In the realm of guitar effects, noise gate pedals sometimes don’t receive the spotlight they deserve. While they may not add a new dimension to your sound, like a delay or overdrive pedal, they are crucial in ensuring your tone is clean and free from unwanted noise.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll talk about how noise gates work, cover the best noise gate pedals for guitars, their features, and how to choose the right one for your needs and budget.
Table of Contents
An Introduction to Noise Gate Pedals
Before we dive into my top choice for noise gate pedals, let’s first clarify what a noise gate or suppressor does.
It might seem self-explanatory to some, but simply put, a noise gate pedal is designed to eradicate unwanted noise from your signal, thereby keeping your tone pristine.
This unit comes in handy when you’re dealing with issues like 60-cycle hum, feedback, or noise from high-gain settings.
A common misconception is that noise only affects overdrive, fuzz, distortion pedals, or amps. However, noise can also result from faulty shielding, inexpensive components, or poor grounding.
So, regardless of the type of guitar or pedals you use, a noise gate pedal can be a valuable addition to your setup.
Noise gate pedals work by suppressing any sounds below a certain threshold. Essentially, they open a gate to allow the guitar signal to pass through when you’re playing and close it when you stop, hence the name “noise gate.” This eliminates any unwanted noise that might otherwise be amplified in the silence between your notes or riffs.
Therefore, noise gates or suppressors are essential tools for maintaining a clean sound, especially when dealing with high-gain settings or large pedalboards. If you play metal music, you’ll definitely want one of these.
The Top Noise Gate Pedals To Clean Up Your Sound
Now that we’ve given you a brief overview of the importance of noise gates and how they work, let’s go over some of the best ones you can add to your setup.
ISP Technologies Decimator II
The Decimator II by ISP Technologies makes my list due to its stellar performance, robust construction, and innovative features. This pedal isn’t just an upgrade from its predecessor; it’s a complete overhaul with improved performance and patented improvements.
The Decimator II boasts Linear Time Vector Processing in the expander tracking, which results in smooth decay and a transparent release. It’s also noteworthy for its solid construction, which indicates its ability to withstand rigorous usage.
The pedal is quite straightforward to use, with a single knob for setting the threshold; plus, it offers the unique feature of connecting to another pedal to track the guitar input signal. This functionality is especially useful if you have a complex rig with multiple points of noise.
The only downside to the Decimator II is its price, which is on the higher end of the spectrum. However, considering its superior performance and innovative features, it’s well worth the investment for serious musicians willing to splurge on a premium guitar pedal. I can almost guarantee you’ll get your money’s worth with this one!
- Ultimate noise reduction pedal with unmatched performance
- Tracks the guitar signal directly from the guitar so you can leave the threshold setting alone
- New design allows connection of the processing channel to be inserted into your effects loop
- Includes a LINK IN and LINK OUT allowing two pedals to be linked via a common 1/8 inch end
BOSS NS-2 Noise Suppressor
Coming in next, the BOSS NS-2 provides excellent value for money, combining high-quality performance with a reasonable price tag, which is what people can always expect from the Boss brand.
The NS-2 has a solid reputation for reliability and durability, and it’s relatively affordable, making it suitable for both performing and practicing, making it a great choice for guitarists of all levels.
It’s a versatile pedal with adjustable threshold and decay knobs, allowing guitarists to customize the elimination and suppression of noise while preserving the original sound’s tonality.
If you already have Boss effects, such as a distortion or overdrive pedal, this will make an excellent addition to your collection and work perfectly in conjunction with all the other ones you have. Even if you don’t use a ton of effects, this can function as a great standalone pedal for your amplifier, too.
- Noise Suppress/Noise Gate Guitar Pedal
- Compact noise suppression pedal for eliminating noise and hum in guitar and bass effects and amplifier setups
- Unique noise detection circuit preserves the natural attack and envelope of an instrument’s sound
- Threshold and Decay knobs allow for shaping the elimination/suppression as desired
MXR M-135 Smart Gate
If you’re looking for another top-notch noise gate, the MXR M-135 is a stellar choice. It’s packed with advanced features, such as three selectable types of noise reduction and a high-quality construction. With its fast and efficient noise gating, it’s perfect for high-gain metal styles.
Whether it’s hiss, mid-range noise, or full-band noise, this pedal allows users to tailor the noise gate to their specific needs. This versatility ensures that unwanted noise is effectively eliminated, leaving behind a clean and clear signal.
Durability is also a standout feature of this noise gate pedal. With a hardwired bypass and a sturdy enclosure, it is built to withstand the rigors of live performances and frequent use. Whether you’re on stage or in the studio, you can depend on this pedal to deliver consistent performance every time you use it.
The MXR M-135 is not only a high-end pedal, but it also offers excellent value for money. Its performance and versatility justify its higher price tag, making it a worthy investment for professional guitarists.
- Includes 4 Cables!
- Transparent noise suppression
- Three-point filter cut-off
- Gates out noise slowly when notes are being held and quickly when they are stopped short
TC Electronic Sentry
Those seeking a noise-free performance will surely love the Sentry by TC Electronic, which is a cutting-edge pedal that uses advanced technology to remove unwanted hum and hiss from their tones.
This noise gate pedal uses innovative multiband technology and ultramodern algorithms to help you get the cleanest sound possible; furthermore, you can even customize your parameters with TonePrint, which is a TC Electronic app that lets you adjust these bands to your liking and make your own preset. For example, if most of your noise is coming from high-end frequencies, you can target these specifically.
You can access this preset by flipping the switch on the pedal, but if you want something effective right out of the box, you can use the hard gate mode to immediately and aggressively eliminate that pesky noise.
In my opinion, the Sentry is the best noise gate pedal for metal because tones for this genre can vary significantly in the frequency spectrum, and the ability to customize your pedal extensively will help you get a tighter sound that suits the rest of your rig settings.
- State-of-the-art Multiband or Hard noise gate modes for instant noise removal
- Send/Return for cleaning up noisy pedals or for creative side chaining
- Tone Print enabled – for a world of signature and customizable effects
- Tone Print enabled – for a world of signature and customizable effects
- True or Buffered Bypass
Donner Noise Killer
Don’t let the price tag fool you; the Donner Noise Killer offers solid performance and durability at a low price and can certainly get the job done if you’re on a budget.
For under $50, this noise gate is a fantastic deal, and It’s also super easy to use! It may not be as advanced as some of the other pedals here, but this one is nice for those who want something simple and effective.
This pedal features two noise reduction modes – hard and soft – depending on whether you want a faster or slower gate, a single knob for the threshold, and an LED indicator for operation information.
Overall, if you’re looking for the best budget noise gate pedal, the Donner Noise Killer is definitely a reliable one you can count on for home use, but for live performances and recording, you’ll probably benefit more from something like the ISP Decimator II, TC Electronic Sentry, or MXR M-135 because of their high-durability and more-than-basic features.
- [Noise Gate pedal] Noise reduction range: -70—+10dB.
- [2 Modes Noise Gate] Hard/Soft Mode. Hard: Faster, harder noise reduction. Soft: Softer, smoother noise reduction.
- [Noise Killer] Donner Noise Killer features fast noise detection and smooth attack/release, which keeps everything quiet without affecting the notes you played.
- [True bypass Noise Suppressor] True bypass provides transparent tone.
- Notice: DC 9V Adapter power supply is not included.
If you struggle with annoying buzzing, hissing, and other sounds that detract from your guitar tone, a noise gate pedal does the trick!
Accommodating different budgets, these noise suppressors are excellent for a variety of purposes whether you’re just practicing at home or you’re a professional recording or gigging musician, so take a good look at their features to see which one suits your personal needs.
Hopefully, one of these will help you achieve the tone of your dreams, free of unwanted noise, but be sure to look into some of the other reasons you might have an unclean signal, such as poor shielding and grounding in your pickups, and fix or replace them, as this will make it even easier to dial in the perfect gate.
In addition to a great noise gate, having excellent humbuckers can make a huge difference. Be sure to check out my guides here :
- The best metal guitar pickups for 6-string guitars
- The best pickups for 7-string guitars
- The best single-coil-sized humbuckers for Strats
Upgrading your pickups, if needed, will help you get the tightest tone you can! It’s one of the most effective and easiest solutions you can make to take your sound to the next level.