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Correct signal order

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Peter McFerrin, Apr 8, 2002.

  1. If one trawls guitar-related websites and forums and looks for articles/threads about correct stompbox order, one almost always sees a passage that reads something like this:

    "Put your compressor first, then your wah, then your distortion, and then run your modulation and time-based effects--phaser, chorus, flanger, and delay--through the effects loop."

    Something always bugged me about this. Bass Player, in its review of the SWR Bass 750, mentioned the effects loop and said "stick your Mu-Tron here," even though envelope filters really ought to be the first thing in the signal chain since they require the most dynamic variation of any effect. Wahs shouldn't be any different, really. So why are phasers--which are swept filters and not delay-based effects--incorrectly assigned to the effects loop to chew on a signal that's been EQed, compressed, and distorted?

    From talking with friends of mine who do lots of recording and engineering, it's evident that "filters before compressors" is a common rule. So why are guitarists and bassists told to dump their phaser into the effects loop, where it will have the least effect?
  2. oddentity


    Nov 20, 2000
    From what I've seen, a phaser's effect is more pronounced and dramatic when operating on a distorted sound.

    FWIW, my envelope filter is the last thing in my signal chain. I run the following chain to get synth bass sounds:

    bass > Prunes+Custard fuzz > Octaver > Q-Tron > delay > amp.
  3. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    I never understood the compressor-before-filter order, either. IMO, anything with an envelope follower should precede the compressor.
  4. This is true, but for those of us whose phasers have optional envelope triggering (I have an Akai Intelliphase), it needs to be seeing naked signal.
  5. I put everything where it sounds best. There is no right answer, because everyone like different sounds. It does help that I only use a Daddy-o and a Big Muff Pi, lol
  6. monkeyfinger

    monkeyfinger Moderator Staff Member

    I think the compression location issue has a lot to do with how you use it. I put my compressor at the beginning of the chain, but I use only very light compression. It is used more to fatten up the sound, (it's a tube compressor), and as a line driver. I think this is the only way to use a compressor before dynamic effects.
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