Many guitarists and bassists adore synthesizers for their tone and versatility. Naturally, most guitarists and bassists’ hands are occupied elsewhere, so having a normal keyboard-controlled synth on stage is impractical. From monophonic squarewave generators to small computers with footswitches, synth pedals come in all shapes and sizes. From dreamy ambient to fuzzed-out analogue pandemonium, these are our favorite picks. For many people, guitar synth pedals and bass synth pedals have become excellent choices. There are a lot of choices on the market, and we’ll go over the top ones with you.
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Empress Effects ZOIA Modular Synthesizer and Guitar Multi-Effects Pedal
- 80+ Modules and Growing - ZOIA comes packed with a vast collection of modules to create just about anything you can dream up. With ZOIA the only limit...
- Create your own effects, synths, control devices, and more! - Oscillators, LFOs, filters, bit crushers, envelope followers - these are just a handful...
- 20+ Ready-Made Effects Modules - Pre-built effects modules such as reverbs, delays, chorus', flangers, overdrives and more.
Empress Effects’ ZOIA is perfect for guitarists who desire total control over their synth-based tones. It’s a complicated pedal that necessitates some synthesizer and effect expertise, but once you get the hang of it, the possibilities are unlimited. The ZOIA is an amazingly comprehensive tool that includes 64 user patches, an interactive OLED display screen for editing, pre-built effects modules, and a plethora of LFOs and filters.
There are more than 80 modules that can be loaded into the ZOIA due to its design. Everything from LFOs and filters to envelope followers may be found here. There are also 20 effect modules, as well as delays and overdrives, to choose from. Up to 64 distinct patches can be saved, allowing you to let your imagination run wild without having to worry about forgetting the settings for that amazing sound you just made. The ZOIA is a very versatile pedal, but it comes at a premium. It’s difficult to argue that paying’s not worth it based on what you get.
The Empress Effects Zoia is a one-of-a-kind pedal that combines a wide range of processing and sound-sculpting possibilities with ease of use and high-quality tones. It’s made to allow you to utilize the pedal as a blank canvas to create your own sounds. This is the best synth pedal for guitars in 2023.
BOSS SY-1000 Electric Guitar Multi Effect (SY-1000)
- Synthesizer Effects Pedal f Electric Guitar Bass
- with 1/4" Instrument Input
- 8 Assignable Footswitches
Over decades of player feedback, the BOSS SY-1000 synthesizer pedal for guitar and bass has been improved. It has three different synthesizer instrument engines that may all be used at the same time to create deep and rich musical patterns. You can use Roland’s GK pickup for the most precise pitch tracking and per-string parameter manipulation, or you can plug your instrument into a 1/4′′ jack. An effects loop, multi-effects, instrument modeling, external control inputs, and freely assignable footswitches are also included.
BOSS’s guitar/bass synth pedal is highly strong and versatile. It has a new sound engine with 32-bit/48kHz sound quality, which is powered by bespoke DSP. There is no latency or other concerns with the tracking. This unit allows you to control three instruments at once, ranging from synth leads and pads to bass and more, offering you a lot of creative freedom and flexibility. The BOSS SY-1000 has adjustable footswitches and assignable outputs, making it simple to break up your signal flow way you choose. For a wide range of audio textures, combine this unit with the GK pickup (available separately) and your instrument’s 1/4′′ output. The GK pickup provides ultra-precise pitch tracking for synth sounds, while the 1/4′′ output informs the envelope shape and response of the synth.
This gadget, when combined with a GK pickup, allows you fast access to alternate tuning for your guitar or bass. Two 16-step sequencers are included in the Dynamic Synth engine, allowing you to add additional levels of movement to your synth patches. With 13 different envelope curves to explore, each step of each sequencer may regulate pitch, filter knob, and amplitude separately. You can utilize this to get musical results in a subtle way or go all out if necessary.
The SY-1000 pedal includes two extra synth instruments in addition to the Dynamic Synth engine. The OSC Synth is a classic analog synth with a wide range of filter settings, a flexible ADSR envelope, and excellent sound quality. The GR-300 synth engine contains an accurate replica of the vintage Roland GR-300 to delve into the renowned sound of ’80s guitar synths. BOSS SY-1000 is the best Synth pedal in 2023.
Boss SY-300 Guitar Synthesizer
- Plug into the standard 1/4-inch jack and play rich and expressive polyphonic Synth tones with any Guitar
- Completely latency-free playing feel directly connects your hands with the sound
- Three simultaneous Synth sections and four effects processors enable rich, dynamic, and diverse sound creation
Many guitar synth units were bulky, complicated equipment that required a separate pickup to be fitted in your instrument when they were first launched. You can obtain a good depiction of a full guitar synth without all of the extra baggage — and without any specific hardware — with the Boss SY-300.
The SY-300 is much more than a simple pedal, with a long list of amazing features. The number of tones you can make is nearly limitless. There are several low frequency oscillators (LFOs), filters, amplifiers, and other goodies to create sounds that aren’t possible with other models.
The controls are simple to operate, with four foot switches and an LCD screen to make changing programs a breeze. There are also 99 user-preset slots for storing your tonal compositions, as well as 70 stock slots to get you started right away. Yes, it’s a touch pricy, but considering everything it has to offer, the Boss SY-300 is one of the Best Synth Pedals for Guitar 2023.
DigiTech Dirty Robot Stereo Mini-Synth Pedal
- Two voices, Synth and Vocal Format
- Drift Knob blends Square Wave with Octave and Sub
- 3 concentric knobs give you tons of control in a small form factor
Look no farther than the DigiTech Dirty Robot if you’re searching for the best guitar synth pedal. I immediately think of Rush’s Moving Pictures album and the synth sounds contained inside when I think of this beast. There are also vocoder and 80s pop sounds, all of which may be totally customised with the 7 knobs.
If you look closely at the guitar synthesis, three of the four knobs feature a secondary sub-knob. Controls include Mix, Modulation, Start, Stop, Sensitivity, Time, and Drift. Select a square wave, suboctave, or octave above with the Drift knob. The quantity of sounds this machine can produce is rather remarkable. It’s quite adaptable.
With an EQ pedal, reverb, delay, chorus, and whatever else you desire, the possibilities are endless. I’m awarding this the prize for the most cost-effective option when it comes to synth sound effects. The audio synthesis circuits not cheap, but it’s roughly half the price of the others on this synthesiser sound list and has everything you need for lead guitar pedal.
When you switch to V2, you’ll get a voice formant synthesis effect that sounds like a vocoder or a talk box. You’ll want to use the four knob control to dial in bespoke tone after V2 is turned on, which you can do easily using the Dirty Robot’s Drift knob. Furthermore, built-in chorus and vibrato pedal effects will give your synth sound more versatility, making you glad you added a synth pedal to your pedalboard. This is one of the best guitar synth pedals in 2023.
BOSS SY-1 Guitar Synthesizer Pedal
- Polyphonic Synthesizer Effects Pedal f Guitar Bass
- Expression/Switch Input
- With Send/Return Loop
The BOSS SY-1 guitar synthesiser pedal is a straightforward synth in a stompbox package. It crams a lot of synthesiser sounds into a small, easy-to-use package that fits perfectly on a pedalboard. This polyphonic guitar synthesiser doesn’t require any additional hardware on your instrument and has a simple plug-and-play setup, but it still has a lot of functionality.
With the SY-1, Boss took a similar approach to the multi-voiced digital synth pedal. Due to the Variation knob, a total of 121 sounds are crammed into the typical Boss pedal form factor. There’s certain to be something here that satisfies the synth itch, thanks to built-in modulation effects and an effects loop, as well as support for expression pedal input. Separate wet/dry outputs also enable for creative multi-amp setups, which might take your synth-based rig to new heights.
The BOSS SY-1 synthesiser pedal packs a lot of punch for such a small and affordable gadget. There are 121 sounds in all, including 11 basic synth waves like leads, pads, and bass, as well as 11 variations of each core synth type.
To produce expressive and dynamic sound, the SY-1 synthesiser does not require a particular pickup system. With this device, you may choose a pitch tracking mode for either guitar or bass, ensuring that it’s set up perfectly for whatever instrument you’re playing. The SY-1 synth types has eight different modes. Lead 1/2 is the first one. It has a lot of sounds that are good for single-note soloing. Pad includes layered pads, synth brass, and other rich tones that go well with chords. This is the Best Budget Synth Pedal.
- Paintakingly programmed vintage synth tones
- Simple 5-knob control
- Polyphonic tracking for true synth chord play!
With the Electro-Harmonix Synth 9 Synthesizer Machine pedal, you can make classic synthesiser sounds with your guitar or bass signal. In classic EHX form, you can simply plug this device into your pedalboard and use it as any other effects pedal. Nine presets allow you to access some of the most famous synth sounds from the 1970s and 1980s.
The name “Synth 9” comes from the fact that it features nine basic presets, each of which may be modified to taste using the CTRL 1 and CTRL 2 knobs. Each has its own set of parameters to tweak, giving you an even wider range of alternatives that aren’t immediately apparent. This flexible, durable pedal does it all and does it well, from pop lead voicings to bass pads.
It comes with the following 9 patches, which provide you a lot of options and versatility. The obxn, for example, is a replica of the fat-sounding oberheim ob-x. The profit v, a recreation of the classic prophet-5 synth, follows. The vibe synth is a polyphonic synthesizer with decreasing harmonic content and vibrato that comes next. The mini mood is a big-sounding moog-inspired synthesizer that combines a portamento and a non-portamento synth (the blend is controlled via the volume knob). The ehx mini, on the other hand, is a recreation of the legendary electro-harmonix mini synth. The solo synth is a fuzz-synth preset that combines a synth oscillator with a fuzz square wave guitar to create a single severe synth tone. Following that, the mini moog and taurus bass pedals inspired the mood bass. The string synth, a recreation of an arp string synth, comes next. Last but not least, the poly vi is a synthesizer based on the sumptuous korg polysix.
For guitar and bass, the Synth9 is a superb polyphonic synthesizer pedal. It tracks well with guitar and works well with bass, but the bottom strings of a conventional bass may be a little shaky. There are 9 patches available for Synth9. The Electro-Harmonix Synth 9 pedal, with its exceptionally wide playing range, enables excellent tracking, making it our top option for this list.
That’s what the EHX Synth 9 Synthesizer Machine, which has been used by professionals such as Peter Gabriel and P-Funk, brings to the table. I prefer their other pedal in this list for pads and ambience. This is one of the best guitar synthesizer pedals.
Earthquaker Devices Data Corrupter
- Relay-based True Bypass Switching
Earthquaker Devices is a fascinating pedal company that produces some of the best and most inventive pedals on the market. The easiest way to characterize this pedal is as a fuzz synth, however it can also produce non-fuzzy tones. The Data Corruptor obliterates your guitar sound and replaces it with a fantastic square wave fuzz.
This three-voice Modulated Monophonic Phase-Locked Loop Harmonizer pushes your tone to the limit, insisting on further modulating your sound to create strange yet delightful fuzzy synths. The pedal has a sci-fi feel to it thanks to a frequency modulator, but it’s still very experimental.
If that wasn’t enough, you can also utilize the subharmonic switch to activate various harmonics and octaves, which you can modify until you’re satisfied. Earthquaker Devices manufactures their pedals one at a time using an all-analog signal route and high-quality components, which we believe completely justifies their premium price tag of one of the best guitar synth pedals.
Source Audio C4
The Source Audio C4 Synth Pedal comes with 128 factory presets that may be accessed via MIDI via an optional 3rd-party MIDI controller/USB host (sold separately). This unit allows you to build bespoke C4 Synth presets that can be stored on the pedal, saved to your private cloud library, or shared with an ever-growing online community where you can also find new sounds to add to your rig. The C4 Synth Pedal is filled with functions, but it’s still simple to operate, with excellent tracking and tone possibilities. You may also link the C4 to Source Audio’s free Neuro Desktop Editor to delve deeper into sound design for frequency range.
The best bass synth pedal was inspired by Bob Chidlaw, Source Audio’s main sound engineer, and his own Eurorack Synthesiser, so there’s a lot of history behind this stompbox right away. On the surface, it appears to be a straightforward pedal – but, like the pandaMidi, the C4 can be connected to an external editor application. This implies that the box’s controls are only used for basic functions like setting the wet/dry mix and waveform. The pedal has a smaller footprint than the Future Impact V3 power supply, thus it may be more suited to fitting into a larger setup. This is one of the best synth pedal for bass.
MOOER E7 Synth
- E7, the pocket guitar synth pedal. 7 type brand-new MOOER SYNTHS tones, straightforward to use by adding 7 LED indicators on the right side of the...
- Versatile Synthesizer Tones. 7 different MOOER custom synthesizer tones, you are able to adjust any synth tones just how you like. Synths types...
- Decent Tracking. 7 slots for storing users’ presets that E7 can transform your guitar into a typical electronic synthesizer, without the need for...
The MOOER E7 Polyphonic Guitar Synthesizer Pedal is proof that you don’t need a high-end pedal to get high-quality sounds. The E7 may lack some of the processing options found in its more expensive competitors, but it does include seven high-quality synth sounds as well as the ability to build and save your own presets. It’s difficult to argue with the pedal’s value for under $100.
The E7 comes with seven different preset tones to begin with. While you can’t do any extensive editing on the overall waveforms, the five knobs on top of the sturdy casing may be used to make a variety of tweaks. Attack and speed (as well as hi and low cuts) may be readily adjusted, and the wet signal can be combined with the dry (unprocessed) signal to give you more control over the entire mix. You have the option of saving all of your changes.
The E7’s size is another advantage. It has a micro sized form factor, which makes it a wonderful choice for getting some inspired sounds while only taking up a small amount of space on your pedalboard. The Mooer E7 is ideal for individuals on a budget because it is minimalistic, compact, and economical. To prevent overcomplicating things, this guitar synth pedal gives only the required choices. This is one of the best synthesizer pedals.
Electro Harmonix Guitar Mono Synth Effects Pedal
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With the Mono Synth pedal, Electro-Harmonix returns to our list of the finest guitar synth pedals. The Mono Synth comes with presets that cover a wide range of synth sounds. This pedal takes you on a journey through the decades, from modern, sweeping leads to subtle, vintage-style tones. The 11 presets can all be tweaked to your liking using the sensitivity and control parameters, and the pedal’s functionality may be further customized with the ability to save an additional 11 user presets.
In addition to 11 high-quality synth tones, the Electro-Harmonix Mono Synth pedal allows users to save presets. This pedal provides a suitable middle ground between entry-level options and expensive alternatives, with true bypass switching to retain signal integrity and four customizable settings for synth bass sounds.
EarthQuaker Devices Bit Commander V2 Analog Octave Synth Guitar Effects Pedal
- Monophonic Analog Guitar Synthesizer Pedal
The Bit Commander is a monophonic analog synthesizer with four octaves of square wave tones and a simple knob control scheme that allows you to add or subtract octaves without having to deal with oscillators or envelope filter. The four octaves can be combined to create an infinite number of old classic synth tones.
Six dials make it simple to operate. It’s a Level for Master Volume and a Filter for adding treble or warmth. There are control knobs for the octaves (two down and one up), as well as a squared input signal control. You have entire control over your guitar with six settings and can make it sound like a parade of synths.
Over the four voice analog octaves, the filter controls will change the tone from extremely dark to bright and loud. Single not tracking on the neck pickup, especially from the 7th fret up, works best with the Bit commander. Even on the lower notes, though, errors from this synth pedal are uncommon.
Electro-Harmonix Superego Plus Synth Engine/Multi-Effects Pedal
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Electro-Harmonix attempted, with the Superego+, to create a pedal that is simple to use, implement, and tweak while still being fairly powerful, and it has mostly succeeded. There are a lot of knobs, footswitches, and LED indicators, but they’re all beautifully organized with enough space between them so you can dial in a single setting quickly. The build quality is superb, and despite its size, it won’t take up too much room on a pedalboard.
The synth-engine, which must polyphonically convert the input signal into digital notes in real-time, is responsible for the sound quality of a synth pedal. Electro-Harmonix has created some of the best synthesizer engines, with excellent sound quality. The three footswitches give you complete control over the sounds, allowing you to layer and combine multiple layers of incredibly detailed sounds. It also comes with its own effects loop, which gives your sound a new dimension. You may also attach an expression pedal and more footswitches to get that sound in a live setting. There are 11 foot-switchable effects in total, which is incredible.
A guitar synth pedal, as we mentioned earlier, is a specialty pedal that isn’t for everyone. If you want to make a lot of sound effects or have an extremely diverse pedalboard, a synth pedal is the way to go. The Electro-Harmonix Superego Plus is one of the better synth pedals, offering a lot of diversity and potential in a user-friendly interface. The build quality is excellent, it appears to be well-made, and it provides excellent value for money.
Keeley Synth 1 Reverse Attack Fuzz Wave Generator Guitar Synth
- Synth Wave Generator – Create fuzzed-out, single note synth sounds
- Reverse Attack – Volume Swell Effect – put your guitar in slow gear!
- Chaos Switch – change dimensional triggering and octaves and stuff
For a long time, Keeley Electronics has been a well-known name in the effects pedal world. The Keeley Synth-1 Reverse Attack Fuzz Wave Generator is an excellent alternative for individuals who wish to go beyond the capabilities of any fuzz pedal.
The Keeley Synth-1 Reverse Attack Fuzz Wave Generator detects incoming notes’ pitch and doubles it using simple synth waveforms. It has a blend control that adjusts the amount of guitar and synth in the mix. Because there is just one oscillator in this machine, the synth effect is monophonic.
It can double the pitch of well executed single-note phrases, but it causes pandemonium if you play more than one note at the same time. If you’re looking for more experimental sounds, this might be a good alternative.
EarthQuaker Devices Rainbow Machine V2 Polyphonic Pitch Modulation Guitar Effects Pedal
- Polyphonic Pitch-shifting Modulat Pedal with Secondary
- Tracking Controls
- Flexi Switch
Since their inception in 2004, EarthQuaker Devices, a boutique, hand-made pedal company situated in Ohio, has been one of the industry’s leading pedal manufacturers. They’ve made a lot of them, but the EarthQuaker Devices Rainbow Machine is without a doubt one of their most intriguing creations.
The EarthQuaker Devices Rainbow Machine V2 is a polyphonic pitch mesmerizer with the appropriately named “Magic” footswitch. Its creators say that this box will produce no natural sounds, and boy, are they right. It has an unpredictable tracking control that adjusts the pitch in real-time, giving it a really distinctive sound.
You also get an octave above and an adjustable harmony line, both with mix knobs, in addition to this crazy pitch regeneration. A tone knob, genuine bypass, and expression pedal functionality are included in this best synth effects pedals.
Buying Guide Synth Pedal for Guitar
Selecting a synth pedal that aligns with your musical goals can be a game-changer for your sound. This buying guide aims to help you navigate through the key factors to consider when purchasing a synth pedal.
Different synth pedals offer varied sound capabilities. Some focus on reproducing classic analog synth sounds, while others provide a broad range of digital synth tones. Consider what kind of sounds you wish to incorporate into your music. If you’re after a specific type of synth sound, look for a pedal that specializes in that area.
Interface and Usability
The interface and usability of a synth pedal can significantly impact your experience. Some pedals present a simple interface with a few knobs, making them easy to use but potentially limiting in terms of sound shaping. Others might offer more complex controls, including knobs, switches, and even digital screens, allowing for more extensive sound customization.
The quality of a synth pedal’s tracking—how well it follows your playing—can influence how useful and enjoyable it is to play. Good tracking should feel responsive and accurate, without noticeable latency. Some modern synth pedals feature advanced tracking technology that can even handle bends, slides, and vibrato.
Synth pedals come in a wide range of prices, with budget models offering basic features and premium units providing advanced capabilities. While higher-priced pedals often offer more features and higher quality sounds, there are also many affordable synth pedals that deliver great performance. It’s important to set a budget and find a pedal that offers the best balance of price and features for your needs.
Presets and Programmability
Some synth pedals allow you to save and recall presets, which can be a huge advantage if you want to switch between different sounds quickly. If you like to experiment and create your own unique sounds, look for a pedal with programmability features.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does a Guitar Synth Pedal work?
A guitar synthesizer manipulates a normal guitar signal in ways that nature never intended. They can be used to create wholly new auditory experiences or to try to replicate existing instruments by using devices like LFOs, filters, and wave generators.
Many of these features are packed into one handy unit that fits comfortably on most pedalboards with guitar synth pedals. Because they aren’t usually ‘full function,’ you may want to try a few various models to discover which ones will make the noises you need/want/desire.
If you want to imitate the sounds of other instruments, you should keep your expectations realistic about what a synth pedal can do. Analog waveforms are incredibly difficult to understand. It’s possible that you won’t be able to make your guitar sound exactly like a horn section.
What features should a Guitar Synth Pedal have?
A way to regulate the mix of dry (guitar) and wet (after effects) signals is an important element that every successful model should include. On their own, some synth tones may be a little too strong. Having the opportunity to add some dry signal to smooth things out could be the solution.
What constitutes a “good” feature is largely determined by the player and what he or she wishes to accomplish. Some people prefer a device like the Boss SY-1 Synthesizer, which has a lot of presets and little tweakability, while others prefer the Source Audio C4, which has an offline editor for a lot of deep editing.
Spending time with a few models to see which technique works is one of the finest ways to decide. There’s nothing wrong with examining your alternatives and making the best decision for your needs because some stores provide generous return policies.
Where does a Synth Pedal go in my pedalboard?
Using the majority of synth pedals as a guide, it’s ideal to put your pedal as early as possible in the chain, i.e. closer to your preamp pedal. Synths use a mechanism known as ‘tracking,’ which means the pedal can latch on to and detect a note (or range of notes, if you are using a polyphonic unit).
Having a nice, clean signal to work with will considerably improve the circuitry’s tracking ability. As a result, you’ll have more consistency and a better overall sound. If you put the pedal too far up the chain — for example, after a lot of other effects, phaser pedals, and so on — the signal will become congested and won’t track as effectively. This is especially true if it’s used after fuzz or distortion pedals.
However, to each his or her own. There’s nothing wrong with a little trial and error to see what works and what doesn’t. Some players may enjoy the unpredictable nature of a peculiar signal chain arrangement.
Can I use a synth pedal with bass guitar?
Yes, many synth pedals work well with both electric guitar and bass guitar. However, it’s important to check the pedal’s specifications or reviews to ensure it can handle the lower frequency range of a bass.
Do synth pedals work with acoustic guitars?
While most synth pedals are designed for electric guitars, some can also work with acoustic guitars. An acoustic-electric guitar with a built-in pickup is typically needed to provide the electronic signal the synth pedal requires.
Can I use other effects with my synth pedal?
Yes, a synth pedal can be used in combination with other effects. The order of the pedals in your signal chain can have a significant impact on the sound, so it’s worth experimenting to find what works best for your desired tone.
Do I need a special amplifier for a synth pedal?
Typically, no special amplifier is needed for a synth pedal. However, some synth sounds may be better reproduced by a full-range speaker system (like a keyboard or PA amplifier) rather than a traditional guitar amp.
Do synth pedals need a power supply?
Most synth pedals require a power supply, either through a dedicated power adapter or a battery. The specific power requirements can vary between models, so it’s important to check the manufacturer’s specifications.