Guitar FX Pedals For People Who Hate Guitar FX Pedals [EQ, Boosts, Attenuators, Headroom & More]

Don’t like guitar pedals? Here are some pedals you’ll love. Or at least you should…

Life too short for long YouTube videos? Please see the ‘Interesting bits and go-to sections’ information below.

Welcome to the show! Here’s a cat for your pigeons, then. One of our favourite kinds of humans is that particular individual who, though either mind-numbing ignorance or universal enlightenedness (or maybe somewhere in between), has decided that they don’t like guitar effects pedals.
While I wanted to make a six-hour video exploring the psychological and philosophical reasoning behind such disbelief-suspending, didactic absurdity, Dan suggested we might be better off exploring: a) a handful of pedals that just might appeal to the haters; and more interestingly b) some of the concepts that They Who Only Like Amp Distortion might face while they’re, erm, liking it.
Now, it’s a long video so we expect the True Non Pedalers will turn off in the first three minutes. For those of you who make it further, we hope you’ll agree there’s some super interesting stuff to explore here. Gain staging, headroom, boosts, EQ – basically all the really important stuff about electric guitar tone before you start spoiling it all with pedals. We do that right at the end with a reverb. Ha!

We look forward to all the comments saying we didn’t mention a tuner (we did), a looper (that too) or a compressor (yup). Also quite hoping for at least one ‘pedals are cheating’ cry and plenty of ‘if you can’t do it with just your amp and guitar, you need to practise more’.
If I sound weary, it’s the internet’s fault.

Meantime, do try to enjoy the video, even though it’s long and you almost certainly have something far less important to do that is way more fun.

Pedals & stuff in this episode…

• TheGigRig Three2One

• TC Electronic PolyTune 3 Mini Noir
UK & Europe:

• MXR Ten Band EQ
UK & Europe:

• J Rockett The Majestic
UK & Europe:

• JHS Series 3 Reverb
UK & Europe:

• Tone King Ironman II Precision Reactive Power Attenuator
UK & Europe:

* Why do we have preferred retailer links? Find out here:

Interesting bits and go-to sections…
0:00 Intro playing
2:30 Housekeeping
3:05 What are we doing today?
5:45 Doing it old school – essential to today’s vid
6:50 Amp settings, crunchy and attenuated
7:41 No pedals, 5 guitars served straight up
10:10 Common ‘problems’ of the old-school approach
13:10 Boost, volume & headroom discussion
14:40 When boost DOES NOT make the amp louder
15:22 When boost DOES make the amp louder
17:07 Shape that EQ
18:46 EQ pedal and Strat
20:30 MXR 10-band EQ and Les Paul
22:30 Tips for setting your EQ pedal
24:50 Freq out, bass to treble slider demo
28:50 Boost in the amp FX loop?
30:20 JHS Colour Box in the FX loop
31:35 What about the amp attenuator?
32:20 Amp at various attenuation & boost in loop
35:08 The problem of attenuators & headroom
36:47 ‘More’ upside down. Try ‘less’
39:20 Using attenuation for headroom
44:40 ‘Clean’ or ‘clear’?
44:58 What is underdrive?
47:50 Setting the underdrive pedal
50:19 Underdrive vs simply turning down
51:45 A small reverb
55:35 Reverb, Collings, Marshall. Mmmmm
56:45 Reverb pedal order with underdrive
1:00:07 Closing thoughts and honourable mentions

Guitars in this episode:
• Collings 290 DC S – Mick’s video here:
• Fender Custom Shop ’52 Heavy Relic Telecaster – Dan’s video here
• 1965 Fender Telecaster – no video yet
• Gibson Custom True Historic 1957 Les Paul Standard, Murphy Aged – no video yet
• Fender American Vintage ’62 Stratocaster – Mick’s video here:
• Fender Custom Shop ’63 Telecaster – Dan’s video here:
• Gibson Custom 1958 Les Paul Standard – Dan’s video here:

Amps in this episode
• Marshall 1987x and 1960A with Celestion G12M Greenback speakers

We hope you enjoy this episode. Please subscribe to our channel.

You can buy TPS merch to support our efforts

We are on Patreon – crowdfunding for creatives

Please visit our preferred retailers!
UK & Europe: Andertons Music
Australia: Pedal Empire


  1. Jord Mosselman より:

    Upon Mick’s request, I HATE PEDALS!!
    Now, back to the lesson….

  2. John Folliard より:

    The blokes are back!

  3. TeleCathster より:

    Joe Bonamassa on TPS this week I see!

  4. thegreatdel より:

    What you said about the buffer thing is so true. When I did a Santana gig he had a crybaby, an amp switcher and an old maxon AD9 delay on his board. He doesn’t touch the delay at all, his tech told me it’s only there because of the buffer in it.

  5. JDODify より:

    a) that intro was a fucking great sound.
    b) shit, I miss my guitar with a bridge P90.

  6. HighHopesBass より:

    Only one word for the sounds on that intro piece…. “righteous”. 🙂

  7. Kossofffan より:

    No love for pedals – ????
    Yesterday I did something silly & added up the cost of my pedals (including the board & power supply, but not cables) on my Pedaltrain-2 which comes in at 8x the cost of of my little amp LOLOLOLOLOL

  8. humphrey peek より:

    as you increase volume you are strumming harder

  9. Simon Park より:

    I always enjoy what you guys do. It’s like the audio equivalent of watching wine tasters but without the pretention. I’m never going to buy 99.9% of the stuff you demo but I still enjoy what you’re doing. You’re both champions.

  10. Ryan Secrist より:

    That collings and the Marshall is a killer combo regardless of the pedals in between!

  11. David Tomkins より:

    Angus Young disliked this episode (I liked it though)

  12. より:

    that collings always sounds fantastic. it’s what inspired me to get a p90 guitar – except I’m not on collings money so I got a yamaha revstar to do the job

  13. Muuhn より:

    thank fuzz it’s friday!

  14. aschneider70 より:

    What a great episide! Cheers!

  15. Jamie Darcy より:

    For me it’s not that I don’t like pedals I love them! I just can’t get a good sound out of them! No matter what I try they just don’t sound good so I go back to a guitar into an amp! Occasionally I use a boss chorus and overdrive! I’ve tried lots of boutique chorus pedals but what I find with boutique pedals is they are really sensitive! Moving the knob 1mm completely changes the sound and I can’t find that sweet spot or if I do I lose it! That’s what puts me off pedals!

  16. TeleCathster より:

    I’m curious! So those who don’t like pedals and go simply to amp! I’m this day and age when we can no longer necessarily have Amps on stage do you go guitar , Amp Modeler? Or is this sacrilege for this genre of musicians?

  17. JDODify より:

    Speaking of that amazing intro sound… are some of you the same as me? When you get a good sound dialed in, you just end up playing really simple stuff like Mick just did and just enjoy the sound? As opposed to playing anything complex.

  18. InVert Your Cross より:

    I hate plug-ins they are sacrilege…what video do you have for me?

  19. Ricky Compton より:

    What a great video Guys I always learn something new when you guys do these videos.

  20. andsoistopped より:

    That’s the first honk in a long old time.

  21. Dan Oliviér より:

    I love pedals and am watching this episode as therapy

  22. Citizen より:

    How is it that some guitar tones sound terrible, some nice, some even amazing, but there’s those that go beyond that and touch your soul? Being more concrete, why do some tones (even with just a simple strummed chord), provoke an definite emotional response? Is it conditioning from music I’ve heard before? or something else? (Serious question).

  23. Steve Manley より:

    Mick the description of that beautiful collings “a simple guitar” is blasphemy!!! Great show!

  24. Steven Haefner より:

    That Sans Pedal Show

  25. Horacio Garcia より:

    Just wanted to say that I’ll watch this after I get off of work. Cheers from the USA

  26. Alan Angel より:

    Pedal distortion/od with a bridge humbucker is the only thing that feels right to me. Then i see people using amp od with single coils and I’m like ‘why doesn’t that work for me?!’

  27. Fried Rudibega より:

    I don’t like pedals.
    I love them.

  28. bvninja より:

    enjoyed that!!! the JHS C B is based on that much loved Neve 1073 Preamp

  29. Richard Marshall より:

    Another great idea for a vid and a great exploration of the topic

  30. Leon Barron より:

    Brilliant video lads! Ive found that too many pedals just get in the way of making music. Wish my brain could handle it but there ya go

  31. The Guitar Geek より:

    Is me, half the time.

  32. Frankybøy より:

    What a revelation guys, thank you! I stopped the video after the old-school approach, fell in love with the plexi sound, sold all my pedals on Reverb and unsubscribed from your channel. Just kiddiiiiing, I only unsubscribed from your channel. Just kiddiiiiing, I only ordered a Marshall SV20. So to sum up: In order to avoid pedals, I need more gear. I see it so clearly now.

  33. Robert Price より:

    My favorite is the guy who hates pedals, but his amp has a diode clipping stage.

  34. Music Life より:

    Hate pedals? Who could say such a thing! Pedals = Happy

  35. Fletch Redwine より:

    I need a pedal that makes me sound like I’m going straight into the amp!!

  36. Mike Dr より:

    I’m all in for pedals but still found this very helpful. Just that bit about recapturing some of my tone when rolling off the Strat volume was worth the price of admission. Cheers!

  37. Music Life より:

    Funny thing, I actually prefer pedal overdrive/distortion… I mean at lower volumes you don’t really have a choice, and yea I’d love to play through the crunch of a JCM800 but who the heck can play through a Marshall stack anymore?

  38. Nigel Pickett より:

    Very instructive guys,made me look at it a different way. On an aside, forgive me for I have sinned, I’ve just ordered a Les Paul with a Floyd Rose Trem. Purgatory awaits – but until then – wey hey!!

  39. Wayne Stewart より:

    People who don’t like pedals should turn off now

  40. Airfire より:

    My colleague is arguing for me for a big bonus at the end of the next financial year because of a piece of work that we are doing together. I think I’m going to use that money to order myself a Collings – 1 to commemorate that piece of work that I’m so passionate about and 2 because it’s just… so beautiful and I love hearing Mick play it.

  41. jon baker より:

    Hope Mick has sent Lee Anderton his royalty check for the use of the “Captains Lick” 😉

  42. chris tree より:

    This sounds like the episode for me. I’ll look forward to watching with a beer in the sun later.

  43. Jeff DuPrez より:

    I’m not a huge fan of using a lot of effects and pedals, but I love your show!!! I watch every episode and I love watching other guitar players use pedals!

  44. Bill Sherrington より:

    Cant believe when Dan said you’ve nowhere to go, there was no Spinal Tap reference 🙂

  45. Tad Morrison より:

    A very helpful and informative show. Thanks!

    That said (and meant) some group of college boys are going to start a drinking game based on the times Dan reacts to how loud things are.

  46. edward ajaj より:

    AWESOME ! Hope … All is Well Dan & Mick 😀 <3

  47. Curt Kalyn より:

    Joe Bonamassa gonna be mad!

  48. Elon Mush より:

    Joe Bonamassa has entered the chat.

  49. Robert Price より:

    Jimi Bell (House of Lords & Autograph) would use a Boss EQ is an underdrive with his Marshall.

  50. banditsharp より:

    So…in a nutshell, is the secret to the elusive ‘Holy Grail’ of guitar tone a great amp and a 10 band EQ pedal?

  51. House of Shred より:

    9:32 YEAH MAN!

  52. BSDS より:

    I’m not a fan of pedals for a few reasons. 1. I absolutely agree that distortion/overdrive/boost pedals never come even close to sounding as good as amp distortion, and 2. I can’t stand futzing around with extra cables and power supplies and cluttered mess. I do have a set of pedals to mess around with when I’m in the mood but they’re all delays, modulation, fuzz and synth pedals. If I’m actually going to play then it’s one cable straight into whichever amp I’m in the mood for.

  53. angelomelitc より:

    You guys provide such an important resource for me and the entire community of guitarists and other musicians. I watch every episode and always learn something or reconsider something I thought I knew. I can’t thank you enough. Be happy and be well.

  54. Ian Todd より:

    Brilliant video. Really interesting to see how you use the 10 band eq the way I do

  55. Brandon Ingersoll より:

    There are only 2 types of gtr players…those who love pedals, & liars.

  56. Jared Plant より:

    Question for Mick: can you tell us a little bit about your wrist watch? It looks lovely.

  57. Robert Price より:

    I use my Keeley Memphis Sun just for the Room Reverb, set very subtlety, and it is my default time based effect. Even though it has a slap back too, if I want a slap back delay added I will put on my Catalinbread Belle Epoch, which is a lot crisper of a delay.

  58. matthew monk より:

    I wish Mick would play the Collings more…But if he did it wouldn’t be so special when he does. You have a point.

  59. notmyrealname より:

    Small critique: when demonstrating differences in volume, you should have the camera on the dB meter instead of the pedal

  60. Frank W より:

    Why don’t you just turn the amp up to 11?

  61. Robert R より:

    Great! I think this should be on the “essential videos list” for any guitarist, especially someone starting out. You should have a “watch this first” or whatever section in your channel: this one, the “how loud is loud and why does it matter” video and “12 ways to use your guitar volume”. If people get those things first they have a great starting point.

    In my current band situation, I’m using a Fender Tweed Deluxe clone (that I attenuate to keep at reasonable volumes!) set to a little bit “over breakup” that I then completely control with my guitar volume. I have overdrives but only use them for specific stuff. But I still have an EQ and a buffer! And a treble bleed on my guitar.

  62. Gos wo より:

    Another great show. People spend millions to buy tickets to travel “out in space”, but I would rather buy a ticket and get at tour in to Dans brain and neural network and explore whats really going on. It must be extremely interesting and lots of fun 🙂

  63. Jeremiah McCann より:

    Starting a petition to have Dan featured in the kids show Bluey. Character ideas anyone? Friendly guitar instructor?

  64. Scott MacLean より:

    The sound that grabbed me was a guitar through a pedal (Maestro fuzz, Tone Bender) and guitar through a Leslie speaker which in the real world means a pedal to get close.

  65. R.D. Hamel より:

    … I don’t really like amps…

  66. Justin O'Neil より:

    Mick, I was just listening to the intro playing and as soon as I heard you digging in to some single line licks, I knew it had to be the Collings. That Jr. just has a perfect voice for rock!

  67. pkflash2004 より:

    I hate pedals. I hate amps. I even hate guitars. The money spent on all of these deprive me and my kids of basic non essentials such food and shelter.

  68. Andre Silva より:


  69. mattysblues1 より:

    Mick Am I hallucinating or is there new brass saddles on blue?

  70. Jake Stewart Music より:

    Great video as always! I’m in the ‘no pedals’ camp for most of my bands, save for one where I play direct with lots of effects and double on synths…

    When not using pedals, I play an Esquire straight into a dimed Carr Rambler. I play with the guitar volume and tone rolled back a bit 90% of the time and adjust my sound to the room with that setting. From there, when the guitar is flat out, I get the extra bit of volume, gain, and cut that I need for solos but I only use the guitar flat out for the loudest part(s) of the set. What you get is an infinite gradation of clean to dirty rather than stepped values but you have to have the self control to know when to open up the guitar. Having the right amp, the right amount of power, and a guitar that cleans up well is crucial.

    I find that an amp like the Rambler with great spring reverb and tremolo makes ‘no pedals’ easier because at least I still have a bit of space and movement. And man, does that reverb and bias tremolo sound great when the power section is overdriving…

    Cheers guys! Despite only using pedals some of the time, I love this channel and y’all have been a wealth of information over the years.

  71. Robert Payne より:

    This was a usuful episode. I’m not one of those who doesn’t like pedals. [I’ve even got a few in the attic for when I can get an electric guitar again.] However, I’m certainly in the group of those who perfer a guitar to sound like a guitar. Those effects that make a guitar go “beep bip bibble wibble boop” leave me cold. 🙂

  72. David W. Brashier より:

    Back around 2003, I did a handful of gigs with Little Milton. He looked at my modest board (drive, trem, chorus, delay, wah) and said “I don’t know why you need all of them “giggle boxes”.” He was traveling without his amp (normally an Acoustic) and I provided him with an old twin. One night, the sound check consisted of him handing me his ’64 ES345 and saying “go plug this in”. In the first seconds of hearing (and feeling) that guitar thru a cranked twin, I saw what he meant – that was all he needed. I continued to use my board though, and still “giggle” at his disdain.

  73. Paul Summerside より:

    Could have also have called this episode “Thank CRUNCHY it’s Friday”

  74. Paul The bearded one Downing より:

    I like pedals especially the old skool stuff tape drum valve OD’s and stuff but I enjoyed this I did a learneding

  75. Larry Lachmann より:

    Do you really think that people who hate pedals watch this show? Interesting topic though.

  76. Evel Flem より:

    When will Dan’s hat be available in the TPS store?

  77. Frankie Holt より:

    I mean , for years I had a fifty watt amp and a blues driver for boost. Now I got 3 delays and two tremolos on my board. I understand both sides.

  78. Not blind より:

    Thing for me is that when bending strings my pedals do not cope with it. Maybe my pedals are to cheap or it has something to do with digital/analog. Idk. Maybe they address this ? idk I just started watching 🙂 Subbed ofc

  79. Greg Morgan より:

    I love pedals! Is there a pedal that will let me play like Clapton?

  80. Mk E より:

    I use pedals as I can’t always play on the same amp. What do you do when you need to play on a high headroom clean amp? For me, my dirt boxes provide me then with the much needed clipping.

  81. bobcatblooze より:

    Hate effects pedals?! Who ARE these people?! Probably the same types who don’t like dogs.

  82. Dan Messore より:

    Yep reverb before a cooking amp…yep yep yep.

  83. Oscar Sierra より:

    Amplifiers?! Bah. Electricity is just a fad. Its just accoustics and wind-powered effects for me from now on…
    (But seriously, nice episode guys 🙂 )

  84. Rayzorback88 より:

    The grin on Mick’s face when Dan answers “”get louder” (13:07) is priceless… like a kid in a candy store.

  85. music man より:

    “I don’t use pedals, they use me!”

  86. Jerry Mullin より:

    I discovered the show through a search for acoustic guitar pickups. I have been watching since. As an acoustic guitarist, I find the conversation interesting. I conyinue to experiment with pedals. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

  87. Amish Trivedi より:

    Maybe I’m getting old but I really don’t understand “hater” culture. Maybe the back end of that is people that won’t admit to enjoying things to seem…cool?