The 12 Best Guitar Pedal Brands – Mainstream & Boutique

If you've been playing electric guitar for any length of time, you may already have a favorite pedal brand. And if you don't yet have a favorite brand, it may be helpful to read about some of the best pedal manufacturers around. In this article, we'll go through some of the best guitar pedal brands, both mainstream and boutique.

Best Guitar Pedal Brands

Choosing the right pedals for your board is a highly personal process--effects pedals that are ideal for one player might sound terrible to another. We've gathered some of the top manufacturers of guitar pedals for any budget range. Since "best" is somewhat subjective when talking about sound, we've included our picks in no particular order.

#1. Eventide

Eventide is one of the top effects brands out there, but they weren't originally known for their stompboxes--Eventide was originally famous for its rackmounted effects. However, by adapting some of its studio effects to be used in smaller, gig-friendly stompboxes, Eventide earned itself place among the best pedal brands. While Eventide's effects tend to be a bit on the pricey side, they are used by renowned musicians including Tom Waits, St. Vincent, Steve Vai, and Peter Frampton.

Our Top Picks: One of Eventide's most captivating pedals is the Space, a pedal whose tagline is "Reverb and Beyond." This is a preset-packed option that delivers everything from standard room and hall reverbs to cavernous, otherworldly sounds. You can listen to it here (below left).

If you love just about every Eventide sound you hear but can't seem to settle on just one pedal, you might want to check out the H9, a harmonizer/multi-effects unit that brings together some of Eventide's most iconic algorithms and adds some of its own. Check out this musical jack of all trades in the video demo (above - right).

#2. Boss

Even if this is your first foray into the exciting world of effects brands, you probably recognize the classic look of Boss pedals. While they may look simple, these pedals offer some of the best value on the market. However, they are also used by many professional players, including members of Weezer and Incubus. Boss pedals are extraordinarily durable and reliable, they have excellent tone, and they're still pretty affordable, making them great for hobby players and professionals alike.

Our Top Picks: Boss pedals are iconic yet affordable, and we think you can't really go wrong with any of them. However, we especially like the Waza Craft series, a line of pedals and amps that are built in Japan just like the original Boss pedals. You can check out the CE-2W, the Waza Craft edition of Boss's Chorus pedal, in this video demo.

#3. Strymon

Strymon is a newer company--it was founded under the name Damage Control in 2004 and then began producing pedals under the Strymon name in 2009. Like Eventide effects pedal models, Strymon pedals are somewhat expensive, and it isn't uncommon for players to ask whether the relatively high price is worth it. They might be somewhat expensive, but Strymon pedals have incredible presets that are also incredibly easy to flip through during a set. Strymon makes some larger, high-current pedals with plenty of presets, but they also produce smaller stompboxes that are focused on a single effect type. And if you're in need of a power supply that can power a board of larger stompboxes with almost zero noise, Strymon's power supply solutions might be what you're looking for.

Our Top Picks: Strymon, like Eventide, produces some top-notch sounding stompboxes. One of our favorites is the smaller-sized El Capistan, a vintage-inspired tape echo. The El Cap lets you choose between three virtual tape machine sounds, so you get vintage sounds with modern reliability. You can listen to the El Cap pedal in this video demo.

#4. Electro-Harmonix

This legendary New York-based manufacturer is responsible for some of the best-known effects pedals around. One of these is the Big Muff, a fuzz pedal that has graced the pedalboards of countless musicians. This fuzz pedal is sometimes called a distortion pedal, and it brings together the best of both worlds.

Electro-Harmonix (often abbreviated as EHX) was founded in 1968, and its brand story is one that would inspire any up-and-coming entrepreneur. Today, EHX makes just about every effect imaginable, from new takes on the wah pedal to spacey reverbs to sitar emulators.

Our Top Picks: We especially like the EHX Cathedral, a stereo reverb that has some surprising bonus features. It comes with a unique "infinite" mode, which lets you infinitely sustain a note or chord and then play over it. You can hear this award-winning reverb pedal in the video demo (below - left).

If you're looking for one of the most famous dirt pedals of all time, one of the many Big Muff variations might be more up your alley. The model that comes with atone wicker switch is especially useful for sculpting your tone--you can check that one out here (above - right).

#5. TC Electronic

When you think of guitar pedal brands, TC Electronic may not be the very first one that comes to mind. However, while this brand is known for making great-sounding vocal processors and portable vocal effects pedals, it also makes some impressive guitar effects. Notably, in 2016, the company released 13 new and affordable pedals. This surprising release came after TC Electronic was acquired by Behringer, one of the most affordable pedal brands around. However, if you've been following the world of pedals for any length of time, you probably know that the plastic enclosures of Behringer pedals are prone to breakage, and many players prefer something more reliable and durable.

TC Electronic is also one of the best tuner manufacturers--plenty of professional and recreational guitarists use some form of the brand's highly accurate, easy-to-read Polytune floor tuner.

Our Top Picks: TC Electronic produces an affordable yet great-sounding version of almost every effect out there. We especially like the Sub 'N' Up, an octaver with incredible tracking. Like many TC Electronic pedals, this one comes with TonePrint, an app that lets you design your own custom presets and download artist-created presets for your pedal. (TonePrint isn't just offered with the Sub 'N' Up--it comes with most of TC Electronic's newer pedals) You can hear the Sub 'N' Up in this video demo.

#6. Zoom

For players searching for affordable pedals, it can be difficult to find pedal brands that don't break the bank and still deliver quality tone. Zoom is a Japanese-based manufacturer of multi-effects units and portable field recorders. Their multi-effects pedals are effectively a sampler platter of guitar effects, and they have pedal and amp simulations of legendary brands. If you're a player who wants to try a little of everything, a Zoom pedal may be the right choice.

Zoom's series of Multi-stomp pedals are especially great for players who want to experiment with different tones. If you like the concept of the all-in-one Eventide H9 but don't want to spend hundreds, a Multistomp is a great affordable alternative.

Our Top Picks: Guitar players who aren't quite sure which effects to choose might like the Zoom MS50-G. The MS stands for "multi-stomp," and this guitar pedal has hundreds of algorithms, many of which are designed to mimic the tones of legendary pedals. The MultiStomp may take some practice to get used to, but you can chain up to six different effects algorithms. The result is effectively a pedalboard in a single stompbox. This video demo lets you hear the MS-50G for yourself.

#7. Earthquaker Devices

Some pedal brands produce classic effects, while others add a new twist. Earthquaker Devices is a boutique pedal brand based in Ohio, but their pedal builds have achieved a following of musicians across the world. The Hoof fuzz catapulted the brand to fame, and Earthquaker Devices continues to hand make over 40 pedals today. This brand's unique approach to guitar pedals appeals to professional and amateur musicians alike, and acts including Against Me! and Jenny Lewis include Earthquaker pedals on their boards.

Our Top Picks: Earthquaker is different from many pedal brands, and we especially like the company's unusual Rainbow Machine. This bright pink pedal is classified as a "polyphonic pitch modulator," but it's different from just about every pitch shifter you've seen. It can produce a dreamy, detuned chorus sound, or you can turn on the "magic" switch for reverb trails, warbles, and other sonic surprises. If you want to see what the Rainbow Machine sounds like, check out this informative (and beautifully designed!) video demo.

#8. Walrus Audio

Walrus Audio states that they want their pedals to be just as beautiful to listen to as they are to look at, and we think they've achieved that. This company offers handmade overdrives, delays, reverbs, and other effects, and each pedal has a unique design that gives the player an idea of its tone. Whether you're looking for the highly shareable, all-analog chorus/vibrato of the popular Julia pedal or the dreamlike trails of the Slo reverb, Walrus has something for just about every player.

Our Top Picks: Walrus Audio makes pedals and power supplies of just about every type. We especially like the Fathom multi-function reverb. This compact pedal lets you adjust the depth of modulation and the tune of the decay--you can achieve anything from subtle reverb to otherworldly, ambient tones. Listen to the Fathom yourself in this video demo.

#9. DigiTech

DigiTech might not be the brand that comes to mind when you first think about guitar pedal brands, but they produce some unique pedals for players who need to expand their pedalboards. DigiTech makes the "Trio" pedal, a virtual band creator that adds bass and drum accompaniment. They also make the Whammy, a remarkable pitch shifter. Best of all, DigiTech pedals are generally affordable and offer great-sounding bang for your buck.

Our Top Picks: Our favorite DigiTech pedal is the Whammy, a pitch-shifting pedal that lets you shift signal or either down or up. You can use the Whammy momentarily (like you would a whammy bar on a guitar) or continuously. This pedal also can work as a harmonize, and it offers the option of MIDI control too. Check it out in this video demo.

#10. MXR

MXR is a pedal brand now owned by Jim Dunlop. Like a few other guitar pedal brands on the list, MXR offers every guitarist pedal options that sound great and are durable while still being affordable. MXR pedals are usually straightforward in design, making them easier for tone tweakers to navigate. The company makes classic pedalboard must-haves like delays, distortion pedals, and compressors, but they also have unique options like a 10-band EQ. You might not think you need an EQ on your board, but an EQ pedal has a surprising number of uses!).

Our Top Picks: If you've spent any time at all on online forums for guitarists, you may have already heard about the MXR Carbon Copy. This analog delay is often recommended to players who want the classic, warm sound of an analog delay without having to spend too much. We love the MXR Carbon Copy Deluxe, a tap-tempo-equipped, versatile analog machine that is still highly affordable. Check it out in this video demo.

#11. Keeley

For guitarists who prefer hand-built pedals, Keeley Electronics is a great option. Founding Engineer Robert Keeley worked as a teacher and engineer before he began designing and making pedals full-time. Today, Keeley guitar pedals pair unparalleled sonics with stunning artwork. Whether you're looking for the well-known Keeley compressor (one of the brand's earlier pedals) or something that will revolutionize your sound, these quality guitar pedals are worth checking out.

Our Top Picks: We especially like the Caverns V2, a delay/reverb machine that offers plenty of controls to let you fine-tune your sound. The Caverns has controls for warmth, rate, number of delay repeats, and time. You also can blend delay and reverb into your dry signal to custom-sculpt your sound. The Caverns can achieve anything from a snappy slapback delay to shimmering ambient trails. Check it out in this video demo.

#12. Catalinbread

Catalinbread is a unique-sounding brand name, and it makes unique pedals to match. Catalinbread was founded in Portland, Oregon in 2003, and the brand faced uncertainty after the sudden death of one of its founders. However, the company continues to make stompboxes that are designed to help players expand their abilities and find new inspiration.

The company primarily makes overdrives, fuzz/boost pedals, and pedals focused on delay and modulation. As a relatively new effects brand, Catalinbread is still striving to make a name for itself, but their eye-catching aesthetics and interesting tones are quickly making their pedals a favorite among players who like to stand out.

Our Top Picks: Our favorite Catalinbread pedal is the Belle Epoch Deluxe, a pedal that is modeled after the Maestro Echoplex. With this pristine-sounding stompbox, you can achieve decaying repeats reminiscent of older echo units, dial it back to get subtle delay/reverb, or carefully tweak to achieve your own sound. You can check it out in this video demo.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully you've enjoyed our list--whether you're just getting into pedals for guitar or are looking for a new sound or two to add to your collection, we hope it'll help guide your next purchase decision. Of course, the most important thing to consider when buying a pedal is whether it sounds right to you--even a relatively inexpensive pedal may be just what you need to take your sound to the next level. Let us know what brands we left out in the comments, and don't forget to share if you found our list helpful!

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