7 Best Pedals For Rhythm Guitar 2024

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Don’t let the lead guitarist in your life fool you into thinking that pedals aren’t for rhythm guitar players. Guitar pedals are made for everyone and the right effect can be the perfect flavor a song has been needing. 

All of the following guitar pedals are suitable for rhythm guitar players of any genre. Check these pedals out and you may soon find yourself surprising your bandmates with some new toys. 

Wampler Tumnus – Best Overall

Wampler Tumnus

An overdrive pedal really is a staple asset that should be in almost every guitar player’s toolkit. There are probably more overdrive pedals than any other effect type, which is great for those who like options. 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by option overload, check out the Wampler Tumnus (see price on Sweetwater, Amazon). This is a pedal that has held a solid reputation for years and continues to be highly recommended. 

The Tumnus is advertised as a transparent overdrive that highlights an amplifier's natural characteristics. You shouldn’t let the word “transparent” fool you though, you can definitely dial in some crunch.

In reality, this pedal is actually a clone of the fabled Klon Centaur with its own desirable traits. 

Using the Tumnus is a breeze, especially if you’re already familiar with the traditional interface found on overdrive pedals. There are only 3 knobs to worry about here, including controls for:

  • Gain
  • Volume
  • Treble

Setting the pedal’s gain at “0” will effectively operate the Tumnus as a clean boost. Turning it up will give you as much crunch (just short of a distortion pedal’s capabilities) as your heart desires.

The Tumnus is reasonable in price and comes in a miniature form factor to conserve space on any crowded pedalboard.

Strymon Flint – Best Premium

Strymon Flint

Reverb and tremolo are 2 effects that many seem to reach for when designing a pedalboard inspired by classic sounds. The Strymon Flint (see price on Sweetwater, Amazon) takes these 2 effects and combines them into one housing. 

Sure, the Flint might be a pricey option, but you’re essentially getting 2 pedals for the price of 1. The fact that you can operate each effect independently or together makes this worth a look. 

Strymon made this pedal’s interface easy to navigate, with the tremolo section on the left and reverb on the right. Each side has its own dedicated footswitch and control knobs.

What’s even better is that both the tremolo and reverb channels come with 3 selectable modes via a 3-way switch. All of these modes are inspired by a vintage counterpart, either from tube amps or studio applications.

For instance, the tremolo has roots in the early 1960s, providing tones from:

  • Photocell tremolos from 1965
  • Harmonic tremolos from 1961
  • Tube tremolo from 1963

The different reverbs featured on the Flint include:

  • 1960s-inspired spring reverb
  • Plate reverb as used in studios in the 1970s
  • Digital reverb as used heavily during the 1980s

Strymon has equipped the Flint with mono/stereo output as well as a jack for an expression pedal. If you dig around, you’ll find access to a secret layer of controls in relation to the control knobs. 

Dunlop GCB95 Cry Baby – Best Budget

Dunlop GCB95 Cry Baby

The wah might be one of the most recognizable effects to people who do not play guitar. It’s also one of the few effects in which the name itself is an onomatopoeia.

The Dunlop GCB95 Cry Baby (see price on Sweetwater, Amazon) is the stereotypical first wah pedal for most guitarists. It’s about as basic as it gets in terms of its construction, making it practical for all skill levels. 

This timeless effect may have periods of popularity, but it will never truly go out of style. In fact, for a rhythm guitarist, it’s about the most rhythmic effect that can be put on a pedalboard.

Think about how rhythm plays a role in funk guitar and you’ll see why this effect is so valuable. It allows you to add a vocal element to even the most non-musical rhythmic strumming on muted strings. 

While the GCB95 Cry Baby might be a simple pedal, it takes serious practice to master in a usable way. But, when done right, the result of using this famed pedal is undeniable.

Plus, for the price, there’s no reason not to have this voice-emulating effect on your board.

TC Electronic Ditto Jam X2

TC Electronic Ditto Jam X2

Have you ever jammed with another guitarist and wished there was somebody there playing light percussion? Sometimes, even just the simple strumming of muted strings is all that’s needed to convey a rhythmic drumming pattern. 

The TC Electronic Ditto Jam X2 (see price on Sweetwater, Amazon) is a loop pedal worthy of any rhythm guitarist. Not only will you be able to loop percussive recordings, but whole chord progressions and accompanying layers, too. 

The original Ditto was groundbreaking, but many found its layout to be too confusing. TC Electronic revamped the Ditto Jam X2’s interface to make it straightforward for anyone to use. 

One of the biggest upgrades is the dedicated footswitch for stopping the loop. So, now, there are 2 footswitches without the confusing multi-tap sequencing to have to worry about for different functions.

There’s also a 2-way switch to engage the Ditto Jam X2’s sequencing mode differently. Now, you have the option to choose how the pedal operates when recording loops.

Speaking of loops, you can record a loop of up to 2 minutes long on the Ditto Jam X2. Plus, it comes with external microphones, which capture the rhythm of other instruments in a band setting. 

If you’ve ever tried to use a loop pedal with a drummer, you know how out-of-sync everything can get. These external microphones will help quantize the loops to the rhythm that the pedal detects. 

Plus, the Ditto Jam X2 gives you an opportunity to work on your lead skills in a real-world scenario. It’s a practice tool you can use to rehearse parts of songs for as long as you need.

Boss DD-8

Boss DD-8

A delay pedal can give you an unbelievable sonic palette of sounds and textures hinged specifically on rhythm. The Boss DD-8 (see price on Sweetwater, Amazon) is a delay that you’ll be able to rely on for anything. 

For years, the Boss lineup of delays has been one of the best digital delays on the market. In fact, I still have a trusty DD-6 on my board receiving regular use despite being almost 20 years old. 

The DD-8 is a definite upgrade, utilizing the same great design and layout, but packing in more features. For starters, the most noteworthy addition here is the fact that the DD-8 has 11 different delay types, including:

  • Standard digital delay
  • Warm (digital delay variant with darker repeats)
  • Analog (replicating something like the Memory Man, with distorted repeats)
  • Tape
  • Delay + Reverb
  • Shimmer
  • Modulated
  • Reverse
  • Warp
  • Glitch
  • Loop (with 40-second loops supported)

All of these modes are selectable at the turn of a dial. The rest of the interface is pretty basic for a delay pedal, with knobs for:

  • Effect level
  • Feedback
  • Time

One of the special features not to be overlooked includes the external footswitch capabilities. This can control the different knobs, allowing you to use the pedal as if it were its own instrument. 

However, even the pedal’s dedicated footswitch has momentary capabilities, which get utilized in modes like Glitch and Warp. 

Of course, you’ll also have a built-in tap-tempo function (which should be standard on any digital delay). A switch is provided to control how you want any sounding delay trails to act when the pedal becomes disengaged.

With so much capability, the DD-8 is a bargain at its list price. Maybe the only thing holding it back is a lack of presets, which isn’t really a deal-breaker at all.

MXR M108S

MXR M108S

Sometimes, no matter what you do, it can seem like you just can’t get your guitar to sound right. In cases like these, it’s best to have an EQ pedal like the MXR M108S (see price on Sweetwater, Amazon).

While this 10-band graphic EQ might be basic in some senses, it can prove to be a vital tool. This pedal will give you control over an immense range of frequency bands across your entire guitar tone. 

With 12dB of adjustability in any direction, you can shape your tone however you might need. MXR’s use of sliders makes it easy to make micro-adjustments when a situation might call for it. 

Plus, the M108S comes with individual sliders for both volume and gain levels. You could use this as a boost or use it to shape the fine details of your overdrive’s clipping characteristics. 

Xotic SP

Xotic SP

Do you feel like your guitar’s tone lacks presence and depth in certain sound ranges and could use some sustain? You’d actually be quite surprised at what a compressor could do for your tone in these instances. 

Compressors balance the tone’s dynamics to deliver a uniform sound that can be quite thick if desired. One of the best available on the market is the Xotic SP (see price on Sweetwater, Amazon).

There are a few things that make the SP one of the best compressors money can buy. Its miniature form factor and simplicity of use are the prominent factors in this pedal’s claim to fame. 

The SP only has 2 knobs and a 3-way mode selector switch to have to worry about. Should you need further fine-tuning, some internal dip switches can be found inside the housing. 

The Blend knob is especially useful as it allows you to control the balance of dry signal in the mix. This helps keep things transparent, which is sometimes ideal for rhythm guitar applications.

What To Look For When Buying Guitar Pedals For Rhythm Guitar

Never bought guitar pedals before? There’s a fair chance that you might feel burdened and stressed out by not knowing where to start. 

So many pedals are available that it can make any newcomer question what is really worth their time. Luckily, there’s no reason to fear making mistakes when getting started in your research.

Allow your brain to marinade in the following points of information provided for your consideration. Thinking these points over will give you a compass that you can use when navigating the vast market of pedals. 

Consider The Music That You Play

If you feel like a guitar pedal or 2 would spice things up in your playing, you’re probably not wrong. However, you need to take a serious pause and consider what styles of music you are playing. 

Each genre of music has its staple effects, though there are pedals that can be used in all genres. For instance, metal typically uses heavier distortion with more saturation than what is heard with the blues.

Take some time to research the pedals that some of the prominent players in your preferred genres play. Going this route will likely get you closer to achieving certain sounds that you might be unconsciously chasing. 

Consider Your Gear

Another thing you’ll need to take into account is the actual gear that you are using. Guitar pedals will not typically make poor playing technique sound better, but they can act synergistically with your gear.

Single-coil and humbucker pickups will sound much different through the same exact pedal. If you can, bring your guitar into the music shop when you test each pedal out.

And yes, you will need to try the pedal out. Otherwise, you’ll have no idea exactly how it sounds with your playing.

Amplifiers also play a big role in how different pedals respond to the guitar’s tone. Some amplifiers can handle pedals exceptionally well while others can become muddy or too saturated with clipping. 

Also, take into account that the pedal might sound even more different in a full-band setting than when playing alone. 

Budget

Guitarists will throw down a wad of money for a guitar pedal, not thinking twice about a massive price tag. If you’re smart, you’ll respect the amount of money that you can reasonably spend without spending beyond your means. 

Guitar pedals can cost an arm and a leg but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for high prices. Weigh out which features are a necessity and see if there are any pedals offering those features for less money. 

Also, do not overlook the fact that used guitar pedals typically cost less money than bought retail. This can give you the best value, especially if you should decide to sell the pedal as you retain costs. 

Size

Depending on how many pedals you end up owning, the actual sizes might become a bit burdensome. Unfortunately, there is no set standard when it comes to the actual parameters of guitar pedals.

This means that, while most fall within certain size ranges, they can be ridiculously large for no apparent reason. Miniature pedals can often supply the same function while conserving the maximum amount of space on a pedalboard.

Best Brands For Pedals Suitable For Rhythm Guitar

Navigating anything can be difficult without some landmarks to look out for. Name brands can be used in this manner when performing research on the guitar pedal market. 

MXR

MXR is a legendary guitar pedal manufacturer currently owned by the accessory company, Jim Dunlop. Some of the most iconic guitarists to play the guitar have utilized MXR’s phasers, choruses, EQs, and overdrive pedals. 

JHS

JHS is known for its pedals just as much as they are known for its popular YouTube channel. This company celebrates tradition while incorporating unique and original twists in traditional designs, resulting in an innovative line of pedals.

Top Pedals For Rhythm Guitar, Final Thoughts

It’s been said that the rhythm guitarist is the one who kind of steers the jams in different directions. Incorporating different guitar pedals can help fulfill this role beyond the strumming of different patterns. 

Again, be mindful of what the pedal does in relation to what is happening in the songs you’re playing. A pedal that is more than basic could easily step on some toes within a band setting.

P.S. Remember though, none of what you've learned will matter if you don't know how to get your music out there and earn from it. Want to learn how to do that? Then get our free ‘5 Steps To Profitable Youtube Music Career' ebook emailed directly to you!

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