Over time I've had a few questions via the AllExperts website asking about guitar effects, so I decided to put together a short series of tutorials to give a basic understanding of what guitar effects are out there, and what they sound like.
Put simply, guitar effects are electronic devices which change the sound of a guitar. In this seires of tutorials we'll take a look at (and listen to) the basic types of effects which you might typically expect to come across. This is by no means a definitive list, and there are a wider range of sounds available from each effect type than are covered here - really this is just intended to give you a basic grounding.
Guitar effects fall into a number of broad categories, and the order in which you chain effects together is important. As a general rule of thumb, the order is:
(Click on any of the above to find out more about those types of effect)
Incidentally. overdrive/distortion can come from effects units (such as pedals, AKA "stomp boxes") or from the 'dirty' channel on the amp. Often you will find that an amplifier will have an effects loop - this is a pair of jack sockets which allow the signal after the dirty stage to be taken out to effects units and then back into the amp power amp stage.
As well as the more traditional pedal form of effects, guitar effects are increasingly available in modern rack-based signal processors. These offer a wide range of very sophisticated effects in a single unit, and often offer failities such as integration with MIDI.In all cases, it's important not to over-use effects. A trap that a lot of people fall into is to set the intensity of an effect too high. As well as potentially sounding less-than-perfect, this can also distract the listeners' attention from the actual notes being played.
When you're familiar with the different types of effect, you might like to listen to a worked example of using effects to build a rock guitar sound. or build a rock guitar sound.
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