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Effects loop question

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Landy67, Aug 15, 2012.

  1. Hi folks,

    I just purchased a bass amp, and it has a effects loop. I'm trying to understand the correct use. The manual says that it's used for connecting "line level serial outboard devices" and "parallel type outboard devices" The examples are compressors, delays, reverbs, harmonizers.

    It also says that the loop is located right before the Master Volume Control and is also intended as a Preamp Out.

    So my questions are:
    1 Are there any devices that should not be plugged into the EFX loop?
    2 Is the EFX loop after the Pre Amp?
    3 I have a Boss ME-20B that does a little bit of everything. (distortion, delay, Wah, volume) Does that go in the loop or before the amp?

    Sorry to be asking beginner questions, but I'm a beginner.

  2. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    Your Boss fx unit, and most all "stomp box" type effects, are INSTRUMENT level devices, and as such, should go into the amps main input. (bass > fx> amp) LINE level gear is usually rack mounted stuff, though there are some pedals that can run @ line level.
  3. That is not a defining characteristic.

    If it would normally take an instrument then it's an instrument level input. But if it's a preamp it will output at line level, that's what a preamp is for. It turns instrument signal into something an amplifier can work with. We confuse things by talking about "bass amps", which are both preamp and amplifier in one box.

    My rackmount RBI sansamp has pad switches to use at line level or instrument level. It can add a mess of gain. It can go in the effect loop and act as an effect unit or plug bass straight in it. Or it can plug into the amp effect loop return and thus replace the amp's own preamp.

    If you plug the ME20B into the efects loop it may get over powered or it may be fine. You won't hurt it but you'll get distortion if the effect loop is too much for it. Usually it would have the bass going into it and output into the bass amp.
  4. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Just plug everything straight into the input and forget the loop. They all suck for effects. Either they work equally well in front of your amp, or they get degraded by the loop. But it's never better, so I don't even bother.
  5. Crusty old loops may well degrade. Line level may overpower effects designed for instruments. But never better is not necessarily so.

    My Trace Elliot fx loop has level controls and a highpass option.
  6. I tried my Mark Bass Compressore in the EFX loop, and that is definitely an improvement. Plugged into the instrument jack, the "comp" light almost never lights up, and I have to turn the Threshold all the way up for the pedal to do anything. In the EFX loop, the compressor works like it should. (I'm guessing that my pickups are too weak for the pedal?)

    Next I'm going to try my looper. (Boss RC-3) Right now the loop records fine when played through the amp, but I can't download the recordings and play them on my PC because the volume is so low you can't hear it. When I use it for guitar and bass tracks, the guitar totally overwhelms the bass track.
  7. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    Are you saying it's an improvement soundwise, or visually? It's constantly lighting up because you're feeding it a much hotter line level signal from the FX loop. I'm not sure if the pedal is designed for that or not.

    The comp light does not need to be on all the time for it to be working properly.
  8. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    OK, there's one.

  9. In order to get any effect from the compressor, I have to turn the threshold, ratio and attack controls all the way up when I plug my bass directly into the pedal. In the EFX loop, I seem to have much more signal to work with, I can leave the control's much lower to get the "leveling effect."

    I think the pickups in the bass are weak. I tried a Jazz Bass connected to the compressor and it works fine. My bass doesn't work well at all. I have EMG-HG passive pickups, and the effects in the ME-20B all seem to be muddy with this bass.
  10. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    The compressor should be before the amp, not in the loop. If your bass has issues, have it fixed, but getting the comp to "light up" is NOT the goal.

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