Best Effects Pedals for Acoustic Guitars – Buying Guide & Reviews

Whenever we imagine acoustic guitars, a board full of pedals doesn’t normally enter that mental image. And that’s fine. But even if you’re a long time acoustic musician, one or two effects pedals can help you to expand what music you and your instrument are capable of creating.

It’s not going to be a case of adding in crazy distortion and other weird effects, those kind of things are best left to electrics - but don’t feel like this is an unbreakable rule. Experimentation is the key to discovering new sounds after all.

The best effects pedals for acoustic guitar are the ones that support the sound created: think EQ, chorus, volume, etc.

At a Glance: Our Choice Of The 5 Best Effects Pedals For Acoustic Guitar On The Market

Note: The links above take you to more information, current prices and customer reviews on Amazon. If you do purchase something we get a small commission, which has absolutely no effect on the eventual price that you pay.

Buyer's Tips: What to look for when buying an effects pedal for acoustic guitars

If you’ve never bought an effects guitar pedal for your acoustic before, or even for an electric, then it can help to keep a few basic rules in mind.

  • You don’t have to buy pedals specifically created for acoustic guitars, most of the time you can simply use the same pedal an electric player would - but that doesn’t mean all pedals made for acoustics are a ripoff either.
  • As you’ll likely not have a whole band full of instruments, you’re going to have to focus on the way your pedals change the quality of your guitar’s tone - if it gets a synthetic quality on the low end of the pedal’s settings, it’s not going to be much use (unless that’s what you were going for originally)

5 Best Effects Pedals For Acoustic Guitar

Ok let's look at each product in more detail. To make things easier for you, we've added pros and cons for each one, as well as a video demonstration so you can see them in action. So without further ado, let’s take a look...

1. TC Electronics Ditto X4 Looper (Editor's Choice)

TC Electronic Ditto X4 Looper Effects Guitar Pedal

This pedal is great for solo guitarists as it lets you play your rhythm live, recording it on this pedal as you go along and then play it back under a lead lick. It’s one of the most common types of effects pedals used by acoustic guitarists - and this one has some great potential.

  • Record and store two loops at a time
  • A choice of 7 effects and adjustable decay to apply to the recorded tracks can give you a great variety of options as an acoustic guitarist
  • One of the easiest looper pedals to use makes it great for live, studio or even practice play.
  • Has to use a mains power supply
  • This isn’t a cheap pedal, so you’ll need to be serious before you invest in it
  • There isn’t an in-built metronome so it can be difficult to line up the tracks to play exactly in time with each other.

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2. MXR M234 Analog Chorus

MXR M234 Analog Chorus Pedal

A chorus is one of the best effects you should have in your arsenal as an acoustic guitarist, and this particular model works perfectly for acoustics precisely because of its analog circuitry. You won’t be losing out on any of the natural warmth and resonance of your guitar.

  • Very durable, making it great for use on the road
  • Very high quality chorus that holds all ranges quite well, especially the bass which sounds very natural and warm
  • An affordable option that is a great first choice for your acoustic set up
  • When the battery starts to run low it loses quality, so is best used with mains power supply
  • Because it’s an analog circuit, the quality can degrade over the year if the transistors and caps aren’t replaced
  • Without a decent preamp this pedal doesn’t work as well for acoustic guitars as it does electrics

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3. Behringer VD400 Vintage Delay Effects Pedal (Budget Choice)

Behringer VD400 Vintage Analog Delay Effects Pedal

This is a decent delay effect, and can help you get some great atmospheric sounds with the right settings, and also lends itself well to helping an acoustic guitar ‘fill the room’ in larger venues.

  • One of the cheapest pedals
  • You can get really creative with this pedal, the settings are sensitive enough to be fine tuned but not so much that you have to spend a long time getting everything 'just right'.
  • Although it’s plastic, it’s quite tough. This and the low weight make it a great travelling companion for gigs.
  • The power input is right next to the guitar input, which can make it really difficult to combine with other pedals in a chain.
  • This is a very budget friendly delay pedal, but this comes at a trade off which is noticeable when compared to truly high end effects. However, if you’re using it for live playing it won’t be an issue, but for studio recording then it would be better to use a more sophisticated pedal.
  • It’s preferable to use mains supply as always, but changing the battery on this particular pedal is a chore.

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4. Empress ParaEQ

Empress ParaEq with Boost

One of the most important pedals an acoustic guitarist should be considering is an EQ pedal. This particular pedal is undeniably one of the greatest, and therefore can be considered one of the best effects pedals for acoustic guitar players.

  • Can be fine-tuned to the perfect tone you’ve had in your head but just couldn’t reach with other EQs
  • Zero “hiss” that plagues so many EQ pedals makes this one perfect for an acoustic guitarist as you wouldn’t be able to cover that up with a wall of sound
  • Can switch between 9, 12 and 18v power for extra oomph, so if you’re going to need a lot of headroom one day and not as much on another, this has you covered.
  • Comes in at a premium price level, so it’s for the truly serious only.
  • Because it’s so tweakable, you won’t get the most out of this pedal unless you’ve got a real ear for exactly what you need
  • Can run through power like you wouldn’t believe, so don’t take a chance and try to rely on battery for anything other than fun, or it can really ruin your gig.

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5. Electro Harmonix Nano Stone

Electro Harmonix Small Stone Nano Analog Phase Shifter Guitar Effects Pedal

To round off this list, take a look at this little phaser effect pedal. It’s a very compact pedal, and offers a basic layout that lets you get on with the real task of playing guitar without spending all day tweaking and adjusting.

  • Very cheap, which is good for a phaser as you won’t be constantly using it for your acoustic playing
  • Has a tiny profile so it can help to keep baggage to a minimum (let the electric players deal with carting a ton of equipment around!)
  • Has a toggle for “colour” which lets you get a warmer tone that is much better suited to acoustics, but playing with higher settings on the “rate” knob can transform the sound of your acoustic to something you would never normally get to hear.
  • Doesn’t have a level control, so you won’t be able to set how strong the phaser’s volume is.
  • As an acoustic player you’ll mostly want to keep the rate setting low, otherwise it can go overboard quickly, so most of time you might feel you’ve got twice as much phaser as you could ever possibly use and nothing to replace it with
  • If you tend to slide your fingers over the strings audibly, this pedal will pick that up and make some very strange sounds that you would rather avoid (unless of course you’ve gone psychedelic and want exactly that!)

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So which should I buy?

Choosing which pedal to get first for your acoustic set up can be quite a difficult task. Although each of these pedals does something different, the best effects pedal for acoustic guitar to start with will either be a looper or a chorus pedal since it can give you the extra voice you wouldn’t normally have as a solo player.

If we had to choose between one of them, the TC Electronics Ditto X4 Looper would be our first choice because of the additional capabilities it gives you in live playing that can’t be done by any other type of pedal on this list.

If you’ve already got some of these, the next step would be to go for a good EQ pedal, as this can take an amateurish sounding track and boost it up to pro levels by giving you ultimate control over how it sounds even when you’re at a gig. In fact, the extra control you get means you should consider it a necessity if you’re gigging in different venues a lot as it can help you stay consistent no matter where you’re playing that night.

If you’d like to share your experiences with using effects pedals as an acoustic guitarist, please let us know how it went in the comments below!

Ged is Founder and Editor-in-chief at Zing Instruments. He’s a guitarist for London based gypsy jazz band ‘Django Mango’ and a lover of all things music. When he’s not ripping up and down the fretboard, he’s tinkering with his ’79 Campervan.

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