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28 Best Cheap Guitar Pedals: Your Ultimate List

For those searching for good tone on a budget, here’s our list of the best cheap guitar pedals offering excellent value.

Price: $ – $
28 Listed Items

Compared to the rest of your rig, even very good pedals are already quite a bit cheaper than comparable amplifiers or guitars. By nature, they're modular and easy to change in the context of your setup. While we haven't set a particular budget here, many of these options come in below $50. We've also included what the pedal is meant to be a less expensive version of so you can get an idea of the difference.

There are roughly three camps when it comes to effect pedals: boutique, mass market, or DIY. We'll leave DIY to the circuit-benders and focus our attention on the former two categories. Boutique pedals are made by smaller companies, generally by hand and in lower overall quantities.

It's easy to compare pedals to beer in this case. Imagine boutique pedals as your favorite craft brew while mass market pedals are macrobrews. Roughly, Mr. Black is to Maine Beer Company what Boss is to AB InBev. And then there's Electro-Harmonix, which is somewhere in the middle, like a Samuel Adams/Boston Beer Company.

Do You Have to Spend a Lot to Get the Best Guitar Pedals?

Just as debate rages about what makes beer good, so, too, is there room for debate about what makes a pedal good. In both cases, you need to use your senses. Just what makes something the best guitar pedal? Something being expensive and rare doesn't automatically make it good, just as something being cheap and common does not make it bad.

You have to try everything once (or twice or three times) and decide for yourself. There's a lot of hype out there that comes from the human desire to be different, but remember, there's a reason a certain thing became popular in the first place.

The most significant appeal of mass market pedals is certainly the price. Boutique pedals can get expensive in a hurry, and it's not always clear what you're paying for. Plenty of companies are doing great work, but just as many are passing off components identical to the bigger brands as being precious somehow.

If it sounds good to you, go for the cheaper one. The second major advantage is that, like macrobrew beer, mass market pedals tend to be reliable and consistent, which can be a lifesaver in a pinch.

Especially popular right now are close (often Chinese) copies of well-loved, iconic pedals both mass market and boutique alike. If you can't quite spring for the real deal, or just want to sample the sound before you go all-in, you can take advantage of dropping manufacturing prices in the past several years to try a wide variety of cheap, reliable, excellent-sounding pedals. Don't be scared off because it isn't some elusive brand with tons of street cred.

Should I Just Buy Used Guitar Pedals?

If cost is your primary criterion, going used is a great way to save some money. While most of the pedals on our list are under $50, or at least represent a significant savings from the more premier offerings, a cheap pedal from years ago could save you even more.

For this, we recommend searching on Reverb, which is like eBay for gear. It allows you to offload some of the stuff you no longer love to finance new purchases, which is key for those of us who tend to hoard gear.

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