How To Set Up A Wah Pedal In Effects Loop Vs In Front Of The Amp?

There are so many different types of effects out there and it can be confusing to know how to set up your signal chain for the best quality of sound. Therefore, if you were asking yourself how to set up the best wah pedal, today is your lucky day. This article will help you answer the question on wah pedal in effects loop vs in front of the amp, which setup is the best.

Let us start by saying that there is no wrong way of hooking up your pedals on a signal chain. Whichever way you choose can offer you different audio results. Another thing you need to remember is that what may work for you may not work for another person. However, after reviewing both setups we will be able to tell which one is the best.

First, lets us discuss some common placements for pedals in general. There are five common ways that you can place your devices on the rig. These placements are based on how you place the volume pedals, time-based effects, modulation, gain based effects, and dynamics. Here are the placements:

  1. The first placement involves placing the volume pedal at the end or the beginning of your signal chain. This will provide slightly different functionality in different locations in the signal chain.
  2. The second placement involves placing time-based effects such as reverbs and delays at the end of the chain. Placing them this way is great as these effects work best in this type of placement.
  3. Phasers, flangers, chorus, and other modulation effects should be placed after gain based effects such as distortion/overdrive pedals in a chain.
  4. Overdrive/distortion pedals and other gain based effects should be placed after volume, pitch shifters, filters (wah), and dynamics.
  5. Volume pedals, pitch shifters, filters (wah), and dynamics should go at the beginning of the signal chain.

Below are two examples of effect setups that many guitarists use.

  • The first example involves placing the guitar first on the chain then the compressor, the wah pedal, the overdrive/distortion pedal, the chorus, tremolo, volume pedal, delay, reverb, then the amplifier at the end. This setup gives you full control of the signal’s volume just before it reaches the delay and reverb pedals. This setup is recommended for fading if the signal is fully overdriven because it does not clean it up at the lower range of the sweep.
  • The second setup example involves placing the guitar first on the chain, then the compressor, the volume pedal, the wah pedal comes afterwards, the overdrive/distortion pedal, the chorus, tremolo, delay, reverb, and then the amplifier at the end. This setup is great when you want to clean up the signal if you have the overdrive engaged by rocking back the volume a bit.

Other Options For Your Wah

There are other ways you can set up your pedals. One of them involves placing the pedals within the effects loop of your amp. In case you are wondering what an effects loop is, then here is your answer. It is an input and output loop of audio that is placed before the power amp and the preamp section of your amp. You should do this by using the Effects Send and Effects Return jacks. The Effects Send and Effects Return can be labeled Preamp Out and Power Amp In respectively in some amplifiers.

In most cases, the reverb and delay effects are placed within the effects loop of the amplifier by the player. This setup works great especially if you get your distortion and overdrive effects from the amp instead of the pedals. If you do not use this setup in this case, then you will get a muddy and washed out sound because you will be feeding the distortion and overdrive of your amp with reverb ambiance and delay repeats. Alternatively, if you want a different sound, you can place your modulation pedals within your amps effects loop.

There are two types of effects loops that you can use in your signal chain. These are parallel and series.

– Parallel effects loops involve passing half the signal directly on to the power amp section of the amplifier while sending the other half to pass through the effects from the present section of the amplifier and the Effects Sent OUTPUT. The great thing about this setup is that the signal that passes through the power amp of the amplifier is unaffected and can be heard in its original form. When using the parallel loop setup, it is recommended that you set the MIX control of your effects to 100% for the best sound quality.

– Series loop involves sending the whole signal through the effects from the preamp section of the amplifier then returning it from the Effects Return INPUT through the power amp.

Below are some setups that involve placing the effects within the amp’s effects loop:

The first example is as follows:

– The guitar comes first, then the wah pedal, the overdrive, the input of the amplifier, the chorus, tremolo, volume pedal, delay, the reverb, and finally the effect return of the amplifier. This setup allows you to get a unique sound from the flanger, phaser, or chorus if they are placed after the preamp section of the amp.

The second example is as follows:

– The guitar comes first, then the compressor, the wah pedal, and overdrive. The modulation effects such as phasers, flangers, and chorus come are placed after the overdrive, then the tremolo is placed next, the amp’s effects send, the delay, reverb, and finally, the amp’s effects return. In this setup, only the reverb and delay effects are placed the amplifier’s effects loop. What this setup does is it allows the signal from the preamp section of the amplifier to feed into the effects. As a result, distorted and overdriven sounds from the preamp of the amplifier come out clearer.

From what we have discussed, we can clearly say that in wah pedal in effects loop vs in front of the amp, the sound is great in both cases. Therefore, we cannot say that a particular setup between the two is the best. One thing to remember is that the setup that another person finds the best may not be the best for you. Therefore, we recommend that you try out all the setups we have discussed and pick the one that works best for you.

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