How to Understand Guitar Pedal Order

Learn about the order of guitar pedals from Broadway musician Michael Aarons in this Howcast video.


So what we have here is we have a few pedals that you might find on a typical gig, minus the chorus pedal. This is probably a typical scenario that I would travel to a gig with. It's not on the pedal board. It's not hard-wired. I like that, so I can mix and match as I choose. Right now what i have is, I have a guitar going into the volume pedal first, then that signal's going right into my overdrive pedal. From there it's travelling to a chorus pedal, this could be anything else, a phaser. It could be anything of your choosing as can any of these pedals. From the chorus it goes to the delay and finally into this Strymon Flint, which is a tremolo and reverb pedal.

Now far as what the order means here, the best way that I like to think about it is I treat, for example, the Flint is a reverb and tremolo pedal. I like natural sounding reverb and natural sounding tremolo. I always treat that like it's coming from the amp, so I just pretend that's not even there. I pretend like it's inside the amp and what that means is, it's the first thing that comes out of the amp and in that way, any signal that comes out of your guitar is, that's going to hit it last.

The last thing in the chain would be then the delay and the reason for that, is that any signal that you have and also the way it reacts with the volume pedal, you want to be able to have the delay trail, without it getting cut off. And that's why the volume pedal comes first, as you hear in this example. I back off the volume pedal, you can hear the trails of delay still going. If I intensify the delay, you'll hear it, and also swell in. So that's a good reason to have the delay last in the chain. So experiment with that and come up with your own order and come up with your own settings.

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