Simple Pedal Board Question

I have a very basic pedal board layout question.
If you had a tuner pedal, graphic equalizer pedal and a compressor pedal, would the signal order be best as:
Bass - Tuner - EQ - Comp
Bass - Tuner - Comp - EQ

Or does it make not a bit of difference in practice?


Oh man. I became interested in the question but like so many times the answer seems to be: It depends on what you want to achieve. I read through this website here:

As so often there is no “best” or “correct” way to do it but depends on what you want. If you go for a warm sound EQ first and if you want a clear sound Comp first.

There’s a lot more info there but that is the gist of the answer to your question.

And the rule that’ll be always true to a degree: Do what sounds right to you.


Many thanks @juli0r I’ll have a read of the website, but thanks for the summary as well.
I was thinking ‘im asking such a low-level question’ but it turns out there’s a whole site devoted to the answer!


By now I think there probably is almost no such thing regarding sound shaping and order of pedals. :face_with_monocle:


I found this guy’s reasoning for where to place pedals very helpful. The link will take you directly to the part of the video where he starts talking about where to put the EQ pedal.


I’m starting to realise that @juli0r!

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Many thanks @Theron, good video, appreciate you sending that and linking to the EQ bit.

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that’s what I would do. but


but it won’t make a huge difference in this case


I would always do bass-tuner-comp-EQ in this case, or Bass/EQ-tuner-comp-EQ, which is what I do now as my basses are active.

As @terb says, in this example it won’t make a huge difference. But rationale:

  • You want the tuner first*, for two reasons. First is you want to tune the pure signal from your bass before any other effects. Second, many tuners are buffered and having a buffer before a bunch of true bypass pedals is useful to prevent signal loss with passive basses.

  • Next, I would always put the compressor. The reason for this is I want to compress the tone from my bass before it goes into any other effects, and also, compressors usually provide a nice neutral boost that is useful before other effects. You can do interesting things with compression later in the chain, but immediately after the bass offers the most utility in my experience.

  • After this, go the other effects. In your example, just a preamp/EQ.

*there’s also a good alternative argument for putting the tuner dead last if you don’t mind manually switching off all your board to tune - it gives you a mute at the end to kill any lingering effects immediately. But this is pretty advanced effects usage as to get those lingering effects you pretty much need to be trying to to begin with.


Many thanks @howard for that. I have just ordered a passive bass, so the buffering issue is important as you suggest, and I think may be the overriding factor for me.
Could there also be an argument that says if you EQ first, then your compressor is not being asked to base it’s compression algorithm on signal volumes in frequencies you would be EQ’ing out perhaps anyway?


You could, sure! Absolutely. If you were planning to heavily EQ away (or boost) part of the signal that could be a factor.

But then I would say that is opening a more broad discussion about the role of EQ/preamps at different places in your signal chain, more than it is about compression. Having an EQ at the start (i.e. on an active bass, before any effects), in the middle (before and/or after other effects), or at the end (on your amp) can and does suit different purposes.

Similarly, putting a compressor after distortion can be very cool for certain things as well, to make the distortion sound tighter/crunchier. I actually have a second compressor there on my board (built in to my mid-chain preamp, actually) but I don’t use it super often.

So for general utility, I like having my compressor first.

To reiterate what others have said though, there is NO wrong way to do this, as long as you can get the sound you want.


it’s a matter of test and taste :smile:


Thanks again @howard, appreciate the time taken for the advice/reply, cheers :+1:

I agree @terb, I have a simple setup at the moment and will test it out before nailing anything down! Cheers


Hi @howard, thanks for your previous help, and after some playing around with the options as a learning exercise for me, my vote goes for compressor pedal before EQ pedal, as you suggested, and tuner pedal in front of everything. Thanks.