Keith Richards: Why I Hardly Ever Use Effect Pedals

(Image credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

In the ongoing—and always entertaining—"Ask Keith Richards" video series, someone posed a doozy to the legendary Rolling Stones guitarist: "Why do you hardly ever use guitar pedals?"

"I aim to get the sound that I want coming straight out of my amplifier," Richards says. "Aware as I am that I was the bugger that started the foot pedal [thing] with 'Satisfaction,' to me that was a one-off effect.

"I'm not gonna go around on stage doing tip-toes on different machines. I expect my sound to be coming out of my amp, and I don't want to change it once it's there. I'm not fancy."

He then sums up his point in typical Keef fashion: "I need my feet to stand up."

The famous fuzz riff from "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" has an almost-trombone-like tone; Richards was playing through a Maestro Fuzztone FZ-1, a pedal made by Gibson/Norlin. The Maestro, which had a tone and fuzz potentiometer, plus a push on/off footswitch, was probably the best-known early commercial distortion circuit. The massive success of "Satisfaction" led to increased interest in fuzz pedals and sound research—not to mention stories like the one you're just finishing reading now.

The Stones will spend September and October on the road in Europe, where they’ll play 13 shows during a run of dates called the No Filter Tour. You can see the current dates below.

For more "Ask Keith Richards" videos, head here.

Rolling Stones No Filter 2017 Tour Dates
9/09 — Hamburg, Germany — Stadtpark
9/12 — Munich, Germany — Olympic Stadium
9/16 — Spielberg, Austria — Spielberg at Red Bull Ring
9/20 — Zurich, Switzerland — Letzigrund Stadium
9/23 — Lucca, Italy — Lucca Summer Festival-City Walls
9/27 — Barcelona, Spain — Olympic Stadium
9/30 — Amsterdam, Holland — Amsterdam Arena
10/03 — Copenhagen, Denmark — Parken Stadium
10/09 — Dusseldorf, Germany — Esprit arena
10/12 — Stockholm, Sweden — Friends Arena
10/15 — Arnhem, Holland — GelreDome
10/19 — Paris, France — U Arena
10/22 — Paris, France — U Arena

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Damian Fanelli
Editor-in-Chief, Guitar World

Damian is Editor-in-Chief of Guitar World magazine. In past lives, he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor. He's written liner notes for major-label releases, including Stevie Ray Vaughan's 'The Complete Epic Recordings Collection' (Sony Legacy) and has interviewed everyone from Yngwie Malmsteen to Kevin Bacon (with a few memorable Eric Clapton chats thrown into the mix). Damian, a former member of Brooklyn's The Gas House Gorillas (opens in new tab), was the sole guitarist in Mister Neutron (opens in new tab), a trio that toured the U.S. and released three albums (opens in new tab). He now plays in two NYC-area bands.