Everything that we hear and see in music today can probably be pinned down to its origins. It could well have first kicked off in the Deep South of America sometime in the 1860s. Probably just after the Civil War ended. Taking its roots from native African music and traditions, they were work and spiritual songs.
Played on homemade instruments; no one was looking for a blues guitar pedal. Of course, electric amplification was still decades away.
The birth of the Blues…
Created by slaves who worked in the fields, it was not a glorious time in anyone’s history. From this misery came the Blues. And from that, pretty much everything else. It has permeated our very consciousness ever since.
Some would argue that the Blues today has become commercialized. It is hard to argue against that. But commercialism is borne out of popularity. And today, the Blues is as popular as ever. It has taken on a different form, though. Now we have effects pedals and guitars and amps built just for the job of playing modern-day Blues.
So, let’s have a look at some of the Best Guitar Pedals for Blues currently available and find the perfect one for you…
Top 7 Best Guitar Pedals For Blues On The Market In 2021 Reviews
1 Electro-Harmonix SoulFood Distortion/Fuzz/Overdrive Pedal – Most Versatile Guitar Pedal for Blues
If you are one of those who think that a bit of distortion on the guitar helps create the mood, then this pedal is for you. This model is based on the Klon Centaur pedal of the 90s and tries to recreate that sound.
Clean and Dirty…
This pedal will give you plenty of both. From a heavy distortion to a straight clean boost, this pedal delivers that and everything in between.
It is one of those pedals that you can push to its limits. And one of the important inclusions in the design is the mid boost. As you push to the drive settings higher, the mids are boosted as well. This prevents the higher frequencies from overpowering everything and everyone.
This is a compact pedal measuring only 8.5 by 3.8 by 4.2 inches with a good strong build. Therefore, it can withstand some stomping. The controls are simple and located for ease-of-use. There is a volume, drive, and treble control plus the footswitch.
The tone control is important as it will let you make adjustments to the sound. That means it will accommodate either single-coil pickups or humbuckers. If you want to cut a little off the top of your single-coil pickups, this is the pedal for you.
Add some drive…
The drive control is self-explanatory and has a wide range. That is where you can decide exactly how much distortion you want to add. Likewise, it also works to keep it as clean as you might want.
It has True Bypass and runs off a 9-volt battery.
Clean boost plus…
A well-made pedal that gives you plenty of options if you want to push things a little harder. Although we do need to clarify one aspect, this is not what you might call a ‘fuzz’ pedal. It sounds more like a clean boost that goes to a distributed phase.
Therefore, it doesn’t color your sound; it just amplifies it. This is known as transparency and is one of the things the Klon Centaur pedal was known for.
A good pedal at a reasonable price from a respected manufacturer. One that you might want to consider for upping your Blues game.
- Similar sound to the Klon Centaur, but you don’t have to sell your car to buy one!
- Easy to use and with some good tonal options.
- Some may want more of a fuzzy sound.
2 Ibanez TS808 Overdrive Pedal – Best Value for Your Money Guitar Pedal for Blues
The Ibanez Tube Screamer. You really do not need to say too much more than that. This pedal is rightly considered a legend.
If ever an overdrive pedal was made to play the Blues, this is it. With its warm, rich pumped-up sound, this pedal is perfectly suited for the Blues. Certainly, one to consider as one of the best blues pedals. If you have looked at a pro guitarist’s pedalboard, it is likely the Tube Screamer was there.
A successful reissue?
Ibanez has worked hard with this reissue to get it right. To create that great sound of overdriven tubes and that can be pushed to the limit. They have used the same analog circuitry and the same chip as the original. They’ve got this one dead right.
Now what might be called ‘vintage,’ the original arrived in the late 70s. There was an updated version that had a slightly brighter sound produced in 1981, which was made until 1985. Now we have this.
Road ready build…
With its die-cast Zinc construction and trademark square footswitch, it is ready to go and able to take what you throw at it. Weighing just one pound and measuring 6.00 by 2.00 by 3.00 inches, it is going to fit neatly onto a pedalboard.
Controls are simple, as is the case with all great pedals. There are Overdrive, Tone, and Effect Level controls. There is also an LED to indicate battery condition and the status of the effect.
The original was hammered into our consciousness courtesy of Steve Ray Vaughan. He demonstrated the thick, natural, tube-driven overdrive sound that had been missing from other similar pedals. Plug this pedal in, and you get the same smooth, rich, and unmistakable overdrive sound. As we said at the beginning, if ever a pedal was meant to play the Blues, this is it.
A classic at your fingertips. It is not cheap. But then again, why would it be? However, it is a lot cheaper than those originals are now worth (again, get ready to sell your car!). And you are getting virtually the same thing. A truly great pedal.
- Legendary pedal with a great sound.
- Well-made to handle anything.
- Nothing at all.
3 Xotic EP Booster Mini EQ Effect Pedal – Best Compact Guitar Pedal for Blues
Another pedal well-known and respected in certain circles. This was designed using the already successful preamp of the EP-3, Echoplex tape delay.
It uses a technology called FET, or Field Effect Transistor. This is a system where the output current is determined by the input voltage.
The built-in controls are basic, to say the least, but very effective. Really just a boost for the lower sounds and a kick for the high frequencies. But this boost does more than just increase the gain.
It provides a tone that shimmers and gives you a real sparkle at the top end. But that is not the ‘jewel in the crown.’ This pedal will take your original signal and give it up to 20 dB of boost. This one bites.
Not a distortion pedal…
This is not a distortion nor an overdrive pedal, as most will understand those terms to mean. It is a boost. It does not add distortion; it just adds gain to your sound.
Therefore, you need to place it in your pedal chain carefully. This is because it will also boost the gain of those pedals placed in front of it.
One issue that might be of concern to some is the size. At 5.6 x 3.2 x 2.8 inches, the casing is quite small. There are some that find these difficult to operate properly. The upside is they don’t take up too much pedalboard space.
It is built in a small casing and has an illuminated LED. It is powered by a 9v battery but will take an AC adaptor.
A pedal that is priced quite reasonably. Basic in its tonal options but also very efficient.
- Easy to use and control with a 20 dB gain.
- Attractive price point.
- Some may be put off by the physical size.
4 BOSS Super Overdrive Guitar Pedal (SD-1) – Best Beginner Guitar Pedal for Blues
If we are talking about effects pedals, sooner or later, we will be talking Boss. Founded in 1973 in Japan and now part of the Roland Corporation, they are a company that sets standards.
You can argue that they might not be the best pedals around. There are probably better products, but not at the price of the Boss. The company does it better than just about anyone at their price point. Rugged build, quality sound, easy to use, attractive price, it is all there.
You cannot talk about a Boss pedal without talking about how tough and ready for anything it is. It is the pedal equivalent of a Shure mic. Most will understand what we mean by that. Metal casing and that famous footswitch, it is virtually indestructible. That is quite an asset when you might be stamping on it ten times a night.
It is also a compact, but not too small, unit measuring 4 x 6 x 3 inches. Not going to take up too much pedalboard room.
It might be sacrilegious to some, but there is a little of the Ibanez Tube screamer in the sound. You get the smooth and warm sound of a tube amp that is being pushed hard. Just what most people want. This is due to the circuitry employed by Boss in this pedal. Tube amps always had that peculiar ‘growl’ that set them apart. A little, actually quite a lot of that is in this pedal.
It leaves you under no pretensions. This pedal will create a classic rock guitar sound. A pedal that is sure to be considered as one of the Best Guitar Pedals For Blues.
Simple to use, as are the majority of Boss pedals, with just three control knobs. There is a Level control knob and a Tone for precise adjustment to your sound. Also, a Drive control to set the amount of effect you want.
Oh, and don’t forget what might be considered the best stomp pedal in the business with its rubber plate.
We are tempted to say it is very good. We will just say it is Boss. Then you will know what we mean.
- Tough, rugged build and a great price point.
- An excellent tube amp overdrive sound.
5 Dunlop GCB95 Cry Baby Wah Guitar Effects Pedal – Most Durable Guitar Pedal for Blues
A name forever associated with a certain sound, this particular pedal has had an interesting history. Vox created the first Cry Baby in the UK in 1966 but didn’t trademark the name, and Dunlop took it later on.
Hendrix? Yes or no?
There are claims about Hendrix using the initial version that are somewhat exaggerated. Hendrix used the original Vox version but then switched to pedals designed by his own sound engineer Roger Mayer.
The Dunlop Cry Baby is a copy of those original pedals. Nevertheless, it is a good wah pedal.
Quite a size, and so if you are using it on a pedalboard, it will take up some room. Measuring 10 by 2.5 by 4 inches, that is the nature of the beast with any pedal such as this.
It weighs over three pounds and has a heavy all-metal construction. Therefore, it is ready for some serious usage.
How you use it…
People use this pedal in a variety of ways. It can be said that it is a bit one-dimensional in that it makes a wah sound, and that is it. That might be a bit unfair as certain other sounds can be achieved. The speed of the wah and how much of the effect you actually use is determined by the player.
You can adjust the tone of the guitar. Pushing forward with your toe adds treble while pushing with your heel gets you more of a bass sound. Therefore, you can set the pedal at an angle that creates the tone you want. That can also result in added sustain and even feedback. Therefore, it is not just a one-trick pony if you take the time to see what it is capable of.
Well priced, and everyone needs one!
It is set at a reasonable price point, so it makes an attractive option. If you are going to buy a wah, you are bound to want to take a look at this.
- Plenty of sound creation options.
- Well-built for plenty of use.
- Quite large in terms of its pedalboard footprint.
6 Catalinbread Naga Viper Modern Treble Booster Guitar Effects Pedal – Best Premium Guitar Pedal for Blues
This a pedal that has had a fair amount of comment made about it. Essentially it is a clone of the Dallas Rangemaster Treble Booster. The Rangemaster was an important part of some of the sounds of the 70s and 80s. But it was not without its limitations.
Classic, but more…
The Naga Viper Treble Booster gives you a lot of what made the Rangemaster popular. But it does offer a little more sound and control options.
However, it claims to be able to produce 100 watts at full throttle. And at a quieter volume in your bedroom. That might be rather fanciful.
Design and build…
Some will like the colorful art decor, and others will not. But it is well made with an all-metal tough casing. It is a compact little pedal at 5.00 by 3.00 by 3.00 inches. There are three control knobs, which include Range, Boost, and Heat.
The Range is a form of EQ setting a basic frequency response. Turning the control will add or take away the bottom end. The Treble is always boosted. The Boost knob itself sets the output level, and the Heat knob controls the gain.
It uses virtually the same circuits for its tone as the Rangemaster, so you are going to get a similar sound. The addition of the Heat and Range controls has offered some sound shaping alternatives.
It has True Bypass and can run on a nine-volt battery or on a power pack, which is not included.
Quality design comes at a cost…
It is a decent pedal, but like its predecessor, it does seem a little limited. And it does seem extremely expensive for what it is.
- Very similar in tone to the Rangemaster.
- Compact pedal size so won’t take up much room.
- Does not seem to bring much to the table.
- Very expensive for what it is.
7 JOYO JF-12 Voodoo Octave Fuzz – Best Budget Guitar Pedal for Blues
Companies like Joyo prove that you do not have to spend a fortune to get a great sound. Founded and based in China, they have established a reputation for providing cost-effective pedals for those who may be on a budget.
It could be said that they do not carry some of the sophistication of tonal options of their more expensive competitors. But for those who want basic sounds at an affordable cost, they do the job.
The Octave option…
This is a good example of what they produce, but this is more than just a fuzz pedal. It also has an octave facility. In our view, this is a great added feature. It takes a basic fuzz sound and then adds a harmonic layer. This produces a more than interesting sound you will not find in many other pedals.
Sounding like two guitars playing in unison, it adds power and depth to any rock or blues lick.
At this price point, that is really very good and must make this one of the Best Guitar Pedals For Blues.
It has a decent quality build. Not the strongest you could buy, but then again, you are not paying those prices. Therefore, it will do its job if taken care of.
It measures only 4.72 by 3.82 by 2.17 inches. This is a compact little unit and isn’t going to take up too much room on a pedalboard.
These are neatly laid out but can be a little awkward to adjust due to the compact size of the pedal. There is a fuzz control to alter the intensity of that sound and a tone to alternate the treble and bass output to your preference. The Volume, of course, speaks for itself.
There are two footswitches, one for the Octave control and one for true bypass. There is also a rocker switch to filter the mid-range frequencies.
An excellent budget option…
It must be said that this is a budget pedal, and it might not be the most responsive. Also, it does not really clean up the tone as you play. It cannot compete with the “big boys.” But at the price point, it represents great value.
- Two pedals in one offering Fuzz and Octave.
- Decent build quality at a great price point.
- Some may want just a higher level of performance.
Best Guitar Pedals For Blues Buying Guide
It is only natural that you want a great sound to help you generate a Blues feeling when you play. The days of Blind Lemon Jefferson and Lead Belly are long gone. Although it is still nice to hear them occasionally.
But now effects are the order of the day. The sound is the all-important thing to bring out the emotion, and if you listen to Gary Moore, you know why.
Choosing the right pedal…
There are lots of options to consider before you even go that far. You need to consider what guitar you use and what amp. With some guitars, you do not need a screaming fuzz. They are already halfway there. Likewise, if you have a Marshall 100 watt and a 4 by 12, a lot of the sound is built-in.
A single-coil pickup will react differently than a humbucker when overdrive and fuzz are applied. That may affect your choice.
The pedal first and foremost needs to reflect what you are using it with and how you want to use it.
Subtle or scream?
You can play easily, or you can let rip. You can apply boost to certain frequencies or use a wah. They will all add to the sound.
What is your sound?
Overdrive may well be, in some people’s eyes, the effect best suited for Blues music. But a fuzz sound, which is different, has its place as well, especially is used subtly with the guitar’s volume knob reduced to five or six – smooth!
The wah is popular as well but really needs something to go with it.
Looking for Something Else?
There is a wide range of guitar pedals to choose from, so check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Reverb Pedal, the Best Flanger Pedal, the Best Compressor Pedal, the Best Analog Delay Pedals, and the Best Boost Pedals you can buy in 2021.
What are the Best Guitar Pedals For Blues?
Never an easy job to choose one pedal for a complete genre. But if you were to push us, we would go for a pedal that gives us a rich, warm overdrive.
In that respect, we would go for the…
It would be a difficult choice between that and the Boss, but the Ibanez just gets the nod. It is so easy to use and delivers a unique sound and style.
Until next time, may your music make you merry.