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.
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:
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.