Mini pedals are a great way to get all the sounds you need with the smallest-possible footprint on stage. Here’s our pick of the best bijou stompboxes that will help you maximise your pedalboard’s real estate…
1TC Electronic Ditto Looper
Sometimes the best things do come in the smallest packages. While you can buy much bigger and more complicated loopers, TC Electronic’s pocket-sized unit has found its way onto thousands of pedalboards because frankly, looping doesn’t get much more intuitive than this. 24-bit uncompressed audio and unlimited overdubs mean you never have to stop playing along with yourself, while true bypass and analogue dry-through mean that it won’t mess up your core tone.
2TC Electronic Hall Of Fame Mini Reverb
The physical realities of size and power requirements mean that you’re never going to get loads of versatility from DSP-hungry digital effects such as reverb, but the Hall Of Fame Mini offers an ingenious solution. While you only get one sound at once and one knob to tweak it with, TC’s TonePrint technology lets you beam in a variety of different reverb sounds to the pedal, so you can choose your favourite, tweak it to taste, and then have it at your feet whenever you need it.
3MXR M290 Phase 95 Mini
Part of a wave of mini-pedals to come out over the past few years, the Phase 95 takes the classic Phase 90 template, shrinks it down a bit, and adds two different toggles to channel different periods of MXR’s phasing past. For one, you can select between the standard four-stage phaser of the Phase 90 or the slightly subtler two-stage phasing of the Phase 45. The ‘script’ toggle refers to two different eras of vintage Phase 90 production. Engaging that button will remove some feedback from the mix, creating a somewhat mellower tone.
4JHS Mini Foot Fuzz V2
Mini pedals are often dismissed as the preserve of budget brands, but the Kansas City boutique darling JHS Pedals has a selection of mini-pedals in its range, and none is more fun than the Mini Foot Fuzz. Offering fuzz sounds ranging from gated, low-gain splat to singing, sustaining buzz, there’s a load of versatility in those two little knobs, while the V2 version goes further still, with a toggle switch to offer a choice of vintage low-gain or modern high-gain fuzz tones.
5Xotic EP Booster
The Echoplex EP-3 is one of the most beloved vintage tape-echo pedals around, but while its solid-state echoes might have been the main event, many guitar players were equally charmed by the tone-enhancing effect of the unit’s FET preamp, and the likes of Brian May, Andy Summers, Jimmy Page and even Eddie Van Halen were all fans of running the EP-3 without any echo at all, for just this reason. The EP Booster takes that boost circuit and puts it in a mini-pedal housing that delivers up to +20dB of boost, giving you shimmering highs, powerful lows, and all the warmth and sparkle you could ever need. No wonder it’s become a pro-pedalboard staple in recent years.
6Dunlop FFM3 Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face Mini
For years, if you wanted to get that authentic Hendrix fuzz tone at your feet, you had to compensate for the awkward reality of the classic Fuzz Face’s plate-sized footprint – but no longer. The Fuzz Face Mini offers those classic dynamic fuzz tones of the 60s at low gain, but crank it up and grunge chaos is very much in play. The Mini version also adds such modern considerations as a status LED, external power and true bypass.
7ZVEX Effects Fuzzolo
Zachary Vex has a reputation for his wildly creative effects, but the pint-sized Fuzzolo is borderline sensible… at least at first glance. A high-gain silicon fuzz that offers lashings of mid-bumped Muff-style box on the outset, the fun starts when you start tweaking the Fuzzolo’s Pulse Width control. This changes the shape of the waveform, opening up a world of spitty, glitchy, 8-bit madness – we expect nothing less from Zvex.
8Keeley Electronics Red Dirt Overdrive
Robert Keeley’s modifications to the venerable Ibanez Tube Screamer have become legendary in their own right, and the Red Dirt pedal took all the tone-enhancing mods that Keeley had devised over a decade and put them into one pedal. The Red Dirt was a smash, but this mini version offers four switchable modes – distortion, overdrive, crunch and amp – selected by an internal DIP switch, so you can choose the perfect TS for you.
9Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini
Earlier in this decade, the pedal market experienced what can only be described as a mini-pedal craze, with loads of different brands offering bite-sized versions of their most renowned circuits. Ibanez’s first entry into the format was the Tube Screamer Mini, which crams the classic overdrive circuit into a bijou box for a ridiculously good price. The best part is, it sounds pretty damn close to a TS808, too. So whether you’re using it as a boost or full-on overdrive, if you’ve ever wanted to find out what all the fuss is about with Tube Screamers, this is a must-buy.
10Electro-Harmonix Nano POG
Since the 1960s, octave effects have been a part of the guitar wizard’s arsenal, especially when combined with fuzz – just ask Jimi Hendrix. But when EHX released the Polyphonic Octave Generator, it was manna from heaven for creative guitarists, offering four distinct octave voices to ornament the dry signal. The likes of Jack White and Nels Cline wasted no time in putting the POG to good use and since then, it’s been available in smaller and smaller packages, culminating in the Nano POG, which also sports improved tracking and silent switching to make it an even more powerful creative tool.