There comes a time when playing guitar simply through the amp starts to get a bit boring and a bit limiting. What you need is not a new guitar, nor a new amp, but to start your experiments with pedals. You want some more grit and aggression? Use distortion and overdrive! You need to add some atmosphere? Chorus, delay or reverb will change the way that your guitar sounds. But how do you set up all these pedals? As soon as you start buying them, you know that it’s not simply about stepping on them. Let me help you with this and explain the 5 essential things to know about them. You can also check one of the many youtube videos about pedals, like this one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZxJppShsxc
1. Pedal Placement
You go to the local music store and you choose a couple of pedals that you like. Back home the result is not what you had when you tried them, so you change their settings. A little while later, you still have the same problem, and you realize that it’s not about their settings… It’s about their order. You can get really experimental here, but its best to start with a conventional order which is: Start with your tuner and compressor, that usually work best with a clean signal. Then, add your overdrives and distortion, and last all the weirder stuff, like loops, delays, echo and reverb.
2. Power supply
Pedals are essentially small boxes containing electronics that shape your sound. Well, electronics always need a power supply, and this is something that usually doesn’t come as a part of the pedal. Remember to have always a good supply unit available and even if your pedal accepts 9v batteries, avoid them. The cost of constantly buying batteries can quickly rise, while there is no worse thing than a pedal running out of battery during a live show or a rehearsal.
When you start playing guitar, you just have a cable that goes from it to your amp. A few months later (and a few pedals later) you have about 20 different cables lying around and you really can’t figure out which one goes where. Once in a while, you just need to relax and tidy up everything, using the short angled jack cables to connect your pedals to minimize the confusion.
4. Buy a good pedalboard
Who needs a pedalboard when you can just buy pedals and simply have them on your feet? Well, once you have more than a couple of pedals, then just about anyone needs to have a good pedalboard in order to keep everything tidy and easy to use.
You buy a new pedal and you go to rehearse with your friends. You try to use it during the riff that you wrote, but it is actually quite harder to do so when playing live with others. Well, you just need some practice, as it can be hard to synchronize your playing with stepping on the pedal or tweaking it. Remember also that you need to have everything preset before you play live, as there is usually no time to change your settings while playing.