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Bored of your pedals and looking to experiment with some new sounds?
We review 8 of the best guitar pedals for wild and creative effects.
Pedals from Walrus Audio, Keeley, Empress Effects, and more.
The golden rule of weird guitar pedals: you know you’ve scored the best weird pedal if you can’t explain what it does, but love it enough to buy another one. Or, alternatively, you are okay with finger warts from tweaking knobs.
I’m talking about signal processing effects that need an indie film director to make the demo. Ones that may cost more than a dentist bill and are barely easier to learn than flying a plane.
From dirty robot sounds to ambient music thrust and granular delay, brace yourself for GAS and an urge to make the weirdest sounds possible with your guitar.
After a long hunt for weird guitar pedals, I have rounded up eight of my favorite stomps that excel at aberrant tones and expressive sounds. They can help you break out of a rut or get wrapped in hours of endless fun.
Enough talk. Let us help you find your secret weapon for sonic madness!
What Are The Best Weird Guitar Pedals?
1. Keeley Monterey Workstation (Our Pick) 2. Red Panda Particle V2 Multimode Granular Stereo Delay 3. Empress Effects Inc. ZOIA Guitar Effects Pedals 4. Walrus Audio Janus Fuzz/Tremolo with Joystick Control 5. Montreal Assembly Count to Five 6. ZVex Super Seek Trem Guitar Effects Pedal 7. Subdecay Octasynth 8. Korg Miku Stomp
It’s one of those weird noise pedals that gets many things right, especially the rotary simulation. Either way, it is unlikely to result in buyer’s remorse.
Handpainted Multi-effects pedal
Vintage Fuzz, Vibe, Auto Wah, and Rotary Speaker
Octave Up/Down with Expression Control
Independent Switches for Modulation and Fuzz
Powered by 9V DC Adapter
The Keeley Monterey, at heart, is a rotary-meet-fuzz-meets-vibrato guitar pedal. It has a 2-channel operation – a right footswitch to add a two-transistor fuzz sound and a left footswitch for modulations. Modulations include rotary, vibe, auto-wah, and octave up/down.
Deep, smooth, and complex – the Monterey affords you all sorts of sonic sorcery. It’s a gold mine of rich sounds and crazy effects. I’m talking ethereal reflections, Doppler-like chorusing, pulsating phasers, edgy fuzz, or cocked auto-wah.
The guitar pedal can be configured to attain five sounds and countless modifications. A brief recounting simply won’t do justice to the fun you can have with this pedal. It’s not too weird in and of itself but rather an amalgam of classic tones with a creative modern twist.
The Monterey is a rich, versatile, and won’t collect dust in your storage after a brief honeymoon period. For stompbox aficionados, this one comes with a high likelihood of becoming a mainstay of your board.
2. Red Panda Particle V2 Multimode Granular Stereo Delay
9V DC 250mA center negative power supply (sold separately)
This is an updated version of the flagship Red Panda Particle (v1) delay effects pedal. The new version features stereo I/O – a killer upgrade that makes it more versatile.
One of the best things about it is the interface. The pedal is easy to use and operate in a guitar rig, that’s not always the case with a strange guitar pedal.
Particle 2 sports two footswitches – an on/off toggle and an FFT freeze effect + Tap Tempo. The control panel features 6 knobs – Blend, Chop, Feedback, Delay/Pitch, Parameter, and an 8-mode control.
Each mode varies the parameters leading to effects ranging from utilitarian sounds to mildly disturbing tape loop drones and stark-raving-mad effects.
Once split, you can subject the sound slices to a mobocracy of modulations such as reversing, delay, and pitch-shifting, among others. There are countless arrangements of the chopped signal to create radical sounds, especially with the pitch shift. Some result in a subtle shimmer, others are glitchy or sound like guttural stutters.
Sooner or later, you stumble on to the sonic love child of Mars Volta and King Crimson. The sound quality, level of fun, and musicality of the granular synthesis engine is unquestionable.
Nevertheless, you need a wild, creative itch to fully appreciate the pedal – but that’s a pre-requisite for weird guitar pedals anyway.
ZOIA enables users to build modulations from the ground up. And yes, it is a guitar pedal, although there is so much more to it when you get creative.
80+ Modules w/ 20+ pre-built standard guitar effects
OLED Display with Built-in Help Manual
SD Card and 64 Patches
Online user community to upload/download patches
Control Port and MIDI Connectivity
Take 80 modules, add 20+ pre-built effects, and 64 patches and you get a huge amount of sonic potential for the nerds. ZOIA is a modular synth with a dedicated control port, MIDI connectivity, and a low-noise signal path. The pedal delivers 48kHz sampling with 32-bit internal processing – nothing weird about that.
From oscillators to bit crushers to LFOS, this weird guitar pedal is a wormhole, one from which you emerge with vicious and deliciously wild sounds. It also includes modules and 20+ pre-built standard guitar effects such as delay, flanger, and tremolo, among others.
The ZOIA features a high-res OLED screen to cook up your creative concoctions. It has an SD Card to download firmware and save patches. The help function acts as a built-in manual to understand the modules via the display.
Don’t write the Janus off as just a weird pedal. It’s an ace in the hole for guitarists who lace their licks with fuzz. From subtle stacking to chopper-like trem/fuzz, this joystick-laden eccentricity is packed with dynamic sounds, user control, and timbral variations that regular fuzz pedals forfeit.
That being said, the pedal demands a few sessions to grasp the permutations and combinations achieved by the knobs, footswitches, joysticks, and toggle switches.
Once you are there, you find rewarding fuzz and tremolo sounds, individual or stacked. The left joystick controls tremolo speed and depth while the right one controls the tone and gain functions of fuzz. The selling point, however, is that it goes an extra over-the-top mile.
Among the two effects, the tremolo parts suffer from the lack of tap tempo control. They are still valid for numerous use cases. However, the fuzz is right on the money. It won’t compete with the Big Muff but can still serve the regular need of guitar players.
The Janus isn’t the first guitar pedal to use an X and Y axis joystick to create movement, however it’s among the most usable of its ilk. Try it if you want a creative ice-breaker to navigate thick textures of fuzz with deep and fluid trem-movement.
If you lurk forums (enough), you would have heard of this magic blue box four years ago. We are talking about a sampler/delay with unique manipulation capabilities that became “cult” in the last decade.
Count to Five is, at heart, a delay pedal that is really a digital sampler in disguise. Besides the standard mod and digital delay sounds, it can take a copy of the audio signal and tweak it in several creative ways.
The pedal plays back the clip at different speeds, from different directions, or even sliced up and in a different order. All that, with killer tracking and buffer, but no tap sync or presets.
The primary mode is the basic delay/reverb sounds. It has two additional loop modes. The first one is similar to a traditional looper (4-second loop) with options to create interesting layers.
The second mode plays back the loop using one of three virtual tape heads. You can tweak the parameters of each “tape” to define how the clip is played back.
Lastly, you can hook up an expression pedal to manipulate the pedal on the fly. All said and done, the Montreal Count to Five is a creative guitar effects pedal rather than something outrageously weird.
The interface is intuitive, the learning curve is minuscule, and you can get interesting playback from the get-go.
P.S: There are some noteworthy applications if you use multiple Montreal Assembly pedals and feed them into each other. The internet can’t get enough of it, and it is not difficult to see why.
Zvex has made a name for itself with some of the weirdest guitar pedals. Right out of the Zvex Vexter Series, the Super Seek Trem is a 16 step sequencer pedal designed to create complex rhythmic patterns. It has a host of features such as MIDI sync, tap tempo functions, and programmable memory locations.
The tremolo is created by the basic operation of the sequencer. Select the level of volume pots to create a pattern and tap in the speed with global or individual step glissando.
You can also add an expression pedal to alter the speed or glissando. If that sounds good then you’ll be happy to know that you can store eight of them for future recall.
There is a touch of complexity to operating the Zvex pedal. It is not a twiddle-on-the-fly unit. The sounds demand effort and exploration, but you still have a lot of control over the results.
The Subdecay Octasynth is for guitar players looking for funk-kissed 70s mojo and gritty timbres.
This guitar pedal levels up the low-end with square waves, sub octaves, and a resonant low pass filter. It responds to nuanced guitar playing while retaining its fat/rich analog synth sounds.
Monophonic analog guitar synthesizer pedal
Handmade in Oregon, USA
Octave generator + resonant low pass filter
Controls: Blend, Depth, Resonance/Feedback/Level
Power: 9 to 12V DC with a negative center
You can play around with three voices – the register you are playing in, one octave down, and two octaves down. In addition, you can blend three voices and use the ‘Depth’ knob to adjust the filter or the ‘Res’ knob to set the filter feedback.
In a nutshell, the guitar pedal covers a spectrum of synth sounds from old-school Juno-esque tones to electro-funk (think Arp 2600 or MiniMoog) and dynamic and modern space-age sounds. Tweaking results in some hard-hitting and head-spinning sounds rife with oscillations.
It doesn’t take too long to draw out highly usable guttural clean tones for staccato chugging or a deep buzz-saw bass tone with resonant gurgles. Deep or garbled, the guitar synthesizer pedal responds brilliantly to pick attack to produce a rich array of sounds.
Love it or hate it, Korg’s Miku Stomp is the reigning champion of weird guitar pedals. If you can get creative with it, you’ll join the ranks of a hundred thousand songs that have chosen to embrace it.
I doubt if pros will add this to their rigs, but it might be worth the giggles and gimmicks. You never know, Cory Wong might just use it in his next album.
Based on the vocal samples of Hatsune Miku
11 lyric patterns + presets
Trigger vocal samples with guitar effects
Accompanying iPhone app
Power: 9V DC (200mA)
If you missed her on the Letterman show, Hatsune Miku is a Japanese hologram developed by Crypton Future Media that became an internet sensation.
The Miku Stomp triggers the original sounds from Saki Fujita, the Japanese voice actress behind the Vocaloid avatar.
Hatsune Miku (translated to ‘the first sound from the future’) broke the internet.
The virtual star has a million fans, dozens of sold-out 3D concerts, and collaborations with Google, Toyota, and SEGA. The Miku-mania prompted KORG to cash in on the sensation with a limited run of weird guitar pedals.