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Signal chains can inevitably become a cobbled-up mess of wires going in every direction. Some guitarists simply do not have the knack for putting together a neat and tidy pedalboard.
There are also instances where performances require tonal changes that utilize multiple effects pedals at once. This can cause an impossible dance of attempting to switch effects in mid-song, often with little success.
Here are some of the best guitar pedal switchers available to help you streamline your performance needs.
The quick version:
Electro Harmonix Super Switcher
Best Premium Option:
Boss ES-8 Effects
Best Budget Option:
TC Helicon SWITCH-3
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Electro-Harmonix Super Switcher – Best Overall
This effects hub is designed to accommodate nearly any type of use needed with effects pedals. If you need basic on/off utility, MIDI controls, or savable presets, the Super Switcher can handle it all.
The Super Switcher has the ability to connect up to 8 different effects pedals to its hub. It also has dedicated channels for a tuner, a tap-tempo function, and 2 different channels for external controls.
In addition to this, the Super Switcher also has a dedicated channel designed for pedals that you always have on. This is located between inputs 5 and 6 and is not equated to the 8 programmable channels.
Perhaps the best thing about the Super Switcher is the number of different combinations you can save. There are 16 different banks, each with 8 different presets for a total of 128 different pedal combinations.
Saving presets is super easy, and only requires you to push a few buttons corresponding to the pedals being used. Each preset will then save automatically.
Of course, the Super Switcher does allow you to turn pedals on and off like you normally would. Simply enter the Instant Access Mode and you’ll be using pedals as normal.
If your music has complicated effects changes mid-song, the Super Switcher’s MIDI controls can definitely help. You’ll be able to recreate effects used during studio performances, which can be great if playing with a click track.
Overall, this might be a bit pricey compared to others, but its simplicity and offerings make it the best available.
Item Weight: 4 pounds
Package Dimensions: 15 x 6 x 6 inches
Boss ES-8 – Best Premium
Sure, this might be the most expensive pedal switcher on this list. However, certain professionals will likely be able to employ it to great success.
This pedal switcher can accommodate up to 8 different pedals to utilize in its hub. Within the ES-8 itself, you can program 800 different combinations to use at any given moment’s notice.
800 combinations are likely more presets than the average guitarist will likely know what to do with. But, if you’re an avid pedal user who relies on unique combinations for certain sounds, this is a no-brainer purchase.
Each preset is super simple to set up, and the built-in LCD screen helps to monitor your settings.
You’ll easily be able to scroll through your presets using the bank up and down buttons.
If you’re worried about tone preservation, Boss has utilized analog circuitry for all signal-related routes. The only tone coloration found here will come from the effects being used.
MIDI controls are also available here. Plus, you’ll be able to change the order flow of the pedals being used directly from the ES-8.
Item Weight: 5.5 pounds
Package Dimensions: 17.28 x 5.39 x 2.56 inches
TC-Helicon Switch-3 – Best Budget
This pedal switcher has multiple uses, especially if being used in correlation with other TC-Helicon pedals. In fact, while the Switch-3 does work with other pedals, it does work best with TC-Helicon effects.
When using it with other TC-Helicon effects, the Switch-3’s range of uses multiplies. Each of their pedals has specific functions that can be controlled directly from the Switch-3.
This makes it an incredibly handy tool, especially if you’re also a singer who utilizes vocal effects. You’ll be able to control everything from this little effects switcher.
Nevertheless, you’ll be able to use the Switch-3 as a basic effects pedal switcher. You can program each button to have certain pedal presets.
Also included with the Switch-3 is a TRS cable measuring 5 feet. No doubt, you’ll be putting the cable to good use as it is essential in setting up the Switch-3.
Overall, there isn't much in the way of extra add-ons here. The Switch-3 is very basic and does not offer much of an intuitive setup process.
However, it is a decent budget option for those needing a solution in a pinch. Plus, it’s small enough to be tucked away on a pedalboard without taking up too much space.
Item Weight: 2.2 pounds
Package Dimensions: 10 x 6 x 2 inches
Like the aforementioned ES-8, the ES-5 offers incredible flexibility for a pedal switcher. Because of its reduced price, the ES-5 can only accommodate up to 5 different pedals at once.
Regardless, the ES-5 lets you change the signal chain of the pedals being used directly from its LCD interface. You can save up to 200 different pedal combinations, which you can recall at the push of a button.
The ES-5 also has MIDI controls for programming functions. You’ll be able to control your effects in ways that would otherwise be impossible during a standard performance.
Another interesting thing to note is that the ES-5 has a mute function. This is a great tool to have for cutting your signal completely in between songs and sets.
You’ll even be able to connect external controllers such as volume pedals for enhanced effects. The ES-5 also has connectivity for external clocks and rhythm controls.
This is certainly one of the best pedal switchers available in this price range. In a way, it is what many other pedal switchers aspire to be.
Item Weight: 2.9 pounds
Package Dimensions: 13.3 x 3.8 x 2.7 inches
Voodoo Lab Ground Control
This pedal switcher is fairly large and is roughly the size of a medium-sized pedalboard. For that reason, this might not be the most logical solution for guitarists with average-sized rigs.
However, if you’re a touring musician, the Ground Control makes setup and pedal usage a breeze.
The Ground Control is effectively a MIDI controller with the ability to connect 8 different MIDI devices. You’ll be able to assign the controls on the switcher just as you would with any other switcher.
Aside from pedals, the Ground Control also has the ability to control:
- System Mix Plus stereo mixer made by Voodoo Lab
- 4 different GCX Audio Switchers
This switcher also has a bright green LCD screen so you can constantly monitor which setting is being used.
Touring musicians will especially love how well-built this switcher is. It will no doubt be able to handle the rigors of road wear and constant use.
Item Weight: 9.75 pounds
Package Dimensions: 23 x 12 x 4 inches
Voodoo Lab PX-8
The PX-8 has the ability to connect up to 8 different effects pedals to its hub. Within this, you’ll be able to program 36 different pedal combinations to be accessed with the push of a button.
This switcher also has a dedicated input for always-on pedals as well as volume and other expression pedals.
Need MIDI function? The PX-8 can certainly provide you with what you need.
You’ll be able to access up to 128 different effects combinations with its built-in MIDI function. Plus, it’s integrated for use with the aforementioned Voodoo Lab Ground Control.
Tonal preservation is taken to a serious degree with the build quality of the PX-8. Each input has gold contact points and the output has a buffer to deter any tone loss.
Furthermore, the PX-8 is equipped with Voodoo Lab’s Quiet Switching Technology. This cuts down on unwanted noise when pressing the footswitches.
Best of all, the PX-8 is made completely by hand and is built to handle even the most rigorous use. This is a solution that will likely spend years in your rig if you wish it.
Item Weight: 2.75 pounds
Package Dimensions: 24 x 8 x 6 inches
IK Multimedia iRig Stomp
Digitization has allowed guitarists to steer away from having to use physical amplifiers and effects pedals. If this is you, be sure to check out the IK Multimedia iRig Stomp (see price on Sweetwater or Amazon).
Like the other pedal switchers on this list, the iRig Stomp is essentially a pedal switcher for digital effects. This is to be used in tandem with software being run on a computer, phone, or another digital device.
The iRig Stomp works seamlessly with AmpliTube, VocaLive, and Mic Room. This software is all included with the iRig Stomp.
This switcher has physical control knobs for gain and volume. The output signal is processed at 24 bit/96kHz for top-notch sound quality.
You’ll even be able to use this switcher as an audio interface for recording purposes. There is a combination input accommodating hi-Z, line, and microphone inputs.
The output on the iRig Stomp is stereo, allowing you to fully utilize a stereo setup if desired.
Furthermore, the iRig Stomp is equipped with a Class A microphone preamp as well as built-in phantom power.
If that wasn’t enough, the switcher has a headphone output for quiet playing sessions.
To use the iRig Stomp, simply connect it to your device via USB. This will then allow you to utilize your favorite digital effects as you wish.
Item Weight: 7.1 pounds
Package Dimensions: 16.3 x 8.5 x 2.8 inches
What To Look For In A Guitar Pedal Switcher
When looking for a guitar pedal switcher, it can be difficult to discern what exactly you should be looking for. There are pedal switchers that have a large number of features, but what is right for you?
Some degree of research is certainly going to be required on your part when purchasing a guitar pedal switcher. Much of this is going to depend on the kind of rig you are using.
So, in other words, you need to be involved with every aspect of your rig. This will ultimately allow you to automate things in the most expedient and efficient manner.
Simply throwing a possible solution at a problem-causing rig will not help if you aren’t familiar with your rig. Keeping the following points in mind will help you in your search for a pedal switcher.
Do keep in mind that these are only basic guidelines. Every guitarist is different with their own needs, so be mindful of what your own needs are.
Guitar pedal switchers come in a wide variety of different sizes. Perhaps the most common is a thin bar designed to fit at the bottom of a pedalboard.
These discreet switchers are perhaps the best for those who have all of their pedals on the same pedalboard. This allows guitarists to adjust their pedals if such parameter adjustments need to be made.
There are some pedal switchers that are actually fairly large. Some are even the size of medium-to-large pedalboards.
These large pedalboards are designed for touring professionals who have all of their pedals on rack shelves. This allows them to keep the pedals in one location for storage and portability while also using them on stage.
Large switchers are likely not a logical solution for an average guitarist playing local gigs and shows. Only you can know what your specific needs are, so plan and purchase accordingly.
How many pedals do you regularly use? This is an important question to answer as it dictates the accommodation your switcher must have.
Many switchers have accommodations ranging between 5 and 8 pedals. There are certainly switchers with accommodations for more and less.
It certainly doesn’t hurt to purchase a switcher with more bays than you are currently aiming to use. This gives your pedalboard some growing room to add more pedals if you wish.
You will want to pay close attention to any special features that may be included with pedal switchers. Some units go above and beyond the simple switching of pedals.
Do you need a switcher with an extremely large number of programmable presets? Perhaps you need MIDI controls for impossible combination changes in the middle of a song?
Maybe you run a digital rig and you need a pedal switcher for computer-based effects?
All of these things, and more, can be found on different pedal switchers. Do your research and really ask yourself what your own specific needs are as a guitarist.
Ease Of Use
Guitar pedal switchers are, for the most part, designed to be easy to use. After all, it should be easier to use than simply turning pedals on and off.
Like anything, introducing a solution can sometimes create its own unique set of problems to have to deal with. Quite often, it tends to be that the pedal switcher can be a bit confusing for some to use.
When purchasing one of these units for yourself, you should automatically accept that there is a necessary learning curve involved. You shouldn’t expect to be able to plug everything in and automatically know how everything works.
These can be complicated devices, especially if there is a fair deal of extra features packed in. You’ll need to study up on the manual, regardless of what model you get.
With that being said, there are certain models that seem to be a bit more intuitively designed than others. These will provide the most efficient and logical methods of use in real-life settings.
Unfortunately, some of these designs also tend to be some of the more expensive varieties.
This certainly doesn’t mean that you need to drop a large wad of cash for a simple-to-use design.
In fact, it can help if you read some first-hand reviews from people who have purchased the switchers. Places like online message boards and forums can be an invaluable resource for guitarists on nearly any musical topic.
Avoid the confusion in the middle of a song and find a switcher that is straightforward and easy to use. Remember, these are designed to be seamless solutions that give you total control as a guitarist.
It goes without saying that you are going to want to be mindful of your budget. There are certainly some pedal switching solutions that can break anyone’s budget.
Generally, the more functions and capability a switcher has, the more money it will cost. Some of these functions may be things that an average guitarist might not actually have use for in real-life scenarios.
Affordable switchers tend to be the best starting point for the average guitarist. This allows them to get a feel for having a pedal switcher and gives them a working solution.
In general, leave the most expensive pieces of gear for the professionals. If you’re not a touring professional, you’ll likely be paying for things you won’t use.
Best Brands For Guitar Pedal Switchers
If you’re feeling apprehensive about deciding on a pedal switcher, you’re not alone. In these instances, it can help to look to some of the best-known companies in the industry.
The following companies have had a long-standing success within the guitar industry for pedals and guitar utilities. These companies and their products will likely not steer you wrong at the beginning of your research phase.
Boss is one of the most well-known guitar effects pedal manufacturers amongst guitarists. The company was founded in 1973 and is responsible for creating some of the most iconic effects of all time.
Alongside effects pedals, Boss also manufacturers other guitarist utilities. These include amplifiers and guitar pedal switchers.
Since 1986, Voodoo Lab has been producing extremely high-quality products for guitarists to utilize. Many of the company’s products are utilized in areas not often thought of.
Voodoo Lab is especially known for its pedalboard power supplies, pedal switchers, and pedalboards. Each product from its lineup is durably built with the touring musician in mind.
Since 1968, Electro-Harmonix has been at the forefront of creating some of the most iconic guitar effects ever made. This New York-based company and its products continue to be extremely relevant within the guitar industry.
Alongside its iconic effects, Electro-Harmonix produces quality effects pedal switchers, amps, tubes, and headphones.
Top Guitar Pedal Switchers, Final Thoughts
As you can see, there are pedal switchers available for just about any type of guitarist and rig. Be sure to do the necessary research to find the right switcher for your stage setup.
Once you find the right switcher, you can kiss your tap-dancing days goodbye. You’ll be ushered into a new era of intuitive pedal usage you likely never thought to be possible.
Definitely consider this upgrade for your rig, you certainly won’t be disappointed.