Buying guides

Buying Guide: 1 Knob Wonders

In a world with seemingly endless possibilities, there is something charming about the idea of a pedal with only a single knob. It invites wonder and awe, and encourages us to interact with the circuit, and with the music, in new and creative ways. Here is a list of some of our favorite single knobbers.


EarthQuaker Devices Acapulco gold

This single-knobbed beast from EarthQuaker Devices is one loud pedal. Designed to recreate the sound of a cranked Sunn Model T amp, this pedal goes from loud to louder in all the best ways. Although the pedal itself only has one knob, it behaves like an amp in that it responds extremely well to your guitar’s volume and tone knobs. Pure power amp saturation, right under your foot.
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Death by Audio Waveform Destroyer

This one is a little bit different than the other pedals on this list, as it has four switches, despite having only one knob. The Waveform Destroyer contains eight different distortions, all of which can be customized via internal DIP switches. Once you get everything set, the single knob functions as a master volume control for the pedal, and you can toggle through your four favorite sounds using the footswitches. The Waveform Destroyer covers fuzz, overdrive, and distortion, making it a viable option for an all-in-one dirt box.
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Z.Vex Super Hard On

This pedal is basically a ‘transparent’ boost pedal, yet it is probably unlike any boost pedal you have tried before. Based on classic recording console inputs from the 1960s, the single knob is a volume knob that is a negative-feedback control. The Z.Vex Super Hard On is especially good for vintage instruments, whose pickups are slowly losing magnetism, since it “refuses any current flow from your pickup…maintaining the most magnetic field around each string, so you can hear exactly what your pickup sounded like the day it came off the winder.”
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Walrus Audio Contraband Fuzz

Here is a fuzz pedal that is not modeled on any particular amp, but rather kind of just does its own thing, which happens to be a good thing! The Contraband Fuzz is very responsive, thanks in part to the built-in gate, which allows you to get some cool broken fuzz sounds when the volume on your guitar is rolled down a bit. There is an external toggle switch that engages a low-cut filter, which can be useful when switching between humbuckers and single coils.
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MXR Micro Chorus

Featuring bucket brigade technology and pure analog design, this 1980s reissue pedal is filled with all sorts of organic chorus tones. From subtle shimmers to psychedelic warbles, the MXR Micro Chorus has got you covered.
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Xotic EP

This boost pedal has been designed to provide you with up to +20dB of signal boost, while imparting the tone color of the classic EP-3 echoplex. In addition to its intended use, the echoplex has been used as a preamp booster by countless guitar players, from Jimmy Page to Edward Van Halen, to Eric Johnson. Two internal DIP switches allow you to further refine your tone. As far as colored boosts go, the Xotic EP is one of the finest around.
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Phase 95

Like its predecessors, the Phase 90 and the Phase 45, the Phase 95 features only knob. However, unlike its predecessors, it has the ability to switch between both of MXR’s classic phaser models, as well as toggle between the older, ‘Script’ circuitry, and the more modern ‘block letter’ circuitry. This double-duty circuit is packed into a pedal that is half the size of either of the originals, making the Phase 95 a no-brainer for anyone looking to add a little swirl to their pedalboard.
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iSP Decimator II

For a while, this pedal was a mainstay on the boards of djent players everywhere. With more boutique offerings now available, as well as the increased use of modeling devices, we have been seeing fewer of these chromed gems from iSP in the wild lately. Despite constantly fluctuating trends, the Decimator II remains one of the most responsive and reliable noise gates ever made. If you have a seriously high-gain rig that needs some taming, the iSP Decimator II is still going to be one of your best bets.
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TC Electronic HOF mini

Based on the TC Electronic Hall of Fame, the HOF Mini is an extremely stripped-down take on the company’s flagship reverb pedal. There are a handful of other one-knobbed reverb pedals offered by other companies, but what separates the HOF Mini from the pack is that it is TonePrint-enabled. By using TC Electronic’s free proprietary software, you can choose from a wide variety of reverb styles to load into the HOF Mini. Maybe one night you need a spring reverb, and the next you need a hall reverb. TC Electronic has you covered with the HOF Mini.
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TC Electronic Ditto Looper

Traditionally, using a loop pedal has meant sacrificing a considerable amount of space on your board. As a single-knobbed, mini pedal, the Ditto Looper provides an elegant solution to this problem. Despite its diminutive physical presence, the Ditto can hold up to 5 minutes of loops, and records all incoming signal as uncompressed 24-bit audio. Step on the switch to record loops, and turn the knob to increase the level. The Ditto can be a useful tool for gigging and practicing.
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