There are tons of great pedals to choose from nowadays, at all price points. It can be overwhelming at times when looking for something new and different. Inevitably there are always the mainstays that seem to live on forever, like the EHX Deluxe Memory Man, Boss SD-1 or the Dunlop Fuzz Face. Then there are more recent superstars, pedals that seem to get all of the attention and glory such as the Strymon Timeline. But there is also this stubborn category of really good pedals, that just don’t get much attention at all—but they should. Everyone probably has a favorite pedal or two (or dozen) that fly “under the radar.” Here are a few that I think deserve special mention because they sound great, they’re well-built and fairly priced—but for whatever reason they don’t get much love.
Overdrive: SolidGold FX out of Canada has always been one of my more favorite boutique builders that make a wide variety of great sounding pedals, at fair prices. The Super Drive, recently discontinued, has a great medium gain Marshall-like crunch to it, but it also possesses the rare ability to do both lower gain all the way up to higher gain with ease. The most recent version features a three way toggle (oddly called “Tone”), that adds or subtracts low end. A great feature for both the home user that wants deeper bass, versus those using it in a live context, where less bass is often more helpful. The SuperDrive has a wide sweet spot, lots of output, excellent construction, and is reasonably priced at under $175. There are some good demos of it out there on YouTube, but other than myself and a couple of folks I know, rarely when scanning various forums do I see the SuperDrive on other pedalboards, which is a shame—it’s really a great pedal.
Fuzz: Jetter Gear is well known in the guitar world for making some great overdrive and distortions, and I’ve been a big fan of the Gold Standard myself. But its Indigo Fuzz seems to have a much smaller following, which isn’t right. The Indigo is not a complicated, over the top, makes-spaceship-noises sort of fuzz. Rather, it is a simple-to-use germanium fuzz, with controls for Volume, Fuzz, Tone, and a two-way switch for a tight or loose feel. The Tone control is a nice addition to have when you want your fuzz tone darker (or maybe a little brighter). Two other benefits of the Indigo: it has a very low noise floor to it so it’s great for recording or home use, and it cleans up really easily too with just a little rollback of the guitar’s volume. I see a fair amount of Jetter overdrives on pro and amateur boards, and rightly so, but if you’re shopping for a high quality germanium fuzz without the issues often associated with germanium fuzzes, the Indigo is what you want.
Modulation: Mad Professor as a brand is certainly not under the radar, but a couple of their pedals deserve a closer look. The Electric Blue Chorus is one of those that just sounds right. Chorus tends to get a bad rap, partly due to overuse back in the ‘80s. Well forget that—a good analog chorus can really add some nice shimmer and thickness to your tone, whether you’re playing with a clean tone, or with some added gain. The Electric Blue features a helpful Blend control, allowing you to dial in a little or a lot of the effect, and the speed and depth controls work in tandem—go fast for a pretty good Leslie-like sim, or back off the speed, add some depth and go for a nice thick, lush tone. The Electric Blue isn’t inexpensive at almost $200, but it sounds great, simple to use, looks sharp and might be one of the few modulation pedals you will ever need.