Best Cheap Guitar Pedals Under £100

Published on 19 December 2022


Ah, you’re looking for a new pedal, are you? You are probably like us: you want just one more thing to add to that already-heaving pedalboard, and it needs to sound awesome. It needs to earn its right to live permanently under your feet, and it needs to be a great price. 

Boutique pedals are amazing, but we can’t always splash big on hand-painted fuzzes and next-gen ambient modulation effects. They are lovely things to have - make no mistake - but most of us working players also need to keep an eye on budgets, so if cheaper pedals can still deliver the goods, then that’s music to our ears (and wallets)!

But, how much new-pedal-bang can you get for your buck if ‘the buck’ is, say, under £100? These days, we’re glad to report that the answer is still ‘loads’. You can actually find tons of very agreeable effects for far less than £100, but we put that figure as our ceiling in order to focus our choices a little. We’ve included some veritable classics alongside some newer contenders, and tried to illustrate a cross-section of what’s available out there. The one thing they all have in common is that we’d happily add any of these to our own pedalboards. We firmly believe that you do not have to spend a million bucks in order to sound like a million bucks!

So, what did we pick? Let’s find out…


Electro-Harmonix Soul Food

Now, we like a bit of story and ‘lore’ as much as the next person, but there is an awful lot of mythology surrounding the fabled Klon Centaur pedal. You’ve read it all before and so have we, so there’s no need to go over it all again, but these days, there are a great many ‘Klone’ pedals out there that offer their own take on that famously transparent overdrive sound.

This one, the Electro-Harmonix Soul Food, is as close to that tone as any we’ve heard, and it comes with E-HX’s own backstory of innovation and historical significance. What company in this field is more renowned than Electro-Harmonix? The fact that the Soul Food is so affordable says a great deal about its makers’ ethos and attitude, and the fact that it sounds pretty much indistinguishable from a ‘proper’ Centaur is proof of their genius-like engineering talent. Why oh why do you not have this pedal already?


BOSS Chorus Pedals

We’ve decided to include both of BOSS’s (yes, it’s always in capitals) best-selling Chorus pedals instead of accepting the entirely subjective task of deciding which one is ‘better’. Whether you prefer the CH-3 Super Chorus or the CE-5 Chorus Ensemble, you’ll be choosing a unit that has considerable status amongst guitarists.

Yes, it was BOSS who first made the game-changing CE-1 back in the 70s, and their take on the chorus effect is still the litmus test for all new variations on the theme. Along with BOSS’s Dimension pedal (the one with the four buttons instead of knobs), they really did cook up the best that this well-loved modulation sound has to offer.

But which one? Okay, well, to our ears, the CH-1 pedal is thicker sounding (almost like a flanger in some settings) whilst the CE-5 is more sparkling and shimmery (great for lush chording). Which of those suits your style more? In the end, they are both great, and they each cost a lot less than boutique chorus pedals!


Dunlop GCB95 Crybaby Wah Pedal

There are so many wah pedals on the market right now, aren’t there? Dunlop make most of them, but there seems to be an endless line of manufacturers putting out ever more elaborately designed and painted wah pedals, all seeking to convince you that theirs is the best.

You know what, though? The best selling one, and the one that we’d happily recommend, is Dunlop’s ‘standard’ wah, the GCB95 Crybaby. It’s very straightforward, which for many players is a real bonus, and it sounds excellent. The filter sweep (that’s all a wah pedal really is, along with a hefty treble frequency boost at the top of its sound) is wide enough to capture 70s funk, 80s shred and 90s grunge equally, and the action of the treadle pedal is bang-on.

You could spend years trying out every wah on the market and still end up choosing this no-frills performer, or you could just get it bought and start employing it for endless Shaft Theme/Voodoo Child workouts instead! Spending three times more on a wah pedal may get you a slightly nicer sound, but it won’t be three times nicer than this deserved classic.


Landlord FX

Landlord FX's entire range of cheap and cheerful pub-themed effects are a worthy gap-filler in your pedalboard. Solidly made and fun to use, this range is great for both cheap gain & modulation pedals, and also for things like pedal tuners and loopers. 

Again, simplicity is an important factor here, but value is the real key. A delay pedal for under £30? And a decent reverb for under £40? With a proper metal chassis and a solid switch? Yes please!

We like the Amber Nectar overdrive, for a useful, all purpose OD that’s almost literally as cheap as chips. We could take or leave the laddish pub references, but when does your audience ever see that? For the money, which is not a lot at all, these sound great and stand up to plenty of gig-level use. Recommended.


MXR Phase 90

Do you need to open up your sound to a little bit of ‘swirl’, now and then? Are you looking to just play that Crazy Diamond arpeggio over and over and have it sound like the record? If the answer to either of these is ‘yes’, then we reckon you should go straight for the MXR Phase 90.

Let’s not beat about the bush, here: this is the only phaser you need. It is EXACTLY the sound you are looking for because it is exactly the same pedal that Gilmour used back in the day, as did Eddie Van Halen on Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love. Yes, there are versions with script logos, versions with more controls and versions attached to particular artists, but they all boil down to this one fantastic sound.


We firmly believe that you do not have to spend a million bucks in order to sound like a million bucks!


One control knob to adjust the Rate (speed) is all there is because that is all that was ever needed on this pedal: the rest of the settings are perfect. Stick that rate control to 9 o’clock and you're away! 


JHS 3 Series

The JHS 3 Series really turned the pedal world upside down in recent years. JHS are one of the best-known boutique pedal builders, thanks to an excellent range of effects and a great YouTube channel. They were already conquering their part of the market, but this range - proper USA-made effects in metal cases, available for under £100 - was the ultimate throw down. After a few initial models, the range has expanded, and they are uniformly excellent. Choose from a Screamer (you can guess the inspiration), an Overdrive, Distortion, Chorus, Reverb…the list just keeps going.

If you are looking to build a high-quality, cost-effective pedal board, we recommend arming yourself with a few key pieces from this highly coveted stable. There’s no other deal like it in pedals right now.


ProCo Rat

The ProCo Rat is a pedal that just destroys. Sitting somewhere between a high gain distortion and a fuzz, the legendary Rat is a blast of instant ‘rock’ that transcends genres and decades. It’s just one of life’s great sounds, and whether you focus more on rhythm playing or leads, the Rat will add attitude and menace to your sound in a way that’s still rich and musical.

Like some other classic effects, you can pay three times more for a boutique take on the Rat - with the maker’s own opinion on how they’ve improved the circuit - or you can pay a good deal less and get the actual legitimate original. As an inspiring antidote to some other overtly slick distortion pedals out there, we recommend taking some time to get to know the Rat.


Zoom MS-70 CDR

The kings of affordable effects, Zoom, have a real prize here for fans of shoegaze and related sounds. The Zoom MS-70 CDR is what we imagine would happen if some mad professor somehow squashed three racks of effects (chorus, delay and reverb) into one lil’ stompbox. There’s a ton of over-the-top fun to be had here, and fans of artfully lo-fi tones and textures will definitely appreciate the sounds onboard.

There is, it must be said, a slight learning curve for deep-divers, but then that’s par for the course when you get so much heaped into a single pedal. As ‘instant inspiration’, this Zoom pays for itself most handsomely.


Electro-Harmonix Green Russian Big Muff

It’s a second outing today for New York pedal wizards Electro-Harmonix, but given how influential they’ve been with literally every subsequent pedal builder, we think two entries is fair.

It’s even more appropriate when we are discussing none other than the Big Muff, one of the world’s favourite and most copied fuzz pedals. It’s a chunky, woolly sound that has been on so many iconic recordings, you could fill a blog on just that. Suffice to say that whether you are a Dark Side of the Moon person or a Siamese Dream fan, you’ll know the sound of this epic pedal.

E-HX tend to make various versions and reissues of the Big Muff, and the one we’re currently a fan of is the Green Russian Big Muff. This is a nod to an era in the 1990s when E-HX’s partner company, Sovtek, used to build the pedals from (no joke) old Cold War tank parts! These particular iterations of the pedal were generally reputed to sound less smooth and more gritty than earlier models. Today, that translates as ‘perfect for subsonic doom metal’, which it is, but the sound in general is very usable across many flavours of rock. Like the ProCo Rat, the Big Muff is simply one of those legendary guitar tones, and we applaud Electro-Harmonix for making them at a price that’s eminently attainable.


MXR Dynacomp

From one pioneer to another, and it’s fair to say that MXR remains one of the most significant brands in pedal history. We’ve already looked at the beyond-classic Phase 90, but for our final choice today, we feel justified in returning to MXR in order to include the Dynacomp.

When digital modelling units routinely feature a ‘red compressor’ model in their FX libraries, they are referring to the Dynacomp, and that’s really when you know your pedal design is part of the cultural fabric, right? Once it has been assimilated into the world of modelling, it becomes a de facto classic!

The Dynacomp has found everlasting fame in Nashville, where its powerful smoothing abilities have long been known to the country session players. Indeed, this pedal is as valuable to arpeggio-loving indie players looking for an extra level of production for their sound, both live and or recordings. In short, if you know, you know. And if you don’t, it’s time to try one out!


What Would Make it to Your Pedalboard?

These are our top choices for stompboxes that cost less than a hundred pounds. How many of these would you have on your own board? Did we miss any exceptional crackers? We decided not to go for endless BOSS distortion pedals, only because we expect most of you to be keenly familiar with those already. Suffice to say, the DS-1, SD-1 and BD-2 are all stalwarts of the scene and well worth pursuing.

There are a great amount of effects pedals available to us today. We’re glad to see the variety and quality available at under £100, particularly given how expensive the more top-line efforts are costing these days. If you want the best, then the best is out there for you, but you can achieve incredible results at any price point today, and we feel like this list is proof of that. We hope you agree, and we wish you luck as you continue your path as a tone-chaser!


Click to View our Entire Selection of Effects Pedals Under £100


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I'm a musician and artist originally from the South West coast of Scotland. I studied Visual Arts and Film Studies at...

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