5 Guitar Pedal Myths

Let's face it, the world of guitar and guitar-oriented music would not be the same without the use of effects pedals. The first devices resembling pedals were available ever since the late 1940s, but it was sometime in the 1960s and the 1970s that they saw widespread use. During the 1990s and onwards, it became almost impossible to create good tones in most of the genres without any use of pedals. Of course, this comes down to personal preferences, but having more effects does give more versatility.

But just like with any gadgets or devices that become so popular over the years, different myths began emerging about guitar pedals. It's not uncommon, even these days with an everyday exchange of tons of information on the internet, to stumble upon complete misinformation. Especially if we're talking about technology and the use of audio effects. Knowing that this is the case, we've come up with this brief list of top 5 guitar pedal myths you might encounter.

1. Distortion can mask your sloppy playing

This can't be further from the truth. What's more, the high gain distortion can only make you sound worse. The higher the gain, the sloppier your playing sounds. It's just that simple. Those crushing distortion pedals with a "scorched" tone can only amplify one player's sloppy techniques.

This is a very common myth, especially among beginners and intermediate players. They're the ones who tend to use higher gain pedals on high gain settings, thinking it will help their cause. However, playing on the high gain setting is extremely difficult if you want to keep it tight. Your picking dexterity must be perfect and coordination between the left and right hand should be spot-on as well.

2. True bypass is better than buffered

We've heard so many discussions over the years that usually end up with guitar players saying that true bypass is always a better solution compared to buffered pedals. Even some of the guitar greats like Yngwie Malmsteen have said this.

However, the discussion makes no real sense. It's just like when someone argues that humbuckers are better than single-coils or vice-versa. It's about your personal preference. The thing about true bypass pedals, if you use longer signal chains and longer cables, your tone will suffer. That's why some lovers of true bypass tend to put at least one buffered pedal, quite often a tuner, into the signal chain.

Buffered pedals do change your tone, but they can "save" it in case you're using longer signal chains and setups.

3. Compressor pedals are not important

We can't express enough how important compressor pedals are. No matter the genre or subgenre that you play, you'll always find a good use for compressor pedals. The main reason is that they control the dynamics of your tone by lowering the volume of those louder parts and increasing the volume of quiet parts. This way, your tone can get "thicker" or even get somewhat of a boost, depending on how you set it up. It can also come as a very powerful tool for controlling tones of single-coil pickups. You can make them sound closer to humbuckers in some way. Overall, compressor pedals are not to be ignored and are a very powerful tool.

4. You can't ever copy a tone of some old vintage pedal

We all tend to be attached to some older pedals or those vintage devices that made a huge breakthrough in the world of rock music. Even the famous rock players are prone to this and will often swear by some of the oldest pedals, claiming that these tones just can't be replicated.

The thing is, technology these days is so advanced that it really does sound kind of silly when someone claims that a fairly simple circuit cannot be replicated. After all, these pedals have been made by people. There's no actual magic involved, no matter how often the guitar players tend to call them "magical." A good clone of a pedal can make it sound just like the original. All you need are the right builders who know their job.

5. Certain vintage transistors and op-amps are better

Speaking of components, we've seen many different transistors and operational amplifiers being used in pedals over the years. Some famous models have changed the types of these transistors or op-amps due to shortages or the fact that a company that was making the components closed down.

Many will swear by the JRC4558 or any other particular chip, but there are many ways to replicate the tones of old pedals. Even some cheaper clones today are able to copy the same exact tone of an old Tube Screamer. So don't get too obsessed with it. Just try out pedals, see what it fits your playing, and don't get worked up about not having certain components.

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