7 Best Pedals for Blues (2021 List)

If you're a guitar player looking for the best pedals to use while playing blues, then this post is for you. We'll go over 7 of the best pedals and what they do so that you can find one that fits your needs. These are all quality brands with good reputations, made by people who know what they're doing when it comes to making guitar gear.

#1 Pick: TS9 Tube Screamer

Pro:

  • Iconic pedal, proven over decades of use

Con:

  • Mid Hump

Why is this the Best Pedal for Blues?

The TS9 is as iconic as a guitar pedal gets.  It's a pedal that found its way on to the pedal board of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Carlos Santana, John Mayer, Gary Clark Jr, and Joe Bonamassa, so you know there has to be something special about it. 

The tube screamer is perfect for blues overdrive.  It can range all the way from just a touch of overdrive to add a little warmth, to being driven to the point of classic rock.  Somewhere in the middle is the perfect blues spot.  

One of the Iconic things about a Tube Screamer is that is disproportionately boosts the mids over the lows and highs.  This is a big point of contention for many guitarists because some people find it to be the worst thing ever, and some people like it.  It is all a preference thing, so give the TS9 a listen and decide for yourself.

All of this and more is why the TS9 is a must have guitar pedal and one of the best pedals for blues.

Mini Version

There is also a mini version of the Tube Screamer that costs a little less and takes up less space on a pedal board.  If you want your pedalboard to weigh a little less on your wallet, or you want to fit more pedals on it.  Then this is one of the best blues pedals for you.

Boss Blues Driver

Why is this the Best Pedal for Blues?

The Boss Blues Driver has been the main competitor of the Tube Screamer for decades.  They sound super similar.  The biggest difference between the two is that The Blues Driver doesn't boost the mids at all.  

One of the best things about these pedals is that they last through a lifetime of use.  Because of that you can often to on resale websites and find them for $50 or so, which is a nuts deal for this quality of pedal.  This is definitely the best pedal for blues that you can find for under $50 or $60.

It is overall just a great drive pedal, and this list would be incomplete without the addition of it. 

Fulltone OCD

Why is this the Best Pedal for Blues?

This pedal has a little bit of a heavier sound than the other pedals on this list.  This pedal can border on more of a distortion pedal rather than an overdrive, so if you are someone that really likes the heavier genres of music, but also wants to play the blues, this could be a great pedal for you.

With that said, this pedal would be ideal for someone that wants to play Stevie Ray Vaughan style blues.  This pedal helps create that super overdriven amp sound.

This pedal is great at sounding like an authentic overdriven amp.  If that is the sound you want, then this is the best pedal for blues for you.

Xotic EP Boost

Why is this the Best Pedal for Blues?

Boost pedals are becoming more and more popular within the blues realm.  This is mostly because of their convenience.  It is incredibly easy to just kick on a nice little clean boost to enhance you sound, and get you ready for solos.  

This pedal is not only a boost, but can also be used in an overdrive sense as well.  Once the one and only knob is turned about to about 12 O'Clock, this pedal begins create a tight overdrive sound.  This is great for blues because it boosts your signal enough to get the notes heard, but also it just adds a touch of grit to you sound.

Boost pedals in general are a must, but getting a high quality one like this right away will pay dividends for years and years to come.  This pedal is killer in a blues context, but also works amazing in almost every other musical context as well.

Electro Harmonix Canyon

Why is this the Best Pedal for Blues

The Canyon is a Looper/Delay/Reverb pedal that offers a ton of versatility and a ton of different tonal options.  In addition to the looper, it comes with 11 different types of delay and reverb.  These allow for you to alter your sound to an extreme extent.  

Some people really like to add some delay to their sound when playing the blues because it beefs up your sound a little bit.  Often times blues is played cleanly through a single coil guitar, and sometimes that signal can sound a little weak, so delay is a good way to make your sound a little more powerful.  

Overall, this is an amazingly versatile pedal that can be used super effectively in a blues context.  That makes this the best delay pedal for blues.

Ultraphonix Overdrive

This pedal was created with the intent of getting the iconic sound of a Dumble amp into a pedal.  Dumble amps are the most sought after amps in the entire world.  Used amps regularly go for over $100,000 at auctions.  

This pedal does a super good job of replicating that Incredible sound, but you won't need to sell your house to get it.  

Tommy Castro is one of the guitarists responsible for putting this pedal on the map.  He has been a big advocate for this pedal since he discovered it in 2015.  

FAQ:

What pedals do I need for blues?

The real answer is that you don't need any pedals for blues.  Often times you can get away with just using an amp and its built in overdrive.  However, if you elect to use pedals, something like an Ibanez Tube Screamer is a great place to start.

How do I get the blues tone on my guitar?

The blues tone for guitar is very simple.  Typically just a guitar plugged straight into an amp.  Maybe with a simple overdrive on top of the signal too.  The truth is that the tone of the blues is mostly in the fingers of the player.  B.B. King could make a cheap guitar and an amp sound 100 times bluesier than I could make a super expensive pro rig.

Is a Tube Screamer good for blues?

A Tube Screamer is a great option for blues guitar.  It has been used by tonnes of legends, like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Buddy Guy, and even more modern bluesmen such as Gary Clark Jr, John Mayer, and Joe Bonamassa.  

7 Best Cheap Guitar Pedals (2021 List)

best value

Mooer Envelope Filter

Lowest Priced
 

Amazon Basic's Distortion

Cheap guitar pedals that actually work well are hard to find.  Often times they just make your signal sound like absolute garbage.  There are a few exceptions though.  If you look hard enough you can find the diamonds in the rough.  The cheap guitar pedals that actually do what you want them to, and alter your sound in a pleasant way.  

For this list I will be including both ultra cheap and moderately cheaply priced pedals.  This is because sometimes you just simply cannot get the sound you want for under $50, but none of the pedals on this list will be super high priced like the Strymon Big Sky that comes in at about $500.  They will all be moderately cheap.  Something that the vast majority of people can afford.  

I will also put an emphasis on if these pedals are something that can last you for your whole life, or if they are low quality and known to break.  Because no one wants broken gear, and you are going to save yourself money by buying higher quality pedals anyway because otherwise you would likely upgrade anyway.  

We also just published an article about the best clean amps for pedals.  Click here to read!

A lot of pedals.  Best cheap guitar pedals

Must Have Guitar Pedals List

Mini Tube Screamer

7 best Cheap Guitar Pedals

The Tube Screamer is one of the best guitar pedals of all time, and is an absolute must have guitar pedal.  Guitarists like The Edge, John Mayer, Carlos Santana, Gary Clark Jr, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Steve Vai all have used one form or another of a tube screamer.  If that many of the greats have used something, you know it has to be of good quality.  

The Tube Screamer is a classic overdrive pedal.  It is often used for the dirty and gritty blues sound that people like Stevie Ray Vaughn and John Mayer are famous for.  

Why I really like the Mini Tube screamer is multi faceted.  The first reason is that its cheap.  This pedal comes in at a price that almost anyone can afford.  It is really awesome to find a pedal for a reasonable price that can be a staple in almost anyone's playing.  

The next reason is that it is nice and compact.  The Mini Tube Screamer can fit on a pedal board in the smallest of crevices.  It is really great for maximizing the amount of space you have on your board.  There are some overdrive pedals that take up 5 to 6 times the space of this one.  Why use one that big when you can get a pedal that does the same job, and lets you put more cool pedals on your board?

One thing to note about this pedal is that it is not true bypass. We explain more about true bypass, and exactly what it is in the FAQ section of this article.  

Overall though this is a very high quality pedal that comes in at an affordable price.  It can last you your whole life, and it is super small to maximize your pedal board.  One of the best cheap guitar pedals on the market.

Amazon Basic's Distortion Pedal

7 best Cheap Guitar pedals

For the price this pedal is pretty killer.  The amazon basic pedals are some of the best cheap guitar pedals on amazon.  It is probably the cheapest possible distortion pedal you can find that could actually be used as a functioning pedal.  There really isn't much to this pedal it just creates a pretty classic distortion sound.  

Some negatives I have noticed about these pedals include that sometimes the knobs don't really do much.  You can turn them all you want, but the sound doesn't really change much.  Another issue with them is that the distortion sound they create is a little muddy.  Which isn't great, but for the price is totally okay.  It really isn't that big of a deal.  

There isn't much else to say about this pedal.  For its price it absolutely get the job done.  Amazon has a whole line of these pedals and they all are pretty good.  This one in particular though is one of the two best ones.  

Amazon Basic's Delay Pedal

7 best Cheap guitar Pedals

The Amazon Basic's delay pedal runs about $15 more than their distortion pedal.  With that being said, it is still super affordable.  On the pedal it says "timer" which is a little strange.  I have never really heard that term, but it's just a delay pedal.  

All the upsides and downsides of this seem to be very similar to the upsides and downsides of the distortion pedal they offer as well.  Sometimes the knobs don't really do anything.  Because of that it is kinda just a what you see is what you get kind of pedal.  Obviously the overall quality is a little sketchy.  They are prone to issues mechanically and electrically.  

Even though they certainly have issues, you cannot really beat the price of these pedals, and of course the simplicity of them.  These things make it the best cheap delay pedal.

Dunlap Cry Baby Wah

7 best Cheap Guitar Pedals

This cry baby wah has kinda become an industry standard.  It is THE wah.  Almost every guitar player has one, and for good reason.  They are well made pedals that do their job, and they don't cost a whole lot.  This is another pedal that you won't ever really have to upgrade.  It is a top of the line product.  but yet comes in as a budget guitar pedal.

There is also a Cry Baby Mini available.  Normally the mini pedals cost less than their full sized counterpart, but that is not the case with these pedals.  The mini wah runs anywhere from $20 to $50 more depending upon where you purchase it from.  So if you are really looking to save some space on your pedal board, looking into the mini could be a good option for you.  

There isn't much unique about these pedals, they are kinda just a standard wah.  They are meant to emulate a more vintage sound.  This makes them great for emulating Hendirx's sound.  Although Jimi himself did use a Vox wah.  These wahs are able to capture his sound very well.  

Overall I think this is a super worthwhile pedal to buy.  The Dunlap Cry Baby Wah has been proven to be a great pedal year over year.  It comes in at an affordable price, and is a pedal you can use for the rest of your life.  Just a great all around wah pedal.  A very good cheap guitar pedal.

Tiny Tune Pro Stage

7 best Cheap Guitar pedals

The Tiny Tune Pro Stage guitar tuning pedal is a great cheap option for guitar players that play live, or simply want a tuning pedal for the convenience.  Every guitarist that plays any sort of live music needs a tuner pedal.  There is simply too much noise going on during a live performance to ever tune properly.  That is where a tuning pedal comes in handy.

The great thing about tuning pedals is that they are almost all relatively cheap.  This one finds itself in the midrange of prices for tuning pedals.  Even though it isn't the cheapest pedal on the market, it is still super affordable.  I always think that if you can afford the extra $15 to get something of much higher quality, you should.  That is exactly the case with this pedal.  There are cheaper alternatives, but they simply wont be as accurate or as reliable as this pedal is.  

This pedal also is true bypass which is super nice because then it won't mess with your guitar's tone at all.  

Overall this is a great tuning pedal, and almost everyone needs a tuning pedal eventually, so why not get this one?

Mooer Envelope Filter

7 best Cheap Guitar Pedals

This is about as close to a perfect effects pedal there is.  The sound it produces is so authentic to what an envelope filter.  It is actually kinda crazy the sound you get out of this pedal for its price.  The only reason this is rated as 4.5 stars instead of 5 is because it isn't true bypass, and some people a big sticklers about that.  Other than that it is the perfect weird cheap guitar pedal.

 I for one, am not always.  If you stack 8 or 9 pedals together that aren't true bypass then you will begin to see some tone loss, but just one or two in your chain isn't a big deal.  You won't experience any tone loss with just a few pedals in the chain like this.  

The sound that comes from this pedal is so funky, and is right up there in terms of quality with the Qtron.  The Qtron is an envelope filter that costs about four times as much as this pedal does, but creates almost the same exact sound.  

If you don't know what an envelope filter is, it is a type of pedal that is almost exclusively used in funk music.  They are also called auto wahs.  They create a sound that is kinda like if you very quickly pushed your toe down on a wah, and then lifted it back up again.  I will link a video below so you can better understand what an envelope filter does.  

Donner Compressor Pedal

7 BEST CHEAP GUITAR PEDALS

The Donner Compressor Pedal is a run of the mill, standard, compressor pedal.  Some people tend to be a little confused as to what a compressor pedal does, so I'll explain.

A compressor pedal simply takes your low volumes and boosts them a little bit, while taking your higher volumes and lowering them a little bit.  This makes your playing much more dynamically consistent, so they aren't crazy loud things, and super quiet things happening within your playing.  

Many people like compressors while soloing because it brings the lower volumes up.  This makes notes ring out longer which is a really cool, but simple effect for solos. 

This pedal is a true bypass pedal which is pretty sweet for such a low priced pedal.  We explain true bypass more below in the FAQ section.

FAQ:

7 BEST CHEAP GUITAR PEDALS

What is a True Bypass Pedal?

A true bypass pedal is a pedal that does not use a buffer to alter the signal coming from the guitar when the pedal is not engaged.  

Buffers are used in pedals because the guitar outputs a high impedance signal while the effect pedal likes low impedance signals.  So pedals have whats called a buffer within them to alter the signal.   The buffer changes the signal from high impedance to low impedance.  This allows the pedal to work.  

True bypass pedals are seen to be more desirable because they wont alter the guitar's sound at all while the pedal in disengaged.  

They also tend to be more expensive though.  True bypass pedals are more expensive because for the pedal to be true bypass the circuitry has to be done in a way so that the buffer comes after the switch.  This typically requires more complicated work, and more expensive parts.  

In non true bypass pedals the circuit goes like this:  Input to buffer to switch to the effect circuit to the output.  This means that the buffer is always on, and always altering your guitar's sound.

In a true bypass pedal the circuit goes like this: Input to switch to buffer to effect circuit to output.  This way if the switch is not activated the signal will bypass the buffer, and the guitar's sound will not be altered.  

What should be your first guitar pedal?

This really depends on what type of music you like to play.  However, the most common is a drive pedal.  Something like an Ibanez Tube Screamer or a Boss Blues Driver would both be great first pedals.

This is because they are pedals that can be used in so many different genres.  Also they are both high quality pedals that can last you for your whole life.  

A drive pedal is also just an exciting pedal to get.  Something like a compressor is awesome and super useful, but it isn't a very exciting pedal.  You turn it on and now your louds are just a little quieter, and you quiets are just a little louder.  Not too grand.  A drive pedal though is super exciting.  It completely transforms the sound into something super different and cool.

That's why I think a great first pedal to start off with is a drive pedal.  

Are cheap guitar pedals worth it?

For a beginner they are a great way to explore tonnes of different sounds without having to spend a lot of money.  Because of that I would say yes.  However, if you are an experienced guitar player that is looking to get pieces for your rig that are permanent.  I wouldn't recommend going for cheap guitar pedals.

You want to buy high quality items that create the best sounds, and will last you a very long time.  Although it can kinda suck to pay $200-$400 for a simple pedal, if you want the highest quality gear, you'll need to.  With that said, affordable quality guitar pedals are not impossible to find.

Conclusion

7 Best cheap guitar pedals

Cheap guitar pedals are an awesome tool for beginners or someone that just wants to dip their toes into new sounds.  You can find every effect under the sun for under $100 as long as you look hard enough.

We hope we were able to help you find a pedal that you like.  Let us know in the comments below.