Extraordinary stereo from your effects pedal

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Record-Producer.com.

Friday August 16, 2019

Everyone knows how to connect a guitar effects pedal - plug the guitar into the pedal and the pedal into the amplifier. That's it, job done.

But that's boring. For one thing, you don't have to plug a guitar in, and you don't have to connect the output to an amplifier. You can use a guitar effects pedal just like you would use any piece of outboard gear.

Take an insert send from your console or mic preamp (or a spare output of your DAW) and feed it to the pedal; bring the output of the pedal back to the insert or auxiliary return.

The only compromise with this is that the input of the pedal is optimized for the nature of the signal that a guitar provides. So expect to have to be careful how much level you send to the pedal, otherwise unpleasant distortion might be the result.

Also, traditionally, effects pedals have not been among the quietest pieces of equipment. But what's wrong with a little bit of texture now and then? And you can always gate it or cut out the noisy 'silences'.

Once you start using your effects pedals like this you will realize that you can use them for all kinds of sound sources. But also you will be able to connect them in more creative ways.

For example, you could route the dry, uneffected signal to the left output and route the effected signal to the right. Hard pan both to maximize the impact of the effect.

This will sound massively different to the pedal on its own. Somehow the ear pays more attention when it has both versions of the sound to consider.

One word of caution however. Some effects pedals invert the phase of the signal, so what comes out is an upside-down, effected version of what went in. In stereo, this might sound fantastic, but if you collapse the mix into mono, you will find that the similarities in the two signals cancel each other out. Some effected sound will be left behind, but it won't sound as you expect it to, to the point where a mono version of your mix will be worthless. And of course mono is important for radio and TV plays.

One last bonus is that there is simply such a great choice of effects pedals available. And since you will now be using them in a way that hardly anyone else is, you are almost guaranteed to get a unique sound.

Like, follow, and comment on this article at Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram or the social network of your choice.

Come on the Audio Masterclass Pro Home Studio MiniCourse - 60 great hints and tips to get your home recording studio MOVING

It's FREE!

Get It Now >>

An interesting microphone setup for violinist Nigel Kennedy

Are you compressing too much? Here's how to tell...

If setting the gain correctly is so important, why don't mic preamplifiers have meters?

The Internet goes analogue!

How to choose an audio interface

Audio left-right test. Does it matter?

Electric guitar - compress before the amp, or after?

What is comb filtering? What does it sound like?

NEW: Audio crossfades come to Final Cut Pro X 10.4.9!

What is the difference between EQ and filters? *With Audio*

What difference will a preamp make to your recording?

Watch our video on linear phase filters and frequency response with the FabFilter Pro Q 2

Read our post on linear phase filters and frequency response with the Fabfilter Pro Q 2

Harmonic distortion with the Soundtoys Decapitator

What's the best height for studio monitors? Answer - Not too low!

What is the Red Book standard? Do I need to use it? Why?

Will floating point change the way we record?

Mixing: What is the 'Pedalboard Exception'?

The difference between mic level and line level

The problem with parallel compression that you didn't know you had. What it sounds like and how to fix it.

Compressing a snare drum to even out the level

What does parallel compression on vocals sound like?

How to automate tracks that have parallel compression

Why mono is better than stereo for recording vocals and dialogue