Best New Guitar Effects Pedals of 2017


The Pedals of the Year are here!

 

There is no shortage of guitar effects pedals in the world. Every year thousands of pedal builders release countless new stompboxes for guitarists to obsess over. And likewise, there are plenty of guitar magazines and pedal blogs to find info about the latest and greatest, let alone the many enthusiastic voices on Instagram, YouTube, and in forums who seem to present every shiny new pedal they can get their hands on as if it’s the best thing since [insert your favorite pedal here].

But as strong as the hype may be sometimes, it’s important to not let yourself get carried away by the viewpoints of other people. At the end of the day your music will be better by following your ears and instincts and choosing the tools for tone that suit your needs. When researching pedals (or anything for that matter) it’s best to read widely and critically. Find views that are contrary to the norm and try to understand why someone else sees things differently. Keep an open mind, and you’ll often learn something new. Take this approach in pedal land, and you just may discover a whole new approach to making music.

 

Your Picks & Our Picks

 

We wanted to broaden everyone’s horizons with this roundup of Best New Guitar Effects Pedals of the Year 2017. We surveyed our readers and cross-referenced their votes with our own perspectives on the pedals released in 2017 to determine which ones are the overall best.

We’ve split our list into two parts. First, you’ll see 9 of the top picks based primarily on reader voting & public opinion. Then we’ll show you 8 BGE Team Picks that showcase some of our other personal favorites. Since this article is a collaborative effort written by 4 members of the BGE team (Jake, Paul, Anda, & Gabe), we’ll each present you 2 pedals in the Team Picks section.

And we’ll wrap things up with a special shout-out to the Best New Pedal Builder of 2017. Now here are the Best New Pedals of the Year 2017!

First up is the pedal that received the most votes from our readers…

 

Empress Effects Echosystem

Builder: Empress Effects, Pedal: Echosystem, Effect Type: Delay

No one knew for sure that this was coming, but everyone was hoping it was. The Empress Reverb was a strong contender to replace all those big multi-algorithm reverb pedals out there, and many of us were soon looking at our multi-algorithm delays and wondering if our time together was also running out. The very first time I heard that Empress Effects was going to build a delay pedal on the platform of the Empress Reverb I was like, “OMG. This is going to be HUGE!” Not to mention the Echosystem is the successor to beloved Empress Superdelay. I first got to play with the Echosystem at Winter NAMM 2017, in fact, I got to take the NAMM prototype home to begin beta testing. I recall being immediately intrigued by the dual-delay engine. “Wait… you mean this is actually TWO delays and they can work together in perfect unison??” Right away, I knew we had a winner.

The Empress Echosystem is based on nearly the exact same layout of the Empress Reverb. Nearly all the same knobs, switches, and ins and outs are here. If you love the Reverb, adding the Echosystem to your board will be easy as pie. The Echosystem has a dozen different modes/delay types with 36 different sub-modes at the time of this writing. The dual-delay engine allows any two of these sub-modes to be paired together and ran A into B, B into A, or in parallel (split left/right when using the pedal in stereo). That alone is enough reason to stop reading this and just go buy one. If you need more than that, allow me to continue. The EchoSystem has all the usual controls like TIME, MIX, OUTPUT, FEEDBACK, and TONE. Empress adds a couple more exclusive controls with THING 1 and THING 2; these do very interesting and different things in each mode. You also get stereo ins and outs and a Universal Control Port that uses a 1/4″ jack to handle expression, external tap, voltage, and MIDI. Full MIDI implementation (via the Empress Midibox, sold separately) and expression/CV control are at your fingertips with the EchoSystem. A speaker cabinet Simulator keeps things sounding right when you don’t have an amp around and want to just go direct into your DAW. Thankfully, with all of this you will be able to save and recall to 35 preset slots. One of the greatest features of the Echosystem is the fact that you get the latest and greatest of everything for many years to come with the ability to update the firmware. What does this mean? Well, if you want to be involved, you can join the Empress Voting Forum and actually make suggestions and join in on discussions about fixing bugs and adding features to your pedal. If you don’t want to be involved, you can simply go to the Empress website and download the latest firmware at any time. The pedal actually has an SD card slot allowing for the easiest firmware updates in the industry. There is something really cool about not being left out in the cold, and this pedal truly gets better with age.

The Empress Effects Echosystem makes the list because this thing is a game changer, and game changers always move to the front of the line in our book. This pedal also became the main delay for both my live board as well as my studio board. Just everything about it was superior to the other multi-algorithm delay I was using at the time. None of this fancy stuff matters without great tones/sounds, and what I was hearing coming out of the EchoSystem was just the best delay sounds ever. Not only do you get these pristine digital delay tones (they’re all digital, of course), but you also will find some of the best tape and analog emulations in the industry. My preference is for the odd, nasty, lo-fi sounds and, this is where it really shines for me on a personal level. You have a mode called Lo-Fi, but you also have some other very interesting modes that can be tweaked in ways that inspire and take your music in directions that are sure to satisfy your craving for “something different.” The other multi-algorithm delay I was using had too many limitations for me. For starters, I’ve been using that one since 2010b and since that time we have never seen anything new in the way of modes/sub modes. No new sounds. Just the same old, same old since its release. The desire to push things further made it a no-brainer for getting the Echosystem onto my boards. And likewise, a majority of Best Guitar Effects readers voted more for this pedal above all others, crowning the Empress Effects Echosystem as 2017’s Pedal of the Year.

 

Chase Bliss Audio Brothers

Builder: Chase Bliss Audio, Pedal: Brothers, Effect Type: Overdrive/Boost/Fuzz

Are you looking for a new and unique way to add gain to your tone? Shut up, of course you are. The only problem is, there are a million different pedals and a million different ways to add gain, so which one do you choose? For your consideration: the Chase Bliss Brothers adds that gain in all the ways. It’s got two complementary, all-analog drive circuits, each with a Boost, Overdrive, and Fuzz voicing, paired in two-way serial or parallel, full midi functionality, presets, expression/CV input, and 16 dip-switches for all sorts of expression goodness. Woof.

I have to make a concerted effort to not get sentimental when I talk about this pedal. We’ve just had so many good memories together; I’ve had it acting as the only gain source on my board since May and it’s only gotten deeper as I’ve grown more attached to it. While Chase Bliss‘s signature dipswitch fleet can be intimidating, the Brothers is best grasped by starting at the knobs and getting comfortable with it through the mindset of playing through two very simple drive pedals. On Side A we have a warm JFET circuit, but for the readers to whom that classification makes any difference, “JFET” doesn’t quite do the tone justice. I still can’t get over that the circuit is based on an old projector amplifier, the progeny of Resonant Electronic Design’s Field Effects line of inventive drive pedals. Side B is Joel Korte’s IC design and harkens to a modern-feeling, “updated Screamer” vibe. The tonestacks on both sides focus on different facets of the frequency spectrum; Side A emphasizes transparency, letting more of the inherent tone of your guitar shine through, while Side B boosts the mid-range, further balancing out the mid-high, tight nature of the IC circuit.

Of course, we can’t ignore the more unorthodox features of the Brothers; they’re a big part of why it made the list! Namely, the ability to route the Brothers’ gain stages from A to B, B to A, or simultaneously in parallel, makes for incredible tonal flexibility. Want some ear-blasting riffbait that doesn’t obliterate your notes? Try Side A’s dense fuzz into Side B’s super clean boost. Want to warm up your overdrive tone with a gain that kinda-sorta cleans up? Pop overdrive B into a rolled back fuzz A. Need dirt but want to keep your high-end clarity? Run Side A’s overdrive parallel to Side B’s boost. Couple that with the back-mounted dip-switches that allow for pinpoint selection of which parameters you’d like controlled by your expression pedal; crossfading the tones of the two circuits simultaneously via expression is my favorite thing. It’s no surprise the Brothers was one of the most popular pedals of 2017: it’s a damn masterpiece.

Are there any drawbacks? The only thing I’ve experienced that I know is a deliberate built in feature to the Brothers is that when you engage either circuit when the pedal is fully bypassed there’s a few milliseconds of complete signal loss. This was designed into the Brothers to prevent any sudden voltage-change “pops” when the analog circuits are activated. In a band context you don’t even notice it, and this design choice is more than likely adding to the lifespan of your speaker by sparing it the jarring experience of having to disperse all that extra energy. Of course if it bothers you, you can bypass the mute entirely by just leaving the Brothers on for the rest of your life and adding dirt to taste with the expression in or automating it with your favorite DAW.

Read the Chase Bliss Audio Brothers review

 

Hologram Electronics Infinite Jets

Builder: Hologram Electronics, Pedal: Infinite Jets, Effect Type: Guitar Synthesizer

My first impressions of either of the strong offerings from Hologram Electronics hover somewhere between massively impressed and somewhat overwhelmed. I have thought of Hologram as kind of “smart effects for players that are smarter than me.” In other words, I felt they were over my head. I decided to tackle the review of the Infinite Jets last month and decided to just lock myself in a room until I either needed more water or I understood this incredible little box inside and out. The first few times I sat with this pedal I was just amazed at what was coming out of it. I was putting in very minimal effort as far as what I was playing, yet out the other end was just a symphony of incredible awesomeness. And who doesn’t want that?

The Infinite Jets is a dual-channel synth with all the bells and whistles and complete control you’d ever hope for. You will find four effects, Blur, Synth, Glitch, and Swell, with a total of 10 sub modes. There are three ways of sampling: Mono, Poly, and Manual. In Mono mode, the sampling engines work independently of one another and never overlap. This is useful for creating more clarity. Think of dialing back the feedback on a delay – same idea. In Poly mode, the sampling engines will overlap in the most beautiful way, creating a seamless wash of your signal. In Manual mode, you’re in control. You decide when to trigger the sampling engines using the foot switches. Those switches can also be set up in momentary, latching, or toggle. Plenty of “have it your way” is found on this pedal. Thankfully with all of this you have the ability to save a couple of presets. This was super useful when tinkering around. Additional control can be found in the LFO and Envelope controls. You have control over the LFO depth, shape, and frequency. You also have control over the Envelope shape and control over the effects duration with envelope times all the way out to infinity. The Dimension control is the magic knob on this pedal. It allows for interesting manipulations of parameters unique to each effect type. Sometimes it’s a high pass filter, sometimes it’s a sample playback length (which feels like a delay time). It really is the magic. You can also record up to 10 seconds of movement or automation of knobs. This is super handy since twisting that Dimension knob is super fun and musical but kinda hard to do while you’re playing. You also, of course, have the option for full expression control over knob movements. The signal path, including the drive and tone controls, is all analog, but you have digital control over them. This really is the synth pedal you are looking for, and then some.

It was a fairly simple decision to put this on the Pedals of the Year list. There have been so many posts about this pedal having a similar effect on people as it had on me, personally. My friend, Darren Jackson, released an album last week and the Infinite Jets is so obvious on one of his songs that I correctly identified it immediately. That says something when you can do that, when a pedal as a voice all its own. I have a studio of my own and the Infinite Jets is going to have a permanent place there as the “go-to” box for when I am stuck in a creative rut and I just need help finding a better way. Another bonus is the fact that this pedal has a wet/dry blend knob. I have bought and then sold so many pedals over the years that were freaky in a good way and did things that I just LOVED, but without a blend knob to make the effect more subtle, there was often no way for me to use them in a practical band setting. The Glitch mode is probably my personal favorite. Something about chopping up that incoming signal into the most incredible delay/tremolo kinds of sounds is something that I love. Another strong point is the ability to calibrate this pedal to the incoming audio signal. I used it on guitar, bass, and electric piano, and it shines across the entire spectrum. I went from knowing almost nothing about the Infinite Jets to having it as a staple in the studio. Infinite Jets, we easily crown thee, one of the best of 2017.

Read the Hologram Electronics Infinite Jets review

 

Keeley Electronics D&M Drive

Builder: Keeley Electronics, Pedal: D&M Drive, Effect Type: Boost/Overdrive

At a glance the Keeley Electronics D&M Drive may look like just another boost and overdrive combo pedal (with a beautiful sparkly orange finish), but it’s so much more than meets the eye. A collaborative effort between Keeley Electronics and Dan & Mick from That Pedal Show, the D&M Drive boasts 2 separate drive channels: a clean boost/mild overdrive on the right and a mid to high-gain overdrive on the left.

The Boost side is akin to a Keeley Katana boost on steroids, providing plenty of ultra high-headroom clean boost on tap. With the Gain rolled all the way down, the signal remains clean. There’s some subtle added definition to the mid-range, and the top end gains an almost high-definition quality. There’s plenty of output volume on tap as well. You could use this channel to add a little magic to your clean tone or balance your guitar sound when switching between single-coils and humbuckers. But of course, that’s not as fun as using this channel a slam into a preamp on the verge of or just starting to breakup. Use the Tone to mellow out the highs of a Strat or Tele or brighten up a Les Paul. Not to mention as you boost the Gain, the Boost side has a whole range of light to mild overdrive of its own to impart on your sound.

Yes, the Boost side alone is enough to make a very solid pedal, but the Drive side is a whole ‘nother monster that greater extends the D&M Drive’s versatility. Kicking on the Drive engulfs your guitar in a rich, full-bodied (sounds like we’re talking about beer) saturation that harkens back to the thick overdrive sounds on your favorite classic rock records. Now try kicking on the Boost in front of the Drive sound to kick it up into a higher gain lead solo tone. Harmonics practically scream from your speakers, and the raunchy swagger of this ordering is great for an 80’s LA rock ‘n roll vibe. Flip the order to feed the Drive into the Boost, and you’ll got yet another flavor of grit on tap.

The D&M Drive has several other nifty features and design efficiencies going for it. Labeling the order flip-switch positions “Drive First” and “Boost First” ensures first timers know what they’re hearing when experimenting with combinations. The foot-switches are adequately spaced to avoid accidentally stomping on both at once yet close enough so that you can do so when needed. An optional TRS I/O mode lets you route each channel to different loops on an effects switcher, a brilliant addition for professional guitar rigs. Thankfully, Keeley Electronics also uses non-relay bypass switches, so the D&M Drive’s channels can be set to always be active when powered up, another boon for guitarists who rely on an effects switcher. All the jacks are top-mounted as well to ensure that the wider form factor takes up as little ‘board space as possible. The power jack might be a little too close to the audio jacks when using some brands of cable, but it’s worth upgrading your patch cables for a pedal that sounds this good.

Read the Keeley Electronics D&M Drive review

 

EarthQuaker Devices Data Corrupter

Builder: EarthQuaker Devices, Pedal: Data Corrupter, Effect Type: PLL/Fuzz

The mad scientists in Akron have done it again. The Data Corrupter is one of the latest offerings from Earthquaker Devices and is one of the best pedals of the year for 2017. We have seen some great offerings from Earthquaker Devices of late, and this is no exception. The Data Corrupter is loosely based on the Electrax Sythax and the “Basic Frequency Synthesizer” by Ray Marston, only with better tracking and sustain. Earthquaker Devices have created their spin on the familiar PLL-style pedal with an incredible fuzz/modulation/octave/oscillator machine that is sure to corrupt everything you feed into it and will destroy everything in its path. If you have a pair of stiff new speakers to break in, this may be the ideal way get that done and have lots of fun at the same time!

According to the manual, The Data Corrupter is an analog PLL harmonizer with modulation that takes your input signal and brutally amplifies it into a crushing square wave fuzz, multiplies it, divides it, then modulates it into a three-voice synthesizer. Need I go on? They pretty much had me at “brutally amplifies”. At the heart of this signal destroyer is the Master Oscillator. The three-position switch on the oscillator control feeds your input into either Unison, -1 Octave, or -2 Octave. Use this to fine tune the tracking response for your preferred instrument. From here, the Data Corrupter will do the science and split off a synthesized frequency. Further controls allow you to select the octave/interval as well as the volume of this voice. The Frequency Modulator applies pitch-bend modulation to the Master Oscillator. A Glide Mode gives you a smooth portamento as each note slides into the next. In Vibrato Mode, the pitch modulates up and down in a retro sci-fi effect. The Subharmonic assimilates the input into one of eight lower octave programs between one and three octaves below the input. The Square Control blends in a great sounding square wave fuzz which I thought sounded great on its own! And all this is barely scratching the surface of all the options this pedal has.

Those not familiar with a PLL (Phase Locked Loop) will be surprised by how interesting and finicky these things can be! A PLL takes your input signal and compares its phase and frequency against an oscillator, generates an output proportional to their difference then feeds it back into the oscillator. This causes the oscillator to lock onto the input signal and generate a synthesized frequency. Serious science going on here. So what does that sound like? Well, it’s a super thick, nasty undertone with funky octaves and harmonics all over the place. Tracking inconsistencies will make things feels pretty loose and random as you noodle around the fretboard. The Data Corrupter is semi-controlled chaos in pedal form and is ready to take your guitar to spontaneously fragmented new places.

 

Boss/JHS Pedals JB-2 Angry Driver

Builder: Boss/JHS, Pedal: JB-2, Effect Type: Overdrive/Distortion

What happens when the legendary Boss teams up with US builder, JHS Pedals? Guitarists get angry. That’s right, we’re talkin’ about the JB-2 Angry Driver.

The JB-2 combines Boss’ classic BD-2 Blues Driver with a variation of JHS Pedals’ own Angry Charlie. The Boss BD-2 first debuted in 1995 and quickly became renowned for its clarity and note definition, an amp-like overdrive character, and a dynamic playability that overdrives your guitar signal in proportion to the strength of your pick attack. The JHS Pedals Angry Charlie has also become popular in recent years due to its ability to produce great high gain British style overdrive and distortion tones. Pair the two in one box and you get a highly formidable rock ‘n roll machine capable of igniting your guitar sound with a wide palette of drive tones.

Each circuit has 3 adjustable controls (Drive, Tone, & Level) spread across a trio of dual-concentric knobs. The far right Mode knob is a 6 position rotary encoder that selects the drive circuit(s) in use, alters the routing when using both at once, and affects the functionality of the onboard foot-switch and any external switch connected via the Remote jack. The 6 Mode options in counter-clockwise order are: JHS Angry Charlie by itself, Boss JB-2 by itself, a Toggle mode that lets you flip back and forth between the circuits by pressing the foot-switch, Series JHS → Boss, Series Boss → JHS, and a Parallel mode for playing through both circuits side-by-side. This feature set gives you a huge amount of flexibility for creating familiar and all-new overdrive and distortion tones along with a few different ways to conveniently access these sounds during a live performance.

As for the sounds in action of this unique collaborative pedal, the BD-2 and Angry Charlie are indeed a rock solid combo that pair well together. The Boss circuit produces an excellent range of lower-gain to moderate drive sounds, accurately reproducing the results that its predecessor is known for. Whether you’re just adding a touch of grit to your clean sound, pushing a slightly overdriven amp over the edge, or saturating your tone for a searing solo, the Boss circuit has it all covered. The JHS ciruit takes it from there and kicks everything up a notch, specializing in “angry” drive tones with a warm growl. Whereas the Boss circuit seems to have a broader spectrum of tonal response, the JHS circuit is darker in character and has a pleasing smoothness across the low-end and midrange, giving it muscle and a menacing aggression. Both circuits are great for creating an amp-like drive response and cross perform well at mid-gain settings, albeit with different colors.

Things get more interesting when you pair the circuits. A recommended setting is running the BD-2 on lower Drive settings into the Angry Charlie, like a drive pedal hitting the front of a roaring Marshall amp. Also, you can’t go wrong with running both circuits in parallel for massive drive tones that retain a surprising amount of definition on the low-end. Boss and JHS Pedals have a winner with the JB-2 Angry Driver, and it’s a solid entry among our Pedals of the Year for 2017.

 

Electro Harmonix Canyon Delay & Looper

Builder: EHX, Pedal: Canyon, Effect Type: Delay/Looper

The Electro Harmonix Canyon Delay & Looper was an early release for 2017, but it remains one of the year’s very best. This affordable compact multi-algorithm delay pedal is packed with features and sounds that offer value well beyond its very reasonable price point. Do not mistake this for a beginner’s throw-away delay. If you haven’t played this pedal yet, put the Canyon at the top of your must-try list.

The Canyon’s big draw are it’s 11 different modes. Echo & Mod give you variations of a digital style delay; Echo is just a simple dry delay while Mod adds some smooth modulation to your wet signal. The Multi mode is a multi-tap delay that adds a series of taps at even spacing and consistent volume level. The Canyon’s Reverse delay is a standout with an “intelligent” reverse echo that tracks your playing to help create optimal reverse delay sounds. The DMM setting is another favorite, emulating the iconic EHX Deluxe Memory Man analog delay pedal. You can even access secondary knob functions to activate DDM style Chorus & Vibrato modulation. When I first played the Canyon, the Tape mode is where I initially spent most of my time. This setting has a nice saturation and modulated sound, and these parameters can also be accessed as secondary knob functions. There’s also a versatile Reverb mode that can put a plate reverb on your delay repeats or be used as a stand-alone reverb when you cut the Feedback all the way down. A secondary low-pass function is very useful for dampening your high-end to suit your guitar sound.

The following trio of “weird” delay modes are all top-tier. The Octave delay does the ascending octave sound better than any other pedal I’ve heard, probably due to EHX’s excellent pitch-shifting as seen in pedals like the Pitch Fork, POG2, & HOG2. The Shimmer mode is yet another strong mode with a modulated octave cloud that floats along with your playing. These rich sounds are achieved by emulating a chain of 4 pedals: compression, pitch-shifter, delay/mod, and another delay/mod. But don’t worry about how it’s happening; just enjoy the beautiful sounds produced. The S/H setting is a Sample-and-hold mode that grabs a note or chord you play and repeats it until you play something else. This mode is a ton of fun for controlled glitchy sounds. Turn the Delay time knob while a held note is repeat to speed it up and slow it back down without changing the pitch.

As if all that wasn’t enough, the Canyon gives you a 62-second Looper as well. Plug in an external tap-switch to tap in your tempo with a choice of ¼ notes, dotted 8ths, or 8th notes. The Canyon has offered a big serving of multi-delay excellence. Until EHX enters the arena of big-box multi-delays, the Canyon will likely remain their best overall delay pedal. The amount of great delay tones the Canyon offers is hard to beat in this price range.

 

Chase Bliss Audio Tonal Recall RKM

Builder: Chase Bliss Audio, Pedal: Tonal Recall RKM, Effect Type: Analog Delay

Here’s another pedal that made the list due to a very high vote count from our readers. The original Chase Bliss Audio Tonal Recall was one of last year’s best pedals without dispute. CBA engineer, Joel Korte, managed to take reissued MN3005 bucket brigade delay chips and stuff them into a reasonably small enclosure with more features than any other analog delay pedal that came before. 2017’s Tonal Recall Red Knob Mod, or “RKM” for short, doubles the original unit’s 550ms delay time to 1100ms courtesy of 2 extra MN3005 chips.

The Tonal Recall RKM’s massive feature-set also includes an all analog signal path, 2 onboard presets, 122 presets available via MIDI, deep MIDI functionality, tap tempo, hold for oscillation, modulation, CV/EXP input, Ramping for automating parameter movement, buffered & true bypass operation, and 16 dip-switches for further augmenting how the pedal behaves.

Any other differences to note? Well, the original Tonal Recall was one of the quietest analog delays around. The RKM is slightly noisier due to the 2 extra BBDs, but the repeats stay cleaner longer before breakup than the original Tonal Recall. The RKM also has a more musical oscillation than the original. But for many guitarists, the big decision comes down to whether or not you need the extra long delay time afforded by the extra MN3005s and $100 cost difference. More good news: if you’re already an owner of the original tonal recall, you can upgrade it to RKM specs through Chase Bliss Audio. Whether you choose the original or the RKM, BGE readers loved the Tonal Recall in 2016, loved the RKM in 2017, and will likely still love all iterations of this instant classic analog delay pedal in 2018 and beyond.

 

DigiTech FreqOut

Builder: DigiTech, Pedal: FreqOut, Effect Type: Feedbacker

Always on the hunt for the most interesting and super complicated pedals I can find, I often step back and just make sure I have the basics covered, too. The less exciting things out there like tuners, boosts, and buffers can also be the most important parts of the rig. Sometimes the least complicated effects yield the greatest results. Most players would think “What’s so exciting about a feedbacker?” I mean, it’s not like it does a lot, and how often are you really even going to be using it? I recall jamming a lot in the early days on these high-gain rigs in the basement blowing out my ears and loving the easily conjured natural feedback tones. Throw in that whammy bar and AH!! Guitar heaven! Then reality set in… Maturity and playing shows at “stage volume” pretty much killed the natural feedback. It wasn’t until I borrowed my buddy’s Gretsch hollow body that I found that sweet heaven again, if only for a moment, but I wanted MORE! The DigiTech FreqOut is the answer for instantly summoning natural sounding feedback tones in an unprecedented seven different harmonic tone options. This ensures you will always find the right feedback tone that works perfectly for the moment at hand.

The FreqOut’s control surface is nicely laid out with two knobs, two toggles, and one on/off switch adorning the pedal. It’s a very simple design yet is loaded with plenty of options. The Range knob is a center/ring arrangement with the center knob adjusting the gain. This is more of a “mix” knob controlling how much of the feedback signal is mixed with the dry signal. The ring adjusts the Onset, or rise time of the feedback signal. The Type knob allows you to select one of seven different feedback harmonic types. Options here include Sub (-1 octave), 1st (first harmonic/unison), 2nd (second harmonic), 3rd (third harmonic), 5th (fifth harmonic), NAT LOW (natural lower harmonic), and NAT HIGH (natural lower harmonic). The Momentary toggle lets you toggle between momentary and latching options for the switch. This is handy for using it quickly, activating the effect only a choice note during a solo. Or you can use Latching mode to let the pedal remain on until you manually bypass it. I prefer momentary mode, sneaking it in and out at will. The Dry switch allows you to toggle between having your dry signal off or on while the feedback is enabled. Possibly the coolest part of this pedal is the array of nine LED’s to the left of the pedal that give you real-time feedback of the feedback signal showing the rise time as it comes in. Single input and output jacks are located on the right and left side of the pedal with a top-mount, 9v (235mA) power jack.

Using the FreqOut is fun and simple. The results are exactly the way you would expect them to be with no surprises. For something really interesting set the toggle for momentary off and dry off. Then use an ebow and a slide. You still get the same ebow-type tones, but with interesting results when you select different harmonic tones. I plan to put this into a recording sometime very soon. If you have ever been a fan of feedback tones and you wish to have that on command even at a low-gain, “stage volume” situation, at home, or in the studio, the DigiTech FreqOut is definitely a must-have pedal of 2017.

 

Pedals of the Year – BGE Team Picks

In addition to the pedals listed above, here are a few of our other personal favorite pedals of 2017. When we polled our readers, the mainstream didn’t vote as highly for some of these pedals, most likely because they simply weren’t aware of them. It’s our job to change that. We think these pedals deserve to be on your radar because they offer new innovations and sounds worth exploring. Best Guitar Effects’ contributing writers, Jake, Paul, Anda, and Gabe, are each covering 2 pedals for the list. And we put our team “pics” on “picks”. Couldn’t resist… Sorry, not sorry.

 

Boss MS-3 Multi Effects Switcher

Builder: Boss, Pedal: MS-3, Effect Type: Multi-Effects/Effects Switcher

When I first heard about the Boss MS-3 Multi Effects Switcher coming down the line, I thought, “What a cool idea.” But like a lot of guitar players who are skeptical of multi-effects systems, I also had my doubts. Still, I was VERY curious. I picked up my first MS-3 with some level of skepticism. One of those things where you don’t rip the box, and you don’t remove the plastic film from the display, and you don’t even put any velcro on because you don’t wanna kill the resale value. I plugged in and started poking around. “Wait. What?? That sounds really good.” Still a bit skeptical, I added a bit of velcro to the bottom and built a small mock-up board around this thing. I did my best for the next week or so to try and make it suck in some way. I had already been using the Boss ES-8 for the past year, so much of this was picked up easily and, in fact, I felt like some of the switching and MIDI performance of the MS-3 exceeded that of the ES-8. Then, one day, it hit me. I didn’t really even want to admit this because it meant a LOT of work was headed my way, but I realized that my pedalboard life had just been turned upside down. The next morning I took my very large, beautiful, pedalboard apart. In a matter of minutes it went from absolute perfection to a pile of near-useless cables and wood. As much as I hated to see it go, it was time to build the future with the MS-3 and, man, was I looking forward to that!

The Boss MS-3 Multi Effects Switcher is much like the now very familiar ES-8 in style and general appearance, with a much smaller footprint like the ES-5. It also includes nearly all of the functionality while boasting an incredible collection of 112 different effect types, each having several sub groups of effects. For example, one of the 112 effect types is “OD/Distortion”, and within that effect type you will find 21 different varieties of boost, overdrive, distortion, and fuzz. I’ve never counted each and every single option, but it’s staggering. That alone would put this thing on my board as a multi-effect. But it doesn’t end there. The MS-3 gives you full control over MIDI compatible pedals via its MIDI Out as well as 3 audio loops for patching in standard non-MIDI pedals. I know what you’re thinking at this point. “Only 3 loops??” But I have an MS-3 on two of my pedalboards, and I’m only using one loop in one MS-3 and two in the other. The MS-3 will set you free. You can control up to 8 MIDI devices at a time, a limit I have also not even closely reached. I have one MIDI pedal on one board, and I have four MIDI pedals on the other. The idea is to use the internal effects when and where possible. Boss has included many of its legendary classics in variations of Chorus, Flanger, Compressor, and a slew of Delay and Reverb modes as well as some less common goodies like Slow Gear, Defretter, Feedbacker, and Slicer among others. With all of that at your feet, the MS-3 would actually work well as a stand-alone pedalboard on its own for most of you out there. Where I personally needed a little reinforcement was in the weird kind of Lo-Fi dirt selections and to some degree the delays. The weakest link, for me, is the reverb. With everything the way it comes, the MS-3 would work very well for MOST of us. I just need a little help with the weird sounds that I need for my own personal enjoyment. Each foot-switch on the unit can be programmed to do any multitude of tasks. The intuitive and sophisticated graphics display makes it easy to know where you are at any given moment. The Boss MS-3 really does the job of being a catch-all, do-all for guitar effects. The needs of every player are thoughtfully considered here for sure, and when you include the incredible editing software, it’s just an obvious choice.

When I began playing guitar it was just an old Ibanez Iceman into a pawn shop Peavey Backstage. No pedals. Sadly, it was that way for years. Then around 1999, I picked up a brand new Boss GT-3. I was simply amazed, and I recall playing the first show with that thing and all these older musicians were all looking at it like it was a spaceship or something. For years I stuck with the GT series. It wasn’t until I bought one of the very first Strymon Timelines that the spell was broken. From then on, it was individual pedals all the way, and it stayed that way until this year… until the MS-3. Pedalboard insanity is cool and all, but for the past 7 years, I just kind of felt like I was fixing a problem that never existed in the first place. Many of the effects within the MS-3 are from some of the older GT Series units. Many of them we loved, and many we could do without. I was told by a Boss insider, the engineers at Boss went back into the lab for this one. They re-tooled each and every effect by giving them greater sonic characteristics as well as giving them greater control options to make them easier to dial in. When you give the MS-3 a chance, you’ll likely find something here that really changes things AND is something that you actually love the sound of. After all, what good is any of this tech if it doesn’t sound good? I think we can all agree that we’ve spent years where the tech exceeded the tone. Like anything, these things take time to get right. Well, Boss has gotten it right with the MS-3. If you ask me for my personal Pedal of the Year, this is it, hands down.

 

Effectrode LA-1A Leveling Amplifier

Builder: Effectrode, Pedal: LA-1A, Effect Type: Guitar Compressor

The Effectrode LA-1A Leveling Amplifier is a guitar compressor pedal inspired by the Teletronix LA-2A, the famous rack unit often regarded as the greatest compressor of all-time. And this isn’t the first time Effectrode has interpreted the optical tube classic; Effectrode’s PC-2A was already one of the best compressor pedals around. So what more could be done?

Well, the PC-2A offers a distinct edge over the LA-2A in terms of potential performance improvements for guitar and other instruments (aside from the obvious benefit of it being a small pedal and not a giant piece of rack gear). Within the PC-2A are dedicated Attack & Knee trimpots that allow you to perfectly calibrate the pedal to your instrument of choice. Eventually, musicians started asking for mods to make these controls external. David Gilmour of Pink Floyd is a noteworthy user of a modified PC-2A with external Attack & Knee knobs. And so a big mission of the LA-1A was to put Attack & Knee controls on the surface of the pedal. But that’s not all…

In deciding to initiate the LA-1A project, Effectrode also set out on a new mission: to create the quietest compressor ever built in any format. Low quality compressor pedals are often notorious for adding unwanted background noise, and thus the intent of achieving clean sustain, more volume, and a smoother audio signal is often compromised. To achieve the LA-1A’s incredibly low noise floor, Effectrode equipped the pedal with a parallel tube plate design that uses 4 identical input tube stages to achieve the highest possible signal to noise ratio. Audiophiles familiar with high-end phonograph preamps may be familiar with this technology. It’s an expensive form of noise reduction which has never before been implemented in a stompbox guitar pedal. What does this mean in layman’s terms? For preserving low-noise signal integrity during audio compression, the LA-1A is second to none.

There are a few other features and aspects of the LA-1A worth noting. The pedal also offers a foot-switchable boost section providing up to +6dB of real tube boost. There’s a Dynamic EQ switch that introduces a musical emphasis on the upper frequencies as you increase the compression of your audio signal. An external TRS foot-switch can be used for remote switching of the bypass & boost functions. There’s also a transformer isolated TRS balanced output for connecting to a mixer or audio interface and a gain pad (+6dB, +12dB, or +18dB) for matching output with any line or instrument level signal. And as another performance difference compared to the PC-2A, the LA-1A removes the Compress/Limit switch (a legacy feature from the LA-2A) since the Knee control on the LA-1A provides a more responsive and variable response between compression and limiting performance. In summary, the Effectrode LA-1A is the quietest, most featured packed, and most versatile iteration of this legendary style of photo-optical tube compressor.

 

Alexander Pedals Syntax Error

Builder: Alexander Pedals, Pedal: Syntax Error, Effect Type: distortion/ring mod/frequency shifter

Despite its ‘80’s arcade theme, the Alexander Pedals Syntax Error is not your dad’s effect pedal; unless of course your dad is a Galaga cabinet. Those of you who haven’t done much research on this lovely little time machine may see the Sample knob and think, “oh jeez, another bit-crusher,” and you’d be about… seven percent right. Thanks to the 32-bit micro-controller in this bad boy, the Syntax Error is more of a tiny computer than most pedals its size. The power contained in the un-ironically named “Audio Computer System” lends its users four different modes (Stretch, Ring, Cube, and Freq) controlled by six expression-enabled digital pots in a lean, four-knob form factor. Alexander’s cleverly-implemented omni-jack next to the output offers MIDI control and presets, CV, and expression pedal control if that’s your thing. There’s also a USB jack on the back of the pedal, and while there is no editor software up on Alexander’s site as of yet, it’s a pretty safe bet that a long-term goal could be to allow deeper user customization and/or firmware updates.

Let’s talk about the Syntax Error’s different modes. Stretch runs your signal through a variable-speed buffer, warping and repeating the notes played. By dialing the Code knob, you change the speed of the buffer which changes the direction in which the signal is played back. It ranges from normal speed to complete reverse. This creates some seriously glitchy dragging effects that at times seem to operate entirely independently from your playing. Next is Cube which is an algorithmic distortion run through a low-pass filter. If that concept confuses you, just think of it this way: (abs(INPUT^3))^3. That’s math for crazy cubic distortion. Cube is MEAN, and the tones in its wheelhouse range from angry distorted filter to pissed off distorted synth to irate distorted… distortion. Ring is a sample-and-hold/ring-mod combo that can do normal ring modulation sounds and spontaneous, glitchier sounding ring mod with the sample-and-hold kicked in. Finally, Freq is a bode-like frequency shifter with delay, opening up cascading dissonance.

The Syntax Error is a versatile pedal for guitarists wanting to dig in with many shades of weird. Thanks to the additional functionality like presets and MIDI control to make use of its many different sounds in a live performance, Alexander Pedals has ensured that the Syntax Error is more than a mere novelty, it’s one of the year’s best pedals.

Read the Alexander Pedals Syntax Error review

 

TC Electronic Hall of Fame 2 Reverb

Builder: TC Electronic, Pedal: Hall of Fame 2, Effect Type: Reverb

The TC Electronic Hall of Fame 2 Reverb expands on its predecessor with addition of the in-demand Shimmer reverb effect, a new Mash expression foot switch, and two more TonePrint slots, for a total of 3.

The onboard Shimmer effect is quite lovely, more choral than sparkling. The Tone knob intuitively opens up the shimmering high end. It was a great move of TC to add this. The onboard Tile, Ambient, and Gate effects have been removed to make room for the Shimmer and additional TonePrint slots. While I suspect those won’t be sorely missed, if you really want those types of sounds, use the TC Electronic TonePrint Editor app to experiment with gating and other adjustable parameters.

Up to three parameters can be assigned to foot-switch’s Mash function. It doesn’t take much pressure to engage Mash, but you have to mash it pretty hard to nudge the effects into their mid and top range. The feel of it could take some getting used to at first. For those who like more hands-on tweakability, up to three parameters can also be assigned to the Decay and Tone knobs in the TonePrint Editor. In the future, it would be great to have a wider Hall of Fame (X2 or X4?) that allows for more knobs and knob assignment, rather than stacking three parameters on top of each other. If the Flashback and Ditto Loopers can get bigger and more feature rich, so can the Hall of Fame.

The TC Electronic Hall of Fame 2 is still a great all around reverb pedal due to its combination of onboard classic reverb emulations, stereo chain, compact design, and how adventurous and customizable it is through the TonePrint editor and growing library of artists’ presets. The sound and tone of the Hall of Fame are solid. I’ve use the Hall of Fame on vocals, guitar, synths, and drum machines, and it works well in any situation where quality sounding reverb is called for. With the addition of Shimmer and Mash and more encouragement to use the TonePrint slots, the TC Electronic Hall of Fame 2 raises the bar over the previous version.

 

Gamechanger Audio Plus Pedal

Builder: Gamechanger Audio, Pedal: Plus Pedal, Effect Type: Sustainer

The Plus Pedal is a new kind of audio processing engine that offers piano-like sustain effects for guitars and other instruments. The distinctive, sophisticated appearance and ergonomic design puts the Plus pedal in a class by itself and is sure to invite stares from all the gearheads. Now, of course, there will be some comparisons to things like the EHX Superego and Freeze, but the Plus is decidedly different. Some things are obvious; the actual “switch” is very different. Instead of a stomp switch, you get a great piano-like sustain pedal. This pedal works similar to an expression pedal in that a “half-press” makes it behave differently than a “full-press.” Can’t do that with a stomp switch. You get real-time feedback of half-press vs. full-press by watching the LED brightness. There are some things that are also different under the hood. The actual technology within the pedal is much different than that of other pedals on the market. The Plus pedal is based on a new method of digital sound processing called Real Time Audio Sampling and Looping (patent pending). Instead of creating tones using an oscillator and filter based synth engine, Real Time Audio Sampling and Looping works by creating a smooth, circular loop out of a source signal that is recorded as you go, sampling only the last segments of your incoming notes or chords. These tiny bits are sampled in real time and looped together to create a seamless, warm and responsive sustained tone. On the surface you have a hand-crafted, solid brass piano-style sustain pedal. There are four knobs on the face with rather self explanatory controls for Blend, Sustain, Rise, and Tail. There are several useful ins and outs on the pedal. These include top-mounted input and dual output jacks and a 9v power jack. On the right side, you have options for a separate effects loop as well as two switches that allow for additional control. One switch allows for Group or Single mode. In Group mode, the pedal will collect whole groups of audio layers. In Single mode, it will focus on the most recent note. A second switch allows for Mix or Split on the output. In Mix mode, the more common mode, your wet and dry signals are mixed together on the output. In Split mode, only the isolated wet signal is generated by the Plus Pedal. There is even an option for the Clean Out/FSW output to harness your unaffected dry signal at all times. I can see this being extremely useful in a recording studio setting. A note regarding the size of the Plus. It’s about 2/3 the size of a standard volume or wah pedal. In my efforts to keep my pedalboards really small these days, I was struggling to figure out where to put the Plus. I then learned that it’s best to put it first in your chain. Therefore, I don’t put it on a board. I just carry it with me and plug it in between my guitar and my board. It draws 130mA so it can’t use a battery, which would have been convenient, so I just keep a longer power lead available on the board and plug it in that way. I like it next to my board like that. There’s also an option to split your wet and dry signal output. This is great for recording, and it makes it very handy that it’s first in your chain, splitting off that signal before it goes through anything at all. I usually do that with a DI box anyway.

This little guy is an easy choice to be among the Pedals of the Year for 2017. The very first time I used the Plus pedal, I realized something had changed in my life. I struggle to even refer to it as a “pedal.” it’s more like a piece of musical equipment. I’ll get right down to it. The meat and potatoes of what makes the Plus so great is a two-fold answer. First, the most obvious thing is the actual pedal/switch/damper. The big brass thing that you step on. It’s just brilliant. This would not be a Pedal of the Year pick for me without that. The operation and the feel of using it… There is no other way to say this; it’s simply PERFECT. The most intuitive thing ever. Everyone knows what a piano sustain pedal is and what it does. The way the pedal is constructed, and the shape of the enclosure makes it very easy to use. I was up and running exactly the way I wanted to be in less than a minute. The second point that makes this a Pedal of the Year is the sound. I have used other “similar” pedals, and the Plus just has more of an organic, warm sound. Just the way it naturally rises and falls, it just sounds exactly like what it does to a piano. As you’re playing, you get this nice washy sustained sound. The first time I plugged it in, I ran a Les Paul into the Plus into a crappy little amp with a 2.5” speaker. Point is, nothing good in the line to make it sound nice, however, it sounded incredible! I always like to have a reverb in my chain no matter what and using the Plus Pedal kind of had that sound. It was like a reverb, and not like a reverb at the same time. It was as if I’d just bought a new kind of a reverb pedal. Something fresh and cool sounding. Using it this way was kind of fun and inspiring. One of my favorite ways of using it is to set the sustain and tail for infinite sustain. You get this beautiful drone sound and you can control the level of that drone with the Blend knob.

It’s easy to understand why the Plus Pedal is one of my top picks for Pedals of the Year. It’s a completely new concept, well executed, with beautiful sounding results. After all, in the end, that’s exactly what we’re looking for. I don’t plan to ever part with my Plus Pedal, and I have a feeling that I am just brushing the surface with all that I can do with this thing. I’m fairly certain that it will continue to inspire new ways of making my speakers dance.

 

Chase Bliss Audio Warped Vinyl HiFi

Builder: Chase Bliss Audio, Pedal: Warped Vinyl HiFi, Effect Type: Chorus/Vibrato

The original Warped Vinyl MKI was Chase Bliss’s first innovative take on chorus and vibrato, featuring waveform “ModuShape” toggles, expansive parameter expression via CBA’s signature dip-switches, and a musical Ramp knob, which in an industry saturated with modulation, truly pushed the Warped Vinyl to the top of the hill. The Warped Vinyl MKII was a respectable improvement on the original with the addition of its Tone knob, expanded MIDI control & preset bank, and upgraded cleaner tone. Both were not just well received but indeed have become coveted artifacts that had every show-going gear nerd pointing ‘boardward mid-song, mouthing “yes!” whenever those glorious warbles spilled out eldritch into the world.

So, why remake the Warped Vinyl yet again in this new, burnt orange enclosure? For starters, we should recognize that the HiFi isn’t exactly a reissue. The new Hold switch, the once-Volume-now-Lag knob, and new dip-switch parameters set the HiFi far enough away from the previous iterations to be considered a piece all its own. On the subject of those dip-switches, CBA has dropped the Lo-Fi dip-switch to accommodate a switch that expands the function of the inarguably more interactive Tap/Hold switch, and obviously the volume dip-switches have been repurposed to now control the Lag. The HiFi also sports a cleaner signal path, allowing for much more transparent tones than its Warped kin, limiting it’s spook factor but increasing it’s usability across genres. Fans of the previous iterations of the Warped Vinyl might be missing the tremolo vibes that MKI & MKII were capable of when ramping the Volume knob, but don’t fret dear readers. What we lose in trem prowess we gain in much more direct control over the delay time which means a much broader spectrum of chorus/vibrato tones. Still, some owners of Warped Vinyl MKI and/or MKII who have grown attached to the volume control may not find enough reason to make the switch, which is understandable, but I have to put this out there: the ideological split between the darker black and white WVs and the newer, brighter model is palpable enough that, if I were to play Devil’s Advocate, I might suggest making the switch and making up the difference with a Gravitas or some other specialized tremolo. At any rate, I for one plan living on that Hi life for as long as possible.

 

Keeley Electronics Caverns V2

Builder: Keeley Electronics, Pedal: Caverns V2, Effect Type: Delay/Reverb

The Keeley Electronics Caverns V2 is a combination delay and reverb pedal. It’s updated from the V1 with better laid out controls, wider foot-switch spacing, an optional buffer for delay/reverb spillover, and a Mod selection switch. It’s also now a much prettier pedal; the design is clean, modern, and airy with abstract triangle art that serves as a metaphor for the complex sound possibilities and interactions between the delay and reverb. The Caverns V2 encourages you to turn knobs and get creative as the delay and reverb work well together, creating lush and complex sounds.

The tape style delay is a monster. The trails are very warm and analog sounding with a bit of lo-fi grit. At a relatively high Blend with high Repeats, turning the Time knob gives a sense of how much this delay can feedback and mangle into new and intense drone-like sounds. The Rate switch controls whether the modulation is off, deep, or light. When switched on, the Rate knob dials in the speed of the modulation. It adds more to a retro analog vibe and wobbly feel. The longest delay time is 650 milliseconds for deep cavernous echoes. The shortest delay times provide a quick slap-back echo and can go into self-oscillation territory with higher settings of the Repeats knob. It doesn’t have tap tempo, but I think it’s meant for those with a ‘set and forget’ approach or to be tweaked by sound explorers. A small warning that out of the box, the delay and reverb are in trails mode, so there could be some unintended sound artifacts when switching it back on if you’re not careful. Open the back-plate and switch it to True Bypass if that’s your preference.

The reverb exalts the sound coming into it. It doesn’t tend to muddy, dull, or completely wash out the tone even at full blend. Only in Shimmer mode, at higher knob settings, do the subsequent reverb tones and harmonics potentially blend into an ambient choir that masks your original signal. Shimmer mode is a lovely rendering. It has a ‘particles ascending and spreading out’ pattern to it. The Warmth and Rate knobs act together to dial in the strength and tone of the shimmer. Spring mode is emulated well and is reasonably convincing. Dialing in the Warmth and Rate adds a more pronounced spring modulation. With a continuous tone, the effect is more like a small wobble of pitch modulation. Modulation mode adds a choral effect and can achieve reverb closer to room, hall, and church by dialing the Warmth and Rate up or down.

Overall, I was really impressed with the sound of the Caverns V2. It’s expressive and can veer between peaceful ambience to potentially unruly soundscapes. I recommend it for guitar, bass, and monosynth. For what this pedal can do and the current $179 price, it’s a top pedal and deal for 2017.

 

Neunaber Iconoclast

Builder: Neunaber, Pedal: Iconoclast, Effect Type: Speaker Emulator

The Neunaber Iconoclast is a bit of an outlier among the rest of the pedals on this list. It seems like more of a utility tool or jam companion at first glance than something that will revolutionize your pedalboard, but it has been quite an essential addition to my personal setup in 2017, being one of the most viable options available that facilitates the transition to an “amp-less” guitar rig.

I was initially intrigued by the fact that the Iconoclast is a high-definition “stereo parametric speaker emulator” that was designed to exceed the level of sonic detail and articulation found in traditional loudspeakers. The engineer who designs Neunaber’s acclaimed effects algorithms, Mr. Brian Neunaber, previously worked with a company developing high-fidelity loudspeakers. This experience gives him a unique expertise in the area of speaker acoustics. Combining a distinct knowledge about speaker design with the renowned DSP programming seen in pedals like the Immerse, Neunaber created a tool that offers arguably superior results in many ways over what can be achieved from miking traditional guitar speaker cabinets.

Guitar speakers are essentially analog filters. Their jagged, unbalanced frequency characteristics give them their distinct sounds. But even though your ears may not notice it at first, the various dips and troughs of a speaker’s response are removing frequency content from your audio. The Iconoclast uses a smoother parametric equalization to simulate a speaker with a more balanced response. An Iconoclast app for Mac & PC provides immense flexibility by giving you deep control over the EQ curve of the simulated speaker effect. You can even load a favorite speaker impulse response file into the app to see the filter curve and use the EQ to create an approximation of the IR but with a much smoother response. The pedal’s Low, Mid, and High knobs then let you make further adjustments to the EQ as needed; they’re not simple amp-style tone controls, instead shifting the cab resonance, response, and high-end attenuation to simulate different cabinet types with ease.

The Iconoclast also has a dedicated Gate which is useful since it’ll most likely be at the end of your signal chain. (I like to use the Iconoclast before my delay and reverb pedals which is similar to adding those effects in post production after you record a miked amp and speaker cab.) There’s a stereo headphone jack with level control for silent jamming or warming up before a gig. The stereo I/O features balanced outputs which are ideal for running directly into front-of-house, a mixing console, or recording interface. The Dynamic Power Compression parameters found within the Iconoclast app help create a realistic speaker-like sag response that helps the Iconoclast pair with preamps and “amp-in-a-box” drive pedals for a convincing amp-style playability. Latency is well under half a millisecond, so there is no noticeable sacrifice in feel. You can also trade speaker presets in the Neunaber forums. The Iconoclast is not to be missed if you’re looking for quality speaker simulation, and/or if you’re considering leaving the amp at home when gigging.

 

Now there’s just one more thing before we go…

 

Best New Pedal Builder of 2017: Meris

Many new pedal builders come on the scene every year, and sometimes a few of them bring innovative new perspectives and inspiring new pedals. This year we wanted to give a special shout-out to a promising new builder, and we invited “aBunchOfPedals” to write a feature piece on a new builder that we also think deserves your attention.

Read about the Best New Builder of 2017: Meris

 

While the aforementioned pedals are the ones that made our list, there was no shortage of great pedals released this year. A few other fan favorites and interesting looking pedals of the year were the Catalinbread Belle Epoch Deluxe, EHX Green Russian & Op-Amp Big Muff reissues, EHX Synth9, Wampler Tumnus Deluxe, Dwarfcraft Grazer, Strymon Sunset, and Source Audio Ventris Reverb.

Did we leave out your favorite pedal of the year? Let us know in the comments!

And that concludes our Best New Guitar Effects Pedals of the Year 2017. Thanks for reading!

1123 COMMENTS

  1. Just heard about empress last year, picked up their heavy pedal. Sounds so good. I want to replace most of my pedals with their stuff, haha

  2. My favourite pedal of the year is always a classic fuzzface, can be a diy or a brand doesnt matter, would love to have an echo pedal tho, big pink floyd fan.

  3. I’ve been craving to get the Chase Bliss Audio Brothers in my collection. From all I’ve read and heard on videos, the sound is absolutely what I need. Fantastic pedal.

  4. Yall are causing me to empty my wallet on a monthly basis with these writeups… but send me the Echosystem and all is forgiven forever :) xoxo

  5. I truly believe that Empress are inheriting the title of top digital pedals for the late 2010s. We had Line 6, and then Eventide, and then Strymon, but now I’m really happy to see that Canadian builders are finally integrating the digital world around us into guitar technology. The Echosystem and Reverb really feel ‘of their time’, and as much as I love Strymon, I can’t help but be very excited about what Empress is doing!

  6. There are some stellar pedals listed in this article. They all look to be worthy contenders for best of the year. Tyre one that takes the cake for me this last year is the Meris Polymoon. It brings a unique voice and has quite a depth of functionality, while still intuitive and quite approachable in its interface.

  7. The reviews are great! Was looking for a new reverb pedal, now I know I need a Space from Eventide for my doompop band. Thanks!

  8. This is by far the best source for pedal info that i have found. So good in fact that I may have to get a second mortgage to pay for all the hardware I want to get after reading your reviews!!
    I love the fact that you guys get down and dirty with your reviews – not only do I learn about the pedal, but I learn about what makes them tick. Words like modulation and “impulse response” which weren’t in my lexicon before are now understood and appreciated!

  9. I’d love to try out some of the Chase Bliss Pedals, they look really awesome. A pedal that I really liked this year and that didn’t make this list is the Walrus Audio Monument. It made me appreciate Tremolo a lot more.

  10. I’m continually amazed at the evolution of the humble device we know as the stomp box. With the seemingly constant advances in the technology that can fit inside these small metal enclosures, it looks like a change of name to magic box may be required:)

  11. Sooooooooo many pedals and so many companies to sift thru!!!!!! So nice to have resource to save time and MONEY. thank you for doing the hard work to sort it all out. (hehe tough job)

  12. I want to say a “thank you” to the guys (and gals) at Best Guitar Effects.com This site is a true leader in reviewing and creating buzz for great products. Keep up the great work!
    Picking the pedal of 2017 is really difficult. There are so many great choices. If I had to decide the Boss/ JHS Angry Driver. Just can’t go wrong with two names that are leaders in the industry. It has some attitude too.
    It would be cool to see more gear like multi effects, power supplies, buffers and even patch cables would be great. I am looking forward to seeing what dual effects pedals, like reverb/delay or chorus/tremolo pedals will come out in 2018.

  13. The Echosystem is clearly one of the best delays on the market, if not the best. The most remarkable thing on it is the possibility to use two delays at the same time, which makes almost infinite possibilities in terms of creativity. The happy one who will receive it from BGE will spend some nice winter evenings;)

  14. The Echosystem just nail every single sound and finally became THE contender for Strymon. Hopefully this competition can bring out more of the big players!

  15. I was impressed with the Canyon and the Caverns. Both great ambient tools, sound great. Chase Bliss has been making some crazy stuff as well. Empress seems to be killing it right now, they seem to sound a bit more “real”/analog than Strymon’s stuff, from my experience. Those Echosystem’s sure are pretty…

  16. From the listed pedals that I have played around with, the Keeley caverns and the echosystem are my favorites. Both very useful.

  17. I think that you guys should do more reviews that compare the best of the best pedals instead of reviewing one. For example you could review several delay pedals in one review comparing the pros and cons of each one.

  18. I’m looking forward to Empress Echo-System, not because I want to win the giveaways… but man, I really want that one… :v
    I mean, look at that thing ! Great look, many knobs… usually versatile you know, and goddamn elegant !
    Adding one to my pedalboard must be great and surely expand my pedalboard versatility.
    Right now, what I need is delay and reverb, I think this one is enough, maybe exceeding my expectations.
    Chase Bliss and Caverns looks so promising too. Oh God…

  19. I love all these pedals! But I’m most intrigued in the Meris pedals. Looking into getting a polymoon soon!

    Great reviews, as always. Thorough and honest.

  20. I bought the EarthQuaker Devices Data Corrupter and it gives so many new textures to my lead and harmony lines.
    I have a huge delay systems choice in the Mod Duo but the new features of the Empress Effects Echosystem make it a fun add to my board in the future

  21. Thanks for taking the time to review these pedals for those of us out here in the ‘wasteland’. So many great pedals. After going to the makers sites, I’m enjoying an endorphin float! The Empress and the Iconoclast has my attention. Thanks again!

  22. This year there were so many great pedals it is really hard to choose a favorite. Echo System was up there for reverb/delay style pedals. I really like the sound of Elektrons Analog Heat for a distortion pedal . I also like the Data Corrupter from EarthQuaker Devices. I also like trying out all the smaller companies effects, I’m in love with idea of DIY. However my go to for great sounding effects is always Strymon’s line of pedals,the whole line is stunning.

  23. Wow! Some real gems here. I will save my pennies for the EHX Looper. It will take up75% of my pedal board, but it looks like it will be worth it.

  24. Man, I’d love to see a demo of somebody tastefully playing several of these pedals at the same time. So many possible amazing combinations!

  25. So many great pedals this year my wallet can’t handle it ha! Echosystem is on my radar and that Hologram Electronics Infinite Jets. Oh how could I forget the Polymoon because to me that’s a must buy type of pedal. It’s lookin like 2018 is going to be another great year too.

  26. Thanks for all the work you guys are doing here. I look forward to your reviews and coverage and look forward to future goodines.

  27. The Brothers has my vote. It’s replaced three pedals on my board. I haven’t tried the Echosystem yet though so my opinion may change.

  28. My favorite has got to be the Echosystem! It’s been a long time since we heard so much good stuff from Empress and this finally brings them into the big boys league with Strymon and Eventide!

  29. Polymoon is probably one of my favorite releases from this year, so dreamy! Really I just love everything Meris does, but the Polymoon was where they really nailed it I thought.

  30. Happy to see Meris get a shoutout. I picked up their Polymoon and have been blown away by the sounds I get from it. It’s really a unique take on the classic delay formula. I still have yet to try the echosystem though!

  31. For those who like to repeat themselves the echo system is desirable…For those who like to repeat themselves the echo system is desirable…For those who like to repeat themselves the echo system is desirable…For those who like to repeat themselves the echo system is desirable…desirable…desirable…

  32. A pedal with a setting called ‘whisky’ is a winner, period. Form the demos I heard it sounds out of this world too, but c’mon, whisky! Badass.

  33. I’m The best reviews on the best gear. Based on your reviews I went out and got the Canyon and Data Corruptor. Thanks for always keeping us current in the world of effects.Keep up the good work.

  34. I’m The best reviews on the best gear. Based on your reviews I went out and got the Canyon and Data Corruptor. Thanks for always keeping us current in the world of effects.

  35. I rely heavily on your reviews as a starting point for exploring effects. I haven’t been steered even one time. Several pedals on your best list inhabit my pedal board. In my opinion,you produce the best reviews of the best products.

  36. It’s nice, with pedals like the syntax error, seeing ring mod as a viable guitar sound right now. There’s so much tonal possibility with pedalboards if each pedal is viewed as a stage of a modular synth.

  37. If I had all of those pedals, then my GAS would be cured… Well curtailed… Well it’d give me a direction for the next pedalboard anyway

  38. Just played the Canyon yesterday, which is one impressive pedal (especially in such a small size!). But, the Empress Effects Echosystem has been on my must-get list since it came out – the sonic possibilities of that seem endless.

  39. Though I like have options on my pedals I prefer those that leave me with only a few tweakable knobs. In other words have 10 types of delay is cool but don’t give me 37 ways to tweak each of them.

  40. at the moment, i am, kind of, bored by huge and super complicated all-in-one pedals. that are on offer by everybody, their brother and few neighbors as well. guess ADDA converters, DSPs and programmers got cheap enough and everybody build some all-in-one monstrosity in the last year or so.
    if you are to place two [three???] of these on your pedalboard, you are better off with a laptop [or an iOS device] and a MIDI controller. might even be cheaper.
    if a pedal is that size, and digital, then it must have stereo path and full MIDI support before i even consider thinking about it.
    and why is everybody jumping on the digital bandwagon!? no pedal manufacturer can generate the bright new idea that can be packaged in a compact and analog format. 2-3 dials and 9V <50mA….

  41. The Empress SuperDelay is the best-sounding delay pedal I’ve ever owned. I haven’t had the chance to try the Echo System in person but it seems like the managed to surpass it.
    I am impressed.

  42. Man it is so hard to pick one out of all of these. Just so many great pedals! The empress ones are on top of my list for sure

  43. Very cool pedals! I look forward to hearing one up close. For now I can only compare the appearances, and these are head-bobbin’, knob-twiddlin’, COOL beasts!

  44. I am lucky enough to have a couple of the above mentioned pedals. I have found Digitech to be on a roll and the FreqOut is just amazing and unique. It would be my choice due to sound, creativity, ascetics and engineering, plus it’s funner than a barrel of monkeys. Lastly….it’s not a copy of anything really, it is pat.pending as I type.

  45. It’s not fair that every year new pedals are being made, how can I ever keep up with all the good stuff happening? I’m still discovering how, when and if to use my Digitech XP-300 Space Station!
    This doesn’t mean I don’t need new pedals, I always need new pedals, and new pedal boards and then some. I’m absolutely sure though that whatever next pedal I will have in my set-up will make me famous and respected. And if not, then I can always just annoy the neighbourhood with it!

  46. The digitech line of pedals has been impressive of late. The Ricochet is very useful since it’s seems a smaller format of the whammy.

  47. I NEED to try out the Angry Driver. I think it would be awesome if collaborations between pedal builders became more popular. Pedal builders have been successfully collaborating with artists for a while now, lets move the trend a step further!

  48. So many great pedals came out this year. I recently got the Brothers and it has changed my whole board! Hoping to get the Empress Echosystem soon!

  49. Great list, really love what I’ve heard of the Ecosystem, and Empress stuff in general. Can’t wait to see what the Zoia is capable of!

  50. Comprehensive list! Of the ones listed, I’ve had the Tonal Recall RKM, Brothers, Syntax Error, EchoSystem, Infinite Jets, and Ottobit Jr. I sadly had to depart with the RKM, Ottobit Jr and Syntax Error, but every single one of those pedals are awesome! Nice review.

  51. Thanks for giving all of us crazies the info we need. We are living in the Golden Age of effects (especially for us delay lovers). Keep up the great work, please.

  52. Alexander pedals continue in their quest to fit as much functionality into as small packages as humanly possible. Amazing!

  53. It doesn’t seem to get a lot of attention, but Digitech’s CabDryVR is a pretty incredible tool. Obviously very similar to the Iconoclast in some ways, but I’m not crazy about effects that require a computer for editing.. (And being able to split the L+R signals between two different IRs is great – my only complaint is that you can’t use the guitar and bass modes at the same time.)

  54. Keeley pedals are rock solid choices for the gigging or budding musicians. I have several pedals both modded and originals. Glad to see they are in the article!

  55. Ramen diet is how i afford gear….. i have Meniere’s Disease, so i dont work, i exist barely on Social Security Disability…. music is the only “thread” keeping me from “taking myself out”….

    my Vox Night Train 15w head just died…. things arent looking great…..

  56. Where was I in 2017?!?! Man I’ve been focusing too much of my browse time on shrewder videos. Should have been researching your page for these pedals!!!

    I have a boss feedbacker but it colors the tone a lot … hard to use. I wonder if the freq out sounds more transparent.

    Great article!

  57. Would love to finally have an Empress pedal. Very pricy here in the Netherlands. My favourite pedal of the year so far? Meris Ottobit Jr and Chase Bliss Warped Vinyl.

  58. I’ll vouch for the Chase Bliss Brothers and Tonal Recall. I have both and love them. A band mate of mine also has the Boss MS-3, and it’s pretty impressive. Modulation especially sounds great on it.

  59. I really like how TC Electronic updated Hall of Fame. Finally, there is a shimmer effect and that “Mash” system rocks!

  60. So many good pedals to try. We’re truly living in the golden age of guitar pedal design. Thanks for the nice and helpful reviews.

  61. The empress echo system is incredible. I had the chance to play with one for a few hours and was absolutely blown away by the possibilities.

  62. This list is a clear sign that I didn’t buy enough pedals in 2017. Of all the videos I’ve watched, this list certainly does seem to be the best.

  63. amazing pedals, the empress is definitely one of the best although i can’t quite compare it to others as it is in such a different league :)

  64. Fun article. Now I just want to sell stuff to buy all of these. The echo system has me wat excited though. This last weekend I five into my empress reverb and decided to push since if the more unique features and loved it even more. The sustain is insane. I want to feel and experience the echo system with it so bad now. Like its my new favorite Netflix binge, I keep watching and reading about it. I hope my dream can come true and I can just win one. Thanks for the fun article.

  65. The empress is an awesome pedal! I also really love the new TC Electronic Tailspin vibrato! It’s not super fancy or complicated, but it’s a beautiful analog vibrato!

  66. The Caverns covers a lot of ground, but can also be used as a fire-and-forget baseline delay and reverb. And, like all Keeley pedals, is built like a brick!

  67. What the h***, the Empress Echo System has eeendless possibilities!! Also a big fan og the Chase Bliss Warped Vinyl HiFi and Alexander Syntax Error! The pedal game is changing so much in the last recent years :)) Thank you for bringing great reviews of all these units Best Guitar Effects.

  68. Well, I already wrote off the Syntax Error for the BitQuest!, due to the “you can’t have all presets without MIDI”-thing, but it seems I have to once again put it into the ever growing list of contenders!

  69. They are all great pedals.
    My favorites are the echosystem, the warped vinyl and the syntax error. Would love to get my hands on one of those.
    Keep up the great work bestguitareffects, we love you !

  70. So glad Empress spelled “whisky” correctly, especially so given the “Nebulous” fiasco!

    Would be great to have an Empress “whisky” delay followed by a “beer” reverb chaser!
    ;~D

  71. i can’t help but wonder if the plethora of options and tweaks on some of these pedals make them a bit unwieldy.
    Guess i’ll have to try them out and find out!
    :)

  72. I’ve always been a fan of the Boss blues driver so the JB-2 Angry Driver is something I definitely want to try out! That empress pedal is something else though.

  73. Chase Bliss Audio deserves all the praise. The quality and tweakability that is put into a reasonably sized stomp box is so above and beyond anyone else.

  74. I do ambient guitar, so the Plus pedal and the Echosystem have been on my radar for a while, I’d love to sit down with either. The Avalanche Run is my favorite pedal I actually own, and I’d love to stack some good stereo delay before and after it for some immensity.

    …This comment is really for the giveaway for the Echosystem.

  75. Would love to test drive all of those, however I couldn’t describe them other than falling on the usual cliches which you manage to avoid

  76. Some very cool stuff was released in 2017!
    The Sustainer from Gamechanger audio will definitely find it’s place on the studio pedalboard while the Echosystem and the Angry Drive on the gigging one! Have a nice 2018!

  77. I hope you guys get the chance to really check out the Source Audio Ventris. Just got one and it’s incredible. Super simple interface on the top of the pedal but can get really in depth with it through the app. Plus it’s shimmer and e-dome algorithms are fantastic. I’d definitely say it’s a contender with the BlueSky.

  78. Totally agree with the Empress Echo System! Their Reverb should be here as well. They make incredible pedals that cover almost everything in the sonic spectrum.

  79. Every time I read one of these articles, I wish I had thousands of non existent dollars to buy every pedal. Going to have to take a second mortgage out on my house.

  80. The Data Corrupter nearly takes the lead for me just for its extreme synth sound not found anywhere else, but the Empress Echosystem’s practicality and genius dual delay system are just impossible to beat with the pedals from last year.

  81. The D&M drive is just as great as everyone says and the FreqOut is incredibly fun for low-volume settings and has more versatility than I imagined it would.

    Haven’t tried the Echo System yet but…man, those demos…that look…pick me!

  82. Great article, guys and gal. Thoroughly enjoyable. I have yet to try many of the pedals on this list, and with so many new pedals coming out weekly, frankly, it’s hard to keep up. So many pedals, so little time, you know? I’d really love to win the Echosystem so that I could try it out sooner rather than later, haha. Anyway, keep up the great work, and it’s nice to see you all back at it, spreading good tone. Cheers!

  83. Great articles, guys and gal! There’s quite a few effects on this list that I have yet to try, but with so many new effects coming out weekly, frankly, it’s a tad overwhelming. It feels like I can’t keep up. So many pedals, so little time, you know? But I do hope to get a chance someday to sample every pedal on this great “best of” list…and then some! Keep up the great work, and glad to see you all back at it. Cheers!

  84. I seriously need more money. From this list, I only have the Canyon (which I absolutely love), but now need to find a good replacement for the El Cap I just traded off.

  85. Its been an amazing year for pedals! I’d say my favorite of the bunch is the Echosystem. It blows most of the other big box delays out of the water(as does the Empress Reverb, granted released earlier) And anything that Chase Bliss puts out seems to be made of pure gold. They don’t have a bad pedal. It’s a wonderful time to be a guitarist!

  86. I will agree that LA1A is in the best effects of the year. It came out late in the year and not that many people got to experience it but I’ve been on a compressor kick for a least a half decade. Not kidding, I’ve had every Origin, including the G-P (I miss that one), RM58, Ross variations, VCA, LA2A etc… currently my favorite has been the Cornish OC-1 & using a Cali76TX as a limiter. the LA1A kicked the Cali off the board in a second. This is a very accurate description of the LA1A and there is more… you can change the tubes! Drop in a few NOS Mullards, try some different gain levels. I’ve found I actually like a nos Millard ECC83 in the V3 (the output buffer spot) as it raises the gain level a bit it adds a little bit of noise but you can sacrifice that because the LA1A is whisper quiet even at high makeup gain.
    I entered this contest because I noticed Best Guitar Effects blew up my Insta in likes this morning. I thought, hey I wonder if they are doing a new year contest! turns out they are! Especially for a pedal I was super interested in as Daniel Steinhardt was smitten over it. I will say, if I win, I won’t be the guy who’s flipping it on Reverb the same week it arrives.
    Happy New Year Best Guitar Effects!

  87. Meris audio is by far the most interesting thing to happen to me this year. I’ll compare my Mercury 7 to any other reverb ever!
    Great picks!

  88. Well, the most interesting is sure TC HOF 2. The previous version was very famous because of its great quality/price rate, but lacked of shimmer and was a little subtle. This article gives a boost to my GAS sooo much :)

  89. The Boss JB2, and the echosystem were my favorite pedals that came out this year. Empress put out a timeline killer, and boss’s collaboration with JHS hopefully sparks more collaborations between pedal manufacturers.

  90. Boss MS 3 look like the looper/multi fx i need and I’ve always drooled over the chase bliss tonal recall RKM, but the next pedal on my list is the Iconoclast, I just wonder if it would work well for bass.

  91. The Echosystem has me drooling all over the place ! What a beast of a pedal ! The Gamechanger Audio Plus is very intriguing. I can’t help but wonder what marvelous soundscapes those two might produce… :-)

  92. If I were rich. ….. doo be doo be doo be doo be doo be doo be doo ……….I would buy really all of them ♡♡♡♡♡

  93. My 1st delay pedal was an Arion dds4, bought in the mid 80s, which is now falling apart. Plastic shell. I like the way it could layer samples, and 4 seconds was nice back in the day. I still use it sometimes. Need a replacement soon though.

  94. This is my favorite place to find out about new gear. Awsome and informative reviews. Great job. Keep up the good work. Thanks.

  95. I love my Chase Bliss Tonal Recall RKM.
    Would love to try out any of these. The pedal industry is really going through a golden age.

  96. The plethora of prodigious pedals presented here are nothing short of AMAZING!!!

    Thinking back, it’s amazing how the state of the art has progressed; so much so, in fact, that I can’t really choose ONE as being ‘best’…

    They’re ALL great!!!

  97. The Boss MS-3 Multi Effects Switcher is an outstanding multi-effect system that I would love to have as the center of my pedal board for bass and/or guitar!

  98. I thought the Infinite Jets pedal was a shoe-in for Pedal of the Year, but the Empress Echosystem is still a great pick. Guitar Pedals – the best part of 2017!!!!!!! (Seriously).

  99. The best pedal, and the one I’d really love to get my hands on, is the Tonal Recall RKM. That thing just sounds amazing.

    There were a ton of crazy innovative pedals that came out in 2017 though. Huge year.

  100. It seems that 2017 was the year of the drive… lots of new dirt pedals saw the light. Meanwhile, I’m still discovering the many possibilities of the Compressor-Boost combo… interesting how different placement of these two yield different sounds. Currently placing a compressor after dirt whilst clean boosting the guitar natural tone…

  101. So many pedals, so little time to actually try them all out in a live performance situation! But give me the chance and I will gladly be the one to find placement and use for any one of the these!

  102. This review is great! There are so many pedals that I’d like to try……especially a few of the pedals by Meris. I’ll start following Meris on Instagram and Facebook.

  103. Hall of fame is one of the most underrated pedals around. So useful and such great tone. Tone prints are a bonus. And the MASH tech is a great step forward

  104. Would really like to get my hands on the TC Hall Of Fame ! But all these pedals are awesome and would find a place on my pedal board !

  105. This List is on point! So I have been holding out on the Chase Bliss Brothers well because bills and such, but then I said, “To heck with that!” and i bought it. I wholeheartedly agree with the write up on the Brothers in this article! I do not regret spending the money on this one! It is so much fun, I constantly change the order of the drives and continue to unlock the best dirt tones with each experimentation. Hands down, the BEST!!!!

  106. Great List! Keep up the great work Best Guitar Effects. My favorite pedals of the year were Source Audio’s Ventris Reverb and PettyJohn Effects Crush Compressor.

  107. Great list! The echo system looks so great, and it’s built only a few kilometres from where I live! I’m at really glad to have discover the game changer, especially since I use my ehx superego all the time but this layout seems so natural.

  108. All this pedals in one pedalboard for shure will be the best pedalboard of the century. All of them have some special, it´s a shame this pedals in my country be so expensive. Fantastic page. Always with the best informations. Thanks dude!!!

  109. Pretty awesome pedals on this list , just got the Tonal Recall RKV & it’s fantastic, like all Chase Bliss. Would love to win a pedal today.

  110. The favourite addition to my own pedalboard in 2017 makes no sound at all! The Boss ES-8 really is a game changer as far what can be achieved with sound sculpting. There is the usual ability to change the order of pedals and manipulate multiple loops with a single button press of course, but parallel loops, wave form parameter changing are just two of the unique features that bring new methods of control to the party.

  111. I really want to drive the Chase Bliss brothers. Seems like a great pedal. My favorite pedal I got was the walrus monument. Not sure if it came out last year, but it’s a great harmonic trem sound.

  112. Most of these pedals would work magic amongst the others in my system. However, the TC Electronic Hall of Fame 2 Reverb feels the right choice to replace an older outdated reverb unit I have. Looking to add depth to the ambient realm of my sound.

  113. All of those pedals are simply amazing. It is as if there has been a new dawn for sonic love in the world of guitar- inovation, respect of the tried and tested and a vigorous movement towards great, long lasting materials. Pedal manufacturers have found their pride! I like it. I like it alot. I, for one, want them all!

  114. Honestly, I don’t know how any one pedal was picked as best this year. What a great time to be alive! Besides impending nuclear war..

  115. I love the Thing 1 and Thing 2 knobs on the Empress, and I don’t even know what they do. If it’s like the Dr. Seuss Things, we should all be mildly worried.

  116. Boss ms3 is a great tool for musician. It has everything you need. Is not the best pedal in quality sound, but it does the job very well.

  117. Best buy for me in 2017 : Digitech Freqout

    Probably best buy in 2018 : Gamechanger Audio Plus Pedal

    Stupidest pedal bought in 2017 : Ibanez echo shifter.
    Not Ibanez fault just my montly pedaljunkie purchase.

  118. The Echosystem is easily my number one dream pedal right now. The dual delay engine is incredible, and Empress makes such great stuff.

  119. Spot on. This was a great year for non-traditional or innovative effects. The Infinite Jets, Plus Pedal, Data Corrupter, and FreqOut in particular are deserving entries. Looking forward to seeing what crazy stuff 2018 brings.

  120. It all just keeps getting better! That Empress Effects Echosystem would put me in a place of bragging rights over my son’s much superior pedal board setup. Single and unattached means he can buy the pricey stuff. Attached guys — you know what I’m talking about!

    I wish I could pick up at least three of these pedals on the list: Echosystem, Chase Bliss Brothers, and Freqout. Oh yeah!

  121. Very helpful Article. And even more interesting pedals that I didn’t know up to now. Especially the Effectrode LA-1A Leveling Amplifier. But I am missing one: the BluGuitar BluBOX Impulse Response Speaker Emulator.

  122. Thanks for the article. As always — so many cool pedals, so little time (and funds to divert to said pedals :)

    The D&M Drive looks and sounds like a pretty cool pedal.

  123. Absolutely looking the echosystem and many of the pedals featured on this list! (I have to win haha) Canyon is also a nice little delay

  124. The Echosystem Looks like a very interesting pedal, but will it be able to compete with such delay Monsters as the Timeline, TimeFactor etc.?

    I would like to believe it.

    My pedal of the year (though not a new pedal) was the strymon deco – best buy this year! what a simple idea amazingly accomplished!

    And of course nearly every pedal that Electro Harmonix put out is interesting and most of them earn a place in this list.

  125. Not sure I agree with some of these as a few just seem to be more of the same just with a different label on, but I do have to say that I love the way that pedal manufacturers are really caring about the graphics on their pedals; some of these look amazing!

  126. I got myself the Reverb from Empress last year, and it is awesome.
    Couldn’t test the Echosystem so far, but I have no trouble believing it earns its Pedal of the Year 2017 title !!

  127. Echo system must incredible to win pedal of the tear. There were a lot of great pedals to choose from. I own the Effectrode la-1a, so to says it’s better than that great pedal then that is high praise indeed. I’ll need to check it out.

  128. Honestly, I have used single effects pedals in the past and I am a huge fan of Danelectro pedals, but this Echosystem pedal looks awesome!

  129. I really dig the reviews….like I need another stomp box. Discovered the Keeley Dark Side early in 2017, so it must have been a 2016 release not eligible for this year? Didn’t pop up on a site search either….friggin’ awesome though….missing my Systech flanger….another lesson to pause before selling off good stuff just because you only use it on one or two tunes.

  130. The Echosystem capitalized on the success of the Empress Reverb and knocked it out of the park. Can’t wait to see them do modulation!

  131. This has indeed been a killer year for effects and the ones who build them. From killer delays like the ecosystem to endless reverbs and fuzzes. I can I lay wish I am lucky enough to be able to have even a pedal or so from this amazing list and the honorable mention section.

  132. Echosystem is my number one for sure, just for the fact that they have pushed delay pedals into unbelievably versatile territory. If you can’t do it with Echosystem, it probably can’t (or shouldn’t) be done! As far as usability, I’d go with Hall of Fame/Flashback 2. Genius and elegant solution to a universal issue (expression pedals).

  133. An amazing year for pedals! The Brothers and the echosystem are game changers for me. Would love to get on some of the hologram effects pedals.

  134. Great year for pedals. I really want to try the Echosystem and am definitely hoping for a few more PLL style pedals next year (please CBA, make a PLL with presets!).

  135. Neunaber is one of the most exciting companies around right now, and I look forward to all their releases. Their new chorus pedal didn’t make this list, but I think it’s a contender for best of last year!

  136. Really awesome time we live in with all of the pedal choices. I am always GASsing after visiting this website. Happy 2018, can’t wait to see what’s coming out next…

  137. Empress is my favorite pedal company. I would love to win the Echo System to give it to my brother as a best man gift for being in my wedding!

  138. These lists have become a roadmap to testing new gear for the coming year. There are at least a half a dozen that I’ll be testing and, if history proves correct, buying in the coming year. My needs as a working musician are constantly in a state of flux various boards serving various needs at any given time so I use this list as a primary guide for exploring. Thank you!

  139. The echo system is so awesome. Empress is so awesome. I loved my super delay and this thing is that on steroids. I’ve barely scratched the surface of this thing but I love it!

  140. I’m a fan of everything Chase Bliss has been putting out lately. They have a nice selection of really different sounding effects. Very cool Chase Bliss

  141. The Plus Pedal is where it’s at. Something completely new and impressive execution. Echosystem and Infinite Jets are awesome too!

  142. Out here in the middle of nowhere … San Francisco? … I turn to Best Guitar Effects first to direct me to the winners when it comes to effects. They haven’t failed me yet. And from what I’ve seen on the latest demos, they appear to have struck gold here. Sure, the Empress Effects Echosystem has a bit of a learning curve, but that’s a fair trade for the versatility and breadth that this baby promises.

  143. Must say I definitely agree with both the pedal of the year and pedal manufacturer of the year winners. The Echo System seems like the perfect all round delay and it sounds incredible in every demo i have heard of it. As for Meris’ pedals, I just love how well thought out they all are and they all seem like they can do the subtle and the extreme really well.

  144. Bought a few of these pedals -> Chase Bliss Audio Brothers, Alexander Pedals Syntax Error, Meris Ottobit, Hologram Infinite Jets, EQD Data Corrupter. Almost kept all of them stayed except the Data Corrupter (was too noisy)!

    Hologram Infinite Jets is just a fantastic divine creative tool.
    I’m very impressed by the Meris Ottobit (soundwise, build quality)

    One of your listed pedals I’d really like to have is the Gamechanger Audio Plus Pedal, but it’s quite pricey.

    Didn’t have the opportunity to witness the Echosystem in real time action. It looks like super powerful tool, limitless!

    Looking forward to what 2018 will have to offer!

  145. Great lineup of fascinating pedals…if only I had the scratch to get them all! To quote the old song: “If I were a rich man….”

  146. the Echosystem and the DM drive are 2 great pedals of 2017.
    they complement well. I believe i won t need more than this to have fun !!! :)

  147. Why is it the moment I’m ready to jump on a used Warped Vinyl, they make a new on that’s better at what I’d use it for and in my favorite color?

  148. Awesome line-up! I’ll have to check several of these out for sure! Was looking for a stereo cab sim pedal to replace my mono! Thanks for the reviews

  149. I just started using pedal this past year after having bought a Rhodes piano and Fender Twin Reissue. This site has the best reviews and demos I’ve found. I def have used the input from Best Guitar Pedals to make informed purchases. Thanks!

  150. glad to see Chase Bliss so well represented! alsoo good to see weird pedals all over the place. Data Corrupter, Infinite Jets & Syntax Error seem like incredible toys.

  151. I’ve been considering to get a Chase Bliss Brothers to substitute all of the overdrives and fuzzes in my pedalboard, but the price tag is a little bit beyond me. The major GAS-attack that I got after reading this list doesn’t help…

  152. The Top pedals for 2017 – Great articles! so much for me to learn, thank you all for sharing your experiences with these pedals.

  153. Empress builds great pedals. Owned some.
    Once seeked for a Vintage Modified Superdelay but the analog emulations sounded too digital.
    But for sure I would give the Echosystem a chance ;-)

  154. The Meris Ottobit Jr., is my favorite pedal of 2017! I would love a nice digital delay though… The Empress Echosystem looks so rad!

  155. Thanks for the great reviews!
    I have the Brothers, which is amazing! The Chase Bliss Faves switch, or other midi switching device is however a must to get the most out of it.
    Now I just need an equally amazing delay like either the Empress or the Tonal Recall…

  156. I have been a Electro Harmonix guy for a long time , but Pigtronix has become one of my favorite companies recently . Mothership 2 rocks !

  157. I’m so interested in trying all the mk of the warped vinyl. Chase bliss makes great pedals (I have the spectre purple knob). I would love to get my hands on that Empress echo someday too.

  158. I was getting a bit worried that Meris wasn’t going to get a mention. I’m glad they did! Great stuff right there! And Chase Bliss! Some great stuff coming out there! The empress delay looks like the perfect next step in delay evolution. That looks amazing!

  159. I bought a Boss MS3 and honestly its an unsung hero. Combining a switcher with many programmed effects is genius (such a small footprint too). The Echosystem looks really cool although its a little out of my budget (definitely GASsing). The Tumnus Deluxe I thought was also a pedal that deserves a lot of credit.

  160. Pretty excited for the Echosystem as I love the Superdelay pedal on both guitars and synths so an upgrade on that would be divine I’m sure! Some of those Chase Bliss pedals sound great too.

  161. The Warped Vinyl has my tail for sure. It is one that I will be looking to purchase this year. Chase Bliss is some of the best stuff out there but it does cost a pretty penny, totally worth it but not a spontaneous buy for me. I love getting sound that does not feel prescribed. love this pedal

  162. The Echosystem seems completely amazing but I’m curious about the Iconoclast too. Pretty elegant solution. Can’t go wrong with anything on this list though!

  163. Really excited about this list. I had a feeling the syntax error and data corrupter would be on the list since everyone loves square wave fuzz and 8 bit noise. Was really epic hearing andy Martin play the castlevania theme on PGS/reverb/tone report The Empress looks super baller. It looks like it could replace 4 pedals on my board and make it a lot easier to get the good ambient wash and epic shimmer as well as other things I don’t even know about with less footwork. I definitely would have to vote for the DOD rubberneck as a good contender with all of its cool functions as well.

    If it weren’t for buying a used boss DM-2 when I worked at a music store I may not be as obsessed with the effect.

    Currently been working with solo delays like the MXR carbon copy regular and bright, Caroline Kilobyte, Strymon El Capistan, and of course my BOSS DM-2 when I need the OG. I’m to this day surprised at how many different variations of delays come out. Would love to see a shootout between the Strymon Big Sky, Timeline vs the Empress Echosystem. Happy New Year

  164. I wish the hologram was all stereo. it would clearly replace my old Boss Slicer.
    Maybe there is more in the future!

    Thx for the article!
    Rob

  165. Though it didn’t come out in 2017 I did get the blue knob version of the Tonal Recall and I’m loving it. So many different interesting sounds in that thing. Phaserish stuff, chorus, tape-y. All in addition to a great sounding analog delay.

  166. Although it’s not from this year, I got it this year – the Catalinbread Katzenkonig. I love it.

    But from 2017, I would pick up the Boss MS-3 because of its versatility.

  167. Those meris pedals and the game changer plus are all on my list of to get pedals but for me JHS haunted mids top the charts this year, and I actually got one. Simple pedal that cuts and boosts the mid range but damn it’s good at changing your sound to something new.

  168. My favourite pedals of 2017 are EHX Canyon and Alexander Pedals Syntax Error. Long, psychey reverbs/delays and weird modulation effects are my game :) And these two are just perfect. Would love to hear them in combination, for example on some organ or synth.

  169. Pedal industry seems to be expliing new limits, but I’m a big fan of simple and innovative, so my preference out of this list would be the Canyon Delay. Cheers

  170. Empress Echosystem and Effectrode Levelling Amplifier are at the top of my list, but would add the Source Audio Ventris as a late entry to the list.

  171. Loved the delays that we got this year. I would say my favorite of all the demos I heard was the rv500. Great to see good pedals become great pedals!

  172. These all look like crazy fun. But the The Empress Echosystem would be my first pick.
    Fingers crossed for the contest. Good luck to the winner.

  173. Hey! For pedal of the year, it’s a 4-way tie for me between the Canyon, MS-3, FreqOut, and Syntax Error, have all of them and they’re amazing!

  174. Hey! For pedal of the year, it’s a 4-way tie for me between the Canyon, MS-3, FreqOut, and Syntax Error, have all if them and they’re amazing!

  175. Does anyone agree that the trend in the last few years appears to be two pronged: 1) the addition of extra parameter controls (lots of knobs), and secondly cramming two different effects together in a single housing (a slightly sardonic example that I have dreamed up is a univibe plus fuzz pedal).

    I am not saying that these are bad things, I am just asking whether that seems to be the marketing angle that is catching our attention?

    All I know is that I don’t yet have enough pedals on my board.

  176. My favorite pedal of 2017 was the Data Corrupter. That pedal does crazy disgusting things to your guitar signal, but in the most amazing way! Plus it’s something different from the “usual” effects that most of us guitar players use all the time. Sometimes change is good!

  177. Empress has been making fantastic products and this one is no exception. Versatile and musical really makes it stand out.

  178. I thought the Infinite Jets pedal was a shoe in for Pedal of the Year, but the Empress Echosystem is still a great pick. Guitar Pedals – the best part of 2017!!!!!!! (Seriously).

  179. I tried the Empress Effects Echosystem and I love it ! I can see why everyone raves about it ! I tried my friends and he will not let me borrow it ! Hope I win this awesome pedal ! Because right now I can not afford it !

  180. So many great pedals in 2017. Bank account is in danger.
    The one that I have that has been the most inspiring is the D&M drive.

  181. I never knew there were so many! I found this site after watching Dan & Mick, and now I’m lost in the weird world of sonic alchemy!

  182. The Chase bliss brothers is just a work of genius and engiuity. Can’t wait to get my hands on one for good – the presets and analog combo is GAMECHANGER.

  183. Got the empress reverb and was so impressed I had to get the echosystem. Both amazing pedals, empress knocked it out of the park with the echosystem though

  184. So many great pedals—the Echosystem and Warped Vinyl look awesome—but I am most intrigued by the PLUS pedal. I would love to play with that and see what sounds could be created.

  185. Great article. I have used a few Empress Pedals, and their feature set, sound, and reliability have all been great so far.

  186. Excited to hear more demos of the Echosystem! My favorite pedal of 2017 would go to the NRG Purrer. Amazing drive, and the a very nice example of craftsmanship on the inside!

  187. I can already see a Neunaber stereo speaker emulator with an MS-3 and maybe a preamp pedal on my board in the future…

  188. Lol, fave quote: “…unless of course your dad is a Galaga cabinet”. Will have to give Syntax a closer look/ear. Chass Bliss had quite a good year in 2017. Let’s hope 2018 is even better. Will also be interested to see who can come up with the best sub $200 pedal in 2018 (which would assist me in acquiring a more diverse pedalboard!). Thanks for all the in-depth reviews and frequent giveaways.

  189. There are so many great pedals of 2017 I can’t even begin to mention the ones I need, let alone want!! Empress echo system would be one of the greatest additions to my rig, that pedal looks incredible!

  190. I have owned the empress phaser for a couple of years now and really like the sound and possibilities. I would easily have bought the Echosystem if money was not an issue, so it is nice to have an opportunity to win it!

  191. I’m a big fan of Empress in general, and then they knock it out of the park with the echo system and their reverb. I was a Strymon fanboy, and while I still enjoy their pedals, I ended up selling all of mine, and have been contemplating a Helix, but I’m always GASing for regular stomps. Such a dilemma!!

  192. I haven’t tried the winning pedal, but the Freqout is very cool! Sustain that turns into feedback… I always have it activated on my solo channel.

  193. This is so much potential trouble for my account…

    I love the Infinite Jets, the Empress Echosystem, the data corrupter, the syntax error, The… The…
    AAARGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH

  194. This is a valid and entertaining comment in its own right and not anyway just posted here to enter any pedal givewaway

  195. So happy the echosystem made it! I’m always happy to see a fellow Canadian’s amazing ideas come to be appreciated and loved by everyone! I’ve never owned a big box Delay and this one seems like THE pedal!

  196. I haven’t tried the winning pedal, but the Freqout is cool! Sustain that turns into feedback… I always have it activated on my solo channel.