7 Strange Guitar Pedals to Inspire You
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Guitar effects span from the simplest of tuning units to the most outlandish sounds ever to be tamed into a stompbox. Today I wanted to focus on the outlandish side of things. It is pedals like the ones that I will list below that really can inspire you to make some original music… or perhaps, more likely, just get you to spend all of your practicing time by turning knobs. Regardless of what you may or may not actually use these pedals for, they are without a doubt cool and unique to no end. Alright then, no more rambling, on to the list.
EarthQuaker Devices Rainbow Machine – $229.00
I just had to kick off this list with a few pedals from EQD. This company has made a name for itself from making lovely, quirky pedals. The Rainbow machine might be what you could consider the official representative of the brand. EQD describes this pedal as a polyphonic pitch shifting modulator and that is actually a pretty darn good explanation. To really understand just what this thing can do you really need to hear it. At its core you have a unique modulation experience that can be taken to crazy extremes with the utilization of the magic switch/knob. If you are interested in pedal experimentation, this is one heck of a place to start.
EarthQuaker Devices Data Corrupter – $229.00
For those of us that thought the Rainbow Machine was as weird as a pedal could get EQD quickly squashed those thoughts with the Data Corrupter. At the heart of this unit is a really aggressive square wave fuzz that is nothing to insane all on its own. However, once you start to play with the subharmonic and oscillator things get wild. Thankfully, there is a mixer to help you tame these unorthodox sounds (at least a little bit).
To attempt to list all the potential sounds in this pedal would be a futile endeavor. Just know that if you love the preposterous side of sound waves, you’ll love the Data Corrupter.
EarthQuaker Devices Pyramids – $299.00
The Pyramids is a much more traditional effect than the above two Earthquaker devices. If you didn’t dig in too deep, this pedal may seem to function as a run of the mill flanger. And while those stereotypical flanging tones are in this box, it would be a shame if you spent the $300 and didn’t venture into the unique sonic textures that a pedal like this can create. Once you take this guy out of the Classic setting, basically all the other modes give way to new frontiers of flange. From the harshest rhythmic modulation to more open pad-like sounds, there is a lot to unpack in this pedal. If you want a “weird” flanger, this is essentially the king.
Meris Hedra – $299.00
Meris is another company that is much loved for their extraordinarily special pedal design. The Hydra is what you could think of as a pitch workstation for your guitar. You can layer up to three different voices on top of your guitar's signal, which means that this can make you sound HUGE. These voices are able to be dialed in to the key and or scale that you are working in. You also have four different delay configurations to choose from, giving you the potential for all kinds of modulated echo. There is so much that this can do, it truly goes miles above the standard octave up and down.
Meris Enzo – $299.00
Many guitar players seem to love the idea of transforming their instrument into a synth. Well, if you're one of those players, then the Enzo is your dream pedal. This is not just a pedal that is supposed to sound like a synth. No, the Enzo is a real synth that you just so happen to play your guitar through. This pedal contains three built-in synth modes (mono, poly and arp) along with pitch shifter. The mono mode is great for impactful single note lines while the poly mode aids in crafting lush chords. And the arp mode is what really brings this pedal to life, giving you the ability to make rich arpeggiated textures. This is something that you will be able to play around with pretty much endlessly. If you needed something different sounding this certainly is that, as far as the guitar world is concerned anyways.
Chase Bliss Thermae – $499.00
Chase Bliss pedals may be expensive, but they are unparalleled in form and sometimes even in concept. The Thermae is a fantastic pedal for those looking for something that is both boutique and zany. This pedal is a hybrid that combines delay with pitch shifting. As with all Chase Bliss designs there is a lot of control packed into a small form factor here. Again, this is one of those pedals that you must hear to get it, and some players very well may never get it. Don’t misunderstand, this pedal can sound downright beautiful, but it is definitely not something that you’re used to hearing.
Zvex Fuzz Probe – $239.00
If you came to this list for strange, you have now arrived. Zvex makes all kinds of really cool and wacky pedals but this has to be the wackiest of the bunch. The fuzz in this pedal is the Zvex Fuzz Factory, which is pretty unique in its own right, but the added theremin here is what takes this unit into the avant-garde. Yep, this is literally a fuzz/theremin 2-in-1. The way you control the theremin is by moving your foot or hand over the large black proximity plate located on the front of the pedal. This is truly a hard pedal to get a “useable” tone, by most players' ears. However, if you want the strangest of the strange, this pedal is a must have.