Advice on Building a Pedal Board


Create the exact sound you want from your electric guitar with a custom pedal board. But before you start drilling holes, think through how your effects will be arranged. Check out these from Jonathan Thomas, worship leader at Moon Valley Bible Church, as he explains how to arrange your pedals so they work together:

1. Tuners—Since your guitar plugs directly into the tuner pedal, the signal going into the tuner should be unaffected by previous effects. This pedal needs to come first so you get the most accurate reading.

2. Filters—This includes both wah pedals and envelope filters. Triggered by the electrical signal, these should be included as early as possible so they’re not affected by previous pedals.

3. Compressors—Because they can be noisy, place compressors early in the chain to cut down on the extra sound.

4. Overdrive/distortion—Overdrives are placed before modulation pedals—a modulated signal can greatly affect the overdrive as well as the over-arching sound you’re trying to create.

5. Modulation—Modulation pedals include flange, phaser, chorus, and tremolo pedals.

6. Volume—Since most of the previously mentioned pedals have volume-level controls, if the volume pedal is before them, you’ll still hear some sound when the pedal’s up. Place the volume pedal here to ensure it works properly.

7. Reverbs and delays—These should be last so that even when the volume is off, the effects can finish the echo smoothly without an abrupt ending. They can also negatively affect your overdrive pedals if placed in front of them.

Have you built a custom pedal board? Which effects do you find yourself using most often? Share your advice in comments.


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  1. says

    Good stuff thanks! It mostly matches how my pedals are arranged, except for the volume pedal. I have it right after the tuner before gain and delay, and I think the choose is more between wanting to roll off the overdrive when turning the volume lower or wanting the full sound all the way down, which is the case when the volume pedal is after the others. I've never heard any leaking when the pedal is off, the volumes of other pedals shouldn't affect things when you're feeding them nothing, right? At least that's my experience. 🙂

  2. says

    For the life of me, I don't understand why my iPod posted the below on my wife's name, and I can't change it. Oh well… One more thought from my producer friend – true bypass has been regarded as the best thing for pedals, but he actually stated that the first and last pedals should be buffered for the best signal. The tuner usually does that at the start, and I turned my Strymon Timeline to buffered, as that marvelous pedal gives you that option. It's sounding pretty sweet! 🙂

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