What order should pedals go in?

What order should pedals go in?

This has got to be the most asked question regarding effects pedals and their ‘proper’ use.

There are best practices, but realistically there is no “right” way to wire up your pedal board.
Experimenting with your signal flow can lead to some amazing accidents…
If experimenting isn’t your thing, or you’re just looking for some guidelines-
I’ll try to shed some light on the topic.

A compressor should come first. Compressors even out the guitars output, feeding everything after it a nice even signal.

High gain distortion would be next. With lower gain distortions/overdrives down the chain. Reason behind this is that if you have a high gainer after a low gainer- there isn’t much difference in the sound. A low gain in front of a high gain will give you more gain, but not much in the way of tonal flexibility. However, a low gain after a high gain allows for much more shaping and will result in huge tone.

Place your boosts pedals at the end of the chain. This will bring the level of your delays and echoes evenly. If you place it in the beginning or the middle of your chain it can easily cause distortion.

FX Loops are great for delays, echoes, chorus pedals and the like- however matching the volume can be tricky. Some amps do not have a volume control on the FX Loop, so keep an eye out for that when amp shopping.

You can use a boost pedal to solve this problem, but it would be a set and forget type of solution, with no intentions of doing anything but matching signal strength. Boost pedals generally do not work well in FX Loops. The biggest problem with boosts in FX Loops is an audible switch pop. Plus, it just doesn’t sound as good. Driving the front end of an amp is what boost pedals were designed to do.

Wah wah pedals are pretty unique… they should be close to the front of the chain, but can be inserted anywhere based on what you’re looking to do. Ultimately- let your ears decide.

More answers to your questions next time!

Take care,


8 comments for “What order should pedals go in?

  1. Mike
    January 16, 2012 at 12:18 am

    Where in the sequence would you place a wah pedal?

    • Dennis
      January 16, 2012 at 12:35 am

      I like them right up front.

  2. Tim
    January 16, 2012 at 7:01 am

    Don’t necessarily agree about compressors. It largely depends on the way in which you use a compressor. The way in which compressors react to overdrives that seem to be designed to react to the nuances of picking need to be considered.

    Secondly, you missed fuzz and phase, which arguably should go at the start of the chain in that order. Fuzz pedals are notorious for only liking the unbuffered signal of your guitar pickups and putting something else infront of it can make a fuzz sound all wrong. Phasers, although counted as modulation, work in a similar way as other filters such as wah pedals, hence going up front near an unprocessed tone (the fuzz being the exception).

    Third, you’ve missed volume pedals, which would be suited to going after ODs/drive pedals, and pitch based effects, which want to be after volume pedals/boost pedals and before modulations.

    Lastly, this is a good guide but please people, don’t feel that it’s the law on effects pedals. Use your ears to hear what works well for your sound, and as long as the effect doesn’t make people barf or their ears explode, there aren’t necessarily any wrong answers (hell, you might want to make people barf). Don’t feel that your compressor always needs to go infront of drive pedals. You might want to put a drive pedal after delay. I would encourage you all to mess around!

    • Dennis
      January 16, 2012 at 7:25 am

      Good additions! You hit it on the head when you said there is no law on effects pedal usage. Hell- there are full instructional DVDs on this very topic…
      I think we’ll probably re-visit this topic in much deeper detail later in the year. With so many nuances, there is a lot of ground that can/should be covered.

  3. Pappy
    January 23, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    Where does the tremolo go?

    • Dennis
      January 27, 2012 at 4:06 pm

      I like it at the tail end but BEFORE my delay.

  4. November 23, 2016 at 5:21 am

    Mike my current pedal order is Tuner, Fulltone Wah. compressor that I keep on all the time, Wampler Plextortion (my assume my high gain), TS808 (I assume my low to medium gain), MXR phase 90, Boss Super Chorus, MXR carbon copy delay, volume pedal out to a Blues Jr. I do have a Marshall TSL 60 JCM 2000 halfstack but sometimes too much to load up. The blues jr is a little easier and rocking amp as well.
    The question I have had is, is the TS808 a low to medium gain OD and do I have it in the correct order and is the Plextortion my high gain. Wampler says this pedal is to emulate a Marshall 800 and it sounds pretty darn good. If I’m correct with TS being low gain and Plex being high gain I have it in the right order according to your suggestions. I also assume the TS can function as boost and I assume its boosting my Plex in the current order I have. It sounds pretty good in this order. I have thought about getting an OCD. Is that high gain and where would it go in my order. Our band plays a lot of classic rock, alternative pop with a dash of C&W. I play a R9 Les Paul and a 63 baby blue strat but I only play my strat for around 5 songs, SRV and some alternative stuff. You can see our webpage and song list at sundogweaver.com. Would my order change when switching back to the Marshall amp. Appreciate your feedback. Jay Horton ljayhorton@yahoo.com

    • ProTonePedals
      November 23, 2016 at 11:42 am

      I would keep the chorus and delay pedals in the FX loop if one is available. Other than that, its a pretty straight forward rig.

      All the best,


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