5 Guitar Pedals You Need for Reggae

Whatever is the genre that you play, there are first certain standards you'd need to meet if you wish to make your music sound the way it's expected to. Of course, you're free to experiment and do all sorts of crossovers, but to do so, you're supposed to know the basic boundaries of the genre. This includes knowing musical elements and theory that applies to these particular styles, as well as getting the right tone. In this simple guide, we will be focusing on the guitar tone aspect of one of the most famous genres of all time ñ reggae.

Of course, the first recommended thing you'd want for such a genre is a guitar with single-coil pickups, although it's not uncommon to see humbuckers on the guitars of some famous reggae musicians. However, we'll be looking at the most important guitar pedals you need for reggae music. With this setup of the signal chain, you'll have an easier time dialing in some of the appropriate tones.

1. Compressors

We can go on for days about how all compressor effect is still a criminally underrated effect among guitar players, as well as with other instrumentalists and even vocalists. Compressor pedals are essential for almost any genre out there. This especially goes for rhythm guitar works, and reggae will have plenty of it.

Dynamic compression allows you to keep your dynamics in order by making quiet parts louder and louder parts quieter. They can also help you "fatten" your tone, but the main idea is to keep dynamics in certain bounds that will work in band settings. This means that you won't pop out in the mix too much when you play a certain note that your amp might pronounce more or that you just played louder. There are many ways that you can apply dynamic compression, making it one of the essential components of every signal chain.

There's an abundance of great compressors that you can choose from, including Boss CS-3, TC Electronic Hyper Gravity, Wampler Ego, and MXR Dyna Comp, just to name a few.

2. Overdrives

There's not exactly too much lead playing in reggae, but there will most certainly be parts where a guitar player will need to take the spotlight and perform the main theme or a solo. The "scorched" tone of a hard-clipping distortion pedal and off-the-charts crazy tone of fuzz effects won't exactly fit reggae. So the best option in these cases is the good old classic overdrive effect.

What makes overdrive pedals a viable choice here is their soft clipping. They will give enough of a punch but they won't make everyone's ears bleed from all the excessive hard clipping. Of course, you can always go with the classic Ibanez Tube Screamer here, but stuff like Boss BD-2, Fulltone OCD, or even TC Electronic MojoMojo will do the trick. Paired with a clean tube amp, these pedals do wonders for your tone.

3. Reverbs

Whatever kind of music you're into, it's not exactly the best idea to perform with a completely dry sound. This is why you need to add some "wetness" to it with a reverb pedal. Some may argue that classic echo and delay pedals are a better option but reverbs just give enough of that old school feel to your tone. For this purpose, we recommend something like Strymon BigSky or Electro-Harmonix Ocean's 11. These can do pretty well both with lower settings or with a complete feedback-drenched wet tone. However, we would recommend leaving reverb pedals on lower settings for rhythm purposes.

4. Wah

And what would reggae music be without the wah-wah effect? Whether we're talking about rhythm sections or leads, wah always finds its place in this genre. Just like in funk music, it became one of the most recognizable elements of the style.

For this purpose, you can essentially use any kind of wah that your heart desires. Like that deep sweep of the Zakk Wylde Cry Baby? Sure, that can do the trick. If you want to go full pro, you can check out the rack-mounted Cry Baby DCR-2SR. It allows you to create any kind of wah you desire with its detailed EQ controls. Of course, the effect on this unit is controlled using an external foot controller that looks and works like any classic wah.

5. Volume

In a genre like reggae, overall dynamics bear huge importance. Especially if you're playing in a larger band that has all sorts of different instruments, including horn sections. It's up to you, as one of the members, to give enough space for everyone else who's playing the lead section. It's also up to them to give enough space for your solos and other lead parts. A volume pedal is an essential tool in these settings and an important part of your signal chain.

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  • No phaser? Interesting.

  • What about an echo pedal?


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