Well, if this term Stompbox sounds familiar to you, then you have a mind that is quite aligned to exploring the various forms of musical instruments. Typically, a Stompbox is a percussion instrument that consists of a box (mostly wooden) that can be stamped or tapped to produce a bass drum effect. Now the question would be what is a percussion instrument? It is a musical instrument that produces sound by being struck, rubbed or scraped, much like a drum or a tambourine. A Stompbox also known as “pedal” is usually a small plastic or metal box placed in front of the musician on the floor and connected to the instrument and the amplifier with patch cords. The pedals may have knobs for controlling the tone, volume, and intensity of the effect.
Modern versions of the Stompbox employ a microphone inside the box to amplify the bass drum effect created by stamping on it. The Stompbox enables the singer or the player of a musical instrument like the guitarist to generate a rhythmic accompaniment to the song that is being sung or the music that is being played. The Stompbox had gained wide acceptance in the American folk music though they are used by performers all around the world. A simple search for Stompbox would open up a variety of this instrument in different sizes and shapes. Some may require batteries, while some may not. Some may be so small that they can be carried in the pocket. There are even instruments that come with numerous presets, including factory and user customizable ones. They also give you the many different types of effects and drive sounds as well as drum sound patterns to enhance your performance. Though the most modern versions are electric in design, you do get acoustic ones too.
There are many who build the Stompboxes themselves. Some of the essential ones are:-
- Tuner – The tuner would be handy in any environment whether you are performing in an arena or a living room. It is required to adjust to the ambience and the short-comings in the instrument.
- Distortion – This is quite a diverse and widely scoped requirement. You will have to know which one suit you best and the technology used in it that fits your plan. Do try them out before you invest.
- Tremolo – This oldest effect known in an electric guitar create a sudden variation in the guitar’s output volume. Tremolo Stompboxes may also have settings depth, intensity and rate.
- Wah-wah – This usually has just the on/off switch to create the Wah effect (voice like).
- Overdrive – The overdrive Stompbox creates the same effect as the distortion, but with tonal warmth.
- Vibrato – The perfect companion for psychedelic notes, this Stompbox creates variation in the pitch.
- Phase Shifter – This creates a new sound altogether by splitting and blending signals usually a breathy or rippling sound.
- Chorus – The favorite for any electric guitarist, even used by Kurt Cobain this affects the depth of the vibrato and can increase or decrease the blending.
- Delay / Sampling – This effect helps the player to create and store loop music in the stomp box.
- Flanger – This creates a sound of a jet flying.
Who can forget the “Purple Haze” song by Jimi Hendrix that sent waves throughout the world by its anti-war statements. This performance included the use of an octave pedal and a distortion box – the same concept used in a Stompbox. For some reasons, electric guitars and Stompboxes have a very good affinity. Stompboxes are also used in conjugation with electronic keyboard, electric piano or electric bass to produce that magnificent effect during a live concert.