The 24 Best New Stompboxes of 2019

24 stompboxes that give guitarists more sonic options than ever before.
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The GP Staff got an early peek at stompbox releases at the winter NAMM show last January, and we requested many of them for reviews — some of which have already been published, including models from Aclam, Danelectro, EarthQuaker Devices, Electro-Harmonix, Tech 21, TWA and others. As more pedals are rolling in for upcoming reviews, we decided to take this opportunity to present 24 of our top picks from the show, which highlight how manufacturers are creating distortion, fuzz, delay, modulation, reverb and multi-effects pedals that give guitarists more sonic options than ever before — whether the goal is better lead tone, crafting otherworldly soundscapes or being able to get your entire stage sound from something small enough to fit in a suitcase. There are tons of options out there in stompbox land — as well as cool accessories, like pedalboards — and we look forward to reporting on as many new products as possible in the coming months.

Boss Dimension C DC-2w
$229.99 street

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Often mistaken for a chorus, Boss’s ’80s-era Dimension effect was an innovative 3-D spatial processing unit that made everything you put through it sound remarkably more lifelike and present. Though time-based like a chorus, Dimension adds width and depth to the source but without the obvious modulation. The new Dimension C DC-2W has modes for not only the original DC-2 Dimension C pedal but also the legendary SDD-320 Dimension D studio rack effect on which it was based. The pedal retains the original’s familiar four-button preset interface, now updated with electronic switches and LED indicators. Each mode — S and SDD-320 — offers four variations on the Dimension effect with increasing width and depth, plus another six additional sounds accessed by pressing combinations of the four buttons. With its versatile mono/stereo I/Os, the pedal will play nice with any rig, onstage or in the studio. boss.info —CS

Crazy Tube Circuits Falcon
$189

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In a world of distortion boxes that attempt to give you the sound of a raging full stack, it’s refreshingly cool to find a pedal that’s going for the sound and feel of a small, lower-gain combo. The Falcon aims to produce the vibe of two different combos: a ’55 tweed Deluxe and a ’61 brownface Princeton. It features super-simple operation, with just output, tone and volume knobs, plus a Year Switch to take you from ’55 to ’61. The Tweed tones have a little more compression and sag, as well as more gain on tap, while the Princeton sounds are tighter and respond beautifully to changes in pickup output or rolling back your guitar’s volume. Not fancy, not modern. Just cool and musical. crazytubecircuits.com —MB

Danelectro The Breakdown
$149 street

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This simple-looking pedal is a six-stage gain booster with a volume control that works interactively to let you push the front end of an amp with different combinations of gain and volume boost. The first position of the rotary Break-Up switch provides a slight gain boost and progresses with each click to a stout distortion at the sixth position. The idea is to get the Break-Up setting and volume level combination that produces the overdriven tone you want, then either roll down the guitar volume for less grind or hit the bypass switch to revert to the straight amp sound. The Breakdown runs on external nine-volt power only, and it delivers a fat, edgy solo tone with Break-Up on five or six and the volume about halfway up. For a smoother response, keep the Break-Up switch at three or four and turn up the volume as needed to drive the amp into distortion. danelectro.com —AT

Danelectro The Eisenhower Fuzz
$149

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This powerhouse can produce searing octave-fuzz effects and plenty of other shades of clipped-transistor grind courtesy of its extreme gain, quartet of controls (volume, treble, fuzz, bass) and hugely effective Fat-Sculpt switch, which scoops mids in the latter position while boosting bass and treble for badass metal tone. Hardly a one-trick pony, though, the Eisenhower can also produce buzzy early ’60s fuzz sounds, bizarre ring-modulator textures and thick distortion by adjusting the highly effective controls. The octave effect is prominent on all settings (particularly when the guitar volume is turned down), and while Sculpt mode tends to obscure the octave harmonic a bit, it still comes through even in a blizzard of overdriven outrage, adding a welcome definition to the sound that fuzz pedals sometimes lack. The Eisenhower is certainly a great choice for heavy styles, but it also qualifies as a fine do-it-all fuzz machine. danelectro.com —AT

Diamond Nine Zero Two Overdrive/Distortion
$169

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Straight outta Nova Scotia (where the area code is, you guessed it, 902), Diamond’s Nine Zero Two pedal is a versatile, yet simple overdrive/distortion based on multiple discrete transistor gain stages placed in series. Each stage employs a different type of gain circuit, resulting in a complex, nonlinear response that approximates the rich harmonics of overdriven tube gain stages. The Nine Zero Two also sports an amp-like tone stack that complements the gain, making the pedal ideal for producing a wide range of dirt, from light grit to smooth saturation, using just three controls: gain, volume and tone. The Nine Zero Two features true-bypass operation, LED power indicator and a cool sky-blue metal enclosure with top-mounted jacks that make it ideal for tight pedalboard layouts. diamondpedals.com —CS

Electro-Harmonix Attack Decay Tape Reverse Simulator
$125 street

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Back in the 1970s, Electro-Harmonix blew guitarists’ minds with the Tape Reverse Simulator, a pedal that could produce everything from reverse volume swells to backward tape effects and bowed string sounds. The pedal has been prized among vintage pedal collectors, and now Electro-Harmonix lets everyone enjoy the effect again with the Attack Decay Tape Reverse Simulator, which adds new features for convenience and enhanced functionality. Use it to produce a single volume envelope for your melodic phrase, like the old pedal, or engage the new Poly mode to put a separate volume envelope on each note you play. The built-in Harmonix fuzz is now a fully controllable distortion with gain, tone and volume controls, and the effects loop lets you place the volume envelope on whatever signal is present at the return jack. With an expression pedal/CV input and three user presets, the Attack Decay is stage-ready. ehx.com —CS

Walrus Audio Slö
$169 street

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If you want to get away from the same-old reverb trip, the Slö might just be your ticket. It has a bunch of cool features that will take your reverberated tones into dreamy, sleepy, spacey, atmospheric or washy places, and elsewhere, via three modes. Dark adds a lower octave to just the reverb tail, for huge, deep sounds that can easily get into synth-pad territory. Rise is an autoswell algorithm that produces animated parts that fade in and out, while Dream has a latching function that hangs onto the reverb tail when you tap the Sustain button, and releases it when you hit the button again. Add to all this a filter knob for EQing your reverbs, a three-position waveshape switch to adjust modulation and the awesome Sustain function. Shoegazers and chillwavers definitely need this box. walrusaudio.com —MB

Ibanez TSV808 Limited-Edition Tube Screamer Overdrive Pro
$449 street

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Developed in collaboration with Vemuram, a high-end boutique pedal manufacturer in Japan, the TSV808 is designed to merge the Tube Screamer with the Jan Ray, Vemuram’s flagship pedal. This “next-generation Tube Screamer” offers the Screamer’s signature midrange boost, but also the wide dynamic range and frequency response of the Jan Ray, yielding an entirely new overdrive sound. Each component was carefully selected by the engineers from both companies, including the customized parts and a quad-layered PCB used in the Jan Ray. The Japanese-made pedal’s controls include drive, tone and level, along with front-panel bass and saturation trim pots. Within the hand-worked brass enclosure is a diode-clipping selector that provides four different clipping options (two symmetrical and two asymmetrical), and the true-bypass unit can operate on nine- or 18-volt power. ibanez.com —AT

Keeley Electronics DDR Drive Delay Reverb
$179 street

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Robert Keeley has busted out into several original designs in recent years, and the DDR Drive Delay Reverb might be one of the more utilitarian of the bunch. While keeping to what we’d call a medium-sized enclosure, the DDR packs two flavors of overdrive into channel one and two types of “wet” — reverb and delay — into channel two, to make it the only pedal some players might need to get the gig done. On the OD side, toggle between Crunch or Lead, with knobs for drive, tone and level. On the wet side, use the Vintage/Modern switch to alternate between spring and plate for the reverb, and analog and digital for the delay, with shared controls for time, decay and blend. Note that it’s reverb or delay, not both together, but there’s still a ton going on here, plus an effects loop to insert other pedals as desired! robertkeeley.com —DH

MXR Carbon Copy Mini Analog Delay
$149 street

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When the Carbon Copy debuted, it was an instant classic. Its lush, analog repeats — with switchable modulation — are so sweet and unobtrusive that you can leave the pedal on all the time, like a warm hug. Now you can get all that goodness and more in a decidedly smaller package. The Carbon Copy Mini will still do the kind of slapback that only bucket-brigade technology can provide, and it can deliver up to 600ms of delay for more expansive sounds. The modulation comes factory set at a gorgeous chorusing, but you can tweak it if you want with two trim pots inside the pedal. There is also a bright switch if you want more chime on your repeats. What’s more, the Carbon Copy Mini is still decked out in the green sparkle that might be the coolest finish ever. jimdunlop.com —MB

Aclam Dr. Robert
$320 street

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The Dr. Robert features a normal channel that replicates the front-end of a Vox UL730 amp, a 30-watt hybrid design introduced in 1966, which coupled a solid-state preamp to a tube output stage. The Beatles used the UL370 on Revolver, and the new pedal is named for the album track “Dr. Robert.” The dual-channel pedal has controls for gain and volume and a global middle control that mimics the extreme EQ shaping of the amp’s mid circuit, allowing you to sweep from a scooped sound to maximum midrange enhancement (with a boost in gain). Aclam also added a custom FET saturation stage called Mach Schau! to provide a distortion boost, along with a separate MS volume control. The aluminum enclosure uses the Smart Track fastening system that allows easy mounting to an Aclam pedalboard. aclamproducts.com —AT

Strymon Volante
$399 street

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Wow! And flutter! Strymon wants to give you all the magnetic goodness of drum, tape and reel-to-reel echoes, and with Volante, it has done exactly that. Volante (flying, in Italian) delivers an absolutely insane amount of rhythmic echoes, thanks to the array of eight buttons governing playback and feedback for the four delay heads. You can engage, say, heads 1, 3 and 4, but set multiple repeats only on head 3. This allows for crazy “shave and a haircut” types of echoes if you don’t want “normal” repeats. You can also make the devices behave as if they’re new or road-worn with the Mechanics and Wear knobs. Add to that a Half/Normal/Double Speed switch, a sound-on-sound function and a spring reverb, and you have the coolest Magnetic Echo Machine on the planet. strymon.net —MB

Eventide Rose
$349 street

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There once was a time when a delay pedal gave you just one style of delay. Those days are over. The Eventide Rose can definitely do old-school delay, but it can do a heck of a lot more. Rose is a modulated delay with five distinct modulation sources and up to 50 seconds of delay time. It offers a slew of ways to tweak the echoes, the ability to create rich chorus and flange tones, and morphing capabilities — via an expression pedal or the ingenious Hotswitch — that make it an instrument you can play, as opposed to a box you just stomp on. Plug in and turn the knobs, or check out the presets on Eventide’s webpage to explore Rose’s deeper features. eventideaudio.com —MB

Eventide H9 HotSawz Algorithm
$19.95 direct

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This saw-waveform mono synth is the 50th algorithm released for Eventide’s H9 multi-effects platform, and accessibility differs depending on which pedal you own. The H9 Max ($699 list/street) includes free downloads of all compatible algorithms, while the H9 Core and H9 Harmonizer ($399 and $499, respectively) allow the purchase of others via the H9 Control app for iPhone, Mac, Android and PC, including this exciting new HotSawz effect. Created with the same top-flight digital engineering that other Eventide effects are known for, and packed with a boatload of presets, plus the ability to create and save your own patches in the app, HotSawz provides an impressive range of a Moog-like synth tones — from sweet to phat to gnarly — that will enable any creative guitarist to send a keyboard player into a paroxysm of jealousy. The H9’s superb functionality also allows looping of synth-bass or lead lines over the top of it all, for further guitar extravagance. eventideaudio.com —DH

Fender Tre-Verb
$269 street

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For many guitarists, the ideal tremolo-and-reverb pairing has been defined by the versions of those efects found in Fender amps like the Deluxe Reverb, Twin Reverb and Super Reverb. Now Fender has packaged both effects in a pedal that has more versatility than the original onboard versions ever could. Designed by Fender’s Stan Cotey in consultation with several professional musicians, the Tre-Verb has stereo inputs and outputs for comprehensive routing options, and the effects can be used independently or together, with three voices/modes on each: ’63 or ’65 Spring or Plate for the reverb; and Opto (blackface), Bias-Modulated (smaller brownface/tweed) and Harmonic vibrato (big brownface) for the tremolo, which also boasts tap tempo. It’s a fast track to everything from ’60s surf to modern atmospheres and textures. fender.com —DH

Fulltone Supa-Trem Jr. and Supa-Trem2 Stereo Tremolo/Auto-Panner
$159–$199 street

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The original Supa-Trem brought a bunch of great features and improvements to the vibey effect known as tremolo, including the pretty-sounding Analog Devices JFET preamp and a whopping 15dB of boost. The pint-sized Supa-Trem Jr. has all that, as well as tap tempo, a half/double speed function when you hold the tap button, and an unreal range of pulses — 10 seconds long at the slowest speed! If you want more, you can get it with the Supa-Trem2, a true-stereo trem/panner. You can put the outputs out of phase by any amount with the Phase Correlation control, and if you set the mix control at zero, you can add a massive clean boost to two amps at once. For what is typically a rather simple effect, these pedals add a tremendous amount of hip value and functionality. Awesome! fulltone.com —MB

Tech 21 Fly Rig 5 v2
$299 street

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Tech 21’s SansAmp units were supplying analog amp-modeling solutions to countless pro players before there was even a category for such gear. The new Fly Rig 5 v2 has the same analog SansAmp modeling at its core, plus a ton of features to make it an all-in-one, grab-and-go performance setup that really can sub in for a heavy amp and your most essential effects. In addition to Plexi and Cali amp modes, a 12dB boost, a built-in Blonde overdrive with comprehensive controls, a comprehensive built-in delay unit with tap tempo, and independently footswitchable reverb with choice of room sizes, the v2 adds a tuner, an effects loop for chaining additional effects and an XLR out. All that, and the ridiculously light, compact and user-friendly form factor majorly justifies the unit’s fly-rig status. All in all, it’s a great way for analog fiends to still get their fly-gig groove on in the digital age. tech21nyc.com —DH

Tech21 PL1 Paul Landers Signature Fly Rig
$329 street

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Designed to deliver scathing metal tones, the PL1 is the only model in Tech21’s Fly Rig series to offer two SansAmp channels, Wasser (clean) and Feuer (dirty), as well as a vibrato effect with tap tempo. It also has an ambience control with choice of size (atmosphere), two post- SansAmp boost modes (up to +6dB of positive boost and -10dB of negative boost) and a punch switch that revoices the midrange. The PL1 can provide analog clean and overdriven sounds direct to the front-of-house mixer via its XLR direct out (that’s how Landers uses it with Rammstein), or it can also be used as a stompbox or for reamping. The feature-packed unit weighs only 1.2 pounds, yet has a full complement of controls, including level, high, low, comp and bite switch (Wasser); drive, low, mid, high, level and mid-shift switch (Feuer); and time, level, repeats and ambience for the DLA section. tech21nyc.com —AT

Tech 21 Richie Kotzen RK5 Fly Rig v2
$329 street

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The original RK5 debuted with the Fly Rig series in 2014, adding several twists to the formula that were carefully hammered out in close collaboration with Kotzen himself. Like the standard v2, the new Richie Kotzen RK5 Fly Rig v2 adds selectable room modes to the independent reverb, a tuner, an effect loop and an XLR, but includes a bonus headphone output as well, and it still stands apart with its plethora of RK-approved extras. Rather than the standard Fly Rig’s Plexi/Cali modes and Blonde OD pedal, the RK5 v2 includes Kotzen’s signature OMG overdrive pedal with a switchable fuzz option while adding a pushbutton-switchable FET compressor ahead of its boost function. To top it off, the RK5 v2’s delay section includes vintage tape-echo sounds along with a button to transform the effect into a rotary speaker. Add it up, and it’s an impressive bundle of rock-certified tone in a compact package. tech21nyc.com —DH

JAM Pedals Pink Flow
$1,090 street

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David Gilmour’s sultry, atmospheric guitar stylings have supported a veritable industry unto itself in online discussion groups and the pedal makers that feed the Floydites’ quest for that tone. Now JAM Pedals of Athens, Greece, has brought it all together in the mighty Pink Flow, a mega-pedal that backs its wordplay on Pink Floyd, with six all-analog, hand-wired effects flowing one to the next in a single box. The company’s custom combination bundles together the Seagull (Gilmour’s wah-feedback effect from “Echoes”), Dyna-ssoR (a Ross/MXR-inspired compressor), Tubedreamer overdrive, Red Muck fuzz/distortion, WaterFall bucket-brigade chorus/vibrato, Ripple phaser and Delay Llama bucket-brigade delay. There is also an effects loop before the mod and delay effects, with tap tempo for the latter. You have your choice of true or buffered bypass, an expression pedal output, a nine-volt power input and several internal DIP switches for fine-tuning specific effects. Truly a one-stop shop to get your shine on! jampedals.com —DH

EarthQuaker Devices Swiss Things
$249 street

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At first glance, some pedal nuts might not get all that excited about a box that groups, routes and buffers your pedals. But take a closer look at what EarthQuaker Devices’s Swiss Things can do, and you’ll be hot and bothered before long. In short, this outwardly whacky, switch-and-jack-loaded box takes care of just about every pedal loop, connection, boost and multi-amp switching need the average guitarist is likely to have, and does so in an elegantly compact and intuitively laid-out package. It features dual, independent, switchable effects loops; switchable, transformer-isolated A/B amp outputs (with phase-reverse on B); buffered tuner output; volume/expression-pedal connection; and a maximum of 20 dB of footswitchable boost with level control. It all adds up to a lot of signal sorting and conditioning potential, and it’s all done with EarthQuaker’s renowned quality construction. earthquakerdevices.com —DH

RockBoard by Warwick
$59–$599 street

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RockBoard pedalboards are ingeniously constructed from a single sheet of cold-rolled aluminum and U-shaped vertical support braces for added stability, resulting in a lightweight board that won’t bend or wiggle. The slotted design lets you conceal cables and works with cable ties and Velcro, or with RockBoard Quick Mount pedal mounting plates (sold separately). Warwick has added new innovations for 2019. In addition to the existing seven RockBoard models — the Duo 2.0 and 2.1; Tres 3.1; Quad 4.1 and 4.2; and Cinque 5.2, 5.3 and 5.4 — the company has added the Duo 2.0 mini board. Other additions include an extended slot grid for perfect fit of the new QuickMount plates, added mounting positions for the The Tray universal power supply (for the Quad 4.2, Cinque 5.2, 5.3 and 5.4), second Mod mounting slots for RockBoard Cinque 5.3 and 5.4, and lighter ABS pedalboard cases and improves pedalboard bags. rockboard.de —CS

Chemistry Design Works Holeyboard ZigZag
$5–$159

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Chemistry Design Works hit on a winning pedalboard with its patented Holeyboard. The innovative design makes it easy to mount pedals securely with zip ties, and the curved shape of the board follows the arc of your foot while the elevated and angled top deck lets you easily reach pedals in the back row. The company’s newest offering is the ZigZag line of compact, lightweight-but-sturdy boards that can be joined together to create more space as you need it. The main boards are the 13-by-13-inch Zig ($99) and the 20-by-13-inch Big Zig ($129). Need more room? Add the Zag expression pedal mount ($39) or just combine boards using the company’s Z-Connectors. The Zig and Big Zig are designed so that power supplies can be mounted below the surface or to the back of the board. chemistrydesignwerks.com —CS

Earthboard
$549-$649

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Love pedalboards but hate adaptors, cable spaghetti and limited routing options? Rare Earth Music has a neat, hip and magnetic solution for all that. The Earthboard is a rail-based pedalboard system that uses rare-earth magnets to not only attach your pedals but to power them, too. The 2020M board is made of aircraft-grade aluminum with zinccoated steel rails. Attach a Gravity Boot to each pedal with either Velcro or zip ties, then connect the Boot’s power cable to your pedal and attach the whole thing to the board’s rails via the powerful rare-earth magnets on the Boot. A separate battery pack attaches to the rails and powers every pedal on the board. Earthboard is super-tidy and boasts superior noise specs to traditional power supplies. Swapping out or rearranging effects is quick and easy. earthboardmusic.com —MB

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