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What is an Effects Loop?

If you decide to have different guitar effects pedals but you still use the guitar amplifier’s overdrive then you will benefit in utilising the effects loop.

Most guitar amps have an effects loops but it is worth making double sure regarding this before you actually buy a guitar amplifier.

So what is an effects loops? Weill it all comes down to the effect pedals placement. Say if you have a delay pedal for example. you want to play with an overdriven tone.  What you would want to do is add delay to the overdriven sound. If you started with a delay effect then added distortion it would make the sound very muddied. So if you had an overdrive pedal and a delay pedal you would put the overdrive pedal first in the chain and the delay second and you will achieve the desired response.

The problem comes about when you are using your guitar amps distortion or overdrive. If you plugged your delay pedal into the front of the amplifier then the delay will always be in front of the overdrive.

Here is where you use the effects loop. Usually on the reverse of your guitar amplifier you should see effects send and effects return. This will allow you to place your desired effects pedals after the amps overdrive or distortion.

To do this you would plug your guitar into the front of the amplifier as usual. Rather than putting your delay pedal in the front as well you would take a cable from the input of the effects pedal and plug into the effects send on the reverse of the guitar amplifier. You would then run the cable from the output of the effect into the effects return on your amp.

Now if you play you will find that the pedal is functioning after the overdrive!

There are many effects pedals that you can use with guitar. Some are best at the front of an amplifier and some are better in the effects loop.  It doesn’t ultimately come down to preference as there is no real right and wrong and it will do no damage to your equipment to experiment.

As a general rule you would put wah pedals, compression pedals and distortion pedals in the front side of your guitar amplifier and chorus pedals and delay pedals after but it is all down to what you are hoping to achieve so experiment!

11 Responses to “What is an Effects Loop?”

  1. Triss Says:

    Very Helpful with my flanger pedal! Thank You.

  2. Chelle Says:

    My husband learned how to build guitar pedals not too long ago – it pretty neat to design them yourself & play around with the different ways to use them for all kinds of cool sounds.

  3. Shaz Says:

    wow this is really amazing guide, im just new to guitar and the first part that says the order of the effect and the delay has a difference, thank you for sharing this…

  4. Paul Says:

    Great tips about using the effect loop properly.
    I’ve heard quite a number of less experienced players during the years who sounds OK, but definitely could have gotten a better sound with using these pointers. Thanks!

  5. Neil Says:

    Wow great write up, I love expiramenting with pedal placement. You can make thousands of different combinatiions. Some work and some sound horrid.

  6. robert keeley Says:

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  7. Bianca Says:

    Hello! Excellent site, keep up the good work!

  8. James Says:

    thank you admin very like post

  9. Beverlee Swygert Says:

    I have been playing the guitar for over 27 years and your blog post has been one of the most and inspiring that I have read on playing my favorite instrument. You can be sure that I am bookmarking your blog for future reference.

  10. Steve Says:

    Great advice! I have noticed with my pedals that playing around with the order can produce some interesting sounds. For example, my univibe pedal makes a completely different sound depending on its order in the pedal chain. As you say, there is no “right” or “wrong” way, just do what sounds best.

  11. Erik Says:

    I’ve been playing for yrs with small practice amps. I recently purchased an old Marshall 5210 amp that has effects send and effects return jacks in the back of it, and as dumb as this may sound, since it’s my first amp with those kind of jacks in the back, had no idea how to utilize them. I did a quick search on Google and found this article and now it all makes sense. Thanks for posting it.

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