Updated Feb. 13, 2022

#1 Old Blood Noise Sunlight
#2 JHS Packrat
#3 Strymon Zelzah
#4 Benson Germanium Fuzz
#5 Alexander Pedals Syntax Error 2
#6 Walrus Audio Polychrome
#7 EarthQuaker Devices Astral Destiny

You may think that all “best of” lists are a matter of taste…

Well, if you do, we are going to object, and immodestly state that this year-end “Best Guitar Pedals of 2021”  list (just like last year’s one) is not just a matter of taste.

“Why not?” we hear you ask. This is why:

A. it’s not based on our taste – we didn’t let our preference get in the way at all.
B. it’s an aggregate list compiled by adding up the year-end “best of” charts published by the most established and popular YouTubers, and pedal-covering publications and stores out there.

And while it’s true that each one of these influencers has his or her own taste, aggregating all their pedal choices can tell us what kind of consensus there is behind each pedal. As it happens in any non-provable science field, the consensus of the majority of the experts is accepted as closest to the truth, and that’s exactly how this chart works.

Methodology

We used a very simple and straightforward method for this list: we assigned 1 point to each pedal every time it was mentioned in a “Best Pedal of 2021” list. Most of these lists were not organized in order of preference, but for those that were, we didn’t change the system – 1st or 10th, a mention always counts as 1 point. We only listed pedals released in 2021, or in the last few weeks of 2020.

Sample

This are the 22 (!) pedal news outlets whose year-end list we referenced, in alphabetical order:

NEW! We added in the list from Griffin Jennings on February 14th, 2022.

Demos in the Dark, Dennis Kayzer, Dipswitch Demos, Gear News, Griffin Jennings, Guitar.com, GuitarPedalX, In The Blues, Jay Leonard J, JHS Show, Leon Todd, Megan L, Music Radar, Pedal of the Day, The Pedal Zone, Pedalboard of the Day, Perfect Circuit, Reverb, Rhett Shull, Spiral Caster, Thomann, Tone Lounge, Tri Pedal Reviews, Ultimate Guitar.

And here is the list of the best new guitar effects pedals released in 2021!

Interactive gallery instructions: mouseover/1st tap opens a description. Click/2nd tap opens (muted) video.

The Best Guitar Pedals of 2021

1. Old Blood Noise Sunlight (7 Points)

Click title for video. Buy it new at Perfect Circuit or Thomann, look for deals at Reverb.com.

The Sunlight is a creative reverb with 3 algorithms that react dynamically to your performance and freeze the reverb trails. Each mode adds to the reverb different extra effects (wobbling vibrato, stacked resonant delays, or step filtering). Decay controls the reverb’s length, while the Rate and Depth knobs are mode-dependent, controlling the parameters of the non-reverb effect. Read more about it here.

2. JHS PackRat (5.5 Points)

Click title for video. Buy it new at Sweetwater or Thomann, look for deals at Reverb.com.

Based on the innovative multi-mode format of the TS-inspired Bonsai, PackRat is a tribute to the 40+ years of RAT distortion through 9 voices accurately replicating various RAT models and RAT-inspired pedals, including JHS’s popular but now discontinued mod. Basically, it’s 9 RATS inside one compact case. Read more about it here.

P.S. The half-point is due to the fact that JHS pretty much voted for their own pedal in their “Best of 2021” video and we didn’t want to give them a full point for that self-plug.

3. Pedals with 5 points (Ex Aequo)

Four stompboxes share the bronze pedal-medal, pretty cool devices.

8. Pedals with 3 points (Ex Aequo)

The pedals in this list did really well by gathering 3 influencer points each. It’s a nice variety of colorful effects!

15. Pedals with 2 points (Ex Aequo)

In alphabetical order, a larger list of devices that received two selections in the influencers’ lists.

Honorable Mentions (1 point), organized by effect type!

95 pedals in this list – organized by effect type and in alphabetical order.

Compressor Pedals

Empress Compressor

Creative Pedals

Discomfort Designs TMA-1
Intensive Care Audio Fideleater
KMA Tyler Deluxe Freq Splitter
Pladask Baklengs

Delay Pedals

Crazy Tube Time
Death By Audio Speed Tripper
Eventide MicroPitch Delay
J.Rockett Clockwork
JHS 3 Series Delay
Mooer D7 X2 Delay
SolidGold FX EM-III
Universal Audio Starlight

Distortion Pedals

Fuzzrocious Lil’ Fella
Haunted Labs Old Ruin
Interchange Noise Works Element 119
Joyo Dark Flame
KMA Machines Guardian of the Wurm
Poison Noises The Crook
ProCo Mini Rat
TC Electronic Magus
Walrus Audio Eras
Zander Cranium

Filter/Wah Pedals

All-Pedal Macrodose
Dunlop GCB65 Cry Baby
Jam Pedals Wahcho

Fuzz Pedals

Acorn Amps TMA-1
Black Mass Missionary Fuzz v2
Caroline Crom
Chase Bliss Bliss Factory
Dr. Acid Effects SkateFuzz TRIP BALLS
Electro-Harmonix Ripped Speaker
Expresso FX Fuzz Bender MKII
Fairfield Circuitry ~900
Jackson Audio Fuzz
JPTR FX Warlow
KHDK Unicorn Blood II
Malaise Forever Clubber Lang
Mattoverse Air Trash
October Audio NVMBR Fuzz
Ritual Devices Grimalkin
SolidGold FX Imperial
Spiral Electric Allora
Thermion Electronics Stone Age
Thimble Wasp Space Camp
VS Audio Pandora
Warm Audio Fox Tone
Warm Audio Jet Phaser
Weird Noise Fuzz It

Looper Pedals

Pigtronix Infinity 3

Modulation Pedals

Electro-Harmonix Eddy
Eventide Tricerachorus
Ground FX- Keto V2
IK Multimedia X-VIBE
Madison Treble Booster (no video)
Mojo Hand FX Clarity
MXR Deep Phase
Pedal Pawn Chicken Quiff
Pedal Pawn Gypsy Vibe
Professor Pedalz Schock Rock Ocean Man Chorus
SolidGoldFX NU-33
TC Electronic Stereo Chorus Flanger
Thorpy FX Pulse Doppler
Universal Audio Astra

Multi-Effect Pedals

Valco Five-O

Overdrive Pedals

Audio Kitchen Fake Plastic Trees
Becos TS8-JZ Ziffer
Browne Amplification Carbon
Crazy Tube Crossfire
Gone Fishing Effects Booooom/Blast
Great Eastern Small Speaker Overdrive
Gtown Custom 335
Intensive Care Audio Death Drive
Joyo R20 King Of Kings
Missing Link Audio Peacock
NativeAudio Kiayio
Nordvang Gravity
NRG Effects Purr
Origin Effects RevivalTrem
Origin Revival Drive Compact
Rift Amplification EL34
TC Electronic Zeus
TC MojoMojo Paul Gibbert
Wampler Belle

Pitch Shifter Pedals

Electro-Harmonix Harmony Machine
Malekko Polyamorator

Preamp/Boost Pedals

Benson Germanium Boost
Aclam Windmiller Preamp
Catalinbread Skewer + Dreamcoat
Cornerstone Gladio Double Preamp
FFX All You Can Boost
Greer Sure Shot
Greuter Audio Fokus
Milkman Discrete Op-Amp Boost
Shotmaker Instruments Heroine
Stone Deaf QBoost

Reverb Pedals

Electronic Aaudio Experiments Hypersleep v2
GFI Skylar
Vongon Ultrasheer
Walrus Audio Mako Series R1

Synth Pedals

BOSS SY-200
SolidGoldFX Lysis MkII

Utility Pedals

Old Blood Noise Expression Ramper