Compressors, delays, overdrives, distortions and modulation; there are many different effects you can use to help you to get the tone that you want. But what is the best way to use them when you play?
Many guitar players have different ways of setting up their rigs; it’s one of the most fun things about playing the electric guitar. If you gave two players the same gear, it would be very likely that they will set it all up in a slightly different way. While a lot of it is to do with personal experience and taste – in this respect a good guitar rig is a very subjective thing – there are nevertheless some guidelines which will help you to put it all together.
For a start, the effect that a pedal has on the guitar signal will logically work best with that pedal in a specific place in the chain. It makes sense that a guitar tuner for example would need as clean and original a sound as possible so that it maintains as high a degree of accuracy as possible, and so it should be the first pedal in the chain.
Similarly, because of the nature of a compressor, they should be placed just after a tuner. They compress the guitar signal so that it is much more focused and controlled upon entering other effects. A compressor placed after other effects therefore would compress the affected signal, ruining the tone of a distortion.
After the tuner and compressor, a lot of the rest is up to the player. Most people would prefer to place overdrives next, followed by distortions and finishing up with modulations and delay at the end of the chain, as modulating distorted signals generally works much better than distorting modulated signals.
One other thing to consider is the effects loop of the amplifier you are plugging into. An effects loop allows the freedom to place effects both before and after the amplifier pre amp. Which effects are placed before and which after is, again, dependent upon the personal tastes of the player, although when setting up you must remember exactly what the pre amp stage does to the sound; EQ, gain and natural tube overdrive. Compressors should be placed before the pre amp for the above reasons. Overdrives also should, because one of the reasons for an overdrive pedal is to boost the signal from the guitar, forcing a tube pre amp into natural distortion at lower volume levels.
A good setup to have with an effects loop-fitted amplifier could be guitar > tuner > compressor > overdrive > pre amp > modulation and delay > power amp > speakers. This is just a general guide for a good setup, as always we at Baroni Lab encourage creativity, so go ahead and try any and every combination you can think of! A good player knows his gear.