In what order do we connect the effect pedals?

In what order do we connect the effect pedals?

Very few guitar players have never given in to the temptation to take home those small well known wonders that are called effect pedals. Here I will give some advice on how to connect these pedals to one another so you are no longer going nuts and in order to make sure you get a personalised sound that suits you.

Generally speaking there are three bigger categories: the effects that affect the gain (distortions, overdrives, compressors, EQs, limiters, Wah-Wah, octaver, filters) the modulation effects (chorus, phasers, flangers, volume) and time based effects (delay, reverb).
The filters and the EQ are generally placed at the beginning, the overdrives and boosters in the secondary position, and the modulation and tempo type effects in the last place. In this manner, the ‘dirty’ signal of the guitar is filtered and corrected, it is given body and volume before it is modulated and finally the reverb/delay is added.

If your amplifier has the Loop effect and you want to use the distortion that is also build into the same amp, put the compressors, boosts, octavers and wah between the guitar and the pre amp, and the pedals that handle modulation and time on the pedal. In this fashion you can benefit from the amplifier overdrive. If you intend to use the clean channel of the amp, by following this order you can still use the the Loop effect.

The final placement should reflect the personality of each guitar player, as well as his creativity and style.

                         An example of a configuration without effect loop

1. Ef
fects that influence the gain

The tuners are, of course, placed at the beginning of the chain, that way the signal will be free of any effects and can be interpreted well by the pedal.
In the majority of the cases, and in the situations when we do not have a tuner, the compressor will be the pedal that we place first, at the beginning of the chain. The less the signal is altered, the easier it will be to deal with it.
There are people that put the Wah-Wah before the distortion, but it should always go before the effects that involve modulation and time. A Wah-Wah placed right after the distortion, allows you to get a sound that is fatter but that is less rich in harmonics; if we place it before the distortion, it will allow the pedal to react more easily to the variations of the signal.
The octaver/pitch shifters/whammy are placed in the same way in the sense that they precede the modulation type effects like the delay or the chorus. For the equalisers there are two ways or classes, before and after the distortion/overdrive. There are people that choose to use two EQ pedals at the same time, one before and one after. It is up to you!
Distortions, overdrives and fuzz are used to give shape and grit to the basic and unadulterated signal. Because of that they are very frequently put as early in the chain as possible, although sometimes they are placed after certain modulation type effects like the chorus. Simply try both ways!


2. Modulation effects

The chorus, flangers, phasers often times are employed to give colour and character to the sound. And often the sound is filtered and made more substantial to give it the colour that you require.
The tremolo silences the sound and creates an undulating effect which is really great for the rhythm. This pedal we situate at the end of the chain.
As far as the volume pedal it is like the tremolo, you place it at the end of the chain to affect all the effects already applied to the signal.

3. Time based effects

The delay/echo is placed at the end of the chain, sometimes before the chorus, sometimes after, it depends: if you want to add delay to the chorus, place it after. If you want to create a whirlwind effect on the chorus, put it after the delay.

The reverb is used a lot and almost always applied at the end of the chain of pedals.

The basic idea is to respect the order of the three principal groups of effects and the chain of pedals. Still, bearing all that in mind, there is no magic formula. You will find there is various and varied opinions on this topic… Hence it is always best to experiment and find your own y combination that works best for you!

P.S.: The special offer «3 for 2» is valid until the 16th of November of 2015. If you buy 2 compact effect pedals made by Boss (the small units) You will get the third one completely free!

Author’s gravatar
Vincent started frequenting music shops at age eight. Picking up the Bass and Guitar followed not long after, as did bands. His love for music, from Sixties Pop and Soul to AnarchoPunk and Death Metal has only deepened with the years. He still regularly plays at Jam sessions, from Berlin to Cambodia.


    thanks for the info. i really was looking for this for a few weeks as i just bought my first pedals but realized the instructions don’t give any Information how to combine them….thanks a lot, vince!

    Thanks for your comment, glad my post was helpful! Have fun playing with the new pedals man, to me it is always super inspiring to have new soundscapes. 🙂

    May pleasure Shawn! Glad the blogpost was of help and that you will get more enjoyment out of your pedals! 🙂

    Great article, wish I had this when I was first starting out! I remember I had it mixed backwards for the longest time haha, reverb first, then all my drive pedals, well at that time only one. Ahh how we learn…

    Thanks for the post, hope people like my old self find it quickly!

    This was very helpful, specially when trying to find the best spot to place an EQ. In forums, it seems that most people place it after the OD and Distortion… In my case, I am trying to build my ideal EQ tone that my amp is lacking because the Fender EQ knobs are a bit weak, but I love the response to cleans and distortions. I purchased a small mini EQ pedal and placed it before these gain pedals. I like the results a lot, but now I am wondering if putting an EQ after the Wah is the cleanest result, or maybe fine the way it is? I just prefer a cleaner/conventional set-up as I am aiming for clear and consistent clear tone.

    How to install a recent order of pedal straps.outus can’t seem to keep them on the pedal? Joan Dill

    I have made up a dirt only pedalboard with no modulation and time-based effects on it. It has taken a very long time to make it up by using all my imagination and expense. At the beginning there is no tuner but it starts with an mxr dyna comp, then there is an electro-harmonix doctor q envelope follower (I was going to include a digitech synth wah envelope filter next but would rather use it on a synth effects pedalboard instead and I didn’t want too many pedals on this dirt board). After that is an mxr bluebox (an octave/fuzz), then an ibanez overdrive 808, an orangey overdrive/fuzz pedal (which I am using instead of a tube screamer because I’ve never liked the sound of one). After that is a yamaha di 01 analog distortion (which I am using instead of an ibanez or maxon sonic distortion) and then at the end of the chain is another mxr pedal, a micro amp (which I am using instead of an ehx 5mm power amp). There is no equalizer pedal at the end as I have an equalizer on my roland jazz chorus amp, but saying that, it’s not very good, just like the distortion on the amp which roland should alter the name of and call it ‘SATURATION’ instead! I am now looking for the exact right type of power supply for this.

    Thankfully, a good chunk of the posts I chose to comment on were lists of useful marketing tools. It was easy to contribute to these discussions because I literally did have to say something along the lines of, “Hey, great post, I really liked (list my favorite points from the post). It’d be great if you could take a look at my new tool, as well.”

    Hi, I have a mxr bass preamp Di and I have should I put my stereo chorus pedal last in line with my reveb pefal but I can’t use my lxr on my preamp because I use it for recording situations or could I put my chorus pedal elsewhere?

    Exactly what i was looking for .. thanks a lot bro ♡

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