Friday, July 3, 2009

Determining Proper Placement for Effects Pedals In A Signal Chain

We're in the Golden Age of effects pedals. The humble stompbox has enjoyed a tremendous resurgence and no self-respecting guitar player will be seen without at least a couple of them at his feet.

And in response to prevailing market demand, a plethora of backyard workshop-type companies have emerged, churning out an endless parade of 'boutique' stompboxes -- old schematics, slightly modified, upgraded with audiophile-grade components, given nifty names and sold for stupefying prices.

Pedalboard sizes too have reverted to the gargantuan, stage-hogging proportions of the ones used by rockstar guitarists of the 70's -- think David Gilmour's sprawling Pete Cornish pedal rig on many a Pink Floyd tour.

After the smoke has cleared, determining the correct order of effects on a pedalboard is key to getting the best tone with the cleanest possible signal out of it.

As a general rule, here's how pedals can best be arranged on a pedalboard when using them in series ie. a pedal's signal feeding the next pedal in the chain.

From the guitar's output, the order of effects will be:

  1. Wah pedal
  2. Compressor/limiter
  3. Booster, overdrive, fuzz and distortion pedals
  4. Equalizer
  5. Pitch-altering pedals such as octavers and pitch-shifters
  6. Envelope filters and ring modulators
  7. Short time-based effects such as phasers, flangers, chorus pedals and Leslie-speaker simulators
  8. Signal attenuators such as volume pedals and noise gates
  9. Long time-based effects such as reverbs and delays
As always, take this as a basic guideline and experiment.. The complete home study jazz guitar course

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