Setting Up Guitar Effects: Order Matters!
|By Steve Bolanda - Georges Music
The effect pedal-chain question has been debated for years. And as there is no wrong
way to set up your pedals, there are some basic things you should know to get started and give you the best sound possible. Of course every ear is
different, so experiment and have some fun.Note: The order of the chain is from the guitar to the amp.
If you have a tuner pedal
, usually this will be the first in your chain. These pedals are great for fast, quiet tuning, and most
can be used as a power source to help power your other pedals by using a multi-plug power adapter
to daisy-chain your
Next is Compression
. Most people are unclear as to what this effect does, so let me give you a brief explanation.
Compression limits the highest and lowest points of your sound wave adding volume to the softer notes and capping the louder notes to give you a more even sound. Definitely a must for you single-coil players out there!!
After Compression, this is a good place for any Filter effects you use, such as a Phaser
. These effects work better coming off a
cleaner tone, so you want them before any kind of overdrive or distortion, which would be next in the chain.
Some people like to use two different kinds of overdrive
pedals back to back to get different levels of drive, or simply one as a drive and one as a boost. If you
have two, try it out.
An EQ pedal can also be used after your OD/Distortion to give you a level boost or a different EQ and volume for solos. Try a multi-band graphic EQ like the
for maximum control in sculpting your sound to cut through the mix during solos.
#6 Pitch Effects
Next in the chain would be any pitch effects, such as Harmonizers
, ect. Generally you want the distorted signal going into these kinds of effects so that you
are harmonizing the distorted signal as opposed to distorting the harmonized signal.
#7 Modulation Effects
Modulation effects, most notably Chorus
, would come next in line. Again, you want your distorted signal to go in and be effected by the Modulation pedal.
The very last effect in the chain before you go into the amp will be your Delay
As far as Wah
position is really players choice. Its a matter of what kind of sound youre going for. I like the Wah right after my Compression for a cleaner sound, but some like their Wah after the distortion, for a heavier tone. With Volume pedals, you
can get different sounds by placing before or after the Delay Pedal. These are fun to experiment with to see what you get.
This is a little off topic, but with so many pedal options in your chain, the need for a good pedal board to organize, store, carry, and power your effects pedals is obvious. Gator makes some very good
that provide power to your chain, plus an easy way to cart your pedals around without having
to breakdown and setup your chain each time you play.
To recap, your full signal chain might look like this:Guitar --> Tuner --> Compressor --> Phaser --> Distortion --> EQ --> Octaver --> Chorus --> Delay --> Amp
Whether youre a hobbyist or
tone freak, this basic pattern will get you started on your sonic journey. But dont be afraid to try something new and break the chain. Some of the best guitar tones have come from doing something radical. Just experiment, find
sound, and have some fun!
Steve Bolanda is a manger at George's Music West Palm Beach and experiments with his own effects chain as a killer blues guitarist.