4 Must-Have Pedals for a Funk Guitarist

Are there any real “must-have” pedals to play a particular genre

Well, the answer would always be to take your instrument and play. 

But thinking about how an FX, sound, or tone could inspire you to go for something more that you would not come out without it, is actually the main idea. 

These pedals will help you get funky, and I am not talking about the odor. 

My 4 must-have pedals for a funk guitarist are:

  1. Wah-wah, such as a Dunlop Cry Baby
  2. Compressor, such as an MXR Dyna Comp
  3. Phaser, such as an EHX Bad Stone
  4. Overdrive, such as an Ibanez Tubescreamer

Even though you are as far away from New Orleans as possible, these tips will help you get to the right place as a funk guitarist. 

These are the 4 must-have pedals for a funk guitarist

Starting point: single-coil guitars are a great start since they have this crisp and clear tone that jumps out of the mix. They also have a wider dynamic range. 

Think about Nile Rodgers, John Frusciante(Red Hot Chili Peppers), David Williams(Michale Jackson), and Steve Cropper.

Either way, It does not matter what you are playing but it has to feel comfortable, it has to be you. 

That way I came out with these four pedals that could take your guitar playing to the next level. 

1. Wah-Wah

For those who don’t know what the wah-wah fx is, It’s a tone filter. 

Think of it as a tone control. 

As you may have seen this fx is mostly an expression pedal. 

It will add top-end the further you put your toe down, and It will also take off top-end the further you have your heel down.

Even though this fx keeps showing up in so many different genres in the US and around the globe. 

It actually became the most popular sound whenever someone talks about funk guitar. And also one of the most fun to play around with.

Some classic pedals:

  • Jim Dunlop GCB95F Cry Baby
  • Fulltone USA Clyde StandardFulltone USA Clyde Standard
  • Vox V847-A Wah Pedal

2. Compressor

Easily explained, this great pedal will take your loud parts down, and your low parts up. 

You will keep your tone under complete control. In addition, the compressor pedal makes your tone thicker since it’s actually compressing frequencies so that you will have a more balanced tonality. 

What is more, you’ll be able to put this pedal in different spots on your pedal-chain getting really different results.

Some good examples are:

  • Boss CS-2
  • MXR m102 Dyna Comp
  • Origin Effects Cali 76

3. Phaser

When I think about phasers I think about textures. 

Phasers are a popular funk effect as they provide a subtle oscillation adding a different dynamic to the tone. 

Phasers are best employed during funky rhythm strumming when paired with a solid clean tone. 

Especially on the higher register of the fretboard

The most famous ones:

  • MXR Phase 90
  • Boss PH-3 Phase Shifter
  • Electro Harmonix Bad Stone Phase Shifter

4. Overdrive

Even though having a clean-warm tone is really important. There sure will be times to get dirty and muddy. Therefore overdrive for the heavy rhythm parts and solos is the perfect solution.

Not to be confused with distortion. Overdrive is considered a particular form of distortion caused by “pushing” an amp past its capability for producing a clean tone. 

And if you did not know, there are several types: Soft clipping, soft clipping transparent, hard clipping, transistor.

Back to the examples:

  • Ibanez Tube Screamer Ts808
  • Fulltone OCD v2
  • Electro-Harmonix Soul Food

Remember that a good clean tone is as important as your pedals

Coming back to the basics. 

Having a clean tone might be the most important part of your whole sound. It will be the base of your tone and feeling

Bright and warm as all the albums that we love so much such as The Payback(James Brown), Maggot Brain(Funkadelic), Head Hunters(Herbie Hancock), you name it.

And from there, compressor – overdrive – wah-wah – phaser. Or any particular order you like, the limit is the sky. 

Just remember whatever you do, do it to accomplish what you are looking for: your sound. What makes it like you, what feels right. So plug those pedals in and have fun.