It’s always remember to start with the best tone you can before pedals. Depending on how you use pedals (lead tones or creating textured tones for rhythm guitar) you could be using a wide variety of pedals. What I don’t like to see is people using pedals to ‘fix’ their tone. I understand from a budget point of view, pedals might be your only option. It’s a hard if you have a solid state amp and are searching for that quality Class A tone. You might get close with some emulators and modelers but in the end, the best way to get a Class A tone is to get a Class A amp. Likewise, I seen a guy trying to model a strat tone on his Les Paul. To me that just blows me away. I think picking up a strat might be a good option to get a quality strat tone. Again, budget is a factor, but if you want anything bad enough.. things will come your way automatically.
As for me, I like to start with good guitar, a good amp, and then build the tones with pedals where I’m trying to fill a tone gap. Usually this is specifically with lead tones. It’s hard to get the boost, thickness and gain with standard amp or footswitch, so your options are to beef/boost it up with pedals. Also if you’re looking for the delay/slap back for rhythm/lead you need to work it with a pedal. A friend of mine once mentioned to me (about delays), if you’re not playing well or if your tone is not-so-great, with delays, you get to hear it over and over and over again. So start with the source, get the chops, get the gear and get the quality tone foundation to start with.
One thing I didn’t consider is the style of band you play in. Currently, I play in original bands, and have developed my style of playing and sound. I play this way, I sound this way, and that’s all there is to it. But let’s say you’re in a cover band and need to sound like 100 different guitar players… I can understand opting for a modeler of some sort. Usually, the best cover bands I see, the guy has a les paul and a strat and a couple of amps. Seems like that would cover your bases pretty easily.
I’m hoping there will be some discussion related to this post, I’m curious what others have to say about this. I’m really just describing my single point of view.