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 resouce service. Below is an “Effects Pedal Tips Guide” on using these pedals.
In the previous article, “The Guitar and Bass Effects Guide”, I referenced the different types and functions of effect pedals. This article will give the player suggested tips on using these unique and different “Effect Pedals”.
I. DISTORTION PEDAL: These tips apply to all types of distortion pedals (overdrive,
distortion and fuzz).
- TIP 1- Making effective distortion settings.
- First, turn the guitar volume to the max and use the effect's volume control to adjust the difference in volume when the pedal is on or off.
- The overall maximum volume should be controled by the amplifier.
- Note: setting the overall volume using the effect volume control can cause a sudden burst of volume or feedback when the pedal is switched on.
- Watch to not overcompensate with the tone control as it will affect the overall sound.
- Listen to your sound from different places and not just where you stand on stage- it will sound different, so find a balance.
- Connecting the volume pedal before the distortion pedal allows the volume pedal to control the distortion intensity.
- TIP 2- How your guitar output level influences the distortion effect.
- The amount of distortion depends on the output level of your guitar.
- Single-coil pick-ups which normally have a lower output level than a Humbucking pick-up will yield less distortion when plugged into the same overdrive unit than the Humbucking pick-up. Adjust accordingly.
- TIP 3- Boosting your overall signal.
- Run the overdrive unit into a cranked amplifier.
- Use two distortion pedals or an overdrive and a distortion pedal simultaneously.
- Use a compressor or equalizer pedal with the overdrive/distortion pedal.
II. REVERB AND DELAY PEDAL:
TIP 2- Delay Unit.
- TIP 1- Reverb units- as the reverb time sets the length of reverberation or delay, the reverb level controls the reverb intensity, so...
- To get a clean and light amount of reverb, lower the reverb level and set a longerreverb time.
- For a thicker sounding reverb, set the level higher and the time shorter.
- For added brightness or depth to the sound, use the tone control.
- Note: the best sounds usually start from a more milder setting.
- Always connect the reverb pedal toward the end of the signal chain for the maximum effect.
- To double a sound for unison style duets, use short delay times (50 ms or less)
and without feedbback.
- For a longer, reverb-like delay, use five delays at 100-200 ms and setting at low
- To match the song's tempo by emphasizing the beat, use 300 ms delay and adjust
- To play harmony lines over the delayed sound, use delay times of 800 ms or
- To create a full stereo effect, keep the direct sound and delayed sound separate.
Try using (2) amplifiers, one dry signal and the other with the delay effect.
- To get a tempo-based delay effect for a solo, set the delay time to the quarter
notes or eighth notes in the tempo of the song.
- To smooth out string bends, vibrato and inconsistent playing, use lower levels
of the delay.
- Connect a volume pedal before the delay pedal to control the volume without
cutting off the reverberation effect.
III. CHORUS PEDAL:
- TIP 1- Using different types of chorus- the chorus effect will vary depending on whether it is used in mono or stereo.
- SThe chorus effect is denser when used in mono.
- SFor a more spacious sound with less detuning, use in stereo mode.
- TIP 2- When using the chorus effect with other players, have one of the players (guitar, electric piano, etc.) play clean (without chorus effect) as the sound can become otherwise muddy.
IV. FLANGER PEDAL: As the basic circuitry of a chorus, flanger and delay are similar, the player can adjust the setting on one type (chorus, flanger or delay) to create the sound of the other. A flanger can simulate a delay sound and a delay pedal can simulate a chorus sound.
- TIP 1- Tuning the flanger resonance control down to (0) produces a chorus sound.
- TIP 2- Tuning all the flanger controls to (0) produces a unique short delay.
- TIP 3- When combining a flanger and delay pedal, set the flanger to short delay and keep the chorus to a long delay. The combined short and long delay create a reverb which adds spaciousness and richness.
- TIP 4- Combine a distortion unit with a flanger to create a powerful jet-like sound.
V. EQUALIZER PEDAL:
- TIP 1- To add a new dimension to your guitar solo, place one equalizer before a distortion unit and then connect another equalizer after the distortion unit. This allows the player to add emphasis to certain frequencies which makes the solos to “pop” or “cut through”.
VI. LIMITER PEDAL:
- TIP 1- Use a limiter to eliminate excessive transients or to round off (reduce)
- TIP 2- Limiters are real good at keeping an amplifier or VU meter from overloading,
especially when recording.
- TIP 1- When you want overdrive with a whole lot of sustain, use a compressor with an overdrive combination.
- TIP 2- Try the overdrive to the limiter and, then try the limiter to the overdrive. You'll get a different sustain.
- TIP 3- The compressor can be used to create a mellow sound.
- TIP 4- To get a synth-like sound, combine the compressor with a chorus pedal.
VIII. OCTAVE PEDAL:
- TIP 1- To create a “monster distortion” sound, connect the octave pedal before thedistortion pedal.
- TIP 2- When using an octave pedal try to connect it as close to the guitar in the signal chain as this will help to maintain accurate pitch.
- TIP 3- Use a tuner to easily set octaves or other pitch-shifting intervals.
IX. PITCH SHIFTER:
- TIP 1- When connecting an expression pedal to a pitch shifter, the player can simulate tremolo bar effects without a whammy bar. Step on the expression to bend notes up or down in real time.
- TIP 2- Use a conventional pitch shifter for:
- Whammy bar effects when used with an expression pedal.
- Rock and Blues riffs with the pitch shifter set up a 5th and down a 4th.
- Create a synth-like sound by up one octave and up a 5th.
- TIP 3- Use an intelligent pitch shifter for:
- To create a rich guitar orchestration.
- To create very beautiful twin-guitar harmonies.
- Fast single-note riffs, solos, etc.