Top Pedals of 2018
The world of pedals never stops. It’s a constant quest for new sounds, ideas and upgrades on the classics that we know and love. 2018 has seen some fantastic releases from some of our favourite pedal brands, so in no particular order, here’s our list of Top Pedals of 2018.
JHS started the year strongly by releasing a quintet of pedals including updated versions of the Panther Cub delay, Emperor chorus and Unicorn vibe, as well as the popular Andy Timmons AT Overdrive and Boost. But the one that really caught our eye was the all new Bonsai – a ‘9-way screamer’ designed to give you all the Tube Screamer sounds you could ask for.
The Bonsai follows in the footsteps of the innovative Muffuletta. These pedals utilise some clever switching to allow the user to access multiple drive circuits via a rotary dial. In the case of the Bonsai, there 9 options, all modelled on JHS mastermind Josh Scott’s personal favourite TS-style pedals from years gone by – is this the answer to the seemingly never-ending Tube Screamer tone quest? We certainly think it could be.
JHS finished 2018 on a high, releasing two great new mini pedals – the Mini Foot Fuzz V2 and the Tidewater Tremolo. Check them out below:
Buy JHS pedals here.
EarthQuaker are one of those brands where everyone is always excited to see what they come up with next. They are famed for their stranger, out of the box-style pedals like the Rainbow Machine and Data Corrupter. But 2018 has been quite a sensible year for them – that is, if you consider stereo flanging devices with with 5 presets, 8 flanger modes, tap tempo, tap subdivision, a multi-function Modify control, positive and negative Feedback, and a variable Mix control to be sensible… it’s all relative I guess, but if that’s your thing then the Pyramids is the pedal for you. Or perhaps maybe the new Aqueduct is more your style. Aqueduct is a vintage-inspired pitch Vibrato pedal with 8 modes to create and experiment with.
Our EarthQuaker pick for 2018 though has got to be the Endangered Fuzz pedal – the Black Ash. Released only in a limited run of 1500 worldwide, the Black Ash is made up of irreplaceable components from EQD owner Jamie Stillman’s personal stash. It’s a take on the classic 3-knob bender style fuzz and we think it’s a stellar addition to the ever-growing boutique fuzz market. The ‘Top’ switch allows for detailed control over 2kHz to 10kHz frequency range, and the Black Ash produces full, rich sounding fuzzy goodness.
Buy EarthQuaker Devices pedals here.
EHX never seem to stop. So far they have released no less than 8 new pedals this year, including 3 new takes on some classic Big Muffs and an updated version of the Canyon delay pedal – the Grand Canyon. Not to mention brand new additions to the range such as the Mod Rex polyphonic modulator and the Flatiron Fuzz, the latter being EHX’s version of the classic ProCo Rat.
This was a tough choice to choose one favourite pedal for the year, as we loved the grunge-y Op Amp Muff and the original-inspired Triangle. But for us, the Oceans 11 ran out the winner. The Oceans 11 is a multi-function reverb pedal with 11 modes including classic hall and plate sounds, as well as reverse, shimmer and modulation-infused settings including tremolo, chorus and flanger. Once you’ve spent countless hours on these 11 modes, there are another 11 ‘hidden’ settings accessible through the Secondary Knob Mode, allowing you to dive even deeper into the ocean of ‘verb. Infinite Reverb capabilities and its compact pedalboard-friendly design are just the icing on the cake for the Oceans 11.
Buy Electro Harmonix pedals here.
The Helix series from Line 6 has taken the world of multi effects and guitar modelling processors to a new level in the last couple of years. The all new Stomp version offers a more affordable and portable version, while still maintaining the exact same models as it’s bigger brothers. The Stomp is ideal for those who may be new to effects processors or is looking to scale down their rig to a simpler setup. The Stomp features over 300 amps, cabs and effects including a looper, as well as the legacy effects library from the Line 6 M-Series, plus classic stompbox models. The HX Stomp is the perfect fly-rig, studio/home recording tool and classic pedalboard all in one user-friendly unit.
Buy Line 6 pedals here.
Stone Deaf are one of our favourite boutique pedal manufacturers, not least because they are based just down the road from us in North West England. Their range of drive pedals is staggering, with the PDF-2 parametric drive filter slowly becoming a modern classic. However, last year they dived into the murky waters of digital technology and came up with the Tremotron – a digitally controlled analog tremolo pedal. This was a huge success and so they have followed up in 2018 with the Syncopy Delay.
The Syncopy is a fully analog bucket-brigade delay circuit combined with a digital control system. This means that the user can create, store and recall presets within the pedal – something that is just not available with the average analog stompbox. Some of the Syncopy’s features include 1 second of delay time, beat division selection, 128 presets available via MIDI, tap tempo and an expression pedal input. As if that were not enough, there are some ‘hidden’ features; pushing the 3 large knobs down allows greater control of the modulation tones, plus the tap switch can be used as an expression swell to create some wonderful self-oscillation sounds.
Buy Stone Deaf FX pedals here.
Continuing the theme of digital vs analog, the boffins at Chase Bliss took the plunge this year to bring us the Dark World dual channel reverb pedal. Revered for their mastery of ultra-tweakable analog circuitry, this is their first fully-digital offering. The Dark World is a collaborative effort, with the Dark channel being created by Cooper FX, and the World channel being created by Keeley FX. Dark has options for Mod, Shim and Black modes, whereas World gives you more classic verbs like Hall, Plate and Spring. The centre toggle allows the two channels to be ran in series into one another, or in parallel, providing yet more sonic variation. On top of this, there is the classic row of dip switches on the back of the top for some seriously in-depth ton sculpting. The Dark World features two savable presets as standard, 6 via the CBA Faves switch, and 122 in total via MIDI.
Buy Chase Bliss pedals here.
The Revv G3 enters a market more saturated than ever, but it has taken the rock and metal world by storm this year. It is based on Revv’s famous Generator amplifier series and is modelled on the ‘Purple’ channel of these amps. The pedal itself seems simple with three-band EQ controls plus an ‘Aggression’ switch with an extra Blue and Red modes. But often with tried a tested effect types such as drive and distortion, it’s the simple pedals that do their job well that last. The EQ allows for so much tonal shaping and there is a full range of overdrive and distortion sounds available, the addition of a stand-alone mid control meaning it offers so much more than many other of it’s competitors.
Buy Revv pedals here.
BOSS have been back at it again with their Waza Craft line of updated and reissued pedals. This year saw the return of a classic BOSS pedal from the ‘80s, the Dimension C. The DC-2w is not your usual chorus pedal, in fact BOSS themselves state that it is not a chorus at all. Instead it subtly enhances the width and depth of the input signal to create a smooth tone.
The DC-2w features switches rather than dials, like the original pedal, but they have been updated from mechanical to electronic. This allows for more than one switch to be pressed at a time, giving you extra sounds to play with. Also featured in this pedal is the SDD-320 mode, which is modelled on the original Dimension D studio effect which came out in 1979. This is a great addition to an already classic pedal, enabling more sounds when two buttons are pressed.
Buy BOSS pedals here.
Neunaber’s Immerse reverberator has been a favourite of ours for a while now, so the thought of an upgraded Mk2 version is mouth watering. The new version features upgrades on the same reverb sounds that we know and love from the Immerse, but with a Mix knob that goes to 100% wet. Perfect for ambient players looking to create a range of different atmospheres. Among its 8 presets are classic Plate and Spring, but also modulation modes such as echo, chorus and shimmer. The Immerse has so much packed inside it, and yet remains incredibly user friendly.
Buy Neunaber pedals here.
It was almost impossible to whittle this list down to just these pedals, so we feel we should add a few words about some other gems from this year.
Wampler revealed their new version of the classic Bluesbreaker circuit – the Pantheon. This versatile pedal features soft and hard clipping options, plus 3 gain levels, each accessible via two toggle switches.
ThorpyFX unveiled their new V2 designs featuring smaller enclosures for their entire range. We love these pedals and making them more pedalboard friendly is a master stroke from Adrian and the team. They also released The Dane Overdrive pedal which we can’t wait to get our hands on.
Unfortunately, this redesign saw the end of the Chain Home Tremolo, but right on queue, our friends at Ernie Ball popped up with a Tremolo addition to their Expression Effects range. Why bother with a stompbox and a separate expression pedal when you can have both in one? Ultimate tremolo control which makes you rethink whether you need tap tempo anymore.
So there we have it – our favourite pedals of 2018. Each year just gets better and better, so we can’t wait to see what 2019 throws up.