Roundup: 20 Boutique Pedals

January 30, 2014

Handmade pedals have increased in numbers to the point that there are seemingly as many boutique pedal brands as there are companies that make micro brews. Both enterprises tend to be small operations that rely on reinventing proven formulas to appeal to more extreme tastes, so whether it’s increasing the shock-and-awe factor of a pale ale or a vintage fuzz, there’s an audience willing to support the cause and try it.

The “craft” mentality of the boutique pedal scene has definitely given sonic spelunkers more options than ever before in stompbox effects. And, with so many small outfits bringing new pedals to the market, it can be a little overwhelming for anyone who is simply trying to figure out what to choose from the dizzying array of distortion, fuzz, delay, modulation, and other effects being offered these days.

We recently lined up 20 boutique pedals of various types and put them through their paces on gigs and in our studios to see how they fared. Test instruments included guitars from Fender, Fernandes, Gibson, PRS, TMG, and Michael Stevens; a Bad Cat Hot Cat head and 4x12, a 50-watt Marshall JMP head, a Matchless HC-30, an Orange Tiny Terror, a Vox AC 30, and Fender Deluxe Reverb and Blues Junior combos. —ART THOMPSON

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