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    Intro

    By Nick Hodgins

    Setting up a pedalboard can be a very detailed process, with so many options available it could be difficult to determine exactly what order to arrange your pedals. With the number one rule to setting up a pedalboard is that there are no rules, we thought it might be helpful to provide you a starting point.

    Though there are some exceptions, a basic rule of thumb to follow is – level > frequency > time. Level altering effects work best up front with an unaltered signal, while modulation and time altering effects can be placed towards the end. Other pedals such as volume pedals and tuning pedals are most effective when placed before other pedals that will affect the signal and overall sound. Use the following information as a guide to get you started with your pedalboard and effects layout.

    Level Altering Effects

    Dunlop 535Q Crybaby Multi Wah PedalLevel Altering Effects refers to preamps, overdrive/distortion pedals, compressors or limiters, tremolos, and noise gates. A level altering effect changes the strength of the signal. Unless you’re using a wah pedal, which typically works best with an unaffected signal, you’ll typically want to place the level altering effects at the beginning, beginning with a compressor.

    A compressor allows you to achieve the same levels from soft and loud signals by altering each accordingly. Because compressors are amplifiers, that means they can increase the level of whatever is before them, placing them after noisy effects like overdrives will only add more noise.

    Overdrive and distortion would go next, followed by tremolos, or any other level altering pedals you may have in your arsenal. See All Guitar Wah Pedals > See All Compressor Sustain Pedals > See All Guitar Noise Gate Pedals > See All Guitar Distortion Pedals > See All Guitar Tremolo and Vibrato Effects >

    EarthQuaker Devices Palisades Overdrive Pedal
    EarthQuaker Devices Palisades Overdrive Pedal
    Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini Overdrive Guitar Pedal
    Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini Overdrive Guitar Pedal
    J Rockett Audio Designs Archer Tour Series Overdrive Pedal
    J Rockett Audio Designs Archer Tour Series Overdrive Pedal
    Dunlop FFM3 Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face Mini Distortion Pedal
    Dunlop FFM3 Jimi Hendrix Fuzz Face Mini Distortion Pedal
    ISP Technologies Decimator II Noise Reduction Pedal
    ISP Technologies Decimator II Noise Reduction Pedal
    Orange Bax Bangeetar Custom Shop Guitar Pre-EQ Pedal
    Orange Bax Bangeetar Custom Shop Guitar Pre-EQ Pedal
    Dunlop 535Q Crybaby Multi Wah Pedal
    Dunlop 535Q Crybaby Multi Wah Pedal
    Voodoo Lab Sparkle Drive MOD Guitar Overdrive Pedal
    Voodoo Lab Sparkle Drive MOD Guitar Overdrive Pedal

    Frequency Altering Effects

    MXR M108 10 Band Graphic Equalizer PedalFrequency Altering Effects refers to wah pedals, envelope filters, and graphic and parametric equalizers. A frequency altering effect specifically emphasizes or deemphasizes certain frequencies, thus changing the timbre of the instrument. With the wah being the one exception, frequency altering effects usually appear after level altering effects in signal flow. See All Guitar EQ Pedals > See All Guitar Pitch Effects > See All Guitar Filter Effects > See All Guitar Synthesizers > See All Guitar Tremolo and Vibrato Effects >

    Electro Harmonix B9 Organ Machine Guitar Effects Pedal
    Electro Harmonix B9 Organ Machine Guitar Effects Pedal
    Source Audio Nemesis Delay Pedal
    Source Audio Nemesis Delay Pedal
    Mad Professor Snow White Auto Wah Pedal
    Mad Professor Snow White Auto Wah Pedal
    MXR M108S Ten Band EQ Pedal
    MXR M108S Ten Band EQ Pedal
    Boss GE7 EQ Pedal
    Boss GE7 EQ Pedal
    Electro-Harmonix Q Tron Plus Envelope Filter Pedal
    Electro-Harmonix Q Tron Plus Envelope Filter Pedal
    MutronIII Plus Envelope Filter Pedal
    MutronIII Plus Envelope Filter Pedal

    Modulation / Time Altering Effects

    Electro Harmonix POG2 Octave PedalModulation and time altering effects essentially split the signal in two at the input and delay one by a designated amount to create different effects. These include flangers, phasers, chorus, pitch shifters; as well as delay and reverb which are also referred to as ambient effects. The modulation effects will usually go before your ambient effects in your signal chain. When it comes to the order of phasers, flangers and chorus pedals, it doesn’t entirely matter, as you typically aren’t using these at the same time. The ambient effects, delay and reverb, should go at the end of the chain. See All Guitar Reverb and Delay Effects > See All Guitar Chorus Pedals > See All Guitar Phaser Pedals > See All Guitar Flanger Pedals >

    J Rockett Audio Boing Reverb Pedal
    J Rockett Audio Boing Reverb Pedal
    Walrus Audio Bellweather Analog Delay Pedal
    Walrus Audio Bellweather Analog Delay Pedal
    Ibanez ES2 Echo Shifter Analog Delay Pedal
    Ibanez ES2 Echo Shifter Analog Delay Pedal
    EarthQuaker Devices Sea Machine V2 Chorus Pedal
    EarthQuaker Devices Sea Machine V2 Chorus Pedal
    Line 6 DL4 Delay Modeler Pedal and Loop Sampler
    Line 6 DL4 Delay Modeler Pedal and Loop Sampler
    EarthQuaker Devices Afterneath V2 Reverb Pedal
    EarthQuaker Devices Afterneath V2 Reverb Pedal
    Electro Harmonix POG2 Octave Pedal
    Electro Harmonix POG2 Octave Pedal
    DigiTech Polara Reverb Guitar Pedal
    DigiTech Polara Reverb Guitar Pedal

    Other pedals

    Digitech Trio Band Creator Guitar Effects PedalOther effects that come into play that might not follow the basic rules include loopers, tuners, and volume pedals. When it comes to tuner pedals, it’s most effective to place it before any effects in order to get an unabridged sound to tune properly. Volume pedals can be placed at the beginning or end of the chain. It is commonly found at the beginning of the signal chain due to its tuner output. Using this output still allows signal to pass through even though the pedal is in the up of silent position allowing silent tuning.

    Noise gates and suppressors are designed to silence the signal once it drops below a set threshold, it’s important to never place them after delays and reverbs as the decay could be abruptly silenced sounding very unnatural. Noise gates placed before ambient effects is a common practice and makes the most sense.

    Ultimately, it boils down to personal preference when it comes to effect placement. Remember that there are no rules; so experiment, make adjustments and see what works best for you. See All Guitar Multi Effects > See All Phrase Samplers/Loopers > See All Guitar Volume Pedals > See All Guitar Amp Modeling Effects > See All Acoustic Guitar Simulators > See All Guitar Other Effects >

    Walrus Audio Aetos 120V Power Supply
    Walrus Audio Aetos 120V Power Supply
    Walrus Audio Messner Overdrive Pedal
    Walrus Audio Messner Overdrive Pedal
    Morley PVO PLUS Optical Volume Pedal
    Morley PVO PLUS Optical Volume Pedal
    Digitech Trio Band Creator Guitar Effects Pedal
    Digitech Trio Band Creator Guitar Effects Pedal
    BeatBuddy Pedal Drum Machine
    BeatBuddy Pedal Drum Machine
    TC Electronic Ditto Looper Guitar Pedal
    TC Electronic Ditto Looper Guitar Pedal
    Boss RC30 Loop Station Twin Pedal With USB
    Boss RC30 Loop Station Twin Pedal With USB
    Boss TU3W Waza Craft Chromatic Tuner Pedal
    Boss TU3W Waza Craft Chromatic Tuner Pedal
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