Effects Loop: A Brief & Simple Explanation

The Term “effects loop” sounds complicated. And there are a lot of explanations out there that over complicate the effects loop. I’ll try and explain the effects loop as simply as I can.

When plugging straight into an amplifier the signal is essentially going in front of the amp and is being affected by the pre amp and power amp of the amplifier itself. We then us the EQ knobs on the amp to tweak the sound to our liking.

When using guitar pedals, we plug into the pedals first and then into the amp. This is called putting the pedals in front of your amp. Therefore we are affecting the sound of the signals before it hits the amp.

The effects loop is just like the loop that you’d put in front of your amp only the signal comes after the preamp and power amp.

Distortion pedals usually go in the front of the amp while delays and reverbs go in the effects loop after the dirt to maintain its qualities. Putting reverbs and delays in front of the amp, the sound tends to get messy.

This is the most simplified explanation I could think of. The concept goes more in-depth such as series vs parrallel effects loops etc. Read a more in-depth explanation of the effects loop here.

Here’sa visual explanation of the effects loop:

Using An Equalizer Pedal For Bedroom Tone

There are two ways in which an Equalizer pedal can be used for bedroom tone. The one method tends more toward the tone as apposed to the volume of the guitar. I’ve only tried the first method but have investigated the second. I’ll explain..

1) The First Method

The first method requires any kind of equalizer pedal or processor. What we are doing here is using the EQ either in the effects loop or in front of the amp to tweak or “tune” to the room. Say for example your amps high end comes through in your room, you can use the EQ pedal to turn down those higher frequencies. Or, say you want to turn down the bass so the neighbors don’t complain. You can turn down the lower frequencies to achieve this. If your EQ pedal has a volume control like the ten band equalizer by MXR , even better.

I personally prefer using the eq pedal in the effects loop as it allows you to tweak the overall tone of the amp. Putting this pedal in front of the amp also works but I feel it changes the sounds of some of my pedals too drastically.

2) The second Method

With the second technique, you will unfortunately need an EQ that has a volume control. So you wouldn’t be able to do this with a six band EQ (unless it has a volume control). This method works pretty much exactly the same way as the volume pedal technique which you can read here. The only difference is that the one control you use with your foot and the other control is an up and down dial. I won’t go into more depth about the volume pedal technique as I’ve got a blog post about it already. In that article you can find a video that demonstrates both the EQ method and the volume pedal method.

The second method is best suited for a cranked tube amp so you can still get the gritty sound but just at a lower volume. The first method is great for cutting unwanted frequencies for both live and for your bedroom.

For a relatively cheap eq pedal that is robust and sounds good is the GE-7 by Boss

Watch the video by “That Pedal Show” explaining why you need an Equaliser pedal:

Using The Volume Pedal When Practicing Guitar

The volume pedal is an effective tool for a live scenario but not many people know that this pedal can be used to turn down the volume of your amp without loosing any gain. I have recently learned this trick from Phillip McKnight’s Youtube channel. I tried it for myself and found it really useful.

The so called secret to this trick is by putting the volume pedal in the effects loop. If you don’t know what an effects loop is you can read my simple effects loop explanation article here. By putting the pedal in the effects loop, the volume function comes after all the dirt and not in front of the amp. If you put the pedal in front of the amp, essentially you are turning down the gain. This is not cool and is the complete opposite of what we are trying to achieve. if you want to practice guitar, at night with a high gain sound, put the volume pedal in the effects loop.

The volume pedal allows you to adjust the volume to the suit your level and you can practice high gain leads or riffs etc at night or whenever you want. I would say one thing, I’d never really use this for a clean sound. I feel the volume on the amp is adequate for practicing for a clean sound but thats just my personal opinion. I think this technique is best suited for a cranked or dirty tube amp. It still works on solid state amps but I recommend rather getting a proper practice amp instead.

Just a friendly warning, don’t expect this to work if your amp has a parallel effects loop as explain in my article.

Top Volume Pedals

  • Boss FV500H 

 

  • Ernie Ball VP 

 

You can watch the volume pedal technique by Philip below: