What Order Should I Put My Pedals In?

Louise Smart
Thu, Sep 30, 21

So you've slaved away for months, if not years and you've finally amassed your perfect collection of pedals. Now you just need to figure out what order they are supposed to go in! 

Surely there is some definitive guide? A pedalboard manual that simply states where your delays should dwell and in which area your reverbs roam? Well there is... Sort of. 

Most types of effect get sorted into two categories; those that go before any type of drive or distortion and those that go after. The theory is that certain pedals sound better being fed into a drive section and some pedals are preferred once all the distortion is done with. Wahs, boosters, compressors and volume pedals tend to live before your drives with time based effects ( delays, reverbs, chorus, phasers and flangers ) all going after the fun bit. Using an amp's dirty channel for your filth? Then your amps effects loop ( usually on the back ) allows you to place pedals "after" the drive section, so the above can still apply. 

Here's the biggie though and it is a biggie...  There are NO rules. This is guitar and you are a guitarist. Do what you want. Loads of people thought for years that guitar amps should never distort. That was until someone cranked one and instantly became the coolest person in the room. The Stratocaster was never meant to be played upside down and used to re-write the rulebook on what was even possible on the guitar. Then Jimi turned up, clearly asking the nearest person to "hold my beer...".

Put a volume pedal after the drive and it'll work like a master volume, lowering overall noise whilst leaving the tone intact. Stick it up front and it'll clean up the signal as it reduces the volume, just like a volume pot on a guitar. Bang your favourite booster in the effects loop of your amp and it'll add enough volume to your signal to make your solo's heard in the next postcode. Up front, that same booster will add gobs and gobs of gain to an already angry drive pedal, sending your Strat into singing sustain, silly! 

Experiment! It's half the fun! Eddie did alright with a phaser up front didn't he? You may prefer it as the last pedal on your board... Give it a go! 

There are a few "easy" ones however. Tuners. These can pretty much go anywhere. We prefer them up front but its all good. Noise gates. Last pedal before the input of the amp usually does the trick.

Now go and rewire your pedalboard for maximum fun!!