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2014’s Best Boutique Guitar Pedals

by Shane Mehling
music & audio

best guitar pedals of 2014

No guitar/bass pedal is going to make you a better musician. But they sure are a lot of fun. And in the hands (or under the feet) of someone who knows what they’re doing, these four new slabs of electronics can do some amazing things the second you plug in. Note: Videos and samples are linked to each one so you don’t just have to take our word for it.

Fuzzrocious- Afterlife

This company is run by a husband and wife, and their two little kids. That’s the whole staff, which means it may take some time for a pedal to make it your door. But their entire line is worth the wait. Their Afterlife Reverb packs a lot of variation in only four knobs, and can give you just a little wetness or push all the way into a haunting echo, and even gets an amazing noisy oscillation. And if you like pedals that look cool as well, Fuzzrocious handpaints each one. You can get a standard skull with burning eyes, a custom paint job or choose to have one of their kids do it.

EarthQuaker- Hoof Reaper

This combo fuzz pedal allows you to get that meaty retro sound and an amp-rattling buzz, with an additional octave up. Handmade in Akron, OH, the Hoof Reaper is the company Frankensteining together two of their most cherished pedals, allowing all three choices to work independently with quick switchovers, but also the true treat of having them work together for something raunchy enough to make your parents blush. This was available for a limited time years ago, and we think it will once again be hard to get a hold of this thing, so be vigilant.

Dwarfcraft- Memento

The craftiest pedal company on this list, everything these guys put out is a piece of art. And they also have some very outlandish ideas of how pedals should work, especially when it comes to Memento, the very first kill switch that isn’t just practical but incredibly cool. Of course, a kill switch is exactly what it sounds like — it kills the signal while you’re playing to either cut out one amp or your whole sound. And while there are plenty of bands who use the kill switch to create rhythms, they also have to continually stomp on the thing. Memento will actually loop your kill pattern and completely frees up your foot. Oh, and you can also double and quadruple the loop pattern. It is bonkers.

Trogotronic- m679

Okay, this isn’t exactly a guitar pedal. In fact, you don’t need to plug anything into it. As an analog instrument, all you need to do is send it to an amp and you can make noise. And we mean noise. Go ahead and listen to what this thing is capable of with just a few knob twiddles and a streak of masochism. But that doesn’t mean your six-string has to collect dust. This is still capable of being used as a destructive distortion pedal if you dare to run something through it and see what comes out the other side.

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Shane Mehling

Shane Mehling is a freelance writer and editor who plays in noiserock bands.