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The noise gate pedal isn’t a popular guitar accessory, not unless playing the guitar is something you do for a living. But despite the fact that it’s less known, it can be a wonderful piece of equipment that can take your sound to another level. So, today we’re wanted to talk about what they are, what they do, and how you, as a guitar player, can benefit from such a device.
Even though we will thoroughly get to the answer below, we want to first clarify that noise gate pedals are used for eliminating unwanted noise from single coil pickups from audio signal. These gate pedals silence the levels of the audio signal which drops below a certain amplitude. Almost all pedals can change the threshold or amplitude for the signal to drop below and the pedal to be effective.
A noise gate turns your signal off once it’s below explicit threshold, setting apart noise, while compressors reduce the peaks in your signal and increases the volume which is below a certain threshold. It can smooth the sound and add harmonic presence.
A noise gate pedal can create a very interesting sound effect when using the right. Guitar and bass players used just a pedal when they want to block undesired signals that are quite normal in an electric setup. The reason why this item may not be this popular is because it’s mostly used by professionals, either on stage or inside a recording studio.
Noise gate pedals are devices that will maintain the quality of the sound output at a high level while blocking the aforementioned signals. As you know, the guitar is typically connected to the amp via a cable. Between the two devices, there are a lot of different audio signals that come from different sources. For example, single coil pickup guitars can create some of these audio signals.
There are people who prefer to use a single pedal that meets all their requirements, but these are generally called multi-effect pedals, are not to be confused with noise gate or effect pedals. The most important thing to remember about noise gate pedal features is the threshold level. On the front side of such a pedal, there’s a pretty large control knob that allows you to establish the noise level. This level will typically vary depending on the brand of the pedal, but it could be anywhere between -70DB to +10DB., for example. Once the level of noise goes below or above this interval, the noise gate pedal is triggered to block unwanted feedback.
At this point, you may be wondering just how efficient a noise gate pedal is. The answer is very dependent on the brand chosen, which means a higher or a lower quality product. Of course, a good noise gate pedal will always be efficient, because it’s an extra mean to help musicians get the best sound quality possible. But there are so many different noise gate pedals on the market, that making a decision could turn into a nightmare.
One thing is for sure, noise gate pedals are one of the most underrated guitar accessories on the market. In fact, people that use a noise gate pedal will never want to play without one ever again. If you often find yourself recording your own tunes, this item should totally be on your next shopping list. Once you’ve used it a couple of times, you will notice the difference between before and after you’ve included this pedal into your system.
Rest assured, there are many different products that are available in all shapes and sizes, not to mention for all budgets. If you don’t have the time to do the research and discover which are some really good noise gate pedals, keep reading this article, as we have some awesome suggestions for you. But we’ll get to that in a minute.
Keep in mind that with noise gate pedals, the price tag is often a reflection of quality, so if you want a really good product, you will have to pay extra for it. Assuming you are on a tight budget, but would still like to own a decent noise gate pedal, you will have to cut down on things like design or number of features. You can look for pedals that are simple and effective, and still find one within your price expectations.
Depending on the type of noise gate pedal you choose, you can get one, two, or more knobs, each with its own functions. But don’t be fooled: even a pedal with just two knobs can be tricky to set up. It doesn’t matter if you have the most expensive pedal in the world, it won’t really do you any good unless you understand how to use it.
The threshold knob will require some fine-tuning in order for it to do a great job in kicking in to cancel noise just when you need it to. If this is not set up correctly, you could end up killing softer notes.
Decay is another knob typically found on noise gate pedals. It will determine the speed for triggering the noise gate when the selected threshold is reached. You can opt for a fast decay, but it could cause your tone to become more unnatural. On the other hand, a slow decay can cause the noise gate to function improperly, making you feel like the noise gate pedal is useless.
Sadly, there isn’t a formula that we can give you to get the best set up after the first try, but it’s rather a matter of trial and error, individual preference, but also the types of tunes your normally play.
You may be wondering what is the best placement for your new noise gate. There are two options to choose from. In case you’re not using a delay or reverb, you can place the noise gate pedal at the end of the signal chain. If you are using delay or reverb, you can place the pedal before them, to make sure it doesn’t interfere with these effects.
We’ve gathered the 5 most impressive noise gate pedals, looking to add something in here for all our readers. You will find some of the most expensive units, but also some cheap budget options, for those of you who are just starting off and don’t want to spend too much money on such a product before knowing if it’s actually something that can improve their sound.
Label: best overall
Electro-Harmonix is one of those brands that everyone who has used a guitar has heard about at least once. This particular noise gate pedal is really amazing, featuring three different control knobs, for reduction, threshold, and release. Fiddling with these three knobs, you can get the best-fine-tuned sound.
Specifically, the release button can regulate the period of time in which the game remains open once the signal drops below the threshold. This time period can be anywhere between 8 milliseconds to 4 seconds. With the reduction know, you can adjust the threshold level between -70DB to +4DB.
You have four different jacks, that are used to input, output, send, and return. The sturdy build of the pedal looks like it can withstand the test of time, so wear and tear won’t be visible any time soon. Unlike cheaper models, the Electro-Harmonix also works with a battery, aside from the usual power supply these devices are paired with.
If you’re looking for something a little fancier, the Electro-Harmonix noise gate pedal is definitely up that alley. It has more controls that the basic features of less expensive models, so you can expect to pay more for it.
|Product Weight||0.8 ounces|
|Package Dimensions||5.8 x 3.5 x 2.8 inches|
|Threshold||70DB to +4DB|
Label: best high-end option
If there’s one thing that you notice when you first check out the MXR M-135 is its spicy price tag. But rest assured, the reviews are 95% words of praise about how awesome this pedal is and how well it delivers. There are three different modes of noise cancellation, and this is definitely something you don’t see in cheaper pedals.
The little device operates in a second and can deliver great noise cancellation. There’s a convenient LED indicator that will let you know when the MXR M-135 is doing its job. The noise elimination modes have a switch that allow you to shuffle from one to another.
The MXR M-135 is built with two jacks, for input and output. Despite its size, it can withstand some serious wear and tear, so this baby will definitely stick around for a long time to come. The MXR M-135 comes with four different cables, which eliminates the hassle of placing an extra order. You can operate it by using a 9V battery, or an AC adapter.
The MXR M-135 is definitely a premium noise gate pedal, which means that it will cost a great deal more compared to the less expensive options on the market. However, if you want the best results (and are willing to pay to get them), this is the product for you.
|Product Weight||2.65 pounds|
|Package Dimensions||6 x 7 x 10 inches|
Label: best for pedalboard use
Here is another product that’s worthy of your money. The Donner noise gate pedal has two different modes, with hard and soft effects of noise reduction. There is a knob that allows you to set the noise threshold, from -70 to +10DB.
The case is made with aluminum alloy, and have a nice green finish, which is definitely a plus compared to the other models which are typically black or white. In order to enjoy this pedal for many years to come, it’s important to abide by the instructions given by the manufacturer. That requires keeping the pedal away from high humidity, but also from temperatures that are too low or too high.
The Donner noise gate pedal is perfect for people looking to a product made by a trustworthy manufacturer. It has the most important features you require from a gizmo of its kind.
|Product Weight||9.9 ounces|
|Package Dimensions||4.6 x 2.7 x 2.5 inches|
|Threshold||-70DB to +10DB|
Label: best value
Those of you who are on a budget, but still feel they can use a noise gate pedal. Rowin is a manufacturer that has more than eight years of experience, looking to create high quality pedals at affordable prices. This particular noise gate pedal delivers as promised, having the basic features that you need from a noise killer.
There are two different modes, allowing to opt between the hard or the soft noise reduction. There is also a LED indicator, that will notify you whenever the effect is on. The downside is that there is no option to use the pedal with batteries, which means that you’ll always need to provide power supply.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive noise gate pedal, the Rowin is a pretty solid product, giving you all the basic features you can find in such a product, with the guarantee that you’re not wasting your money on inefficient stuff.
|Product Weight||9.1 ounces|
|Package Dimensions||3.7 x 1.8 x 1.9 inches|
|Threshold||-70DB to +10DB|
Label: editor’s choice
The Sentry is the kind of noise gate pedal that feels so complex, you don’t even know where to begin describing it. It features multi-band gating technology, which means that you can tweak gate levels to the finest of details. But that’s just one of the things that push the Sentry at the top of the list.
The Tone Print technology of the Sentry is an Android and iOS app that features a very generous library of individual setting for guitar players that use this noise gate pedal. If you’re not a fan of smartphone, there’s also the possibility to use Mac or PC software and customize the settings to your own liking.
You will also get two free cables, which is one less thing to worry about. The front side of this noise gate pedal has three knobs that allow you to change the damp, threshold, and decay. Also important: you have the option to power it with an AC adapter, but it also works with a 9V battery, in case a power source isn’t nearby.
The Sentry is the kind of noise gate pedal suitable for people who know that sometimes they have to spend more money to get a really high-quality product. Even so, despite its spicy price tag, it can deliver high-quality noise reduction, to the delight of all people who’ve used this gadget so far.
|Product Weight||15.2 ounces|
|Package Dimensions||3 x 8 x 10 inches|
We know that purchasing guitar accessories can be overwhelming, especially if you’re trying out a new product for the first time. In fact, considering how much instruments have evolved, pretty much any purchase of a product that wasn’t previously used is turning into a regular part-time job. In a way, that’s a good thing, because there’s a lot of fierce competitors on the market, that manufacturers are doing their best in coming up with the best, cheapest, most feature-packed and awesome product. We, as consumers, have a broad range of products to choose from, which is always better than having to pick the same darn thing over and over again.
The choice for a noise gate pedal depends on what kind of guitar player are you. If you’re the kind of person that plays at home, alone or with a group of friends, you won’t need the most pretentious pedal. However, if you record your own music, use a studio, or play professionally on stage on a regular basis, you might want to invest in a higher-end product, because the results and the improvements a high-quality noise gate pedal bring are really noticeable.