So why get an EQ pedal? Well, even if you generally like the tone you get out of your guitar and amp, there are a lot of reasons you might want to have an EQ pedal in your arsenal. It can be useful in compensating for problems with the room, helping to tame a guitar that’s too bright for the space, or emphasize different portions of the frequency range. An EQ pedal can also make your tone more flexible, or give you a sonic boost when you switch from rhythm to solo play.
With how many different pieces of gear you might need to buy for your instrument, though, you might not have much room left over in your budget for yet another pedal. The good news is you can get a high-quality EQ pedal without spending a whole lot of money. If you’re shopping for one on a budget, check out the options below, all of which offer you both great sound and great value.
These are, in our humble opinions, the 4 best cheap EQ pedals on the market:
Keeley Kkatmini Katana EQ Effects Pedal
For how compact and tiny the casing on this EQ pedal is, it puts out a fat, rich boost to your sound. It’s designed to give you more volume and power without changing the intrinsic qualities of your tone that you love, giving you one of the cleanest sound boosts you can find on the current market. This means you can push your amp harder and get more overdrive without losing the quality of your sound.
It also features switches for high gain and treble cut for further tone shaping and customization. The Kkatmini gives you unobtrusive EQ on all fronts, making a minimal impact on your tone, with a minimal footprint on your pedal board—and a minimal hit to your budget. At less than a hundred dollars, this is surely one of the best cheap EQ pedals for the money.
MXR M109S Six Band EQ Pedal
If you’re looking for the EQ pedal that gives you the maximum control over your tone, the Six Band EQ from MXR gives you the maximum in sound shaping options in one compact and affordable pedal. You get six separate sliders that can let you add or cut up to 18dB at six different frequency ranges (see full specs). You can cut out some of the bass frequencies to clean up your tone, your cut back on the high frequencies to add warmth—even creating a scooped mid tone for rhythm playing is easy with this pedal. The low-noise circuity makes sure that your basic tone stays true no matter what adjustments you make to it.
In terms of the construction, the six slider format does add some bulk to the pedal. It uses a rugged aluminum casing with a true bypass footswitch for easy activation while you’re playing. Each slider has an LED light on the indicator so you can quickly see what your levels are at a glance. This pedal is also extremely versatile, working just as well for bass as it does for guitar and making it an even more valuable addition to your arsenal.
Danelectro DJ-14C Fish & Chips EQ Pedal
If even the two options above seem a bit out of your budget, check out the DJ-14C from Danelectro, which gives you a full 7-band EQ and bypass footswitch in an affordable package that will set you back less than thirty bucks. Each of the sliders gives you a 15dB boost or cut, with noise-free circuity and a buffered bypass.
Not only does it give you a huge array of tone shaping options at a great value, the Fish & Chips is also one of the smallest EQ pedals on the market. It’s so small that some people find they accidentally nudge the sliders when they activate the footswitch—the only disadvantage of this incredible little pedal. To top it off, the casing is both aesthetically pleasing and built of rugged steel, so it’s made to last.
Behringer Graphic Equalizer EQ 700 Pedal
For the most affordable EQ pedal on this list, check out the EQ700 from Behringer. It gives you a 7-band EQ designed to tame a range of frequencies, from 100 Hz to 6.4 kHz. You get a boost or cut of up to 15dB per band, a similar level of tone shaping to other products on the market but at a fraction of the cost.
The design of the Behringer makes the foot switch for the bypass large and separated from the sliders by a raised lip, meaning you won’t accidentally change your settings when you activate the pedal. The small sliders also mean the overall pedal is more compact, sized to fit easily on most pedal racks.
Choosing the Best Cheap EQ Pedals
All four of the pedals on the list above will perform the same basic functions, giving you on-the-go control over your tone without having to make adjustments to your amp or guitar. This is extremely helpful if you play in a lot of different kinds of spaces with different acoustic characteristics, letting your true sound shine through no matter where you are. The choice of pedal often comes down to matters of aesthetics more than sound, including the size and shape of the pedal and how it makes use of the space for the sliders and switches.
For many players, a pedal that has a compact casing is a must—with all the other gear you have to carry around, it’s always better for a new pedal to take up as little space as possible. This can have the unfortunate trade off, though, of giving the designers less room to work with on the face of the pedal, meaning that the controls can feel crowded to some users. Smaller slider controls can make it more difficult to see what your levels are set at, especially in the dim lighting conditions you’ll have at a lot of shows. Features like lighted slider indicators can be a great help for these situations.
There is also often a balance you have to strike between space and control. The ultra-mini Kkatmini (see full specs) is able to be so small because it eliminates the individual EQ sliders, reducing customization in favor of space. Other models that are even more affordable and offer full sound customization will be significantly larger and heavier. It is often a matter of figuring out which characteristics are important and which you could do without, ultimately letting you get the best cheap EQ pedal for your needs. Good luck!
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