How necessary is an effects loop??

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by semi-hollowbody, Aug 22, 2008.

  1. semi-hollowbody

    semi-hollowbody Member

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    I was always under the assumption that an effects loop was useful when using the amps natural break up...as to place the modulation, eq, delay and reverb AFTER the overdriven stage...

    so If a player gets ALL their dirt from pedals, and only uses the amp for clean...and keepd their modulation, delay and reverb at the end of the chain but in front of the amp, is the effect loop even necessary? If your getting all the dirt from pedals what does a player gain by putting mod, del, and reverb in the loop???

    Just trying to understand effect loops, not bash them :)
     
  2. jaycee

    jaycee Member

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    I've never used the effects loop for much either and i'm a little foggy about series vs. parallel, plus general effects loop knowledge also. Chime in guys!
     
  3. GCDEF

    GCDEF Supporting Member

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    I usually run everything up front. The best use I've found for a loop is to put a volume pedal in it. Kind of a foot controlled master volume.
     
  4. rccCrawler

    rccCrawler Member

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    basically time based effects (delay, reverb) usually go in the loop, as well as sometimes modulation (chorus, flanging, phasing), although this is less definitive.

    There are no hard and fast rules, so whatever works.

    I personally run my wah, vibe, and phaser in front of the amp, and delay and reverb in the loop.

    Your point about using pedals for dirt is a big part of the equation. In my case I use the amps distortion, so if I put a delay in front I'd be distorting the delayed signal, which doesn't sound good. Plus I find that the delay does not respond well to guitar volume knob changes when it is in front of the amp, whereas when it is in the loop the effect remains the same no matter where I have the guitar's volume knob.

    A lot of it DOES boil down to where you are getting your dirt from. If you're a tube amp OD/Dist guy, and effect loop becomes pretty important.

    I've only ever used serial loops, but basically parallell loops, as I understand them, allow you to 'blend' the dry (unaffected) signal with the wet (affected) signal. This is good for some effects processor which don't do that themselves, but generally most effects I use have that capability built into them anyway, so it hasn't been an issue for me personally. I would think it would be pretty important if you were using a lot of rack gear and processors, though.

    HTH, and I reserve the right to be completely wrong!!!!
     
  5. RvChevron

    RvChevron Member

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    It will still be useless if one gets overdrive from the power tubes also.

    Ever try a delay/reverb before an overdrive/distortion pedal?
     
  6. SgtThump

    SgtThump Member

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    It totally depends on how you run your rig... If you're running an amp 100% clean, like say a Twin Reverb combo, and you get all of your distortion from dirt pedals, there is no need at all for a loop. Run the dirt before the reverb or delay pedals and there ya go.

    If you use distortion on the amp, the loop allows you to put these effects in line after the distortion.

    Chris
     
  7. rob2001

    rob2001 Member

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    I think you've got it about right. And if your amp dirt is a slight grind time based stuff can sound fine up front. It's been done that way with non master marshalls for many years. I think it's when you start getting into higher distortion levels things can get wierd. Think of some old live Zep tunes and he's got a super dirty slapback echo. It can be a cool thing but it has a very distinct sound. The other thing to do is to place the effects after the speaker via front of house or in the recording chain pre or post.


    The thing is, some loops are better than others. You can test how much sound is being lost just by putting a jumper cable in it. If you have a crappy loop, then it gets to be a tradeoff between having the effect or having junk between the pre and power amp.
     
  8. jaycee

    jaycee Member

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    So you jump the in and out of the loop, this won't hurt anything? And what are you looking for when you say 'sound being lost', you mean volume wise? Tone wise? A little unclear. Thx.
     
  9. rob2001

    rob2001 Member

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    Figure if your putting a delay in the loop it's really no different besides the device being there. If you used a short, high grade cable, a good loop won't alter much. I can only speak from my own amps with loops and i'm no tech but some are worse than others. It depends what, where and how they are placed in the amp. Sound degredation would be similar to running lots of non true bypass padals and long crappy cables in front. Loss of highs/lows, volume etc... For that matter, if you ran those same pedals and long crappy cables in the loop you'll likely have tons of signal loss. Unless said loop has adjustable in's and out's you'll have signal loss for sure.

    I had a tube buffered FX loop installed on my JCM 800. It has pots for in and out adjustment so I can match levels going to the pedals, then to the power amp. Pretty sweet but I still don't use it often.
     
  10. KRosser

    KRosser Member

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    I normally prefer the sound of running everything in front, but I like having an effects loop for options
     
  11. MBreinin

    MBreinin Supporting Member

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    Loops work best on amps with master volumes. If you are using an amp for its own distortion characteristics and it does not have reverb built in, you are going to need a loop to add wet effects, unless you run it clean. I like to have a loop in my amps because I generally buy an amp for its distorted sound and do not rely on dirt pedals for anything more than a little boost if needed.
     
  12. morsecode

    morsecode Member

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    For me an effects loop is absolutely essentially for a few reasons.

    First, I just think modulation and time based effects sound much better when running through the loop. Everything else sounds better in front of the amp in my opinion (wah, phaser, compressor, boost, overdrive, distortion, noise gate and volume pedals). Reverb and delays in particular sound best to me in the loop.

    Second, it takes a number of pedals out of my chain and I suffer less tone loss especially when I haven't engaged any of the the effects in the loop. I also have an eq in the loop as well just to help regain any of the tone loss that occurs when I do turn on the effect loop.
     
  13. mitch236

    mitch236 Member

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    There's lots of good advice here. As a dedicated loop user, I've become quite good at setting them up. First, as was mentioned by rob2001, put a cable in the loop and check it. If there is noticable degration of sound, either modify the loop to fix it or get a different amp. The next thing is to set the level out of the effect you are using. If you are using multiple effects, only set one at a time. Put the effect in the loop and engage it and check the SPL's coming out. It should be the same as it was without the effect. Mark the level on the box. Do this for every effect. (this is not written in stone as some people like to overdrive their effects in the loop to add more gain).

    Distortion pedals should be in front of the amp, and time based effects in the loop, this is the starting point. Alot of interesting effects can be attained by experimentation.

    The people that have a real issue with the loop are the ones using alot of power amp distortion. Then the loop can be a little dicey. For them, maybe a Ho/UA with a loop would be a better solution.
     
  14. rooster

    rooster Member

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    I run all my stuff in front of the amp, whether I've got the clean or the dirty channel on. However, my amp tends to have a lot more "guitar" than "amp" in the signal, whether I'm playing dead clean or with gobs of gain -- one of the reasons I build my own amps. The FX sound just fine, and, in fact, more "natural" with the stuff running out front.

    This doesn't generally work for stuff like chorus, flange, delay, etc. on most amps, although it works in my stuff really well.

    rooster.
     
  15. rob2001

    rob2001 Member

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    I'm assuming you have a switchable FX loop? Not always the case. I agree with your tone analysis but with a regular loop, those pedals AND cables are still in your signal path. And a problem with a switchable, if you want chorus only but have a reverb, delay, EQ etc.. in the loop, the other pedals are in the signal path as well with the loop on.

    I'm not disagreeing, just pointing out a few things for conversations sake.
     
  16. mitch236

    mitch236 Member

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    The best way to set up a loop is with a MIDI controlled switcher. That way, only the pedals chosen are in the loop. It's not perfect but is better than running 100' of cables through the loop!

    I'm able to run a bunch of effects with only about 4 or 5 feet of cabling
     
  17. morsecode

    morsecode Member

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    No problem it's a very subjective and personal taste thing. Yes I'm speaking of a switchable FX loop. I wouldn't have it any other way. As far as the signal path, it only becomes an issue when I have the FX loop on only when I am using effects there. I'm not always runnings modulation or time based effects. The chorus is in the loop as well. I use the EQ to help recapture some of that tone loss. It's not perfect but it works for my ears.
     
  18. Sniper-V

    Sniper-V Member

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    It would depend on my entire rig.

    Typically I would want the least amount of pedals and cables as possible in front of the amp. I want my guitar to be as close as possible to the amp signal wise. So naturally, if there is an effects loop I would try to use it as much as possible for the pedals that work best there.

    But, I would only use it if it was a great sounding and transparent loop and didn't effect the tone in a bad way. Otherwise, I have no problem running my entire pedal rig through the front with True-Bypass Loopers. This is pretty much what I do now with my NMV amps with no loops.
     

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