Before or After Dirt

April 16, 2013

So you’ve narrowed down your favorite pedals and finally bought that pedalboard kit. The next step is often a roadblock for the tone seeker- effects order. It can be especially crucial if you’ve got oddly shaped pedals and you want to cut cables to exact lengths and hopefully do this one time only! Well, the real question to ask yourself is, “do I place it before or after dirt?” Since distortion can have an extreme change in the natural character of pedals, this simple question may help reduce the overwhelming possibilities of effects placement.


Before Dirt:


Tuner: You probably want to spend the least amount of time tuning, so put this guy first so you don’t have to turn off any pitch altering pedals. Some people even put the tuner through a bypass box since it doesn’t do anything for your tone.

Signal Chain Overview

Image Credit

Compressor/Volume/Boost: The compressor has always been favored by guitarists at the beginning of the chain. Since compressors have a great affect on your approach, dynamics and sustain, placing it towards the front will ‘preserve the funk’ no matter the pedal combination. Volume pedals placed in the beginning react more like the guitar’s volume knob. It will reduce the amount of dirt to an overdrive or give you spacey volume swells before a delay. Volume pedals serve the role of a master volume when at the end of the pedalboard. The exact tone you have will be lowered as if turning down your amp. It’s always a good idea to still place it before delay/reverb to fade out gracefully.  Last, a boost is commonly placed after a compressor to compensate for heavy compression or boost lower output pickups. If you have it setup to buffer, place it before your tuner to help those long cables. Of course, a boost will work virtually anywhere in your chain. Try one as a line driver, right before an amp, to make up for any tone sucker pedals.

Pitch Shift: This includes analog and digital pitch changers like a Whammy, octave, ring modulator and synth-like effects.  Placing these before dirt is very crucial when it comes to accurate tracking of the guitar signal. Monophonic analog pedals especially like a clean signal or else they get ‘confused’ and warble all over the place. Recently, the Digitech Harmony Man opened up the possibility of pre-harmony distortion with a separate send and return for your dirt pedals.


Wah/EQ: Place it before dirt if you want a less jarring effect. Say you have it half cocked for a midrange boost, a distortion after the wah will amplify that frequency while staying in the confines of the distortion’s parameters, maintaining its natural range and character. That same midrange boost after a Tubescreamer for instance, will amplify other frequencies not constrained by the overdrive’s output level and inherent compression. The latter is a radical shift in tone which can be effective for de-mudding a scooped fuzz. Personally, I think some fuzz pedals sounds nasty, in a good way, before wah.  A great example for your ears is the tune “Maggot Brain.” by either Funkadelic or J. Mascis. Both versions have blazing fuzz into wah sound.

EQ pedals have a wider frequency range and can be placed pretty much anywhere on the board. EQ at the front of your board will change the way your effects react. Take for instance the Duncan Pickup Booster, which virtually turns single coils into humbuckers. Your overdrive or phaser, for instance, will clip at different points with hotter pickups. When playing bass in a side project, I used an EQ at the end of my board to roll off some of the ultra low frequencies that my old tube amp couldn’t quite produce.  That way the compressor and other FX I used saw the full range from the pickups.

Lovepedal Line Driver


Image Credit

Modulation: I’m basically lumping phaser, chorus/flange and vibe effects here. These pedals all have a ‘swish’ of some kind. Placing them before distortion will retain the same swish range as when they’re on by themselves.  If you like the way a phaser into a dirty Marshall sounds, this is essentially the same configuration because the amp distortion is after modulation. There are no rules though, so chorus pedals can be placed after dirt to sound more metallic and flange-like. A flanger is definitely not one to be pigeon holed either since those EVH jet plane sounds are most likely a distortion driving it.  On the other side, 80’s fusion flange/chorus tones are most likely before distortion to sound smoother. For vibes, I always hear great arguments from both sides. Hendrix’s “Star Spangles Banner” was a Fuzz Face into a Univibe but Robin Trower is known to use it the other way around. Some even say fuzz, vibe, and then overdrive to rid the raspy-ness!  Maybe the rule of thumb for modulation is lush-pre distortion and intense swish-post distortion.

Finally… A Spot for Your Dirt:

Distortion, overdrive and fuzz can be ‘safe’ in this position. But what about using multiple types, you say? Fuzz can be a fickle beast, especially germanium transistor pedals as they don’t have the headroom to take a hot signal. The result is usually a crispy sound that lacks the warmth and softer attack we love about fuzz. For this reason, I put my fuzz pedals first and then overdrive that sound. Here at PGS, I’ve stacked quite a few dirt pedals like the 3 Xotic Booster pedals. Three different overdrives placed in various order can produce some very unique sounds. Again, there aren’t any wrong ways to connect them, just different.


After Dirt:


Delay/Reverb: As I mentioned earlier, flange and chorus could end up here since they are in the same family as delay. Whether it’s digital or analog, I haven’t found too many people that disagree with placing delay at the end of the board.  It makes sure every nuance like a fast wah flutter or crazy flange oscillation will be repeated again and again…

An FX Loop is an entirely different issue but I can’t resist mentioning it for these two effects. If you have an effects loop, you will notice a cleaner echo repeat and less muddiness.  It’s similar to adding a delay plug-in to a guitar track on your recording software versus one right after your Big Muff. The plug-in delay would have a fuller, more distinguishable effect. Plus, using the FX Loop gives you more control of the ‘wet’ levels.  Reverb pedals sits right at home in an effects loop. Like a built in spring reverb, it is placed after the preamp stage. Just remember the tone of the reverb in an effects loop is now affected by your amp tone settings.  If you’ve noticed your reverb and delay are too murky, give that FX loop a shot.

Tremolo: Just like an amplifier’s trem circuit, you will most likely place tremolo at the end of your board. Some place it after delay but before reverb so the tremolo pulses always dominate any tempo coming from the delay repeats. It’s really up to you which sound you’re going for. For a machine gun stutter, you definitely want to put it dead last for a distinct on/off sound. However, it doesn’t sound very organic to hear a chopping reverb signal, so keep that it mind.

That’s my take on effects placement and it’s a general guideline that is made to be broken. I just slap Velcro on all my pedals so nothing is permanent. Sorry I didn’t get to Multi FX pedals, though the RP1000 has the right idea with their FX routing both before and after your preamp section.

See you next time in the corner,


  1. Chris Brush says:

    Well, I have a couple of other suggestions. First, putting chorus into distortion adds a ton of noise to the signal - the distortion amplifies the noise. Modulation to me sounds much cleaner and more distinct after distortion - you are modulating the basic tone. Otherwise you’re distorting a modulated tone and many dirt pedals just break up. The other area is tremolo. I would not put tremolo last, but rather before the delays and reverb. Otherwise you’ll have reverb/delay being cut off by the pulse of the tremolo, which is just weird.

    posted on April 16, 2013 at 3:54 am
  2. DetroitBlues says:

    Ok, here’s my setup…

    Dunlop Crybaby Classic > Visual Sound Route 66 > Visual Sound Angry Fuzz > Boss CE Super Chorus > Boss DD3.  My guitars are ES335 (Seth Lovers) and Fender Strat (Dimarzio Area Set).  I use the VS R66 for my ES, Fuzz for Strat dirt.  I also run this straight into a Fender Super Sonic 60 Combo, effects loop as a boost only.

    Would you change anything?  My chain seems to follow the advice above…

    posted on April 16, 2013 at 3:55 am
  3. Chris Brushs says:

    But otherwise, great article - this is the sort of thing that adds so much value to your enterprise, Andy!

    posted on April 16, 2013 at 3:56 am
  4. Chris Brush says:

    Hey DetroitBlues - I’d say - perfect! Throw a looper at the end and you could create some real mayhem.

    posted on April 16, 2013 at 3:58 am
  5. Brian says:

    Thanks as always for the helpful tips…just wanted to give a shout out to your use of Philip Sayce’s gear in that first pic!!

    posted on April 16, 2013 at 4:14 am
  6. Nate McClure says:

    In regards to Chris Bush’s remarks there are no right and wrong answers.  Tone is highly personal and subjective.  You will have countless professional and amateur players with varying preferences.

    My rule of thumb is experiment with your stuff and find what works and sounds best for your application.  Because ultimately you have to enjoy your tone because that is what will make you play your best and inspire your creativity. 

    I play semi-professionally and have played guitar for over 20 years now.  I own about a dozen guitars, a couple decent tube amps, and a few dozen boutique fx pedals and for the most part the above advice holds true. 

    Typically I have volume, wah, uni vibe, compressor, fuzz, distortion, overdrive, ravish sitar, other modulation (phaser, chorus, flanger), delay, reverb, tremolo, tuner but again it just depends on the situation/setup and my desired tone.

    posted on April 16, 2013 at 4:18 am
  7. Gerben Hart (NL) says:

    Great article and suggestions, also in the comments. I’m happy my board (tuner, distortion, drive phaser, trem, reverb, delay) seems to be quit “allright”. But i am going to make patch cables to exacts length, so before i am going to experiment a little bit. Thanks

    posted on April 16, 2013 at 4:24 am
  8. STEPHEN WADE says:

    Further detail (for a novice): Distortion or Overdrive first?  Flanger or Chorus first?

    posted on April 16, 2013 at 4:33 am
  9. Mike Batke says:

    Hey Andy,
    I have a question/comment:
    I know-ticed you saying that dread of all phrases for guitarists: ‘tone sucker pedals’ **spits**.

    I know that volume pots can be a ‘tone sucker’ **spits**, and my concern regards a volume pedal in the chain:

    So, here’s my question: I was wondering, in the interests of preserving tone **smiles**, would it be a smart idea to add a resistor/capacitor ‘network’ to the volume pot or slider of a volume pedal?

    My thinking is that guitarists should, since it retains the fidelity of the guitar, BEFORE, it hits the other pedals, increasing the likelihood that your return signal will reflect the ‘truer’ sound of the guitar. 
    I use the resistor/capacitor ‘network’ (basically a .001 capacitor and a 150k-Ohm 1/4 watt resistor wired together) on my guitar volume pots already.
    I’m just wondering if that self-same idea will work in a volume pedal to preserve the guitar’s ‘fidelity’ so-to-speak.

    posted on April 16, 2013 at 4:33 am
  10. Sandy Aphid says:

    Wow, I had never thought to put my Germanium Fuzz in FRONT of my MXR GT-OD before.  What a huge improvement in tone!  Thanks Andy!

    posted on April 16, 2013 at 4:51 am
  11. Dave Ambrose says:

    One thing to keep in mind (especially for singing guitar players or anyone who doesn’t want to spend the whole show looking at their feet) is that location on the board doesn’t have to translate directly to the location in the signal chain. That’s what different length patch cables are for. Personally, I keep volume, and dirt pedals on the right side of my board since those are the things I stomp on most frequently.

    Also - keeping several pedals in an independent signal loop on your board can help preserve your tone and allow you to go from wet to dry (or dirt to clean) quickly and easily. I have my modulation, delay, tremolo and reverb pedals all grouped together with a Keely True Bypass Looper. This also sits on the right side of the board so I can quickly go from distorted & dry to clean and wet in a song without doing a complicated tap-dance.

    posted on April 16, 2013 at 4:59 am
  12. Tiago Coelho says:

    Hi Andy, I’m using a Vox AC30, and i’ve my pedalboard with this order: malekko envelope filter>fulltone drive mosfet 2> yamaha ph1 80’s phaser> ehx deluxe memory boy> ehx cathedrall (and the amp’s reverb and tremolo). What do you think about this? Would you change anything?

    I’m tempted to start using the amp’s fx loop, do you recommend me that? If so, plugging from the ph1 to the cathedrall leaving the envelope filter and the drive plugged into the amp’s input?

    Thnks a lot, cheers! ;)

    posted on April 16, 2013 at 5:03 am
  13. John says:

    I’d wish you’d do a comparison video of this concept. Writing about it is one thing but hearing it is what would sell a lot of pedals.

    posted on April 16, 2013 at 5:05 am
  14. Darren says:

    I have this set-up..Boss TU-3>Boss DS-2>Dunlop 535q>Mojo Hand FX Colossus>Boss BD-2>English Muff’n>Boss CH-1>Boss DD-3>Boss CS-3.

    My wah sucks my distortion so I need to use the OD on the other end to pick it back up. Are there any wahs that keep the distortion clear when placed after? Thanks!

    Strat > Blues Junior III

    posted on April 16, 2013 at 5:14 am
  15. Mike says:

    I always make sure my pedal board is facing east no matter where i’m playing. Also, check the dates on your batteries to make sure they are all manufactured around the same time.  and NEVER mix battery brands!  Make sure you always clean your cables before a gig. A wet rag will do wonders for cleaning off all the dirt. This greatly improves signal flow.  And lastly,  pedals don’t make music,  they make money for pedal manufacturers.

    posted on April 16, 2013 at 5:25 am
  16. Jim says:

    Hey Andy, great article and some good advice.  but I have a new BOSS Mo-2 before my OD’s and don’t really like the effect, better to move to the end with the delay and reverb?  Haven’t wired anything yet so this is very timely, only confusion is I’ve read articles elsewhere that seem to contradict a lot of what you wrote????  I agree, some sound tracks to backup the positioning would be GREAT.

    Also, I play through both humbuckers and single coils - any difference in effect layouts for pup considerations?


    posted on April 16, 2013 at 5:30 am
  17. Dan says:

    Polytune > Vox Wha > Maxon SD9 > Tc Booster vintage > Tc SCF > Maxon AD999 > Boss RV2

    posted on April 16, 2013 at 5:36 am
  18. Dan says:

    Hi everyone!
      I am ignorant about signal chain. When you say first ,do you mean from the guitar and on and on or is first from the amp and last to the guitar. Forgive my ignorance. Im just starting to learn.
    I love Pro Guitar Shop!. Lots of great advice and pedal, amp and guitar demos! The best site.
    Thanks guys and Thank you Andy!

    posted on April 16, 2013 at 5:41 am
  19. Dave Jacoby says:

    I’ve heard compressor/limiter after dirt to equalize the volume of your clean and dirty tone, but most of the time, I keep my compressor before the dirt.

    posted on April 16, 2013 at 5:44 am
  20. BingeDrinker says:

    Something like the Pedal Palette, from Decibel 11 can solve these issues on the fly. It’s analog loop bypass switcher, router and mixer capable of swapping effect pedals (in series or parallel) instantly while simultaneously providing an optional parallel mix bus.

    That said, there’s fun to be had in the trial and error method.

    Please Drink rssspomsibly! Hic.

    posted on April 16, 2013 at 5:57 am
  21. tim says:

    i don’t think is any right or wrong order for pedals. altering your the position of certain pedals is a further way of manipulating your sound. so it up to the person.

    posted on April 16, 2013 at 6:05 am
  22. TIM says:

    revised comment : i don’t think there is any right or wrong order for pedals. altering the position of certain pedals is a further way of manipulating your sound, for example delay sounds totally at the front than it does at the end. so it up to the person. play around, find your sound, stick em down.

    posted on April 16, 2013 at 6:08 am
  23. Griffin says:

    I’ve heard of a wah pedal being put dead last, so you’re modulating the tone the entire signal. Worth a shot, I think.

    posted on April 16, 2013 at 6:09 am
  24. PRS513 says:

    Absolutely great article, and it breaks some of the rules I was previously adhering to!  I like what you’ve said about reverb & delay and I’m beginning to think I may be better off running some of my pedals through the effects loop, and some with the guitar plugged directly in to them.  My Wah for example always sounds better with the guitar directly in to it.  Currently, I’m using: Wah>OD>Microvibe>Tremelo>Chorus>Delay>Pitch Shifter. 
    Damn!  Just when I thought I had it “tuned” I now have to dive in to more experimentation!

    posted on April 16, 2013 at 6:32 am
  25. Fano Boss says:

    Jimi Hendrix ?

    posted on April 16, 2013 at 7:04 am
  26. PRS513 says:

    U-h-h-h, not that kind of experimentation!

    posted on April 16, 2013 at 7:06 am
  27. Nelson says:

    and a buffer would go after any dirt am i right??

    posted on April 16, 2013 at 7:08 am
  28. Branimir says:

    Delay. I’m one of those people that dissagree. My delay is placed before my dirt.

    posted on April 16, 2013 at 7:13 am
  29. Mike Bloomer says:

    Basically right except for the chorus placement… I usually put modulation after delay because I like modulated delay…. To put it before dirt is just asking for noise problems. Good point about the pitch shifting though. As far as the placement of dirt pedals, if you have multiple dirt pedals place them dirtiest first. This is much better if you like to cascade them as I do. I put my compressor last (yes, I know it’s just wrong) but it does interesting things with the delays(brings ‘em right out front…) and works well as a solo boost if needed. Usually if I’m using the compressor as in Country I’m not using dirt or delay anyway ....
    I don’t use a volume pedal because there is already one of those on my guitar….I see too many young players neglecting their volume controls when there is a whole world of tone right there at your fingertips… A good R/C across the volume control will stop the tone sucking…
    My pedalboard: Modded Vox King Wah, octavia, FuzzFace, Zen Drive, Klon (all modded), TC Tuner (a real time saver between songs), Delay ,Vibe, Modulation, Compressor…

    posted on April 16, 2013 at 7:57 am
  30. Chromeboy says:

    Andy I still wrestle with what is correct for the effects loop vs in front. Anything besides a compressor that should absolutely go in front and not through the loop?

    posted on April 16, 2013 at 8:12 am
  31. pip says:

    That’s the first time i’ve heard modulation being placed before diirt, but then you state it’s popular the other way too. I might give it a shot. Also I have messed around with the order of dirt pedals and to me it should be (guitar>overdrive>distortion>fuzz>amp). I find the distortions and fuzz lose their character if you have something else on in front of them, whereas you can run an overdrive into a fuzz and get a fuller sound without compromising what makes the fuzz unique.

    I also own two reverb pedals, been thinking of running one of those near the start of my chain so i can get really weird muddy reverb with the fuzz on and then one at the very end of the chain for more typical reverb use, or maybe i should just sell one…hmm.

    and yeah seeing as everyone else is getting their dicks out…

    digitech whammy (4thgen)> fulltone fulldrive mosfet 2> devi ever silver rose> boss ps-3 pitch shifter/delay>boss ch-2 chorus>boss ph-3 phase shifter>empress superdelay> ehx cathedral> malekko spring chicken LE

    posted on April 16, 2013 at 8:23 am
  32. Jim says:

    I thought I had read somewhere that dirt was best in the loop??  I’m going to have to spend an entire weekend re-arranging my pedals to find out what works best… I’ll let you guys know what I come up with

    posted on April 16, 2013 at 8:49 am
  33. dave says:

    i like to go from les paul to marshall stack. done deal.

    posted on April 16, 2013 at 9:30 am
  34. RICK Johnson says:

    Yes , A good guide line By Andy…there`s no rules look what David Gilmore did plugging a wha in backwards…..If you ever were lost and totally confused follow Andy`s recommendations..its a great place to start…AS you move on a debate it in your head,you will come up with some of your own theories too..FOR instance,I run about 10 different pedals and 6 Rack spaces Into the front and Loop of a 65 Empire…(into a 4X12/4 different speakers-cab) And the last 5 Pedals are injected at different points into the back of rack spaces…Now tell me thats not a science project?Even now about every 6 months I`ll go back and study the order of hook up & say, why am I doing it like that? theres a better way…honestly now im convinced its good..we will see, give it 6 months…

    posted on April 16, 2013 at 9:48 am
  35. Terrance says:

    Thanks And for another great Andys corner -my pedal board has in the making 22 years now. I run boss comp>dr scientist the elements -18 volt>ibanez de7>bss tr 2 trem>mxr carbon copy>boss dd7 w/boss fs 5u> fender tweed delux -jensen spkr -strat fender noisless sss- squire -tele stock -both wired with switchable direct through wiring. Thats the best set up I have used ever-and yes it’s to each it’s wn yet some set ups will work against you . And yes a good idea to understand pedl order two way - why pedal follows what for your tonal needs and what needs to be where for the convenience of the best stomping solution -the latter required a lot of thought for me as I sing -play rythmn, and lead. A well planned board is a good thing-oh and keep it simple.

    posted on April 16, 2013 at 11:20 am
  36. kevin says:

    thanx for another informative, thought proving article! i’ve spent many years expiermenting with my gear-that’s part of the charm for me. it is always a “work in progress”!!

    posted on April 16, 2013 at 12:14 pm
  37. BBD says:

    TU-2>CS3>Sparkle Drive>Zen Drive>Hardwire Valve>CH1>PH1>DD3>Aqua Puss> Hall of Fame. Peavey Classic 50/ 4-10 and Marshall JCM800. Can reproduce what’s important to me Rock to Country and back to Southern fried and Blues and Funk.
    The first and foremost important thing is, spend the money on premium patch cables, not cheap molded end noisy $hit. Volume pedal last before amp. Wah in the mod section if you really need one, I used to like wah, but have gotten past the gimmick, after all it’s just a glorified tone knob.
    Forget the Gates and Suppressors they are basically tone soakers. And if you own a Holy Grail, the mother of all tone soakers, get rid of it, most of your line noise will be it.

    posted on April 16, 2013 at 3:30 pm
  38. Sean says:

    About delays in the effects loop:
    I have a Way Huge Aqua puss and the manual says to put it in front of the amp. I only use the dirty channel and no distortion or overdrive so I’ve wanted to try it in the loop of my Laney VC15 but want to make sure it can handle the output level of the loop. Would it be safe?


    posted on April 16, 2013 at 5:09 pm
  39. Marcus says:

    My dirt is in the Amp so “after” is in the loop. Is there a trem pedal which can take being in the line level loop? My malekko is in front of the dirt now.

    posted on April 16, 2013 at 7:31 pm
  40. AFishman says:

    Wah +fuzz - If I use any of the 3 fuzz pedals on my board, it seems that NONE will work AFTER a wah w/o cutting the wah’s response or causing bad skawking.  I have Fulltone Clyde Deluxe and Jimi H Dunlop wahs and a Jimi H Dunlop silicon Fuzz Face (blue), MXR 108 fuzz, and a custom germanium fuzz.  The MXR fuzz has a buffer switch that helps some for wah-first, but takes some of the fuzz character away.  QUESTIONS - 1. How do you make the wah-first work? 2. Is it better to put the fuzz and/or wah elsewhere in the chain?  Otherwise, I’ll just keep the fuzz first.  They do like to interact w the guitar.  To complicate it more, I would also like to find an optimum location for an Octavia I have.  (Other pedals in the chain: Analogman King of Tone, Fulltone OCD, UniVibe, Boss DD-7.)  Thanks.

    posted on April 16, 2013 at 11:55 pm
  41. Robert says:

    Kinda newbie here. I know nothing is really incorrect and it all depends on your ears but I always read that dirt went into a clean amp and modulation went into the FX loop.

    I use:

    Korg Tuner> EP Compressor> 3 dirt pedals (Boss Blues Driver with the Keeley Mod, Dirty Little Secret and a JoYo Ultimate Drive) in a loop with a Boss noise reducer> EP Booster to amp.

    FX loop: JoYo Delay> JoYo Chours> EVH Flanger> JoYoTrem

    Any advice regarding my pedal order is appreciated!


    posted on April 17, 2013 at 12:09 am
  42. Hugo Basualdo says:

    What about the modulation in the FX Loop?
    In my set up the chorus and flanger is in the FX Loop….

    posted on April 17, 2013 at 12:34 am
  43. Hans says:

    My pedalboard does not respect any of your suggestions :D. I don’t mean I’m right (sure I’m not) and you are not. I simply say that: my order is:
    Tuner TU2-Fulltone Fulldrive 2 mosfet (eventually Seymour Duncan Twin Tube overdrive)- Fulltone Fullboost-EHX Chorus-Boss DD6-Boss PS5 (Shifter)-Boss HiBand Flanger.
    Eventually I set a CS3 compressor at the beginning of the chain. Some other effects (EHX reverb, EHX nano DrQ, Seymour Duncan PickUps booster) are set here and there, depending on the days.
    It’s funny, isn’t it?

    posted on April 17, 2013 at 4:42 am
  44. imreoir giotar says:

    i use a digitech rp90 and the signal chain pretty much follows what you are doing
    i think the peavey amp modeler i use follows that same type of signal chain thinking
    glad that you addressed it in case i ever go back to individual effects boxes

    i play a tele squier—stock no mods

    lots of versatility in sound

    funk: CQejD42I50c

    country: Gv1U_2-9sAY

    rock: scwJqDddH0c

    posted on April 18, 2013 at 1:26 am
  45. Michael says:

    what are your thoughts on placement of the POG2 and interaction with various other pedals?

    posted on April 20, 2013 at 2:09 am
  46. Chris Winkel says:

    Hi all,

    Quick question I got about stacking dirt tones…seems this might just be the place to get an idea or two….

    In terms of combining (high gain) fuzz pedals with other dirt, like the distortion channel on a tube amp (Orange rockreverb 50 combo MK1 in my case)......what would you all recommend?

    Fuzz before the dirt channel? Or after it, in the effects loop? (I know in the above article it states to put fuzz in front of an amp, just wondered if this is also the case when combining the two dirt sounds).......and, what would you guys say works better, high output on the fuzz pedal, and low gain on the dirt channel..or low gain on the fuxx pedal, and high gain on the dirt channel?

    More or less same question by the way on combining a fuzz pedal with an overdrive pedal (like the Catalinbread DLS which I recently got), all on the clean channel of an amp…...Overdrive before or after the fuzz? And which of the two should ideally have the high output? The OD or the fuzz?

    Any advice here is appreciated!

    posted on April 20, 2013 at 6:00 am
  47. Paul says:

    I have to disagree on a few things. Being a pedal maven sense the days of Trower. He changed to his Vibe in front via advice from Fuller. Personally I hate a phaser before dirt it is not the same as an amp, not at all. Vibe sounds good before OD and also after. There is a rule I find applies to pedals that always makes sense, I call it the “rule of dominance” that which comes after will be the more dominant effect. Modulation before dirt contrary does not preserve the width and dynamic of the sweep but reduces it as the dirt becomes the dominant effect. A vibe before OD gets more of a warble pulse into feedback more like Trower’s tone after gets a bolder intense sweep, also a Phaser, bolder after dirt. Chorus always sounds better to me after dirt or at best a moderate OD. Often very pretty and full in the amp loop.

    posted on April 20, 2013 at 2:15 pm
  48. Mike Bloomer says:

    @ Chris as far as stacking dirt, I prefer to put the highest gain pedals first. So, I have my Fuzzes then Overdrives…. After much messing around with the order this worked best for me as far as the layering. The fuzz retains its tone better going into an overdrive than the other way around….

    posted on April 20, 2013 at 11:17 pm
  49. Chris Winkel says:

    @ Mike Bloomer: Thanks man! I’ll dive in to the spaghetti of patch cables and see what happens…

    posted on April 20, 2013 at 11:24 pm
  50. Magic Dan says:

    Where is the best place to put the noise gate? I can’t run it through an effect loop in my old 1971 Sylver Face Twin Reverb. So, right after compressor-overdrive and dist? OR at the end of the line?

    posted on April 21, 2013 at 12:37 am
  51. Mike Bloomer says:

    Put the Noise Gate after your noisiest pedal (or series of pedals), which would likely be a dirt or compressor…..  Modulation and Delay pedals are generally pretty quiet on their own and after a delay it will cut off the repeats if you use a long delay

    posted on April 21, 2013 at 11:56 pm
  52. matthew says:

    even after reading this im still no wiser then thinking that if pro guitar shop woul get a trinnity pedal in stock my or15 would have some reverb.then i think i want the hardwire supernatural reverb,cuz i dont know wich pedal is better.and i cant afford a blue sky..this is my signal chain is like this…clip on strobe..guitar..cry baby..fulltone mosfet2 just for the sweet eq and boost.ibanez old schoolcs9 chorus,sounds so good but no true bypass..thats through the front door and around back in the effects loop a eh memory toy just to make my bitch sound huge..and then a reverb pedal,if i can decide on dirt comes out of my orange or 15..and i love the sound.the fulltone has a bunch of different eq settings ,so i change them around..i also need a compresser but dont know a good one..maybe the boss cs1   help me out folks

    posted on April 23, 2013 at 11:53 pm
  53. Jimmy says:

    I agree with most of the article. I did not like my Micro Vibe in front of dirt. It seemed to get lost. I like it better in the effects loop in front of tremolo & delay.

    posted on April 26, 2013 at 3:27 am
  54. Antwang says:

    Well, this is it, Andy. You named Funkadelic! do you like Eddie Hazel? I think I’ve heard some Relic Delic (Purple Hazel) subtle licks in some video way long back…what an unsung guitar player…soooooo gooood!
    If anybody wants to hear some amazing guitar playing with FUZZ and WAH, please, dig out the first Funkadelic/Parliament thangs…there are Echoplexes too! Free your mind!

    posted on April 26, 2013 at 6:44 am
  55. Ben says:

    I need a octave and a flanger, the EHX Epitome includes a Micro Pog, Electric Mistress and a Holy Grail all in one box. Since I would not have the oportunity to choose separatedly, would you consider to sacrifice to put the pedal before dirt only because the microPog or just leave it after dirt in the effect loop?.

    posted on April 26, 2013 at 3:12 pm
  56. imreoir giotar says:

    @Ben—if it were me, I’d experiment with pedal placement—try the Epitome before dirt and then try it after dirt and see what sounds better—if noise is or becomes the issue perhaps a noise gate
    imreoir giotar

    posted on April 26, 2013 at 11:25 pm
  57. Dan says:

    i know this has nothing to do with signal chain but I have a question that’s been dogging me for years.  Does anyone know the tone used on the solo of the song “who’s that lady” from the 70s.
      I apologize I can’t remember the group but that fuzz in that solo blows me away

    posted on April 27, 2013 at 7:22 am
  58. imreoir giotar says:

    @Dan—looking at this video: you can definitely see the guitarist step on a stomp box at the beginning of the lead—that stomp box looks to be a big muff, well to me anyway

    posted on April 27, 2013 at 11:12 am
  59. imreoir giotar says:

    @Dan…looking at the wiki for the Isley Bros, it seems that Hendrix played lead for them for a brief period—I’m thinking maybe it is a big muff—but then again, the sound on the record could be due to studio tinkering—it is a nice smooth tone—

    posted on April 27, 2013 at 11:19 am
  60. imreoir giotar says:

    @Dan—good question—I became obsessed but it seems that it was a Big Muff according to:
    and also here:
    That was is a great song and smooth guitar sound—thanks for the question
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    posted on April 27, 2013 at 11:32 am
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  70. Chomeboy62 says:

    Andy, great stuff. But I’m always at a loss as to what should “always” in front of the amp and what should/could be placed in a amp head effects loop.? any help on that would be great.

    posted on August 19, 2013 at 7:19 am
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  73. christopher k says:

    good stuff, Andy - I’ve always followed the Seymour Duncan/Robert Keeler order (basically the same concepts and order you presented) - from a musical and electric-signal path perspective, it’s logical, just makes sense, consistently sounds GOOD,  and WORKS - preserving YOUR tone by being responsive to YOUR style (attack, technique, and nuance) that’s coming from YOUR fingers ...but, of course, where innovation and inspiration are concerned, rules are meant to be broken - whatever INSPIRES you to be create, and play from your heart and soul (and that could be different every day) is what’s best for YOU…

    posted on September 17, 2013 at 5:24 pm
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  77. Mitch says:

    I often hear that fuzz should go at the beginning of the effects chain because of how reactive they can be to other effects like wahs etc. due to oscillation to the point where some of them can actually become damaged.  Would an eq pedal like the tone job from eqd placed in front of a wah or fuzz cause any problems/failure of the devices?

    posted on July 8, 2014 at 12:18 pm
  78. Curtis says:

    Compressor before dirt for country and after for rock.

    posted on October 15, 2014 at 1:47 am
  79. Stephen Wade says:

    WTF? Thought this was about effects, not general BS.

    posted on October 15, 2014 at 4:34 am
  80. René says:

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