I have been teaching myself guitar for about 6 months now. I can play simple riffs and parts of solos, working on scales and chords. I can play Smells Like Teen Spirit's riff and solo and Sweet Child O' Mine's intro and first two solos.

I live in India and you can't find a lot of stores with pedals even in big cities. However, I have an opportunity to get pedals and possibly other gear from US in a month and it'll also be much cheaper.

I know product recommendations aren't allowed on this forum. But I would like advice on what types of pedals to get that would be useful. I use a Blackstar ID Core 10W amplifier which has a good built-in tuner and effects like Chorus, Flanger, Tremolo, Reverb and Delay. These effects are pretty decent though I can't turn them on and off easily while playing. Overdrive channels along with the ISF on the amp are great. To modify EQ however, I need to connect the amp to a computer which isn't easy. Link to Amp's specs: https://www.blackstaramps.com/uk/products/idcore-stereo-10

I'm assuming most entry level pedals won't sound much better than the built-in effects on the amp, not to mention I will be upgrading to a better amp in another 6-7 months. Is it worth getting a distortion/OD pedal? Will it help me get better hard rock, blues and metal tones? Is it fine if I get a Wah pedal at this stage? I have read that a looper pedal is useful so that's on my list.

Thanks a lot in advance for any advice.


Even though your amp provides built-in effects, it is very convenient to have the same effects as pedals so you can turn them on and off. Another reason is that you can change the order of the effects. For example, distortion into delay is very different from delay into distortion.

Some basic types to consider include the ones you've already mentioned, like distortion/OD, chorus, wah-wah. Some others you might want are fuzz, compression, and volume. I haven't used a looper yet myself, but it's high on my list of things to get next. If you have a riff playing in a loop, you can put down the guitar and dial in the controls on the other effects and immediately hear what's happening. Be sure to check out our Glossary of Guitar Effects.

If/when you get a chance to go to a store, ask to try a few using a similar amp and guitar that you have.

We have a chatroom for this site where we often talk about pedals and setting them up.

I've been very pleased with the quality of very inexpensive pedals from Behringer and Danelectro. For wah-wah, my personal recommendation is Morley since it's the only kind I know of that lets you switch it on and off while leaving it in the same position. This lets it work almost like a Parametric Equalizer.

FWIW my first pedal purchases were: volume, wah-wah, amp simulator. Some years later I expanded this by getting: octave, OD, envelope filter. And after that, it kind of exploded.

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    In my opinion, the amp you have is just fine. All the great rock bands from the 60s were using Vox AC15's, just 15 watts. I mostly play in musicals in a small theatre and my Vox VT120 (10 watts) is plenty loud. I have a bigger one for bass, but for guitar you don't really need tons of power unless you're playing in really large rooms without a P/A system. I haven't used a Crybaby myself, but if that's the sound you really like, then go for it! For me, I don't the way most wahs have the switch under the toe. It just feels awkward to me. – luser droog Nov 10 '19 at 11:20
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    I am not worried about loudness but more about tone. I like the tone out of a few amps but unless I find a way to try them out I think I'll stick with this amp and get pedals. Also is it a better idea to get used pedals from better brands like Boss than Behringer or Danelectro? And where do you recommend looking for used guitar pedals in US? Also do you have a good recommendation for a overdrive/ distortion pedal that can do most types of rock and metal well? – Tarun Nov 10 '19 at 11:31
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    Playing in rock bands in the '60s, I never saw AC15s. Plenty of AC30s and AC50s. – Tim Nov 10 '19 at 13:33
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    Used pedals are a great idea. If your area has a major guitar chain retailer, you should absolutely try out as many as you can. Even if you have to drive, say, an hour, you can try out a ton in one afternoon. Make notes and look for what you like on a popular used gear site. For what you describe you want in a single distortion pedal, a Rat or clone might be a good bet. Search YouTube for videos that compare the most well-known types of distortion pedals (overdrive vs distortion, TS-types vs Rat-types) and see if one strikes you as versatile enough. – mistercoffee66 Nov 10 '19 at 17:26
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    Thanks @mistercoffee66. It took me visiting over 20 stores in two cities to find three stores that had about 10-15 guitars each. And none of them had any mid range guitars that were well priced or any collection of pedals. I'll see if there are any other stores though. The prices are already pretty expensive on pedals and when you add import taxes it's not cheap. The used market is virtually non-existent for all gear and you might find 20 budget guitars with poor setups that have been lying around in a beginner's house for a few years. – Tarun Nov 11 '19 at 2:18

To be quite honest, I think a metronome would serve most beginners better than pedals. Being able to press a button and get a different sound is fun but doesn't do much to help you grow musically. And note that some exceptional, world class guitarists (for example Derek Trucks) eschew the use of pedals altogether.

Nothing wrong with doing stuff to make playing fun, but playing around with gear (for guitarists it's amps/guitars/pedals, for sax players it's always mouthpieces and reeds) often distracts from the hard work of learning to play good musical phrases in time.

Do you play acoustic guitar by the way?

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    I don't contest that music is hard. It requires patience and dedication and you either have those or develop them. Personally I've found that facing that and trying (!) to address my weaknesses has been what has given me most real encouragement, and that's why I give this answer. I don't think that buying gear makes you sound better, provided what you already have is workable, because the reasons you sound bad are likely to be with timing and musicianship, not the sound. But I don't want to get drawn into a pointless debate about it, and I accept that others may have other viewpoints. – danmcb Nov 10 '19 at 16:31
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    I have played my friend's acoustics and I can play stuff on it but not fingerstyle. I understand that rhythm is very important and I've already learned South Indian Classical for over 10 years where rhythm plays a very crucial role. I play keyboard so I have a metronome on that and also a tap tempo on my amp. I know that you don't need pedals to sound great. Angus also doesn't use any pedals but a slight boost to compensate for his wireless. I don't want to go overboard and I can't with the prices here luckily. I probably just need an OD, looper and maybe a wah-wah. – Tarun Nov 10 '19 at 18:05
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    well you sound like a bit more than a beginner musician Tarun, I know rhythm is very sophisticated in Indian traditional music. I think acoustic is useful because you tend to focus a lot more on the guitar itself - some great electric players are great acoustic players first. But in the end it's all tools for the job, and only you can decide what you want. There are great players with huge pedal boards and equally great ones that hate them. Do your thing ... – danmcb Nov 10 '19 at 18:13
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    Acoustic is a nice idea and it's way easier to pickup and play without disturbing a lot of people. The acoustics I tried out had really high action and at the time I thought that was just how it was. My friend's acoustic has nearly a cm of action at the twelfth fret and you can barely play it. I learn fingerstyle on an acoustic later. Thanks for the help. – Tarun Nov 11 '19 at 2:23
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    no, they vary a lot. You might like to look for a nice nylon-string, they are great to just learn all the basic stuff on and you can get a decent one for quite a modest price. And as you say, it is great to just pick up and play with no overhead – danmcb Nov 11 '19 at 9:27

Get a compression pedal. You'll be amazed how much better it will make your guitar sound. And I like a good distortion type pedal to play blues soloes. I just bought the Keeley DDR and it is my favorite for that kind of thing. I've tried dozens of pedals in my lifetime and they're all fun but a Boss Compressor is the only ones I've kept. I have the Boss CS-1, CS-2, and CS-3. The CS-1 is the oldest, but my favorite. It just makes a guitar sound so good! Ever wonder why guitars on records sound so much better than your guitar? It's the compression!

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