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Are you drawn to the sound of ambient guitar playing? You’re definitely not alone, but it can be a little confusing to get into.
There are so many pedals available today that it can be difficult to know what’s what. No worries, this list of ambient guitar pedals contains some of the best you can currently buy.
You’ll no doubt have hours of fun experimenting with the different pedals in this list.
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Old Blood Noise Endeavors Sunlight Reverb – Best Overall
This pedal was released in 2021 and it is chock full of sounds any ambient player will love. In fact, it is a pedal that you’ll likely spend hours just scratching the surface of its capabilities.
At a basic level, the Sunlight Reverb is essentially 4 stacked delays with 3 different modes. Each mode utilizes a dynamic hold function that can prove extremely useful in ambient settings.
The different modes available include:
- Tape (generating a warble)
- Comb (which can produce flanger-like sounds)
- Pass (sort of an LFO filter setting)
There are 5 different control setting knobs on the Sunlight, including:
Depending on the mode, these knobs will function slightly differently. However, Mix controls the wet signal amount while Input controls the amount of signal coming into the pedal.
The Sunlight is capable of creating infinite loops of reverb, but it also has some other unique aspects. One is that the reverb can hold a pitch until a new pitch is introduced to the signal.
Another is the fact that you can create large swells that border on going out of control (but tastefully don’t).
The reality is that there are more sounds in this box than could ever be contained in a short article.
Other features include expression pedal capabilities as well as an ALT button that allows you to enter a semi-preset.
Plus, let’s not forget about the artwork on this pedal. It has some vintage psychedelic inspiration that is sure to look great on any board.
The Sunlight Reverb is powered by a standard 9V power supply.
What’s So Great About The Old Blood Noise Endeavors Sunlight Reverb?
The Sunlight Reverb is literally an ambient guitarist’s dream come true. There are so many possibilities available with this one pedal that it’s sure to be a mainstay in your rig.
Just the amount of sounds produced in this box could allow it to be your most frequently-used pedal. Whether you want long and crystalline trails of reverb, bizarre sea-sick warbles, or bubbly ping-pongs, it’s all here.
One of the coolest aspects is the hold feature, which creates an infinite loop of the tone being generated. The pedal then allows you to play over top of the loop with a dry signal.
This pedal also allows you to key in on certain frequencies and pre-program the setting. Pressing the ALT button, in this case, will instantly recall that setting, turning off when pressing the button again.
Old Blood Noise Endeavors has proven that there are many ideas for effects pedals that haven’t seen the light of day. Fortunately, for guitarists everywhere, the Sunlight is available to take advantage of.
You will likely be entertained for hours experimenting with the different sounds that are possible here. That factor alone makes this one of the best ambient pedals available.
Furthermore, the price isn’t too terribly expensive, especially for someone with a decent budget. There are definitely pedals that cost more than this with far fewer offerings than the Sunlight.
The Sunlight Reverb is by far one of the coolest pedals to hit the market in 2021. Be sure to try this pedal out for yourself, you certainly will not regret it one bit.
Item Weight: 15.5 ounces
Package Dimensions: 6.77 x 5.67 x 3.15 inches
Empress Effects ZOIA – Best Premium
Sure, just taking one look at this pedal is enough to scare a timid and electronically-handicapped guitarist. For those that are bold and brave, the ZOIA is one of the best ambient pedals on the market.
Just what in the heck is this thing?
Well, essentially, the ZOIA is a sort of synthesizer platform that allows you to build your own custom sound effects. There is actually quite a bit of room here for experimentation, much to the ambient guitarist’s delight.
There are over 80 different effects and sounds that can be utilized in the ZOIA. Empress Effects regularly releases new modules to be downloaded.
From here, you can use the ZOIA as a template to combine these effects modules together. You have total control of the effects signal chain to create some truly unique tones.
Once you’ve found a sound you like, you can save it to the SD card. You’ll be able to store 64 presets on the ZOIA, which you can use during live performances.
To make the ZOIA usable out of the box, Empress Effects has included 20 pre-made presets. You can even incorporate these into creating your own unique sounds.
The ZOIA might look confusing, but it’s actually quite easy to navigate once you get the hang of it. There is a small screen showing the settings and every button has an illustration of its function.
You can even connect MIDI devices to the ZOIA for further control of the pedal. This pedal will also produce sound with the best possible sound quality and does support stereo signals.
What’s So Great About The Empress Effects ZOIA?
The ZOIA is the perfect pedal to get if you don’t mind getting a little scientific with your tone. This pedal has near-infinite possibilities with the range of different sounds it can produce.
Unlike other pedals, you’ll be able to save the fruits of your labor of experimentation. Even if you can’t store them all on the ZOIA, you can easily store them on a computer until needed.
The SD card does open up other doors, namely concerning the guitar community. You can essentially download other guitarists’ unique programmed presets for your own sonic palette.
While the ZOIA does cost a fair amount of money, it provides more function than most pedals.
If you love to experiment with different sonic possibilities, the ZOIA is your ticket to days of fun. Should you find it to be troublesome to navigate, there are plenty of tutorials available to utilize.
The ZOIA provides the kind of functions that you would hopefully expect to find on a pedal at this price.
You’re certainly never going to be bored exploring the different combinations of sounds that can be produced. The best part is, that you can easily use your unique sounds more than one time.
Experimentation is necessary for any ambient guitarist, and the ZOIA provides ample supply. But, it also provides a great balance between all-out experimentation and actual application.
With the ZOIA, you're sure to never run out of inspiration.
Item Weight: 1.54 pounds
Package Dimensions: 7 x 5 x 4 inches
Keeley Synth-1 – Best Budget
The Synth-1 is a very simple pedal to operate and any guitarist will find it easy to dial in tones. There are 3 different settings for waves types, including:
To control the tone of the pedal, you have 3 different parameters to work with, including:
The level controls the amount of volume output coming from the pedal itself. Use the blend control to mix proper levels of wet and dry signals together
When adjusting the attack level, you’re affecting how long it takes for the synth to reach maximum levels.
Perhaps the best thing is the fact that there is a large rotary dial knob to control the filter frequency. This allows you to find the tones you’re looking for, ranging from dark to bright.
It gets even better as the Synth-1 has a 2-way switch to turn on the Chaos mode. The essentially gives the pedal a much more aggressive synth sound.
You can even connect an expression pedal to adjust the filter by foot. This comes in handy, particularly for filter sweeps during play.
To power the Synth-1 pedal, a standard 9V power supply is required.
This is a fairly basic pedal but is quite effective for what it does. It also has some classic designs for artwork and is situated in a very clean housing.
What’s So Great About The Keeley Synth-1?
The best thing about the Synth-1 pedal is by far its ease of use. There isn’t much of a steep learning curve required to find usable tones.
Rather, it’s a straightforward pedal with the essential necessary settings. Plus, it can generate some fairly unique tones much different than a fuzz pedal could produce.
In a way, this pedal is somewhat multi-functional, as you could certainly use it like a fuzz pedal. The Synth-1 is certainly capable of creating some fat and grimy tones any fuzz lover can appreciate.
Each of the 3 settings produces some truly iconic synthesizer sounds that you are likely to be familiar with. Engaging the Chaos setting further expands the range of available tones coming from this box.
Another massive plus is the fact that this is a relatively affordable pedal for most budgets. It’s definitely something to be considered if you feel like your tone needs a little bit of a different characteristic.
Due to its ease of use, it’s pretty easy to remember what the settings are for the tones you find. This is definitely helpful during real-time musical situations where setting adjustments are needed.
It’s also a massive plus to be able to control the filter frequency with an expression pedal. You can essentially create ever-changing sonic textures that can really be enhanced by other effects pedals.
Item Weight: 14.4 ounces
Package Dimensions: 7 x 4 x 3 inches
Chase Bliss Audio MOOD
Looking to add a modern classic from the ambient guitar community to your signal chain? You’ll definitely want to check out the Chase Bliss Audio MOOD.
The MOOD is truly a unique pedal and it’s ideal for creating atmospheric landscapes. How does it work?
At its core, the MOOD is described as a “granular looper” combined with a delay. Essentially, the MOOD takes the signal and feeds it into one side of the pedal.
As you would expect, you can record very short segments of signal and then affect it how you wish.
Once one side of the pedal affects the tone, it is reflected back to the other side. This happens time and again to create very interesting ambient tones.
For those wondering, the MOOD is more than capable of creating infinite sonic textures.
There is a massive load of controls onboard the MOOD, including:
Each of these settings controls either the micro-looper and/or the delay function. But, it doesn’t end here, as 3 separate 3-way switches are provided for:
- Delay type
- Signal routing
- Delay function
You can be absolutely sure that you’ll be spending hours experimenting with the MOOD. Be sure to try out this pedal and you’ll discover why so many ambient guitarists have it in their rigs.
This is truly a pedal unlike anything you’ve ever played with or experienced before. To fully explain its parameters would require its own dedicated article.
Even then, such attempts would likely only scratch the surface of capabilities that exist in this pedal.
A standard 9V power supply is required to power the Chase Bliss Audio MOOD.
Item Weight: 1.17 pounds
Package Dimensions: 6 x 4 x 4 inches
Delay pedals are almost a requirement to be able to play ambient styles of guitar music. These types of pedals allow guitarists to create vast atmospheric spaces that can really fill a room with emotion.
At its core, the DD-200 is a delay pedal chock full of different delay types usable for any musical setting. These delay types include:
- Dual delay
- Tera echo
- Pad echo
You can change the subdivision of the delay quite easily by pushing the corresponding button. However, this pedal also has a tap tempo function to ensure your playing remains in sync with your band.
Furthermore, the DD-200 is capable of recording loops up to 1-minute long. The pedal also allows you to record overdub loops as well, which can be great for ambience.
If you have settings you like, you can save them as a preset in one of the 4 memory slots. You can also run the pedal in manual mode.
The DD-200 has a wide range of different control knobs to help you dial in that perfect delay setting. These include:
- Effect level
- Mod depth
- Parameter (controls settings as seen on the LCD screen)
You’ll be able to utilize this pedal with MIDI controls as well as an expression pedal. A micro USB port ensures you can keep the pedal installed with the latest firmware updates.
If you’re running a stereo signal, the DD-200 is quite capable of providing this. In fact, you’ll love how this delay sounds in stereo.
Item Weight: 1.8 pounds
Package Dimensions: 5.6 x 4 x 2.5 inches
What To Look For When Buying Ambient Guitar Pedals
Shopping for ambient pedals can be quite a lot of fun. First of all, this style of playing allows you to use pedals to create very distinct combinations.
How do you know what pedal you should buy? Well, this question can be quite difficult to answer, as it really depends on a few factors.
If you keep the following points in mind, you’ll have a guideline you can use to aid you during your research. You will absolutely need to try pedals out to see which can provide the sounds you are looking for.
Consider The Essentials
If you don’t really have many pedals in your collection, it is first important to consider the essentials. Each style of music tends to have its staple effects, and ambient guitar is no different.
Ambient playing is a bit unique as a wide range of pedals can be utilized to a highly effective degree. You shouldn’t rule anything out of the equation until you’ve experimented with every possible parameter.
The main types of effects that tend to be used with ambient guitar include:
However, the following types of pedals can also prove to be quite useful in ambient guitar styles:
Both delay and reverb can help to achieve the long and drawn-out tapestries this music is noted for. Many ambient guitarists utilize multiple types of delays and reverbs in their rig.
Modulation pedals are extremely useful for providing a bit of weirdness to the guitar’s sound. This could range from moving textures to sounds not easily identified or recognized.
For the most part, modulation pedals will tend to include tremolos, flangers, phasers, chorus, and vibrato. Mixing and matching these types of effects can create some very interesting sounds.
Samplers encompass a broad range of different pedals, including loopers. These pedals essentially record a length of audio and incorporate it into the signal.
Loopers will provide the most consistent results in terms of predictability. However, some sampler pedals are very unpredictable and can create sounds that will only be heard once.
Fuzz and synth pedals are extremely useful for incorporating different sounds into the sonic landscape. These types of effects can completely mask the guitar’s tone altogether into a different instrument.
Some ambient guitarists love fuzz pedals because of the amount of textured noise these pedals provide.
One of the biggest things to consider is how unique the guitar pedal is. This is especially true if you already have the essentials in your rig.
While essential pedals can be more than adequate for producing ambient tones, unique pedals can provide that extra weirdness. Sometimes, it really is all about how weird you can make your guitar tone.
Try to look for pedals that are very unique with tones you can’t find in any other stompbox. It’d be helpful if the pedal could operate as more than just a one-trick pony.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, as you’ll find there are pedals that are really only good at one thing. Nevertheless, they provide a sound or effect that other pedals just can’t produce.
Again, don’t rule out the essentials and the combinations you could create. Sometimes, different setup styles can make all of the difference.
For instance, there are some pedals that allow you to run other pedals in either series or parallel. Running in parallel essentially allows the pedals to operate without affecting the next pedal in the signal chain (unlike series).
This, of course, produces starkly different tones than you can produce in a typical series setup. In this case, a mixer pedal could provide that uniqueness you’re looking for with pedals you already have.
The controls that are available on a pedal are really going to come in handy. More control means you can affect a larger range of parameters on the pedal.
This essentially allows you to craft very bizarre tones, or replicate settings to the closest degree.
However, sometimes, minimal control functions can be quite inspiring and creative to work with, too. Don’t rule out a pedal simply because it only has 1 or 2 knobs.
These types of pedals can be quite effective for their intended purposes despite a lack of control. Plus, it is less to have to worry about when in the moment of creating sonic tapestries.
The size of the pedal is actually quite important, especially if you are using a lot of pedals. Ambient guitarists are known to have quite a few pedals in their arsenal, which can prove problematic.
Pedalboards quickly run out of space and some ambient pedals can be quite large in size. Try to opt for a mini version of a pedal if you can, as it will certainly help prevent space issues.
Pedals range from very inexpensive to unbelievably expensive. Always keep your budget in mind when shopping for pedals.
Sometimes, cheaper pedals can be more than enough to produce quality ambient tones. Save your money for the extremely unique pedals that are hard to come by.
Also, don’t be afraid to shop around in the used market. You can find some amazing deals by buying secondhand.
Best Brands For Ambient Guitar Pedals
Having trouble deciding on a pedal for your signal chain? This is to be expected as there are more pedal manufacturers today than ever before.
Sometimes, it can help to do a little bit of brand research when shopping around for pedals. The following brands are well-known in the ambient guitar community for creating unique pedals.
Old Blood Noise Endeavors
Old Blood Noise Endeavors is a relatively newer company in the guitar pedal industry. However, the people behind the company have been involved in helping some of the biggest names rise to acclaim.
Since going out on their own, Old Blood Noise Endeavors has created some pedals quite unlike anything on the market. These pedals are perfect for the ambient guitarist who is looking to bend the norm.
Chase Bliss Audio
Chase Bliss Audio got its start in 2013. Since then, the company has released very unique pedals that are starkly different than other pedals on the market.
Many bands have endorsed Chase Bliss Audio’s pedals, showing that these effects can be used about anywhere. Ambient guitarists, especially, love the odd and unique effects this company regularly releases.
Top Ambient Guitar Pedals, Final Thoughts
As a guitarist, there are fewer things more fun than being able to try out different effects pedals. So, be sure that you try each of these pedals out for yourself to hear how they affect your sound.
New and unique pedals are constantly being released, so do keep an eye out. It’s never a bad thing to add new things to your rig to experiment with!