With tens of thousands of effects pedals on the market, the competition is stiff and the marketing cut-throat. With your seldom-surplus musician's dollars on the line, how can you possibly tell whether you're going to be suckered into buying a gimmicky pedal, or whether you'll add a useful asset to your pedalboard's arsenal? We found five examples of pedals designed to produce effects in creative or unique ways - without being totally useless.
1. COPPERSOUND PEDAL EFFECTS - TELEGRAPH STUTTER
Purely by sight alone, The Telegraph Stutter should be raising some red flags if you're trying to be efficient with purchasing gear. This Coppersound pedal consists of a small coloured box with a classic telegraph mounted on top; however, the morse code functionality is where the gimmick ends, and the usefulness begins.
Functioning as a simple killswitch, the pedal's unique design actually makes it super easy to control with your foot, allowing you to create tremolo effects manually by tapping the key or to cut your sound entirely. The polarity switch determines whether contact with the telegraph either cuts the sound, or only lets it through when pressed.
Popular guitar YouTuber Rob Scallon demonstrates below how some really useful sounds can come out of this pedal:
2. FUZZROCIOUS/ELECTRO-FAUSTUS - GREYFLY FUZZ
This collaboration between New York effects company Electro-Faustus' well-known Blackfly pedal and Fuzzrocious' Grey Stache Fuzz is quite a curious looking box with its distinctive three-spring front. These springs appear to be yet another strange design feature that doesn't really have a practical use, or if they do you'll hit them once and then never again, but there's more to this pedal than appearances alone.
The switch on the top left hand corner alternates between the spring laden circuitry of the Blackfly and the Grey Stache Fuzz, allowing users to generate noise by strumming, scratching or tapping the springs - you can even change them out with other materials. The Fuzz side of the switch is a traditional fuzz pedal, allowing you to manipulate the springs to make some decidedly unique sounds.
3. T-REX - REPLICATOR TAPE ECHO
In the past, authentic tape echo was only able to be created in studio using large tape reel machines. Given the size of these reels, it wasn't easily possible to implement in a live setting, which is why many effects companies used different methods to emulate, but not reproduce exactly, the famous sound. The Replicator Tape Echo by Danish pedal company T-Rex, on the other hand, houses an actual cassette tape mounted on the front of the pedal.
In using an actual reel of tape and magnetic heads to pass the sounds and then repeat them through, the pedal functions exactly like one of the original tape machines, but in a pedalboard-mountable package. The difference between the Replicator and digitally-precise emulated tape echo is that the physical tape will naturally add an unpredictability and colour to the sound of the actual tape exactly as it would have done in studio.
4. WALRUS AUDIO - JANUS
A huge box with two distinctive joysticks, the Janus by pedal veterans Walrus Audio is a fuzz/tremolo pedal that uses the X/Y axis of the two joysticks to control various paramaters of those specific effects - the depth and rate of the tremolo, and the quantity and tone of the fuzz.
In being given the freedom of movement the joysticks allow, you really can treat the pedal as almost an instrument in itself, shaping the sound on the fly. In mixing these two effects together so easily you can create some truly interesting sonic landscapes, so much so that the operation of the pedal becomes a performance of its own.
5. MXR - TALK BOX
You've seen, and more likely heard, these effects used in classicly cheesy ways on songs like Bon Jovi's 'Livin' On A Prayer' and Peter Frampton's 'Do You Feel Like We Do' to emulate vocal sounds using a guitar. Essentially, the effect works by amplifying the input signal from the guitar up a tube into the player's mouth which they use to manipulate the sound.
Too often this effect is given a bad name due to it being used to create cliche speaking-guitar noises; however, it can actually function quite tastefully as an almost hyper-controllable wah pedal using minimal movements as opposed to basically singing. A perfect example of this is in Pink Floyd's 'Pigs' in which David Gilmour creates an eerie texture over his guitar solo using a talkbox.
Another perfect example is Travis Stever's solo off Coheed And Cambria's 'The Willing Well IV: The Final Cut':
For more unconvential items you could include in your collection of music-related things, check out this little Top 10 we put together here.