Basic Guitar Effects Pedals and How to Chain

In case you have just decided to begin playing an electric guitar and you are amateur to the music world, this article is just meant for you. As soon as you get an electric guitar and an amp that suits both your budget and preferences, the next crucial step is to explore the guitar effects pedals.

As you start inspecting your music equipment, you may come across several patterns that seem confusing and difficult. Therefore, we are here to guide you.

guitar effects pedals

How to Begin

The guitar effects pedals can make you panic for a split second. But, don’t you worry because we’ve got your back. We know exactly what effects are to be used for the gorgeous guitar that you own.

Before you start plugging pedals together, remember this is just the beginning and you may counter failures on your way to becoming a champion guitar artist.

Effects pedals can be well separated into groups based on their functions. Grouping will reduce half your burden easily; thus this step is crucial.

You must understand the different pedal groups in order to get the best sound when chaining them together. The key is to implement smart techniques that will lead you to the best results in the end.

For those who didn’t know, guitar pedals also known as stomp-box guitar effects is a sort of a block effect that is generally used by musicians. These pedals are placed on the floor and used by the musician’s foot thus called the pedal.

Types of pedals

types of guitar pedals

Understanding about the guitar pedals is impossible if one is not aware of the separate pedal types. Following is the list of guitar effects pedals and its functions and uses and effects on your final result:

  • #Noise gate: This type of pedal eliminates every bit of murmur in the signal. It makes quiet sounds even quieter. It is also famously known as the expander.
  • #Compressor: This type of pedal helps in stabilizing the signal and also eliminating levels that are either too high or low. A good quality compressor ensures better sound from guitar while performing live or making professional recordings.
  • #Octave: One can either raise or lower the pitch with the help of octave. This is one of the most significant pedals for brilliant effects used by professional musicians. You can create piercing sound with the help of this pedal as well.
  • #Reverb: This type is often included in the amp. You can create a feeling of large space with the help of reverb.
  • #Delay: Usually beginners tend to use this type of pedal which is helpful in creating an echo in music.
  • #Fuzz: The popularity of this pedal comes from the late sixties. It produces a higher distortion sound and gives your music a very different vibe and feeling.
  • #Chorus: Chorus introduces variations in time and frequencies into the original signal. It is one of the most often used effects pedals.
  • #Flanger: With the help of a flanger, you can create an effect similar to the jet engine or a space ship.
  • #Phaser: It changes the phase of a signal and produces a mix.
  • #Wah-Wah: This one produces a wah-wah effect. It is one of the most popular guitar pedals among accomplished and noted musicians.
  • #Equalizer: This satisfies almost all the needs of a regular, next-door guitar player. One can perfect their effects by using this pedal.
  • #Volume
  • #Overdrive

How to chain effects pedals

Highly recommended order to chain effects pedals is as follows: Wah-Compression-Overdrive-Equalizers-Pitch-Modulation-Levels-Echo.

Don’t get confused yet. We have broken down the entire method for you to understand this procedure better.

Step #1: First, you need to plug in your guitar, kind of obvious, isn’t it? Next, you need to look for a tuner on your pedal board. A lot of people underestimate the power of a tuner until they find out what wonders it can do for your final result (check the discussion about tuner here). This will help in sending the unprocessed raw signal through the tuner. A tuner will give you proper readings. Although we would recommend you use a tuner that has a true bypass switch.

Step #2: Moving on, your next job is to put filters. For your wah or phaser to work effectively on your signal, you need to keep these pedals very close to the guitar signal. The closer these pedals are, the more unprocessed raw signals will be detected. Always remember to put the way before distortion to tweak its intensity.

Step #3: Most professional musicians prefer to put the compressor before distortion. Also, it is recommended to put the compressor after the filters as well. Using a compressor will even out the imbalance in volumes. Compressors are generally used to give you a clean and clear tone. If you seek immense clarity in music, you ought to put the compressor before the distortion.

Step #4: No pedal is complete without the overdrive distortion. You may want to put this after the filters. Remember that a heavy overdrive may not go well with a heavy compressor. Therefore, place a light EQ just before the overdrive for best results.

Step #5: Putting equalizers after distortion has its lovely benefits. It functions as a volume booster pedal. Effects like short delays can be achieved using equalizers.

Step #6: Vibrato, harmonizers, pitch benders, octave and whammy pedals fall under the pitch. They work best if used with signals that are compressed. Therefore, place them after compression or distortion.

Step #7: A modulation helps to flatten your tone. Modulators work exceptionally well if placed after distortion and overdrive. Make sure not to set modulators at high resonance.

Step #8: Volume, limiters, noise gate and tremolo are your levels pedals. Their job is to control volumes both high and low. Ensure that you put them before ECHO. Placing level pedals before echo will give you will make the final music sound natural.

Step #9: If you wish to add atmosphere and all the good feels, it is the time you used the echo effects. These include delay, digital delay and analog delay. You can put echo effects before the pitch for an interesting outcome.

Step #10: Last but certainly not the least, there is a crucial need to set the reverb towards the end. This will make the entire package much more efficient. Finally, end it with the amplifier.

We know a lot of people want to make their own guitar pedal. So if you want DIY too, check out the link.


Always attempt to keep the noise levels to a minimum. Never stop experimenting with effects pedals. Whatever sounds noisy yet cool or soft yet punky, use it and see for yourself how your fans react to it. Get your pedals right away and get on to the job already!

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