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When did "distortion boxes" become "distortion pedals"?

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  • When did "distortion boxes" become "distortion pedals"?

    When I started playing guitar in the early 1980s everyone referred to effects as "boxes," as in "I got a new distortion box." A chorus or flanger or delay we just called a chorus or a flanger or a delay, or maybe a "delay box." Volume pedals and wah pedals were called that because, well, they have a frickin pedal right there on the box. Everything else was just an effect box. And somewhere along the way we all started talking about pedals and pedal boards and I have no idea when or why that happened. I did a quick google search for a few effects manufacturers and Ibanez was using the word "pedal" in their ads by the early 1980s, but MXR does not.

    So when did everyone start calling a box with a switch on it a "pedal"? Why? I can't even remember the last time I saw any reference to an effect box.

  • #2
    Re: When did "distortion boxes" become "distortion pedals"?

    Modern pedals are truly lacking the organic sound of vintage boxes.

    Other than that I got nothing, does stuff like this keep you awake at night?

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    • #3
      Re: When did "distortion boxes" become "distortion pedals"?

      They've been called pedals since I started in 1996.

      It's all just nomenclature anyway, a lot of old timers call everything a fuzz box whether it's a fuzz, distortion, overdrive or boost.
      Oh no.....


      Oh Yeah!

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      • #4
        When did "distortion boxes" become "distortion pedals"?

        I started playing in 87 and I always remember calling them pedals.

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        • #5
          Re: When did "distortion boxes" become "distortion pedals"?

          It doesn't keep me up at night, but I am enough of a geek to truly wonder when and why the switch took place! Just a random thought because I've done a lot of eBay and Reverb shopping lately and searching for a "box" gets you nada.

          Maybe it was a regional thing - I lived in Northeast Ohio then, where we called bubbly drinks "pop," not "soda" or "coke."

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          • #6
            Re: When did "distortion boxes" become "distortion pedals"?

            Originally posted by PFDarkside View Post
            They've been called pedals since I started in 1996.

            It's all just nomenclature anyway, a lot of old timers call everything a fuzz box whether it's a fuzz, distortion, overdrive or boost.
            When I was 14 my Aunt asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I told her a fuzz box. She thought I was talking about some kind of perverted sex toy. I ended up with a ROSS Distortion, great Aunt!

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            • #7
              Re: When did "distortion boxes" become "distortion pedals"?

              The overdrive pedal I build for Fat Sound back in the 96 - 97 (OMG, 20 years ago!!) was called the Fat Box if that makes you feel any better.

              FAT BOX by Roger Roberts, serial number 049! I was given this pedal as a gift by Roger Roberts himself, in the mid to late 1990s. There weren't many built and all of them had a swirl finish.Rare and versatile fuzz pedal with a 5-way switch:1. Germanium alone2. Germanium into Silicon3. Silicon int...

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              • #8
                Re: When did "distortion boxes" become "distortion pedals"?

                I have been around a bit longer than you. It really started in the late 60's/early 70's when we had Fuzz Boxes...that's what they were called. In fact they were the only things that i remember as being called Boxes. The only "pedals" were wah pedals which made sense since they literally have a pedal (duh). At some point all fx in boxes were called "stomp boxes" which also makes some sense because you do stomp on them. At some point everyone started referring to everything as pedals which frankly annoyed the hell out of me, I mean they didn't have pedals on them! I had a few internet fights over this, and then gave up. Now I'm cool with it, everyone can be wrong and it won't bother me anymore. The joke is on them, right now I am playing through my Fender Mustang III and I have No pedals AND no boxes, No nothing, except a foot switch which some idiots call pedals too now apparently (sorry to anyone here)...I see CL ads for amps with pedal....geez.
                *******Please check out some of my songs:
                https://www.soundclick.com/bands3/de...bandid=1430296

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                • #9
                  Re: When did "distortion boxes" become "distortion pedals"?

                  Originally posted by Securb View Post
                  When I was 14 my Aunt asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I told her a fuzz box. She thought I was talking about some kind of perverted sex toy. I ended up with a ROSS Distortion, great Aunt!
                  Cool story about your great aunt's fuzz box bro

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                  • #10
                    Re: When did "distortion boxes" become "distortion pedals"?

                    I remember being confused as f*ck when I was younger because some other kid started talking to me about pedals and I didn't know WTF he was talking about. Where I grew up they were called stomp boxes. I think what you called them varied by area and it all started to homogenize due to the internet.

                    Stomp boxes became pedals.

                    My kit slowly became known as "gear", and I started playing through a "rig" instead of just plugging into my kit.

                    And at some point the wire I use to plug into my kit became known as a cable instead of a lead.
                    || Guitar | Wah | Vibe | Amp ||

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                    • #11
                      Re: When did "distortion boxes" become "distortion pedals"?

                      Stomp boxes! That's it!! And it makes so much more sense than calling them pedals.
                      I really would like to know where the term "pedals" came from. I was hoping someone would know. Maybe it was Ibanez?

                      Speaking of fuzz boxes, anyone remember the all-girl band Fuzzbox? Had an album called I've got a fuzzbox and I'm not afraid to use it.

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                      • #12
                        Re: When did "distortion boxes" become "distortion pedals"?

                        I think they were called boxes originally because engineers had to make them and used "project boxes" that you'd drill holes into for all the jack connections, switches and knobs. I think they became pedals when they were mass produced and vendors came out with "pedalboards" to put them on. (When I started gigging, we just put our pedals on the floor and wired up. Only used 1-2 anyway at that time. Next was rack effects. The switch to pedalboards was to avoid carrying racks around.)

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                        • #13
                          Re: When did "distortion boxes" become "distortion pedals"?

                          My guess is right when the Roland/BOSS line of guitar effects started going mainstream.

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                          • #14
                            Re: When did "distortion boxes" become "distortion pedals"?

                            I first encountered a floor effect in late 80s and intuitively referred to it as 'pedal' cause it made more sense. Something you step on are called pedals, gas pedal, brake pedal, bicycle pedal, etc.

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                            • #15
                              Re: When did "distortion boxes" become "distortion pedals"?

                              Wow i wonder if any other slang terms have gone out of style in the last 40 years.
                              green globe burned black by sunn

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