In part 1 of the effects 101 we covered dirt and filter pedals. Now let’s look at some effects that process the signal in other ways.
A Delay pedal takes a copy of your guitar signal and plays it back. Most basic delay pedals have three parameters-
Level/Mix- Controls the volume of the delayed signal.
Feedback- Controls the number of times the delayed signal is repeated.
Delay Time- Controls the time between each delay repeat.
Modern digital delays are ever evolving, putting a dizzying array of features at a guitarists disposal including but not limited to tap tempo, delay modulation (pitch shift, chorus etc. of the delayed signal, emulating the sound of a tape delay), panning and assignable presents. Purists claim analogue delays sound the best, creating a warmer, ‘dirtier’ delay signal than the crisp, clean repeats of a digital unit. However, the ‘bucket brigade’ chips used in a lot of old delays are falling out of production making these pedals rarer and driving the price up.
Take a look at the Stagg Blaxx Delay Pedal, click here.
Reverberation is produced naturally when soundwaves are reflected by surfaces in the environment (imagine clapping your hands in a cathedral, or in your bathroom). Many classic amplifiers use a spring tank to produce reverb. The signal is fed into the springs at one end while a pickup at the other captures the vibrations. Modern reverb effects use software algorithms to create the reverb, which can be manipulated in a practically infinite number of ways.
A chorus effect is the result of two or more similar instruments playing the same passage of music. The chorus effect happens because of slight variation in the timing and tuning of the instruments. The shimmering sound of a choir or string orchestra is an example of a naturally occurring chorus effect. Chorus pedals imitate this sound and can used to great effect to add character and ‘fill out’ a guitar sound.
Take a look at the Stagg Blaxx Chorus Pedal, click here.
Tremolo and Vibrato
Tremolo is the wavering effect produced by turning the volume, or ‘amplitude’ of a signal up and down rapidly. In the 1950s, guitar amps began to have tremolo effects built in. As a result, many guitar sounds of this period used it. Since then, tremolo effects have become more versatile, offering everything from a gentle shudder to intense chopping. Tremolo pedals usually have at the very least a rate knob to control the speed of the tremolo cycles and a depth knob to control the intensity. More complex models may also include a level control, panning and a facility to change the shape of the tremolo wave (sine, square, triangle etc.).
Vibrato pedals are similar to tremolos but instead of changing the volume, a vibrato rhythmically changes the pitch of the signal.
A Phaser takes the incoming signal and passes it through a chain of all-pass filters. These allow all of the frequencies to pass through but shift their phase in relationship to each other. When the shifted and dry (unaffected) signal are mixed together, certain frequencies cancel each other out while others combine together, creating notches and peaks in the frequency response. This creates a characteristic swooshing effect. Van Halen famously used a phaser on many records including the Eruption solo.
Take a look at the Stagg Blaxx Phaser Pedal, click here.
Flanging is an effect produced when two reel to reel tape machines are played simultaneously where one is delayed by a small, gradually changing time period. This was originally achieved by placing a finger on the flange (rim) of one of the tape reels during playback. This produces a distinctive airplane swooshing sound. Stombox flangers capable of producing the same effect began to hit the market in the late 70s when larger integrated circuits were becoming commercially available.
Take a look at the Stagg Blaxx Flanger Pedal, click here.