Want to have the sound that kills? Good spirit ! Guitar pedals or effects pedals allow, as their name suggests, to create effects to modify the sound produced. The way you install them optimizes the result which depends on your preferences, but it can also have an impact on the sound. There are some fundamentals that are best to apply, but luckily there is no right or wrong way to set up your rack. When you understand the basics, you can experiment to find the setup that best suits your style and the sounds you want to produce.
Method 1 of 3: Organize the chain to optimize the signal
Step 1. Determine the tones you want to produce
There is no standard setup, but the order in which you place the pedals may vary depending on the result you want to achieve. It depends a lot on the style of music you are playing.
- Be sure to keep the function of each pedal. Changing the order of your pedals can dramatically change the final tone. It is probably best to experiment with different configurations until you find the one that works for you.
- However, there is one basic rule: the gain and saturation pedals are the first in the chain. Then come the filters and then the modulation pedals, those which make effects linked to the tempo are the last.
- When you've found the perfect setup, don't forget to stick a label with a number on each pedal to quickly connect them in order when you go to play.
Step 2. Connect them with patches
These are very short 6.35 jack cables. It is important to get good quality patches. The better the quality of these cables, the better the result.
These patches are very short, they measure a few centimeters. By using long jacks, you will lose signal between each pedal and the tone will be affected
Step 3. Put your tuner in 1st position
Hey yes, we have a winner! You certainly don't want to try to tune your guitar when using chorus, flanger or overdrive… give it a try, the results can be fun! By being at the start of the chain, the tuner will always receive a clean, unmodulated signal.
Step 4. Place the filters at the start of the chain
Filters like auto-wah, wah-wah, envelopes… generally work best when placed after the tuner. If you don't have a tuner pedal, it is best to place these filters at the start of the chain.
- The filters must receive a clean signal. If you put them after other effects, their effectiveness is reduced.
- You can also put phasing at the start of the chain, but that depends on the type of tone you want to achieve.
Step 5. Install the compressor after the filters
The compressor increases the volume of low frequencies and therefore also the overall volume. If you place the compressor at the end of the chain, your sound suffers, because the compressor amplifies the modulated sound and some effects lose their effectiveness and their role.
However, you can deliberately put the compressor at the end of the chain, depending on the style of music you play. If for example you play country, by placing the compressor at the end of the chain, it overwrites all the other effects that you use. If you play rock, it is much more effective being located immediately after the filters
Step 6. Make way for the distortion
There is a distortion (distortion) and an overdrive in almost all pedal configs, these are the most popular effects, especially for rock! If you put them before the filters, the result is not convincing …
The distortion and overdrive create and amplify the harmonics of all your notes. This is the reason why it is not efficient to feed the filters with a signal full of powerful harmonics
Step 7. Determine where to place the transpose pedals
These pedals normally work best when they receive a signal that has been processed by a compressor. It is generally desirable to position them after the compressor or the equalizer, unless of course you put your compressor at the end of the chain.
Step 8. Install the modulation pedals towards the end
If you have modulation effects pedals, for example a flanger, a chorus, a phasing, a tremolo…, it is preferable to connect them at the end of the chain, you thus obtain a richer sound.
When you have several pedals generating modulation effects, it is best to do tests by inverting them to find the arrangement that we like according to the type of music you are playing
Step 9. Add the volume pedal
You can put it at the beginning or at the end of the chain. Depending on where you place it in the chain, it will affect the whole chain or only affect the volume of certain effects, which will give it a different function.
- If you connect your volume pedal at the start of the chain, it will change the volume of the signal that will enter the pedals. When a lot of distortion is used, this can be useful for cleaning up the sound.
- If you position it at the end of your chain of pedals, it will act on the general volume.
Step 10. Arrange the delay at the end
The pedals generating an effect associated with the tempo, such as a delay or an echo, are the last in the chain. Think about how these effects work in space. Echo or delay are the last effects you hear, so it makes sense to place them at the end of the chain.
Keep in mind that if you put a delay or echo pedal before the volume pedal, it's difficult to control the volume of each repetition they generate
Method 2 of 3: Use the loop function
Step 1. Observe your amp
Not all amplifiers have loop connectors. If yours at the input and output loop, you can connect some of your effects to it. This allows you to have a more nuanced and richer sound.
The loop is located between the preamp and the amplifier of your amp. You should see female jacks 6, 35, one is the input (effect return) and the other the output (effect send). On some amps you will see Preamp out and Power amp in
Step 2. Connect your reverb and delay to the loop
Most guitarists who use the loop with their pedals hook up tempo-associated effects (like delay or reverb) to it to avoid the loss that can occur when the signal from these effects is affected by distortion or overdrive. their amp.
If you are using your amp's distortion or overdrive, this setup can allow you to have a cleaner sound. The signal passing through your amplifier's preamp is sent directly to the effects connected to the loop
Step 3. Connect the volume pedal and modulations to the loop
If you connect your modulation effects pedals to the loop, you get a different tone than you do by placing them in the chain that receives your guitar signal directly. Experiment and see what works best for you based on your style.
By passing the volume pedal through the loop, it controls the overall tone produced by your amplifier
Method 3 of 3: Use a pedal rack
Step 1. Determine the model you need
It is possible to buy preconfigured, pre-wired racks, or to create your own configuration on an empty rack. You can choose a small rack, a medium one, or a gigantic rack (is it really necessary?). It depends on how many pedals you use regularly.
- If you have between 1 and 5 pedals, a small rack should be more than enough. If you have more pedals, you need a bigger rack …
- Think about the future. If you are planning to buy more pedals, you are definitely better off getting a rack that is too big (for now) so you don't have to change it in a few months. You can still connect 2 small racks, but it will be less easy to transport to go play in clubs every weekend …
- If some of your pedals are large (eg wah-wah, volume…), you need a rack they can fit into, even if you only have 5.
Step 2. Think about how to supply them with energy
It consumes batteries these little beasts! Most pedals need 9 volts. Batteries are fine for a while, but hey, if you play a fair amount, a power supply is much better. Some racks come pre-wired, if yours isn't, consider how you're going to power your pedals.
- Check the voltage of each pedal, some can be greedy and need more than 9 volts!
- If you are planning to purchase new effects, consider the voltage they will need, and if the rack is pre-wired, make sure it can handle them.
Step 3. Obtain a power supply
It should obviously produce the voltage your pedals need, but it should also be able to power all your pedals, even the ones you might buy as soon as your bank account allows it …
- For example, suppose you currently have 10 pedals (quite a few already!) And each needs 9 volts. You must choose a power supply capable of powering at least 10 more.
- If you have a pedal that needs 12 volts (just to bother you …), you need a power supply capable of powering pedals independently, sending 12 volts to pedals that operate at 9 volts is not a good idea at all …
Step 4. Obtain super-short patches
You don't want your pedals to be tight like canned sardines (give them some room to breathe), but you still need the shortest connectors possible. This makes it possible to maintain good sound quality while avoiding signal loss as much as possible.
- Take cables with the jack at right angles and not cables with the jack which extends the cable, you save a little space and they are less damaged. There are also metal connectors without cables! Are they really practical and solid? Up to you…
- If you have a soldering iron and a nimble hand, you can make your cables yourself! This has different advantages: you can choose the quality of the cable and the jack (if you can, always take the best quality, you save big in the medium term); you can have cables any length you want, and this is usually more economical than buying patches.
- Avoid black cables. They get lost quickly on a stage, especially when you have to repack quickly… Personalize your cables with adhesive tape to recognize them, 2 guitarists fighting for a patch, it's not funny! Whatever…
Step 5. Secure your pedals with Velcro®
This is a great way to keep them in place, because it's not final and you can place them however you want when you want. It is absolutely preferable to use a fastening system that is not permanent.
- If you have a lot of pedals, it may be a good idea to stagger them by placing some of them towards the front of the rack and others towards the back. This can help you locate them faster when playing (the projos can be really annoying sometimes) so you don't hit the wrong one …
- Position the pedals you use often so that they can be accessed quickly and easily with your foot.
- The way you place the pedals in the rack does not have to be the same as the signal chain (the signal from the left one can be sent directly to the right end), but keep the length of the cables low. as much as possible to minimize signal loss.