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Guitar Effects 102

Guitar Effects 102

Guitar Effects for Beginners - Part 2

There are many ways to configure your guitar effects and it is easy to get confused! I have been playing electric guitar for 41 years, and I still have to think about my guitar effects order, and whether I am going to use a "Guitar Effect Chain" or an "Effects Loop." AND ... I still have to deal with Effect problems like bad connections, buzz, 60-cycle hum, hiss and many other undesirable artifacts that appear when using guitar effects.


  1. Guitar Effect Chain

  2. The Guitar Effect Chain is simply linking your effect pedals the order that you choose, starting with the output from your guitar, through your effect(s), and into the amplifier input. Here are some examples:
    1. Ibanez Overdrive, Boss Distortion and Boss CE-3 Chorus -
    2. This setup would be great for clean and distorted rhythm guitar. The addition of chorus could add a nice swirling texture for emphasis of especially the clean guitar parts. Adding the overdrive effect and the distortion effect could allow you to cut through with a crisp lead part, or even a driving or crunchy rhythm part for those times when you need to kick things up a bit!

    3. Boss Autowah, Ibanez Overdrive, Boss Distortion and Danelectro Delay -
    4. Like the previous guitar effect chain, you could get all the rhythm guitar you needed, plus a great effect to add emphasis to your leads, and if you are playing some retro-disco, you would have the chop-wah rhythm that was so prevalent in that 70's style of music! I'll describe later how I choose to use my Boss AW-2. The delay in this guitar effect chain is used to spice up the lead guitar part. When you synchronize the delay time closely to the beats per minute (BPM), you can create intense harmonies with your electric guitar. When you sync up to 1/2 or 2X the BPM, you create a distinctly different sound for each delay effect setting.

    5. DOD YJM308 Overdrive, Vintage MXR Distortion +, DOD Digital Delay -
    6. This is my "old school" rock setup. The Yngwie Malmsteen YJM308 Pedal is a great addition to my effect chain, and provides a crisp boost when I need it. I use it less as a "distortion" effect and more as a boost. It can be set to push the MXR distortion + input a bit, which adds a really nice dynamic when picking single notes in a lead guitar part. This DOD DFX9 digital delay is really clean and can be toggled to infinite repeat. I haven't played around with it as much as I'd like (because I play the Dano PB&J all the freekin time!), but I'll give it a long, loving pedal evaluation sometime in the near future.


    7. Ibanez 7 Series, Overdrive, Distortion, Smashbox, Chorus/Flanger -
    8. Um... What can I say? This is Distortion heaven! You can get just about everything under the sun when it comes to crankage! Add a bit of chorus or flanger, and your rig will be singing! Note in the second guitar effect chain picture, I have added the Danelectro PB&J delay pedal (my fav)! The delay adds some richness to the lead guitar parts... Use it in combination with the smashbox and the chorus for some very interesting sonic results!



  3. Guitar Effects Loop

  4. The Guitar Effects Loop is simply linking your effect pedals the order that you choose, starting with the amplifier SEND output, through your effect(s), and into the amplifier RETURN input. Your guitar plugs directly into the amplifier input. Here are some examples:


    1. Boss TU-2 Tuner, Ibanez TS7 Overdrive, Boss DS-1 Distortion, Boss CE-3 Chorus -
    2. This is my effect loop example. In this configuration, the amplifier has "Send/Tuner" and "Return" cable connections. The cable goes out of the amplifier Send jack, into the first pedal. My first pedal in my guitar effects loop is ALWAYS my Boss TU-2 tuner pedal - I want to be in tune all the time. Period.

      Continuing the effect loop, I plug one of the tuner's outputs, the BYPASS output. From the tuner out into the Overdrive, out to the distortion, out to the chorus. In this configuration, I am using the chorus as a mono effect, so I'm using the Output marked "A" . . . From that output, the cable goes back into the amplifier "Return" jack, thus completing the effect loop.


    3. Effect Loop Connections -
    4. The "Send/Tuner" output jack is the starting point for your guitar effect s loop. The "Return" input jack is the ending point for your guitar effects loop. Note the "Line Out" output jack, it is used to send a signal to the recording console in the studio, or to the PA system in a live setup.


    5. Boss TU-2 Chromatic Tuner -
    6. This little guy is a gem! The Boss TU-2 Chromatic Tuner has a nice list of features, which you can find on many other sites, so I'll tell you how I use it. I tune with it. I use primarily "standard 6-string tuning." That is why it is the first pedal in my guitar effect chain, or my guitar effects loop. The clean signal from my electric guitar gets to this pedal first so there is no effect between the guitar output and the tuner input.

      The next great feature is this pedal acts as a power supply for several other pedals! I power most of my pedals using a power daisy chain cable. Works like a champ!


    7. Ibanez TS7 Tube Screamer -
    8. This pedal has been heavily modded by me. I did the TS-9 and TS-808 mods. I tweaked the distortion diodes a bit, and I tweaked the tone characteristics, too. I love this pedal, and would have it stand up to just about any Overdrive Pedal on the market. It has a large range of settings, and can just about "do it all." It can't, but I still love it anyway.


    9. Boss DS-1 Distortion -
    10. These pedals are what I would call an old standby. Many of the great guitar players have one of these in their guitar effects loop. Rugged and reliable, these bright orange distortion work horses pump out the noise day-in and day-out! And... now for the best part... These pedals are very basic, and very mod-able. I prefer these with a slight tone range tweak, and with different clipping diodes. There are probably a zillion of these in use. Someone somewhere is playing through one right now with a huge smile on their face!


    11. Boss CE-3 Chorus -
    12. For some reason, this chorus effect is fairly inexpensive on the used market. The main thing I like about this chorus effect is the fact that it does not change the level of the signal. What comes in is what you get out, with the desired chorus effect, of course!

      This effect has two outputs, "A" and "B" - There are two settings that configure the A and B outputs. In MONO mode, the B output consists of the Direct Signal from the input MINUS the Effect. So B is kind of a "take-away" concept. When using the A output it consists of the Direct Signal PLUS the Effect. So, A is kind of an "add-to" concept.

      In STEREO mode, A is the Effect, and B is the Direct Signal. Very useful for recording, and in a stereo guitar rig! I like this one because it doesn't have a "level" adjustment. Keep it SIMPLE = YAY!

      Check out Guitar Effects for beginners - Part 1, and UltraWave Guitar Mukti Effects


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