I am 13 years old and play in a band. I have five foot pedals: distortion, volume, phaser, chorus and a pedal that makes one guitar sound like two. I have a gig in a few months, and I was wondering what order to put the pedals in so that nothing goes wrong. I heard that setting them up in the wrong order could cause problems.
Hey, Jake. First of all, don’t get freaked out about setting your pedals up wrong for the gig. The truth is that there is no wrong way to do it. You could hook up your guitar pedals in any possible configuration and still probably get a respectable sound. Some pedals (particularly certain old-style fuzz boxes) are electronically designed to have a guitar plugged into them. Sometimes when you plug the output of another pedal into them, they react in a way they weren’t fully designed to. In some cases, the difference in sound is very slight; in others, it’s not so slight. But rest assured, you won’t do any damage to your equipment by hooking up your pedals in a particular order.
The key to getting a good sound is to get the most out of every piece of equipment you use and find the best way to make the pedals work together. Experiment with different configurations, and see what sounds good to you and your bandmates. Record yourself, even if it’s just on a cheap tape recorder. It’s easier to evaluate your tone when you’re not playing.
Also listen carefully to other guitarists you admire, and try to figure out what it is you like about their sound. Over time, you’ll wind up picking our different things you like from different players and making them components of your sound.
I hope all of this doesn’t sound scary or overwhelming to you, because it should be fun! I’m twice your age and more obsessed with guitar than ever! If 13 and in a band, I’m sure you’re the same way. Experiment with your gear. Twist every knob on everything you own and really find out what each pedal is capable of.
To answer your question about what order I would put your pedals in, I would start by trying it this way: volume, distortion, phase, chorus, two-in-one. But see what sounds best to you. Don’t sweat your upcoming gig. Go out and kick some butt, and, by all means, have fun! In the unlikely event that something should go wrong with your gear, just keep playing like you rule. Nine times out of 10, the audience never knows the difference…honestly. Good luck!