Ahh yes, the age-old debate that isn’t much of a debate.
Yes, the order on your pedalboard really changes your sound. Your guitar is sending a signal from the pickups/humbuckers through the pedals to your amp. So whatever the signal goes through first will… say it together class, “ALTER THE SIGNAL” Meaning if you put a delay effect before a distortion pedal, the signal has been delayed before it was distorted and will sound INSANE, and not in a good way, unless you’re looking for a soupy sound.
Is there one right way? No, you can mix and match and give yourself a sound! I could explain it in my Dean way, but I decided to be lazy, and honestly, I love the graphic set up by Strymon (these guys make some AMAZING PEDALS). So I will use their graphic and explain a little bit, so it’s not straight-up plagiarism… it’s plagiarism adjacent.
Here is the link to the original article, I HIGHLY recommend it if you own more than one pedal.
Our guitar first goes through a compressor, which sets a limit on the volume for everything else behind it. The drive is effected by the compressor, the delay and chorus, you guessed it, effected by the compressor. Having the volume pedal at the front of the chain keeps everything from going CRAZY and gives you the opportunity to pull back your sound. Notice has the verb is at the end. It’s not changing the signal before it hits the delay, or the tremolo.
In this set up you have control of all the signal before the delay and verb. All that crunch, chorus and tremolo wouldn’t be less (and wimpy sounding) because you changed the position of the pedal. This should be used when you want to fade in a distorted signal.
Not every amp has this option, but if yours does I learned this trick from this website. Looping the effects, THIS IS NOT A LOOPER PEDAL. To accomplish this you will chain a few of the pedals into the amp, then exit the amp back into pedals again, you get this really cool that has even more control over it (even if you need like 50 patch cables to make it work). There are two types of effects looping.
Series Effect Looping
Why is this helpful? Well, you’re putting your timing effects AFTER the natural gaining that will happen in your amp. It’ll help clean up your sound so it doesn’t come out so soupy. If you’re looking to clean it up, and you have an amp that will permit this then really consider setting up your rig like this!
parallel Effects Looping
This would add any modulation AFTER the natural gain of your amp.
Here’s a video for some sonic comparison.
Still confused, that’s okay.
I really like the way it’s explained in this video. Remember there is not one right way, this is just usually what is done. It’s always a good idea to experiment with the order and find the way that works for you!
At the end of the day, you do you boo. It’s not a “right or wrong” thing. It’s a different sound thing! Please let me know how you like to set up your board and be sure to subscribe to this blog (it REALLY helps) to stay up to date with all the random shit that goes through my head.