Best cheap guitar pedals 2023: killer budget stompboxes you need to try

If you’ve got a bit of spare cash, and want to freshen up your guitar sound, then grabbing yourself one of the best cheap guitar pedals is probably the quickest and easiest way to do it. For not much money at all, you can introduce a completely new sound, or enhance the sound you’ve already got.

Maybe 10 or so years ago, the selection of pedals that was widely available was a lot more limited, plus they tended to be fairly expensive. Nowadays, you can pick up a cheap guitar pedal for literally the price of a few guitar cables. Whether you’re after a new modulation effect, a ferocious fuzz, or a clone of a classic unit, you’re spoilt for choice.

There’s a whole wide world out there filled to the brim with good quality stompboxes for not much money, so we’ve compiled a list of the best cheap guitar pedals to make it easier for you. Many of these brands offer a wide range of models, so if you don’t see what you’re after, check out what else the brand does.

We've included some expert buying advice at the foot of this guide, but if you'd rather take a look at the products, keep scrolling.

Alex Lynham author photo
Alex Lynham

Alex Lynham is a gear obsessive who's been collecting and building modern and vintage equipment since he got his first Saturday job. Besides reviewing countless pedals for Total Guitar, he's written guides on how to build your first pedal, how to build a tube amp from a kit, and briefly went viral when he released a glitch delay pedal, the Atom Smasher.

Cheap guitar pedals: Quick list

Want to get to the good stuff without reading walls of text? Well, here you'll find a roundup of all the best cheap guitar pedals with links to read a more detailed review if you'd like.

The best cheap guitar pedals in 2023

You can trust Guitar World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing guitar products so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Best cheap chorus pedal

Cheap guitar pedals: TC Electronic June 60

(Image credit: TC Electronic)

1. TC Electronic June 60

The classy chorus option

Specifications

Type: Analogue chorus
Bypass: True

Reasons to buy

+
Great 80s chorus sound
+
Looks amazing

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited control over parameters

Chorus is a must-have effect for every style of pedalboard. This sweeping and dynamic effect can add some much-needed movement to your clean and drive tones and is a firm favorite of everyone from metalheads to jazz cats. 

Now, we aren't short of options when looking for a cheap chorus pedal, but our choice has to be the TC Electronic June 60. This vintage-inspired stomp not only looks like it should be a lot more expensive than it is, but under its retro veneer is an analog circuit designed to perfectly recreate the chorus found in the Roland Juno 60 synthesizer. 

As a result, it doesn't always perfectly translate to guitar, and with only two modes compared to, say, the Boss DC-2's four, sometimes the depth and rate you want aren't on offer. Still, it's about a third the price of the DC-2W reissue, and it most certainly offers players a different style of chorus pedal

Best cheap dual drive

Cheap guitar pedals: Mosky Deluxe Preamp

(Image credit: Mosky)

2. Mosky Deluxe Preamp

Boutique on a budget

Specifications

Type: Dual overdrive
Bypass: True

Reasons to buy

+
2 stage drive
+
Tiny enclosure
+
Main drive stage is a Timmy clone

Reasons to avoid

-
Not for high-gain sounds

The Mosky Deluxe is a bargain even on a list of bargains. It's a clone of the Lovepedal Amp 11, which itself clones the superb Paul Cochrane Timmy for its core drive circuit. 

What you get with the Deluxe is a versatile, punchy two-footswitch overdrive. The left side is a Timmy with diode switching options, and the right is an Electra overdrive, like on the Lovepedal Amp 11. 

The additional switch allows you to remove the clipping diodes, making it a clean boost rather than a second drive stage. Cram that punching power into a tiny enclosure and similarly minuscule price, and it's almost too good to be true.

Best cheap boost

Cheap guitar pedals: Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini

(Image credit: Ibanez)

3. Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini

The real deal

Specifications

Type: Overdrive
Bypass: True

Reasons to buy

+
The original and best TS
+
Cool enclosure
+
Budget brilliance from a big brand

Reasons to avoid

-
Avoid if you don't like too much mid-range 

The Ibanez Tube Screamer is an icon of the pedal world, and for good reason. This emerald stomp has the ability to tighten unruly metal amps, push tube amps into natural overdrive and even add a little dirt to a clean tone. 

Coming in at not far off the price of a cheap Tube Screamer imitation, the Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini is the definition of a bargain. 

Locked away inside its tiny case are the original TS-808 sound and true bypass switching, while its small size means you'll save much-needed space on your 'board. What's not to like?

Best budget fuzz

Cheap guitar pedals: Behringer SF300 Super Fuzz

(Image credit: Behringer)

4. Behringer SF300 Super Fuzz

A budget take on a classic pedal

Specifications

Type: Fuzz pedal
Bypass: Buffered

Reasons to buy

+
Classic doom fuzz sounds
+
We're still waiting on a FZ-2 reissue

Reasons to avoid

-
Plastic enclosure

The Boss FZ-2 fuzz pedal has long been the subject of pleas for a Waza Craft reissue. The FZ-2 was a modernized Univox Super Fuzz with switchable modes and two-band EQ, discontinued in the late 90s. 

For whatever reason - those in the know have sometimes mooted availability of the right transistors - Boss has demurred on a reissue. This has left the coveted pedal to grow in cult popularity. 

Luckily for those needing a fix, Behringer released its own take on the pedal, the SF300. It's pretty close and there are even DIY guides available online for rehousing the guts of the pedal in a more robust metal enclosure if you want a project.

Best budget Klon

Cheap guitar pedals: NUX Horseman

(Image credit: NUX)

5. NUX Horseman

Two flavors of the classic Klon Centaur

Specifications

Type: Overdrive/boost
Bypass: True/Buffer

Reasons to buy

+
Clever design
+
Versatile 
+
Compact 

Reasons to avoid

-
Gets a bit noisy when turned up 

This is a clone of the legendary Klon Centaur. For a pedal with only three knobs, it’s surprisingly versatile and actually houses a fairly clever design. 

The footswitch, when held down, lets you choose between Gold and Silver versions of the Centaur - whilst the differences between originals might not be as big, on the Horseman, the Silver mode gives you a little more gain and a bit of an extra boost in the mids/high-mids.

This can be used as a clean boost, as a straight-up distortion/overdrive or to get you those great on-the-edge-of-breakup sounds. It plays well with different amps and stacks really well with other pedals. If you’re looking for something that does the Klon thing on a budget, this is definitely one to check out.

Best analog delay

Cheap guitar pedals: TC Electronic Echobrain

(Image credit: TC Electronic)

6. TC Electronic Echobrain

Analog authenticity

Specifications

Type: Analogue delay
Bypass: True

Reasons to buy

+
Great core sound
+
Lots of fun to be had with auto-oscillation

Reasons to avoid

-
Larger enclosure might not be your thing

Though there are a few options for mini-sized analog delay pedals at around the same price, we always like slightly larger delays so that we can bend down and twist controls live. 

In that regard, the TC Echobrain is a fun unit. The controls are intuitive, with plenty of scope for runaway oscillations and psychedelic weirdness. 

That said, it's not only bizarre repeats on offer.  If you are after a solid, warm analog delay sound then, of course, it has that in spades.

Best cheap RAT copy

Cheap guitar pedals: Mooer Black Secret

(Image credit: Mooer)

7. Mooer Black Secret

The dirtiest rat

Specifications

Type: Distortion
Bypass: True

Reasons to buy

+
Small size
+
Huge sound

Reasons to avoid

-
Not for blues players 

Though we've not had the time to take ours apart, the buzz on the internet is that the Black Secret distortion pedal uses a surface-mount LM-308 op-amp, the same as the original, iconic ProCo RAT. 

The slow slew rate of the LM-308 resulted in almost triangular-wave clipping at higher gain levels. This accounts for the different, highly-coveted sound of vintage RATs, so if true, this is even more of a bargain. 

Even without the LM-308, it's a diminutive beast that packs a mean punch. It can be switched between classic and turbo mode, and in classic mode has a fantastic range, going from light dirt to full-bore hurricane.

Best cheap distortion

Cheap guitar pedals: Boss DS-1

(Image credit: Boss)

8. Boss DS-1

If it ain't broke...

Specifications

Type: Distortion
Bypass: Buffered

Reasons to buy

+
Classic distortion
+
Boss name

Reasons to avoid

-
The DS-1 sound isn't for everybody
-
Volume issues

This orange oblong box has been a staple on players 'boards for decades, and it will continue to be a firm favorite for many years to come. 

To our ears, it's still one of the fizzier distortions, and we wish it had some more volume on tap, but we can't deny that this Boss pedal is a classic. For many, the Boss DS-1 was their first pedal, and at this price point, it's easy to see why it's still so popular. It's easy to use, sounds fantastic, and is extremely robust! 

If you want a no-frills distortion that will likely outlive you, then you can't go wrong with the tangerine mean machine.

Best cheap reverb

Cheap guitar pedals: NUX Oceanic Digital Reverb Pedal

(Image credit: NUX)

9. NUX Oceanic Digital Reverb Pedal

Make waves with this mini reverb

Specifications

Type: Reverb
Bypass: True

Reasons to buy

+
Great, simple atmospheric reverb

Reasons to avoid

-
Single knob with footswitch mode change is weird

The Oceanic is a simple reverb pedal with subtle modulation that allows it to cover a lot of ground. NUX claim that they've carefully modeled the algorithm such that additional controls are unnecessary, hence it being single-knob. 

While we're not sold on that argument, it is true that with decay set at 9 o'clock it's a different pedal than with the decay knob dimed. The pedal goes from 'studio tiled bathroom' through 'concert hall' to the kind of huge, abstract atmospheric space that will get all the shoegaze space cadets all hot and bothered. 

There is a wet/dry control on the Oceanic. However, to access it you have to hold down the footswitch for two seconds, at which point the decay knob becomes a level knob.

Best for Nirvana fans

Cheap guitar pedals: Electro Harmonix Neo Clone

(Image credit: Electro Harmonix)

10. Electro Harmonix Neo Clone

Good enough for Kurt

Specifications

Type: Chorus
Bypass: True

Reasons to buy

+
Classic chorus tone
+
Simple and intuitive
+
Respected brand

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited control over the tone 

You'll have heard the EHX Small Clone on any number of records, not least Nirvana's Nevermind. If you're looking for a glassy chorus tone, it may well be that the sound in your head is the Neo Clone. 

It's as simple and intuitive as the bigger-box original, with only a single rate knob and depth switch. Despite being more compact, it has the classic EHX looks and name to back it up.

Best pedal for blues

Cheap guitar pedals: NUX Steel Singer Drive

(Image credit: NUX)

11. NUX Steel Singer Drive

Dumble on a budget

Specifications

Type: Boost/Amp-in-a-box
Bypass: True

Reasons to buy

+
Glassy cleans
+
Decent gain on tap

Reasons to avoid

-
Not very versatile

The Steel Singer is a clone of a clone, Vertex's Steel String Singer. Vertex had a prolific period of pinching designs and writing lots of marketing copy about how they had actually designed them.

In any case, the SSS was in reality a Jack Orman-designed clean boost. Luckily, Jack Orman knows his stuff, and his amp-in-a-box boost pedal design lives on in this NUX offering. 

As an aside - Orman's list of mods for popular pedals are legendary, so if you own for example a Big Muff clone with mids control, that's probably Orman's 'presence control' mod in action!

Best cheap compressor

Cheap guitar pedals: Mooer Yellow Comp MCS2 Compressor

(Image credit: Mooer)

12. Mooer Yellow Comp MCS2 Compressor

One of the best ‘always on’ pedals, for a great price

Specifications

Type: Optical compressor
Bypass: True

Reasons to buy

+
Good controls
+
Nice compression 
+
Compact 

Reasons to avoid

-
Small knobs are hard to tweak 

A compressor is one of those pedals that you might not think that you need until you try one - then it’s something that won’t ever leave your pedalboard! The Mooer Yellow Comp Optical Compressor is one of the best cheap pedals out there and it’s incredibly useful for pretty much any style of player. Not only is it one of the best compressors in this price bracket, but it’s one of the best options under $/£100 too.

A compressor can level out your sound, so your really loud peaks are quieter, and your quiet bits are a little louder - you can still play dynamically, but it’s a great little helping hand. A lot of players have their compressor always on, but try it out and see what works for you. 

The Mooer Yellow Comp is small so it doesn’t take up much real estate on your ‘board, and it’s super easy to dial in a great sound. It’s also got a sturdy metal casing for durability and longevity.

Cheap guitar pedals: Buying advice

Boss DS-1 on wooden floor

(Image credit: Future)

Are cheap guitar pedals a false economy?

It used to mean that if a guitar pedal were cheap, it probably wasn’t very good. However, that’s not the case today - there are quite a few examples of decent pedals for less than $/£50, from well known brands such as TC Electronic, Electro Harmonix and more, as well as lesser known brands that are on the rise like Mooer and NUX.

There are companies out there that own huge factories that make pedals on the behalf of other brands. Some of these companies have since gone on to create their own brands and sell directly to the consumer, meaning that you can get the same pedal, perhaps with a slightly different design, for a lower cost.

What is a cloned guitar pedal?

Cloning is pretty big in the pedal world too. Since you can’t actually copyright a circuit in the abstract, it’s possible to look at a pedal and ‘take inspiration’ from it - i.e. if you’re clever about it, you can copy it. The Klon Centaur is one of the most widely cloned pedals - largely because original units are rare and go for crazy money, but also because many companies have been able to make decent enough replicas. Even pro guitarists use a variety of pedal clones - they’re not just reserved for those on a budget! 

What makes a great cheap guitar pedal?

When it comes to analogue pedals, there’s not actually that much inside that can go wrong. As long as the PCB design is right, and it has been constructed properly then there’s every chance you’ll end up with a good pedal. Digital pedals are harder to get right on a budget, and they’re harder to clone, which is why our list of the best cheap guitar pedals is mostly made up of analogue models.  

A good cheap guitar pedal should of course, sound great which because of all the above, is now easier to find than ever. You want it to last more than a few rehearsals too! It might not last a lifetime, but you should be able to get a few years out of it. Ideally, you want it to have an easy to use interface too - this boils down to how it’s been designed. 

What are the benefits of buying cheap guitar pedals?

Cheap guitar pedals can be great as they allow you to try out a whole range of new sounds, without having to spend a lot of money. Times are tough, and for a lot of musicians there’s less disposable cash available. If you need a new overdrive, or you just fancy adding a new dimension to your rig, then one of the best cheap guitar pedals lets you do so without it hitting your wallet too hard. 

Cheaper guitar pedals are also less valuable and therefore one less thing to worry about if you’re touring the country playing in bars and clubs. If you’ve got an original Klon, a Boss CE-1 and a Tone Bender on your ‘board and an over-excited audience member spills a pint over them, then you’d better hope you’ve got them insured. Accidents do sometimes happen, so cheap pedals can mean that you’re a little less precious about them, whilst still being able to do your job as a guitarist. 

Are cheap guitar pedals built to last?

One thing to look out for when buying a cheap guitar pedal is the construction - plastic does keep the cost down, but is easier to break. You’re essentially going to be standing on your new purchase, so sturdiness is something to consider. If it’s a clone, then whoever has made it hasn’t had to put a ton of money into R&D, so you’ll probably be able to make a saving there.   

Can cheap guitar pedals be noisy?

Some cheap guitar pedals, especially the smaller ones, can be noisy. If corners are cut, or if the PCB hasn’t been properly designed, then you can end up with some unwanted noise. It might not be super loud or obvious though, so it might be something you can live with.   

How we chose the best cheap guitar pedals

Close up of Mooer pedals

(Image credit: Future)

Here at Guitar World, we are experts in our field, with many years of playing, creating and product testing between us. We live and breathe everything guitar gear related, and we draw on this knowledge and experience of using products in live, recording and rehearsal scenarios when selecting the products for our guides.

When choosing what we believe to be the best cheap guitar pedals available right now, we combine our hands-on experience, user reviews and testimonies and engage in lengthy discussions with our editorial colleagues to reach a consensus about the top products in any given category.

First and foremost, we are guitarists, and we want other players to find the right product for them. So we take into careful consideration everything from budget to feature set, ease of use and durability to come up with a list of what we can safely say are the best cheap guitar pedals on the market right now.

Find out more about how we make our recommendations, how we test each of the products in our buyer's guides and our review policy.

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