Hey guys, welcome! I’ve noticed A LOT of hits on my blog searching for pedal board setups and for effect chains. The probability you hit this page based on google is highly likely. So welcome, and lets see if we can answer your qs. Feel free to post questions at the bottom as many before have done. I’ll try to answer to best of my knowledge.
Okay, lets get started!
I have one video recorded of a ‘walk through’ of some sounds I think are important: scroll down and look for the red stars: ********
Here is a quick link to a post I thought was helpful as a “beginner’s board”. I hope it helps. CLICK HERE
As most guitarists do, I change my board about every 4 months. I get tired of the same sounds, same pedals and spice it up every now and then. But I always, always have my basics. I mainly play for worship bands for churches. So if I were to receive a call right now to play this weekend, I would set up my basics- my options that give me the most versatile sound. This the same topic as my first post, but I’ve changed a few things to flush out the topic more.
Follow the full article to view my “ever changing board”. Furthest down is my current board, while these first few pics are what my board was in previous years. You can see my change in thoughts, the “tone” fads, and what i kept on the board or what I always went back to.
Example: for better or worse, there is always a Tubescreamer or TS type pedal on my board. Either the TS, the Zendrive, or a Barber Electronics pedal.
I will discuss: 1) Basic Ideas on Effects Chain order and 2) My order and why I prefer this, and any other theoretical orderings that may be different. You will also see a short discussion of my acoustic board.
Here are the basic guidelines for setting up your board:
#1) Wah: this generally goes first due to the wah it affects the main overdrive unit and the next effects. Modern music definitely puts this first. You can also use a PHASER in this position if it is a deep effect. (I prefer in #6) Envelope filters are perfect here. Jimmy Hedrix put his wah AFTER the overdrive. Play around with that! (I still prefer here in #1 position)
#2) Compressor: as you want to level off your signal BEFORE it gets to the overdrive for equal toning and for a consistent volume. After the wah, it will calm any volume spikes your wah gives you. (If you use a compressor that is.
#3) Your overdrive: This is your main crunch! You can also place a dual overdrive around here as well. Generally in a multiple overdrive use, I do one of two things, 1): Fuzz -> low gain -> high gain. I use 2) Fuzz-> booster drive or high gain-> amp like pedal (controlled by guitars volume knob- more on that in another post coming soon)
This also could be your “amp’s overdrive” in the chain.
Now, if you want, begin the EFFECTS LOOP. If you want to use your amps effects loop, this is what would go there. If you don’t have one, don’t worry! Ignore this and keep building your chain. As not all effects loops are equal, I would test IN the loop and IN FRONT of the amp to see what gets you the best tone.
#4) Equalizer: If you want, you can shape your tone here for the perfect pitch you are looking for. Generally this is after the overdrives to add a little bit of “Sparkle” (for modern rock) or to scoop the mids for some hard crunch (for you metal guys out there).
#5) Pitch Effects: Like vibrato, this is where your main sound created in the previous stages has the “effects” added to it. If you don’t like your tone here, the change one of the first 3 options. This is also where some ring mods would go, or weird octavers.
#6) Modulation effects: chorus, flange, phaser, tremolo, octave. Again, these affect the main sound you already have.
Note: 5 and 6 can be switched…. sometimes a flange INTO a ring mod sounds best. These effects all depend on your rig!
#7) Echo effects: Delay, usually followed by reverb. The ending point.
I generally use these rules. My current chain (April ’08) is: 1) Crybaby wah to 2) CMATMODS Ross Compressor Clone, 3) Analogman Modded TS9 Overdrive, 4) Analogman DS1 modded distortion, 5) Dan Electro Tremolo, 6) Boss DD3 delay, 7) Line 6 Verbzilla, 8-> volume pedal with bypassed tuner. Between my overdrive and distortion sometimes I have a Line boost which just boosts my sound. That way If i don’t want a crazy distorted lead, I just click and boost my clean sound or lightly overdriven sound. See my post (coming soon) on dual overdrive for a better explanation.
The main differences you will see are:
The wah AFTER the overdrive: this is the more classic “Hendrix” wah of playing. Gives a great sound. Check it out to see if it works better for you.
The overdrive BEFORE the compressor: this keeps your sound even. You will be mostly at the same volume level when you kick on the the OD. This smooth transition gives a true studio-sounding professional sound. I used to play this way until I got a new drummer. Now I placed my OD after the compressor (classic setting) so the volume boost is heard so I can be heard when the drummer kicks it up a bit on the choruses of our songs.
Basically there are no RULES, just a preference for settings. Think simply about WHAT you want your sound to do. If you want a nice overdrive that you can click on and make louder- dual drives or an OD pedal in front of your overdriven amp is the way to go. But you want delay- you want it at the end so your total notes are echoed on. Delay into reverb so it sounds like your echos are going down halls. But don’t let me convince you. I change mine every 4 months or so to experiment.
I also change my effects regularly. That is, I use the same TYPE of effect in that setting, but a different one. Like I change my TS9 with a modded Boss SD1. Same type OD pedal, just the Boss has less midrange than the TS9 and has a different clipping distortion (more harmonics, less cream), or I use a modded Blues Driver here- tighter, cripser, lots of harmonics, but no cream at all. I switch my DS1 for a Big Muff Pi for a lead boost. I want to take out my Tremolo and replace it with a Line 6 ML 4. But again, not changing my order.
The only thing I change is my compressor type and placing of it, depending on my roll as a player. For leads, I use a Ross type compressor into my ODs for some beautiful sustain, very forgiving compression. For rhythm I use my Boss CS3 mod with the overdrive running into it for a smooth transition. The compression here is a little tighter and makes strumming great, with a hint of growl in certain settings. Its a very static, sterile sound which does not compliment my leads as much, but gives nice definition on all my rhythms.
The main point I want to make about my boards is the VERSATILITY, which one in a church setting with differing songs needs to have. This setup is not MY setup if I were to perform, its what fits best with WHO I am performing with and for. Most of our questions are self-answered by the simple “Who is my audience?” and then figure what they want.
My acoustic pedalboard:
For Acoustic work, I use my Tuner (anywhere in the chain) to tune and for a Mute button, 1) BOTH compressors, the Boss for rhythm followed by the Ross set with a higher volume for leads/boost, 2) chorus pedal (optional, not a big fan of chorus) and 3) delay. This is the “classic” acoustic type setup, unless you need an EQ or want to follow with a bit of reverb. I found my acoustic in the church hall doesn’t need more reverb, but delay gives a nice effect. edit 9-14-08: I have decided that my Verbzilla really flushes out my acoustic sound with a hint of reverb. This really adds depth to my sound/tone. It is now one of my “essentials” for my acoustic board.
I’m amazed at how flushed out my tone is with a compressor and an acoustic. Really, a professional sound.
Board update: 10-26-08
So my new chain (Oct 08):
1) modified Jim Dunlap Crybaby with True Bypass Mod (By CMATMODS)
2) Boss TU2 Tuner
3) Barber Tone Press Compressor
4) Ibanez TS9- 808 brown mod by Analogman
5) Hermida Audio Zendrive
6) Boss DS1 Analogman mod
7) Electro Harmonix Lil’ Big Muff
8 ) Boss DD20 Giga Delay
9) Boss RT20 Rotary Sound Processor (wannabe Leslie effect)
All wired with Visual Sound One Spot, but strategically so no buzz happens. The reason some people get buzz is they put too much demand on these things. I have never had a problem, even with “problem makers” such as Line 6 stuff etc… Be smart people!
Reasoning: I decided I need a couple of ODs, a low, low gain for a hint of sparkle. I also need a slightly heavier drive for riffing and such and then a drive with compression and smooth distortion for a lead boost. Then the Muff for crazy stuff that springs itself at random- usually in the Spanish service. It and the wah mix great. I use the RT20 for various things, the Leslie simulation, a tremolo sound, and an interesting chorus-type sparkle.
I removed my volume pedal because I rarely do volume swells with the style of music we are doing. The Verbzilla is an excellent pedal, but I discovered my amp has a pretty decent reverb (Verbzilla’s is better though) and again, at this moment, I do not have a need for crazy reverbs. Maybe again later, but the DD20 into the RT20 give me enough ambient-type effects that I should be good for awhile!
Here is my current rig:
First I set my basic tones– guitar to amp, then guitar and overdrives to amp. I set my guitar’s volume pot to about 5-6 and then my amp for the loudness/breakup I want. Then I set my overdrives just a tad louder than that base amp sound, and turn the gain to where I want it. From there, I can just tweak my volume up to 10 on the guitar for my lead/solo boosts.
So here we have my chain:
1) Crybaby wah (true bypass mod)– first in my chain because it affects ALL the components after it. If I find I am not using wah, I replace this with my compressor (Barber Tone Press).
2) Ernie Ball Volume Pedal with Boss TU2 on tuner out.
3) Zendrive for low gain sounds. Its just a hint of drive to stand out and “sparkle” at normal guitar volume. When I crank the volume, it offers a little crunch for power chord work, or light leads.
4) Fulltone OCD: for more distortion, and gainy, sustainy type leads.
5) Lil’ Big Muff- for volume swells. I’m thinking of replacing it with the Hartman Ge Fuzz, but Fuzz is temperamental and doesn’t like the humidity here. So what works in my room does not work on stage.
6) Boss DD20, my staple delay pedal. Set for 1- delay with modulation, 2- tape echo w/ 2 tape heads (for dual delay type needs), 3- Analog delay dotted 8th, 4- Analog delay quarters, 5- Long delay quarters with modulation for swells.
I have found that the “dual delay” setting in this thing just doesn’t cut it… but for some reason the tape delay 2 heads gives 2 distinct echos at different times that fits perfectly. I cut back on the “tape warble” settings to make it more clean. Works great.
7) Line 6 Verbzilla: puts the finishing touches on the overall sound. I tend to keep it on “hall” which is a longer decaying, thick reverb. Sounds great in leads and also is nice to “finish” swells.
Notice– most are True Bypass, there are no loopers, and I run straight into my volume pedal (which does suck some high end). I’m not too worried about the dreaded “tone suck” as compared to rig-amp vs guitar- amp.
See, I’m from Nashville where our heroes rode in on a horse that had been drinking beer (men get whisky mind you) and latched together rubber bands on brooms and blew in jugs to create music. Some of the best songwriters and players I know do not have loopers and do not care about “tone suck” as much as some of us less than pro players do. (I’m speaking of Willie Nelson and all the other local heroes.)
I took these lessons to heart– if the tone coming out of your amp is what you want, then don’t change. As in, I know I loose some high end on the volume pedal, so I dial more in on the guitar and more in on the amp. Sure, it still sounds different from the rig versus if I went straight to amp from guitar, but the tone out of the amp is still sweet, beautiful clean. That’s all that matters.
Your end product sound is more important that quality/purity of signal, true bypass, or George L cables throughout. If you close your eyes, is the tone you hear clean, pure and natural?
*****************************************Stop here for video!!***********************************************
Here is my walk through: (better audio this time, video quality a little off… still trying! )
And on top of all I discussed in the vid- i love a light tremolo in sine wave form (soft wave). A small soft wave gives a nice shimmer that sounds like chorus. Except I don’t like chorus– but this is nice for slow picking.
Also, slow tremolo into quarter delay is marvelous. Mmmmm
Another change as of: June 19, 2009:
Like many other gear-heads, I change my pedalboard about every 3 months. I never know why, it just happens.
For those following the blog, I really didn’t change any of the effects, or even the chain- I just made the whole thing simpler. This allowed me to fit effects that normal I just “rotate out” when I don’t need them (compressor, wah).
My main motivation was putting effects that I stomp on the most to the bottom level of my board where I could get to them easily. I used to have the delay on the top level and my overdrives on the bottom level. But I realized that while I may use two overdrives for a song, I only click once to turn on/off and then click the other on. I may use 2 delays or more, throw in some tap tempo and tremolo: I’m really dancing around.
Notice I pretty much just moved my bottom row to the top, and pulled the top row to the bottom. This allows fast, easy access to the tap tempos of the DD20 and the Tremolo. Playing with it last Sunday proved it to be the right decision: so easy to use. And as I stated, I now fit my compressor and my wah on there as well. The only thing I need to play with is the placement of the tuner. When I clicked it on I completely moved 2 of the knobs on the Small Fry which gave me a very interesting lead sound I was not prepared for.
So my chain:
Crybaby with True Bypass mod (CMATMODS) >
Barber Tone Press (compressor)>
Ernie Ball Volume pedal with Boss TU2 tuner in the tuner out>
Barber Small Fry (high gain, or lead boost)>
Fulltone OCD (Mid gain rhythm, tight/sharp soft sounding leads)>
Hermida Audio Zendrive (low gain and ambient type leads)>
Electro Harmonix Lil’ Big Muff (for volume swells/violin sounds)>
Seymour Duncan Shape Shifter (tremolo)>
Boss DD20 digital delay with tap tempo on out>
Line 6 Verbzilla (reverb)> AMP
All powered by Visual Sound 1-Spot and held together with George L cable.
I have been rotating a few pedals in and out for the dirt pedals. The Zendrive is being tested against the Hermida Audio Nu-Valve, and the Nu-Valve is showing some promise. I also have thrown a Barber LTD (mod with 2x the gain) in that sections. The OCD is being switched with the Hermida Distortion, Mosferatu, or Analogman DS1 whilst the Small Fry…. well, for some reason I just can’t get rid of the Small Fry. I don’t exactly love this pedal, but it sounds so good in a live setting. Incredibly good. That Barber guy… wow.
The Muff gets changed for a Fuzz… but Fuzz is too temperamental here with all the humidity and rapid weather changes. Muff generally stays.
If you notice, even though I still rotate the dirt boxes, its still the same order: lead boost into a high gain, into a low gain/amp type sounding pedal. This really works for me.
This page will be “EVER-Modified” as I will edit and re-edit as I change, learn and as you ask your questions. If what you are seeking is not posted here, ask! I will answer, give advice on what I would do with your particular effects etc. This page is ever evolving and I want you to be able to use it! I hope I can provide what I wanted to see when I was a beginning guitarist!
edit 4-2011: This page is constantly getting questions– therefore I have to keep it cleaned up. If you have asked a question and come back 6 months later and your response is not here– I have deleted it. I’m sorry, but I have to do housekeeping and keep this page clear for everyone to ask!