In what order do I place effect pedals on my pedalboard?

Every guitarist likes to play and puzzle with multiple guitar effects. Then the key question is always, what is the correct and / or the best order of these effect pedals on your pedalboard. There are a number of basic guidelines, but there is no one correct order that always gives the best result and in other words this is not an exact science.

The order of effect pedals affects the guitar sound and is also very personal. To get started, you can follow these directions below, but feel free to experiment with a different order. For example, a Wahwah behind a Distortion, or a Distortion behind a Wahwah, this is a huge difference in terms of sound … Try it yourself!

order of effect pedals

1. Tuner : tuner to tune your guitar. The guitar tuner MUST be the first to stand your effects chain, because the slightest interference or deviation from the signal (if only because of the number of cables in between) can cause less accurate tuning. Please note, a true bypass tuner often turns off the sound or signal when you turn on the guitar tuner. Because I like to tune my guitar continuously, e.g. even while playing a song, my tuner (TC Electronic Polytune) is connected in parallel via a Morley Tripler instead of in series.

2. Wahwah : Wah, WahWah, CryBaby, AutoWah, MultiWah, NovaWah … in short, Wah-pedals. Uhm … wah-t?

3. Compressor : A compressor or compression effect pedal provides a more compact sound, especially useful when playing more funky rhythms and taps. It ensures that peaks are literally pushed together, i.e. a too high peak (so loud signals) becomes quieter, the low peaks (silent signals) remain just as loud, and this whole can then be set a few dB louder so that it seems like the quieter passage is boosted. The intention is to get the quieter and louder passages together to about an equal level. How extreme this is set depends on personal choice and the type of riff or genre. A compressor makes details and nuances more audible, but on the other hand, your playing dynamics disappear due to this effect – depending on how extreme you do the adjustment.

4. Distortion / Overdrive : gain, crunch, distortion, fuzz, overdrive, verzerrer, driver, tube drive, metalzone, boost drive … Broadly speaking, this is all the same. One effect (crunch) a bit more extreme than the other (e.g. distortion).

5. EQ : or an equalizer in full. Literally translated, this is an equalizer or tone control. This strengthens or weakens certain frequency ranges of the signal, and thus changes the timbre of the sound.

6. modulation : modulation or modulation effects. This includes guitar effects such as: chorus, phaser, flanger, vibe, rotovibe, vibrato, detune, phase shifter, harmonizer, pitch shifter, envelope, LFO phaser, univibe, harmonist, ring modulator, tremolo, …

7. ambience : Last but not least, the ambience of atmosphere and spatial effects. This includes guitar effects such as echo, delay and reverb. Please note, reverb is built in by default on most combo guitar amps – then it will automatically be the last in your effects chain.


Experimentation is the message, but there are a few rules you should keep. For example, there is no point in placing a guitar tuner or tuner behind a chorus or pitch shifter – the pointer of your tuner will then do nothing but swing back and forth crazy. This above pedal order is considered standard. For example, many guitarists choose to place the volume pedal behind the overdrive pedal, but just as many put their volume pedal in front of the overdrive. In the first case, you control the volume of your guitar sound without losing the distortion. A volume pedal for overdrive has the same effect as the volume knob on your guitar: at a lower volume, less distortion occurs. So you can create those typical swell or fade-in expression effects – for example, listen to Brothers In Arms by Mark Knopfler / Dire Straits. He uses this technique very often to an expressive guitar sound to the message, but there are a few rules you should observe. For example, there is no point in placing a guitar tuner or tuner behind a chorus or pitch shifter – the pointer of your tuner will then do nothing but swing back and forth crazy. This above pedal order is considered standard.

In general, effect pedals that produce noise are placed at the beginning of the effect chain. We are talking about overdrive/distortion/gain effects, compressors and wah pedals. If these are later placed in the signal chain, they will amplify the noise of all previous effects. After these producing pedals, come the effect pedals that modify or modulate the signal. Logical, because you first want to produce a basic sound, and only then adjust this signal with all kinds of effects. This means, for example, that chorus effects are only placed after overdrive effects. Think about what natural sound effects you want to create with your pedalboard. Distortion pedals have been developed to simulate a sound effect that takes place in the amplifier. A reverb or delay pedal, on the other hand, simulates an effect that occurs under the influence of the physical environment. A reverb pedal should therefore be placed at the end, usually after the delay.


Buffer effect pedal has minimal adverse effect on the signal, even when the pedal is switched off. This is especially noticeable when combining several inexpensive effects pedals. A true bypass pedal does not affect the signal, but has an output with a high impedance which ensures that you cannot use long cables or effect loops. When adding more true bypass pedals you will notice a loss of treble and clarity. A good middle ground that is widely used is to add one or two buffered bypass pedals, usually at the beginning or at the end of the effects, and further use true bypass pedals. Please note that the number of meters of cable should theoretically not exceed 6 meters in total, in order to avoid loss of signal quality. Now this is theory, in practice this is almost impossible, just calculate for example on a stage: 6m cable from guitar to pedalboard, 10 pedals with 20cm cable each, 6m cable from pedalboard to your amp … 14 meters? But OK there are cables and cables… I’ll devote another article to that!