Do You Even Know How to Use that Effects Pedal?

As an electric guitar player, for the longest time now, I’ve had a hard time getting a good tone. As you probably know, good tone comes from a good amp and good effects chain. You can have the greatest guitar, but if you run it through a crappy amp and effects, your really great guitar will sound really crappy.

What I’ve done is started from the ground up on my effects pedals. For awhile now, I’ve been using a Line 6 PodXT Live, but I’ve found it doesn’t really suit me well since I use my amp and don’t use the amp modeling on the PodXT Live. So I’m buying a couple different pedals to suit the type of music I play.

All to say, I’ve been making some changes to my current setup. In the process, there is one thing that I’ve been reminded of as I’m making some upgrades that is important for all guitarists to keep in mind.

Taking it Slow

The mistake I’ve seen others make is to buy pedal after pedal without taking the time to learn how each pedal fits into their tone. It’s a myth that the more pedals you buy the better you will sound!

When getting a new pedal, take the time to learn the pedal before getting a new one. See how that pedal fits in with your tone. Understand what each setting and knob does and how that effects the tone. Are you getting the sound you want? If not, how do you go about doing that?

I almost just made the mistake of not taking the time to really learn my new pedals. Earlier this week, my new overdrive (Fulldrive 2) and delay (Boss DD-20) came in the mail.

Ecstatically, I ripped apart the boxes, ran over to my amp, fumbled around for awhile with the cables trying to hook them up, and started strumming away. This was fun, and I got a lot of neat sounds out of these two pedals, and I was quite pleased.

However, after the fact, I was surprised that it wasn’t really until I peeled back the pages of the manual that a world of options opened up for how I can use these pedals.

Now, I realize some pedals are more complicated in their features than others, and you might say, reading the manual is for idiots, but the point is: take the time to get the most out of the gear you buy before buying more gear.

Another challenge for you is: For every effect pedal you get, learn a new scale.

Just imagine how much better we’d all be if we did this!

About Brett McQueen

Brett McQueen is a musician, songwriter, and the founder and editor of Guitar Friendly and Ukulele Tricks. Learn more about him here and follow him on Twitter at @GuitarFriendly.

Comments

  1. JD

    Sound advise, I’m doing the same with pedals, taking my time learning the pedal before moving on. My new and only OD is a Timmy. So far its amazing, i’m very happy.

  2. 80% of your tone is in your amp.

    The rest should be in your guitar, and you should only get pedals to augment the sound.

    Though at the end of the day it’s all in the fingers, if you’re talking about gear, most of your investment should be into your amp.

  3. I used to be obsessed with pedals too. I had a BOSS ME-33 and didn’t know what I was doing with it. Now I’ve simplified to a Tremolo and a Wah pedal.

    Suits me to a tee

  4. Some pedals have a learning curve and some just sing right away. There is also a tendency to want to use the most extreme settings. I think it’s a psychological thing. Kinda like if you paid for it it better do something wild rather than something subtle.

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