The order in which your effects pedals appear in the signal chain on your pedalboard makes a big difference to the resultant tone. There are always compromises to be made, and there is no ultimate right and wrong, but if you start here then you’ll be in the company of many famous players.
- Wah and EQ manipulators work best before distortion and overdrive devices, near the start of the signal chain. The one exception is the Fuzz Face or any vintage-style fuzz, which needs to be slotted in before the wah. Try it – put your wah before and after your distortion and listen to how different it sounds. Also, compressors tend to work best when placed before drive effects.
- Distortion and overdrive effects should also come near the beginning of your signal chain. We’ve come to prefer heavier distortions first, then lighter overdrives, then boosters. It’s worth knowing that some boutique boosts, overdrives and fuzzes only work best when they’re very first in line, however.
- Modulation effects such as chorus, flanger and phaser usually work best after distortion. It’s worth mentioning that many analogue pedals – particularly Univibes and their myriad clones – often work better in front of distortion. Experiment.
- Delay and echo effects are designed to repeat what’s been played into them so place them towards the back of the signal chain. They’re also good when placed in your amp’s FX loop, if it has one.
- Reverb is the only effect that traditionally works best when placed after your delay effects and, as such, should be tail-end Charlie if you’re using a pedal rather than the reverb in your amp.