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Chibson USA unveils the Placebo Pedal, the ultimate in totally transparent boutique tone

Chibson Placebo
(Image credit: Chibson USA)

The problem about living in the golden age of guitar effects is that it's simply exhausting keeping track of all the fuzz pedals in various flavors, and whether that overdrive we've been losing sleep over for the past year is going to mess with the perfectly average tone we already have. 

It's enough to give you a migraine. But pranksters and disruptors of gear superpowers Chibson USA might have cure. It's called the Placebo pedal, and it does nothing. Yes, absolutely nothing. Oh, it lights up, which is a bonus.

Yes, the company that brought us the groundbreaking Hand Pick and the Wild Whammies has returned with a pedal that does nothing. And if you adhere to the logic that Seinfeld was the greatest TV show ever and that it was indeed a show about nothing, then the Placebo could be in with a shout of being the greatest pedal ever.

That seems like a stretch, but if we were to consider the Placebo by the do-no-harm principle – as in not making our sound suck more than it already does – then it might be quite true to say that there are definitely worse pedals out there.

Of course, a do-nothing pedal is not an easy sell, and Chibson has had little luck in finding celebrity endorsements. As you can see from the advert above, when Chibson asked Brent Hinds of Mastodon, it found that his pedalboard was all full up. But the canny marketing department at Chibson HQ is running a special offer, teaming up with Johnny Wator of Daredevil pedals for a special PCB fuzz circuit you can install yourself.

This fuzz circuit, which Wator demos below and describes as having a Coloursound One Knob fuzz vibe, costs an extra $25. The Placebo ships for $99. All in, that's a bargain. Who said these Chibson USA characters were just messing around on social media?

“Our biggest challenge was trying to develop a pedal that looks and feels like a normal pedal but does absolutely nothing... and I think we knocked it out of the park,“ says Chibson. “We are confident that philosophers, pedal collectors, and YouTubers will be discussing the Placebo Pedal for years to come!“

If you want one, though, you'd best be quick. These are limited to 100 units worldwide. In lieu of the website that Chibson promises soon – along with its book for kids – head on over to its Instagram (opens in new tab) page to check out what's what.

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Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to publications including Guitar World, MusicRadar and Total Guitar. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.