My old guitar pedalboard.
I bought the pedals between 2002 and 2003, almost all second-hand. I had a case made by Fantoni of Turin and I had everything assembled by a technician, Livio Tessa, who created a double bottom for housing the power cables and filters.
With the double bottom, the cables can be connected freely, connecting the pedals in the desired sequence, allowing you to have a free arrangement of the pedals on the support surface, thus avoiding to have disordered “interweaving” of exposed wires. To be clear, on the pedal board the phaser is placed after the distortion and after the chorus, but in the connecting chain it is actually before the wha, the distortion and the chorus.
The sequence is:
Boss Tu-2 tuner, Boss CS3 compressor, Boss GE7 equalizer, EHX Small Stone phaser, Dunlop 95Q Wha, Tech21 Sansamp Tri-Ac preamp-overdrive, EHX Small Clone chorus, Boss Volume pedal, Boss RV3 Digital Delay-Reverb.
By connecting the reverb after the volume pedal, you have the possibility to close the volume but to allow you to still hear the last repeats of the delay and the “tail” of the reverb.
Soon I will change the link sequence because, long ago, I replaced the old wha with this new Dunlop 95Q which has a very wide dynamic range and tends to saturate the input of the pedals that follow, thus generating an unpleasant distortion output also on clean sounds.
I will change the sequence by moving the connection of the wha before the compressor instead of after, this way the CS3 will level the output gain of the wha, avoiding to saturate the other pedals.
I will also move the phaser link after the wha, because I discovered that using the wha together with the phaser, if the latter is after the wha, creates a strange “underwater” effect with clean sounds, and a “psychedelic” effect if used together with saturation. I always prefer to have the phaser before the distortion or overdrive to get the typical sound a la Van Halen or to get the typical softness of the Eagles’ Hotel California solo.
After modifying the links, the effects chain of my pedal board will be: tuner – wha – compressor – EQ – phaser – overdrive – chorus – volume – delay – reverb.
Now taking into consideration the changes I will make, I explain the reason for my choice in the sequence of the pedals.
The guitar signal arrives directly to the tuner, so it reacts better without interferences of any activated effects, and the tuning is more precise. Boss pedals have an incoming buffer and they are NOT true bypass (great thing!), so if you use passive pickups, you do not risk that the pedal switch overloads the signal too much but, on the contrary, strengthens its path along the other pedals and connection cables. I always avoid true bypass pedals.
Now the signal arrives healthy and loud at the Wha, a notorious pedal for its ability to alter the dynamics and brightness of the sound in bypass mode. The Wha is simply an active tone control and, therefore, I always prefer to have it in the first position before other pedals. After numerous experiments I found that the best sound is obtained by using it at the top of the effects chain. In fact my past attempt to use it after the phaser has failed miserably so much that, as I said before, I will move the link.
I use the equalizer to change the sound of the guitar and not the general output of the effects, that’s why I want to have it at the top of the signal chain. But I do not want to have it before the compressor, because compressors “compress everything”, and the equalizer’s boost effect of some frequencies would be nullified.
The rest of the effects chain is standard: phaser before saturation, chorus after saturation and before delay and reverb, volume before delay-reverb, for the reasons listed above.
Check out the pics of the case’s double bottom with the related connections. Notice the filters! Result: ZERO HUM NOISE.
(In place of the SansAmp I had a Boss Turbo Overdrive and a Boss Blues Driver BD2).