Using effects pedals between your guitar and amplifier can help you create plenty of cool sounds, which electric guitarists have been experimenting with since the days of Jimi Hendrix. In fact, many effects are known for the guitarist or songs that featured them. Hendrix made wah-wah and octave pedals famous; Stevie Ray Vaughan loved overdrive; and Jimmy Page experimented with flangers, fuzz boxes, and tremolo pedals.
If you use more than one pedal, it’s not just a case of “plug and play.” You have to get their placement within the signal chain correct. Placing certain effects pedals out of order gives rise to unpleasant and unwanted sounds, so it’s important to know what doesn’t work where. For instance, placing reverb at the beginning of an effects chain will add unproductive reverb to every subsequent effect, while overdrive and distortion should not be put last.
The graphic to the left shows a suggested chain. The chart below shows examples of legendary songs and artists that have used them. Although it’s unlikely you will use all of them at one time, this is a good template to follow as you add pedals to your collection.
—adapted from Introduction to Guitar Tone & Effects by David M. Brewster, Hal Leonard Corporation, Milwaukee, WI, 2003.