How To Use Guitar Pedals
Guitar effects are a nice way to get a little more creative with your guitar and produce your own distinct sound. If you are new to the world of guitar music, then you might be eager to add some effects to your music. The problem is you just don’t know how to work a guitar pedal. This guide will help you learn how to use a guitar pedal, also known as stompboxes to come up with that signature sound.
Choosing A Guitar Pedal
It all depends on the effects that you want to produce. There are various pedals for frequency effects, modulation effects, time effects, gain staging effects and many others.
- Examples of gain staging effects include gain boosts, overdrive, distortion, compressors and volume control pedals.
- Examples of frequency effects include EQ pedals, Wah-wah pedals and envelope filters.
- Examples of modulation effects include Tremolo and vibrato, chorus and flanger and phaser.
- Examples of time effects include Delay and reverb effects.
For beginners, you can learn about good guitar for beginners here. the best type of guitar pedal to start with is the distortion pedal. It can change the tone of your guitar completely such that you won’t hear your original guitar tone. It’s perfect if you want to introduce something radical to your sound.
Connecting Your Guitar Pedal
Whether you are connecting a single guitar pedal or a series of stompboxes into your signal path, you need to do it properly to avoid short circuits that will end up shortening the life of both your pedals and amp.
a) Connecting a single guitar pedal
If you’re just a beginner and you only have a single stompbox, then the following steps will get you up and run.
Step 1: Turn off your amplifier and your guitar pedal. You cannot start connecting anything when either of this is on.
Step 2: Power up your amplifier and your guitar pedal but make sure that everything is still off. The guitar pedal may come with an AC adapter or it may have a 9v battery.
Step 3: Using the standard quarter inch (6mm) cable connect the guitar to the input jack on the pedal.
Step 4: Connect the other standard quarter inch (6mm) cable to your pedal at the output jack then connect this cable to the input jack on your amplifier.
Tip: An easy way to make sure that you don’t connect any cables wrong is to think of the signal path. It starts with your guitar goes on to your pedal and stops at your amplifier.
Step 5: Turn on your amplifier and set all the knobs on your guitar pedal on low.
Step 6: Activate your guitar pedal with your foot.
Step 7: Play your guitar as you change the settings on your pedal. Let your ears be your guide as you come up with the desired sound.
Remember to disconnect everything when you are done. The pedal will eat up power if it’s still connected.
b) Connecting several guitar pedals
What gets people scratching their heads when it comes to several stompboxes is the order in which to connect them.
Well, there really is no wrong way to connect your effects in your signal path. You could always come up with a sound that you like. But there are a couple of general pointers. For example, the more dramatic the effect the pedal produces is, the later it should be placed in the signal chain.
Other guidelines include:
- Effects that amplify the tone go at the beginning. These are gain based effects. Examples of these are overdrive and distortion pedals, compressors and wah pedals.
- Effects that modify tone go after effects that produce the tone. These include modulation effects such as flangers, chorus, and phasers.
- Pedals that affect how the sound will occur in the physical space(ambiance) go last. These are time-based effects. They include the reverb and delay pedals. Volume pedals can go at the beginning or at the end of your signal path depending on what sound you prefer.
So How Do You Actually Connect These Pedals?
Step 1: Make sure that your amp and pedals are all off.
Step 2: Using the guidelines above, arrange your pedals in the pattern that you want them connected.
Step 3: Connect the guitar using the quarter inch (6mm) cable to the very first pedal at the input jack.
Step 4: Connect the pedals using patch cables. Keep the direction of the signal in mind to help you connect properly.
Step 5: Connect the last pedal to your amp using the cable that will be connected to your pedal at the output jack and connected to the amplifier at the input jack.
Step 6: Power up your amp and your pedals. The pedals may be battery powered but you could use a power patch cable that will allow you to power cables in a sequence. It will definitely reduce the stress of all those cables for you.
Step 7: Set all the settings on your pedals at default.
Step 8: Switch on your amp and activate your pedals. Play around with the settings until you get the sound you want.
Remember to disconnect everything once you’re done so that you can lengthen the life of your equipment. With a little more cash, you may want to buy a pedal board. It will organize your pedals into the setting that you like.
Another way to set up your pedals is by placing them within the effects loop of your amplifier. It’s found after the preamp and before the power amp section of your amplifier. They are those Send and Return jacks that are found behind your amplifier.
The recommended arrangement is putting your reverb and delay effects as well as EQ effects within the effects loop. It’s a good way to get clarity with the modulation effects and delay and reverb effects that you are using.
I hope this guide has helped you to figure out how to use guitar pedals. If you have any more suggestions that will be helpful, feel free to comment. All in all, using guitar pedals effectively will be all about the practice until you find the tone that works for you. So get your guitar and equipment and get cranking!