When you think of effects, pedals and electronics, you probably think of rock ‘n roll and guitars. But wind players can use these to enhance their playing as well, you just need to be thoughtful about how you approach using them.

Early Use of EffectsDunlop Pedal

From the late 1960’s on, players like Eddie Harris, Rusty Bryant, Sonny Stitt, Wayne Shorter (Weather Report) and Michael Brecker (Brecker Brothers) began experimenting with manipulated sounds and electric pedals for their horns. The results were mixed and didn’t fully catch on with the wind players of the world. However, their use did show that effects weren’t only for guitar players and that, done right, changing the sound of a saxophone, trumpet or other horn through effects pedals has a place in modern music.

Incorporating Effects into Your Playing

These days, you will find modern wind players employing pedals, effects (like octave and delay effects), mixers and other electronic elements to make their saxophone, trumpet or other wind instrument sound unique. Playing with pedals, live or in the studio, can give you a unique palate of tonal colors. If you’re considering working these into your horn playing, you should consider carefully what you’re trying to achieve. Most educators and players would advise that you find your acoustic sound first and truly master your instrument with its natural sound before diving into electronics. Consider these benefits and decide if you’re ready to give the effects a go.

Advantages of Using Effects

- Pedals are a great way to enhance your sound, like adding subtle enhancements or filling out your sound.
- You may be looking for a modern or unique sound that you can only get from using trumpet or saxophone effects and pedals.
- If you like to experiment with new sounds, new approaches and new types of music, using effects is a great way to do that.
- If there is only one monitor mix, often the vocalist get to dictate the mix. Incorporating electronics and amps into your playing will allow you to have your own mix.
- You might encounter music with effects written in, so knowing how to use them will allow you to play it.

Gear and Accessories

Once you’ve considered the pros and cons and thought through what you’re trying to achieve, it’s time to start thinking about what equipment and accessories you’ll need.

For any effects pedal set up, you’ll need four main components along with your instrument: microphone(s); preamp; effects loop; and a power source. There are great options for these items from top brands like BOSS, MXR, TC Electronic, Dunlop and Electro Harmonix. While it’s best for you to do some research and try out a variety of effect and pedals to determine what works best for you, here are some suggestions for microphones, preamps and various effect pedals to get you started:

Radial Engineering Voco-Loco Vocal Preamp and Effect Switcher

A foot-controlled effects loop that enables a saxophone or trumpet player to incorporate guitar effects pedals into the signal path, just like an electric guitarist adds effects for soloing.

MXR M195 Noise Clamp Noise Reduction Guitar Effects Pedal

Crank your stomp pedals to the extreme without the fear of any hiss or excess noise

MXR M-103 Blue Box

Takes your signal, fuzzes it up, then duplicates it 2 octaves down.

Dunlop Original Cry Baby Wah Pedal

The original wah-wah pedal used to create the vintage sounds of rock and roll.

TC Electronic Ditto Looper Guitar Effects Pedal

A looper that is intuitive, tons of fun, sounds great and doesn't break the bank.

Electro-Harmonix Nano POG Polyphonic Octave Generator Guitar Effects Pedal

A poylyphonic octave generator in a conveniently small foot pedal.

Sterling Audio ST-169 Multi-Pattern Tube Condenser Microphone

Provides a warm, articulate and detailed sound with extreme volume handling.

MXR M169 Carbon Copy Analog Delay Guitar Effects Pedal

A pedal that features a completely analog audio path for the ultimate in rich, warm delay.

More Information: check out this article, Effects for the Horn Player, for even more information on incorporating effects into your horn playing.


As with any new approach to your playing, be sure you’re doing it for the right reasons and consider the pros and cons. Adding effects and pedals can be an investment, so do your research and try out a variety of options before deciding what is best for you. Take advantage of our Low Price Guarantee and our 45-day Satisfaction Guarantee to ensure you are happy with your purchases. And as always, we encourage you to call a Staff Advisor who can help you make the best decisions when purchasing a microphone, preamp, effects loops or a power source if you decide to integrate effects into your horn playing.