5 Best Noise Gate Pedals In 2018 – Buyers Guide And Reviews

No matter how skilled you are at playing the guitar, no matter how good your instrument is and no matter how good your amp is: unwanted noise can drastically impair how you sound.

Many guitarists neglect to use noise gate pedals. Why? Because many of us think reverb, delay, wah-wah, etc. when it comes to guitar pedals.

WRONG!

Noise gate pedals (often called noise suppressor pedals) are one of the best investments you can make for improving the quality of your music.

At a Glance: Our Choice Of The 5 Best Noise Gate Pedals 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.

So what does a noise gate pedal actually do?

A noise gate pedal takes a look at the incoming signal, and either reduces or completely eliminates anything below the threshold you set, whilst leaving the rest intact.

Do you play a single coil guitar? You’ll be familiar with the 60hz hum that lingers in the background of your music whenever you play.

A noise gate pedal fixes that.

Perhaps you’ve got feedback issues?

Noise gate pedal.

Maybe somewhere in the chain of effects pedals there’s a weird distortion from some faulty wiring or a non-true passthrough.

Noise gate pedal.

Even if you don’t have any of these problems, if you’re playing in multiple venues you’ll need to make sure you sound exactly the same in each one, regardless of how good their in house audio or PA system is.

Can you guess what the solution is?

Yup. Noise gate pedal dammit!

Buyer's Tips: What to look for when buying a noise gate pedal

You’ll want two settings on your noise gate pedal; one for amplitude and another for decay. Some pedals like to get creative with one or more additional settings, and sometimes these two and mixed together.

Another feature that some noise gate pedals have is the ability to completely mute your signal. This can be useful in live playing as it lets you have complete silence in between songs.

You might find an indicator on your noise gate pedal of choice that flashes to show you how much work the pedal is actually doing, the faster the flash the more noise is being reduced. This is mostly useful if you’re playing as part of a band as you might not be certain whose gear is causing the buzz. Otherwise, it should be apparent as soon as you turn on the pedal.

Tips when using a Noise Gate Pedal

  • Placing the Noise Gate Pedal at the beginning of your effects chain will reduce coil hum before it gets amplified, distorted, overdriven, etc, by your other pedals
  • Setting the amplitude high and the decay low can allow you to cut out your guitar signal between individual notes (perfect for chugging and getting rid of unwanted slides as you move up and down the neck)
  • If you’re using it to reduce the buzz of a particularly shoddy pedal, only use the noise gate when the problem pedal is also in use, otherwise you’ll be cutting into the sounds you actually need rather than unwanted noise.
  • If you’re going to be playing harmonics, ghost notes, or other techniques that need a delicate touch, make sure that the noise gate pedal isn’t set so high that it’ll completely kill this signal!​

5 Best Noise Gate Pedals

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. Boss NS-2

boss-ns-2-noise-suppressor

Click to learn more / buy from Amazon

Easily one of the best noise gate pedals around thanks to the full range of controls it gives you, as well as being dependable and affordable. This is currently the most popular noise gate pedal among guitarists.

  • Does a great job eliminating coil hum, and as part of an effects loop, it takes care of fuzzy pedals
  • Has separate dials for threshold and decay which makes it ideal for tightly articulated playing
  • Has a mute mode if you need to completely silence your guitar
  • 9V battery runs out very quickly
  • It can flatten the tone of your guitar somewhat
  • The threshold setting lacks precision, so it can be hard to get the exact amount of reduction needed

Let's take a look at this product...


2. ISP Technologies Decimator II G-String

isp-technologies-decimator-ii-g-string-noise-suppresor-pedal

Click to learn more / buy from Amazon

Whereas the Boss NS-2 is the everyman’s noise gate pedal, the Decimator II is the elitist version. Although there are less controls (its got an on/off switch and one dial) it does a superb job of handling noise reduction without needing anything else.

  • Very well made, it can take a lot of punishment
  • Hardly impacts the tone of your guitar at all, but does an excellent job of removing unwanted noise
  • Is able to adjust for the right amount of decay - to a point
  • Without adjusting your gain, the Decimator II is liable to get carried away and lower your decay too much
  • It’s one of the most expensive noise gate pedals
  • Not having separate dials for threshold and decay makes it less useful for heavy chugging

Let's take a look at this product...


3. MXR M135 Smart Gate

mxr-m-135-smart-gate-noise-gate-pedal

Click to learn more / buy from Amazon

I’ve always wondered how long it would take for the “Smart” prefix to start invading guitar pedals! This is one noise gate pedal that tries to be an active participant in your playing, rather than just doing exactly as it’s told and nothing more.

  • Is able to differentiate between long, sustained notes and fast picking to kick in the decay you need automatically
  • Has three settings for reduction along with a threshold dial for well controlled reduction
  • Plays well with single coils, high gain, chugging, or muting noise during silent stretches without needing to be fiddled with constantly
  • Has a true bypass
  • It’s quite expensive, but that price is justified by the Smart Gate’s ability to adapt to your playing
  • The 9V battery is nowhere near enough power supply for extended use
  • Some dexterity is required to manipulate the threshold dial with your feet

Let's take a look at this product...


4. Behringer NR300

behringer-noise-reducer-nr300

Click to learn more / buy from Amazon

A super cheap alternative, very similar in kind to the Boss NS-2. It looks more or less identical, and has all the same features.

  • Everything you’d want from the Boss NS-2, but cheaper, making it ideal for budget musicians or if you just want to test what a noise gate pedal can do for you
  • Nice big stompbox style on/off switch
  • Eliminates hum and buzz quite well
  • Noticeably detrimental to your tone (although it’s not absolutely horrible, it’s just not as subtle as others)
  • Much flimsier than its competitors
  • Doesn’t keep up with you if you have lots of variety in your playing style (unlike the Smart Gate)

Let's take a look at this product...


5. Electro-Harmonix Hum Debugger

electro-harmonix-hum-debugger-hum-eliminator

Click to learn more / buy from Amazon

The Hum Debugger takes the minimalist style and runs away with it. You have strong or normal, and on or off. That’s it. It couldn’t be much simpler to use

  • If you dread playing around with settings all day and just want to get on with playing, this is a great pedal for getting rid of a persistent hum from single coil pickups.
  • Doesn’t run through power as fast as other noise gate pedals
  • It’s quite compact and fits nicely on a cramped pedal board
  • This isn’t really a full noise gate pedal, it’s only real capability is reducing the 60hz hum. If you need more than that, you’ll need to take a look at one of the other pedals
  • Reduces the warmth of your tone significantly on strong setting, and is still noticeable on normal
  • For the limited applications of this pedal, it’s overpriced

Let's take a look at this product...


So which should I buy?

If you’re still finding it difficult to decide which is the best noise gate pedal, don’t worry. When you’re comparing very similar bits of gear it can be challenging.

In our opinion, there are two clear winners.

  • If you’re just looking for a cheap fix for a persistent coil based hum, then the Behringer NR300 is the most affordable way to do it, and still offers a decent amount of control for fine tuning. The only problem is it’s lack of durability, so it might be better left in a studio or it’ll have to be treated very kindly.
  • On the other hand, if you need something that’s got more flexibility and assist with the articulation and clarity of playing heavier styles of music, (looking at you, Djent) then you’ll be much happier if you go with the MXR M135 Smart Gate instead since it can reliably keep up with you.
  • If you find that either of these pedals is affecting your tone negatively, or you don’t trust the Smart Gate to properly anticipate what you need it to do, then the ISP Technologies Decimator II G String has the best tone, whilst still being a very simple piece of kit to use.

I hope we’ve managed to help you narrow down your choices. Let us know how they’ve worked out for you in the comments below!

Related Posts

Leave a Comment