OverdriveWe've all heard it, and it's usually one of the first pedals on our boards. Basically an overdrive pedal takes the signal coming from your guitar and throws it around and adds gain to your signal. Overdrive is mild and uses a 'soft clipping', unlike a distortion pedal, which uses something called 'hard clipping'. Clipping refers to the way your signal becomes compressed when gain is added. The higher the clipping, the higher the harmonics will be and the lower the dynamic range will be.
My favourite overdrive: Ibanez TS808 Tube Screamer
DistortionSimilar to overdrive, but has a higher clipping. Distortion isn't as smooth sounding as overdrive and is more aggressive when it comes to manipulating your signal. Distortion pedals come with a disadvantage, they cause a loss of mids and presence.
My favourite distortion: Boss DS-2 Turbo Distortion
FuzzIf you've heard a Jimi Hendrix song you've heard the sound of fuzz. Fuzz is basically overdrive but more vintage sounding. Fuzz pedals use a low clipping threshold therefore making your signal sound 'fuzzy'.
My favourite fuzz: Electro-Harmonix Big Muff / Dunlop Fuzz Face
OctaveThere isn't much to say about an octave pedal, basically it takes your sound and drops it an octave below the note you played, octave pedals can get some really cool sounds too!
My favourite octaver: Dunlop MXR SF01 Slash Octave Fuzz
Pitch ShifterThe octave pedal's brother, they do the same sort of thing: change the pitch of your signal. These were made famous by David Gilmour.
HarmoniserA key is selected, then when you play the pedal creates harmony parts that play along at chosen intervals.
Talk BoxMade famous by Peter Frampton, Richie Sambora and Joe Perry. This effect takes your guitar's signal and traps it inside the pedal. The pedal is airtight so your sound can't escape, there is a tube running from the pedal and is usually taped to the side of your microphone, you then put the tube in your mouth and by moving your mouth around in different patterns your sound is manipulated and sent out of your mouth and into the mic.
My favourite talkbox: Dunlop Heil Talkbox
Auto-WahAn auto-wah pedal isn't controlled by your foot like other wah pedals, it's controlled by the way you pick the strings. They can also be set to play at specific times.
My favourite auto-wah: Boss AW-3 Dynamic Wah
WahThe wah is the most famous filter effect. Wah pedals are usually rocking pedals, when you rock your foot back and forth the wah pedal switches between 2 frequencies and makes those awesome sounds. Wah pedals can also be left at a single spot, creating some weird sounds, listen to "Money For Nothing" by Dire Straits, in the song Mark Knopfler keeps a wah in the middle position to get those cool sounds. Companies such as Z.Vex make wah pedals that aren't controlled like a normal wah, instead it uses motion sensors so you have to raise your foot up and down in the air, which makes you look very weird on stage!
My favourite wah: Dunlop Cry Baby Classic
ChorusThey give your sound that shimmering kind of effect, they can also be used to create cool space noises and stuff.
My favourite chorus: Boss CE-5 Chorus
PhaserPhasers take your sound and bring the signal in and out, if you listen to an old Van Halen song you will hear a phaser, the most popular phaser is the MXR Phase 90, made famous by Eddie Van Halen.
My favourite phaser: MXR Phase 90
FlangerFlangers make some cool space-type sounds with your guitar and also make those jet engine noises. A flanger is a metal guitarist's best friend.
My favourite flanger: MXR M-117R Flanger
Rotating SpeakerAlmost the same as a phaser, just on a faster setting.
Tremolo/VibratoThese pedals take your signal and split them into hundreds of tiny parts and plays them one after the other, they push your signal in and out and make it sound like your cable is breaking!
My favourite tremolo: TC Electronic Shaker Vibrato
Volume PedalsPretty self explanatory, they change your volume from your guitar, they look like wah pedals usually.
EQWhat you see on your amp, but in pedal form, used to boost certain ranges or to take away certain sounds from your amp that you don't want.
CompressorsThey squash your lows and highs together and boost the mids, good if you're using an amp that has a boost in the bass as an example, but you're using a very thin sounding guitar.
DelayYou set times and settings on your pedal, when you step on it then your signal is repeated for the chosen amount of time.
My favourite delay: Boss DD-3 Digital Delay
ReverbThey give your guitar that echo type sound, Reverb pedals can make it sound like you're in a large church, stadium, hall, whatever you want it to sound like.
My favourite reverb: Blackstar HT-Reverb