So, you have your guitar, a great amp but your tone is missing that little something. Whether that's an overdrive to tighten up the top end of distortion, or a chorus and reverb to create a dreamy soundscape. An effects pedal might just be what you're looking for. 
Pedals come in all shapes and sizes, do countless different things, and some even do it all in one package. As confusing as this may seem, don't be put off by the vast range of options, it just allows you to find the perfect pedal for you!
 

Distortion

Distortion pedals are most likely one of the most used effects. From Blues to Metal, Pop to Funk, you can find a distorted guitar tone in most forms of music. Although a distorted tone can be created by using an amps overdrive/gain controls, using a distortion pedal in front of an amp can give a completely new texture and make the sound very different to that of the amp alone. It takes the whole signal and distorts it, regardless of volume .
 
Fender Pugilist
MXR Distortion +
 
 
 

Boost

Boost pedals do what they say on the tin. They boost the incoming signal from the guitar into the amp. So if you have a low output guitar that you need to increase the signal from, or you want to drive the amp that little bit more to saturate a clean sound, or even get a screaming lead tone from your distorted rhythm, a boost pedal is a must-have for any guitar players rig.
 
MXR Micro Amp
Fender Engager Boost
 
 
 

Delay

Put simply a delay pedal will act as an echo in a cave. It will repeat what you have played as many times, or for as long, or as short, as you like. Players like U2's The Edge or Pink Floyds David Gilmour pioneered specific styles of delay and brought the style/technique to the limelight. These effects can be used to thicken out a guitar tone and are perfect for making your guitar solo sound like it's in a whole new dimension! They can also be used to create a thick pad like texture if you're into more atmospheric sounds.
 
EHX Canyon
MXR Carbon Copy
 

Octaver/ Pitch Shifter

An octave pedal will change the note that is being played by 1 or 2 octaves in either direction, many pedals will allow you to choose what combination of octaves you have and how much of your original signal and effected signal you'd like in the mix. Often referred to as "dry" and "wet". This effect has been around for a long time but one of the most popular bands using it at the moment are Royal Blood. Mike the bassist uses two POG2s to achieve an incredible guitar sound from his short-scale bass. An octaver can also be used the opposite way to change your guitar into a bass, Ed Sheeran can often be seen doing this whilst building his loops during live performances.
 
EHX POG 2
EHX POG Nano
 
 

Tremolo

If you are unsure what a tremolo does then a simple way to generate a similar effect is to spin your volume knob on your guitar back and forth. A tremolo pedal does this at a set rate and also to a desired depth. This can add a new dimension to your playing especially if you're playing rung out chords. With a slow rate you can develop a relaxing swell effect, a faster rate will give you a much more radical harsh effect.
 
Fender Tre-Verb 
EHX Stereo Pulsar
 
 

Compressor

The best way to explain this effect is to imagine a sound guy constantly changing the volume on your guitar channel in a studio. Every time you play quietly he bumps up the volume and every time you play loudly he brings the volume down to keep the dynamics as consistent as possible. A compressor does essentially this but you can choose how aggressively it does it. This effect is used a lot in heavy metal and funk playing to give that crisp and sharp sound to their guitar tone. Team compression up with distortion and you will also notice that your guitars sustain will dramatically increase.
 
MXR - Dyna Comp
Fender - The Bends
 
 

Fuzz

You should think of Fuzz as an extreme distortion, used to create a clipped and overloaded type tone. You'll have heard this effect a lot from players like Jimi Hendrix. Unlike distortion or overdrive, fuzz is meant to not sound like an amp at all. It is meant to add harmonic content and transistor-like goodness to your tone. Not every Fuzz will sound the same due to different circuitry creating very different sounds, so do try-out and listen to a few different types to find which one is right for you.
 
EHX - Little Big Muff Pi
Fender - The Pelt
 

Chorus

If you've ever heard a 12 string guitar a chorus can produce a similar effect. It does this by doubling your signal and ever so slightly shifting the pitch. The more extreme you make the effect, the more ethereal and chimey it will sound. Often in recording, guitar tracks are doubled up to add emphasis and depth to the sound, a chorus can also produce a similar effect to this. 
 
Fender - Bubbler Chorus
MXR - Analog Chorus
 
 

Reverb

One of most important effects in guitar is arguably reverb. It will make your playing sound much more fluid and create a pleasant listening experience. Used a huge amount in recording to add life-like quality to otherwise dry recordings, it can also be used in a more extreme way to create atmospheric, pad-like sounds. Spring reverb tends to be the most popular in guitar and is often built into amps with a reverb tank that sends your audio down two springs and adds the output from this tank to your sound.
 
EHX - Oceans 11
Fender - Marine Layer Reverb
 

Phaser

A phaser duplicates your signal with an out of phase version. What this is essentially is a flipped waveform that moves back and forth at different rates to create a faster or slower sounding phase effect. A similar sound can be created by using two microphones to capture the same sound and moving one of these closer and further away from the sound source. You'll hear this a lot in 70's music. Classic examples are Brian May's solo on 'Don't Stop Me Now' and EVH's - Eruption. They can add a new dynamic and thicken up a guitar sound.
 
MXR - Phase 90
Fender - Lost Highway Phaser
 
 

Wah Wah

A Wah pedal is whats known a bandpass filter, which is both a low pass and a high pass filter. It basically gives you a very scooped sound by cutting out the highs and the lows around a particular band of frequencies. It then moves this chosen band up and down with the foot pedal to give it that iconic sound. A lot of guitarists use this effect but the most iconic has to be Hendrix.
 
Dunlop - Crybaby
Vox - V847 
 
 

Expression/ Volume

Expression pedals can be used in conjunction with other pedals that have an expression input. This allows for certain parameters to be controlled by a foot pedal, giving the player more control over their sound. Often what this will do is control the mix or amount of effect in the dry signal. Volume pedals are simply volume pots attached to a foot pedal to give you more control and keep your hands free. They're also handy for cutting you signal between songs or in quiet sections.
 
Vox - XVP-20
Fender - EXP1

Envelope Filter/ Auto Wah

Probably the funkiest effect of them all, it works similarly to the above-described wah but is triggered through dynamics in your playing. Parameters can be altered to give you quite a "quacky" sound, through to a more muffled, subtle tone. You can hear examples of it in John Mayer's - I Don't Trust Myself and Tom Misch - Cosmic Sans, who uses it a lot in his live performances.
 
EHX - Q-Tron
Fender - Pour Over

Flanger

A flanger often gets confused with a phaser but the easiest way to tell them apart is a flanger has more of a woosh effect (think of a passing jet-plane). They often get confused as they do operate in quite a similar fashion, it duplicates the signal and shifts this signal slightly out of time by adding a quick and modulating delay. Parameters can control how delayed the second signal is and how much it feeds back. You'll find you can replicate a few different effect types with this one pedal.
 
MXR - Micro Flanger
EHX - Electric Mistress
 
 

Looper

Not only an incredible practice tool but as proved by Ed Sheeran, it can be a brilliant way to take your solo performances to a whole new level! The simplest loopers have just one button, with the first push you start recording your loop. The trick is to do the second hit on beat one of the next bar once you have completed your phrase, this will then set the duration of your loop. You can then dub over any additional parts over this phrase. Double-tap to stop, double-tap and hold to erase the loop. Some looper controls may differ. More advanced loopers will have storage, ability to swap between other loops or sections of a song and even add effects such as pitch shifting and reversing of the loops.
 
Pigtronix - Infinity 2
EHX - 360L
 
 

Ring Modulator

Getting bored of making the same old sounds with your guitar? A ring modulator could just be the alternate dimension sound that you are after!
It takes your dry signal, detunes and changes it in ways that can be unpredictable yet varied and interesting. Team these pedals up with others for even stranger sounds!
 
EHX - Ring Thing

Synth

A synth pedal will use oscillators to trigger a functioning synth circuit in the pedal, allowing you to make your guitar sound like a huge layered pad, or screaming lead synth at the touch of a button! Some synth pedals will be simpler to use than others, just having preset sounds and simple controls such as volume/mix, some will be more complex allowing you to sculpt the sound to your taste. 
Electro Harmonix will be your first point of call for either of these styles of synth pedal, with the HOG 2 having more control, utilising a huge range of sliders affecting different aspects of your tone and sound. Or the awesome Synth 9 with a range of presets giving you an instant sound to experiment and create with. 
 
EHX - Synth 9
Mooer -E7
 
 

Preamps

 A Preamp pedal allows a guitarist/bassist to downsize their rig by replacing the amplifier with a stomp box. Although they are generally solid state, preamps emulate the characteristics and tone of traditional amplifiers well and deliver the punch and clarity you'd expect! Using variations of EQ and gain controls, these pedals can be used for a huge range of genres, giving any player the flexibility, and portability they need.
 
Fishman - Platinum Pro EQ
Mooer- Micro Preamp 013

Power Supplies

 One of, if not the most essential part of a pedal board is the power supply. Without a decent isolated source of power, you run the risk of a hum in the signal chain, pedals dropping out and potentially even damaging the pedals themselves. It's safe to say a good power supply is important. MXR have a great range with a variety of outputs for pedals with differing voltage needs, and Mooer also do supply's that are rechargeable for players who busk, or need to power a board away from a wall socket.
 
MXR - ISO Brick
Mooer - Macro Power

Multi FX

 Want an efficient, compact way to use all the effects you need live and in the studio? Then a multi FX is the one for you. These units are really the jack of all trades when it comes to guitar and bass effects. From the cheap but well equipped RP55, to the sleek and killer sounding GE200 with amp and cab modelling so you don't even need to lug amplifier with you!
Multi effects are a great way to introduce yourself to the world of effects without busting the bank, you can really explore all the different options and find your sound!
 
Mooer - GE200
Digitech - RP55

Buffers

Any effects pedal takes a slight toll on the signal that your guitar will send to the amplifier, sometimes loosing some top end and clarity but this can be restored with a buffer. A buffer will keep the signal strong and clear, preventing any drop in quality or volume.
You can put the buffer before or after the others pedals on your board but if you have pedals with vintage style circuits, its best to put the buffer after these as they don't work as well before and will make the sound brittle and thin.
 
MXR - CAE MC406
Mooer - Micro Buffer
 
 

Vibrato

 A vibrato will fluctuate the pitch of the notes you play. You can alter the speed, depth, and on some pedals the stereo spread. A vibrato used subtly can add a really thick texture to your tone, or doused on top of a clean/crunch, give a really experimental warped/wobbling sound. The MXR Uni-Vibe is an industry standard when it comes to guitar vibrato, but with fenders new range of pedals including the pinwheel, there are other top quality pedals out there.
 
MXR - M68 Uni Vibe
EHX - The Clone Theory
 
 

EQ

Are you struggling to cut through a mix? It's your guitar sounding muddy and lacking a middle sparkle? Is your guitar suffering from a porridge tone? Then you'll need an EQ. An EQ will either bring up, or reduce certain parts of a frequency range to help sculpt your tone to sit in a mix alongside, on top of or behind certain instruments. MXR do a 10 band-EQ to give you the most versatility possible, the second being the MXR 6 band EQ or Orange two stroke, this also has a built in boost circuit to give you extra flexibility and more options within one package.
 
Mooer - G Graphic EQ
MXR - Ten Band EQ