6 years ago I bought an AxeFX and gave up pedals entirely…

… Then I started buying them again.

Not because my modeler didn’t sound good enough, not because it wasn’t flexible enough, not because I missed having 15 blue LED’s (because blue means boutique, of course) brighter than the sun blinding me on stage either.

The analog vs. digital battle rages on even after all of these years, but too few see the merits of combining the best of both worlds.

Let’s talk about why pedals are STILL worth it, long after you’ve purchased your dream modeler.

They Promote Creativity

A top-tier digital modeler can provide more sounds than I could ever explore in my lifetime – let alone before the next iteration of the toy comes out – but sometimes that’s not conducive to creativity and innovation.

Often times the best way to put yourself into a creative mindset is to actually restrict yourself. By setting parameters on your playing you have to start thinking in new ways because you can no longer resort to the same old approach to your instrument.

Rather than having the world at your fingertips, give yourself a single effect and start writing. Find a way to write a riff that compliments those specific settings, and go from there.

If you had all the choices in the world you might choose a different tone, or not use that effect at all, but by giving yourself the goal of “I need to write something with this sound” you’ll come up with something you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.

Convenience and Portability

Digital rigs are incredibly versatile, but when you’re playing a gig that really only needs one or two sounds it’s nice to be able to stuff everything in a small bag and be good to go.

Nothing beats the ability to put your entire rig in a case no bigger than a laptop. An overdrive, a versatile preamp, and a cab sim can be all you need for a ton of gigs.

Not having to haul around your giant rig with the heavy modeler, the surprisingly-even-heavier- power amp, tons of cables, a cab, etc. can be an absolute game-changer for guitarists who wear a number of different hats on stage.

Fastest Way To A Specific Tone

Modelers are proving that they can do just about anything, but not always in a short amount of time. When you’ve got a guitar pedal that isn’t modeled in any digital processor, there’s a damn good chance that you can recreate it. But who has the time?

In many cases, it’s easier to just toss that single pedal in the effects loop of your modeler and be done with it. If the pedal sounds amazing, why spend weeks trying to nail a copy of it when you can just bring it along?

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

Final Thoughts

Although my approach to tone has become largely focused on digital modeling and the flexibility they offer, it doesn’t replace pedals, nor do they replace digital modelers. Both have their own merits and the combination of the two is what gives us as guitarists a myriad of options both tonally and practically.

Man, we’re so spoiled these days.