Most famous guitar pedals of all time

Starting in the 1930s and the swing era of big bands, the first amplified guitars in the world hit the scene. Back in those days, guitarists wanting to grab solos were faced with a serious problem – the stock sound of the early amplified guitars was weak, thin and in general reedy, not one that could be imagined rocking a modern solo for sure.

Of course, that led to the guitarists looking into making something that would enhance their sound and make them more prominent. Of course, solutions cropped up, from motorized tremolo pulleys to huge artificial echo chambers and complex tube systems that were unfortunately completely unsuitable for a stage performance.

This is where some of the most prominent and significant guitar pedals of history come in. Its time to walk into this digipedals guide:

Jimi Hendrix’s Uni-Vibe

Also known as the Jax Vibra-Chorus, it was a foot pedal phaser capable of producing chorus and vibrate for guitar, made in the 1960s by a Japanese company called Shin-ei, it hit the American market thanks to Univox in 1968. Although the effect was originally intended as a simulator of a Leslie speaker, a mechanical device which consists of a speaker and a rotating chamber that modifies the sound, it became a sound of its own, gaining fame through Jimi Hendrix’s song “Machine Gun” as well as “Breathe” by Pink Floyd.

Maestro FZ-1 Fuzz-Tone

One of the first Fuzz pedals in the world and the first to become widely available, this guitar and bass effect was at its peak in the 1960s. We can thank a guitarist called Link Wray for the creation of this effect, who intentionally pushed his vacuum tubes to create a dirty, grungy sound. Link Wray is also known for poking holes and cutting his speaker cones to achieve similar distortion, a practice later taken on by many famous guitarists. The Maestro Fuzz-Tone was used by Keith Richards in Satisfaction, and thanks to this featuring marked forever in history as a favourite of psychedelic and garage rock groups alike. The model was re-issued in the 1990s by Gibson, but discontinued not long after.

Vox’s Wah-Wah Pedal

For the creation of the famous effect used by many today and in history, such as Jimi Hendrix on his hit “Voodoo Child” or Metallica’s Kirk Hammet in nearly every solo he ever plays, we can thank a modder by the name Bradley J. Plunkett, who working at the Thomas Organ Company modified a Vox Continental Organ volume pedal using a mid-range boost potentiometer into the predecessor of the modern Wah-Wah. The historical pedal was later distributed by the Jennings Musical Instruments in England under the Vox name.

Hammon Organ Company’s Spring Reverb

So, we have the history of distortion, wah-wah, modulation… What is missing? Reverb of course!

The history of reverb pedals is brief and simple due to their simplicity. Although they are a staple of modern music, for the longest time reverberation came down to a speaker on one side and a microphone on the other, often in a big room or on a huge half a ton plate of steel. These were the old room reverbs and plate reverbs.

Everything changed when the spring reverb came along, a small form factor option for anyone, propagating the sound through a spring instead of a plate, easy to build into a pedal or an amp, the first one was invented for use in Hammond Organs, back in the 1930s, with production quickly ensuing to rise to the demand for cheap reverb effects. The device was a simple box with a speaker attached to a spring on one side and a microphone on the other, Of course, the product was a raging success and led the company to a creation of a separate division called Accusonics just for the product and its similes. This product kept bouncing the sound till the digital era truly came along.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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