with a very special pedal from a brand that’s known for building unique models. Catalinbread’s Sabbra Cadabra is a versatile boost overdrive pedal built after Black Sabbath’s world-famous Tony Iommi’s sound.
It sports only four control knobs, including gain, presence, volume, and range, and what makes it so exquisite is the fact that its specs were preset, so that they favor ultra-low frequencies. Even though this is a booster pedal of sorts, it works like a charm for dropped tunings and heavy riffs.
|Image credit: Check Price on Amazon||
Even though it’s true that nobody could ever play like Tony Iommi, you’ll get a step closer to his sound if you use the Sabbra Cadabra pedal. It’s great for musicians who don’t necessarily aspire to replicate his sound as it boasts excellent well-rounded performance and comes available at a very approachable price.
At the end of the day, it falls up to you to decide which guitar pedal is best for you. We’ve included the coolest, best-selling, and the newest pedals so that you don’t have to search far and wide, so kick back, relax, and take your pick.