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A term normally applied to electronic instruments where the signal from the instrument is not taken directly to the amplifier unaltered, but passes through one or more electronic circuit which modifies the signal and hence the resultant sound.

Typically applied to the Electric Guitar but can be applied to any instrument with a Pick Up or a Synthesiser.

Common effects are:

  • Fuzz (distortion by increasing the gain)
  • Waa Waa (a sweeping frequency filter)
  • Phasing (a whoosh effect by splitting and combining out-of-phase signals)
  • Reverb (a variable delay on the signal to give a slight echo effect)
  • Chorus (multple slightly delayed, slightly phased signals from one source mixed together)

For an Instrument like an Electric Guitar, the effects are normal in the form of foot pedals or stomp boxes (foot operated on-off switches).

With the digital age, effects have become more numerous and more widely available even down to complete emulations of instrument, pick ups, amplifier and auditorium acoustics.