Music is filled to the brim with “-ish” so while there are traditional formats, take time to get creative and experiment with the order of your pedals.
We will be focusing on the ordering of 6 different pedals:
Compressor / Octave
Gain (Distortion and Overdrives)
Time (Reverb / Delay)
**This is the “Traditional Setup” - now let’s investigate why.**
GAIN - Overdrive & Distortion Pedals
The most crucial factor is where your GAIN pedal is placed. The reason Gain is traditionally placed after compression is because if they were switched, you would be compressing an already compressed signal (distortion is a natural clipping of the signal). This results in much of the Harmonic Content (colors / sounds) being smushed and removed from your overall tone.
** If using multiple Gain pedals and stacking them (using multiple ones together) you want to order them from Highest gain first - to - lowest gain last (last being closest to the amp). Once again, this is going to maintain the richest tone and and color in your sound.
Next in line is our Volume pedal. There are 3 typical placements for this pedal:
As your very First pedal
After your Gain
As your very Last pedal
As your first pedal, this acts as the volume knob on your guitar. This also affects how much distortion goes into the Gain pedal. However, as I said, this does the exact same thing as the volume pot on your guitar (a bit redundant).
Next is after Gain. What this pedal then becomes is a Master Volume for that Gain pedal: keeping the tone of the Gain but acting as a dimmer switch on your chandelier as to how much output you want. **most preferred method**
Lastly is at the end of the chain. If you are wanting the control of hard stops and cutoffs, this is for you. The downside to this is that you no longer have the natural decay (fadeout) of the Reverb and Delay pedals. Results in a harsher transition when activating the Volume pedal
The 2 most important pedal placements in your chain will be the GAIN and VOLUME pedals.
Don’t forget to experiment; there are many different sounds to be found and configured. Discover what works best for you and your situation!!