Guitar World Staff Picks: Paul Riario’s Top 10 Effect Pedals of 2011
I initially was going to keep this list short and sweet, but when it comes to stompboxes, how do you stop?
Effects are like potato chips in that you just can’t expect me to offer you a handful because you’ll want the whole bag -- and besides, there are so many flavors of overdrive, modulation, delay, etc., that it’s nearly impossible to pick a top five. So I’ve decided to make it a top 10.
In choosing these wonderful toe toys, money was no object, so don’t expect to find cheap buys or bargains below. I’m going for the best, and with that, you’re going to have to shell out a little more dough if you really want great tone at your feet.
Coming this week: My picks for electric guitars, acoustic guitars and amps.
Check out the photo gallery below!
Paul Riario on Paul Riario: I try very hard to remain under the radar, despite being on camera as gear editor at Guitar World, but in this age of social media, it was only a matter of time before it had to come to this. So with that, I will make my blog painless and a quick and easy read so you can get on to more important things like practicing guitar and sweep picking, or if you’re like me, getting tiger blood transfusions and figuring out how to be Olivia Wilde’s boy toy. I will use this blog to inform you of things I find cool; like new gear I’m playing through and what I’m watching, reading or listening to at any given moment. So feel free to ask me anything that’s gear related — or if you have a problem with your girlfriend, ya know, life lesson stuff, I’m pretty good at that too — and I’ll do my best to answer or address it here.
10. Dunlop JC95 Jerry Cantrell Signature Cry Baby Wah
This list wouldn’t be complete without a wah. It seems a lot of guitarists are getting their very own signature wahs. Some are very good and others well, not so much. The JC95 is my favorite because it has a properly voiced mid-range sweep and a strident articulation, which is perfect for distorted guitars. It comes in a distressed copper finish, which, by the way, every wah should look like. Badass.
01. Way Huge Electronics Green Rhino Overdrive MK II
If you’re looking for a straight up overdrive that’s built like a tank with added flexibility in tone and gain structure look no further. This is one pedal that works like a charm through any amp, sounds great out of the box and warms up any amplifier. This is one pedal that will never leave your pedalboard.
02. Visual Sound V3 Dual Tap Delay
Here we have a tap tempo delay pedal that has two separate channels (one with modulation) that can be used independently or together to create layers and layers of warm, analog delay (up to one second). Throw in the fact that Visual Sound’s footswitches will outlive you and you’ll have the best road-ready delay stompbox. I can’t wait to put this one on my pedalboard.
04. Carolina Guitar Company Wave Cannon
Overdrives and distortions can be guilty of sounding like one another but this is one pedal that I just can’t accuse of being derivative. A truly original gain pedal that makes you sound as such. Get it with the havoc switch option too. You’re welcome.
03. Wampler Pedals Brent Mason Hot Wired Overdrive Distortion
If you don’t know who Brent Mason is I suggest you YouTube him to witness the devastating guitar player that he is and a studio cat who understands tone. This is a two-in-one pedal offering sweet overdrive and chunky distortion, which can be cascaded into one another for leads or texture. It’s so organic sounding and clear that it is my go-to pedal for one of my bands.
06. Keeley Electronics Luna Overdrive
I thought I was done looking for overdrive pedals until I came across the Luna. Another unique overdrive pedal with added flexibility in gain structure and EQ. The Luna reminds me of how a cranked Fender amp sounds when it achieves that sinewy combination of overdrive and compression.
05. Strymon Lex Rotary
I had a difficult time deciding between Strymon’s Lex Rotary and their new TimeLine Delay pedal, but since this is the best of 2011, I’ll let the Timeline make my “best of” list for next year. If you've never had the joy of trying out rotary pedals for their chorusing and swirling effect, look no further than the Lex. I’ve tried them all; this is the most three-dimensional of the bunch considering its size and pedalboard footprint; Lush and beautiful.
07. Eventide Space
Normally I don’t go for these kind of pedals — everything but the kitchen sink kind — but Eventide’s Space is a smart pedal that offers just about everything you could ask for in high-quality reverbs, modulation, special effects and beyond, whether it be down to earth or as far out as the galaxy itself. You can easily take up a whole afternoon getting lost in all it has to offer.
09. MXR Custom Badass ’78 Distortion
The name alone should make anyone’s “best of” list, but this pedal has attitude and a distortion that’s just plain greasy. One of the best pedals to fatten up your lead playing.
08. Electro-Harmonix Ravish Sitar
You've got to hand it to EHX for creating a stompbox no one would ever consider making and doing it so well. The Ravish Sitar is the best attempt in creating a sitar stompbox that sounds pretty darn good. It’s not perfect, but the sonic textures you can create are so much fun. If the Ravish Sitar pedal had been available in the '60s, George Harrison would have plugged his guitar into this instead of playing the real thing.