Guitar Pedal Effects

My first encounter with audio effects processing was a humble distortion guitar pedal. Long before discovering the myriad of mind-bending effects available through computer-based DAW production, I had plenty of fun with the basic delay, chorus and flanger guitar pedals. However, even in the computer studio, there is still a place for pedal effects…

Guitar Pedals – Not Just For Audio Effects

Although the majority of guitar pedals are designed to modulate or otherwise alter the analogue signal created by the vibration of a guitar string, it is also possible to convert a guitar’s output into a MIDI signal.

This, in effect, turns a guitar into a MIDI controller/instrument… using your guitar, you can play a synthesiser or sampler, either as a hardware unit or indeed plugin instruments within a DAW. There are two elements required for this to work – you need a MIDI pickup on your guitar (usually installed alongside the standard pickups) and then a pedalboard which can receive and process this MIDI data.

guitar pedal boss gr33 midi

In my studio, I have a Boss GR-33 guitar pedal unit (now discontinued – however, you can still buy its smaller sibling, the GR-20).

This is actually a synthesiser, but instead of the more common keyboard input, the controller is a guitar (modified with a Roland GK-2A MIDI pickup). Each string can be assigned a separate MIDI channel, so that each string could be associated with a different patch/instrument – if you so choose, you can play a string quartet on the E string, a saxophone on the A string and a funk organ on the D string.

However, due to the stringed nature of the guitar itself, the best performance results from this sort of guitar pedal are achieved when using string patches, or lush synth pads. Smooth glissando runs can be easily created, which can be problematic with a keyboard input.

Guitar Pedals – Not Just For Guitars

Guitar pedals are very useful tools for a live setup… even for the electronic musician. Being able to control effects with your feet is a great boon, as it leaves your hands free to focus on other things. But don’t feel you can only feed a guitar through them – for example, use a mixing desk to split your DAW output and feed it through a series of guitar effects in parallel with your ‘dry’ output, or just send vocals/percussion/sax through them directly.

Guitar Pedal Effects for iPad

The iPad has been quick to take on the roles of many musical hardware devices; beatboxes, sequencers, keyboards and samplers have all been implemented as iPad apps. But (albeit with the help of some additional hardware) the iPad can now be used as a guitar effects processor too.

The AmpliTube iRig converts your iPad into a portable touchscreen guitar amp simulator and audio effects unit. AmpliTube has long been available as a DAW plugin, and has quite a pedigree in this area. Once you have the iRig adapter (which allows you to plug your guitar into the iPad) and the AmpliTube app installed, just hook up your guitar and wail away.

Another player to enter this market is Griffin’s Guitar Pedal, which actually provides a stompbox style guitar pedal hardware unit to plug into your iPad. This works with Griffins free iShred Live app to provide your guitar with some extra oomph in the sonic department.

Griffin Guitar Pedal Stompbox for iPad


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