Why Pedal Order is Important

Why Pedal Order is Important

If you are starting to build a rig around your Blackstar amp, you may be looking to integrate some pedals to fine tune your sound.

Many players start off with a single pedal. Which is a great way to start.

Used singularly, it’s easy to set up a pedal with your amp. Simply plug your guitar into the pedal and run another cable from the pedal to the amp. Easy right?

But what about using multiple pedals together? If you’re new to using a bunch of pedals at once, it can be quite a daunting prospect. What order do they go in? Is there a right or wrong way to set this kind of thing up? What about the effects loop?

There are lots of questions like these, and probably a hundred more that you’ll ask yourself in this process. In this lesson, and in the accompanying video, we’re going to take a look at some of these concepts and give you a simple way to start building your dream rig.

Drive Pedals

On a typical pedalboard, these types of pedals would sit at the front of the chain. The usual method of setting them up is from lowest gain to highest gain, especially if you’re running, and stacking, multiple drive pedals.

Of course this is all subjective to what tones you like to hear.

As a general rule, the drive pedal that is the final one in the chain will have the most impact EQ wise on the overall tone.

If you run a clean boost, you can set this up two ways. One way is in front of the overdrive pedal (Or pedals). This will hit the pedal harder, giving you a slight volume boost but also bringing more gain out of the pedal. The second way is after the drive pedal, this is great for a lead boost. This will give you a larger volume lift but less gain will be added.

Modulation, Delay and Reverb Pedals

In the video, the modulation, delay and reverb pedals are all run through the effects loop of the amp. This is not a requirement, however it does give a specific sound.

When running effects like this into the front of the amp, you subject the effects to the amps preamp. This means if you’re using the amps preamp to create overdrive and distortion, the distortion is applied to the already effected signal coming out of the pedals.

Many players prefer the sound of these types of effects after the preamp as it gives a cleaner signal.

A good place to start is to run modulation and delay before reverb. The reverb is the “space” in which your guitar tone sits. If you put this last, you’re taking everything you’ve done and putting it into that space.

If you put the reverb before other pedals, you’re creating that space and then processing that space via other pedals.

Another example of this is if you put a modulation before a delay, you have delay trails added to the modulate signal. If you flip this around, you get delay trails hitting the modulation which makes the modulation on the trails more obvious.

Using This in Your Own Rig

Remember, when it comes to tone, there is no wrong answer. All of the topics in this lesson are principles that you can either follow as they’re set out, or you can put your own twist on.

If you have a bunch of pedals, plug them in and experiment. Tone is totally subjective and the only right way to do it is the way that inspires you to play more. This lesson should have given you a good starting point of “best practises” to begin your tone journey.

About The Author

Leigh Fuge is a professional guitar player from Swansea in South Wales that has written and created content for many high-profile guitar brands and publications such as PMT, RSL Rockschool, Trinity College London, Guitar.com and more.

He works with mgrmusic.com to provide high quality guitar content for guitar players of all abilities from around the country. To date, mgrmusic.com has successfully generated over 32,000 student enquiries for their network of music teachers around the country. Find a local teacher in your area today.