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  • Help with pedals in the signal chain?

    Hi all,

    Just to clarify, the signal starts from the guitar right? Am I correct in saying that a pedal that comes before another pedal would be closer to the guitar in the chain?

    My main issue is I am having trouble understanding the reasoning behind why people tend to place some pedals before others in the signal chain.
    I understand that you want to have delay and reverb after overdrive because you want reverb and delay affecting overdrive and not vice versa. This is making me think that all pedals that are in front affect all things that are behind in the chain.

    However my confusion lies within a video I watched that basically said: if I wanted to emphasise certain frequencies from a distortion pedal, I should place it before the distortion pedal. This now tells me that all pedals affect everything after it which is the complete opposite of what I stated above about delay and reverb. It also says that if i wanted to boost frequencies on the guitars natural pickups sound, I should place the EQ pedal first in the chain. Wouldn't my EQ pedal affect the natural sound of the guitars pickups regardless of where it was in the chain? I also have the same issue with understanding where to place the noise suppressor pedal.

    Please could someone explain how it works?
    danny458
    Member
    Last edited by danny458; 10-10-2017, 01:11 PM.

  • #2
    Re: Help with pedals in the signal chain?

    Sure....

    #1 The ONLY rule that matters is place pedals where they sound best to YOU.

    #2 A recommended "general" chain should be:

    Pitch boxes
    Compression
    Boost
    Overdrive
    Distortion
    EQ
    Noise
    Chorus/Phase/Flange/Tremolo
    Delay
    Reverb

    Why Boost Overdrive Distortion? This is in order of "Increasing Gain". You goose an overdrive or amp with a boost, you goose a distortion with an overdrive. If do Distortion then Overdrive, or overdrive then distortion, you get really loud versions of whatever came before. Of course, maybe you want that. I do that on my main board: US Dream then Mean Green Clean Boost for a solo volume bump.

    Why EQ after Distortion? Distortion makes a general change to the EQ and usual has a global knob or two. The EQ after allows you fine tune whatever the distortion did to your tone. Or undo if you didn't like it. Yes - an EQ right up front will mod the tone of your guitar directly. As always, pedals all interact in mystical ways. If the guitar is weak on highs, and a distortion takes away more highs, then you might not have any to add back with the EQ afterwards. So you put the EQ first to make sure what highs are there get boosted.

    Why noise after EQ? All of that stuff before hand - Compression, Boost, OD, Distortion and EQ are "gain" devices and volume and noise. SO don't get rid of noise until you have added all you will add.

    #3. Experiment and put things where they sound best to you!!!!
    Originally posted by Bad City
    He's got the crowd on his side and the blue jean lights in his eyes...

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    • #3
      Re: Help with pedals in the signal chain?

      Realize there are no real rules, and that new sounds happen when you use old things in new ways. That being said, Ace's recommendations are sound. If you have a bunch of different pedals sitting on the floor, the way he described is the default way they may be set up to get a good sound. You can modify that for your own needs.
      Dave, Ambassador/Writer/Artist for Seymour Duncan

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      • #4
        Re: Help with pedals in the signal chain?

        Thanks a lot for your help, very much appreciated

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        • #5
          Re: Help with pedals in the signal chain?

          Thanks a lot for your help!

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Help with pedals in the signal chain?

            Originally posted by danny458 View Post
            This is making me think that all pedals that are in front affect all things that are behind in the chain.

            However my confusion lies within a video I watched that basically said: if I wanted to emphasise certain frequencies from a distortion pedal, I should place it before the distortion pedal. This now tells me that all pedals affect everything after it which is the complete opposite of what I stated above about delay and reverb. It also says that if i wanted to boost frequencies on the guitars natural pickups sound, I should place the EQ pedal first in the chain. Wouldn't my EQ pedal affect the natural sound of the guitars pickups regardless of where it was in the chain? I also have the same issue with understanding where to place the noise suppressor pedal.

            Please could someone explain how it works?
            The statement from the video doesn't make sense to me.

            I think it's better to think of it as all the pedals will interact with each other, whether in front or after each other. Just know what each pedal is doing and understand how they interact when before and after. Then it takes a little creative thinking to decide which you need.

            For example, delay and distortion.
            • Delay takes whatever you play and repeats it.
            • Distortion takes whatever you play and distorts anything over a certain volume level.

            So how would these interact both before and after each other?

            A. If the delay is before the distortion, BOTH the original playing and the delays will be distorted ONLY while they are both over a certain volume level, but then the delay repeats will clean up as the volume level falls below the level the distortion is crunching the signal.
            B. If the delay is after the distortion, ONLY the original playing is distorted, but the delay is repeating it clearly and cleanly. It will sound similar to before at first, BUT the repeats will not clean up as they get quieter because you are repeating a distorted signal, not distorting a repeated signal.
            Does that make sense?

            Another way to think of it is lenses. If you had pair of blue sunglasses and a pair of yellow sunglasses and put them both on, you would see green. If you put the blue sunglasses on first, closest to your eyes, and the yellow ones on top of the blue, you'd see green but likely a slightly more bluish green. If you put the yellow sunglasses on first, closest to your eyes, and the blue ones on top of the yellow, you'd still see green but likely a slightly more yellowish green.

            Likewise, if you have a delay and a distortion, you will get delayed distortion. If you put the delay at the end, closer to your amp/ears, you will get a clear delay of a distorted performance. If you put the distortion at the end, closer to your amp/ears, you will get a distorted sound of a delayed performance. They will sound similar, but there are subtle nuances depending in which was first in the chain.

            There are no rules. For example, Aceman advises compression early before the distortion boxes, which would result in a very consistent produced distortion sound, because the dynamics of the guitar would be leveled before hitting the distortion. I tend to use a recipe where I hit the distortion pedals first before anything else and use a very minimal compression right after the distortion to simulate the natural compression characteristics of tube amplifiers. But also note: Aceman is a lead guitarist and I am playing rhythm most of the time, so his pedals might be arranged to work best for note clarity and heavy rhythm while mine is arranged for general chord playing in a less heavy style of music. For leads, attack and note clarity and thickness would be important, and for what I do the tone and dynamics of the tail of the sound after hitting a chord is important.

            So you have to get to know what each pedal can do, then learn how it interacts with other pedals, and most importantly, know what sound you are trying to make so you can decide how to arrange them to support that sound.

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            • #7
              Re: Help with pedals in the signal chain?

              were - there is a time & place and reason for every order of pedals you can imagine.

              I personally never use compression with distortion, for example. Since distortion is also compression usually! Or has a certain compression about it. I only use compressors with clean sounds. But as you said - compressed into Distortion makes for a very produced sounding distortion, which is very nice sometimes....
              Originally posted by Bad City
              He's got the crowd on his side and the blue jean lights in his eyes...

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Help with pedals in the signal chain?

                I will use compression with distortion, but the distortion I use can really be considered a light overdrive. So, yeah, it also depends on how you use the effects.
                Dave, Ambassador/Writer/Artist for Seymour Duncan

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                • #9
                  Re: Help with pedals in the signal chain?

                  Compression in front of heavy dry distortion is perfect for some genres of Metal.

                  Sent from my MotoE2(4G-LTE) using Tapatalk

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                  • #10
                    Re: Help with pedals in the signal chain?

                    Thank you all for your replies, very much appreciated

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                    • #11
                      Re: Help with pedals in the signal chain?

                      Great posts above.

                      My two rules to follow are this:

                      -When stacking drives, the "last" one will impart the most character on the sound. For example, Tube Screamer into Rat will sound like a boosted Rat, Rat into Tube Screamer will have the distortion of the Rat but the signature mid-hump of the Tube Screamer.

                      -Start building your pedal chain one pedal at a time. Begin with your most important or most used drive pedal. The one that is the heart of your tone. Add in your second most used gain pedal (boost, OD, Fuzz) that you would stack with your main drive pedal. Try it before and after, giving each pedal's controls a real workout. Continue adding pedals one at a time trying them in each possible position until you end up with your preferred order.

                      It's going to take a long time, but once you do this you'll know 100% what Pedal order you prefer and you'll know how your rig responds to each combination. When you just follow a standard order, usually it'll work pretty well, but you'll miss out on that opportunity to learn how every pedal interacts in your specific rig. Get a few hours to yourself, brew a coffee and dig in.
                      Oh no.....


                      Oh Yeah!

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