The 10 Best Synthesizer Guitar Pedals
This wiki has been updated 5 times since it was first published in May of 2020. The electrification of the guitar opened up a whole new world of possibilities for this versatile instrument. Later, when technicians began to emulate, or “synthesize,” the sounds of other instruments by attenuating audio signals, the synthesizer was born. Guitar synth pedals combine the two to recreate many of the tones, both vintage and modern, commonly used in popular music to this day. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
June 05, 2020:
Ever since the introduction of the first modular synthesizers back in the 1960s and early 1970s, which included models like the Mini Moog, ARP 2600, and the Buchla System, the sound has become a ubiquitous component of modern popular music. The synth pedals in this ranking take the guitar’s signal and process it by applying envelopes, filters, and low-frequency oscillators (LFOs), which shape and modulate it to emulate classic synthesizers, as well as producing unique, customizable, and contemporary-sounding tones.
Some, such as the Aural Dream Legend, and the Boss SYB-5, are specific in the sounds they emulate, in these cases, a formant (vocal) synth and a bass synthesizer, respectively. These are ideal for musicians wishing to incorporate those particular tones into their live sound, however, there are multi-effects units available that will produce similar sounds, and can be programmed to switch between several patches at the click of a button.
Of these, the Boss SY-1000 features eight assignable footswitches, providing an entire arsenal of synthesizer sounds, ready to be activated in a split second. It features a large, bright display, and a host of preset and customizable patches to choose from. The Roland GR-55GK hails from its sister company and features pitch-detection technology, which gives it very fast tracking speeds, as well as an expression pedal for added volume swells, filter sweeps, and many other embellishments. Those looking for a more compact solution might consider the Mooer E7, which has seven storable and editable presets that are toggled via its single footswitch, and is a compact stompbox that can be added to a pedalboard alongside various other effects.
Other pedals in this ranking serve to emulate the famous modular synthesizer sounds of yesteryear, including the Source Audio C4, which models the popular Eurorack synths of the 1990s, and the Electro-Harmonix Synth9, which has nine preset models based on the Mini Moog, ARP Odyssey, Korg Polysix, and the Prophet V, among others. These vintage instruments’ physical limitations are altered by triggering them with stringed instruments, creating new stylistic possibilities, and changing the timbres that they can produce.