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what is conventional wisdom regarding pedal order... and WHY?

bobwl

Member
Messages
553
Everyone has their own idea, and there is no hard rule on it but generally it ends up being...
Tuner -> Filters (Wahs etc) -> Compressors -> Overdrive & Distortions -> EQ -> Pitch -> Modulations (Flanger, Phaser, Tremolo, Chorus) -> Volume -> Reverbs & Delays.

Fuzzes depending on the type of fuzz usually either go before the Wah, because they don't play nice with wah sometimes, or with the dirt pedals.

The reason this has developed? Well in general this seems to work best for what each pedal is designed to do. Can you get good results by going with a completely different order? Yes. However, this can be a good starting point.
 
Messages
1,454
It all depends on whether or not you're using your amp's preamp section as part of your dirt. Let's assume you are, and that you have a good tube amp with an effects loop. There will essentially be two separate effects chains, one before the amp and one in the effects loop.

Tuners, compressors, envelope filters, noise gates, and any pedal that typically increases white noise floor and doesn't already have another place go first. Wahs have also traditionally been placed here, though just as many guys prefer their wah after their dirt.

Next comes what I call collectively the 'tone engine'. This is generally all of your dirt, whether from pedals or amp tubes, or other items that provide the basic tone. The cake itself, not all the frosting, so to speak. This can include pre-dirt EQs, boosts, overdrives, distortions, fuzzes, and preamp tubes.

Using our example of a good tube amp with an effects loop, our tone engine (on this particular day) is going to include, in order, a pre-dirt graphic EQ first (to shape the guitar pickups' signal), an overdrive and/or a clean boost (to drive the preamp tubes harder), and the preamp tubes of the amp itself. This collectively is our tone engine. Each part of the tone engine contributes something to the foundational tone that is essential to the cake part of our analogy. The guitar's pickups, and even the guitar itself, can also be an essential part of the tone engine if you leave out all of the compressors, wahs, envelope filters, etc. that come between the pickups and the dirt.

The final part of the tone engine, as mentioned previously, is the amp's preamp section. It is the foundation of your tone. You work backward from there in adding things that alter that basic tone. For instance, you place a clean boost just prior to the amp, or an overdrive just prior to the clean boost. When I'm working with a client professionally, either live or in studio, I have them build their entire rig from the tone engine outward. Doing this not only results in getting them the best possible sound out of their rig, it also helps them develop an understanding of how electric guitar parts are created and processed in the studio recording environment.

With our tone engine in place, we next move to the amp's effects loop. First in the loop will be from loop send to any EQ that you wish to affect the combined tone engine sound. Next will be any short-offset modulation effects (chorus, phaser, flanger), followed by any echo or delay effects, and finally any reverb, then back into the loop return. Why this particular order? Because that order most closely mimics the way those acoustic elements would occur naturally.

For example, a chorus of singers instead of just a soloist, singing on a stage in an outdoor canyon environment. The multiple-origin sound source occurs first (from the multiple singers on stage). Next, you would hear individually discernible echoes of those multiple voices off of the surrounding canyon walls. Then, as the echoes continue to reverberate hundreds of times back and forth in many different directions within the canyon, you would hear a wash of reverb that decays over time.

To return to our hypothetical rig, the signal finally moves from the effects loop return to the power amp section of the amp, where the entire sound is then amplified in volume and sent to the amp's or cabinet's speakers to be heard by the audience.

This rig setup is for live performance, it should be noted. In studio, one might commonly record the tone engine signal by itself first, or even a purely clean signal which could then be processed later through various dirt and other effects. In studio, modulation effects, echo/delays, and reverb are almost always added in after the initial track is recorded. There are always exceptions, but that's how it is generally done. Artists, as a group of people, tend to always be looking for ways to 'push the envelope', challenge the orthodoxy, etc., and finding new ways of doing things is how innovation happens, but it should also be noted that, at least within the world of recording/sound engineering, the established conventions usually aren't arbitrary and have at least some bit of practical reasoning behind them.
 

BluesHarp

Senior Member
Messages
8,574
Great post.

I will say this.. ive always hated the idea that effects/dirt is added later on and not during the performance. For me anyway, I play not only the notes themselves but the SOUND they make as I make them so Im a big fan of how lots of blues and jazz albums have been recorded. Most everything is live with at least 2-3 parts being recorded at one time, and a couple overdrubs ( or everything at once ).. and each artist ( including tone and effects ) being captured directly at the speaker or from the amp, and perhaps mixed with a room sound. This is off topic but your recording comments in regards to the tone engine interested me.
 
Messages
1,454
Great post.

I will say this.. ive always hated the idea that effects/dirt is added later on and not during the performance. For me anyway, I play not only the notes themselves but the SOUND they make as I make them so Im a big fan of how lots of blues and jazz albums have been recorded. Most everything is live with at least 2-3 parts being recorded at one time, and a couple overdrubs ( or everything at once ).. and each artist ( including tone and effects ) being captured directly at the speaker or from the amp, and perhaps mixed with a room sound. This is off topic but your recording comments in regards to the tone engine interested me.
Reamping, the process of recording a clean, dry guitar signal and adding in ALL other effects later, isn't the norm in studio recording, and although it's been around throughout the history of recording guitars, it has been used in a minority of recording situations during the era of the distorted electric guitar. It has enjoyed a resurgence in the last 15 or so years due to the convenience of purely digital recording, but capturing the initial signal through at least a distorted amp is still by far the most common method in professional studios. Even in reamping situations, it is almost always the case that a "dummy loop" of effects is used that isn't recorded, but appears in the monitoring signal of the guitarist as he is playing. Pros understand that you don't play the guitar, you play the entire rig, and altering or removing certain elements of that rig from what the guitarist is hearing can alter the way he plays.
 

Skreddy

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,327
For me it's kinda like this:
guitar > overdrive > wah > phaser/univibe > fuzz > overdrive > (flanger/chorus*) > delay

* if I used one, which I rarely do

I keep everything at roughly unity gain or just a light boost, into a very clean amp with lots of headroom.
 






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