Best Effects Pedal for Synths

Looking for an effective effects pedal for your synthesizer? As guitar playing has evolved so has the increase in pedal models on the market. This can make picking the best effects pedal for synths pretty overwhelming—especially if you’re a beginner.

Some work well with keyboards while others are more compatible with synths. So how do you purchase the correct one? Ultimately the pedal you want has to have the correct input levels. This means regardless of the distortion input your synth must still produce a clear sound.

Also, you need to ensure the one you pick matches your preferred style of music. Is it digital, analog or hybrid?

If you’re unsure which one to buy, have a look at our recommendations below. You might find one that suits your needs.

BOSS RE 20Space Echo Pedal

Are you familiar with the famous Roland RE 201 space echo effects? Boss has recreated it with this unit while staying true to the original analog tone. This brand has taken one of the best sounds ever produced and modified it for an even better musical experience. The model is best known for its echo effects that will take your guitar sound to another level.

The RE 201’s tape flutter and magnetic head sound saturation has also been modelled to sound even better.

One of the pedal’s impressive and convenient attributes is the tap input functionality. This feature allows your foot to set the delay time. With this version you can enjoy longer delay time compared to the original RE 201.

It features controls and parameters for easier operation. These include repeat, rate and intensity. With these options you can tweak, adjust and replay the sound till it suits your preference.

The unit weighs only 3.3lb making it very lightweight in case you want to carry it to gigs.

You can either plug it in via the jack or use it with batteries—which unfortunately don’t last long. Though batteries are included, it doesn’t come with a plug or cord. If you decide to connect to a power source, you’ll need a standard 9V power adapter.

Note this model doesn’t work well with any bass guitars as it’s specifically designed for normal guitars. Bass output will just be too much for this particular model. However, it works quite well with the electric guitar by replicating the sounds to perfection.

You might experience issues regarding the tone output as it tends to suck all the tone out of your signal. To curb this, avoid plugging it in a daisy chain with other pedals. Rather plug it into its own source for optimum results.

Pros

  • Best delay effect
  • Easy to operate
  • Built in tap tempo

Cons

  • No switching mechanism on the reverb
  • Expensive for a single purpose guitar
  • Short battery life

MXR M101 Phase 90

MXR has been a manufacturer of music instruments for decades and is well known for its quality pedals. The M101 Phase 90 is no exception. Its versatility makes it work with different music genres be it rock or jazz. Also, it’s compatible with a number of instruments such as guitar, bass or strings.

This pedal introduces a rich and warm analog tone to either compliment or enhance your tone palette. It adds a shimmery velocity and dramatic dynamics to your tone. This model also allows you to dial in the exact tone you want which is pretty useful.

It features a timeless phase shifter which can be used on many classic recordings—particularly Van Halen. This unit runs either on a single 9V battery or AC adapter. However, note these batteries aren’t included in the package.

It comes in a bright orange color making it visibly appealing. Like all MXM pedals which are lightweight this one also features a small and compact design. However, this is in no way a reflection on its quality and performance. On the contrary, it’s quite a solid and durable device.

You might like that this unit eliminates the volume boost when it’ turned on plus the sound effect is smoother.

It’ll work great for the beginner guitarist as it’s pretty simple to use and sounds great. You can control the speed with your foot while playing. This makes it easier to adjust it till it produces your desired sound effect. Plus, this means you can experiment with different sounds.

If appearance matters, you’ll find the multi-color design visually appealing. To top it off, a device with such impressive features definitely comes at such an affordable price.

Overall this pedal is a favorite of many and will make a great addition to your pedal chain.

Pros

  • Solid construction
  • Accurate phasing
  • Simple to operate
  • Very affordable
  • Good sound resolution
  • Simple and compact
  • Deep rich tone

Cons

  • Cuts high ends off

Eventide Space Reverb Pedal

Here we have pedal that features not one, not two but 12 combination effects. If you’re a beginner this is a pedal worth considering because it lets you experiment with different sounds. And the best part is they’re all available in this compact device which is easy to carry around.

Though it’s quite small the size in no way matches the performance. This nifty device produces quality studio sound. It features a collection of reverb sounds combined with a wide variety of spatial effects.

These include anything from delays, modulation to tremolo and pitch shifting. Plus, you get all these combinations at a very affordable price. Apart from applying it to guitar tracks you can also use it with drums, synthesizers –even entire mixes.

Also, you’ll find that it excels best in ambient and spacey sounds. The device allows you to adjust the settings while playing.

The Space includes 100 presets including those produced by Flood and Alan Moulder to mention a few. With so many presets, you will get endless possibilities to improve your musical journey.

Also, you’ll like that it comes with a USB for all your software updates. You’re guaranteed to be in tune with all the latest music versions and trends if you pick this device.

Weighing only five pounds you can see that it’s quite compact. Plus, the black color means it’s likely to blend with your musical instruments.

Pros

  • Extremely versatile
  • Compact
  • Affordable price
  • Robust and durable
  • Solid construction
  • Not noisy

Cons

  • May sound too digital
  • Too complex for Jazz performers
  • Parameter changes when pedal is idle

Boss SYB-5 Bass Synthesizer Pedal

This pedal was designed using the latest in DSP technology. As a result, it reproduces the familiar sounds reminiscent of the classic analog synthesizers.

The external pedal in jack allows for LFO rate control so you can connect it to an expression pedal. This feature helps you control the cut off and LFO rate using your foot. However, note the expression pedal is sold separately.

It provides you with 11 synth sounds which have been modified and refined to produce an even better cutting sound. You’ll find they’re made using variations of three oscillator waves namely the saw, pulse and square.

The pedal has filters that modulate the sound according to the envelopes and LFO changes you apply. For such a small pedal you’d be amazed how powerful the synth bass it produces.

It comes with two sound outputs: A and B. With output B you get direct sound which produces a cleaner and processed signal.

You can also enjoy enhanced playability thanks to the external control. To enjoy the best sound, make sure you separate the notes you’re playing.

To operate it effectively you must use it with a dry 9V battery. We’d however recommend you get a power adapter because the battery won’t last long.

Initially you might find it tricky to operate especially getting the right sound. Understanding the individual settings might be pretty confusing. However, it comes with a simple to understand manual to aid in your operation.

Though it produces a wide range of tones it requires some degree of precision when playing. Either that or the tracking won’t pick up any subtle sounds.

Pros

  • Multiple settings for different sounds
  • Manual easy to understand
  • Solid build
  • Impressive range of tones
  • Reasonably priced

Cons

  • Short battery life
  • Difficult to use initially

Electro Harmonix Blurst Modulated Filter Pedal

This model was designed with the adventurous guitarist and bassist in mind. Unsure what exactly this Blurst is? It’s a modulating filter which is an effect used on synths.

The model also has three EXP modes namely the range, rate and filter. Like most pedals the modes are controlled using the expression pedal. You can also control it with the control voltage source or CV sequencer.

The frequency range of the filter’s modulation is set using the range knob. Also, it features a blend control which is designed to adjust the dry or filtered signal mix.

It’s quite a versatile unit as you can use it on its own or with other effects. You can control the range, rate and filter of this device by using an expression pedal. Note however, this pedal is sold separately. But we’d highly recommend you get it if you want more control during live settings.

You can also consider getting a compressor pedal to tame the Blurst and q balls for a better sound. On its own the range of the sound when paired with the q balls is slightly overwhelming.

This product modulates your axe’s sound, pretty much like an envelope filter. The only difference is this particular unit is controlled by the internal oscillator—not how you play.

You can set the modulation rate by using the rate knob. It can also be set using a combination of the tap footswitch and tap divide via the toggle switch. As a result, you’ll get three possible rhythms: quarter, dotted eight and triplet rhythms.

Another feature you’ll find useful is the analog low pass filter which comes with adjustable resonance. It has three modulation waveform shapes namely the triangle, rising and falling saw tooth. The pedal also has a tap tempo with a tap divide.

Regarding the build, it’s well made and will last you long. It weighs approximately 1.54lb making it lightweight and compact. Also, it’s quite attractive thanks to its vibrant color.

It requires 9V batteries to function, but they’re not included in the package. If you’re going to connect it to a power source, make sure it has a 200mA power supply.

Pros

  • Sturdy build
  • Vibrant design
  • Versatile
  • Can be used with other effects
  • Works better with expression pedal
  • Compact design

Cons

  • Doesn’t come with power code
  • Expression pedal sold separately

Conclusion

We have no doubt you’ll find one that matches your needs from the above recommendations. They all have the necessary features to aid in creating the right sound effects, of particular importance being the expression pedal.

The best effects pedal for synths will enable you to use your foot to control the different parameters. As a result, your hands are free to play the synth. Also, though they’re battery operated we’d recommend you connect it to a power source. This is because playing them requires a lot of power. That’s why you might have noticed most of them run through the batteries quickly.

Ultimately the one you want is the pedal which will provide you with quality studio effects. From the above, in our opinion we’d pick the MXR M101 Phase 90. Apart from its versatility you can use it with a number of instruments. Plus, it works with different genres giving you good sound resolution. But then again that’s our opinion; What’s yours?

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