Guitar Effects Pedal Placement

In our last blog we outlined the basic effects pedal order that would work for you most of the time. In this blog we’ll look at two different ways you can use effects pedals with your amp. As always there are outliers in the pedal world that won’t work so well in one of these set ups, the idea is to give you a general idea and help you keep an eye out for those times when something doesn’t quite work out. So next we’ll look at Guitar Effects Pedal Placement.

In the Front
So the basic way to set up your pedals, and the way we almost all start, is to just put the whole lot in front of the amp, so everything flows into the input of the amp.

If your amp is set up for a clean sound, this method is very effective and assuming you’re following the signal chain order we laid out in the last blog, it’ll be fine.

Guitar Effects Pedal Placement diagram, showing all into the amp front end

The issues potentially come if your amp is running with a reasonable amount of gain. In this circumstance, the amp effectively becomes the overdrive or distortion source, and as you know from our last blog that means ideally modulation and delay etc., should really come after the distortion or overdriven sound stage. So you need a different solution…

Adding Fuzz
Just before we discuss that solution, don’t forget that items such as Fuzz are quite sensitive to placement, the input really matters with many fuzz pedals. Ideally they should sit close to the guitar, perhaps after wah, but before the front end of an amp.

Right… back to what we were talking about… so what do we do if we can’t put it all in the front end? Let’s talk about the loop…

In The Loop
Pedals in the loop? Yep definitely, bar a few examples that just don’t like being in the loop (looking at you Catalinbread, they have their reasons, but that’s another blog again).

So, the premise here is to put the Modulation and Time-based pedals in the loop of your amp, while generally leaving the Dynamics and Gain pedals in front of the amp’s input.

This means if you’re driving an amp—getting gain from the front of an amp—you’re not putting reverb and delays into that gain stage and creating a lot of unusual (and usually nasty sounding) sounds. You can imagine all those tails and delays being distorted by the amp’s gain stage, not pretty, but having said that, sometimes an effect you may want.

Guitar Effects Pedal Placement showing the 4 cable method

This is no different to the way we generally place Overdrive or Distortion pedals before Chorus, Delay, and Reverb pedals. Just think of the amp as the overdrive/distortion pedal.

This set up requires what’s called the four cable method (often with all the pedals still on the pedalboard).

This set up is… 1 cable from guitar to gain pedals, 1 cable from the gain pedals to the amp, 1 cable from the amp’s send (loop) to the first modulation type pedal, and 1 cable from the modulation pedals back in to the amp’s return (loop).

That’s It
So not too complex for guitar effects pedal placement is it? But you need to experiment and try things out, find the sound you love, but hopefully this brief blog gets you started. Enjoy it…

For any other questions, feel free to drop us a line…

Write a comment