5 Guitar Pedals You Need for Rock

Thanks to the rapid development of the guitar as an instrument, rock music ended up taking over the world. In fact, it became so popular that it gave birth to many other movements in music, including heavy metal with all its subgenres. However, there's just something special when it comes to classic rock music. It's as if no other movement was able to capture this magic. One reason why this is the case is due to the sweet guitar tone that everyone seemed to like.

While we're at it, we thought about doing a brief guide, looking into different effects, and coming up with the list of the most important pedals for rock music. Before we begin, it is important to note that this is all open for discussion. Someone else might have a different perspective on it, especially because "rock" is such a wide term. Anyway, here's our pick.

1. Distortion

This one was pretty obvious. Distortion is an essential part of rock music. However, we should point out that rock music usually doesn't go well with some of the extremely high gain pedals designed for metal (with a few exceptions, of course). The obvious choice for a great distortion pedal would be the classic Boss DS-1 or the MXR Distortion Plus. These were first released back in the 1970s and are still in production. Getting your hands on these would help you get the vibe of those old vintage tones.

If you're into the 1980s rock tones, then you shouldn't look further than ProCo Rat 2. Although simple, it might take some time getting used to. But when you finally get a hang of its controls, you'll be able to do wonders with it.

2. Overdrive

As we explained in some of our other articles, overdrive is a type of distortion with smoother and softer clipping. But with the classic rock being a more nuanced genre than metal, it's a good idea to have a wider palette of distorted tones at your disposal. After all, it's not only about turning down the gain knob on your distortion pedal or your guitar's volume pot. There's just something smooth in overdrives that makes your tone fit certain songs better.

Ibanez Tube Screamer has been praised as one of the best overdrive pedals of all time. If that one's too expensive for you, Behringer has a pretty cheap and decent copy called TO800 Vintage Tube Overdrive. Of course, there's an abundance of great overdrives on the market, including stuff like Boss OD-1 or Fulltone OCD.

3. Compressor

While it's often overlooked, compressor pedals are essential for various different genres. If you're playing rock music, there's definitely going to be a lot of switching between lead and rhythm sections. This means that you'll need to take care of your dynamics.

We've talked a lot about the importance of compressor and how it works. Essentially, it "flattens out" the dynamics in your playing by increasing the volume of quiet parts and decreasing the volume of louder parts. It can also help you achieve a "fatter" and "chunkier" tone if you have a guitar with single-coil pickups.

4. Chorus

Chorus is a very useful effect, both for clean and distorted situations. Being a modulation effect, it makes a copy of your signal, delays it a little bit, and adds this slow "swirl" to its pitch. This way, you get the impression that there are two guitars playing at the same time. It's as if you get this "3D" feel to your tone.

In a clean setting, you can get some really sparkling tones. If you use it with an overdrive pedal, you can get some pretty solid bluesy lead tones. And if you combine it with your distortion, you might just even get some of those Zakk Wylde tones. Either way, it's definitely a pedal worth having in your signal chain.

5. Reverb

There have been many discussions about whether delay or reverb is a better effect. Both rely on the same principle – repeating what you just played. Only thing is that delay has very bright and precise repeats, while the reverb gives an impression of a large cathedral or a hall. But one thing remains – it's better not to have a completely "dry" tone and have something to saturate it with.

However, reverb might be a better option for classic rock music as it might give it more of a vintage-oriented vibe. The delay often reminds us of modern music. But with reverb, you can even get into those classic surf rock territories. In case you're looking for a new reverb pedal, Strymon Big Sky might be a great option as it gives some really "spacious" feels.


At the end of the day, whatever your choice of pedals might be, you'll always need to invest a lot of time and effort to find that perfect tone that will suit your needs. You can start by trying to copy the tone of rock guitar legends. It might be a challenge, but it definitely comes as a great exercise.

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