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How does TGP arrange their dirt/boosts?

jimtaka

Member
Messages
1,310
So what order does TGP put their dirt into? I'm going to generally classify pedals as such:

fuzz
distortion
OD
boost

I've been going fuzz -> distortion -> OD -> boost for a while now. I tend to basically go from high gain to low gain with a clean boost at the end. What say you?
 

nsureit

Old Guy...but not too old
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
4,787
Here's a great article that I saved years ago. Sorry for the length.

Rule #1: There are no rules – just good guidelines
Might as well tell you right up front: All of the stuff I’m about to get into is really just basic guidelines and traditional effect placements. There are always exceptions and alternative ways to set things up, but this article should clear up any initial confusion and give you a good place to start from. The only real rule is: If the effect(s) placement achieves the tone, effect and overall character you are looking for then use the effect that way. Tone and effects boil down to personal preferences. Lots of players have signature tones built around having specific effects in a certain order and tweaked in a particular way (e.g. Eric Johnson, Steve Vai, David Gilmour, and even SRV).
If you are completely new to effects placement then I recommend you start with the following suggestions as a foundation. Don’t let these ideas and comments lock you into some box either! If you find using an effect in a different placement/order sounds better for what you are playing – always, always, always refer back to Rule #1! The more you understand about an effect and how it works with your tone, the better you will be able to break out of the traditional box and move into new sonic territory.

Rule #2: Effect Levels - in almost every case, less equals more
I have mentioned this before in other articles, but it bears repeating right here: Don’t add too much of, or too many effects to your basic tone. Why? The more effects you have swirling and echoing around in your tone, the more washed out (less distinct) you’ll be in the mix… in fact, you will often find you disappear completely. Simply put, the effects are moving your guitar tone into the frequencies of other instruments and all sorts of bad mojo happens. So the next time you are having a hard time hearing yourself in a mix or on stage: If you are using effects heavily – turn the effect level/mix down by 50%. I bet your tone will start to be more distinct and you’ll still have the effects coming through.

How much you reduce your effects really depends on the room you’re playing. For example, if you are in a room that is very reflective (lots of hard, flat surfaces) then you aren’t gonna need much reverb at all. The room will provide it. A darker room with lots of carpet, chairs, and dampeners on the walls (like heavy drapes) might require bumping your effects a little more… you’ll have to do some sound checks and experiment. Once you learn how room dynamics affect your effects and tone – you’ll be able to dial things in and tweak them accordingly.

It also depends on how many other instruments you are playing along with. Generally speaking, the more there are – the less effect you should use. If it is just you, a bassist, a drummer, and a vocalist then you can take a lot more liberty because you are unlikely to mud out. Either way – find a reasonable balance.

Rule #3: The PRE effects go before the preamp
Certain types of effects work best up front in the FX chain, before going into your amplifier (thus “PRE” effects). There is no hard and fast law on these but there is a little logic behind these traditional placements.




Here is a suggested order for PRE effects. You can always place these in a different order to achieve a different type of effect. YMMV – remember Rule #1.
  1. PRE Noise Gate
    Some pickups (like traditional single coils on a Strat) are as noisy as can be. Likewise, some players generate a lot of finger-to-string noise. Another problem is when playing near electronic devices like PC monitors and fluorescent lighting. All of these things can cause hum/hiss/noise. You don’t usually want that to get into your signal chain. A noise gate will give you much more control by squelching out noise below a certain threshold you set. Be conservative and use subtle settings as noise gate effects can kill softer playing styles.
  2. Pickup simulation/Acoustic processors
    It makes sense that you would want any significant change to the character of your guitar pickups to happen first – before anything else happens to the tone.
  3. PRE Equalizer
    It is sometimes useful to adjust the EQ of your basic guitar tone before anything else by using a standard graphic or parametric EQ pedal. It can really go just about anywhere in the PRE effects chain. Many will use an EQ right after the distortion/overdrive effect in order to shape the tone or tighten it up. The PRE EQ can be used as a lead boost too.
  4. Compressors/Limiters
    This type of effect typically evens out the signal coming in from the guitar. It is usually used to boost sustain, level, and sometimes saturation. Be careful with it because it can make your tone plunky and squished... not good (unless you are aiming for that!).
  5. Wah Wah/Auto-Wah
    Wah’s are effective in a few different places in your FX chain. Traditionally this effect goes in front of the Overdrive/Distortion effect – however some famous axe-ologists have used it after the distortion stompbox to great effect. You can also stick the Wah in the POST section of the FX chain. The effect is very dramatic that way (everything including the basic preamp tone is mutated through the Wah’s sweep). I personally favor keeping these up in the PRE section.
  6. Pitch Shifter/Whammy/Bender
    Here we have pretty much the same logic as the Wah. The idea is to affect the basic guitar tone before it is fed into distortion or other devices.
  7. Overdrive/Distortion/Booster/Fuzz
    Next we have what could probably be called the most used set of effects ever. The overdrive effect is used to push your guitar amp’s tubes (or circuitry) into a thick saturated crunch. The distortion effect is intended to add a more intense, gainy crunch to your signal before going into your amplifier. Sometimes players will use an overdrive effect followed by a distortion effect (two separate pedals) in order to have a versatile set of crunches and a lead boost on demand. Rarely (if ever) will you put a distortion/overdrive pedal in the POST section of the FX chain.
Rule #4: The POST effects go after the preamp via an FX Loop (or post processing after recording)
These effects typically work best if you use them after the main preamp section of your FX chain. Like the PRE effects, some of these can be used effectively up in front of the preamp. As a rule you will have the most success using them after it. In order to use POST effects after your preamp your amplifier will need to have an Effects Loop (FX Loop).

There are a couple of types of FX Loops: Parallel and Series. Parallel FX Loops allow you to dial in the level of the FX Loop signal (0%-100%) that is mixed with your preamp’s signal (the FX Loop is processed along with the original preamp signal as separate signal paths). Series FX Loops are different in that they feed the preamp’s signal into the FX Loop and you cannot control the FX Loop level (it is always at 100% and all effects in the FX Loop are applied sequentially after the preamp in a single signal chain).

If you don’t have the luxury of an FX Loop on your amplifier then you can simply use the POST effects in order after the PRE effects as mentioned above. In this scenario, be sure to run your amplifier on a reasonably clean, neutral setting for best results.





Here is the suggested order for POST preamp effects (after your preamp):
  1. POST Equalizer/Tone Modification-Shaper
    As with the PRE EQ, you can insert an equalizer or other tone shaping effect (like BBE Sonic Maximizer) right after the preamp. This will give you lots of control over how the body and/or distortion of the tone sounds before it hits any modulation, time, or reverb effects. Some professional players will boost the preamp Mids and then scoop them a bit after the preamp for a very modern-esque distortion tone. This has a different sound than just scooping the Mids on the preamp itself. You can put a POST EQ pretty much anywhere you want in the POST section of the FX chain. This is also a good spot to use the EQ for a solo boost. Use it as needed.
  2. POST Noise Gate
    As with the PRE noise gate… one in the FX Loop can help control problems that are injected by previous effects and/or the amp itself. Note: High Gain amps can introduce a lot of hiss/hum/noise into your signal. A noise gate will mitigate this problem. A good rule of thumb is to use as little noise gate as possible – but as much as necessary. Too much noise gate will cut your signal off harshly at lower playing volumes. This can sound like a warbly mess.
  3. Modulation/Flanger/Phaser/Rotary/Chorus/etc.
    The world of modulation effects is vast and deep. You can find 50 flavors of phase, flange, LFOs, and everything else in this category of effect. There are no absolutes as to which effect to place before the other here – except that you keep them together. So you can run a Chorus into a Phaser into a Flanger (not that it would sound very good)… or a Tremolo into a Rotary into a Vibrato effect… again, not that you should – but you could. You will normally have these in some sequence and then only use one (or at the most two) effect(s) at a time in this category. Please go easy on the amount of modulation you use or else you will mud out and disappear in the mix! Of course you can use modulation effects in the PRE section of the FX chain and get some wild effects, but I find them most usable here in the POST section. To fend off mass amounts of flame emails – remember Rule #1 here…
  4. Time/Delay/Echo
    After all of your modulations are swirlin’, dippin’ and wigglin’ – now is the time for one of my favorite effects… Delays! Effective use of delay really opens up a lead line; or fills out a soft, clean tone; or adds dimension to an arpeggio/legato run. There are all kinds of ways to use time based effects. With a fast speed (usually in milliseconds) you can get rockabilly type slapback echo; slower speeds can get all kinda psychedelic. As with modulation effects, you want to be careful with the levels on your delays/echoes; usually you want them to be about 25% or less of your original signal level – and set the feedback (number of trails) so that the delay trails off smoothly and doesn’t interfere with chord progressions or melody lines. You can certainly push the limits though and go nuts here. Why not?!
  5. Reverbs Reverb should normally go at the tail end of your FX chain. There are tons of different types of reverb that basically simulate being in a certain type of room. Using a lot of reverb will make your tones sound far away (sort of like talking in a big, long, tiled room and listening at the other end). Using just a little can add a nice thickness to the tone. Reverbs are great for direct recording. Reverb probably shouldn’t be used if you are in a room with natural reverb. If you have an acoustically dead room, then reverb can help spread your tones a little better. Don’t use too much unless you wanna play the old surf-style tunes. For really trippy effects, use Reverb before your overdrive or distortion in the PRE section… yikes!
One note on Delays and Reverbs in a studio/direct recording setting: These will be added after recording the track dry (without them). This gives the studio mixing gurus much more control over the final product. For that matter, sometimes they’ll record the guitar track without modulations and add those after the fact… whatever works.

That should just about do it for basic effects and where they work best in an FX chain. There are sure to be exceptions to the rule – but these are just traditional examples to get you started. Always remember Rule #1!
What About My MFX?

Modeler/MultiFX (MFX) come in two basic flavors with regard to FX Chains and effects placement. Most current MFX come with the effects in a fixed FX chain order (their traditional placements). A couple will allow you to move some of the effects between PRE or POST sections (in relation to their included preamp/cabinet modeling), but the placement is still fixed in an either/or format. With these MFX, your best use case is to run them into either a flat response, full range (FRFR) rig; or to feed them into the FX Loop return on your amplifier (tube amps with serial type FX Loops work best). Like I mentioned earlier, if you don’t have an FX Loop on your amplifier – just run the MFX into the front of your amp using a very clean, neutral EQ setting.

Only one MFX to date (the Boss GT8 and older GT series) allows you to put any of its included effects anywhere you want in the FX chain. It also includes its own dedicated, completely configurable FX Loop so you can hook your regular amplifier up to it and have the GT8’s PRE effects up in front of the amp and the GT8’s POST effects after the amp. This is commonly called the 4CM (four cable method) by users, and does require that your amplifier have an FX Loop (tube amp with serial type FX Loop works best). So if you love your amp’s basic tone… this could be what you need. The Zoom G9.2tt allows you to move blocks of effects in a similar fashion.
 

jimtaka

Member
Messages
1,310
Good reading, but it doesn't really address my question as it groups all dirt/boosts into one category. I'm asking strictly what order you guys put your dirt pedals in... in relation to each other, not in relation to other pedals.

So do you like to run your OD into distortion or the other way around? Do you like to use a boost pedal before dirt to slam the circuit or do you like it after dirt to raise volume or hit the amp harder? What about fuzz? Before or after OD and distortion?
 

pulse.

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,406
I use them as following:
DAM MkII - Fuzz Factory - DAM Meathead - Lovepedal E RH - Crowther HC - Klon - Skreddy Screwdriver - Skreddy Mayo - CTC Vyagra boost.

Now the reason why, I love how the first five sound through the klon, the klon is set with the gain at 9 o'clock, and then I prefer how the klon sounds through SD & Mayo. The vyagra is set for either clean boost or boosting some mids.
 

pulse.

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,406
Most of the time, I close it only when I want the Fuzz Factory madness pure
 

wck

Member
Messages
564
Really depends on the pedal actually..

my dirt chain is zendrive > SD dlx clone > Modded BD-2 > DLS

I place fuzz faces 1st then go from lowest gain OD to high gain distortion but if the fuzz is a muff then its last in the chain for me.. the screwdriver is neither fuzz nor OD but somehow both thats what its placed there, for the zen to boost it and the DLS to stack.

For boosts i prefer them after all dirt but for rangemasters id like em to be after fuzz faces and before dirt. But its really up to u on how u wana arrange it, no right or wrong..just preference
 

carljoensson

Member
Messages
765
So what order does TGP put their dirt into? I'm going to generally classify pedals as such:

fuzz
distortion
OD
boost

I've been going fuzz -> distortion -> OD -> boost for a while now. I tend to basically go from high gain to low gain with a clean boost at the end. What say you?
Where to place your boost is probably the big question, right? To slam my amp with a stronger signal I would do like you do. However, I cheat a bit and use the Honeybee overdrive as my amp. Thus I might put the boost before it and slam the Honeybee to make full use of its dynamics.
I might even place my tremolo pedal before my Honeybee and in that way I get varying amounts of dirt on the tremolo pulses.

In general though, I try to reduce my dirt pedals to a minimum. Sunface fuzz > Diamond comp (used as boost) > HBOD.
/C
 

jimtaka

Member
Messages
1,310
Thanks for the replies everyone! I always think it's interesting to read about how people are using and stacking different pedals.

I have been running Musket Fuzz V2 -> Fulldrive 2 Mosfet -> Foxrox ZIM (A: BB, B: H9, channel B first). I'm thinking of trying out Skreddy Pig Mine -> Diamond J-Drive -> Zendrive -> SHO. I've pretty much always has TS-flavored drive pedals and I think the J-Drive and Zendrive would be a nice departure from that as I've gotten sort of bored with that sound. This would also give me the clean boost of the J-Drive in front of the J-Drive's OD and the Zendrive and then the SHO as a boost after. Seems like good flexibility.

I play a Strat through Fender amps set mostly clean.
 

nsureit

Old Guy...but not too old
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
4,787
Guitar--->Marshall Supa Fuzz--->Box Of Rock (boost only)--->Distortion--->PreAmp---> (run various modulation & delay effects through the return loop here)--->PowerAmp.:D
 
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