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28 Key Guitar Effects Pedal Types - Preferred Mini Pedal per Type

Acoustic SimulatorAmp and Cab IR SimBanana EffectsBecos FXBitcrushing and Lo-FiBoostBoost and OverdriveChorus and VibratoCompressorDecibelicsDelayDigital DelayDigital ReverbDistortionDouble TrackingDriveDSM NoisemakerEnvelope Filter and Auto WahEQFeaturedFlangerFunction F(X)FuzzFuzz-Drive and FuzzstortionGlitchGuitar Synth and SequencerHotone EffectsIbanezKlone and Transparent OverdriveLooperModulationMooerMr Black PedalsMXRNoise GateOctaverOneControlOverdrivePhaserPigtronixPitchReverbSilicon FuzzTC ElectronicTremoloTunersUni-Vibe and VibeUtilityVolumeWah and Fixed Wah+-
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This article is in part inspired by my features on ’Mini Pedals State of the Art’, and those various ’12 Degrees’ posts I did at the tail-end of last year. Moreover I have had quite a few readers recently asking me for my preferred recommended mini pedals on various pedal-chain slots.

 

I last did this sort of exercise 4 years ago - where TC Electronic was kind of the dominant player - covering 8 of those 20 recommendations, with Mooer fairly close with 6 entries, Wampler with 2 and then singles. This time around Mooer is the category leader with 8, then TC Electronic with 3, followed by pairs of Becos FX, Function F(x), Ibanez, Mr Black, MXR, and Pigtronix, and then single entries.

 

Generally you mostly cannot go wrong with Mooer - and contrary to some public opinions - and unlike TC Electronic which is also digital pretty much, Mooer has quite a number of very decent analogg circuits in the mix. Mooer still makes some great mini pedals - with the 7 Series pedals and their onboard 7 Presets being particularly ingenious. While there are a number of Boutique brands now that make fantastic THT circuits in those compact dimensions.

 

Malekko was a little bit ahead of the curve - and all its mini pedals were retired pretty much before the Mini craze happened properly - several of those pedals are really decent. Obviously we have companies like Function F(x), Ibanez, Mr Black MXR, Pigtronix, and Wampler making fairly significant forays into the Mini pedal category. Where we already have dedicated Mini leaders Bananana Effects, Mooer, One Control and TC Electronic.

 

A lot of players still seem to be somewhat snooty about Mini pedals - while the touring pros really value their practical form factors - and most deploy one or two Mooer’s or the like.

 

Obviously with mini pedals you are somewhat limited for featured set - in terms of how much of a circuit and controls you can cram into those tiny enclosures - but there are truly some wonderful pedals at this level - with quite magnificent engineering - like the universally loved Decibelics Golden Horse.

 

Right now I actually don’t deploy any minis in my chain - as I typically prefer the extended feature sets and functions that the Compacts deliver - while there are several here that get rotated into the chain fairly frequently - like the Phase 95 in particularly - which I slot in at the start of the chain!

 

So here are each of my preferred Mini choices for each key pedal type / slot - usually we also have a number of decent alternatives for most - while coverage in other areas is much more specialised.

 

Here are you 28 contenders in order of effect / likely pedalboard order placement - although you surely know how flexible I am with those conventions! :


TUNER : TC Electronic PolyTune 3 Mini Noir - £59

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My Mini Tuner of choice is the latest variant of TC Electronic Polytune. I still really like the efficiency of the immediate glance at seeing which individual strings are out of tune. I mostly play solo in any case - so 100% pitch accuracy here is not wholly a necessity. The Polytune is plenty accurate for me and more efficient than most, while if tuning accuracy is important then I would deploy the Sonic Research Mini Turbo Tuner or larger Peterson StroboStomp. For Mini Tuners though it's between Polytune and the Turbo Tuner.

 

Decent Alternatives :

  • Sonic Research Turbo Tuner ST-300 Mini

OCTAVER : Mr Black Octaves Mini Polyphonic Octave Generator - $140

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Mr Black has come in really strong with its range of 7 Mini Pedals - these are truly great sounding examples, while I feel more effort could have been made with those knobs - as I really don't like those raw plastic mini-knob stems. While there are some truly great genre examples here - including this Octaves pedal, and the Mini Harmonic Tremolo below. The Octaves has 3 controls - Sub, Root and Upper. All the Mr Black Minis are mostly sold out at the moment, as Mr Black is having some production issues with Mini pedals - which are likely to result in either a price-hike or possible discontinuation even. I hope these get properly revived as they really are very decent quality in terms of their output!

 

Decent Alternatives :

  • TC Electronic Sub N' Up Mini Octaver
  • Mooer Tender Octaver MKII

SYNTH : Mooer 7 Series E7 Mini Synth - £100

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I've featured Mooer's 7 Series fully separately, as well as in my Mini Pedals State of the Art post. With their 6 controls, 7 Modes and 7 onboard presets - these are just about as technically adept as these Mini Pedals can get. Some really solid engineering here for a truly smart and fully practical form factor. We have controls for Attack, Speed, High Cut, Low Cut, Select/Save, and Mix. The E7 Synth was effectively the second of this type, after the Tone Capture GTR - and it has some really cool digital algorithms onboard. If you're more into analog style sounds - then there is of course Pigtronix's excellent new Space Rip too - and Bananana Effects cool Matryoshka also. Do note that I've been misspelling Bananana Effects for a while now - I keep forgetting to include the extra syllable - making more of an effort with that now!

 

Decent Alternatives :

  • Bananana Effects Matryoshka Bass Synth
  • Pigtronix Space Rip Analog Synth

BITCRUSHER : Mooer LoFi Machine Mini - £54

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Weirdly the Mooer LoFi is the only Mini Bitcrusher I've come across - I feel certain I'm overlooking something here - while it is no doubt a decent enough example of the genre. You get 4 controls - Input device select, Mix, Sample, and Bit. I had hoped there would be more competition in this area by now - but I've not personally come across any alternatives - do chip in if you know another!

 

Decent Alternatives :

  • Hotone Krush Digital Bitcrusher
  • Malekko Omicron Bit Mini Bitcrusher

WAH : Mooer The Wahter Mini Wah - £69

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ooer's Mini Treadle pedals are still wholly ingenious in their format. There are no others anywhere close to this neatness and form factor - with those fold-out stirrups and touch-pad activation. This is truly the only proper Mini Wah pedal that I know of - while there are a few more in the compact category. If you want small and neat though - Mooer's going to be your main choice.

 

Decent Alternatives :

  1. None Known! Please Suggest!

AUTO-WAH : Mooer Funky Monkey Mini Auto-Wah - £58

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When I did my 12 Degrees of Modulation I selected the Mooer @Wah Digital Auto-Wah - while generally I prefer analog circuits if I can get them in this form factor - which I believe the Funky Monkey is. It has 4 controls - Hi/Mid/Low Peak, Range, Q, and Rate.

 

Decent Alternatives :

  • Mooer @Wah Mini Digital Auto-Wah

ENVELOPE FILTER : Function FX Accufunkture Micro Envelope Filter - $139

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We several pretty decent competitors for this category - while I tend to favour Dave 'Pickdropper' Friesema of Function F(x) fame. His Accufunkture Micro sounds as good as any of any size - and sports 4 controls - Decay, Attack, Filter, and Sense. Note that there is no demo yet for the micro version - so I've referenced the entirely equivalent compact original.

 

Decent Alternatives :

  • F-Pedals Punkmonk
  • Malekko Omicron Mini Filter
  • Menatone Mail Bomb Mini
  • Mooer 'Envelope' Filter Mini

BOOST : Becos FX Solo Boost Master Mini - retired - £108 equivalent when new I believe

This pedal was alas retired all too quickly and before I could acquire one! I hope Castel Barac can see his way to reviving this one - as there has never been a smarter Mini Boost. It has no less than 6 controls - two regular knobs for Tilt-EQ and Boost Level, then 3 Cut Switches for Lows, Mids and Highs, and finally a Mid Sweep from -3dB/360Hz through to -9dB/720Hz. There are several decent Mini Boosts out there - but nothing equivalent really to the Becos FX Solo Boost Master Mini! Alas I can find no YouTube demo for this pedal either - hopefully it gets revived soon enough!

 

Decent Alternatives :

  • Analog.Man Mini Beano Boost
  • MXR Mini Booster M293 Booster
  • TC Electronic Mini Spark Booster
  • Xotic Effects EP Booster Mini Alchemy Audio Edition

COMPRESSOR : Becos FX CompIQ Pro Mini Compressor - £176

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Becos FX really is the go-to brand for Studio Style Compressors in pedal formats - currently with 4 leading formats of compressor - the Dual Compressor Twain, Compact Stella, and this Pro Mini, and simpler variety Mini One. The Mini One is closer to how the Pro Mini started out, while that has evolved now to a formidable 7 controls format. It's combination of Ratio, Threshold, Knee, Gain, Side Chain Filter, Timing and Mix controls - easily make it the top of the class. Previously I have loved and deployed the Xotic SP Compressor and Wampler Mini Ego - while if I were getting one today - it would most definitely be this particular Becos FX variety.

 

Decent Alternatives :

  • JHS Pedals Whitey Tighty Mini Compressor
  • Mooer Yellow Comp Optical Compressor
  • MXR Dyna Comp Mini Compressor
  • Pigtronix Philosopher's Tone Germanium Gold Micro Compressor
  • TC Electronic HyperGravity Mini Compressor
  • Wampler Mini Ego Compressor
  • Xotic Effects SP Compressor Mini Alchemy Audio Edition

ACOUSTIC SIMULATOR : Hotone OMNI AC Acoustic Simulator - £130

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In the past the Mooer Acoustikar has really been the only game in town for this variety - while Hotone's recent OMNI AC kind of takes the category now with it's smart 2 controls plus screen variety - with just Master and Function knobs and Lift-GND switch. It sports both Thru input jack and XLR Out for maximum deployment practicality. A rather neat new entry into this space.

 

Decent Alternatives :

  • Mooer Acoustikar Mini Acoustic Guitar Simulator

FUZZ : Function FX Clusterfuzz Micro - $169

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So the essence here is for extended feature set and versatility - where my universal past champion has been the EWS Little Fuzzy Drive, but I'm now championing the really versatile Clusterfuzz Micro - with its 4 controls - Level, 8-Bit, Tone, Fuzz and 3-way clipping selector - Mosfet/None/Silicon. Because of limitations in form factor you typically don't get the most versatile of fuzzes at this size - in fact to my mind - only the 3 featured ones properly qualify. If you have other examples - let them be known! Note that the Clusterfuzz Micro still has no official demo - so I'm using the Jr version instead for that.

 

Decent Alternatives :

  • EWS Little Fuzzy Drive
  • OneControl Baltic Blue Fuzz

OVERDRIVE : Decibelics Golden Horse Mini Klone - £169/£185

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I don't really need to say anything more about the Golden Horse Mini Klone - not just the finest in its form factor - but pretty much the finest Klone around! With its immaculate engineering and 3 beautifully calibrated controls - Gain, Level and Tone it really is the master of its category. There are of course some other decent Mini Overdrives - including the recent MXR Timmy Mini, and Wampler Belle Overdrive Mini ODR-style example.

Decent Alternatives :

  • EWS Little Brute Drive II
  • Function F(x) MicroFracture Mini
  • Function F(x) TDX Mini Clone
  • Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini
  • KHDK Ghoul Jr Overdrive
  • MXR Sugar Drive Mini
  • MXR Timmy Mini
  • OneControl Golden Acorn Overdrive Special
  • Suhr Shiba Drive Reloaded Mini
  • Wampler Belle Overdrive MiniWampler Tumnus Mini

DISTORTION : Pigtronix Disnortion Micro - £139

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Some will immediately challenge me on this one being somewhat a combined Overdrive + Fuzz - while in Series mode you get some really great proper Fuzz-edged distortion tones. This has been out for a while, and is still a cracking pedal - with its 5 controls - Gain, Volume, Drive Tone, Fuzz Shape Filters x 6, and Series/Parallel Switch. Once more I'm going for ultimate versatility - and few if any Mini Distortions can be shaped quite as much as this one. The idea really is to get the maximum versatility obviously with great tones - out of this mini format.

 

Decent Alternatives :

  • OneControl Jubilee Red AIAB
  • Suhr Riot Distortion Mini
  • Wampler Plexi Drive Mini
  • Xotic Effects SL Drive Mini Alchemy Audio Edition

NOISE GATE : Pigtronix Gate Keeper Micro - £129

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Many here are going to come down in favour of genre leaders Fortin and ISP Technologies here - which are of course highly recommended in particular for players looking for those really tight modest metal tones and textures. For me though the Pigtronix Gate Keeper is the favourite here - with its two simple controls - Threshold and Release.

 

Decent Alternatives :

  • Fortin Amplification Mini Zuul
  • Mooer Noise Killer Mini Gate
  • ISP Technologies Decimate Micro

EQUALIZER : Mooer Graphic G 5-Band EQ Mini - £46

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I'm not convinced by the quality of the 7 Band-EQs at this form factor as they are typically made by the very cheapest brands. I'm kind of surprised we have not had any proper boutique entries here as I'm sure they would do well! For now the Mooer Graphic G with its 5 Bands and Level knob is about where it's currently at.

 

Decent Alternatives :

  • Ammoon EQ7 7-Band EQ
  • Moen Mini 5 Band EQ MN-EQ Pedal

CHORUS : Ibanez Analog Chorus Mini - £79

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Here we have some great competition - with a slew of proper Analog Choruses - where for now I'm going with the Ibanez over the Mr Black really. The Ibanez Mini Analog Chorus has 3 controls - Depth, Level and Speed.

 

Decent Alternatives :

  • Malekko Omicron Chorus
  • Mooer Ensemble King Analog Chorus
  • Mr Black Mini Vintage Chorus
  • OneControl Little Copper Chorus
  • TC Electronic Corona Chorus Min

DIMENSION : OneControl Dimension Blue Monger - £129

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This is the only sort of Mini take on the Boss Dimension C that I'm aware of - while I typically classify that as more of a Phasey-Chorus. The OneControl Dimension Blue Monger has 3 handy controls for - Colour, Complexity and Mix.

 

Decent Alternatives :

  • None Known! Please Suggest!

FLANGER : Ibanez Analog Flanger Mini - £99

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Here the recent Ibanez Analog Mini Flanger just pips past master and long-term favourite Mooer E-Lady - while the Mr Black Mini Flanger is of course really decent too. The Mini Ibanez sports controls for Depth, Feedback and Speed.

 

Decent Alternatives :

  • Mooer E-Lady
  • Mooer Jet Engine Multi Flanger
  • Mr Black Mini Flanger
  • TC Electronic Vortex Mini Flanger

PHASER : MXR Phase 95 Mini - £89

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While the very recent Ibanez Phaser Mini provides some solid competition - the category champ still remains the fantastic MXR Phase 95. Delivery both 45 and 90 Phase varieties with Script options and hence 4 modes of playback really - the Phase 95 is my favourite of the MXR Phasers - with its form factor another bonus!

 

Decent Alternatives :

  • Ibanez Analog Phaser Mini
  • Malekko Omicron Phase Shifter
  • Mooer Liquid Digital Phaser
  • Mooer Ninety Orange
  • Mooer Phaser Player Mini

TREMOLO : Mr Black Harmonic Tremolo Mini - $140

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You should know by now that I'm a huge fan of Harmonic Tremolo - and will take that variety by preference over any other Tremolo type. As far as I'm aware - Mr Black is the only purveyor of Harmonic Tremolo in this Mini category - and thus my sure-fire shoe-in as such. The Mr Black Tremolo sports 3 controls - Intensity, Harmonics, and Speed.

 

Decent Alternatives :

  • F-Pedals Tremelon Mini Tremolo
  • Ibanez Mini Tremolo
  • JHS Tidewater Tremolo
  • Malekko Onicron Mini Analog Tremolo
  • Mooer Trelicopter
  • Mooer Triangolo Tremolo
  • OneControl Tiger Lily Tremolo Mini
  • Pigtronix Moon Pool Tremvelope Phaser
  • Tone City Tremble Tremolo
  • Xvive V16 Undulator Mini Tremolo

UNI-VIBE : Dunlop/MXR Hendrix '69 Psych Serier Uni-Vibe Mini - £139

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Again a category with few proper prospects - I'm really only aware of the MXR Hendrix Mini Uni-Vibe and the sort of similar category Mooer Soul Shiver. I actually really like the whole of the '69 Psych Series of Minis - and really should have acquired one or two of those by now - perhaps this will be my first of that series. We have 3 knobs here - Speed, Level and Depth, alongside a Vibe push-button.

 

Decent Alternatives :

  • Mooer Soul Shiver

GLITCH - Bananana Effects Mandala Mini Glitch - £189

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This seems to be another category of one as I am unable to find any alternative to this really innovative pedal. Bananana Effects really make some of the very smartest Mini Pedals - while all those controls can be a little fiddly, and they lack the smart Presets of the Mooer 7 Series - probably which are much needed here! The Bananana Effects Mandala sports 6 controls - 4 mini knobs - Function, Mode, Time, Volume, and two toggle-switches - Unlatch and Kill Dry - it has 8 different modes onboard.

 

Decent Alternatives :

  • None Known! Please Suggest!

DELAY : Mooer 7 Series D7 Mini Delay - £100

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DELAY : Mooer 7 Series D7 Mini Delay - £100

There are a number of decent Mini Delay Pedals - both Digital and Analog - to fit your preferences. My choice here is the hugely versatile Mooer 7 Series D7 - with its 7 onboard Modes and Presets and 6 controls - Tweak 1, Mix, Tweak 2, Time, Select/Save, and Feedback. If your preference is for Analog - then Mooer, Mr Black, Pigtronix and Xvive all have very decent alternatives in that BBD format.

 

Decent Alternatives :

  • Bananana Effects Aurora Pitch Shift Delay
  • Ibanez ADMINI Analog Delay
  • Mooer Ana Echo Analog Delay
  • Mooer MAD2 Echolizer Analog Delay
  • Mooer Reecho Digital Delay
  • Mr Black Mini Echo-Delay
  • MXR Carbon Copy Mini Analog Delay
  • One Control Sea Turqoise Delay
  • Pigtronix Constellation Modulated Analog Delay
  • TC Electronic Flashback Mini Delay
  • Xvive Echoman Analog Delay

REVERB : Mooer 7 Series R7 Mini Reverb - £100

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And for my preferred Reverb I also go for the Mooer 7 Series Equivalent R7 - again 7 Modes and 7 respective Presets - one for each, and 6 controls - High Cut, Level, Low Cut, Decay, Select/Save, and Pre-Delay. None of those others really delivers on that same degree of versatility and practicality.

 

Decent Alternatives :

  • Bananana Effects Abracadabra Reverb
  • Mooer 7 Series A7 Ambience
  • Mooer EchoVerb
  • Mooer ShimVerb
  • Mooer SkyVerb
  • Mr Black Mini Reverb
  • OneControl Prussian Blue Reverb
  • Rainger FX Reverb-X Mini Reverb
  • TC Electronic Hall of Fame Mini
  • Wampler Mini Faux Spring Reverb

DOUBLE TRACKER : TC Electronic Mimiq Mini Doubler - £62

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Another category of 1 as far as I'm aware as I can find no other proper mini equivalent. This effect works much better in stereo, but can still be deployed somewhat significantly in Mono. The larger compact edition is of course full stereo and has the additional Dubs Number switch, while the mini simply has Effect, Tightness, and Dry. Like I said - I've come across no other suitable alternative at this form factor - do let me know if you are aware of one yourself.

 

Decent Alternatives :

  • None Known! Please Suggest!

LOOPER : TC Electronic Ditto+ Mini Looper - £109

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With TCE's newest most improved Ditto+ with smart display - there really is no competition at this level. Yes there are several other basic Mini loopers available - but none currently anywhere near as smart as the Ditto+. It's not that pricey really - and everyone should really have one. You now have 3 smart controls on the pedal - Previous Loop, Level and Next Loop - with 100 Presets onboard, and a new max recording time of 60 minutes!

 

Decent Alternatives :

  • None Really at this level!

VOLUME : Mooer Leveline Mini Volume - £68

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Another smart Mooer Mini Treadle Pedal with touch-pad activation and fold-out stirrups to extend the surface area. A genuinely smart form factor with no known equivalents at this size of enclosure.

 

Decent Alternatives :

  • None Known! Please Suggest!

CAB SIM : DSM Noisemaker OmniCabSim Mini - $169

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I've mentioned in the past how Cradle of Filth simply use one of the tiny Mooer Micro Preamps (005 Brown Sound 3) - straight into the Mooer Radar - and out to the PA system. While I feel that the DSM Noisemaker OmniCabSim Mini is a somewhat refined version of that sort of thing. The OmniCabSim Mini has 8 smart controls - Cab Size, Texture, Resonance, Level, Amp Gain, Bypass, 1/4" Out and XLR Lift/Ground.

 

Decent Alternatives :

  • Mooer Radar Speaker Simulator
  • Mooer TresCan Cab Simulator
  • NUX NSS-3 Amp Simulator

Final Thoughts

Do note that these are of course my own current preferences - and in fact they're slightly different to the fairly recent 12 Degrees series overview. Daily decisions are really based on prevailing mood - which means on any given day you will have slight variations in preferences - where there are genuine equivalent alternatives.

 

For a lot of these the preferred choice is really a shoe-in, and sometimes has no viable alternatives. Otherwise you're choosing whether you want more features and functions, or prefer to keep things simple - for instance with an Analog Delay in place of the more capable Mooer D7.

 

Mini Effects Pedals have come a along way since I did this exercise 4 years ago - with several innovative boutique brands branching out into Mini Pedals. While there is still very much a place for past masters of the format - Mooer, One Control and TC Electronic.

 

I still feel there's a while to go - and with the digital switching control now available I feel we will have yet another level of smart Mini Pedals soon. I'm currently really loving Dave 'Pickdropper' Friesema's Function F(x) Mini Fuzzes in particular and am looking to complete a full set of Tone Bender types as soon as possible, and schedule and priorities allowing!

 

In my Mini Pedals State of the Art article I featured some really exceptional pedals - and most of those are featured or at least mentioned here as Decent Alternatives. Hopefully this helps those of you venturing into Mini Pedals - and makes your choices a little bit easier.

 

Do you have any specific favourite Mini Pedals - obviously mine would be the Golden Horse - would love to know which your preferences are and how they align with mine. Also if you feel I have overlooked something - then please let me know - I do try to be very thorough as best I can!

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Stefan Karlsson
Stefan Karlsson
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