What Reverb’s “The Pedal Movie” Got So Right

Most movies that are hyped up this much tend to follow predictable, sales boosting story arcs, but not this one.

Credit: Reverb.com

Learn more and watch The Pedal Movie

Guitar pedal culture has gotten out of hand. In fact, I’ve already written about how crazy the world of boutique and limited release pedals has become. Despite all the forum trash talk, the pedal re-sellers, and the never ending online window shopping I do, I still found myself incredibly excited for Reverb’s The Pedal Movie. Would they dig into the Klon craziness? Would they glorify the best, affordable pedals that we all started out on? Or would it just be a spoken word version of JHS’s Pedals: The Musical?

All jokes aside, kind of curious timing to release a pedals musical right before the ever-hyped Reverb movie that heavily featured Josh Scott drops, but we will take our tin foil hats off now and get back to the task at hand.

I think one of my biggest fears was going to be that this movie would unintentionally rile up the masses to put even higher premiums on historical pedals. It would create a groundswell of “boutique is best” amongst guitar players. Simply put, people who watched it would focus more on the concept of owning the pedals they highlighted, instead of just appreciating them. I trusted fully that this was not the director’s intentions, or Reverb’s intentions, but I didn’t trust the machine that is online pedal culture, algorithms, and market demand.

Well I am pleasantly shocked.

The Pedal Movie so nicely focuses on the story of the music we all know and love, and how pedals were an important part of that journey through time. After watching the movie, I had zero urge to go online and buy up a Tone Bender and Fuzz Face. Instead, I wanted to pick up my guitar and play, and make noise, and experiment. Directors Michael Lux and Dan Orkin (and everyone else involved) absolutely nailed the execution of a movie that was meant to highlight how pedals are a tool of the trade and how they spark creativity. There was rarely, if any, mention of collectors or of stockpiling valuable pedals. Even when they briefly mentioned the Klon, they did so in a way that highlighted how great the pedal sounds, not just how mythical and valuable it is.

With almost 100 interviews with artists, pedal builders, and other icons the whole focus is on why we love pedals, what they can actually do for us as players. When they do bring up controversial topics such as cloning circuits, it is done in short bursts, with concise, clear takes from people who know far more about it than you or me. The absolute quote of the YEAR as far as I’m concerned comes from Dweezil Zappa himself when he decries online forum arguments. It’s so good, the price of the movie is worth that 20 seconds or so alone.

Lastly, they cover important aspects of the pedal industry that we often do not discuss enough. How women have been vital to the development of the pedal world, but remain underrepresented despite their growing presence in the guitar and music spaces we all know and love. They highlight historical figures that I’ve never heard of who made all this wonderful music possible. It’s a high level look into the electric guitar’s history, and it so satisfyingly highlights why you should love pedals in the first place.

If it sounds good, it is good.

Published by Matt Dunn

Guitar and music journalist for Ultimate-Guitar.com and Guitarsforidiots.com as well as a contributor for Guitarniche.com and Stringjoy.com. Reach out to talk about guitars, commission a partscaster, or ask for a review.

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