How to Set Up a Guitar Effects Pedal Board

Things You'll Need

  • Assorted guitar effects pedals
  • 9v batteries (1 per pedal)
  • AC adapter
  • Effect pedal multiple input adapter
  • 4-inch long 1/4 inch cables (1 per pedal)
  • 10- to 12-foot guitar cables (2)
  • Guitar amplifier

One of the reasons the guitar has become so popular among modern musicians is its ability to apply effects to notes and chords. With a wide array of effects pedals available, guitar players can spend countless hours altering the sound of a single note. In order to ensure that you are ready to apply the right effect to your guitar, it is important to know how to properly set up your guitar effects pedal board.

Place your effects pedals on your pedal board in the proper order. The order is very important to ensure that you get the most out of each effect. Your pedals should be lined up from left to right in this order, Filters (Wah-Wah, Phaser), Compressor, Distortion, Equalizers, Pitch Effects (Harmonizer, Pitch-Bender, Vibrato), Modulators (Flanger, Chorus), Level Controllers (Limiter, Volume Pedal, Tremolo) and Echo Effects (Delay, Reverb). If you do not have all of these pedals it is OK, simply place the ones you have in this order.

Decide whether you want to power your pedals with batteries or an AC adapter. There are pros and cons to each, so it is really a matter of personal preference which one you choose.

Insert a 9v battery into each of the pedals on your pedal board or plug in the AC adapter.

Attach the effects pedal multiple input adapter to the AC adapter. The multi-adapter will have between five and eight adapters attached to it. Plug these adapters into all of the pedals on your pedal board. If you have more pedals than the multi-adapter can handle, use two adapters.

Connect each pedal to the pedal next to it by placing one end of a 4-inch cable into the output of the first pedal, and the other end into the input jack of the second pedal. Continue this process until all of your pedals are connected. Leave the input jack of the first (left) pedal, and the output jack of the last (right) pedal, open as they will be used to plug in your guitar and amp. The output jack is usually located on the right side of a pedal, and the input jack is usually located on the left side. When connected, each pedal will activate its power and turn on.

Plug one end of one of the guitar cables into the output jack located on the body of your guitar. Plug the other end of that cable into the input jack of the first (left) pedal on your board.

Connect one end of the other guitar cable into the output jack of the last (right) pedal on your board. Plug the other end of that cable into the input jack on your amplifier. Turn on the amplifier.


  • If you use batteries instead of the adapter, carry extra batteries as they tend to run out fairly quickly. If you use an AC adapter, carry an extension chord, and/or power strip, in order to ensure that you will always be able to reach a power source in your rehearsal or performance space.


  • Do not turn on your amplifier until all your pedals are connected and your guitar and amp are connected to your pedal board. Failure to do so may cause a loud popping sound when you plug your board into a powered-up amp.