Posted by
Paolo De Gregorio
Jan 8, 2021

Best Guitar Effects Pedals of 2020

Our Blog’s Google Search Results tell us the Best Guitar Effects Pedals of 2020!

The StompBuzz is our monthly appointment with the list of the most searched pedals in our blog, but in January, we decided to replace the monthly article with a year-end summary based on the same data – and that’s what you are reading.

We are presenting this as our “Best Pedals of 2020” list based on the assumption that if a stompbox gets a lot of online searches that’s proof that musicians are hearing good things about it: interest in a product, after all, implies quality. So please keep in mind that this “best of 2020” is purely based on data, not opinions, and also that it includes slightly older units that were released before 2020 but kept trending for the duration of last year .

So let’s dive into it!

2020 was another good year for stompboxes, with plenty of creative new devices firing the imagination of adventurous guitarists, and also a selection of purely “tonal” pedals that inspired the fine-eared connoisseurs. These two “souls” of the stompbox market are perfectly reflected in our year-end list.

Before we indulge in the purely data-driven list of the pedals that trended in 2020, let’s focus our attention on some of the devices that most surprised us this past year.

The galleries below feature brief descriptions about each pedal (mouse-over or first tap) and video demos (on click or second tap).

Granular Synthesis Wins in 2020

From simple “effects for guitar,” stompboxes have recently completed their journey to become “instruments into their own” – and utterly creative ones for that matter. The first and third pedals in our list, the Hologram Microcosm (by far our most searched pedal last year) and the Chase Bliss Audio Blooper, are two super-creative loopers with granular synthesis capabilities. Released in 2020, they are a testament of how the advancements in digital audio and DSP technology have driven this format’s evolution, allowing the more forward-thinking builders to manufacture stompboxes that transform your sound, rather than just affecting it, going even as far as “reorganizing” your parts.

Unexpectedly Popular Tone Shapers

On the opposite side of the spectrum, we have two pedals whose circuits were designed with the goal of making any electric guitar sound fantastic (rather than like “something other than a guitar”). We hosted the DSM & Humboldt Simplifier amp/cab emulator debut at our shared NAMM booth in January 2020 and couldn’t be more proud to see this Chilean-made device occupy the 2nd spot in our chart – biggest surprise of the year!

Due to our Italian roots, we are as happy to register that in 2020 there was a lot of interest for the Cornerstone Gladio (a dual Dumble-style overdrive) which performed amazingly in our search charts month after month and ended up placing 6th in our year-end list (at the bottom of this post).

Pedals That Did Even Better than the Data Shows

In a yearly list based on search data, products released in the first quarter of the year have more time to “build their numbers” than the ones released in the following quarters. The Strymon Nightsky and the Chase Bliss Audio/Meris CXM 1978 are two devices that were able to chart in the top ten notwithstanding being released in the 2nd half of 2020. Interestingly, they share a very creative and adventurous approach to Stereo reverb. These are stompboxes bound to inspire hordes of psychedelic musicians and – probably – be featured in our monthly Stompbuzz articles for a while in 2021.

Older Pedals that Made the 2020 List

The real success stories in any market niche are not the products that do well for a few months, but the ones that keep gathering attention (and ringing sales) for years. The pedals in this list were released prior to 2020, but the number of searches in our blog rivaled the ones by brand new stompboxes, which is a testament to these circuits’ relevance.

Popular 2020 Releases That Our System Missed

Even though consulting Google Search Console is a great way to see what pedal lovers are interested in, it must be stressed that our web pages aren’t listed on the first page of Google results for every single pedal out there, which means that this system misses some pedals (since most online surfers don’t go to the 2nd page of results). This limitation penalizes particularly popular products that have several publications and online dealers fighting for the top Google Search placements. For completion of information, we included this extra list featuring some devices missing from our top 15 that obviously did well, based on this Reverb.com list of the Best Selling Pedals of 2020.

THE FULL LIST!
Delicious Audio’s Top 15 Most Searched Pedals of 2020

And finally… here’s our list of the stompboxes that had the most searches on our blog in the year 2020!

  1. Hologram Microcosm
  2. DSM & Humboldt Simplifier
  3. Chase Bliss Audio Blooper
  4. 1981 Inventions DRV
  5. GFI System Specular Tempus
  6. Cornerstone Gladio Overdrive
  7. Strymon Nightsky
  8. TC Electronic Ditto+ Looper
  9. Chase Bliss Audio + Meris CXM 1978 Reverb
  10. Strymon Deco
  11. Poly Effects Digit
  12. Red Panda Tensor
  13. Keeley Electronics Eccos
  14. GFI System Synesthesia
  15. Vertex Steel String Drive MKII

P.S. Stompboxes that trended in December 2020

Since this article is replacing the monthly Stompbuzz, we thought you might want to know what pedals that are not in the 2020 list were trending in December 2020 – here’s the list!