Equipboard was founded in 2013, and is the largest database of music artists and
the gear they use. The founders of this site - Michael Pierce and Giulio Chiarenza -
are gear geeks who are on a mission to test out as much music gear as possible,
helping you find the best musical instruments and equipment for your money. Read more about our review process here.
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The Rolls-Royce of EQ pedals, the Empress ParaEQ is an EQ pedal for those that demand the absolute best. It comes with a premium price tag, but it's well worth it for the versatility and build quality it offers. Buy this EQ pedal and keep it for life!
The Boss GE-7 is a stalwart pedal and a fantastic addition to any pedalboard. Simple, works well, built like a tank. Sure, it introduces a bit of a hissing sound to your signal. Luckily an easy mod will fix that issue (and improve this pedal in every way).
An EQ (short for Equalizer) pedal is tricky to shop for. It also generally takes a bit of a backseat to other pedals in terms of fun factor when shopping for one. Why is that? Well, we’ve heard guitarists say EQ is not really an effect. We think that’s a very unfair and incorrect assessment. It is very much an effect, and a massively important one! An Equalizer pedal shapes the very essence of your sound.
To understand why an EQ pedal is so important for guitarists, it partially depends whether you’re playing in the context of a band where other instruments are present, or you’re simply playing by yourself.
If playing together with other instruments, it is helpful to understand that every instrument in a mix takes up space in the sonic spectrum. Think of the available sonic space as a box, where only so much bass is available, only so many mid-range frequencies are available, and only so much treble’s available before you run into the top of the box. If too many instruments compete for a certain frequency range, things just won’t sound as good and tight as they need to be. An EQ pedal can help sculpt your sound to sit better in the mix. Is your guitar too bassy and competing with the actual bass guitar? Use your EQ pedal to roll off the bass. Can the piano not be heard as clearly because of your chunky rhythm playing? Use your EQ pedal to roll off those mid and high frequencies. Is your Fender Strat sounding too harsh? Mellow out those mid-range frequencies.
When playing solo, you’re the only one in the space - it’s all about you! Therefore an EQ pedal is not so much necessary to play nice with other instruments, but this is truly where it can be used as an effect. Playing with the frequency bands can really turn your sounds into things you might not have expected. It should also be noted that depending on whether you put it before or after certain effects (delay, overdrive, etc) can yield very different results.
If you only have space or budget for a handful of effect pedals, after your tuner, an EQ pedal is useful tool!
5 Best EQ Pedals for Guitar
Danelectro Fish & Chips
» Quiet, hiss-free, functional, and very affordable.
The most recommended EQ pedal out there for guitar is slightly funny looking, has a slightly funny name, and a ridiculously good price. It’s the Danelectro DJ-14C Fish & Chips 7 Band EQ Mini Effects Pedal. It features 7 sliders to adjust frequencies from 100Hz all the way up to 6.4KHz.
The value for the money, and the effectiveness of this thing seems to be why it’s so highly recommended. On the value side, people generally feel they don’t have to spend a ton on an EQ pedal. On the downside, the build quality is not as solid as some of the more robust pedal chassis options on this list.
The Fish & Chips warrants praise for how quiet and hiss-free it is, and it is incredibly affordable.
» The Rolls-Royce of EQ pedals, the Empress ParaEQ is an EQ pedal for those that demand the absolute best.
Quite the departure from the very inexpensive Danelectro Fish & Chips is the Empress ParaEQ pedal, featuring true bypass, 30dB of boost, and a 3-band parametric EQ.
For what it costs, you can get about eight - yes, eight - Danelectro Fish & Chips. So why might you opt for the beautiful blue Empress ParaEQ? For starters, it is the second-most recommended and loved EQ pedal in our list. It’s clear that many users think it is well worth the money. You won’t hear complaints about build quality with this one. It is also praised for being very tweakable.
True bypass and no hiss are two great reasons why the Empress ParaEQ should be in your signal chain. You get a very clear sense that this pedal will last you forever. The Empress is the well-built luxury car of EQ pedals - performs great and lasts a very long time.
It’s hard to find a “best of” guitar pedal list that Boss doesn’t make an appearance on. The Boss GE-7 7-Band EQ Pedal is a can't go wrong option.
It introduces a slight bit of a hissing sound to your signal. On the plus side, it works well and is built like a brick, which is something Boss pedals are known for. It has 7 rather small adjustable sliders, from 100Hz up to 6.4KHz.
Here’s a super pro tip about this Boss GE-7 EQ pedal: Buy it new at a good price, and then do a sniper mod on it. What’s a sniper mod, you ask? Basically certain “cheap” parts get replaced with higher quality parts. This results in a superior Boss pedal with less hiss/noise and more clarity.
Our next recommendation comes in two different form factors. There is the MXR 6 Band Graphic EQ Pedal, and the MXR 10 Band Graphic EQ. These are practically the same pedal, the difference being the number of bands and their physical size. You’ll pay roughly $30 more for the big brother. These two pedals are quite popular in terms of usage by the pros, found in such rigs as Matt Bellamy’s of Muse and Alex Trimble’s of Two Door Cinema Club.
These two spartan-looking pedals are quite simply very well loved by guitarists. Aside from some noise and hiss issues (which honestly tend to plague most Equalizer pedals), not much bad can be said about them. Their price-point is very fair, and you get the rock-solid MXR reliability and build quality.
Whether you go for the 6 or 10-band version comes down completely to your needs and preference.
» This boutique pedal is quiet, reliable, and is very easily tweakable thanks to the large treble, mid, and bass knobs.
The EarthQuaker Devices Tone Job is beautiful. But you probably shouldn’t buy a pedal simply because of its looks. Luckily, this one has performance to match. Considering EarthQuaker Devices makes boutique, hand-made pedals, the price on it is great.
In terms of hiss, the consensus seems to be that it is not quite as quiet as the Empress, but quieter than the other EQ pedals on this list. By far the most loved feature of the Tone Job are the easily tweakable treble, mid, and bass knobs. Some users tend to find sliders too small and annoying to dial in the desired setting.
So there you have it - a boutique pedal with killer looks, minimal noise, and makes dialing in your EQ setting super easy.
Tweakability (number of bands): You’ll see EQs often separated into the number of “bands” you can tweak. This is essentially the number of more-or-less even vertical slices that the spectrum is split up into. The more bands you have, the more tweakable the EQ is. The equalizer pedals we recommend in this guide start at 3 bands (low mid and high), and go up to as many as 10. One is not better than the other. It comes down to personal preference and how much fine tuned control you think you need.
Ease of use (knobs vs sliders): Some EQ pedals for guitar have knobs to adjust the frequencies, and some have sliders. The more controls there are, typically the smaller the spacing between them. If the spacing gets very small, it can be more difficult to dial in the right settings precisely (this could be a problem if you have a crowded pedalboard, or you play in dimly lit venues, or your fingers are large).
Size of the pedal: The physical size of a pedal is a consideration when shopping for most guitar pedals, but it’s particularly important with an EQ pedal. You might not care about pedals with more “active usage” like distortion or delay. However, it’s possible that you set your EQ pedal to a single setting and let it stay like that for the duration of your playing. In that case, you might want the pedal to be smaller to save precious room on your pedalboard.
Durability: Again, durability matters for most of the gear you buy. However, while you might own several delay or reverb pedals, there’s a good chance you’ll only need one EQ pedal. For this reason, you need to make sure it’s durable!
Noise/hiss: Some pedals you leave on all the time, some not. As you might leave your EQ pedal on throughout your playing sessions, we’ll need to make sure to pick one that doesn’t introduce any extra noise or hum into your signal chain.
Michael bought his first guitar, a Fender California Series Stratocaster in Candy Apple Red, in 1998. He likes rock of all types, from classic to punk to metal. Michael co-founded Equipboard to satisfy his curiosity around what gear his guitar heroes use. Read more