Instructions for Send & Return on an Amp Head

By Simon Foden
Amp heads are standalone units that are connected to external speakers.

The “Send” and “Return” jacks on your amplifier head allow you to create an effects loop. The benefit of using a loop as opposed to connecting your effects to the input is that the effects only influence the sound once it has passed the power amp stage. The effects loop circuit is located between the preamp and power amp. This approach creates a clearer guitar signal because the guitar directly is connected to the amp. The effects loop approach gives you more control over your tone and results in less residual hum from the effects.

Connect an instrument cable to the output jack on your guitar. Connect the other end of the instrument cable to the “Input” jack on the front of your amplifier head.

Position your effect pedal(s) in your preferred order in front of the amplifier.

Connect a second instrument cable to “Send” jack on the rear of your amplifier head. Connect the other end of this cable to the “Input” jack on your effect pedal and the “Return” jack on the amp head. Connect a third instrument cable to the “Output” jack on the effect pedal. If you are using more than one effect pedal, connect a patch lead, which a small instrument cable, to the “Output” jack of the first pedal and to the “Input” jack of the next pedal. Connect each subsequent pedal with a patch lead. Attach the third instrument cable to the “Output” jack of the final pedal in the loop and the “Return” jack. This creates a looped signal chain between the power amp, where the volume is generated, and the preamp, where the signal is processed.

Connect an instrument cable to each “Speaker Out” jack on the rear of the amplifier head. Plug the other end of each cable into the “Input” jacks on your cabinet. Amp heads must be connected to a speaker cabinet.

Turn down the volume, and turn on the power. Gradually increase the volume. With none of the effects engaged, only the guitar signal is amplified. If you were connecting to the amp via the effect pedals, there would be an influence on the tone regardless of whether the pedals were engaged. Because the pedals are connected to a separate circuit, this does not happen.

Step on each pedal to turn them on and off. Adjust the “Level” dial on each pedal to your preference. The “Level” dial governs the volume of the pedal. Set it to the right of center to make the pedal volume louder than the guitar volume. This creates a boost function. If you want the overall volume to remain the same whether the pedals are on or off, set each pedal “Level” dial to the center.

Tip

For a heavy sound, put your distortion and overdrive pedals at the end of the effects loop.

Warning

Always turn the amp volume down before you turn it on. Loud bursts of sound caused by loose cables may damage your hearing.

About the Author

Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.