Mayos Music
Guitar Lessons and Instrument Repair

UNDERSTANDING THE PEDAL CHAIN

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Here at MayosMusic, in addition to offering great guitar, bass, ukulele, banjo and autoharp lessons, plus complete luthier services that include guitar, string instrument and amplifier repair/restorations, we are also a great resource service. The following article talks about the “pedal chain” or the “pedal order of configuration”. This is applied to both having the “pedal chain” sequence in front of the amplifier (before the amp input) or in the “effect loop” of the amp. Note: Not all amps have an “effects loop”).


First things first, let's discuss an overview of the player's options regarding where to plug-in the pedals into the amplifier.

  1. Amps with no “effects loop” which includes most vintage amps (usually the tube type) will only be able to plug the “pedal chain” into the amplifier's input jack.
  2. Amps with an “effects loop” would allow the plugging in of pedals either into the amp's input jack or into the amp's “effect loop”.


When plugging the signal from your guitar with pedals into the input jack of the amp, the signal will run through both the preamp and the power amp section of your amplifier. Thus, as an example, plugging in an overdrive or distortion pedal at this point will cause the amp's input stage or preamp to distort and creates a sound we love.

But, when plugging the pedal(s) into the “effects loop”, the signal bypasses the preamp stage and enters before the power amp stage, giving those effects more clarity, especially if the preamp stage is overloaded and distorting. Clean (time-based) effects such as reverb or delay will have the maximum clarity when plugged in at this point.

The placement of the effect pedal into the input jack or into the “effects loop” will/can have a very dramatic difference. Example: There is an undeniable sonic difference between distorting a reverb as compared to adding reverb to a distorted guitar sound.

Please understand, there is NO “right or wrong” pedal order or pedal sequence- it is each player's personal preference and best figured out by trial and error.

The following are some good starting points:


Guitar→wah, filter pedal→compressor→overdrive, distortion, fuzz→amp input


Amp effects loop send→phaser, flanger, chorus, tremolo→delay→reverb→amp effects loop return


Reasons for the above suggested configuration:

  1. Mosy “effect loops” are designed to plug any effect pedal in and maintain a constant volume and tone.
  2. Some pedals work best with the signal direct from the guitar, as they have problems functioning in the “effect loop” of the amp, due to input level and impedance differences. (This would include: synth and keyboard modelers, pitch shifters, wah-wah pedal, octaver).
  3. Volume pedals in the “effects loop” will not act as a master volume control.


FINAL NOTE:

There are many companies and manufacturers of effect pedals and rack-effect units. Some of these manufacturers also have recommended “pedal chain” or “pedal configuration” charts showing/helping the guitarist to get your desired sound. We'll list these companies/manufacturers in a future article.

Experience since 1968
Providing Guitar, Electric Bass & Ukulele lessons and Guitar/Amp Repair in the Greater Phoenix Valley area of Arizona including Maricopa County and The Salt River Valley.

Mayos Music will continue to provide Guitar/Amp Repairs in Southern California's South Bay cities and Greater Los Angeles Area.
Originally located in Manhattan Beach and Torrance, California.

Now located in:
Gilbert, AZ 85298
&
Torrance, CA 90505

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(310) 955 - 0246
Email:
MayoGuitarAndAmp@GMail.com