How does an effects pedal actually work? (Biggest noob question of all-time)

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by MrMoose, Apr 15, 2016.

  1. MrMoose

    MrMoose Member

    Nov 16, 2015
    I am clueless on this topic.

    What exactly happens when your guitar runs through an analog pedal? Like a NOS transistor or something, how exactly is the sound changed??? Like when I look inside a pedal and see 50 components on a PCB, does the actual sound travel through each of those components or is it an electrical current thing. I don't understand, somebody please explain!! What exactly causes the sound to change??
  2. Kasdaddy

    Kasdaddy Member

    Feb 8, 2016
    ThinPaperWings likes this.
  3. Saint Luminus

    Saint Luminus Member

    Aug 18, 2013
    Los Angeles
    Wow! You may be a noob, but that is an excellent question. Seriously, don't feel bad about asking this question because the answer can be a bit difficult to understand, but I will do my best to make it easy.

    First of all, "sound" is what travels through the air. Its what your ears pickup. What comes out of your electric guitar is an electrical current and voltage. The pedal manipulates this current and voltage to produce a different current and voltage at the output of the pedal. The output of the pedal goes to the amplifier and the amplifier also modifies this signal and it then gets amplified in order to drive a speaker. The movement of this speaker turns into sound which you pick up with your ears.

    Now I am keeping this very simple because the truth be told, this whole thing can get really deep, and for the purpose of this discussion we don't need to go down that rabbit hole.

    Bottom line: A pedal by itself does not have a specific sound. The sound you hear is a complete system which includes the guitar, the cable, the pedal, the amp, and the speakers. Change any one or more of those things, and the sound will change. Perhaps a little perhaps a lot.

    I hope this gives you some ideas of how things work.
    Jason Calieri likes this.

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