The effects pedals are the very foundation that comes between your guitar and the amplifier. You can make all sorts of different sounds by working with the pedals. Each pedal has a different effect, from distortion to delay, reverb to wah. You can even amplify your playing by making your guitar sound like it's being played through a speaker. There are hundreds of different pedals on the market, but each one is unique in its own way.
Synth pedals are a huge part of music today. Uncover how to make your bass sound like those famous musicians. Get liquid-sounding drum loops and add a modern sheen of insanity to your guitar solos!
Synthesizers have gotten a bad rap for being expensive and complicated. There are synthesizers that are both of these things, with prices to match. But, there is a range you can explore that's accessible to almost anyone.
What Are Synthesizers?
A synthesizer is a device that produces sound using electronics. It mimics the process of a musician playing an instrument. But its output is electrical, rather than acoustic. The technology behind a synth is to reproduce the timbre of various instruments. As well as other sounds such as rhythm, dynamics, bendings, etc.
Synthesizers became popular in the 1970s. They also introduce sweeping sounds and electronic effects. Today, there are different kinds of synthesizers for different kinds of music. String synths for that classic '80s sound, analog synths for vintage techno, and digital synths for modern pop.
The term synth means "to synthesize,". It is the process of combining simple elements to create more complex sounds or images. Without getting too technical, you can think of a synth as an instrument that is operated by a keyboard or other remote controller. They generate sound using one or more internal oscillators and filters to produce what we call a patch.
Role Of Oscillators in Synthesizer
Oscillators are crucial to the creation of synth sounds. It creates what's known as a fundamental tone, or carrier wave. There are three main controls on oscillators that change the sound. It is the frequency, amplitude, and waveshape.
An oscillator generates and outputs a repeating waveform. The frequency of this waveform is the ‘pitch’ or perceived note. You may perceive amplitude as volume and the waveshape is what it actually sounds like.
The level of control you get over your oscillators makes them the most important part of what kind of sound you can make. Which is why they're so underrated and overlooked!
What Are Synth Stompboxes?
A synth stompbox is an altered guitar pedal. It has been mainly powered and fitted with a synth interface to convert a guitar into a synth. This combination gives the user direct control over the synth. Giving them more creative freedom than traditional synths.
Synths are one of the most popular and accessible ways of producing electronic music. Synths are often used by beginners because of their ease to learn and adapt to. But, like guitars, synthesizers come in a variety of shapes and sizes. You can also use them for many different situations.
You can categorize synthesizers as either software synthesizers or hardware synths. This is because the two types of synthesizers differ in how they produce sound. Hardware synthesizers make sound by electrically generating it with built-in circuits. While software synthesizers use a computer to generate sound using only software.
Why You Should Get A BOSS Synth Stompboxes?
When it comes to synths, a lot of people think they can only be processed by synthesizers. But the truth is a lot more exciting — you can use synths for all kinds of different effects. One of the best ways to achieve this effect is with a stompbox. Here is why you should get a BOSS Synth Stompbox!
Synth pedals are efficient and powerful tools to create drum sounds. Also, other sounds outside the typical guitar/bass paradigm.
So why then should you get a BOSS guitar pedal synth? Because you can get some of the most popular and classic synths sounds at your fingertips. Alternate tunings? Sure, that's easy with a stompbox. Waveshaping/FM? No problem. Ring modulators? Bring them on! You can even add a little bit of grit while you're at it!
How Do Synth Stompboxes Work?
Ever since guitarists first started wielding effects on their rigs, they've been dreaming of ways to give their guitar sounds a new twist. While vintage fuzz tones are still sought after, there have been many new developments in the world of effects. It helped push the boundaries of what guitarists can do with their instruments. Synth pedals or pedals capable of synthesizing audio have long remained popular with keyboard players. But are only now making waves with guitarists and bassists alike.
Synth pedals are complex pieces of gear. Their function and structure of them vary greatly. But, the effect that they have on music is generally straightforward. Synthesizers add rich textures and layering to a piece. May it be from live instrumentation to electronic recordings.
These physical characteristics of synths and how they affect the input signal will help to create cohesion between the synth and the input. So, if we have a more “synthy” guitar sound, this would be a better generator to use than something like a clean, electric guitar pedal such as a distortion or overdrive. This is because synths are generally associated with music genres like techno, house, trance, etc.
Here’s Sam giving a tour of the BOSS SY-1, a powerful guitar pedal that makes use of a wide range of different sound options.
What Are The Types of Synth Stompboxes?
All synths are different and have distinct features. The selection of synth pedals is huge and the market for these pedals continues to grow. There are different types of synths, such as analog and digital.
The type of guitar effects you're using will interact with the synth pedal in interesting ways. This makes this list of synth pedals a great place to start with figuring out which pedal is best for your needs.
1. Analog-Oscillator-Based Synth Stompboxes
Synth pedals with an analog oscillator-based design are the most popular type of synthesizer pedal. They're a great way to achieve massive synth sounds! Let's take a closer look at this type of synth pedal.
When most people talk about synth pedals, they're talking about this type of pedal. The kind that makes sound by itself. They're not analog because they don't process the original connection in an analog way (no audio amplification/filter). But, they do synthesize the desired sound in an analog way. Like with a synthesizer, you can control exactly what it hears (the guitar/bass). And, how it responds to that input to create a wide range of sounds. Many pedals have many patches which allow for even more possibilities.
There are many factors to consider when you're looking to add an analog oscillator-based synth pedal to your rig. Especially if you're new to synthesizer pedals. With an analog system, everything is done by calculation using an algorithm. So this type of synth pedal will give you tons of flexibility. Because it's step-based and digital, prepare yourself for more tweaking than with a dedicated synthesizer.
2. Pitch-Multiplier Synth Stompboxes
Are you tired of playing single notes and looking to take your guitar to the next level? It could be time to think about switching over to a synth stompbox. What's a synth stompbox, you ask? It's a guitar effects pedal that uses pitch-shifting. Or, other processing techniques to create new timbres. If you're missing fill-in your live performance or sound like everyone else on YouTube, you might want to try this one!
Pitch-multiplier pedals aren't synths themselves. By adding in the pitch-shifting effects that are associated with synths, the results can sound like a synth.
Adding pitch-shifted audio using additive synthesis, you can come pretty close to sounding like a synth.
3. Granular Synth Stompboxes
Granular synthesis is a form of synthesis that involves the creation of sounds. It breaks down an audio signal into tiny, microscopic units called grains. When played together at different speeds and volume levels (timbre), these grains replicate the sound of standard oscillators.
Granular synthesis is a unique way of creating sound through effects pedals. Granular synths have a different idea of sound than an additive synthesizer. These pedals sample pieces from the input signal and then manipulate them to create a new output.
4. Sample-Based Synth Stompboxes
Synth pedals with sample-based synthesis use recorded instrument samples. Instead of containing an oscillator. They are few and far between at this point.
As it's a more difficult process to create a pitch-correction type pedal that uses sampled noises instead of oscillators to achieve the desired sounds. Yet, sampling your guitar or bass can produce some cool effects. Especially if the samples are processed.
Traditional synthesizers use oscillators to generate their sounds. These oscillators can produce millions upon millions of unique pitches. Also, timing intervals generate all sorts of musical noises.
Sample-based synths, use samples of real instruments like flutes, violins, pianos, and guitars. Or, your own voice to generate the sounds. The pedal then reads the sample information and manipulates it in some way (usually by stretching it or changing the key). Then it repeats what it hears until you stop playing and release the pedal.
5. Fuzz-Based “Synth” Pedals
Fuzz is a commonly misunderstood and very confusing term. It can mean anything from distortions to saturation and overdrive pedal. The “fuzz” pedals don’t have any actual synth capabilities. But, it does provide an alternative to an overdriven tube amp sound. Fuzz pedals are basically distorted square wave synth oscillators.
They are sometimes called “fuzz synths”. Due to the fact that they turn a guitar signal into a common synth oscillator waveform (square wave). Add some synth effects like filters, LFOs, and envelopes. Then you'll have yourself a fuzz pedal with some serious synth capabilities.
BOSS Synth Stompboxes
- SY-1 Synthesizer
- SY-200 Synthesizer
- SY-300 Guitar Synthesizer
Top BOSS Synth Stompboxes: SY-1 Synthesizer
The SY-1 is an exciting new addition to the BOSS compact pedal line. It is ideal for both guitarists and keyboard players. It features 121 sounds, all processed through the legendary SY series circuitry. It allows you to wield an expressive synth engine. The controls are straightforward and easy to use. So, anyone that’s ever played guitar or keys can dive in and start creating music with the SY-1 immediately.
BOSS designed it to produce warm, analog synth sounds characteristic of the original mono synths. The front panel contains all the necessary controls for performing classic monophonic phrases. Or, full synthesizer parts, including stylish sliders and knobs with a classic BOSS look and feel. This makes it familiar even if you’ve never played a synth before.
The SY-1 puts an enormous choice of synth sounds at your fingertips. With its 11 categories and 121 total sounds, you are able to adjust any synth voice how you like. It also includes changing the pitch of some sounds.
BOSS Synth Stompboxes: Conclusion
BOSS has made a big name for themselves in synth pedals and they aren't going anywhere. These pedals can be a great addition to your bass or guitar setup in many ways. At the very least, they are unique.
Whether you're a guitarist, bassist, producer, or composer, there are many reasons to get a BOSS Synth Stompbox. So why not get one?
There are plenty of other synth pedals on the market but BOSS still shines.