6 Ways To Expand Your Sound for Under $100

Everybody has a budget. The holiday season is fast approaching, and here at Reverb, we're all about helping you find new sounds without taking padding away from your pockets. The leaves are changing -- your sound should too.

Whether you’re a guitar player, a bassist, a drummer, or a synth nerd, we’ve hit on a couple of inexpensive ways to improve your developing sound.

1. TC Electronic Ditto Looper

A loop pedal is the perfect tool for any instrumentalist. It can transform your simple solo set into a swell of multiple and varied soundscapes just as easily as it can add an extra few layers of dynamism to your full band’s show. Not to mention that practicing along with a looper is an invaluable way to test out new tunes without coordinating a band practice.

TC Electronic’s Ditto Looper is everything you want in a loop pedal without the unnecessary frills and distractions that come along with its competitor’s. One switch to operate and one knob for volume keep the footprint of this pedal small, making it the perfect addition to any board.


2. Big Fat Snare Drum

Drummers are often looking for ways to beef up their relatively high-pitched ringing snare drums. Oftentimes, their first turn is toward inconvenient rings, tape, and gels to try and achieve that deep, vintage growl. The Big Fat Snare Drum is a better solution without all of the extra hassle.

With its unique mixture of plastic and rubber, the Big Fat Snare Drum lowers and warms the tone of your previously high-pitched snare. Convenience is king, and the BFSD delivers with a design that is easily engineered to sit right on top of your snare skin. Forget the inconvenience of gels, tape, or lugging a second drum to your shows. Slap one of these on your snare and call it day.


3. MXR Dyna Comp

Every guitarist (and bassist) should consider adding a compressor to their rig. It can be an invaluable addition that drastically improves your sound. That being said, a more transparent or neutral compressor is usually going to run you over $100. The Xotic SP Compressor is a good option for just over that price point.

If you’re trying to stay under $100, MXR’s Dyna Comp is a very compelling option. This pedal is definitely not a transparent compressor, as it really colors your tone beyond the stabilization of your EQ. But if Nashville-style chicken pickin’ is your thing, you won’t be happier with anything else.


4. Teenage Engineering Pocket Operator Series

Whether you’re just getting into synths or are looking for an extremely affordable and portable option, Teenage Engineering’s Pocket Operator series is the perfect place to start. These six calculator-sized mini synths were designed intuitively with a small screen that supports a variety of cool animations and a surprising number of useful features.

The Factory model is for keys melodies and houses 16 onboard effects and a 16-step arpeggiator. The Sub model is specifically a bass synthesizer that adds 15 bass sounds that can all be modified with the 16 onboard effects. The Rhythm model is the standard drum machine and the Office model is the noise percussion drum machine, both housing another 16 individually synthesized drum sounds. The Arcade model features chord control, and the Robot model is the live synth. All of these synths feature a 16-step sequencer, parameter locks, and a built-in speaker.


5. JHS Little Black Buffer

Effects pedals are the gift that keeps on giving. The more you add to your pedalboard, the more dynamic your tone becomes. But what about when you’ve added so many pedals that your signal is getting cloudy and the quality is degrading? Maybe the issue isn’t too many pedals, but the long cable you’re using that causes the loss of that brilliance and treble from your tone. Sound familiar? You need a buffer pedal.

Buffer pedals restore the inevitable loss and degradation of your signal when it’s moving through too many electrical circuits. JHS’s Little Black Buffer is the perfect solution. Its slender casing and knobless design make it easy to slip into that first spot on your signal chain without having to sacrifice too much valuable real estate. If you’re starting to notice that your once bright tone is sounding a little muddy, we suggest you pick up one of these.


6. Heet eBow

When you’re running out of those coveted spots on your pedalboard but still haven’t hit that perfect sound, check out the Heet eBow. This handheld electric bow can be used directly on your guitar strings, using its electromagnetic field to vibrate your strings in place of picking and strumming.

The eBow can be used to tap the strings, brush across a single string at a time, or wave across all of them. Any one of these methods results in a truly infinite sustain. This effect can be used to heavily distort your guitar tone or to imitate woodwinds with the ability to multitrack them. Regardless of what kind of music you play, you can find good use for this truly unique effect.


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