This is how you buy pedals:
Way #1 – Go to the local guitar store, where they have 30-50 pedals from a handful of manufacturers, if you’re lucky. You try one out using not-your-guitar into not-your-amp. This combo sounds terrible, but the pedal improves it, so you get excited and buy. When you get home, who knows. At least you can throw the thing on ebay if it doesn’t work out.
Way #2 – Watch endless YouTube videos, get suggestions from the Gear Page, order online, post your decision on the Gear Page, get ridiculed for a poor choice.
Over-dramatized as those scenarios may be, the point is that buying gear the traditional way leaves too much to chance. Especially when high end pedals cost more than GE wants to spend on a guitar1.
This whole process is a little easier, thanks to PedalGenie.
PedalGenie is Netflix for effects. You know how Netflix works, this is the same way2. The basics are – $34.95/month gets you one pedal at a time. $59.95/month gets you three at a time.
It seems steep at first, because I think we’re all conditioned to think that no subscription for something from an internet company should cost more than $9.99/month.
But it might not be so bad.
I want a fancy modulation pedal right now. I’d prefer something that does more than one effect, like a flanger/phaser combo. Or at least something that does one but is really intense about it. But when you’re talking about more complex pedals, it’s really hard to test everything out in a store. Online is obviously easier with long YouTube demos, but then I lose the ability to actually demo the stuff myself. And I get sick of dudes on YouTube running through crazy guitar acrobatics and Pearl Jam covers.
So even if this is a short-term deal for me, $35/mo for a few months to help decide a potentially $400 purchase? Seems worth it.
And I guess that is the risk for the folks at PedalGenie. Any subscription service needs retention. I think what they’re banking on, is that testing out a bunch of pedals is addictive. I definitely don’t need an assortment of pedals coming to my door throughout the month, but I kind of want it to happen.
That, in turn, is the risk for me (and you). The smart move is to have a short-term subscription to help make big pedal decisions. But the reality is, there are so many effects I want to try out. And I want to try them more extensively than guitar store noodling allows. This could become a problem…
Enough background though, let’s get into the goods.
Obviously the most important part of a site like this. PedalGenie boasts “nearly 1000 pedals from over 60 pedal brands.” Those brands cover everyday folks like Boss and Zoom all the way to the rather hard to find like Idiotbox, Tortuga and more.
Not every pedal from a manufacturer is represented, but that’s no surprise with the way lines grow and change so frequently. They do have all three of the big Strymon pedals (BigSky, Mobius, Timeline) – so it’s not like they’re just carrying the cheaper stuff. Pretty cool.
On a completely personal note, I am getting more and more into DSP pedals, so I’d love to see brands like Eventide, ZT, and ISP represented… but there’s still plenty of options for now to satisfy my cravings.
I tried to think of someone major that is missing from their lineup, and am drawing a blank. Maxon is probably the brand that is most universally known but absent from their selection. I don’t think anyone will really miss them though. Beyond that, there are surely a few brands that very small groups will think are huge omissions.
Also, while there’s no indicator of what is “in stock” (more on that later), I’m told they have multiple copies of many of these pedals, if not all. So it seems like something shouldn’t be stuck on your wishlist for months and months.
The site is a pretty familiar ecommerce experience. There are categories of pedals to browse and you can filter by brand as well. Rather than adding something to a shopping cart, it goes into your wishlist. All real straight forward.
The categories can be a little clunky at times. When scanning “Chorus Flanger Tremolo” I found some overdrive pedals mixed in. There’s no “Fuzz” category, which seems like a no-brainer. But those are all easy housekeeping items.
The wishlist itself is really just a list of the items you’ve added. You can add comments or delete items. Probably the only annoyance is you can’t reorder the list. If I wanted something different to come next, I’d have to delete whatever is ahead of it. You can use comments to say if you want something first, but it’s no guarantee. Not the end of the world, but something to keep in mind before you go adding hundreds of pedals to your list.
One thing to know is how everything ships. Pedals come in PedalGenie packaging, with no manual or power supply. My guess is this won’t be a problem, as I suspect most of their customers will be folks like me who have a pedal board and power supply/huge box of batteries. But if you don’t have an arsenal of pedal powering options at your disposal, you’ll want to buy something first (PedalGenie will sell you power supplies. They’ll also send you all the original packaging, manual, power supply if you buy a pedal from them).
Small bonus – they use USPS for shipping. Ends up being a little faster for most people that way, but the real bonus is that for now you get Saturday delivery. I know I’d be a little neurotic if they used UPS/FedEx and I had to wait until after the weekend to get something.
Big bonus – shipping is free. You get a prepaid Priority Mail envelope to send your pedal(s) back in as well. Everything on the internet ships free these days3, so it’s good they are not bucking the trend.
The “when”aspect is a bit of a mystery. As far as I can tell, there is no indicator of wait time. I think it was Blockbuster’s mailer service that used to say if something would be a long wait. Nothing like that here. Would be a nice addition, but that’s why you add several items to your wishlist.
All and all an intuitive experience. They have a mobile site too, which is nice since I’ve already been out with a friend talking gear and felt compelled to immediately add something to my wishlist.
This is all good stuff, but the beginning of this particular article promised a new way of buying pedals.
No, I will not be sending this pedal back.
It’s going to happen, you’re going to get your next delivery and it will be the pedal that changes your life. Suddenly those licks sound just like Joe Bonamassa and the girls are coming from blocks away to check you out. So then what? You send it back and go find a store or used listing for the same thing?
Well, you can do that, or you can just keep the one you have from PedalGenie.
Yup, they’ll sell you pedals too. It’s not really their business model, and I haven’t asked for any prices yet, so I can’t comment on how competitive they are. But they consider how long the pedal has been in their inventory, how long you’ve had it (your monthly rent) and how long you’ve been a member. So there may be some good deals to be had.
I think that could end up being the killer aspect of being a member. The rent-to-own concept is potentially great. Especially since they just sent me a pedal that is kinda complex (so I’ll need some time with it) and a tad expensive…
All in all…
So far I dig this service. Bare minimum, I’ve verified they’re a real company, they actually ship you pedals, and thus far they’re quick about it. They’ve got a really good selection of gear and they’re only going to grow. Having a subscription for months and months makes you a little crazy, but I definitely see the draw and it will be hard to stop.
Oh, and they have a promo (as of this posting) where your first month is $1. Tough to beat.
If you’re interested and I missed answering a question in here, don’t bother me about it – go check out their FAQ.
Enough writing, time to go play.