Sweetwater reveals the best-selling effects pedal in its entire history

Since its establishment in 1979, Sweetwater has become one of the biggest guitar gear retailers on the planet. So, it's fair to say it’s something of an authority figure when it comes to all things gear.

Not only is it a destination where players can purchase electric guitars and guitar amps, it's also an emporium for effects pedals – and now its 1,000 best-selling stompboxes of all time have been revealed.

What’s more, thanks to JHS Pedals’ Josh Scott – who claims to have “hacked” into Sweetwater’s computer system – the company’s top-selling pedal throughout its entire 43-year history has also been identified.

Now, 1,000 is a big list – so big, in fact, that the video in which Scott showcases his findings is over an hour and a half long, despite only including 510 pedals – so it’s probably best to cut that right down to the top 10, with some honorable mentions.

So, what is the best-selling stompbox of Sweetwater’s history? The Ibanez Tube Screamer? Boss SD-1? ProCo Rat? If you guessed any of the above, you’d be wrong, because the pedal in question is in fact Behringer’s ultra-affordable $29 SF300 Super Fuzz.

And the irony is, Scott himself is partly responsible for the “absolutely insane” amount of Behringer fuzz pedals Sweetwater has sold in recent years, owing to a YouTube video he posted in which he indirectly encouraged millions of people to buy the humble fuzz pedal.

“The irony of this is comical,” Scott said. “I don’t want to disclose the number… It’s insane. It’s absolutely insane. It’s like, more than double the other stuff.”

As Scott explains, the SF300 is a clone of the Boss FZ-2, which in turn is a copy of the Univox Super Fuzz – a $1,000 vintage fuzz pedal that the Behringer does an admirable job of copying.

It’s an impressive victory for the much-loved fuzz box, which edged out some stiff competition on its way to the top spot. For those unfamiliar with the SF300, it harnesses ‘60s and ‘70s era fuzz tones, and does so through three different modes and an assortment of simple parameters.

Below the Behringer, the top 10 is majority utility pedals, including the Boss RC-1 looper pedal, two different incarnations of the TC Electronic Ditto looper and some undisclosed volume pedals. However, at number eight – to which Scott de facto awards the silver medal – is the ProCo Rat.

“This shocked me, but in hindsight it shouldn’t have,” admitted Scott, who had one of the first-ever ProCo Rat prototypes from his pedal museum on-hand to show off. 

He continued, “You hear it on Coldplay Parachutes [and] A Rush of Blood to The Head, but you also hear it on Pink Floyd, you hear it on grunge records, on Nevermind by Nirvana, you hear it on Weezer and Blur, R.E.M., John Scofield… it is a monstrously versatile distortion box.”

The top 10 was rounded off by an equally versatile effects pedal: the Cry Baby wah pedal, which was preceded by honorable mentions for the 12th-placed Boss DS-1 and 14th-placed Ibanez Tube Screamer.

A range of other highly popular pedals can be found throughout the rest of the top 50, too. At 47 is the MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay – a pedal that, as Scott notes, was the first “affordable, easy-to-use, durable and accessible analog bucket brigade delay pedal” of its kind.

Other honorable mentions include the EarthQuaker Devices Plumes, which sits at number 40, as well as the Op Amp Electro-Harmonix Big Muff, which is situated at spot 36 on the list.

Watch the video above to learn all of Scott’s findings, and visit Sweetwater to check out every pedal that gets a mention in the feature-length breakdown.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.