effects loop

Discussion in 'Amps/Cabs Tech Corner: Amplifier, Cab & Speakers' started by Gavin, Nov 11, 2003.

  1. Gavin

    Gavin Supporting Member

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    Can someone tell me about putting effects through the effects loop in the back of the amp? I'm not much of a gear head and am really confused (and ignorant) about this option. Are there effects that work better through the loop than in front of the amp and why? What exactly is its purpose?

    Thanks
    Gavin
     
  2. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    In general, any delay-based effects work better in the loop - ie delays, reverb, chorus, flangers etc.

    There are two main reasons...

    First, these type of effects usually sound better if they come after the amp's main distortion, or otherwise the result is a big mushy mess, especially if there is a lot of gain, since they thicken and add to the original sound - the repeats and the original notes are all distorted together and interfere with each other.

    Second, the gain of the amp's distortion tends to amplify background noise as well as the signal, and many of those types of pedals have quite a bit (especially hiss), so putting them after the bulk of the gain works better.

    Some types of effects work well in both places, with different sound results... tremolo, phasing (which is not strictly 'delay-based', even though it's modulated), EQs, boosts, octavers (but not octave-fuzzes) etc.

    And some should very definitely NOT be used in a loop - especially overdrive, distortion and fuzz. Not only do they usually sound bad like that, in some cases they can make the amp unstable and even lead to damage, due to the high gain of the effect causing the amp to feed back on itself internally.

    Wahs generally work much better in front of the amp (and directly after the guitar, usually) too.


    A problem you might find is that sometimes the signal level in the effects loop is much higher than pedals really want - they're often intended for rack units - and can lead to problems (unwanted distortion or volume loss), but this depends on the exact amp design.
     
  3. Gavin

    Gavin Supporting Member

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    Wow John! Thanks! That about answers my questions.

    Now I'm curious about pedals and their placement. If I used the effects loop, I would have to run some pedals into it (chorus and delay)and others in front of the amp (wah and overdrive). How do you get around all those cords or is it just something you live with?

    Gavin
     
  4. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    Yes, it's just something you have to live with. You need at least four cords:

    Guitar > wah/fuzz/boost type pedals
    Pedals > amp
    FX send > delay/modulation type pedals
    Pedals > FX return

    You can mount all the pedals on the same pedalboard with the same power supply - but sometimes you need to be careful about ground loops through the supply if you do that, it seems to depend on the amp and sometimes the location.
     
  5. Gavin

    Gavin Supporting Member

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    John,
    Thanks again. You were a big help.

    Gavin
     
  6. OneMileWish

    OneMileWish Guest

    Not to hijack the thread or anything, but John I could use your help!

    I have a Soldano HotRod 50+, and I have that problem with my effects loop, where the output level is just too high, so I'll get distortion and some signal loss on any pedals I'll throw through the loop. Is there an easy way to rectify this problem?

    Thanks,

    Dan.
     

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