Guitar Pedals & Effects for Making Reggae Music

Whether you’re a fan of younger reggae artists like Pressure Busspipe and Teflon, or more seminal acts like Bob Marley and the Wailers, you might soon find yourself with a desire to contribute your own original music to the genre. The electric guitar is arguably the most crucial instrument for this task. And apart from a guitar and an amplifier, using certain guitar effects pedals can make the task easier and result in a more fulfilling experience. What kind of pedals do you need to start making reggae music?


Other than reggae, compressor pedals are popular across a variety of genres. From Electro-Harmonix and Boss to Empress Effects and Fender, nearly every major pedal manufacturer has their own compressor model. As its name explains, this pedal compresses your guitar’s signal and evens out the dynamics of each string. Some have adjustable sustain knobs as well. This makes compressor pedals very useful for allowing sinewy leads and beefy rhythms to cut through the band fully articulated – even if it’s the only pedal you use.


This pedal is basically a variable switch for controlling tone and frequency with your foot. In reggae, a classic Dunlop or a Vox wah pedal can come in handy when varying these elements during percussive reggae riffs. A wah allows guitarists to quickly switch between lead to rhythm work, cut through the mix, or emulate the sound of analog synths.


Echoing strums and sticky sustained leads are easier to pull off with a delay pedal. Empress Effects stompboxes like the Echosystem and the Tape Delay are particularly popular for these purposes as they emulate the original analog delay effects that helped establish the classic reggae sound. Apart from effortlessly thickening your signal, a delay pedal can cut rhythm guitar work in half and make lead work smooth as butter.


JHS Pedals’ Spring Tank and Boss’ RV-6 are just some of the more popular reverb pedals in the market. A reverb unit utilizes either an analog spring tank or a digital algorithm to amplify your guitar signal with a natural-sounding echo. Rather than repeating the signal as with a looper or delay pedal, a reverb instead recreates the complex echoes of natural reverberation, resulting in a clean and bright improvement to the tone. Heavy amounts of reverb are more associated with dub than reggae, although reggae guitarists can also use this to great effect.


Reggae can be a highly dynamic genre, and an equalizer (EQ) pedal makes it easier to be heard amid different instruments, frequencies, and harmonies. This is true whether you’re in the studio or playing live. By giving guitarists control over bass, middle, and treble frequencies, EQ pedals make it easier to arrive at precise tones. They can also be used to tweak and filter any of the other effects pedals on this list. Also known as utility pedals, everyone from indie to audio manufacturing giants make EQ pedals. These are just a handful of the many guitar pedal types available to aspiring reggae guitarists. But before
you explore other options, check out these aforementioned pedal types first, as they can definitely make your reggae exploration easier.