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Effects pedal order guide and tips

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by OptimusPrime, Sep 13, 2008.

  1. OptimusPrime


    Mar 30, 2008
    I'm sick of all these threads asking how to set up their effects. So I thought I'd write an in depth guide.

    Let me start by saying, there's no wrong order. But certain things will sound better in different places. Also, the order of your effects directly effects the sound of the next one. Wah before fuzz sounds completely different than wah after fuzz. See?

    Here we go, from guitar to amp.

    I personally think ALL effects sound better if your signal is compressed first. Sure, having a compressor will even out volume spikes caused by a wah pedal or phaser. But if you can live with those spikes, place a compressor first.

    Simple, they track better with a nice clean signal, the compressor helps with that. Also, octave down before your dirt pedals is amazing. No more explanation necessary.

    Here's what sets me apart from a lot of people, I like delay early in the chain. For a few reasons. If you put a wah pedal before delay and use them at the same time, all the repeats quack. It's just obnoxious. If you place it before wah, phaser, flanger and OD you can get some very interesting sounds. Your wah, phaser and flanger with wah/phase/flange all the echos instead of just one note. It's very awesome. Also, if placed before dirt pedals, each repeat gets less driven because the signal to the dirt pedal is lower. Again, very cool. Everyone questions my reasons here, but after I explain people seem to understand.

    Wah and envelope filter
    This one is really up to you. I like my wah and envelope pedals before my dirt pedals. Less intense, not as quacky.

    I don't know why, but it just sounds best here to me.

    Fuzz and distortion
    I like fuzz before overdrive. It's more like running a fuzz into an already overdriven amp. Again, just preference. There is an exception, if your fuzz/distortion has a blend, put it AFTER your overdrive. The way the clean signal from the blend is ODed and you still have your fuzz on top of it is amazing.

    My reasons for placing OD here in the signal were explained above.

    Placed here you can use EQs to fine tune your dirt pedals sound. Or just use them alone. Like cut highs for a less harsh and brittle sound, or boost mids to cut through better. Also, you can boost highs to give a flanger or phaser a better signal to work with. I've seriously considered building a treble booster into my phaser to make it more pronounced when switched on.

    Flanger, phaser and chorus. Way more pronounced and usable here. If placed before dirt it will kind of control the amount of dirt as the pedals sweep. Which can be kind of cool at times.

    Simply lets you control the volume of everything.

    This either works at the beginning of your chain or at the end. Some people say it tracks better at the beginning. I say it's a load of **** and that it's fine at the end. You can use it as a mute switch to completely cut off any signal to your amp.

    I hope this cuts down on the completely pointless and totally repetitive threads asking about how to set up your pedals. As always, experiment. But this can be used as a good starting point. I will add more as I think of it. Hope this helps some people.

  2. The BurgerMeister

    The BurgerMeister musician.

    Apr 13, 2006
    Big Bear, CA
    also: read the FAQ at the top of this section. :smug:
  3. +1 on putting a delay before OD/dist. It won't work for everyone, but I dig it.:cool:
  4. I still like my volume before delay; with longer repeats, you get long droning notes that you can swell into other notes. Also cool if you have a dist./fuzz before the volume, it becomes buzzy droning notes.
  5. i like having volume at the front of the pack, so i can swell into the effects. ie i can swell into the delay unit so that the delay plays the swell.

    but i can see the benefit in having one at the end. but thats what i use my amp for.
  6. I just save any confusion and have delay at the start and at the end of my chain :smug:
  7. ...with a couple fuzzes in between :smug:
  8. Outlaw_son


    Mar 8, 2007
    Nice reading for an effects newbie like myself. Thanks for your opinion
  9. pulse


    Apr 10, 2007
    Berlin, Germany
    thanks so much thats awesome, never thought about putting a delay before distortion but its a great idea, also I always used to put my compressor at the end, but will try it like you say.

  10. GingerConor


    May 2, 2008
    nao, im gasing for a 3rd delay to put early in the chain(i have a DL4 and an Ibanez AD9 last, i dont want to move either cus they sound great togther)

    thanks Optimus
  11. Ryan Mohr

    Ryan Mohr

    Oct 23, 2007
    If I put my compressor before my dirt pedals, it takes all the life and picking dynamics out of them.
  12. Which is why I keep my compressor in my rack.
  13. RickenBoogie


    Jul 22, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    I like comp first, but it's all in how you set it.
  14. Happynoj


    Dec 5, 2006
    I like turtles.
    Personally, I follow a different set of rules.

    I don't have all of the effects types listed above, but if I did, my set up would be: Bass > Volume, Wah, Octave, Filter, Fuzz, Overdrive, EQ, Filter, Modulation, Tremolo, Delay, Compressor, Tuner > Amp

    And I realise that I have listed filter twice - this is because I love filters, and have filters before and after my gain section...
  15. Swimming Bird

    Swimming Bird

    Apr 18, 2006
    Wheaton MD
    Heh, this solves nothing. The whole point is taste, and there's no accounting for it.
  16. rcubed


    May 8, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    Good to see someone's take on everything. Obviously everyone has different setups with something like this would be good for those new to effects. I think reasoning for the location of the volume pedal is the weakest. It can still control the volume of everything at the start, plus you get ability to swell as others have mentioned which I think is the main reason for even having a volume pedal.

    Your guide has certainly made me re-think my order and try some new combinations.
  17. Swift713


    Dec 4, 2006
    Florence, Ma
    I agree that a compressor toward the beginning is nice. It can really change the character/response of a filter or make an octave sound more synthy but it doesn't do much for dirt pedals IME. I usually think of comp and dirt as either/or.
    A limiter is nice at the end to keep everyone in line s it were.
    I would put filter or wah before delay and phaser/flange/chorus after.
    Volume I like up front for swells etc. It's part of the instrument, in fact I've just been using my vol knob, I used the pedal for a guitar with two volumes.

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