I firmly believe that you should get to know the gear you already own inside and out.
There’s always that one feature you haven’t totally explored—or a new sample pack to pop into your old MPC and stir up the creative juices.
But I also know that urge… sometimes what you really need is a new toy.
The world of audio effects is an infinite (and sometimes downward spiral) of possibilities. It’s easy to get lost.
But the fun part is surfing through the sea of effects pedals to find your perfect match.
Effects Pedals Everywhere
The audio effects pedal ‘scene’ is enjoying an exciting moment.
There’s heaps of new boutique pedals companies crafting unique, hand-made stompboxes. It’s a great time to have GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) and get creative with your bass or guitar tone. But the fun doesn’t have to end at just guitars.
As a synth enthusiast, I’ve adopted a modular approach to effects pedals. I get cheap analog synths—like the Volca Bass—and mangle the hell out of my sound with a chain of pedals.
It’s a DIY approach that spares you money and keeps things exciting. It makes for unique sounds and infinite creative possibilities—far cheaper than building an elaborate modular synth rack.
And when it comes to finding that sound you’ve been searching for, weird is always better than plain. So here’s 10 of our favourite unconventional audio effects pedals to add to your pedalphernalia.
Pachulator 8000 by BoredBrain
What is it: the Pachulator 8000 is a pedal patchbay.
Once you know this exists you won’t believe you’ve gone your whole life without it—it’s genius! the Pachulator allows you to get the most out of your pedal board.
Reorder audio effects easily, swap effects between instruments and get experimental with your signal flow.
Unique feature: Turns your effects pedals rig into a patchable modular set up.
Watch the Pachulator 8000 in action below. Find out more about it here.
Moby Depth by Jonny Rock Gear
What is it: Moby Depth is a reverb effect pedal that takes your tone deep under the sea.
Unique Feature: It’s got a ‘Regen’ switch and knob that let you feed the effect back into itself and control how you do it.
It’s also got a Send-Return FX loop—it allows you to run another effect straight through this pedal.
Watch the Moby Depth go deep on the ‘verb below. Learn more about it here.
Randy’s Revenge by Fairfield Circuitry
What is it: Randy’s Revenge is a superbly musical analog ring modulator.
It’s got a Voltage Controlled Oscillator (Square or Sine) that you control with the HI/LO switch.
In the LO territory you get rich tremolo/vibe. In the HI zone, it’ll give you bell and synthesizer timbres. It’s also got a frequency knob that allows you to set the rate and frequency of the oscillator.
The Low-Pass Filter knob lets you shape the color of your sound.
Unique Feature: This ring mod is almost an instrument in its own right. With the Frequency, LPF and Mix controls this effect ranges from subtle to strange—with lots of unpredictable sounds along the way.
Watch the Randy’s Revenge doing its thing below. Find out more about it here.
Frazz Dazzler by Dr Scientist
What is it: The Frazz Dazzler is a fuzz pedal from outer space—and you’re in control of the spaceship. But beware, the universe is full of uncharted territory…
This pedal’s got plenty of knobs for you to customize your sound: three-band EQ, Mix, Gain, Volts (controls how much juice the circuit gets) and Volume.
Unique feature: The Volts knobs allows you to glitch the circuit and get blips and gated fuzz tones.
Watch the Frazz Dazzler dazzle in the video below. Find out more about it here.
Rainbow Machine by Earthquaker Devices
What is it: The Rainbow Machine is a polyphonic pitch mesmerizer. Excuse me?
This stompbox uses digital oscillators and real-time pitch shifting to achieve polyphonic harmonies as well as wild unexpected sounds (the best kind).
Earthquaker Devices warns you: “This one is for experimenters, adventurists and noisemakers. Totally not for purists and/or tone hounds, there are no “natural sounds” that will come from this box.” Sign me up!
Unique feature: The Rainbow Machine is unlike any pitch shifter you’ve heard. The Magic knob adds unpredictable pitch dives, delays, choruses, noises and trails.
Watch the Rainbow Machine make magic below. Find out more about it here.
Particle by Red Panda
What is it: Particle is a granular delay and pitch shifting pedal.
Red Panda—the makers of Particle—explain how it works in simple terms: “It chops your signal into small grains and then does various strange, trippy, robot things to it, using the techniques of granular synthesis in real-time.”
This gives you everything from pitch and delay effects to stuttering and glitchy sounds.
Unique feature: Particle is the first time this concept was brought to the guitar pedal world. The result is a totally creative take on the traditional delay effect. DAW wizards may be familiar with granular synthesis—think Ableton Live’s Granulator plugin.
Watch the Particle demo video below. Find out more about it here.
Geiger Counter by WMD
What is it: Geiger Counter is a bit crusher with a ton of creative options.
This bit crushing pedal contains an analog preamp with Gain and Tone control. Your signal runs through an 8-bit computer that controls the Sample Rate and Bit Depth.
This micro-computer applies math to give you colourful crunchy tones.
Unique feature: The Geiger Counter includes a Wave Table modulator with 252 settings to add some truly unorthodox harmonic content.
Watch the Geiger Counter crush some bits below. Find out more about it here.
Dream Sequence by Hologram
It lets you build rhythmic sequences, automate knobs, make chord sustains, apply modulations and lots more. It comes with analog drive and tone that you control digitally. It lets you save presets. It also has MIDI. It’s somewhere between an effects pedal and a synth!
Unique feature: This box brings a powerful synth workflow and sound to your instruments. A sequencer for arpeggios? An analog drive? The ability to save knob movements? That’s so dreamy!
Watch the Dream Sequence in action below. Find out more about it here.
The Crazynator by Simon the Magpie
What is it: The Crazynator is the weirdest pedal of the bunch.
It’s the brainchild of Simon Magpie—a kooky Swedish DIY experimenter. He made the Crazynator by circuit-bending a toy and turning it into an effect pedal.
It’s essentially a lo-fi distortion effect pedal with some pitch-shifting. Your sound will range from space sitar to robot drinking bubble tea.
Unique feature: It features an upside down light bulb that works as a touch switch. Depending on what settings you have on, it’ll modulate the signal in the wildest imaginable ways.
Your sound will get a buzzy, bubbly, and synth-like feel—a true blessing for the experimental guitarist and synth player!
Watch the Crazynator go wild below. Find out more about it here.
Cassette Tape Echo by Onde Magnetique
What is it: the Cassette Tape Echo is a tape echo effect. When I say tape echo, I really mean it—it’s a full on tape player!
It’s made by Onde Magnetique who also created the OM-1, a limited-run analog cassette synthesizer. Their little tape echo box is unfortunately already sold out, but keep an eye out for it on Craigslist… or make your own?
Unique Feature: It uses a real cassette!
Find out more about the Cassette Tape Echo here.
Bonus: Knobs YouTube Channel
Meet the YouTube channel that will fuel all your pedal dreams.
If you’ve been watching the effects pedals demos so far, you’ll notice a lot of them are made by Knobs. This channel is a gold mine!
Their reviews are well recorded and beautifully shot. No unnecessary guitar shreds where guitar shreds are NOT due… Dig in and get absorbed in the wonderful world of pedals. Don’t forget to eat.
Watch all the Knobs videos here.
Pedals for Days
Creating a unique sound starts with curiosity for unconventional tools.
Whether you’re a guitar player, bass player, synthesist or sonic experimenter, these unconventional pedals will get you to places you’ve never been before.
Adopt a modular approach to your guitar or synth sound—and save a few precious bucks while you’re at it.
Nowadays the world of boutique guitar pedals has plenty of creative options for the sonic adventurer. Sure, they’re not always cheap. But well-made pedals rarely lose value.
When you get tired of one, you can always resell it. Plus, the artisans behind today’s coolest pedal workshops often make their boxes by hand.
That means you’re encouraging local innovation and craft—nice one!