Unwanted buzz and electrical hum can plague an instrument’s output, especially if there is a lot of gain involved. Noise gate pedals are useful tools for combating this common issue.
These pedals work by only picking up the portions of a signal that reaches a certain dynamic level. In the process, they remove any undesirable noise and allow the sounds produced by the instrument to pass through the threshold.
Best Noise Gate Pedals for Your Pedalboard
The Decimator II by ISP Technologies goes above and beyond in the quest to alleviate unwanted noise from your signal. This noise gate pedal houses linearized Time Vector Processing, which is a sophisticated form of technology that's purpose is to track your signal as accurately as possible.
One of the best attributes of the Decimator II pedal is its ability to produce smooth decay on every note, with plenty of sustain. A common apprehension surrounding noise gate pedals is that they will cut notes off prematurely, making them sound unnatural.
That’s not the case with this ISP Technologies noise suppressor pedal, though. Due to the pinpoint accuracy of the tracking, each note is sustained for its desired length, and there’s no compromise on its tail-off.
If you choose to connect the Decimator II between your guitar and the input of your amplifier, then position another within your effects loop, they will combine to reduce virtually all of the noise problems within the signal chain, and produce the cleanest results possible.
The pedal is solidly built, with a robust metal chassis protecting the inner components. It is designed in a stompbox fashion and houses a single rotary knob control that adjusts the threshold position.
Electro-Harmonix has a pedal for every scenario a musician could find themselves in. With a multitude of high-performing effects pedals, it's no surprise that they also produce one of the best noise gate options on the market.
The Silencer does exactly what the name suggests – stops any unwanted noises in their tracks. A multi-functional pedal, it offers versatile gating that leaves plenty of room for the individual user’s preferences.
Much like a compressor, the pedal offers Threshold, Reduction, and Release controls that can be adjusted depending on how much noise suppression you require.
These parameters allow guitarists to strike the perfect balance of toning down hum or buzz while preserving their instrument's natural expression.
The Silencer by EHX can be used either as an inline noise gate or specifically within the effects loop. If it is a certain pedal that is causing your issues, the latter option is likely to be the best, but if you have noise problems caused by your guitar's pickups, the former will solve them.
This noise gate pedal can either be powered using a 9 volt DC power supply, or a singular 9-volt battery. The total amount of noise reduction offered by the pedal ranges from -70dB to +4dB, covering the full spectrum of common unwanted noises.
TC Electronic’s Sentry Noise Gate Pedal provides guitarists with a platform for noise-free performances. With the impressive multiband System 6000 algorithms at the heart of the pedal, it works seamlessly with no unexpected blemishes.
Like all TC Electronic pedals, the Sentry has been designed meticulously. This is evident in the way it allows the natural tone and note length of a guitar to remain, even when the parameters are set to extreme levels of noise reduction.
The reason it is capable of this is thanks to the quality of the inner circuitry. Noise gate pedals need to be especially sensitive to the signal of an instrument, and the TC Electronics Sentry is very attentive indeed.
The result is that there are no sudden cut-offs of notes. Even if you are playing at a low volume with minimal velocity, the pedal can differentiate the frequency of the guitar notes from the hums and buzzes it has been employed to target.
There are two main modes offered by the Sentry noise suppressor. Firstly, you have Multiband mode, which is ideal for removing hum caused by single-coil pickups or a high-gain guitar.
Additionally, there is the Hard Noise mode, which is well suited to an effects loop. It’s the perfect solution to other effects pedals, such as Fuzz or Overdrive, that add noise to your signal and tarnish its clarity.
4. Boss NS-2
Housed in Boss' classic stompbox chassis, the NS-2 combines durability with reliable noise gating. Featuring three rotary controls that provide flexible suppression depending on a musician's needs, this pedal is certainly worth considering.
The NS-2 works to diminish any undesirable noise and hum present in the input signal, which protects the natural tone of the instrument. Central to this process is the sophisticated detection circuit which separates genuine guitar tones from unwanted noise.
If there's one quality that is synonymous with Boss pedals, it's durability. These roadworthy stompboxes are amongst the most robust on the market, and are ideal for musicians who tour, record, or rehearse extensively.
Installed on the top layer of the pedal is a trio of controls. Firstly, the threshold knob sets the minimum volume at which the noise gate does its work. The decay controls how much noise is allowed to pass through the threshold after the initial gating.
Finally, the third knob has two functions. The reduction setting is ideal for taking the hum or buzz that is caused by noisy pickups out of your signal. The mute mode is better suited to taming an effects pedal that is prone to producing noise.
5. MXR M135
Well suited to both electric guitar and bass, the M135 by MXR is a high-quality gate pedal that rids your signal of unwanted noise. With an intelligent gate speed, it ensures that even the slightest nuance of your playing is still present in the output.
One of the unique features of this MXR pedal is its ability to differentiate between singular notes and chords. Due to the full sound of chords, it can sometimes be difficult for a noise gate pedal to know what is intentional and what is undesirable.
However, when you hold a chord and the M135 is active, it slowly reacts to the frequencies, so the chord’s sustain is never cut off abruptly. Whether you play slower, melodic styles or fast and aggressive, the M135 will respond accordingly.
When you play faster, the M125 Smart Gate pedal springs into action and highlights the definition of your playing. It houses three distinctive operation modes that allow you to tailor the pedal to suit your rig.
The first operation mode is Hiss, which is useful for removing unwanted noise in the higher-frequencies. Then there's Mid, which caters to noise-ridden guitar amplifiers. Finally, the Full setting is great for effects pedals and bass rigs.
Behringer's NR300 provides guitarists with an affordable noise gate pedal that performs to a level that belies its modest price tag. It is designed to combat the problems posed by some single-coil pickups and high gain amplifiers.
Featuring two controls that adjust the threshold and decay, the NR300 allows you to tweak its settings to suit the nature of the unwanted noise that you wish to remove from your signal.
The threshold control is useful for setting the volume limit that is allowed to pass through the gate. Setting this parameter low would allow most of the noise through while cranking it up would remove it more harshly.
Decay control is used to determine how long the gate affects the signal. If, for example, you needed a quiet note to pass through the gate after a loud series of notes, you would turn the decay control down to achieve this.
The Behringer NR300 also has two inputs and outputs. This makes it possible to use the pedal as a send a return to your effects loop, or as a kill switch to mute your signal instantly.
7. MXR M195
With its classy design and responsive performance, the MCR M195 is a great little noise gate pedal for curing your signal-noise issues. It works a treat for getting the best out of high-gain effects pedals or amplifiers.
The M195 includes its very own effects loop, which allows you to kill any unwanted noise across your whole signal chain. It’s the perfect solution to long cable runs and rigs that utilize many effects pedals.
This noise gate pedal has a single rotary control as its centerpiece. Labeled the Trigger knob, this control allows you to set the threshold of the gate. It is accompanied by a green LED light to signify when the gate is activated.
In extreme cases when unwanted noise is coming from multiple sources, some noise gate pedals simply don’t offer enough reduction to effectively clean up the signal. The M195, however, allows you to reduce noise up to 26dB!
The pedal also offers two inputs and two outputs. This makes signal splitting possible, by sending the clean and wet outputs to separate amplifiers. Also, you can use it as a mute for your whole signal if necessary.
How to Use a Noise Gate Pedal Effectively
Noise gate pedals are wonderful tools for cleaning up an instrument’s output. If your playing style requires you to crank up the gain, or if your guitar naturally produces electronic noise due to its pickups, these pedals are a great solution.
There are many other causes of unwanted electronic noise, in addition to the use of single-coil pickups. Some amplifiers, particularly valve amps, become noisier as time passes.
This is inevitable, but instead of replacing the amp, you can simply combine it with a nosier gate pedal to solve the problem.
Playing at loud volumes is also likely to make unwanted noise more noticeable. The threshold setting on a noise gate can be adjusted accordingly to combat the noise produced when your amp and guitar are turned up to their limits.
To get the best out of a noise gate pedal, you must position it correctly in your signal chain. It has to interact with certain pedals to be effective, so if it is not placed correctly, it will not be able to detect the unwanted hum or buzz.
Unlike some effects pedals that have a set position, noise gates depend on what is causing your problems. If you place it at the end of the signal chain, all of the pedals that come before it will be affected by the gate when it is activated.
If it is one particular pedal causing the issue, you could position the gate directly after it for the best results.
It's no use spending time getting your tone exactly how you want it if your output is marred by unwanted electronic noise. Now that you've chosen your noise gate pedal, this problem will become a thing of the past!