Best Pedal Chain Order – How To Set Up Your Effect Signal Chain?

pedal chain order
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There are so many steps for you when it comes to Pedal Chain Order. This article will give you everything you need to know before choosing which one should be placed first in pedal chain order.

Basics of Pedal Effect Order

There is no need to follow the example offered since there are many players that do well with instructions different from the one that was supplied. There is also a great deal of disagreement among the guitar community over particular locations.

Certain pedals are placed in specific locations based on the tone you’re attempting to achieve, while others are placed in more general locations. In order to achieve the most dramatic variations in tone, pedals are often used initially. Important to notice is that we will use the term “tone” rather than “sound” in the previous sentence. The real tone here means the natural resonance of the guitar.

Examples of dynamic effects include:

  • Tuner
  • Volume
  • Buffer
  • Impedance sensitive e.g. wah and fuzz
  • Dynamic e.g. compression and octave
  • Gain e.g. overdrive and distortion
  • Boost
  • EQ

Modulation e.g. phaser, flanger, chorus and tremolo

Time-based e.g. reverb and delay

Important Terminology Point: When it comes to pedal positioning, the phrases “start” and “end” of a pedal chain are sometimes used interchangeably. The signal route of a guitar has two separate points: the beginning point at the instrument and the end point at the amplifier. Beyond these two ideas, you’ll find a clear pattern that runs throughout the book: It is compatible with a pedal’s input being on its right side and its output being on its left side to have arrows going right to left in this manner.

While there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to the order in which these effects will manifest, there are certain guidelines to follow. Consider the following scenario as an illustration:

Buffer pedals are used at the end of the signal chain, or after fuzz or wah pedals.

In order to avoid the mix feeling cluttered, time-based effects are applied once more towards the very conclusion of the track.

The tuner pedals should be placed here initially since it is the purest component of your pedalboard.

In addition, there are a number of conceivable outcomes that are now being disputed, including the following:

Wah pedals are mentioned after gain pedals in this order (for example, distortion, overdrive, and even fuzz). If you’re using more than one gain pedal, such as a distortion and an overdrive, the sequence of gain pedals is listed after the sequence of gain pedals.

EQ and boost pedals are the most comparable.

The location of the volume control pedal In this situation, there are several options accessible, each with its own distinct conclusion.

In the following sections, we’ll go through the main effects categories and discuss how they’re most typically used, as well as any alternate ways you may want to consider taking.

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Best Pedal Order

guitar pedal order

The tuner pedals which are nearest to the guitar are the first you should use (because of the wonderful effects), followed by wah and lastly fuzz. The use of dynamic effects such as compression should be followed by the use of gain pedals as the last stage (overdrive and distortion). After the EQ and modulation pedals, the reverb and delay pedals should be used.

Buffer pedals, which are employed at the end of the signal chain after impedance-sensitive effects such as fuzz and wah, may assist to smooth out the sound after the effects. Some guitarists use buffer pedals at the very end of their signal chain in order to maintain the tone they are looking for.

Numerous guitarists follow the path suggested in the paragraph that precedes this paragraph. You may configure your pedals in a variety of configurations to get a variety of outcomes, which is one of the most appealing aspects about them. Also, you do not need to utilize all of the pedals shown in the example, but I wanted to make it as comprehensive as possible for the sake of clarity.

There will be in-depth discussions of each pedal type below, as well as some examples of what happens when the typical sequence of pedal types is disrupted.

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Buffer Pedals

Buffer pedals are intended to maintain the strength of the signal as it travels from the guitar to the amplifier. When using pedals and cables, the high-end frequencies of the signal are reduced, resulting in a flat, lifeless tone as the signal goes through them. Buffer pedals are designed to prevent this from happening.

Players may use two buffer pedals, one at the beginning and one at the end of a guitar’s string path, to enhance their sound. Some people prefer a single buffer over a pair of buffers.

You should position your buffer pedal at the beginning or end of your pedal chain if the wire between your pedal and your amplifier is long. If you just have one buffer pedal, place it at the beginning or end of your pedal chain if your pedal and amplifier are close together. It is possible that some trial and error may be required to find the best solution for your situation.

Whammy and fuzz pedals, which are sensitive to impedance, are the only exception to this rule. Put a buffer pedal in front of them and the effect will be nullified, as well as making them sound dreadful. Prior to adding any other effects, you should position your buffer after you have placed your wah and fuzz pedals and before placing any other effects. In addition, it is feasible to use a second buffer pedal after the rest of your effects and before your amplifier.

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Best option if no fuzz or wah pedal
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Best if using long cable from pedal to amp
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Best if using many pedals
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Best option if using fuzz or wah

Volume Pedals

Volume pedal placement is a subject of much debate when it comes to where they should be positioned on the instrument.

A volume pedal may be classified into two categories.

Is equivalent to a guitar’s volume pot without the need for extra effects and does not need a power source to operate. If you use one of them, there is a chance that the treble in your guitar’s tone may be diminished.

Because they need a power supply, there is no treble loss while using them.

Despite the fact that they may be put anywhere along the chain, the impact they have will differ depending on where they are located:

To begin, by placing a volume pedal in this area, you may make it work similarly to a guitar’s volume control. It is possible to keep your hands on the guitar while using your feet to regulate the volume with this configuration. In the case of a passive volume pedal, you’ll notice that you’re losing some treble frequencies as a consequence of the reduced resistance.

Volume is regulated at a more direct level at this stage in the signal chain than it is when modulation is introduced.

This strategy is analogous to the one described before, however it may be less clumsy than the one described below.

Last but not least, this acts as the master volume for the whole signal chain.

When deciding where to place the volume pedal, bear in mind that, since there are fewer other pedals in the chain, the pedal at the end of the chain has the most influence on the time setting.

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Acts similarly to volume pot on guitar
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Affects volume when signal is reasonably pure
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Affects volume after the tone is shaped
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Acts like a master volume control on an amp
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Impedance Sensitive Pedals

Before any buffer pedals that can interfere with the effect, position fuzz and wah pedals at the beginning of the signal chain.

Fuzz and compressor pedals are commonly put in front of the wah before other gain pedals. A more dramatic and distinct wah-sound may be achieved by using this method. A broader sweeping tone may be achieved by layering wah pedals on top of gain pedals.

This is a matter of personal choice. Decide which posture best matches the tone you’re going for.

It’s preferable to start with the fuzz when employing overdrive and distortion pedals with a fuzz. It makes more sense to place this effect closer to the beginning of the chain so that the volume control on your guitar has better control over it.

Here is the blog to help you know the differences between Overdrive, Distortion, and Fuzz

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The classic order when using fuzz and wah together
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Alternative use of fuzz and wah together
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Classic use of wah with other gain pedals
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Alternative use of wah with other gain pedals
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Dynamic pedals

Let’s now discuss the dynamic pedals, which are another kind of effect. Compression pedals and pitch shifter/octave pedals are the two main categories. As a result, they should be used before any distortion or overdrive pedals, as they perform best with a clean signal. Use these before fuzz pedals if you want to get the most out of them.

To get the most out of your pedals, you should start with the most basic ones, such as pitch shifters and octave pedals.

The basic functions of a compressor pedal are to increase sustain and smooth out the sound. Strings that are plucked more vigorously are reduced in loudness by the use of compressor pedals.

Your guitar’s tone will be influenced solely if you set your compression pedal at the beginning of your pedal chain. As long as it isn’t being used for anything else, it’s an excellent location to store it.

As a result, using a compressor after gain pedals is a good idea since distortion pedals already compress the sound. The combination of wah pedals with compressor pedals before the wah pedal is not as widespread as it used to be.

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There are various gain effects, including overdrive and distortion, as well as fuzz, but we won’t get into it here since we covered it in detail in the last section.

Compression, wah, and buffers function best after the overdrive and distortion pedals, but before the modulation and time-based effects. Because distorting effects like modulation, reverb, and delay will frequently result in a muddy sound, adding gain pedals afterward makes sense.

Some debate exists about the best sequence in which to employ distortion and overdrive pedals in conjunction with one another. Although there are no hard and fast rules for pedal location, as I previously said, there are often individual preferences when it comes to pedal positioning.

In order to get the desired sound, we prefer to apply overdrive before applying distortion. Contrary to popular opinion, an overdrive pedal should be used after distortion in order to boost the volume of a previously distorted sound. Additionally, inserting the distortion first helps to deepen the overall tone of the instrument.

A distortion pedal, followed by a tube screamer-style overdrive pedal, is widely used by metal musicians to tighten the low-end or amplify their solos.

If you’re using both pedals, play with them and discover which one you like!

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Thicker tone and can use overdrive to boost
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Creates more saturation


To customize the sound, EQ pedals let you alter the bass, mid, and treble frequencies. There is considerable debate concerning the optimum location of EQ pedals in the signal chain, in part because there isn’t a universally accepted answer. The outcome is entirely dependent on your goals.

  • It is possible to allow the gain pedals to highlight the current equalization of your instrument by first adjusting pickup tone before utilizing the two overdrive and distortion pedals.
  • You may use this effect after the gain pedals effect to fine-tune the sound after the EQ of the gain pedals has been changed, but before adding effects.
  • After attempting to get a proper balance with all of the preceding pedals, this is the final stage in the chain. This is less prominent prior to the modulating effects.

In order to correct specific issues with your tone, you may need to utilize an EQ pedal. If you use an EQ pedal to lessen the treble frequencies in your guitar, it is feasible to minimize the harshness of the distortion pedal.

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Allows the gain pedals to emphasise the EQ
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Allows you to fine tune the tone after most pedals
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Boost pedals

After the overdrive/distortion pedal and the EQ pedal, the boost pedal is generally the next pedal in line, but before any modulation, delay, or reverb pedals. Because the boost is placed after the EQ and gain pedals, the loudness may be adjusted without compromising the tone.

It is advisable to position the boost in the pedal chain order before any modulation or time-based effects, such as reverb and delay, in order to maintain the signal’s clarity and purity.


Among the many effects that may be characterized as modulation, we find:

  • Phaser
  • Flanger
  • Tremolo
  • Uni-vibe
  • Chorus

Following the pedal chain order, modulation effects sound great when used after gain pedals, but some players prefer to use phaser and flanger effects before distortion pedals because they may sound more “natural” to their ears than distortion pedals do.

  • If you want to increase the “sweep” of your gain pedal, you may add a flanger, uni-vibe, or phaser.
  • Adding drive to the chorus by putting it after a gain pedal is usually the most effective method of doing this.

The usage of gain pedals in conjunction with chorus and tremolo pedals is our personal choice, with the use of gain pedals in conjunction with flanger, uni-vibe, and phaser effects following. Continue to experiment with your pedal board to see which one you like the best.

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Works better with chorus and tremolo
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Works better with phaser and flanger

Noise Gate

Until now, we haven’t spoken about the noise gate pedal in detail in the pedal chain order. In order to reduce humming and buzzing, as well as bothersome background noise, these devices attenuate signals below a specified threshold. Single coil pickups, as well as treble and midrange enhancement, are frequent uses for them..

It is preferable to insert the noise gate at the beginning of the chain in order to reduce any unpleasant background noise from the pickups before any other effects pedals amplify it. It’s conceivable that this will have a negative impact on the amount of support.

A noise gate is often installed after the gain pedals because it lowers buzzing while maintaining the same level of sustain as if it were installed earlier in the chain.

It is best not to use a noise gate pedal after using a reverb or delay pedal since it will entirely remove those effects from your sound.

The noise gate pedal should be placed after the source of the noise, such as an overdrive, distortion, or fuzz pedal, or even the pickups themselves if your instrument is hissing or buzzing excessively.

Time Based

Time-based effects like reverb and delay are introduced towards the end of the process. According to the majority of experts, reverb and delay pedals should be positioned towards the end of the signal chain, near to the amplifier. They are able to maintain control over the overall sound while also avoiding the usage of extra effects that might cause interference with the sound. Adding distortion to a delay effect, for example, is a common cause of auditory disasters in music production.

There is a great deal of disagreement when it comes to reverb and distortion. Many guitarists like to place reverb pedals at the end of the chain, following delay pedals; nevertheless, this is just a question of personal preference. Putting reverb before delay may result in a muddy sound if done incorrectly. The kind of reverb and delay you choose will have an influence on the final outcome.

As a general rule, it’s best to keep the most significant effects till the very end.

Room reverb, hall reverb, chamber reverb, and plate reverb are just a handful of the many different types of reverb available. Delay may also be characterized in a number of other ways. There is no need for me to get into technical specifics, but some delay effects have the potential to generate magnificent and long-lasting repeats.

Because reverb may be used to simulate the sound of a smaller area while still giving some ambiance, placing it before the dramatic delay effect may actually enhance the sound quality of the final product.

In this case, experimentation is highly recommended since the outcome will be determined by your own personal preferences and the goals you want to achieve.

Effects Loops

If you’re seeking for gain, a distortion or overdrive pedal is a fantastic choice, but if you’re looking for gain from your amp, you’ll need a distortion or overdrive pedal. An effects loop might be useful in this situation. Placing pedals after your amplifier’s preamp stage is an excellent technique to protect them from sounding muddy.


You can help others by spreading the word about our information on Pedal Chain Order to your friends and family that are interested in the same thing that you are.

Reference: Best effects pedal order and guide to the perfect signal chain –

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