How to choose?
When we start to play guitar plugging straight into the amp is great but most discover quickly that there are so many sounds out there that can be added with a effects pedal, but where to start? I want to talk about some of the basic effects groups.
Distortion / Overdrive
This is usually the first type of pedal new guitarists try. My first pedal was an old Fuzz Face.
There are so many flavors out there. Overdrives typically are more subtle sounding than distortion pedals. They are designed to give you the sound of a tube amp pushed too hard. Overdrives are great for Blues, Country and many Classic rock sounds.
Distortions will kick things up a notch, giving you more gain and many times a much “harder” sound. The Distortion pedal is great for Hard Rock and Metal.
Delay is an echo effect which is to say it automatically repeats the note that you have just played. Most delay pedals have at least 2 controls, Time and Repeats. The time control determines the length of time between the repeats and the Repeat control will adjust how many times the note repeats. There are many ways you can use the delay from a subtle doubling sound by setting the time to a quick setting and the repeats all the way off to wild and crazy effects with a long delay time and more repeats. The Edge from U2 is a mast of the delay, just listen to “Where the Streets Have No Name”.
A Chorus pedal is a great way to fatten up your sound. The Chorus Effect will work with both clean and distorted sounds. My favorite sound is a clean tone with chorus. The Chorus can provide a lush sound by first doubling the sound like and echo and then detuning the signal. You can almost sound like 2 guitars!
Hopefully this will give you a good start in deciding what type of sounds you are looking for. The most important things are to experiment and most of all have Fun!