Tech Tips: Noise Gate Pedals


As you are browsing across the web looking for a brand new pedal to add to your board, you might have bumped into noise gates. Sure, the name itself should tell you what they are used for but it still leaves many questions for many of us out there. Below, we take a quick look at how Noise Gate pedals work along with a few great suggestions.


How Noise Gate Pedals Work

These pedals are very similar to compressors in that they are specifically used to alter an instruments signal level but whereas compressors are used to make sure a signal is above a certain threshold, noise gates attenuate signals which register below the threshold. Another difference between them is that noise gates are similar to humbuckers in that they were made specifically with noise cancellation in mind.

As most players now tend to use several effects pedals, the signal passing through has been altered by a fair amount by the time it hits the actual amplifier. Some of these effects, notably the same compressors mentioned above, have the unintended side-effect of raising the background noise of a signal, making noise gate pedals all the more important when placed properly before compressors on an effects chain.

While the noise gate doesn’t actually cancel out the noise like a humbucker would, it uses a fixed range to make sure your signal passes through while the noise doesn’t: the level of a signal is above the level of the noise so when set accordingly, the pedal acts as its name states – a noise gate – although leaving the range open too much will allow noise to come through. Gates typically feature 'attack', 'release', and 'hold' settings and may feature a 'look-ahead' function as well.


Rocktron Guitar Silencer Noise Reduction

rocktron noise gate silencerNo matter what style of playing you do, from country to punk rock, the Guitar Silencer is pretty much your swiss army knife for wiping out hiss and silencing those changes in your music. The Guitar Silencer allows you to go from heavy all out distortion to SILENCE by muting your guitar strings – something that can’t be said when playing through a raw signal. Also, you get all this without changing a guitar’s tone which can be a common problem with similar noise reduction pedals. There’s plenty of variety in the pedal; whether you simply need a bit of single ended noise reduction but want to keep that low level sustain alive or want to chop the ends of your notes while achieving instant noise kill, the Rocktron Silencer has you covered.

Click here for more information on the Rocktron Silencer.


MXR M135 Smart Gate

mxr m135 smart gateOne of the problems when playing through an amp with too much high gain is that annoying persistent hiss. Luckily for us, we have the MXR Smart Gate. Equipped with three selectable types of noise reduction meant to handle pretty much any type of signal you can throw at it. The Smart Gate will take care of any unwanted hum or hissing while allowing even the smallest of detail in your tone play through. Known for its uncanny ability to sense precisely when – and how fast – to engage, this little pedal is capable of is able to filter out every last bit of sustain from your chord without being cut off. The M135 also features a hardwire bypass, precise threshold trigger, and amazingly clean circuitry.

Click here for more information on the MXR M135 Smart Gate.


Rivera Metal Shaman Distortion and Noise Gate

Rivera Metal Shaman Noise GateVoiced for aggression, the Metal Shaman provides a more overdriven range of textures than its two siblings. Along with controls for Bass, Mid, High, and Gain, it features a “Brutality” switch for widening the bottom end and creating a bigger “aural picture.” The Disintegrate footswitch allows an extra jolt of killer gain boost with expanded harmonics, and the Level control sets the overall output. A switch-bypassable noise gate with controls for Sensitivity, and Release tames noise that can accompany bare-knuckled amounts of overdrive and distortion.

Click here for more information on the Rivera Metal Shaman.

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