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The 12 best mini-pedals for guitarists 2021: our pick of space-saving effects

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The 12 best mini-pedals for guitarists 2021: our pick of space-saving effects
(Image credit: Dunlop/TC Electronic/Pigtronix/Ibanez/Mooer)

Whether you've already got a pedalboard and you're short on space, or you're just getting started with building the ultimate effects rig, there are compact options for almost every type of guitar pedal. This guide to the best mini pedals is designed to point you in the direction of our favorite options right now.

Originally, mini-sized pedals were the preserve of budget brands. But two things have happened in the years since their introduction which have changed that. First, we’ve seen increasing innovation by the original manufacturers, trying to improve their brand image and, in some cases, keen to shake the legacy of lawsuits. Second, the adoption of the small pedal format by large pedal companies and boutique makers alike.

Below, we've selected a few of our favorites to highlight the broad range on offer.

Best mini pedals: what you need to know

Buying mini pedals is related to one of two things: budget or space.

Most mass-manufactured pedals that come in a mini format are cheaper than their larger version. If you're looking for a smaller size pedal to fit a gap on your 'board, then the lower cost is likely to be an added bonus.

In some cases, the smaller size means fewer features, for example on TC Electronic's Mini range, where the pedals have fewer controls. On others, like the Ibanez Mini range, the pedals are cheaper and smaller – but there's no other difference, so it's down to taste. It's worth adding that with TC's Tone Print software, you can change parameters 'in the box', and it's only hardware like stereo ins and outs that differs.

For boutique builders, designing pedals that will fit inside smaller enclosures is hard. Designing and then assembling them is more costly than designing around a larger enclosure in most cases. This is why they're not usually seen outside of simple overdrives. There are some exceptions, including the wonderfully complicated Rainger FX Reverb X.

In terms of the choice available in a mini format, it's huge – everything from classic overdrives to multi-effects. As the mini size is what Mooer made their name on, they've been especially keen to drive innovation in the smaller format. First, they brought out a mini power amp and a range of amp-in-a-box style preamps. Most recently, they released the 7 series – complicated digital effects in a mini enclosure that can rival pedals many times their size.

This is great, as it means competitors large and small have to take the format more seriously than ever.

The best mini pedals available today

Best mini pedals: Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini

1. Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini

Same TS greatness, smaller TS footprint

Specifications
Price: $79/£70
Dimensions: 3.5” x 1.375” x 1.625”
Effect(s): Overdrive
Reasons to buy
+Sounds like the real deal TS+Great warmth, punch and, if desired, squeals+True-bypass switching
Reasons to avoid
-Not as versatile as some of the many TS clones on the market

Ibanez’s TS Mini is a downsized version of its iconic Tube Screamer, which since its debut in 1979 has been one of the most recognizable, respected and employed overdrive pedals on the market. 

True to its name, the Mini measures roughly 1 1/2–inches wide and 3 1/2–inches long. Ibanez pulled out all the stops to create this solidly built, all-analog stompbox in a compact design, while retaining the sonic integrity of its acclaimed TS808 Reissue. To accommodate its diminutive size, it features an internal surface mount JRC4558M chip, which is similar to the beloved JRC4558D chip found in the full-sized TS808 pedal. The TS Mini requires an external nine-volt adapter for power, and also features true-bypass switching and controls for Level, Tone and Overdrive.

Performance-wise, the TS Mini sounds so superb you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between it and its full-sized counterpart in a blindfold test. It works best in front of a tube amp, makes single notes sound fatter and softens your low-end register with warmth and clarity, all while preserving the tonal nature of your amp. Pushing the Overdrive past 12 o’clock adds wicked squeal to pinch harmonics and lets you coax out some righteous musical feedback. All the warmth and punch of Ibanez’s classic TS808 overdrive in a pedal board–friendly size.

Best mini pedals: Pigtronix Philosopher's Tone Micro

2. Pigtronix Philosopher's Tone Micro

The best mini-pedal for great sustain and parallel compression

Specifications
Price: $119/£139
Dimensions: 3.75” x 1.5” x 1.75”
Effect(s): Compression/sustain
Reasons to buy
+Noiseless clean sustain+Blend control for parallel compression+Treble EQ for boost or cut
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn’t get as “squashy” as some compressions

Pigtronix’s Philosopher's Tone Micro delivers all of the noiseless clean sustain and parallel optical compression of its larger namesake, but in a micro-sized chassis. The mini-pedal boasts volume and sustain controls, as well as a parallel Blend knob that allows users to mix their instrument's original dry tone with the compressed sound effect to their liking. Additionally, a treble control provides up to 6db cut or boost at 2KHz for fine-tuning the frequency response of the effect.

The Philosopher's Tone Micro features true-bypass switching and 9V operation, with internal 18V power rails for maximum clean headroom, even when used with hot pickups and line-level signals. With that combination of boost, compression and extra top-end, the pedal has a role to play beyond just a compressor, notably as a tone conditioner/driver that can elevate your sound for solos. 

Best mini pedals: Dunlop FFM3 Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face Mini Distortion

3. Dunlop FFM3 Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face Mini Distortion

"Mini Jimi" boasts the same circuit as its big brother

Specifications
Price: $119/£99
Dimensions: 3.5” x 3.5” x 2”
Effect(s): Fuzz
Reasons to buy
+Classic Sixties-style fuzz+Eye-catching color and shape+Pedalboard-friendly housing
Reasons to avoid
-Distortion might be too over-the-top for some players

Dunlop’s Fuzz Face Mini Jimi Hendrix offers a circuit identical to that of Dunlop’s JHF1 Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face, based on Hendrix’s own Dallas-Arbiter Fuzz Face from 1969-’70 and featuring BC108 silicon transistors. The result is the same smooth and even sustain, harmonic overtones and compressed attack of the original, but in a smaller housing – and with a smaller price tag.

The Mini Jimi boasts volume and fuzz controls, true-bypass switching, a laser-bright status LED, AC power jack and easy-access battery door, all of which are presented in the same classic round chassis with the same skip-pad “nose” of the original, albeit at less than one-third the overall size.

Best of all, the new pedal expertly reproduces the classic Fuzz Face square-wave distortion – undeniably over-the-top, but still incredibly warm and smooth. The distortion cleans up nicely when the guitar’s volume control is backed down just slightly, allowing players to easily dial in the desired fuzz effect, from just a touch of hair to full-on fuzz assault at will. So you get all the fuzz, while saving pedalboard space and dollars.

Best mini pedals: TC Electronic Hall of Fame 2 Mini Reverb

(Image credit: TC Electronic)

4. TC Electronic Hall of Fame 2 Mini Reverb

New and improved

Specifications
Price: $118/£95
Dimensions: 1.65" x 1.81" x 3.62"
Effect(s): Reverb
Reasons to buy
+Now has 3 controls+MASH footswitch+Tone print enabled
Reasons to avoid
-If you have space for the larger version

The Hall of Fame Mini was an already impressive unit. This updated version brings dedicated controls for tone and decay as well as the MASH footswitch. This pressure-sensitive control, found on the larger Hall of Fame, can be used for swells and other expression effects.

Much has been written about the flexibility of the Tone Print software and it really is excellent. That said, while a wealth of options are accessible via Tone Print, if you have space for the full-fat version, it might be worth the upgrade to have it all at your fingertips.

Best mini pedals: Red Witch Violetta

5. Red Witch Violetta delay

A mini delay pedal that (literally) shines

Specifications
Price: $109
Dimensions: 3.5” x 1.2” x 1.8”
Effect(s): Delay/modulation
Reasons to buy
+1,000ms of delay time+Emulates classic tape echo+Tiny footprint
Reasons to avoid
-Mini-jack Expression pedal input 

Red Witch’s Violetta boasts a full 1,000ms of delay time, offering up Brian Setzer-esque rockabilly slapback, dreamy, Gilmour-like ambience and everything in between. Better yet, the digital circuit emulates classic tape echoes, with a gradual decay in top-end, plus warmth and clarity to the repeats. There’s also a modulation circuit that can add anything from a subtle shimmer to full-on acid-trip psychedelia.

The mini-knobs provide control over delay time, mix, modulation and repeats. The Violetta also comes with an Expression Pedal jack and a stereo 1/8” to 1/4” adapter for controlling the number of repeats in real time, and the pedal operates with either a 9V power supply or from the internal rechargeable lithium ion battery. What’s more, the Violetta’s looks are striking, from the chrome chassis to the not-just mini, but downright tiny, footprint.

Best mini pedals: MXR Timmy

(Image credit: MXR)

6. MXR Timmy overdrive

The original transparent overdrive

Specifications
Price: $129/£139
Dimensions: 2.25" x 1.75" x 3.625"
Effect(s): Overdrive
Reasons to buy
+Classic transparent overdrive+Also functions as a boost+Two clipping options+Decent two-band EQ
Reasons to avoid
-None

When MXR teamed up with veteran boutique builder Paul Cochrane to make a version of his sought-after Timmy overdrive pedal for the masses, they decided they had to improve upon it in some way.

Given the circuit is spartan, not to mention a classic, adding more options was probably a non-starter. Whatever the reason, MXR opted to shrink it down into a mini enclosure. This means you can now have the original – and arguably best – transparent overdrive on the market in a pedalboard friendly size.

Best Mini-Pedals for Guitarists: Dunlop Cry Baby Mini Wah CBM95

7. Dunlop Cry Baby Mini Wah CBM95

A trio of wah tones in one small package

Specifications
Price: $99/£109
Dimensions: 5.25” x 3” x 3.75”
Effect(s): Wah
Reasons to buy
+Three-in-one wah tones+Same pedal feel as original Cry Baby+Heavy-duty design
Reasons to avoid
-No LED indicators

One of the most ubiquitous pedals in all of guitardom is now available in mini form, without sacrificing any of its trademark tones – in fact, it offers the user three of them. Dunlop loaded the Cry Baby Mini Wah with three tonal flavors – low, vintage, and the more modern GCB95 – that cover the company’s entire range of wahs and are selectable from inside the pedal. The low position gives you a throaty, resonant tone for synth-y sweeps on lower strings; on the middle “vintage” setting, the pedal's sweep is full and wide; and the GCB95 setting offers a biting upper range.

There’s also true-bypass switching, a Hot Potz potentiometer and a red Fasel inductor. Power comes via a nine-volt battery or AC adapter. And despite its smaller footprint, the Mini Wah is housed in the same rugged enclosure and offers the full-sweep wah pedal feel of its older brother. A must-have.

Best mini pedals: Xotic EP Booster Mini

8. Xotic EP Booster Mini

Add some Page- and EVH-style grit to your tone

Specifications
Price: $145/£119
Dimensions: 3.5” x 1.5” x 1.5”
Effect(s): Boost
Reasons to buy
+20db of boost+Streamlined, one-knob design+DIP switches add options
Reasons to avoid
-Not much

Based on the preamp stage of the Echoplex EP-3 – which guitarists like Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen and Eric Johnson used as a booster – the EP Booster will hit your amp with up to 20dB of boost to add a rich tonal character. There’s just a single knob to dial in the level, but internal DIP switches offer options to fine-tune your boost frequencies and EQ settings, from adding more defined low end to more top-end shimmer with another 3db of boost.

Whether you’re looking to add a bit of vintage dirt, richer bass or trebly bite to your tone, the EP Booster has got you covered.

Best mini pedals: Rainger FX Reverb X

(Image credit: Rainger)

9. Rainger FX Reverb X

For something completely different

Specifications
Price: $245/£192
Dimensions: N/A
Effect(s): Reverb
Reasons to buy
+Huge, fuzzy reverb sounds+Igor expression pedal allows for unique sounds+True bypass
Reasons to avoid
-Price-If you need a more straightforward reverb

Running reverb in front of your drive pedals – as opposed to the received wisdom of after – is a classic studio trick. It's a mainstay of many shoegaze guitarists, and players like Steven Wilson use it because they prefer the grittier timbre.

The Reverb X is a lo-fi delay based on this idea, boasting a dedicated distortion pot to allow you to control the crazy. It also has a built-in noise gate that can lead to dynamic glitchy and sputtery reverb sounds. Meanwhile, the Igor pressure-sensitive expression pedal allows for momentary activation of the reverb sound, for an even more dynamic effect.

Best Mini-Pedals for Guitarists: TC Electronic Vortex Mini Flanger

10. TC Electronic Vortex Mini Flanger

Swirl, swoosh and shimmer up your sound

Specifications
Price: $99/£69
Dimensions: 3.7” x 1.9” x 1.9”
Effect(s): Flange
Reasons to buy
+Add new presets via TonePrint+Access a variety of flanges+Analog-Dry-Through technology
Reasons to avoid
-No onboard flange “Type” selection

If you’re looking to add some Eddie Van Halen-style woosh to your tone, the Vortex Mini Flanger is for you. The three-knob pedal offers nice classic tape flange, but, like all TC mini boxes, also supports the company’s TonePrint technology, allowing the user to wirelessly beam new presets via an iOS/Android app. You can also edit your own sounds with the PC-based TonePrint Editor and USB connection.

Additionally, there's true bypass, as well as Analog-Dry-Through, which maintains the full integrity of an analog dry signal path even when the flange effect is engaged. A nifty little box to add just the right amount of swirl, swoosh and shimmer to your sound.

Best mini pedals: Mooer E7

(Image credit: Mooer)

11. Mooer E7 synth

Miniature synth without the fuss

Specifications
Price: $99/£89
Dimensions: 2" x 1.6" x 3.68"
Effect(s): Guitar Synth
Reasons to buy
+Polyphonic synth+7 modes+Built-in arpeggiator+No special pickups or cables required
Reasons to avoid
-None at this price

The Mooer E7 is the synth offering in their 7 series of pedals, which also features an excellent ambient reverb and a delay. For its size, it's astonishing – a polyphonic synth with an arpeggiator that fits in the palm of your hand. It has attack, speed, mix and EQ settings which help you dial in a patch, though it sounds best with the mix dimed.

As you'd imagine, though it's great for pads, especially with the attack pulled back, it has somewhat limited flexibility. It works best when paired with an external delay or reverb, but at this price, it's very hard to find fault with. We still have our old Roland GR-33 synth, which requires a dedicated pickup to use!

Guitar World Staff

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