Cheap guitar pedals are very underestimated indeed.
You love guitar pedals, but don’t want to spend a fortune on a nice shiny boutique pedal. At least, not now…
You probably think that there’s a correlation between the price of guitar gear and the quality of its sound: the more expensive the pedal, amp or guitar, the better the sound you’ll obtain with it. Although this might be true sometimes, you can find great deals and awesome sound without breaking the bank.
What about expending no more than $70 in the next purchase for your stompbox collection?
Here you have my 10 favorite cheap guitar pedals under $70.
Be aware that these pedals are not cheap-unbranded-unknown crapy imitations. Take the Pro Co Rat2 as an example, one of the most iconic distortion pedals, used by many of the greatest guitarists of all time.
1. Pro Co Rat2
Pro Co Rat2 is the current production model of the legendary Pro Co Rat distortion pedal, firstly introduced in 1988.
It is one of my favorite distortion pedals, and has been used by all kind of guitarists: from David Gilmour to John Scofield, James Hetfield and Kurt Cobain (and the list goes on and on…), which gives you an idea about its versatility.
You can obtain a wide range of tones, from bluesy overdriven sounds to heavy distortions. You can even use it as a fuzz pedal, if you drive it with a booster pedal at its input.
It is built like a tank (is a heavy pedal), and very simple to use: It has three controls:
- Distortion, to control the amount of distortion of the pedal
- Filter knob is not a simple tone control, it is awesome to shape your sound. If you turn it clockwise, it darkens your tone. Turn it fully counterclockwise and you’ll get heavier sounds.
- Finally, Volume knob controls the output level of the pedal.
As most stompboxes, it requires a standard voltage supply of 9V, and it is true bypass.
2. Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive
The Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive is another cheap guitar pedal that has been on the pedalboards of many pro guitarists such as Jimmy Page and Eddie Van Halen since the early eighties.
Thanks to its asymmetrical clipping, it recreates the sound of an overdriven tube amplifier.
A great feature of this pedal is that it is quite transparent, meaning that you are able to notice the guitar
As most overdrive pedals, it has three control Knobs: level, tone and drive.
- The Level knob sets the level of the output signal. It is great to play with to drive harder another distortion pedal after it without changing very much the texture of the sound.
- Tone acts as a tone control. This knob is very dangerous because it can ruin the sound of the pedal. However, it has some sweet spots: at noon, it will respect the tone of the amplifier. Counter clockwise it will darken the sound (it can be very cool though). Clockwise it will bring brighter tones, cutting out bass and making the signal less dynamic.
- Drive sets the amount of distortion. This control is great, as it provides very cool possibilities:
- Thickening the sound of another (previous) distortion pedal (or the sound comming from the distortion channel of the amp). If you set the knob from 1 o’clock, you’ll get great crunchy sounds from it.
- Booster. This pedal is great to drive another distortion pedal after it (or the distortion channel of the amp). Try it: you’ll notice that your rock sound will be better. Much better. as simple as that.
The required power supply is the standard 9V, and it is not true bypass, which may bother you if you cascade a few other pedals with it.
3. Mooer ShimVerb
I absolutely love the Micro series of Mooer pedals. They are small, you have a wide selection of pedals to chose from, they look nice and they sound awesome. And, if you are looking for budget gear, you should check them out.
In the Mooer ShimVerb, the Room mode sounds warm and feels analog. You can set small studio-like reverbs or bigger hall ambiences. On the other hand, I love the heavenly sweet sounds that the Shimmer gives you by adding a 5th.
However, the Spring reverb doesn’t sound as realistic as it does in other spring reverb pedals. It feels a little digital. One thing that I noticed is that the output volume is kind of reduced when using this pedal, so better use a boost in front of it.
This pedal has three knobs (Level, Color and Decay), a small switch for changing the type of the reverb (Room, Spring, Shimmer), and a single stomp switch (true bypass) to activate the pedal. This is how the knobs of the pedal work:
- Level controls the amount of reverb that will add to the dry sound.
- Color changes the tone of the reverb by taking over high frequencies
- Decay will adjust the length of the reverb.
This pedal is powered via 9V negative power supply. Even though Mooer says that the pedal requires 128mA of current to operate, I’ve read some reviews saying that the Shimverb only draws 10mA, which will allow you to daisy chain a lot of these pedals with a standard power supply.
4. TC Electronic Spark Mini Booster
As a guitar player, you MUST own a booster pedal, mainly because of this two features:
It provides a volume boost when you need it, for example in a solo.
It boosts the signal so it drives the amplifier (or the next gain pedal) with a higher level, making it sound simply better.
The TC Electronic Spark Mini is very simple: just a level knob to adjust the boost in the signal. But it includes another great feature: if you press the stomp switch (true bypass) for more than one second, it acts as a momentary switch, allowing you to boost just what you need.
Watch this video by TC Electronic explaining the features of the pedal.
5. Electro-Harmonix Satisfaction Fuzz
Ok, the Electro Harmonix Satisfaction Fuzz is not a versatile pedal.
It does a single thing: to recreate the classic fuzz tones of the late sixties and early seventies. And it does it great!!
Now look at its name. Sounds familiar? Yes, you’ll be able to recreate one of the most iconic riffs of all time with the EHX Satisfaction Fuzz.
Now the controls of this pedal are very simple: Volume and Attack
- Attack is basically the amount of fuzz.
- Volume sets the level at the output. At 12 o’clock is unity gain, so the volume won’t be altered when switching the pedal on and off.
It is also powered at 9V and is true bypass.
There is another version of this pedal, modified by JHS pedals. As said by JHS pedals, it includes a new three-position “voice” toggle on the left side of the pedal gives you three eq choices.
In the middle position you have the stock “Bright” voice.
In the down position you have the “Mids” voice. It has a nice mid punch that is just bright enough but also has some body to it. Great for rhythm riffs and chords.
In the up position you have the “Bass” voice for the most low end. Huge chords, full riffs and overall the most powerful setting.
All of these voices interplay with the stock “Attack" knob and the newly added “Saturation" control on the right side. The “Saturation” control lets you fine tune the dirt structure of the circuit and allows for the pedal to interchange as a boost pedal, overdrive pedal, distortion pedal or the originally intended Fuzz box that it is.
You can see the difference in the following video.
Awesome!!! However, it doesn’t fit in the cheap guitar pedals list under $70 :-(
6. Valeton Comprince Vintage Compressor
I absolutely love Valeton Coral Series guitar pedals. They are small, cheap, and sound pretty nice. The Comprince Vintage Compressor is a great (and cheap) sounding pedals.
If you don’t have a compressor pedal yet, you should definitely get one, and this could be a good candidate.
As you may know, compressor pedals compress the input signal, by smoothing the attack of the note and sustaining its decay, reducing the dynamic range of the input signal. This way, the sound of the guitar becomes a little thicker.
The Valeton Comprince comes in a small size and features four control knobs:
- Output controls the output volume.
- Sustain controls the threshold of compression and boosts the decay of the sound.
- Tone changes the brightness.
- Attack sets the attack time.
As you can see in the videos below, it sounds great: its sound is based on vintage studio rack-mount compressor equipment. The signal path is fully analog and the stomp switch is true bypass. However, the pedal can be a little noisy if you turn the sustain knob fully clockwise.
In any case, the results you’ll obtain with this pedal are great for the money you’ll spend. It is definitely one of the best value basic pedals you can add to your pedalboard.
7. Electro-Harmonix Nano Double Muff
What do you think about these pedals? Do you have any other favorite cheap guitar pedal that is not featured in this list?
Leave your oppinion in the comments down below.