The 5 Best Cheap Guitar Pedals Reviewed: GREAT Tones For Under $60!

By Christoper Horton •  Updated: 10/16/22 •  19 min read

I am all about some cheap guitar pedals that sound great, or do one thing REALLY well. Today we take a look at some pedals that wont break the bank, but will appease your G.A.S!


Cheap Guitar Pedals: Guitarist Psychology…

In case you are new, or have just never spent any time on the internet, guitarists often end up with a serious case of G.A.S. This is a clever acronym that gets talked about often in the guitar community and it stands for Gear Acquisition Syndrome. It happens to the best of us, and not even professionals are safe.

Look at people like Joe Bonamossa. This guy has like 400 guitars, as well as a pedal collection that would fill up a warehouse (I think it actually does, somewhere in the Cali suburbs). John Mayer has over 200 guitars and keeps around 20 in his home, on top of his crazy amp and pedal collection. People pick on me for having my lucky 7 guitars (and two basses, and an acoustic), and I am not crazy rich at all.

So why do guitarists do this? Well I can answer from a professional perspective that we sometimes need more than one guitar/amp/pedal because all guitars sound different. For example, an Ibanez is not going to play or sound like a Fender Strat, even though they look a lot alike to the untrained eye.

But the real reason we get get G.A.S is because we get bored. I have always respected players that own 1 or 2 guitars, and that’s all they use. Stevie Ray was like that, and he had a few Fenders that he played on stage every night. Brian May from Queen still plays a guitar he built with his dad in the 60’s, and only has a couple more on tour for “backups”.

But some of us just get bored with our tone, and we are constantly trying out new things to get “our sound”. Lately, I have found that cheap guitar pedals can be a very quick fix for G.A.S that doesn’t destroy your wallet. Buying guitars, pickups, or amps can get expensive quick. But pedals can change your tone for cheap, if you are a smart shopper!

I look at pedals as an instant fix for anyone that has some serious G.A.S. Our gear should make us want to play, and experiment. Sometimes gear can inspire you to create something totally unique. EVH was famous for this, and would “Unchained” sound as cool as it does without that MXR flange pedal? Maybe, but maybe not.

Cheap guitar pedals used to sound like garbage when I was a kid. Most of the “off-brand” copy pedals ended up used once, then pawned off to an unsuspecting friend (Sorry Rob and Destin). But these days, you can find affordable pedals everywhere, even Amazon has a “brand”.

So today we go down the rabbit hole of cheap guitar pedals that I have personally used over the last year or so, and I was surprised at how great they sounded! Everyone is trying to save money these days, and one of these pedals might scratch the itch when you come down with a rabid case of Gear Acquisition Syndrome!

These cheap guitar pedals are in no particular order, but I tried all of them this year, and they are great! Except one, and we will talk about that one. So let’s dive in!


#5 Acoustic Loop 1

cheap guitar pedals

Don’t let the term “Acoustic” fool you, that’s just the name of the company. I always thought it was a bad move for the company Acoustic Amps And Effects to have that name, since it is primarily gear for electric guitars! Check out some of the solid state Acoustic amps, and you will find some high gain monsters.

So with that out of the way, the Looper 1 is one of the best cheap guitar pedals out there. Looper pedals have become a necessity for me these days, since I like to play a riff-loop it-and then play a solo over it. This makes loopers a great tool for songwriters as well as live performers.

The Acoustic Looper 1 is pretty simple in design, but don’t let the spartan appearance fool you. The one button operation allows you to do some cool stuff. The LED changes color as you change function, and the pedal allows you to have 4 “stacks” of loops going at the same time. Up to 30 minutes total of time!

The one button operation can get a little tricky when you have to hold it down to erase a track, or to “redo” a track. This can get confusing if you don’t pay attention to the LED status, but that is all I can really knock this pedal for when it comes to negatives.

Don’t get me wrong, it works just fine if you read the instruction book, and you can switch between the four different layers, turning them off and on. This is something you usually only see on the more expensive loop pedals, that have multiple buttons.

I find that if you skip trying to layer four different things, and use it like a traditional looper, it works great. I have been using it in the FX Loop of my BOSS Katana for a while now, and its a great tool for coming up with solos, melodies, or harmony parts. But I never take it past the two “stacks” since it can get too complicated.

Unlike some cheap guitar pedals, and especially loopers in this price point, the Acoustic is not noisy at all. I have some other cheap loopers laying around, and they either have too short of a time length, or they are noisy/scratchy in the sound reproduction. This little jamming buddy is true bypass too, for those of you that care!

The Acoustic Loop 1 is a steal at this price, and as a mini-sized pedal, it won’t take up a lot of room on your pedalboard. Loopers work best if your amp has an FX Loop, so that way you can record a clean sound to loop, and then change channels for the solo. The Acoustic is the best cheap looper I have came across this year, so grab one up and start jamming!

Acoustic Loop1 Looper Pedal
$49.99

The Acoustic Amplification Loop1 Looper Pedal provides an unparalleled 30 minutes of total recording time with unlimited overdubs, giving players the ability to create longer phrases and even entire songs on-the-fly while writing or performing. Its simple, one-button footswitch operation gives you quick and complete control over start, stop, record, overdub, undo and redo functions!

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#4 Outlaw Effects The General

cheap guitar pedals

We talk a lot about Doom Metal and Stoner Rock here at Electrikjam, because its a genre that we all appreciate deeply. Bands like Truckfighters and Sleep are big influences on all of our staff. With that being said, I think you know that we all appreciate some good fuzz pedals!

If you don’t know the difference between fuzz and distortion, then check out our guide. There are a few ways to build a good fuzz pedal, and the components used will yield different results in texture and sound. One of the most popular is using germanium transistors, and that is not something you usually see on cheap guitar pedals.

Germanium transistors are more like overdrive, and have a smooth, musical tone. While silicon transistors can be a little more harsh. The General by Outlaw Effects uses those sweet, warm germanium circuits to make some really great fuzz. I was skeptical about buying this little guy since I had never heard of Outlaw Effects.

But I am glad I took a chance, and The General is one of the best cheap guitar pedals I have found recently. Germanium circuits tend to be more warm, so I found that this pedal works great with pickups with a lot of midrange boost, like my EMG set.

The General is dead simple with controls, and I kind of like that. The “level” knob acts as an overall volume, and then you have a single knob for the amount of fuzz. There are two ways to use fuzz: You can blend it with your amp’s distortion, or you can use it on a clean channel.

The General works great either way, but I think it really shines when you use it on a clean channel. It blended really well with a light amount of crunchy overdrive, and can get absolutely brutal if you blend it with all-out distortion. But I don’t think that’s where this cheap guitar pedal belongs.

The General sounded best to me on the clean channel with a lot of mids dialed in. This gives the overall sound more of a vintage vibe, especially when playing riffs. With the fuzz at about noon, you can get a very good rhythm tone that reminds me of Josh Homme’s tone in QOTSA.

But the other thing that The General really nails when you use it on the clean channel, is the amazing lead tones when you crank up the fuzz. You can get some very smooth, “singing” tones from the neck humbucker for solos. The General does that “vowel” sound when you get past the 12th fret, and it is smooth.

The General is also one of the best fuzz pedals I have found for single coil pickups. My Schecter NJ absolutely screams on the single coil neck pickup. Fuzz can sometimes sound like an ice pick with single coils, especially with cheap guitar pedals. The General stays warm no matter what.

The Outlaw Effects General will definitely be making my next fuzz pedal list, especially considering the price. I would avoid this pedal if you need something versatile. Make no mistake, it really only does one sound. But The General does that one sound really well!

If you’re a big fan of the early Queens Of The Stone Age tones, like “No One Knows”, then The General absolutely nails that sound. This is a mini, true bypass fuzz pedal that does one sound really well. I think this is one of the best cheap guitar pedals you can get if you are chasing that kind of tone.

If you have never heard of Outlaw Effects, don’t be scared to try them out. Almost all of the pedals fall into the budget category, but I have found some real gems from Outlaw. I even kind of like the goofy Western motif that the company exudes. For another one that does one thing well, check out the Outlaw “Hangman” too!

Outlaw Effects The General Germanium Fuzz
$59.99

The Outlaw Effects General fuzz delivers the warm, vintage fuzz tones of a late '60s-era germanium transistor-based pedal. It covers a range of retro fuzz sounds, from darker, more sustained/compressed sounds to more subtle, Texas Blues-sounding dirt. 

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#3 NUX Brownie

best cheap guitar pedals

Before we get into why I think this is one of the best cheap guitar pedals, I want to talk about the name of the company. I had been pronouncing this name wrong for the last two years, apparently. Recently I reviewed the NUX amp series, and the representative corrected me on the name. It is pronounced “New X”.

I was just in casual conversation with the rep talking about the new “NUHX” amplifier range for beginners, and he corrected me. So for anyone out there saying it wrong, let me save you some possible embarrassment! The NU is like NU-Metal when you say it!

That being said, the NUX brownie is pretty obvious about what this pedal is supposed to do. It is even colored red and white, and the letters look like stripes a little bit. This is supposed to be the “Brown Sound” as EVH famously called it.

Let me be honest with you, I did not have much faith in the Brownie until I played with it a little bit. This is a pretty unique pedal for a few reasons. The whole idea is that this is supposed to sound like a Cranked Marshall, and it does that by having various gain stages built-in, that mimic amp breakup!

NUX calls this BJT technology, and it is a variable input gain circuit. Turn the gain down, and you get a very warm crunch tone. If you crank the gain, you get a solid distortion. But the real fun is in the “in between” positions that actually do mimic a tube amp’s breakup. It also responds well to your guitar’s volume control!

NUX would have had a hit if it just did the above-mentioned things, and it would still be one of the best cheap pedals out there. But NUX took it a step further: Brownie uses a low-pass tone control filter to simulate the VARIAC effect (by lowering the voltage going into the amplifier) for rounding-off your tone.

For those that are unfamiliar, this is how Eddie used make his Marshall amps sound so good. He would set the VARIAC to boost his amp, and that is a whole long story that gets complicated fast. But basically, the tone being a low pass filter makes sure your amp doesn’t “bottom out” with bass from too much distortion.

NUX also claim that the power clipping circuit is crafted from a modern low-noise OP-AMP and 2 red LEDs. It can create symmetrical clipping that distorts both halves of the signal keeping the sound smooth. I absolutely believe them, because this pedal is GREAT.

I found that Brownie works best with the clean channel, or with a light crunch tone as a base sound. There is more than enough gain in the pedal to cover all of your distortion needs. This gives you a solid chugging tone, but also a smooth solo sound if you back off the tone knob on the pedal.

The NUX Brownie is not just one of the best cheap guitar pedals, it is one of my favorite distortion pedals period. Just like the Outlaw General pedal, it does one sound really well. But the tone knob does allow you a little bit of wiggle room to carve out some unique tones.

These “best cheap guitar pedals” are in no particular order, but the Brownie is by far my favorite. I would definitely pay more than the $50 price tag that this thing has attached to it. NUX has been making some really cool gear lately, and this is a company to watch out for.

NUX Brownie Distortion Effects Pedal
$49.99

The NUX Brownie delivers classic British rock tones of the 1970s packed into one little box. By using a hybrid of circuits, NUX created truly unique pre-amp and power tube distortion characteristics. You’ll be amazed to hear the warm, organic tone that’s reproduced. Brownie has a specially designed BJT input stage causing it to “break-up” when the preamp tube starts to distort.

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#2 MXR M86 Classic Distortion

cheap guitar pedals

MXR/Dunlop is a pretty big company to be on a list of the best cheap guitar pedals, but here we are! MXR has made some classic pedals that many famous guitarists have used over the years. Eddie Van Halen used their flange to craft some iconic riffs.

MXR has released a whole series of “basic” pedals like the Classic Distortion that fall into the budget territory. These are all classic sounds, as the label states, with limited options. I really like this kind of pedal, because you know from the get-go that versatility is not going to “be its thing”.

But we aren’t talking about versatility here, we are talking about cheap guitar pedals and at only $40 the MXR definitely qualifies. The title can be a little misleading though, as I don’t think that this is a full-on distortion pedal, like The Brownie is above.

The MXR Classic Distortion is more of a heavy overdrive effect, not a heavy distortion. I think the confusion comes from the name, but also what this pedal is trying to do. This mimics the distortion pedals that you might have found in the 80’s more than anything modern.

But if you can get past that, it can be a great addition to your board. I think it works well in two different ways. The first is with a completely clean amp. This gives you a solid crunch sound that has plenty of mids to cut through the mix. Roll off the tone control a little, and you get some sweet Santana-like lead tones.

But it also works a lot like a Tube Screamer if you already have a heavier distortion tone that you want to boost, or tighten up. I had my amp set on the crunch channel, and had the MXR with everything at noon on the settings. This gives you a great boost that tightens up the bass, or gives you that push you need for solos.

So while the name is a little muddy and possibly misleading, the actual device is definitely one of the best cheap guitar pedals I have come across. I had a $5 coupon and ended up getting this pedal for only 35 bucks! This is a killer deal if you know what to expect from the pedal.

So if the NUX Brownie is just way too much gain for your guitar tone, then the MXR Classic Distortion might be more up your alley. It works great as a stand-alone overdrive and really shines when you add it to an already saturated sound.

MXR M86 Classic Distortion Effects Pedal
$39.99

ON SALE! The M86 Classic Distortion joins the ranks of MXR classics such as the Phase 90 and Dyna Comp Compressor, setting a new benchmark in distortion tone and quality. Developed from the ground up using carefully selected components, the Classic Distortion delivers everything from sweet-singing overdrive to massive distorted crunch. 

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Before We Get To The Final Pedal: AVOID THIS ONE

cheap guitar pedals to avoid

Chances are, this article may have inspired you to go to your favorite site and see what other pedals are in the “best cheap guitar pedals” price range. If you have been browsing, and came across the EHX Nano-Clone, you need to skip this one at all costs. It is awful.

Most people know that Electro-Harmonix makes some great classic pedals that have been used by the legends. I bought the Nano Clone thinking that it would be a lot like the famous pedal used buy Kurt Cobain. I don’t know what happened with this EHX pedal, but it has problems.

The Nano-Clone sounds “okay” on the clean channel, but the moment you hit any kind of overdrive you get a wall of static noise. I can’t tell you why, since I didn’t take it apart to inspect it. But just to be sure, I did check out some other reviews.

Every other reviewer came to the same conclusion that I did: This pedal is unusable. So if this article has inspired you to do some browsing, take note. This pedal is sold by every major retailer in the world, at a budget price. Mine sits in a corner of my closet, since it can only really be used for clean tones, and even then there is some serious line noise problems.

If you want a chorus pedal for cheap, get the next pedal instead.


#1 NUX Reissue Analog Chorus

cheap guitar pedals

NUX does it again, and makes the list for the best cheap guitar pedals, although this time for a chorus pedal. I picked this one to counter the Nano-Clone, but also because of how rich the sound is from the NUX. It does a very particular sound VERY well.

One of my favorite amps that I owned as teen was the Peavey Classic Chorus 212. This was a stereo chorus amp, solid state, with some amazing tones. I used that amp to record the first album I was ever a part of, as well as hours and hours of practice time.

The NUX Chorus does the same sound as that Peavey amp, and I am talking about that lush, beautiful 80’s chorus sound. If you think back to songs like “Hysteria” by Def Leppard, then you know exactly what this pedal sounds like with a clean tone.

The NUX Analog Chorus Pedal features the “Bucket Brigade” series analog tone circuit. A Bucket Brigade Device is an analog circuit contained within a small chip that delays an incoming audio signal. This is the “chip inside a chip” technology that made all of the original modulation pedals work, especially delay!

But the real secret weapon of the NUX Chorus is the control: Turning down the “speed” and cranking the “width”. If you do this with a heavy distortion tone, you have a killer sound that reminds me of “No More Tears” by Ozzy. If gives you that stereo expand feel, and makes harmonics really stand out.

When it comes to cheap guitar pedals, I don’t know if I can think of another chorus pedal that does this much at this price. Most under $60 are going to be simple, one knob pedals that only controls speed. NUX really nailed classic chorus sounds with this pedal, and do it at a price everyone can afford.

If you like 80’s Goth music, this pedal is also good for bass guitar! But I think it really kicks ass when you try to get some of the classic Robert Smith tones with a single coil pickup guitar. NUX nailed the 80’s vibe with this pedal, but gave you enough control to make it versatile.

So if you are into Shoegaze, Doom, Goth, or everything in between…this might be the perfect affordable option for your pedalboard. NUX has some more cheap guitar pedals that I really want to try out, and several are from this reissue series (meaning they are classic in tone). The closest pedal I own is an MXR Analog that was twice this much!

NUX Reissue Series Analog Chorus
$59.99

Built with a bucket-brigade tone circuit, the NUX Analog Chorus does all of the classic sounds that you would expect!

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Cheap Guitar Pedals: The Moral Of The Story…

Sometimes changing up your tone and how you approach guitar can be a lot of fun. I have also seen people go down gear rabbit-holes and spend a ton of money instead of playing their guitar. These cheap guitar pedals are a perfect way to have a “new toy” without breaking the bank.

Because the moral of the story for most of us, is that G.A.S never truly goes away. It may be a condition that enters remission from time to time, but in the end we are all slaves to the “tone”. You might not give in today, or tomorrow…but you WILL give in.

In all seriousness, I am pretty happy with the gear I have. I know I am lucky to have the things that I have, and I appreciate every piece of gear I own. I rarely make any large purchases, which is why these cheap guitar pedals can come in handy. All of these have kept me experimenting this year, and I didn’t break the bank to get there.

The whole thing about G.A.S isn’t greed or anything nefarious. For most of us, we just want something new that inspires us! Sometimes that is a new sound, and sometimes that requires a new gadget to create that sound. Whatever makes you pick up guitar and play, is “worth it”!

Christoper Horton

Christopher has been playing guitar and piano for 27 years. He has been active in the professional music industry for over two decades. He has toured for years with several bands and music projects. He worked in LA as a studio musician and engineer working with bands like IAMSOUND, Baroness, Kylesa, Black Tusk, Reflux, and Tripping Daisy. In between giving private lessons, he is recording a solo album for 2022-2023. Christopher plays Schecter guitars, BOSS amplifiers, and uses STL Tones in the studio.

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