Do I Need an EQ Pedal – In The Loop?

Source Audio EQ Pedal in The Loop

Straight away, no bones about it, this is an absolute must for me. I need an EQ pedal in the loop. But it’s something I don’t see done that often when out playing live. But the way you can then shape your overall tone with an EQ in the loop is, I’d go so far to state, fundamental to you finding your sound – and sometimes to just sounding right, either when playing alone, or in the mix of a band.

If you’ve never thought of adding an EQ pedal in the loop (or in the front end) and you’re just starting out with tailoring your tone, perhaps a good place to start would be a simple to use pedal. That can be as simple as a 3 band EQ pedal in the loop with a bass, mid, and treble knob (many clean boosts offer basic EQ too).

However, the sonic shaping open to you of a multi-band EQ pedal (as daunting as it can be initially) shouldn’t be overlooked once you’re comfortable with the tool.


Setting Up an EQ

A good multi-band isn’t as hard to set up and you think. A key approach is to make small changes initially, and really listen hard to the tone changes occurring as you tweak the various frequency bands. Think about how that tone will sit in a live-band situation and also the typical tones for the type of music you play. For blues you may want more bottom end, or to cut through for a solo you may need a mid or top end boost.

One of the most outstanding—though not super simple—EQ pedals I’ve come across is the Source Audio EQ2 (it’s a super-compact wonder frankly). Dave Gilmour can’t be wrong—he really can’t on this one—as it’s his tool of choice, but there are many other out there, both cheaper and of course more expensive. But while these types of pedals have presets to make life easier on stage, they do need some time to set up right.



To make things a little easier it’s good to keep in mind the below frequencies that  roughly/broadly correspond to three frequencies you’ll want to target:

  • 30Hz to 250Hz are BASS frequencies
  • 250Hz to 4000Hz are MID frequencies
  • 4000Hz to 20kHz are TREBLE frequencies

Each audio expert will give you differing opinions on these ranges, so these are just a guide for now, and can be broken down further, but that’s for another blog.

So, these are the frequency ranges to target to alter you sound in the way you want.

Now remember, by placing the pedal in the loop you are shaping all the tones of your guitar,  the pedals going in to the amp, and the pre-amp of the amplifier itself are creating. But be aware of the boost you’ll get from pushing some frequency ranges, if your pedal has an output control use this wisely (though sometimes you may need to push the output up). Some amp loops won’t place nice with pedals (they’re set for rack equipment) so you’ll need to check your amp’s suitability to take pedals in the loop.

Need an EQ Pedal

By using the EQ in the loop you’re not altering the tone going into the amp but rather you are shaping it in the same way you might use an EQ on a HiFi to achieve the tonal feeling you’re after. It’s fine tuning your tone, but don’t underestimate the huge difference this makes.

I normally go for an EQ in the loop but before reverbs and delays (to not effect reverb tail tones for example), however it’s always worth a bit of experimentation when it comes to placement.

Ask any Mesa Boogie owner if they use an EQ in the loop and you’ll find that they feel it transforms their sound for the better. Check out the forums on the topic and you’ll find many players who won’t play without one once they’ve rigged it up.

But you can also use it for effect too. Perhaps you’re looking for a lo-fi tone, EQ is your tool here to emphasis the mids and remove the bass end.

Or you can ramp up the bass end for metal weight and power, or just push the mids to stand out in the band or for solos. Many great guitar recordings sound poor when isolated, but in the mix they’re amazing. So think about the sound in isolation but also in the mix.

Of course, you can also add an EQ before the amp as well as in the loop, that really opens up a ton of tonal tweaking, and that’s something I do to shape my tone. We’ll cover EQ into the amp in another blog though…

Go on, give it a try, pop that EQ in the loop and see just how powerful it is at helping you shape your tone and play a big part in creating your signature tone. Also take a look at how many pro players do just this…

If you need any guidance on any of the pedals we stock, not just EQs, don’t hesitate to drop us a line, we’d love to help if we can…

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