Pedals

This compact box is a monster tone generator, with a dozen analog-synth-based core sounds and 171 variable presets, plus expansive tweakability.

A staggering amount of classic and otherworldly sounds that are easy to shape. Compact enclosure. Easy to use.

Really? There’s 171 preset voices and they’re not listed in the manual?

$299

Boss SY-200
boss.info

4
5
4.5
5

Roland produced the first guitar synthesizer, the GR-500, in 1977. It was cumbersome—requiring multiple rack spaces or a tabletop stand, and a special guitar outfitted with hexaphonic pickups. Problems with latency and tracking were all too real, as anyone who tried bending a note learned. But, with the right coddling, they sounded heavenly. Check out David Bowie’s “Ashes to Ashes” to hear the GR-500 at its best.

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Tube power and impressive cab sims make up a versatile do-it-all drive that’s a sweet value, too.

A variety of great drive tones packed into a versatile and well-designed pedal.

No option to stack channels in series. No independent headphone level control.

$299

Blackstar Dept. 10 Dual Drive
blackstaramps.com

4
4.5
4.5
5

Though they can still seem like a novelty, tube-loaded drive pedals have been with us for decades. The B.K. Butler Tube Driver arrived in the late ’70s. The Mesa/Boogie V-Twin, the Electro-Harmonix English Muff’n, and others popped up in the decades that followed. Now, a new push toward tube-driven pedals is afoot—fueled largely by the modeling boom, pedal preamps with impulse response and speaker-simulation capabilities, and the urge to lend tube color to both modes of amplification.

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An analog phaser that walks the waveforms between simplicity and subversive modulations sounds.

Unique features and sounds for its price category. Intuitive. Capable of sounds beyond simple phase. High-quality build.

Might be expensive for players that don't utilize the most unusual sounds.

$250

Sitek Phasia
sitek.rocks

4.5
4.5
4.5
4

It's easy to overlook the expressive potential of a phaser if you use a simple, 1-knob version of the effect. Old horses like the Small Stone and Phase 90 may be perfect in their simplicity. But paradoxically, when you really listen to the depth of those basic pedals' voices—rich with ephemeral, passing overtones and harmonic complexities—you hear how varied and nuanced phase can be with precise wave-shaping control.

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