Ten Stompboxes That Changed Our Music
Effects pedals are our drugs. We’re surrounded by catacombs of pedals here at Tone Report and we don’t even scratch the surface of what's available. However, some definitive units changed popular music forever once they got into the hands of some creative guitarists. Today, we tip our hat to these iconic pedals and the artists who turned them into legendary (mythic, even!) pieces of gear.
Arbiter Fuzz Face - Jimi Hendrix
An unstoppable experimenter, Hendrix picked up a Fuzz Face when he arrived in England in the late '60s and—said as modestly as possible—the world was never the same. With his incredible chops and creativity, Hendrix put fuzz in the forefront of rock music and it has stayed there ever since.
Digitech WH-1 Whammy – Tom Morello
When Tom Morello showed up on the scene in '92, the world finally understood the point of the Whammy. The pedal had been on the market a couple years already but hadn't made a huge splash—that is, until Morello, half shredder half DJ, put the Whammy to work in incredibly inventive ways and cemented a place for himself in the pantheon of badass guitarists.
EHX Electric Mistress – Andy Summers
In a sea of gritty, dirty, overdriven rock 'n' roll, Andy Summers stood out by keeping it clean. His masterful clean tones, enhanced by the Electric Mistress, filled the space within the songs of the Police and redefined what guitar could do and be in a power trio.
EHX Deluxe Memory Man – Edge
A man known almost as much for what he doesn't play as for what he does, the Edge practically made his Deluxe Memory Man a fifth member of the band, pushing and pulling against the delay times to create textured rhythms that came to completely define the sound of one of the biggest bands in the world.
Ibanez TS9 – Stevie Ray Vaughan
Before the Klon, tone purists everywhere spent their nickels and dimes on hunting down the fabled TS-808 thanks to its masterful use by Texas bluesman Stevie Ray Vaughan. SRV upgraded to a TS-9 for a slightly grittier tone with tons of midrange and bite, which led to almost everyone adding this green machine to their board at some point or another.
Maestro FZ-1 Fuzz Tone – Keith Richards
The first-ever commercially available fuzz found its way into Keef's rig and started the fuzz craze. You've surely heard it on "Satisfaction" where Keef thought it was going to replicate a horn. Fat chance, Mr. Richards!
Musitronics Mu-Tron III – Bootsy Collins
With the Mu-Tron III, Bootsy took the electric bass, previously considered only a foundation instrument, and put it in the spotlight. Under Bootsy, bass was a solo instrument capable of taking center stage in any jam.
MXR Phase 90 – Eddie Van Halen
The brown sound has been dissected to death and discovered as a mystery that can never quite be solved. In addition to using the purest, most saturated tube amp distortion ever, Eddie added just a smidge of slow, swirling phase to his signal to thicken things up and provide some sonic dimension to his signature sound, often imitated but never, ever duplicated.
Sola Sound Tone Bender MK II – Jimmy Page
The fuzz sound that launched (literally) millions of guitar players and is still pretty much untoppable. Mr. Page pretty much made the Bender line famous, though the MKI was already out. Even Jack White and the Edge can't wipe the grins off their faces watching Page play through this box.
Vox King Wah – Curtis Mayfield
Wah pedals were actually first developed for trumpet players, and when the effect left trumpeteers behind for the greener pastures of electric guitar, it was mainly used in rock and blues soloing. Enter Curtis Mayfield and his guitarist, Craig McMullen, who turned the wah into an indispensable part of the soul and funk lexicons.