Equalization: Stacking EQ (pedals) - to *my* ears...

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Tricaptain, Oct 25, 2019.

  1. Tricaptain


    Sep 21, 2011
    Right Hear (...it's a pun. Use your ears!). ;D
    I'm just a user/customer that plays gigs. I am not professionally affiliated with any vendor, etc.
    Say, you guys! Simply sharing what I'm hearing so far when I stack EQ pedals for different tones...

    Like everything, it's ALL personal preference... and there's ALOT that gets "lost in translation" or "diluted" when it comes to the sound you try to achieve, and what actually shines through at a gig. For me, I like to experiment at home with certain tones and occasionally use gigs as a litmus test for what actually makes a difference. In this case... EQ.

    My (very basic) understanding of EQ has shown me that with a Parametric EQ, you're shaping a "zone" of frequencies (and I think there's a shelving that goes on), whereas with a Graphic EQ, you're targeting a specific frequency. Before really toying with this, I'd always thought that if I stacked EQ pedals, they'd work almost like any other effect pedal, where the first pedal 'feeds' the second pedal, etc. For this post, I'll *only* talk about Graphic EQ pedals.

    With Graphic EQ pedals, you'll notice that different pedals target different specific frequencies. I'm well aware that you can use *any* pedal with *any* sound source, so yes, this includes *any* EQ pedal... regardless of how it's marketed ("Bass EQ", etc). I simply look at the numbers that correspond to the sliders. Check out these 2 Boss Graphic EQ pedals:

    Boss GE-7: 100Hz, 200Hz, 400Hz, 1.6kHz, 3.2kHz, 6.4kHz
    Boss GEB-7: 50Hz, 120Hz, 400Hz, 500Hz, 800Hz, 4.5kHz, 10kHz

    (For giggles, here's the Boss PQ-3B:, 25Hz - 400Hz, 160Hz - 2.5kHz, 1kHz - 16kHz)

    TO MY EARS: I'm noticing the coolest thing, ever. When I stack 2 Graphic EQ pedals together, the ONLY frequencies that are affected are the ones for which the slider has moved up (frequency 'boosted') or down (frequency 'cut').

    What's the benefit?

    Well, for those that really want to split hairs on specific frequencies, you'll notice that for as many Graphic EQ pedals that target the same frequencies, there are just as many EQ pedals have slightly different targeted frequencies. That said, if I stack 2 Graphic EQ pedals that each target different frequencies, (it sounds TO ME like) I can greatly increase how many frequencies I can isolate, and not limited to choosing one EQ pedal over the other.

    The result I'm hearing by stacking these 2 pedals is that I now have control over both sets of individual frequencies: 50Hz, 100Hz, 120Hz, 200Hz, 400Hz, 500Hz, 800Hz, 1.6kHz, 3.2kHz, 4.5kHz, 6.4kHz, 10kHz.

    So, note... stacking 2 7-band Graphic EQs doesn't necessarily give you 14 bands... it depends on the overlap. I'm also going to experiment more to see what happens when I "double-cut" or "double-boost" (or, cut/boost vs boost/cut) the same frequencies on the stacked pedals, but using this example, I seem to have individual control over 12 frequencies.

    YES, I know I can just get a 31-Band EQ for something like this.
    YES, I know that more pedals invites more noise, etc.
    YES, I know that there are tone pots on the instrument.
    YES, I know that there's amp EQ.
    YES, I know that it's a finnicky topic and that there's not a whole lot gained from being so exacting...

    ...this is JUST an experiment that I'm having fun with, and wanted to share my observations so far.

    Also, NO, I'm not recommending anyone buy anything to try this...
    ...I mean, who knows? There could be someone out there that happens to have more than 1 Graphic EQ pedal lying around, and this conversation might encourage, or even inspire them to "take the spare/extra EQs out of the drawer" and see what they can find. Also, a 31-band EQ is AWESOME, but might be a little out of reach for some folks. EQ pedals are SUCH a powerful tool... not just for shaping 'basic' tone, but ANY tone! Lots of other threads on how EQ can affect (almost literally) EVERY single thing in a signal chain (drive/distortion is a fun rabbit hole!)...

    Sidenote: Parametric EQs are also AMAAAAAAAZING. Experiment with both!

    Question to the masses here: What are *your* experiences? I'd REALLY, really love to hear from anyone here... I'd also really love to get some wisdom from folks who are actually technical about this know better. YES, I know to use my ears... that's all I do! I'm just curious to learn what's *actually* happening and how it all works/interacts when you stack EQ.

    Cheers, you guys!

    Disclaimer: I'm a multi-instrumentalist, but PRIMARILY a bassist. Started in the very early 90s, I like (and play) multiple genres. Active cover band musician with some vocal ability. You mileage WILL always vary - speaking solely from my personal experiences. I'm NOT an electronics wiz, by ANY stretch - I'm just a player/user! However, I'm also not afraid to 'look under the hood' and experiment. Conversation is ENCOURAGED! Please share thoughts/ideas, and please correct me on anything I may be erroneous on. Most of all, be excellent to each other, and HAVE FUN! Cheers, you guys!
  2. Robertron


    Feb 12, 2010
    NewYork, NY
    Stacking two EQ pedals and tuning them to a mix and different rooms sounds like a nightmare to me.

    For me leaving the amp flat while slightly nudging the low and high settings, then letting my Aftershock take care of high & low pass filtering and boomy mid frequencies has been enough.
    SteveCS and Tricaptain like this.
  3. GMC

    GMC Supporting Member

    Jan 1, 2006
    Wiltshire, UK
    So to summarize....a three band offers quick and global changes. A graphic EQ offers a range of notch filters set at specific frequencies. Global changes can be made by adjusting each slider...which is slower but potentially more accurate. A three band semi parametric allows the center frequency to be shifted. A full parametric (which is quite rare) allows the frequency and the spread / width of the eq band to be adjusted.

  4. I hear the opposite: parametric-EQ targets specific frequencies while graphic EQ is a zone.

    So for example on a Boss GEB-7, each slider's marked with the peak frequency with a gently rolling slope off either side of it.

    The slider is marked with what is essentially Fc.

    Parametric EQ allows you to adjust the Q, to sharpen the bandwidth focus...

    So a graphic EQ is like the slope above on the left, and parametric allows you to adjust the EQ to be like either the left or the right slope.

    This is why a parametric is better at fighting feedback in a room, you can narrow the Q and take out just the offending frequency, whereas a graphic EQ would take out too much of the neighbouring frequencies of the one that's squealing.

    That's my limited understanding of it.

    You mentioned stacking EQs. I read somewhere, probably on Jack Orman's AMZ site, that when you stack two EQs and push the same frequency (accentuated or diminished), the stacking makes the rolloff sharper, more pointed or specific to the centre of that band.

    Using EQ to cut down on noise and increase focus:
    Boomertech can explain the following better, you can boost at say 100Hz on EQ-A, and then cut at 100Hz on EQ-B — you should get a more defined and less noisy sound.

    Good thread idea.
  5. Lonnybass


    Jul 19, 2000
    San Diego
    Endorsing Artist: Pedulla Basses
    I have both a parametric and a graphic on my board (and an additional parametric in my amp's DSP system). They serve different purposes.

    I use the parametrics as a precise fine-tuning system to dial in my exact sound preference, either direct and through a headphone system or into my big Fearful rig.

    Direct, I'll typically roll back the area of huge accumulated energy in the lower mids, generally centered about 330 Hz. I'll also roll back some upper mids, in the range between about 1K and 2k.

    With my Fearful rig, I use my rack parametric to bump up the lower mids at about 170 Hz, to let the "thump" come through more clearly above the clean low end extension of the Fearfuls. I also notch out 1K and 4K slightly, to smooth out the upper mids and lower treble of an otherwise "flat" response.

    My graphic is a Source Audio Programmable pedal with four individual EQ curves...one for slap, one for fingerstyle, one for "upright," and one that simply has a slight boost at 500 Hz to help my effects speak more clearly. Chiefly, this is most valuable with my envelope filter and octaver by feeding them a clean midrange signal that doesn't have to much bass or string noise, providing significant benefits in tracking and dynamic control.
    Tricaptain likes this.
  6. Tricaptain


    Sep 21, 2011
    Right Hear (...it's a pun. Use your ears!). ;D
    I'm just a user/customer that plays gigs. I am not professionally affiliated with any vendor, etc.
    This is SERIOUSLY an AWESOME reply, and the kind of conversation I'm hoping to spark and learn from.
    THANK YOU!!!

    This is very exciting. So, I totally get what you're saying about boosting/cutting the same frequency in both stacked pedals (steeper roll-off). Thanks for that!

    Pondering (and asking)... given the information above with Parametric being more focused and Graphic being more 'zoned' (opposite of what I understood; yipe!), would it be safe to say that (if I WERE to stack a ParaEQ & GEQ) it's more effective to go:

    Bass -> Parametric EQ -> Graphic EQ -> [out]

    ...or GEQ -> ParaEQ?

    (...for the record, I already have this stacked this way; leaving them on my mini-board to continue to experiment...)

    Sparked this conversation because I'm trying to understand what I'm hearing in practice with what I've seen/heard in different conversations (...and I'm only so-so with understanding technical stuffs).

    BY THE WAY: Just to be clear… I'm not asking for helping me find a particular sound... I'm asking about the *methodology* so that I can better understand what I'm doing when I find it on my own. Learning how to be a better/smarter "sonic chef", if you will. I have TONS of gear and am proficient in finding sound, I just wanna really understand it better (kinda like... I'm a strong "native speaker", but with no schooling in the language...).

    What say you (all)?
    : )

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  7. Tricaptain


    Sep 21, 2011
    Right Hear (...it's a pun. Use your ears!). ;D
    I'm just a user/customer that plays gigs. I am not professionally affiliated with any vendor, etc.
    TOTALLY! Exactly what I was meaning about how EQ can help with tones from other pedals... great use of the gear, and awesome info. Thanks, man! Cheers!
  8. Tricaptain


    Sep 21, 2011
    Right Hear (...it's a pun. Use your ears!). ;D
    I'm just a user/customer that plays gigs. I am not professionally affiliated with any vendor, etc.
    ...a DECEPTICON?!

    Round ONE... FIGHT!!!

    Oh, dude - TOTALLY... for gigs, I actually do 'just that' - my amp is (mostly) flat (I make adjustments when necessary depending on the room/stage/band/mix/sound tech's needs), and I pretty much let the natural tone of whichever bass I'm using come through. I trust the sound techs to make it all sound good as a mix.

    At home (the lab, per se!), I'm doing a bit more experimentation and learning... home is, of course, a controlled environment. My thought is: if I have the tools, I want to really learn how to use them... because I may learn that I don't ever need them after all! I've sold lots of gear in the past, only to realize later on that I hadn't really understood what it all did. Hoping this all makes me a smarter sound crafter (and it'll also help me reduce [yes, REDUCE] any future GAS I have!).

    Cheers, man!
    bongostealth and Robertron like this.
  9. Robertron


    Feb 12, 2010
    NewYork, NY
    I didn't even notice your avatar :roflmao::roflmao:

    I get what you're saying. At home I get really experimental with the Aftershock
    and EQing the rest of the dirt pedals on my board.
    Tricaptain likes this.
  10. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    Wellington, NZ
    I use a VT Bass with a Q/Strip. The VT has a three band EQ, which gets me into the ballpark. The Q/Strip has semi parametric mids, which fine tunes my tone. My tone sounds incomplete without either of the two pedals. I think stacking a three band eq with a parametric eq has tonal advantages.
    Tricaptain likes this.
  11. Vinny_G


    Dec 1, 2011
    If an EQ pedal can make an Epiphone EB-0 sound like a Stingray, I will buy four. ;)
    Yeah, I know what you mean, I just wanted to be a little sarcastic. :p Good post. :thumbsup:
    Tricaptain likes this.
  12. madmaskbass


    Apr 29, 2008
    all i know is that when my sound hits the cab it goes through 4 sets of e.q lol i dont know if it is right or wrong or silly all i know is that i love the sound and I still feel like i can hear the basses voicing quite well.
    Tricaptain likes this.
  13. Here's a vid you may or may not find interesting. He talks about using like 5 different eq stages to really mid boost the guitar sound. I tried something similar on a smaller scale with great results.

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  14. It makes sense, if that's what you want. Personally I don't find I need that much EQ control, so I would not use that.
    I don't find I need much EQ at all. I have a parametric EQ pedal *in case*, and my main bass has semiparametric mids control built-in... Any adjustments I make are rather minimal and in a short frequency band, whether to control boom, or an excess 'honk' or whatever. So yeah, for me, two graphic EQ pedals would be a waste of space and even a hassle.
    I think if you need to use a lot of EQ, unless it is to create a special effect (extreme EQ could be cool for specific sections), then you're better off finding tools more appropriate for your needs (bass, amp, speakers). Get the main ingredients sorted first, then the EQ is just like a condiment to be added sparingly.
    Tricaptain likes this.
  15. I found that AMZ/Orman reference I made in my earlier post:

    AMZ Double Tone Controls

    "We can alter the response of the tone control in an interesting manner merely by including an additional set of R-C filters to the control. The frequency rolloff is essentially doubled and sounds outside the filter band are rejected more effectively. This can be a musically useful modification to the basic tone control."
    — Jack Orman​

    You don't need to be able to read a schematic for the takeaway on this: I believe he's basically saying the equivalent of — if you take two identical EQ pedals ["additional set of R-C filters"] and boost them both (or cut them both) at the same frequency, you're narrowing the Q ["frequency rolloff is essentially doubled"].

    ["and sounds outside the filter band are rejected more effectively"], ie neighbouring frequencies are less affected.
    Tricaptain likes this.
  16. There's no right or wrong way to go about it. Try both, use whatever works for your ears. Make notes. Writing stuff down or verbally describing it to a band-mate can often solidify the stuff floating around in your head, giving what was once a foggy notion some clarity in your own mind.

    I would say that after deciding whichever way you prefer, you should re-try it the opposite way further down the road (days/months/years) — tastes can change, not to mention needs may change — those changes may be precipitated by gains in knowledge, understanding and experience.
    Tricaptain likes this.
  17. Tricaptain


    Sep 21, 2011
    Right Hear (...it's a pun. Use your ears!). ;D
    I'm just a user/customer that plays gigs. I am not professionally affiliated with any vendor, etc.
    Oh, totally! For whatever it's worth, I'd been tinkering with effects, etc. for the better part of 30 years... so, well aware of experimenting, "no wrong way", etc.! This post was more to get a little more of the technical understanding of the 'science' behind it all. Pretty much... trying to educate myself to be a 'smarter' experimenter!

  18. Tricaptain


    Sep 21, 2011
    Right Hear (...it's a pun. Use your ears!). ;D
    I'm just a user/customer that plays gigs. I am not professionally affiliated with any vendor, etc.
    Say, what's shakin'! Ya, totally... at a gig, I pretty much just use a tuner (and whatever technique I can!)! At home, I could seriously compete with Guitar Center (chuckling). I just have lots of fund experimenting with things, and EQ has been a fun venture and trying to understand it. It's SUPER powerful.

    At a gig, it would be REALLY rare that I would find a specific EQ shape for any given song... At home, it's SUCH a fun time messing with EQs for metal, dub, electronic, etc.

    Taking a moment to make my understanding clear here:
    At gigs, EQ (to me) is meant for the sound techs to balance for the room/band/mix/etc.

    I should've been more clear - simply trying to understand the technical under-workings of this for educational purposes... aware that I absolutely don't *need* any of this, and use little more than a tuner and adjustments in the way I play the strings at a gig. Multiple EQs (for my experimentation) is more a matter of using one for adjusting a base tone, and any other(s) for anything song or passive-specific (and yes, sometimes for a special effect, or to shape/drive another effect) - hope this all makes sense. Cheers!
  19. Tricaptain


    Sep 21, 2011
    Right Hear (...it's a pun. Use your ears!). ;D
    I'm just a user/customer that plays gigs. I am not professionally affiliated with any vendor, etc.
    This is 'YUGE'. That REALLY helps me understand this... thanks for this post! Cheers!