Common Pedalboard Setups
With the basics out of the way, here's the most conventional pedal order and why it's used by many players as a starting point.
In order, the signal chain is:
- Compressors or preamps
- Pitch shifters
- Overdrives and distortion
- Modulation effects like chorus, vibrato, and flanger
- Time-based effects like delay and reverb
First off, most pro rig builders recommend that every pedalboard include a high-quality buffer at the start of the chain.
Buffers convert the high impedance signal from your guitar's pickup into a low impedance one that's suitable for running a long chain of pedals and cabling.
After that, compressors, preamp pedals, and front-end tone shapers are generally found first in line. These pedals work with the dynamics and frequency balance of the raw guitar signal to shape the sound for the rest of the chain.
Pitch shifting pedals generally require a clean signal for solid tracking. Placing them after compressors or preamps can sometimes help improve stability and accuracy.
Next up are drive pedals. Again, for those who stack overdrives, you'll have to experiment to find the order you like best in this stage.
Following that, modulation effects are typically placed next. Like in the earlier example, running modulation pedals after your gain stages makes their effect more noticeable.
If it turns out you prefer them in front, it's entirely up to you!
Finally, delay and reverb act on everything that's come before, providing clean trails and repeats to the amplifier's front end.
Overall, this signal chain is set up for maximum clarity from each effect. That's why you'll often see it recommended as an excellent place to start. But that doesn't mean it's the best choice for your tone.
Try this order first if you're unsure where to start, but use your ears and experiment before you decide for good.