The top 10 stompboxes we can't live without

25th Jan 2010 | 16:32

The top 10 stompboxes we can't live without
Line 6 DL4
Delay pedal

Just imagine you could only use one pedal for the rest of your life… what would you choose? Distortion, fuzz, overdrive, chorus, reverb, wah-wah, phaser? It’s perhaps one of the more soul searching questions posed by Ask MusicRadar, and one with an equally perplexing outcome.

The number one choice of pedal, you see, is so simple in its purpose that you might not have seen the wood for the trees. Scroll through to see what we mean.

This is a gallery of the top 10 essential stompboxes as chosen by you. First up: Line 6 DL4…


MusicRadar’s verdict:

“For those who like to experiment with different types of delay, but don’t want all the hassle of racks and so forth, the DL4 is an absolute winner. Faultless build quality, brilliant sounds, easy to use and a great price.”

Your votes:

“The multi-head delay sound is the best! If I had to choose one pedal, the DL4 is it.” (Thanks, tentacle)

"A delay pedal is essential to my live sound and Line 6's DL4 is my weapon of choice." (From Vinnie via email, thanks)


Next: MXR Micro Amp

The top 10 stompboxes we can't live without
MXR Micro Amp
Overdrive/boost pedal

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“A preamp in box - simplicity at its best. Used with restraint, this pedal will add a warm dollop of gain to any flagging signal.”

Your votes:

“MXR Micro Amp. Totally dependable, battery lasts forever, amazing when you just need that little bit of extra level and crunch.” (Thanks, ChrisVinnicombe)

"MXR Micro Amp - i've had one for years and I definitely rely on it more than anything else." (From Tom via email, thanks)


Next: Dunlop Cry Baby

The top 10 stompboxes we can't live without
Dunlop Cry Baby
Wah pedal

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“With its emotive name, the Cry Baby is probably the most well known of all the wah pedals. Vox was first on the scene in 1967, but Jim Dunlop – whose Cry Baby we’re celebrating here today – followed soon after. Solid construction, lush tone.”

Your votes:

“Has to be the Cry Baby. There’s always room for a little wah.” (Thanks, stoogie)

“Cry Baby.” (Thanks, markmarshall)


Next: MXR Carbon Copy

The top 10 stompboxes we can't live without
MXR Carbon Copy
Delay pedal

MusicRadar’s verdict:

"As a mass-market analogue delay, there is little around that can touch this pedal. Great sound, small footprint and adjustable modulation all in a compact box - brilliant.”

Read the full MXR Carbon Copy review and hear it action here

Your votes:

“MXR Carbon Copy would be next… pretty indispensable part of my sound.” (Thanks, JCA2550)

"…MXR Carbon Copy is a close second." (From @nickrundall via Twitter, thanks)


Next: EHX Big Muff Pi

The top 10 stompboxes we can't live without
Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi
Fuzz/distortion pedal

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“The fuzz with the rudest name, the Big Muff Pi was introduced by Electro-Harmonix in 1970-71. It is a four-transistor fuzzbox with a soft-clipping circuit that produces a very smooth distortion. The reissue is also spot on – remaining true to the original, the simple circuitry really does dish up that genuine sound.”

Your votes:

“Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi.” (Thanks, comedy_dave)

“I have to agree Electro Harmonix Big Muff Pi USA - it's just such a classic value for money pedal with an unmistakable tone that is useful for lots of different styles of music.” (Thanks, danfenton)


Next: Keeley Compressor

The top 10 stompboxes we can't live without
Keeley Compressor
Compression pedal

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“Once again, we were very impressed with the quality of Robert Keeley’s work - he clearly has both a sharp ear for a great tone and the engineering knowledge to create it. These aren’t particularly cheap pedals, and most people would be reluctant to pay over £200 for a compressor, but the quality; the smooth, fat sound and attention to detail doesn’t get much better than this.”


Your votes:

"Keeley Compressor - MXR Carbon Copy is a close second." (From @nickrundall via Twitter, thanks)

“Keeley Compressor.” (Thanks, halfstack)


Next: EHX Deluxe Memory Man

The top 10 stompboxes we can't live without
Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man
Analogue delay pedal

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“The Memory Man is perfect for retro FX junkies, those addicted to sounding different and just about anybody who likes the freedom to create their own sound. With more and more multi-fx processors appearing on the market, we can’t think of a better way to express one’s individuality. Funky.”

Your votes:

“Deluxe Memory Man - for all the flavours that you can add to the sound (even accidentally at times!). It's the pedal I've had the longest by far.” (Thanks, noisepolluter)

“As much as I worship fuzz (and I own A LOT of dirt units) I couldn't survive without decent analogue echo for electric playing. I have a few good analogue delays, but it's a slightly modded Electro Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man reissue that is usually stuck to the pedal board. Essential for rockabilly, surf, Krautrock noise and psychedelic noodlings. Oh, and dub/reggae! You gotsta have analogue delay for that!” (Thanks, Gojirosan)


Next: Boss CS-3

The top 10 stompboxes we can't live without
Boss CS-3
Compression Sustainer pedal

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“The original CS-1 Compression Sustainer pedal was one of the very first Boss pedals as we know them to be mass-produced. With the industry-standard Boss construction quality a given, the best facet of the CS-3 is its incredibly effective tone pot - all the way to ‘Lo’ single notes are warm and lush while the ‘Hi’ equates to Frusciante heaven.”

Your votes:

"My Boss CS-3 Compression Sustainer always has the light on." (From @westlink via Twitter, thanks)

“On bass, Boss CS-3 compressor.” (Thanks, thebeagle)

“Tough question, but I have to be a little boring and say that my BOSS CS-3 Compressor/Sustainer is the one with the red light always on.” (Thanks, jsboon)


Next: Tube Screamer

The top 10 stompboxes we can't live without
Tube Screamer
Overdrive/distortion pedal

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“Favoured by many as the best pedal for naturally overdriving your amp, the Ibanez Tube Screamer has seen many incarnations over the years. The TS808 lasted up until 1982 when it was superseded by the TS-9, itself replaced by the TS-10 in 1986.”

Your votes:

“Ibanez Tube Screamer sounds incredible - wouldn't be without it. Lots of people think of it as just a metal distortion pedal, and yeah it produces the most awesome tones for metal and punk music, but it is also capable of producing some very smooth meaty sounds.” (Thanks, Jaymz_7)

“It's a tie: Ibanez TS-808 Reissue - ZVEX - Box of Rock Distortion/Boost.” (Thanks, nsureit)

“Behringer TO-800. I should probably say Ibanez TS-808 really as its just a clone of it, but I don't have a proper Tube Screamer! I use it all the time to front end my amp, it just makes the OD channel sound so much sweeter!” (Thanks, tojwonkle, we’ll take that as a Tube Screamer vote!)

“I'd have to say that I probably couldn't go anywhere now without my Keeley Modded TS-9 - incredible overdrive!“ (Thanks, Cass)

“Absolutely cannot live without my Robert Keeley TS-808 Mod Plus. I have 3, 'just in case'." (From JeffSopha via Twitter, thanks!)


Next: the top stompbox we can't live without

The top 10 stompboxes we can't live without
Boss TU-2
Stage tuner pedal

MusicRadar’s verdict:

“The humble tuner has seen a resurgence in column inches of late thanks in part to TC Electronic’s ‘revolutionary multi-string tuner’ PolyTune pedal, and Boss’s own update of a classic: the TU-3. This seemingly simple yet hugely significant technological ‘stomp’ forward is bound to make an appearance on guitarists’ pedalboards the world over but, for now at least, the Boss TU-2 reigns supreme. Everyone has one, and we can’t live without it.”

Your votes:

“TU-2 as a given...” (Thanks, noisepolluter)

“I'd probably go for the TU-2, every player should be in tune :)” (Thanks, Cass)

“Live it’s got to be the TU-2 hands down because as everyone here has said it keeps me in tune!” (Thanks, d.am)

“Boss TU-2 is the essential stompbox.” (Thanks, Grunfeld.)

“Yes, Boss TU-2 tuner. Keeps me in tune, allows me to mute when changing guitars or just in between numbers. Everything else comes and goes.” (Thanks, erictheweary)

“Boss TU if I'm being boring.” (Thanks, jim222)

“Boss Tuner - the only one you need really. That and a decent amp!” (Thanks, juleskahuna)

“Gonna have to be boring and say my Boss tuner pedal. Essential for maintaining pitch during a gig. I find I rely more on the amp or onboard EQ to colour my sound.” (Thanks, tenstrings)

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