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Let’s be honest, most guitarists tend to overlook the EQ pedal as something completely unnecessary. Yet, they often wonder why they can’t achieve certain guitar tones.
The truth is, it’s probably one of the most important pedals you could have on your pedal board.
Fortunately enough, there is a much wider selection of EQ pedals available today than ever before. The following EQ pedals are some of the better options available on the market.
MXR M108S – Best Overall
Have you ever wondered what the secret ingredient to some of the 1980s and 90s greatest guitar tones is? For many, it was an MXR EQ pedal that provided the secret mojo to these iconic sounds.
The MXR M108S (see price on Sweetwater, Amazon) is an updated version of the original classic. This 10-band EQ is one of the best value buys available on the market, based purely on function and price.
You’ll have a massive range of frequency control here, with faders given for the following frequency bands:
You’ll be able to adjust the basic frequencies, as well as any overtone frequencies that might be present. The pedal gives you the ability to boost or cut up to 12dB per frequency.
Along with that, the M108S gives you separate faders for both the overall volume as well as gain. Like the frequency faders, these features also have 12dB of cut or boost.
The M108S is an incredibly durable pedal made of aluminum and designed to handle some heavy use. Not only is it an EQ, but it can serve as a viable boost pedal, too.
You won’t have any issues seeing your settings as each fader is equipped with a bright blue LED light.
For the price, the M108S is by far one of the best EQ pedals for the average player. It offers exceptional control while being suitable for touring musicians who are playing every night.
JHS Colour Box V2 – Best Premium
This certainly isn’t the most affordable EQ pedal by any stretch of the imagination. However, what it does offer is suitable enough for even the most high-end recording situations you could think of.
On the surface, the Colour Box V2 is a preamp modeled after the vintage recording consoles of days past. If you have an affinity for vintage tones, you’re probably going to want to seek this out.
The pedal has numerous controls available, including a 3-band EQ as well as frequency shift settings. You can also adjust the settings to be either low or high bandpass filters.
And really, everything from fuzz to lo-fi tones is on offer here with a bit of tweaking. With its microphone input/output, you could easily use this for vocals, drums, or any other application using a microphone.
Once you taste the rainbow of tones this pedal has to offer, you won’t want to go without it.
Behringer EQ700 – Best Budget
For the price of a large pizza with a few toppings, you can have access to a tone-shaping tool. That’s always a plus in our book!
The EQ700 is a 7-band EQ that has a graphical interface with adjustable faders. Each fader offers up to 15dB of cut/boost for the following frequency ranges:
Along with the EQ faders, the EQ700 has a separate fader for the overall volume control of the pedal itself. This fader also has up to 15dB of cut/boost abilities.
For the most part, the EQ700 is a decently adequate pedal for most people. Some people have complained about a hint of noise, but for this price, it’s worth getting your toes wet.
Leave it to Boss to create one of the most in-depth EQ pedals to ever exist on the market. If you have a complex setup, the Boss EQ-200 (see price on Sweetwater, Amazon) is a must for tonal management.
While you might guess that this is just a 10-band EQ, the truth is that this is actually doubled. That’s right, there’s 2x 10-band EQs, which can be run in stereo, parallel, or series depending on your needs.
The pedal has adjustable faders, with 15dB of cut/boost, over the ranges of:
- Overall volume level
On top of this, the EQ-200 has an LED screen that gives you a visual representation of the EQ. You can even store up to 4 different presets, recallable with a designated footswitch.
As if that wasn’t enough, the EQ-200 also allows you to shape the tones of separate pedals. Plus, the EQ-200 has MIDI connectivity, ensuring that the rest of your rig receives EQ treatment as needed.
If you’re nuts about shaping tone, the EQ-200 is worth looking at. It has quite a bit of power, which excuses the fact that it has a fairly large form factor.
Source Audio EQ2
Most of Source Audio’s offerings go above and beyond what you’d expect a guitar pedal to offer. The EQ2 is certainly no exception, as they’ve packed this pedal with things for even the most demanding rigs.
On the surface, the EQ2 is a 10-band EQ that functions just like your standard, garden variety EQ. However, you’ll notice that the EQ2 lacks both faders and frequency-specific knobs.
The real magic is in the EQ2’s interface, which uses an LED screen to display the frequency values. You’ll need to use the given dial to scroll to each frequency and edit the values as needed.
Some might be turned off by this design fact alone, so it’s imperative to try it out ahead of time. However, the EQ2 rewards your hard work by allowing you to program up to 8 different EQ presets.
Each frequency band has up to 18dB of boost/cut, with an overall volume control offering 12dB boost/cut. You even have the option to use the pedal as either a parametric EQ or a graphics EQ.
Of course, with the EQ2, you’re not bound to the limitations of your creativity and willingness to experiment. Source Audio provides you with software that you can use to shape your tone to the finest detail possible.
Along with that, you’ll be able to download custom patches created by other guitarists who use the pedal. This essentially means that the EQ2 has infinite possibilities when it comes to tone.
The pedal even comes with a tuner! Plus, if you needed to, you can connect the EQ2 to MIDI devices.
J. Rockett Audio Designs IQ
What if you need a little something extra combined with your EQ pedal, is there any option available? The J.Rockett Audio Designs IQ (see price on Sweetwater, Amazon) provides a compressor with its EQ function.
It’s actually quite a welcomed sight to see a compressor and an EQ combined in one convenient pedal. Many compressors only provide basic controls, but the IQ lets you craft the minutia of your tone.
For starters, the IQ offers a 6-band EQ with 18dB cut/boost over the following frequency ranges:
If you’re wondering, the EQ is placed before the compression unit in the circuit. When the tone is compressed, the post-EQ tone is what is being affected.
The compressor itself is fairly basic in terms of controls, offering a volume control as well as a mix control. Adjusting the mix allows for the blending of wet and dry signals rather than having compression at full blast.
The IQ is housed in a durable housing, with a sleek black and red design. Each fader on the graphic interface has a red light for increased visibility during performances.
Perhaps the only gripe to have about the pedal is that red lights can be a bit difficult to see. Red doesn’t appear as bright when playing in well-lit rooms, although this shouldn’t bug too many people.
Aside from the obvious design difference, the EQuator’s EQ function is different than any other pedal on this list. For starters, the EQuator is primarily focused on the mid-range frequencies of the guitar rather than the entire frequency range.
The pedal gives a level knob for both bass and treble, which are affixed to set frequencies. When adjusting the mids, you’ll have control over 2 separate halves of the mid-range, along with the frequency focus.
This means you’ll easily be able to cut or boost your mid-range as needed with as minimal effort as possible.
However, if you thought this was purely just an EQ pedal, you’d be sorely mistaken. The EQuator can function as an excellent clean boost pedal for when you need some extra oomph in your tone.
Like most other EQ pedals, you’ll have no issues using the EQuator with other instruments. It can prove to be a valuable tool in the studio for those times when you need some fine-tuning.
The EQuator is a little more pricey than the average EQ pedal on the market. However, you’re paying a bit of a premium for its straightforward design and for Wampler’s pristine analog circuitry.
Some people have claimed that the EQuator provides far more tonal enhancement than a traditional EQ. However, you’ll need your own ears to judge whether that is true for you and your style of playing.
Plus, the EQuator does provide a bit of refreshment to the EQ pedal by sticking with a traditional knob design. These knobs are probably a bit less likely to be subject to accidental bumping during use.
Sometimes, it's in your best interest to go with something that is time-tested against the battles of the road. The Boss GE-7 (see price on Sweetwater, Amazon) is one of the most iconic EQ pedals in existence.
Ever since its debut, the GE-7 has found wide use over the span of decades. Very little has changed with today’s current offering, as the original design excels at its function.
As you might guess from the name, the GE-7 is a 7-band EQ, offering a graphic interface with adjustable faders. Each fader offers up to 15dB boost/cut, with control over the ranges of:
Along with that, the GE-7 has a separate fader specifically for the overall volume level of the pedal itself. This too, offers 15dB of boost/cut, allowing you to use this as a line booster for overdrive if needed.
For the most part, that is all that the GE-7 has to offer. And while it is basic, it does come in the iconic and durable Boss housing.
One of the best things about this pedal is undoubtedly its price, which is affordable for just about any budget. For a pedal that has years of hard-won reputation, to find one at this price is an absolute steal.
Beginners especially will find the GE-7 quite easy to use as there isn’t anything extra to have to worry about. Simply adjust the faders the way you need and get back to what’s important: playing music.
For the most part, the M109S is very similar to the aforementioned M108S model. The difference here is that the M109S is a 6-band EQ, and comes without additional level and gain controls.
Despite the differences, the M109S has the bare essentials that any average guitarist will find of use. Each of the 6 bands provided offers up to 18dB boost/cut, covering the ranges of:
As you can see, the lowest and highest ranges of the M108S have been left off of this EQ pedal. That isn’t such a bad thing, as these ranges closely reflect the actual frequency ranges in which the guitar resides.
Aside from that, the M109S comes in MXR’s durable aluminum housing and has blue lights for each fader. Plus, it doesn’t have the same width as the M108S, which can help to save some room on any pedalboard.
For the price, the M109S is a solid option to consider, especially for a utility pedal. Unless you’re in the studio and need hundreds of unique sounds, the M109S should be more than suitable for anyone.
What To Look For When Buying An EQ Pedal For Guitar
On the surface, EQ pedals are an incredibly simple concept. You’re essentially running the signal through a series of bandpass filters.
Is there really so much that you need to consider when buying an EQ pedal? Actually, there is, and it could make all the difference in the world if you know what to look for.
Keep the following points in mind as you research and consider your various options. You won’t need to overthink things, but you certainly don’t want to underthink things either.
Maybe the biggest consideration you need to give to the EQ pedal is the frequency ranges it offers. Some pedals might offer ranges that cover frequencies beyond what the guitar actually produces.
That’s not a bad thing, as control over certain frequencies can help clean up your tone when playing in venues. With EQ pedals, you’ll find that they come with various numbers of bandpass filters.
Those with 10 bands will offer the most focus in relation to specific frequency ranges. Pedals with less than 10 bands will expand the focus of each fader to include a broader range of frequencies.
You’ll need to decide whether it’s important to have a more focused control, or if a broader control is okay.
One thing you’ll need to consider when buying an EQ is how you prefer the pedal to be designed. Are you somebody that prefers to have faders or knobs?
If the pedal has faders, take into consideration whether the pedal has lighted faders. This comes in handy when you’re playing in poorly-lit rooms, which is typically the standard norm for bar gigs.
Something you should consider is how well the pedal is actually built. If you’re a frequent performer, the pedal will likely take a bit of a beating over time.
You don’t want to deal with a pedal dying because it couldn’t handle the regular rigors of the road. Metal housings are likely going to be your best fit in this regard.
Another thing you’ll need to watch for is whether the pedal introduces any noise to the signal when engaging. While it might be somewhat unavoidable in certain instances, this is one of the distinctive differences in determining overall quality.
Every guitarist with a pedalboard knows that, eventually, pedalboard space becomes extremely valuable. Sometimes, we buy pedals without knowing exactly how we’re going to find the space on our boards to fit them.
Before you buy an EQ pedal, you should give careful consideration to the ideal size that the pedal should be. Much of this will likely have to do with the way in which you use the pedal.
If it’ll always be on, it won’t hurt to try and find an EQ in the smallest form factor possible. For those with the need for extra features and deeper detail, something larger might be appropriate.
Something you’ll really need to consider is whether you have a need for anything beyond basic EQ functions. One of the most popular features is the ability to save preset EQ settings for recall during performances.
Some EQ pedals function as a preamp, offering the ability to color the tone in different ways. There are even pedals of such nature that can be used with microphones in a studio setting.
Another feature that is typically found is the ability to add gain to the signal. Many guitarists like to use this function to boost the signal and push their tube amps into overdrive.
More often than not, you’re going to pay a premium to have an EQ pedal with extra features.
As you’ve witnessed by looking over the various aforementioned EQ pedals, their prices can vary greatly. For the most part, they tend to be divided into different price ranges with their features reflected in the price.
The extremely basic pedals will typically run less than $100. These will typically have only the bare essentials, with the possibility of some features being limited.
If you dig around, you can easily find a 10-band EQ pedal for less than $50. However, you’re essentially gambling on its overall quality compared with something by a trusted brand.
Around $100 to $200 is when you start to see the EQ pedal progress slightly beyond its basic function. This is typically where the EQ pedal has a better build structure with some performance-enhancing features (such as lights).
Above $200 is where EQ pedals start to get interesting, and you’ll need to know what is really on offer. Anything $300 and above with regard to EQ pedals is likely best for the professional who knows what they need.
You don’t need to spend a fortune for a competent EQ pedal. Most of the mid-priced EQ pedals are more than enough for the average player.
If you have your eye on something expensive, consider checking the used market before purchasing. You could easily find a significant discount by buying used rather than the same product from the store.
Best Brands For EQ Pedals For Guitar
If you pasted the logos of pedal companies onto a wall and threw a dart, you’d find an EQ pedal. But how can you really know which one is the best?
In situations like these, it doesn’t hurt to look and see what the established brands have to offer. Most companies will tend to use these as a standard to which they deviate and add their own creative twists.
The following brands are some of the longest-standing pedal manufacturers in the game. Throughout modern history, these brands have played an important role in the shaping of tones that you’re familiar with today.
MXR started in 1973 and quickly found its pedals being used by bands that many consider to be the greatest. Today, MXR continues to produce both newly designed effects pedals and reproduction pedals but is currently owned by Jim Dunlop.
Boss is one of the most successful pedal companies in the industry and was founded in 1973. Its pedals have become iconic and are easily recognized by its signature Boss housing and color coding.
Top EQ Pedals For Guitar, Final Thoughts
Sure, the EQ pedal might be an extremely basic concept, but the benefits you can gain far surpass your expectations. Like music, simplicity is often better in certain situations, and the same can be said about an EQ pedal.
If you’re thinking of purchasing an EQ pedal, chances are likely that you feel your tone is missing something. Your intuition is serving you well in this regard, as you’ll find yourself crafting new tones entirely.