The Best EQ Pedals for Massive Tone Shaping
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Guitar pedals might just have one of the most passionate followings amongst all music gear. There is something so enthralling about all the classic circuits, colorful enclosures, and amazing artwork. Yet, some varieties of guitar pedals do not have this mystique nor aesthetic going for them. Yes, today we are looking at the seemingly dull world of EQ pedals. The truth is that a good EQ is one of the most valuable tonal tools in a guitar player's arsenal. With that in mind, here are several units, some of which just get the job done, while others go above and beyond.
Boss GE-7 – $119.99
Can it really get any more classic than Boss? This company has been making quality and reliable stomp boxes for quite some time now. I like to think of this pedal as being the perfect poster child for this company’s reputation. The GE-7 is pretty much as straightforward and easy to use as you get with a graphic EQ. It has (as the name implies) 7 different bands that cover a range of frequencies spanning 100Hz to 6.4kHz. Each individual band has the ability to cut or boost up to 15dB of that frequency range. The only other controls on this thing are the level slider and of course the stomp pad to turn the pedal on/off. Yep, this is a simple unit, but it’s crazy useful and would probably survive being thrown as a defensive projectile (wouldn’t recommend it though).
MXR M108S – $129.99
If you are someone who likes the idea of having more frequency control but also prefers things to remain simple, MXR has you covered. Similar to Boss MXR has been around for a LONG time and they have built up a great reputation. This EQ is a wonderful option for those who really like to tweak, seeing as you are getting 10 bands to dial-in to your liking. The frequency range here is 31.25Hz to 16KHz, meaning if you can hear it you can alter it (for the most part). Just like the GE-7 you have a level control that can be very practical, also you get the further useful addition of a gain slider. With this added control you can essentially think of this as a full-on boost/EQ hybrid. This one is truly a great pedal that you cannot go wrong with.
JHS Haunting Mids – $149.00
This offering from JSH is quite different when compared to the other entries on this list. Instead of letting you control a large full-range of frequencies with different bands, this unit focuses specifically on the mid-range. Why would you want less frequency control? Well, don’t think of it as less, but rather as exactly what you need. Afterall the guitar’s tone is overwhelmingly influenced by the mids. The Haunting Mids is incredibly simple by design and for some, this is much preferred to more flushed out pedals. Also, this pedal is particularly great at doing one specific thing, shaping your drives. This unit was designed to be able to change the characteristics of gain pedals in a number of ways. Placing the Haunting Mids after (or before) a drive can really help you to get the most out of that pedal. Ultimately, I recommend this for anyone wanting an EQ that is set up for tone-shaping drive pedals.
Boss EQ-200 – $249.99
With this Boss pedal we now are entering into the world of $200+ EQ pedals. Yes, I know, some may not have even been aware that this was a thing. But there are in fact some really amazing, high-end EQs that are worth discussing. This Boss EQ is quite a step up from the GE-7s or 6s you are probably more familiar with. First off, this is actually a dual EQ, meaning you are truly always working with two 10-band EQs at the same time. Having two EQ curves are great for people running stereo amp rigs and keyboard players. Yep, that’s right this pedal has versatile enough frequency control to work well with not just guitars, but basses and keys too.
The graphical nature of this unit is exemplified by a nifty little screen that outputs your EQ curve (along with the traditional sliders). The sliders can be set to control three different frequency ranges of 30Hz - 12.8kHz, 32Hz - 16kHz, or 28Hz - 14kHz. You would choose the range that makes the most sense for whatever you’re trying to use the EQ on.
The final feature of the pedal I will mention here is the fact that you can save 4 different presets into the pedal’s memory slots. This is huge for those wanting to alter multiple settings in a live context. Or for the people out there just wanting to not have to try to find their “perfect” settings again. So, while this is a lot of money to pay for just an EQ pedal this is definitely not your typical EQ.
Source Audio EQ2 – $269.00
Source Audio is one of those pedal companies that lives on the cutting edge of guitar pedal technology. So, if you’re going to spend a lot of money on a programmable EQ, they are a trusted place to get it from. In other words, like the Boss EQ-200, this pedal has some very worthwhile features that really do justify the cost.
At its core this is similar to the EQ-200 in that it is a 10-band stereo EQ that you can alter the range of frequencies you are boosting/cutting. However, instead of just having different ranges, the EQ2 enables you to change any of the bands individually to whatever you want. Furthermore, you can edit the width of the band by utilizing the Q-control. This makes this unit about as versatile of an EQ as you could ask for. I really don’t see a situation where this pedal could not aid greatly in your tone-shaping.
Additionally, this pedal has an included software editor that can be accessed from mobile or desktop. At first an editor like this may seem like overkill, but it is actually a great way to quickly edit your settings. And you can save up to 8 presets which really gives this a leg up over the Boss for those who care most about that feature.
No, this is not going to be the EQ pedal for everyone, and it could easily become overwhelming depending on your desired level of control. However, there are plenty out there who this would be perfect for. It really is an ultimate tone-shaping box.