How To Choose Guitar Effect Pedals To Use With Synthesizers

In this video, Sweetwater synth guru Daniel Fisher shares his thoughts on choosing effect pedals to use with synths.

Fisher demonstrates some of his favorite effects pedals for using with synthesizers. They were chosen for their sounds, versatility, and special features, as well as important considerations such as stereo ins and outs, battery and adapter powering, size and weight, and a high performance/price ratio.

The effects are applied to a Korg minilogue Polyphonic Analogue Synthesizer with a simple patch. Each effect is demonstrated separately, and then all of them are used simultaneously.

Synthesists have been using guitar effects on synths for decades, because there historically has been a much wider variety of effects readily available for guitars. While this has changed in the last few years – with companies like Roland, Audio Damage, ZVEX and others offering effects, designed specifically for using with synths – there are still a lot more cheap guitar pedal options available. 

Here is a list of the products used in the order that they are first demonstrated:

  • Korg minilogue Polyphonic Analogue Synthesizer
  • TC Electronic Flashback Delay and Looper Pedal
  • Boss RV-6 Digital Reverb Pedal
  • M-Audio EX-P Expression Pedal
  • DigiTech Nautila Chorus and Flange Pedal
  • electro-harmonix Superego Polyphonic Synth Engine

via Sweetwater

17 thoughts on “How To Choose Guitar Effect Pedals To Use With Synthesizers

  1. EH pedals for me. Deluxe Electric Mistress, Deluxe Memory Man, Small Stone Phaser. Also, the soap dish Alesis Reverb and Multi-FX.

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  2. Great video. I’m always looking for guitar pedal videos with a synth on the input. Its usually guitars which doesn’t give you a good indication of how the pedal will manipulate such a signal.

    Using some pretty standard pedals though. Nothing by Chase Bliss, Earthquaker Devices, Walrus Audio.

    If anyone is interested in pedals, I’d recommend checking out “Knobs” channel on youtube. Great pedal videos, no talking just sweet loops through pedals and they are pretty creative. The latest is the Rainger Deep Space Pulsar FX. Pretty much a sidechain pedal coming out of the UK. Already ordered:)

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    1. I’m currently trying to decide between the big sky and the Eventide space. Anyone care to offer an opinion as I’m at deadlock!

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  3. This was a nice video but it probably should have been called “My favorite effects pedals for synth” rather than HOW to choose a guitar effects pedal for synth.

    I wish someone would do a video explaining why some pedals sound really cool on guitar but absolutely destroy my synth signal. “Guitar pedals to avoid for synth” or something like that.

    My guess is that it’s totally arbitrary and subject to trial and error.

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    1. one reason some guitar pedals dont work well with synths is that synths put out a much much hotter signal. some poorly designed pedals rely on the (relatively) weak output of a guitars pickups. they will be the same pedals that when used on a guitar sound better at the beginning of your signal chain rather then at the end; at least in this context.

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    2. I think a lot of pedals are meant to respond to dynamics which are obviously much different on a guitar. Also synths generate more harmonics and some guitar pedals, especially drives tend to react unpredictably. I think having a wet/dry mix in your loop will help.

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  4. One effect pedal I like that wasn’t mentioned in the video is the EHX freeze sound. The pedal takes the last note you played and holds the note until you switch off the pedal.

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  5. Superego was very cool for guitar, but I could not get it to freeze any Fender Rhodes notes. I should try it out with my Moog.

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    1. I have to second your opinion on the Superego. Tried on a MS 20 and it sounded like utter crap.

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    2. I have used it but what you want to do is the toggle left – manual mode – if you do it that way you can freeze what comes in – I have had trigger issues with the auto mode but I get that on guitar too if I don’t have a boost in front of it.

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  6. I always suggest if people are looking for pedals to use on synths and drum machinesthat I use (some budget for sure..):
    alesis bitrman
    alesis filtre
    zoom ms70-cdr
    donner white wizard
    line6 dl-4
    vox trike
    built in fx on the Zoom r8

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  7. i use volca keys to Boss PS6 then to Boss DD7 and Boss RV5.. bunch of cheap gears can make huge sound too

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  8. Okay, that’s two MORE items added to my Amazon wish list. What a great video. Thanks for sharing.

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