Amplified guitars first appeared on the music scene with the Big Band era during the 1930s. In order for guitarists to be able to emulate the sweet sounds of the horns that were the stars of this type of music, many guitars featured built in sound effects. Rickenbacker debuted a Spanish guitar that featured a series of pulleys that allowed the player to create a vibrato effect. During the 1940s, the first standalone effect -- a kind of tremolo -- was created by DeArmond. The 1950s saw amplifiers evolve so that many of them featured effects built right in such as tremolo, echo, reverb and vibrato. These guitar effects were used to produce the slap-back effect that is now part of classic rock 'n' roll. Watkins Copicat, a tape-based echo unit, was typical of the ones used during the early 1960s that were prominent in British beat rock. Once the transistor became readily available during the sixties, engineers were able to created affordable effects that could stand alone. The 1970s signaled an explosion of this market that continues to thrive today due to its many innovations.
There are a number of different types of guitar effects. The following provides a basic rundown of few different options available.