15 essential pedals for live guitarists

Man rocks out on stage with his band and a huge pedalboard
(Image credit: Future)

BACK TO LIVE: One of the key considerations for any gigging guitarist is what pedals to use onstage. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or still wet behind the ears, you’ll want to ensure that you’re equipped to deliver the best possible performance. However, with so many pedals to choose from nowadays, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by your options. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to the best pedals for live guitarists – with recommendations in a number of different categories, and for a variety of scenarios, you should be able to quickly identify the models that will best suit your requirements. 

If you are starting out as a live performer, whatever you do don’t let the huge amount of choice put you off. For many of us guitarists, our first gigs were played with just a guitar tuner and distortion; others performed with no pedals at all. So remember – whatever spaceship-sized pedalboards you see online, and no matter what other people say, the songs come first. Just get out there and gig, and work out your gear later!

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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.