There’s no denying that the world of pedals can feel overwhelming at first. There’s a massive sea of options ranging from the super cheap to the confusingly expensive, so it can be difficult to know where to begin. Here’s a list of the top 5 guitar pedals for beginners, perfect for if you’re just getting started.

#1 – Boss TU-3 Chromatic Tuner Pedal

With its unmistakable red and white look, the Boss TU-3 Chromatic Tuner is an indispensable standby for anyone looking to set up a pedal board. Even if you never buy another pedal, this one is still worth the investment if you play electric guitar or bass. With this chromatic tuning pedal, you can tune by the color-coded meter on the pedal’s display panel without emitting any sound through your amp. This means that by pressing one switch with your foot, you can be tuning away without your audience (or your housemates) even knowing.  It’s so much more efficient and professional to tune this way and takes up way less space and time. Even if you’re just playing for yourself in your room, the Boss TU-3 Chromatic Tuner Pedal will make tuning feel easier than it’s ever been.

#2 – Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail (Reverb) Pedal

As the most common effect applied to live or recorded sound, reverb is one of the first things you’ll want to add as you build your pedal setup. Reverb adds a sense of space and mystery and, depending on how much is applied, can be used to develop an infinite number of sonic atmospheres. For a newcomer to pedals, the Electro-Harmonix Holy Grail is a perfect place to start. Despite its high quality, this pedal is super affordable and is even used by professional musicians and studios all over the world. The bang you’ll get for your buck on this one is impossible to beat, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better reverb pedal to start with.

#3 – Boss DD6 Digital Delay Pedal

If you’re trying to get into pedals in general, you’ll need to get familiar with the concept of timed pedal use (looping, simultaneous pedal engagement, etc.). The Boss DD6 does amazing work as a delay pedal and will allow you to work with true stereo delay and panning effects. But even more valuable for a new player is its set of features as a pedal controller. With settings engaged through a variety of foot controls, the Boss DD6 is great for getting familiar and comfortable with the mechanics and muscle memory required for consistent pedal use.

#4 – Fulltone OCD Obsession Compulsive Drive Pedal

Essential for anyone playing rock, punk, or metal, the Fulltone OCD Drive Pedal makes the sound of an electric guitar or bass louder and more aggressive. Simply put, it creates a characteristic rock’n’roll guitar sound and mimics the effect of vintage tube amps. A typical problem with other beginner drive pedals is that they remove a lot of frequency range, but that isn’t the case with the OCD.  While it’s a bit more expensive than some of the other beginner pedals, this one is worth having to save up a little extra money. Once you take the plunge, you will never need a better overdrive pedal as you progress through your playing.

#5 – Boss RC-1 Loop Station Pedal

Looping has arguably become one of the more popular elements of modern music composition and performance, so it’s likely that most beginners will want to invest in a loop pedal at some point. As the most established and reliable guitar pedal brand around, Boss is hard to beat as a place to start. Some of the more complex looping pedals and stations offer a mind-melting number of options and settings, so it can be helpful to start with something simpler. The Boss RC-1 Loop Station Pedal is an easy go-to for beginners, with built-in memory, 12 minutes of recording time, and straightforward controls.

Other notable mentions: The Boss BF-3 Flanger and TR-2 Tremolo pedals are definitely worth looking into if you’re trying to build a sound more akin to grunge or other types of alternative rock. Also, remember that even if you’re a beginner, that doesn’t mean you should waste your time or money buying cheap pedals. It’s worth it to spend a little more to actually get the sound you want. Buying cheap multi-effects pedals just won’t cut it, and you’ll probably end up scrapping them for something better anyway.