Getting the right tone out of your guitar can be a long process. It takes a lot of experience to know exactly what you are going for. The cool thing is, there are many different ways to adjust the sound of your guitar and fine tune it to perfection.
One of the most popular ways is with, well, the tone knobs, as well as the pickups. Usually, these controls will do the job. For those who want to take their tone control to the next level, this is where EQ pedals come into play.
These pedals are made to act like your standard equalizers, abling you to hone in on different frequencies and get the most out of your guitar.
Let’s dive in and check out some of the best EQ pedals on the market and what makes one better than the next.
If we had to pick our favorites, we’d have to go with the and respectively. Pick one of these bad boys up, and you’ll be on the road to glorious guitar tone in no time!
The MXR 108S is easily the most versatile graphic EQ's out there for both guitar and bass. The noise-reduction circuitry, true bypass design, and stereo output give the edge above all other graphic equalizers on the market.
The Orange Custom Shop Bangeetar goes far beyond shaping frequencies. This highly-versatile stompbox gives you the ability to add a range of overdriven and distorted tones, as well as dial in a warm, analog tone, reminiscent of high-quality Orange Amplifiers.
Graphic Vs. Parametric
What are Graphic EQ’s?
Most EQs that you have seen in the world are most likely graphic equalizers. They are known as graphic EQs, as they give you multiple frequency bands that you can adjust using sliders. The sliders are typically marked with different frequency values so that you can adjust with ease.
Graphic EQs are great, as they allow you to hone in on a frequency and easily adjust it. There aren’t any abstractions, meaning they are simple to modify in high-stress situations, aka playing on a dimly-lit stage.
Unfortunately, they aren’t the most accurate. When you cut a frequency, let’s say 150 Hz, you actually end up cutting that and a few other frequencies around it. The more bands you have on your graphic EQ, the more accurate.
What are Parametric EQ’s?
Parametric equalizers are a bit more complicated when compared to graphic EQs, though they do provide you with far more control. You typically get access to multiple parameters, including the level, bandwidth, Q, etc., though it depends on the model that you are using.
For many guitar players, parametric EQs might seem like added stress. If you’re looking to shape your EQ roughly, you might want to stick with a graphic equalizer. If you want to dig in as much as possible, a parametric EQ might be best.
Whether you get a parametric or graphic equalizer, you’ll have different levels of tweakability. Graphic EQs will often start around 3 bands and go up to 10 bands. Parametric EQs are a bit more versatile in the frequencies, though the tweakability lies in the Q and the other parameters.
Size of the Pedal
While size is always an important factor to consider when you’re buying a guitar pedal, it is absolutely critical when purchasing an EQ pedal.
Think about how often you’ll be adjusting your equalizer. Sometimes having a big delay or reverb pedal is nice, as you are constantly changing settings. When it comes to your EQ, you might set it once and be done with it. Do you want a pedal like that to take up serious real estate? Probably not.
From sliders to knobs and beyond, there are a ton of different ways to control an EQ pedal.
If there are lots of controls on a smaller interface, it might make it a bit more challenging to control, especially if you are playing on a dimly lit stage.
If you’re someone who yearns for convenience, make sure to consider the interface and how it might feel in your hands.
Top 5 Graphic EQ Pedals
|# Of Bands||10||7||7||7||5|
|Boost||(+/-) 12 dB||(+/-) 15 dB||(+/-) 15 dB||(+/-) 15 dB||(+/-) 18 dB|
|Range||31.25 kHz – 16 kHz||100 Hz – 6.4 kHz||100 Hz – 6.4 kHz||100 Hz – 6.4 kHz||100 Hz – 4 kHz|
Best Graphic EQ Overall
If you’re looking for the most versatile graphic EQ around, the MXR 108S Ten Band EQ is a top contender. This equalizer comes complete with noise-reduction circuitry for completely silent operation, as well as bright LEDs that allow you to view the interface better when you are playing in dimly lit venues.
There are two outputs on the pedal, giving you the option to run multiple signal chains. It is entirely true bypass in design and the frequency bands range run wide, all the way from 31.25 Hz to 16 kHz, each allowing you to boost or cut up to 12 dB. Your sculpting possibilities are near endless.
You’ll be happy to know that this pedal is also built like a tank, which is great because it costs a pretty penny. You could take it out on tour without worrying if it will survive or not.
While this pedal is made for guitar mainly, it can also suit anyone looking for an EQ for their bass.
Bottom Line: The MXR 108S is pretty much the most versatile graphic EQ around. The double output and true bypass features act as the cherry on top of the already glorious interface.
Unless you have been living under a rock, you probably know about Boss and their extensive line of pedals. Their pedals take care of just about anything that you could think of, including their 7-Band Graphic EQ – it’s been one of the tops on the market for quite some time now.
For starters, you get the durable and tour-worthy Boss enclosure that is built like an absolute tank. You’ll be able to take it all over the world without worrying about abuse.
In terms of parameters, you get seven bands to mess with, as well as a master level. The bands run from 100 Hz up to 6.4 kHz, more than enough to dial in that perfect tone.
Beyond that, there is a boost function onboard that gives you up to 15 dB in gain. You’ll be able to push your amp into serious overdrive, essentially making this just as much a boost pedal as an EQ.
Bottom Line: The Boss GE-7 is one of the most versatile graphic EQs on the market, giving you the ability to hone in on your tone more than any other graphic EQ that is out there.
Best Budget Graphic EQ
You get a wide frequency range to work with, moving from 100 Hz all the way to 16 kHz, great for guitar. There is a small status LED on the front that gives you info on the battery, as it runs with both 9V batteries and a cord. The stompbox design is very much like something you would see from a Boss pedal.
One of the downsides to this pedal is that some people seem to complain of noise and hiss, meaning we probably wouldn’t recommend it for recording. However, if you play in a rock band and need something for gigs, it shouldn’t be an issue.
Bottom Line: If you’re just starting out in the world of EQs, this is easily one of the best choices around. It’s inexpensive, easy to use, and it doesn’t take up very much space on your pedalboard.
It’s not often that we see pedals from Danelectro, though this EQ pedal is so special that we just had to put it on our list.
While it isn’t top-of-the-line by any means, it does deliver exactly what you need in a simple EQ with a price that won’t burn a hole in your wallet. While you might be thrown off by the funky interface at first, as well as the weirdly lightweight design, you’ll love the fact that it delivers a pure and powerful performance that doesn’t lack quality at all.
There are 7 different bands to work with, each of which is controlled by high-quality sliders. At the end of the pedal, you get an added slider for the overall level, giving you the ability to boost your signal at the end. The bands boost and cut by +/- 15 dB, giving you a pretty wide range to work with.
Even at the low price and seemingly comical build, it’s completely noise-free, meaning you don’t have to worry about that annoying hiss that can come from cheap pedals.
Bottom Line: Danelectro has hit it out of the park with their 7-band EQ. It’s incredibly portable, has a unique design, and works seamlessly, providing you with precisely what you need to shape your tone with ease.
The Tom’s Line 5-Band EQ is all about portability. This miniature EQ pedal comes complete with a tiny interface, an even smaller level knob, and a handy 5-band slider operation.
One thing to love about this pedal is how pure it sounds. Thanks to the high-quality IC chip that is on the inside, it operates completely noise and distortion-free, even when you boost hard. Speaking of boosting hard, you get +/- 18 dB to work with, ranging from 100Hz to 4kHz, plenty for such a small equalizer.
The small level knob on top gives you simple, overall control of the entire level. All of this comes on an interface that is about ⅔ the size of your iPhone. The bright blue casing is gorgeous, as well as incredibly durable, making it perfect for touring guitarists.
Beyond that, it is also true bypass, only in use when you want it to be.
Bottom Line: If your biggest concern is size, the Tom’s Line 5-Band EQ is one of the best mini EQs on the market. It has a prime sound and a simple interface that gets the job done.
Top 5 Parametric EQ Pedals
|Brand||Orange Custom||Tech 21||Orange||Empress||EarthQuaker Devices|
|# of Bands||3||4||2||3||3|
|Extra Controls||OD + Distortion (Cab Sim)||LPF + HPF||N/A||N/A||N/A|
Best Parametric EQ Overall
If you love Orange amplifiers, you’ll love this pedal. Hell, even if you hate Orange amplifiers you’ll love this pedal.
This traditional stompbox EQ is packed with extensive EQ controls and an incredibly versatile gain structure that allows you to dial in some seriously impressive musical tones.
Beyond that, you also have the option to dial in a bit of distortion and overdrive, something rarely found in equalizer pedals. Better yet, the overdrive and distortion sound incredible, helping you to kill two birds with one stone.
You get an array of controls to mess with, including volume, Q, mid, bottom, top, and gain, allowing you to hone in on specific frequencies or make wide boosts and cuts that are more natural.
The pedal is buffered bypass and comes with a tank-like chassis that can handle the trials and tribulations of the road.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a pedal that goes beyond EQ, the Orange Custom Shop Bangeetar is one of the best around. The overdrive and boost features are top-notch, and the frequency manipulation is wildly versatile.
Vintage Gear is really starting to make a comeback these days. That’s probably why Tech 21 put out their Q-Strip EQ and Preamp pedal, which models the EQ and Preamps found on consoles of the 60s and 70s.
This equalizer is completely hand-wired, giving you warmth, girth, and punch, that you’ll recognize instantly from the sounds of that area. The cool thing about it is, it is modern in usability and design.
This analog pedal uses high-quality MOSFET circuitry and four bands of studio-grade equalizer that takes influence from old-school, tone-shaping circuits. You can even record your guitar using this as a DI box and get a sound that is one of the warmest direct tones you’ve ever heard.
On the interface, you get two parametric mid bands, as well as a high and low shelf filter. It works from 40 Hz up to 6 kHz, meaning you can use it for bass guitar, or to just get rid of the mud in the low end of your guitar.
Bottom Line: If you’re a sucker for vintage gear and want to be able to take that sound with you everywhere you play, we highly recommend checking out the Tech 21 Q-Strip EQ. It’s essentially a console strip in a stompbox.
Best Budget Parametric EQ
Looking for an EQ pedal that provides you with the utmost simplicity? You’ll love the Two Stroke from Orange Amps.
This Boost EQ is an excellent tool for tuning your sound and pushing your amplifier to the limits. With a simple, two-band interface, you can completely re-voice the tone of your guitar to fit your needs.
The highs crank up beautifully to cut through a mix, and the lows are attenuated nicely, something that you don’t often hear with standard boost pedals.
The pedal comes with a pump circuit that increases the overall headroom, providing you with a lot of room to play loud and proud. The design helps to eliminate noise and distortion that is found in many cheap EQ pedals too. You’ll notice only a few knobs onboard, one of our favorites being the “Oil” knob, which helps to boost the level by 12 dB. Beyond that, you can work from 120 Hz to 8.2 kHz, a pretty wide range considering the fact that there are only two frequency knobs.
Bottom Line: There is something to be said about the smoothness and simplicity of this pedal. Though it is an EQ at heart, it acts like an amplifier, giving you a musical and high-quality sound that you won’t find elsewhere.
Have you set your sights on the holy grail of EQ pedals? Yes, the Empress ParaEQ might sound like it was built for royalty, and it may look like it too, though it is on the market for all of us boutique pedal lovers to enjoy.
It provides you with a tone that is both warm and fat without interfering with the overall tone of your guitar. It also helps to get rid of noise and hiss that may come from the other pedals on your board.
There are 3 different bands to manipulate, as well as whopping 30 dB of boost power, allowing you to seriously overdrive your tube amp if you desire.
If you’re looking for that clean and pristine sound, you’ll be happy to know that this pedal gives you only .03% distortion, less than almost any other equalizer pedal on the market. That fact makes it excellent for recording situations.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for an EQ pedal to bring into the studio with you for that high-quality, analog sound, the Empress ParaEQ is the best around. It provides you with breathtaking quality and an incredible amount of gain.
EarthQuaker Devices is relatively new in the world of pedals, though they make some of the most desirable effects out there right now. We love this parametric EQ because of its simplicity. Don’t let it fool you though, as it is actually a hybrid of two popular guitar effects, an EQ and boost.
You can also do quite a bit of shaping, more than you might think, even after a first glance at the simple Treble, Mid, and Bass controls.
With over 20 dB to work with, you can adjust your tone with complete musicality, giving you a warm and natural tone while you add or take away the frequencies in mind. There is certainly a bit of overlap between them too.
At the end of the signal chain, you get a big level knob that lets you boost the entire pedal, allowing you to drive the signal pretty hard into your amp.
Bottom Line: If you’re in the market for simplicity and warmth, the Earthquaker Devices Tone Job V2 is the candidate for the job. The tone is gorgeous and the interface is very user-friendly, perfect for performance.
We hope that this article has inspired you during your search for a guitar equalizer pedal. Whether you go the graphic or parametric route is totally up to you, though we would recommend a graphic EQ if you are starting out, as they are cheaper and easier to understand
If we had to pick our favorites, we’d have to go with the MXR 108S Ten Band EQ and Orange Custom Shop Bangeetar Pre-EQ respectively. Pick one of these bad boys up, and you’ll be on the road to glorious guitar tone in no time!