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The Most Amazing Boutique Guitar Pedals Ever

Updated on April 13, 2015

Boutique Guitar Pedals

You know boutique when you hear it!
You know boutique when you hear it! | Source

Why do the best guitar players love boutique pedals?

Have you ever tried to make your guitar sound different from the pack? These days it seems like every guitar player I meet is searching for their "sound." When people ask me what they can do to get the extra edge, I tell them to look into boutique guitar pedals.

So just what is a boutique guitar pedal?

First, a boutique guitar pedal isn’t going to be made by one of the major manufacturers like Boss or DOD.

Second, they usually, although not always, offer some very interesting sounds. They can be any type of effect, from reverb to delay. These aren’t the sounds that you’re typically gonna see from a major manufacturer, and they’re certainly not going to be for everybody, but if you can find the right boutique guitar pedal, it can totally change your sound.

Finally, boutique guitar pedals tend to be much more expensive than their mainstream competitors, but they are also much more collectible, and may even appreciate in value.

So without further ado, here are my 5 favorite boutique guitar pedals.

Chase Bliss – Warped Vinyl MKII

This boutique pedal is just beautiful. It subtly melts your guitar, making it sound sweet as honey.

Imagine the phrase "dulcet tones." Now imagine a vintage recording of a slightly shabby tape reel, slowing down and speeding up unpredictably as it plays back these dulcet tones. And it does it all live.

The Warped Vinyl MKII features endless tweakability, with 6 knobs, 4 toggles, and a dozenish dip-switches. It’s only drawback is it seems like it might get lost in a loud setting. It would take weeks to fully unlock all the benefits of this amazing pedal, from subtle tone enhancement to delicious warming tremolos.

Warped Vinyl MKII, an amazing boutique guitar pedal

Celestial Effect's Cancer the Wah

Cancer the Wha': an amazing fuzz octave wah pedal. As if that's even a real thing.
Cancer the Wha': an amazing fuzz octave wah pedal. As if that's even a real thing. | Source

Cellestial Effects' "Cancer Wah the Fuzz?" Boutique Pedal

This boutique guitar pedal combines three amazing features – wah and fuzz (think Jimi Hendrix), plus a beautiful, filthy overdrive – into one high quality box. It comes with four footswitches so you can quickly dial in the right sound in a live setting without having to fiddle with knobs between songs. Just stomp away and unleash!

It has a very serious, very musical fuzz that sings without losing it definition. Plus, you can add an octave to the fuzz which just makes the sound insanely fat. If you want to sound like a guitar monster, the Cancer Wah the Fuzz is perfect.

Celestial Effect's "Cancer the Wha?"

Wampler - Faux Tape Echo Delay

Do you like beautiful, clear delays that sing and shimmer for days? The Wampler Faux Tape Echo Delay is perfect for you.

It doesn't have a surgical, clean delay like many of today’s most popular mainstream delays. Instead, it emulates classic sounding tape delays with their mushy analog goodness.

In fact, as the name describes it sits somewhere between an amazing reverb and a delay, due to how the sound gets bigger and bigger and BIGGER. It also features tape emulation effects like flutter and self-oscillation.

Video of Faux Tape Echo Delay

Spaceman Effects – Wow Signal

What can I say? This is a weird, wild pedal. I love it because it completely changes how you approach your guitar. But Spaceman Effects' Wow Signal is a game changer (just don't ask me what the game is being changed to).

Sure, at the basic settings it adds some nice fuzz, but wait... there's more. It includes an oscillator which creates these out of these world tremolo effects with some truly out-of-this-world harmonics.

Combined this can create that crazy phaser sound you never knew you were looking for.

Demo of the Wow Signal Pedal

A Boutique Pedal That Sounds Like an Old-Skool Video Game

Who doesn't love the 8-bit goodness of an old fashioned video game?
Who doesn't love the 8-bit goodness of an old fashioned video game? | Source

Earthquaker Devices – Rainbow Machine

Have you ever wished your guitar could sound like a vintage Nintendo game? This indie pedal is just for you!

The Rainbow Machine is an arpeggiating delay with harmonizing pitchshifter. And the pitch can be controlled by an expression pedal. Plus, who doesn’t want an awesome pink pitch shifting pedal in their pedal board?

Rainbow Machine Boutique Effect Demo

Conclusion

At the end of the day, you don't need to spend a ton of money on a fancy indie guitar pedal. There are lots of really cheap DIY pedals to radically alter your sound.

However, boutique pedals are a great way to add a new layer to your sound. You can really distinguish yourself if you get a couple of these in your signal path.

One note of caution however: because some boutique pedals are made by hand or in smaller batches, quality control can sometimes be an issue. So if you're shopping for boutique pedals, I'd recommend avoiding anything used unless you trust the seller.

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