5 Guitar Pedals You Need for Funk

Whatever is the genre that you play, there's always a specific type of gear that you should use in order to get an appropriate tone. Of course, with music being an art form, you're free to experiment and do as you like. After all, that's how new genres and subgenres were developed. However, there are always some recommended guitars, pedals, and amps for a specified genre if you want to get an already established and famous kinds of tones.

Funk music itself is very specific when it comes to the tone of any instrument. Take the guitar for example – you usually expect to hear that bright and crisp tone playing all the chords or lead sections. Certain standards, like single-coil pickups, proper technique, and music theory skills are needed to get the style right. However, here we will be focusing on the signal chain and the essential guitar pedals for funk music.

1. Compressor

There aren't enough words here to express the importance of dynamic compression for guitar. And that's especially the case with funk music. The thing is that the genre relies on subtle dynamic changes, and rhythm instruments should always keep somewhat of an even level throughout a certain part of the song to allow more "space" for lead sections.

Using a compressor pedal, you'll keep your tone under complete control. In addition, the compressor pedal usually adds some much-needed thickness to the twangy single-coil pickup tone. What's more, you'll be able to use the compressor pedal for lead sections as well and get somewhat of a boost along with other effects.

There are quite a few compressor pedals to choose from these days. Some may prefer to go with an older piece like the Boss CS-2, while others may prefer something like the Wampler Ego.

2. Volume

Speaking of dynamics, you're always supposed to have a volume pedal in your signal chain if you're working in a funk band. This is especially important if you're a member of a larger group of musicians, anything bigger than a quartet.

Either way, you always need to serve the song in a genre like funk and you need to be able to control the dynamics right there on the spot. Having a volume pedal allows you to keep things down during your rhythm parts and add some boost when your lead section comes up.

When choosing a volume pedal, it's extremely important to get your hands on a well-built piece. You don't want the rocking part of the pedal to fail and drop down in the middle of a live show.

3. Wah-wah

Anyone who's at least somewhat familiar with funk music pretty much understands why you need a wah-wah pedal. Whatever your style of playing is, wah is an ultimate expressive tool that will help both in rhythm and lead sections.

And this is somewhat of a free territory. Every guitar player, whatever his genre of choice might be, is free to choose the type of a wah pedal that they desire. Even some heavy metal-inspired products like the Dime Cry Baby or the Zakk Wylde Cry Baby can work well for funk music if implemented properly. Either way, you won't ever go wrong with Dunlop's wahs.

Of course, some players might prefer automatic wahs. A piece like Boss AW-3 is pretty useful as it is a dynamic wah with loads of options and it can also work as a standard wah paired with an expression pedal.

4. Overdrive

Of course, this depends on the type of funk that you're playing. But the chances are that you'll definitely need some occasional dirt in your tone. While some might prefer to use high gain pedals with heavier clipping, it's usually better to play it safe here.

In our own view, it's better to have some sort of a vintage-inspired overdrive for lead sections or some specific parts where you might need to play a few distorted riffs. Paired with compressors, overdrives can deliver some seriously fattened tones that will boost your single-coil pickups.

It's pretty safe to say that the classic Ibanez Tube Screamer, or even its cheaper clones, can work well in funk settings.

5. Equalizer

The last, but not least, using an EQ pedal can be pretty useful here. While rhythm sections often need to be compressed and scooped, giving a slight boost of mid-range in your tone can help you cut through the mix more easily. That's especially the case with the use of single-coil pickups which sometimes might be too "thin" for lead sections.

There are so many great EQ pedals today. But the more options you have, the better it is for you as a guitar player. Of course, the EQ can work as a booster in conjunction with a compressor and an overdrive.

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