Board with Effects Loop Flexibility

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by Bluesful, Feb 17, 2015.

  1. Bluesful

    Bluesful Supporting Member

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    Hi all.

    Thought I’d put this one up for your thoughts.

    I’m looking to find a way to build some flexibility into my board so I can use an effects loop sometimes, and then have all pedals go through an amp’s front end at other times.

    My current board has 4 x input/output jacks. I currently only use 1 x input for the guitar signal and 2 x outputs to send to 2 amps (I don’t always use 2 amps but I have that option).

    The board has the following path:

    INPUT A > TU-2 > TS808 > KoT (upcoming) > ARDX20 > Solemate > Ditto > AB/Y > > OUPUT A and OUTPUT B.

    I’ve recently acquired a Fryette Power station which has an effects loop in it that I’m keen to take advantage of (I’d send the ARDX20, Solemate and Ditto through the loop). I won’t be using the Power Station every time I play though so I’d like my board to retain the ability to have all pedals go to the front end of an amp whilst still having the ability to send a few to the loop when needed. It needs to be interchangeable, although I’m not sure that’s possible.

    If I was to use the loop the path would look something like:

    INPUT A (from guitar) > TU-2 >TS808 > KoT > AB/Y > OUTPUT A (amp input), with

    INPUT B (send from loop) > ARDX20 > Solemate > Ditto > OUTPUT B (return to loop)

    Using my board in this scenario I would:

    • Lose the ability to use 2 amps as OUTPUT A would be for the input into the amp and OUTPUT B would be used for loop return (both inputs would also be in use).
    • Lose the ability of running all pedals into the front end of an amp when I’m not using the Power Station, or don’t need/want to use an effects loop.

    I don’t think it is possible to have the flexibility I’m after, but does anyone have any input or suggestions?
     
  2. stinkfoot

    stinkfoot Member

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    Connecting the whole chain in series in front of the amp would be as simple as connecting a patch cable between output A and input B, and then use output B as the main output to the amp. And if you move some fx to the loop, you'd still lose the ability to run two amps, even if you'd had more output connections. The only way to do that would be to run the 2nd output from the last pedal to the fx loop return of amp 2, and that you could still do with this setup. For the times you're running the whole chain in front of the amp, and want to run two amps, you could do the same (but obviously connecting both outputs to their respective amp's guitar inputs).
     
  3. Bluesful

    Bluesful Supporting Member

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    Thanks for the reply.

    Are you able to clarify this point:

    How would I connect OUTPUT A (amp input) to INPUT B (send from loop) with a patch cable?

    Are you able to list the signal path that you suggest?

    Appreciate your thoughts.
     
  4. stinkfoot

    stinkfoot Member

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    Connect the point where you'd normally plug in the cable to the amp's input, to the point where you'd normally plug in the cable from the amp's effects send. The output from the last pedal (normally going to the effects return) then becomes the main output you connect to the amp's input.

    But maybe I misunderstood your first post. You wrote that your board had 4 inputs/outputs, which you currently use to connect to the first pedal, and from the output of the last pedal on to the amp(s). Is this two pairs of jacks (input/output A, input/output B), or four pairs? I assumed there were 4 pairs, but now realise it could just as easily be just 2 (making up the 4 jacks you mention). In that case, you only have two connection points, so you can really only do the effects loop. I'd plug the guitar cable straight into the first pedal, and go from the last "in front" pedal straight to the amp input. Then I'd use input/output A as the "from effects loop send" connection (A -> input of first fx loop pedal, with a cable from the amp's fx send to the other A jack) and B for the return (output of last fx loop pedal -> B, with a cable from the other B jack to the amp's fx return).

    If you then want to run the whole board in front of the amp, connect a patch cable from the output of the last "in front" to the A jack where the amp's fx send cable would normally go, and then go from B (normally connected to amp fx return) to the amp's input. That would place the whole chain in series.

    The ABY doesn't seem to be needed here at all - you can have it as the last pedal in front of the amp, and could use its B output to feed a second amp, but the pedals you run in the amp's fx loop can only be applied to that amp.
     
  5. Bluesful

    Bluesful Supporting Member

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    You're correct I only have 2 pairs of jacks. I have 2 jacks on the left of the board and 2 jacks on the right of the board. A bird's eye view of the jacks on the board would look like this (I've given each jack a unique letter to avoid A/B confusion):

    JACK A-------------------JACK C
    JACK B-------------------JACK D

    My guitar normally goes into JACK A which is connected to the input of my first pedal. JACK C is connected the AMP A output of the AB/Y box and JACK D is connected the AMP B output of the AB/Y box (the last pedal). So I normally connect JACK C and JACK D to the inputs of my amps.

    If I understand what you're saying:

    • I should not plug my guitar into JACK A, but rather plug into the input of the first 'in front' pedal, then plug into the amp from the output of the last 'in front' pedal. No JACKS involved.
    • I would then connect JACK A to the input of the first 'effects loop' pedal and plug JACK A into the send of the effects loop. JACK B would be connected to the output of the last 'effects loop' pedal and plug JACK B into the return of the effects loop.

    Would that not leave JACK C and JACK D unused?

    Apologies if I'm misinterpreting your post.
     
  6. darkinners

    darkinners Member

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    I am trying to gather the same information as well


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  7. stinkfoot

    stinkfoot Member

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    This is where I'm lost. You only have two pairs of jacks, but how are they connected? You say you're plugging the guitar into jack A, which is then connected to the first pedal. But with what, from where? Jack B? That would mean the jacks are linked (which makes sense), but then you wouldn't be able to use jack C and D independently like you do now. I'm still confused about the jack situation :)

    What kind of board is it?
     
  8. stinkfoot

    stinkfoot Member

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    Just to explain my confusion a bit... normally this type of setup have the jacks arranged in pairs, which are interconnected:
    1<->1
    2<->2 etc

    This means you can use them to leave the pedals connected at all times, and just plug your guitar and pedalboard->amp cables into the patch bay instead. For instance, the "inboard" jack 1 would connect to the input of the first pedal, with the output from the last pedal connected to the "inboard" jack 2. That makes the outboard jacks the input/output (jack 1 = input from the guitar, jack 2 = output to amp).

    If you had four such pairs, you could use 1 for the guitar cable and 2 for the cable to the amp input. 3 and 4 would then be used in similar fashion, but for the effects loop pedals (3 = send from amp, connected to the first "fx loop pedal" input, 4 = return to amp, connected to the output of the last "fx loop pedal"). To make that system run in its entirety in front of the amp, you'd simply plug in a patch cable between jack 2 and 3, and use 4 for the cable to the amp input.

    Now, you said you had two pairs of jacks, and yet you're using three of the four jacks. That's where I get lost - normally, you'd only be able to use them in even numbers.
     
  9. Texas Jake

    Texas Jake Member

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    this works for me and essentially does what you're asking for. I wanted the ability to run my full board in front of my amps without effects loops but also have the option to run my drive pedals out front with time based effects in the loop of my amps with effects loops. I also wanted to be able to 'insert' pedals I don't always use between the dirt and other effects (i.e. volume pedal, different delays, etc.)

    So I had T1M build me an insert box with a closed normal TRS insert jack similar to the insert jack you'd find on a mixing console.

    [​IMG]

    My guitar plugs into the first pedal in line (tuner in my case) and with nothing patched in the insert (remember, closed normal insert jack), signal travels through it to my time based effects and I simply patch the output of my last pedal (reverb in my case) to the front of my amp.

    If I want to use my volume pedal post dirt or an additional delay pedal for example, I just use a standard insert cable to patch it directly into that box.

    If I'm using an amp with a loop, I simply patch a standard 1/4" cable from the insert jack to the front of my amp. I then patch my effects loop send directly to the input of my first time based effect (chorus in my case) and go out of my last pedal to the effects return. It's maybe not the most elegant solution because I do need to pull the plug normally patched to the chorus input but I have it configured in the back row of my pedal board so it's easy to get to. I suppose I could also just use a long insert cable and patch the send side the amp input the return side to the amp's loop send but I generally just re-patch.

    The other thing I had Dan build into the box is a buffer (notice the power cable) but didn't think it through very well and had him place the buffer inline with the output of the insert box rather than the input. My thought was eliminate any buffers before the insert send point in case I wanted to patch a pedal that didn't care for it (germ buzz for example) but the reality is, I would typically just patch that before my tuner anyway. Had I put the buffer on the input side of the insert box, it would have made a nice pre-volume pedal buffer and nice line buffer when my board is in split mode. Live and learn.

    Anyway, this is a small and inexpensive solution to adding an insert point and the option to split your board. I've seen much more elegant and flexible solutions on some custom boards but this one's tiny and cost less than $70. A larger box with a separate send / returns jacks would eliminate the need for any re-patching and you could still use the closed normal jacks to pass signal with nothing patched. This is exactly how a normalled patch bay works in the studio. I just didn't have the real estate on my board for that big of a box.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2015
  10. Guitarman19853

    Guitarman19853 Member

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    Like this?

    [​IMG]

    Later replaced with a switch that did the same job as the patch cable.

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Bobby Wasabi

    Bobby Wasabi Member

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    This should be stickied. Seriously, these photos explain it perfectly.
     
  12. Judas68fr

    Judas68fr Member

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    I've done something similar on my board (little box between the BB preamp and the Flint):

    [​IMG]

    It's a loop that I've inserted between the Flanger and the Flint in case I need a volume pedal, with a simple DPDT switch to make it True bypass.
     
  13. Bluesful

    Bluesful Supporting Member

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    To clarify - I have a Blackbird Pedalboard that looks something like this (apologies I don't currently have a photo of my current board):

    [​IMG]

    I have 2 x neutrik jacks of the left of the board and 2 x neutrik jacks on the right of the board.

    The current set up of my board as follows:

    The top right jack (JACK C in my earlier post) has a patch cable going from the underneath of the board out through the grommet in the top of the board into the input of the first pedal. My cable from my guitar is plugged into this jack.

    The top left jack (JACK A in my earlier post) as a patch cable going from the underneath of the board out through the grommet in the top of the board into the first output of the last pedal (AB/Y box). A cable runs from this jack to my amp.

    The bottom left jack (JACK B in my earlier post) as a patch cable going from the underneath of the board out through the grommet in the top of the board into the second output of the last pedal (AB/Y box). A cable runs from this jack to my (other) amp.

    I think to have the flexibility to run loop/no loop as you're suggesting without losing the AB/Y box (the use of 2 amps) I'd need a 5th neutrik jack in the board.
     
  14. Bluesful

    Bluesful Supporting Member

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    I got creative and put together this diagram (obviously not skilled in graphic design):

    [​IMG]

    I don't think that I'll have the flexibility that you guys have shown without building a custom patch box, or adding an additional jack to the board. If i didn't have the AB/Y I could simply patch between FX Send and To Amp when using a loop (as per the suggestion and photo above). This would be a bit of a pain because I don't have 3 jacks all on the one side, but it could be done. But I'd then lose the functionality of the AB/Y.

    What do you think? I need to have a patch box built?
     
  15. Guitarman19853

    Guitarman19853 Member

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    Do you use two amps? Of you actually use both amps, I can't work out how to make your current setup with without another jack OR a complicated 3PDT switch. It is doable with a 3PDT but because of the fact that one of your jacks is on the left, it would add quite a bit of cabling to your board (in my opinion).
     
  16. Bluesful

    Bluesful Supporting Member

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    I don't always use 2 amps (I mix and match with 1 or 2), but I like having the option.

    I've been doing some sketching and you're right, essentially without another jack I'll just have to suck it up and either:

    a) deal with all the pedals into the front of an amp and retain the ability to use 2 amps, or
    b) be able to use an effects loop but lose the ability to use 2 amps

    I think I'll just deal with all pedals into the front end. It is worth me investigating getting another jack put into the board though.
     
  17. stinkfoot

    stinkfoot Member

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    Ah, ok - now I see. You actually have the 4 pairs I was talking about. Each jack + patch cable makes up one interconnected pair (in patch bays, there are two jacks per pair, with you supplying the patch cable - here, the patch cable is soldered straight to the jack).

    So, you could connect them as follows:

    Jack/cable 1: guitar input -> first pedal
    Jack/cable 2: output from the "in front" chain (OD2) -> amp input
    Jack/cable 3: amp loop send -> input of first fx loop pedal (delay)
    Jack/cable 4: output of last fx loop pedal (ABY output A) -> amp loop return.

    You can use any of the jacks/cables as any of the numbers. For instance, if you use the two on the right side as 1 and 4, you'll have 2 and 3 on the left. That means you can simply run a standard patch cable between 2 and 3 to connect the whole chain in front of the amp (with 4 becoming the main output). On the ABY, use output A to jack/cable 4. Then, when you run the whole chain in series and want to use two amps, just run another cable from output B straight to that amp.

    Alternately, if you want to have both ABY outputs through the jacks in the board, skip the first jack (plug the guitar cable straight into the first pedal). Make the two jacks/cables on the right the "in front" (OD2) output and "from loop send" (to delay input) jack, and use the two on the left side for outputs A and B from the ABY. Then you can use a regular patch cable connecting both jacks on the right side, to run the chain in line.

    The only thing to keep in mind is that when you use the fx loop, you can't also use a second amp unless it has an effects return you can plug into (skipping the preamp section in that amp).
     
  18. Bluesful

    Bluesful Supporting Member

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    Both of these are good ideas.

    This would look something like this:

    [​IMG]

    This would look something like this:

    [​IMG]

    It is a shame that I can't use 2 amps when employing the effects loop. In the second example (when employing the effects loop) the last loop pedal feeds the input of the AB/Y. Output A of the AB/Y then would go to the effects return. This is a stupid question - is the signal feeding the AB/Y from the last loop pedal not enough to send to another (2nd) amp through the B output of the AB/Y. So output A of the AB/Y would feed the loop return and output B of the AB/Y would feed the input of a second amp?
     
  19. stinkfoot

    stinkfoot Member

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    You can feed two amps even when you're using the effects loop setup, but the second amp needs to also have an effects loop (so you will be plugging both outputs from the ABY are into the same sort of amplification). It's the same with your current setup - both signals are going into the same sort of amplification (in that case the input of both amps).
     
  20. Bluesful

    Bluesful Supporting Member

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    That makes sense.

    Thanks for helping me figure this all out.
     

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