One of the things that for some reason used to confuse me, when I was a kid, when I first started playing guitar and I bought a lot of pedals, was the order. That seems like a fundamental, basic thing, but it can get very confusing. There's also room for experimentation. So there's no rule about the order of pedals. But there's definitely rules about if you're trying to achieve a certain effect how you're going to get that based on the order of the pedals.
The basic thing to say first is the signal comes out of your guitar. So when people say "first," that's what they mean. The cable comes out of your guitar. It goes into your amp. Now, in between the guitar and amp, you have pedals. Depending on the order of those pedals, the signal flow and the signal path from the guitar to the amp, the amp being the last thing that is in the signal chain, the effects react with each other and with your playing in different ways depending on the path of the signal.
So what I have here is I have my guitar going into a volume pedal. The volume pedal is going into a distortion pedal. This is the Box of Rock. It's made by ZVex, which is a great company, Zachary Vex boutique pedals. From the volume to the distortion to the digital delay, the Bosch DD-3 to the amp. Now that's the flow of the signal.
The volume pedal by being first, before the other pedals in the pedal signal chain, is going to react completely different than if it were at the end, and I'll demonstrate how that is. Now, I have both the distortion and a pretty wide delay on right now. So you're going to hear when I have the volume pedal engaged and then I pull back on it. You're going to hear what happens to the signal.
So what you hear is the delayed trailing, and you hear the signal going into the amp. The volume pedal is cutting out the signal, but the signal is decaying and delaying because the volume pedal comes first. So your guitar signal is cut out first. Then it spreads to the distortion. Then it spreads to the delay and finally out into the amp.
One of the cool things that you can do is you can swell into notes. You can play chords that swell in. You can really use the volume pedal to create texture.
So that's a cool thing you can do with distortion and delay.