How do you get clearer metal tones? How do you get tight 7 string tones? How do you get punchier crunch tones? How do you get the best neck humbucker tones? How do you make your amp sound better? How do you do it on a budget? I’ve been looking for an article to showcase my personal bias and this was the perfect opportunity! The EarthQuaker Devices Arrows is your answer to all of those questions and something I always have on my pedalboard.


  • Single Level Knob
  • 9V w/ 2.1mm Negative Center Barrel
  • True Bypass
  • Arrows Graphic

EarthQuaker pedals are made by hand in Akron, Ohio. The enclosure is sturdy, and the components are top notch. The True Bypass functions wonderfully and when off it won’t color your signal at all.

They tend to have some quirky and cool graphics, but this one is rather plain. Definitely looks good on the pedalboard, but nothing as crazy as their Sea Machine, for example. They also do custom graphics for “Pedal of the Months” runs of their effects, and the Arrows has a rich copper/burgundy look for that variant.


So why would you want what looks like a glorified volume knob in your chain? The arrows is specifically voiced to be as clear as possible, with a slight bump in the upper midrange. This means that as it turns up (within reason), you’re getting a tighter bass response, more punch, and more harmonic saturation. I say within reason, because one of the ways that this pedal is deceptively versatile is that as you reach the upper end of the knob’s range, you can get some extremely out of control and unruly tones. This isn’t what it’s intended for, but it can be fun to experiment with. What this does make this pedal intended for is what guitarists have been using overdrives with drive all the way down and volume turned up for since the beginning of time: a clearer and more natural distortion tone, especially when breaking up a tube amp. The difference being that this is designed for just that, and overall has a much cleaner result.

I like a really bright and punchy tone in general, so I leave this always on. Cleans hit a bit harder, crunch tones have a more aggressive high end, and it definitely helps your signal cut in a long signal chain. I normally keep the knob just below noon, because for optimum tightness you don’t want an excess amount of gain. It can function as an interesting lead boost when turned up high, however.

I like clean boosts because they’re transparent and retain the character of your amp. Some do this better than others, and I’d definitely argue the Arrows is the best at that. This is not a sculpting pedal. A lot of people like to add more gain, and even EQ from their drive pedals. This is really useful for extremely tight and artificial sounding modern metal tones, or blues tones in front of a clean amp. The Arrows is not designed for either of those things. It does good modern metal tone and good blues drive, but it’s definitely designed to work in tandem with an amp that’s already giving you the majority of your tone, or even with other pedals giving you the majority of your tone. (It can definitely brighten up a dark overdrive, or help a fuzz maintain some pick attack) The Arrows makes your amp sound like your amp, but better, whereas if you want pedals that fundamentally change your tone, this isn’t for you.

Final Verdict:

This is a “makes your rig sound better” pedal. With only one knob. In most situations, everyone can use a little more punch and harmonic saturation, and this provides that in spades.

You can leave it always on, use it to clean up thick pedals, tighten downtuned riffs, add sparkle to crunch tones, liven up dark neck humbuckers, or maintain signal when using long cables.

For intense tone shaping, there are obviously better options out there. Mostly because they have more than one knob, but for a clean boost that just sounds like your amp with a little extra, as opposed to any amp with an overdrive in front, this is your best bet, at a ridiculously affordable price given the quality in its tone and construction.

Tone – 5/5

Build Quality – 5/5

Features – 4.5/5

If you liked this article, check out our other reviews here!

This article was written by Kyle Karich, our editor located in Florida.

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