Let’s Talk Amp Effects Loops

Discussion in 'Amplifiers' started by LSchefman, Jan 18, 2019.

  1. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Wally’s Archon thread brings up the topic of effects loops, which I agree are great for some players, though I jokingly refer to them as the spawn of the devil due to the noise, impedance-matching issues, and level-matching problems that many loops have.

    I like putting my effects in the front of an amp, where they lived from time immemorial until the 80s, when some mad scientist or other got the idea to add a circuit between preamp and amp. There’s no right or wrong to this, of course. It’s just a topic for discussion and nothing more!

    I found ‘em cranky back in my rack days, and amps where they can be switched completely out of the amp’s circuitry (one of my current amps is a Mesa with that feature) has proven to my predictable satisfaction that the amp sounds more like what I wanna hear without the loop. And YMMV, of course!

    I have heard (but not personally used) the Two-Rock version of the Dumbleator, a tube device designed to improve an effects loop; if I was an effects loopist, I’d find one based on the improvement. But that’s an aside, since it’s not coherent with my amp strategy.

    Now, the main reason I don’t use a loop has nothing to do with any of the above; I just like what happens when my effects all go into the front of the amp. If I felt differently, of course I’d use the loop. After all, you do what works for your situation!

    How do you feel about effects loops?
     
  2. sergiodeblanc

    sergiodeblanc Get in, loser, we’re going shopping.

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    Personally, I’m not really down with them.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m cool with the compromise of a dirt pedal into a clean-ish amp so my time based effects don’t sound distorted. And if I were to revisit my youth and be in a metal/hardcore/hessian band where I was playing distorted all the time, I’d just go back to rack gear.
     
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  3. ViperDoc

    ViperDoc Plugged In.

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    Not all loops are created equally. I much prefer compression, time and space after the preamp, so a well-buffered loop is my personal preference. Amps generally do sound more lively without them, I just don’t prefer distorted delays. The best of both worlds is likely a wet-dry rig, but I’ve not spent enough time to perfect that approach. Maybe I should!
     
  4. sergiodeblanc

    sergiodeblanc Get in, loser, we’re going shopping.

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    As long as you don’t have to haul it anywhere, I say go for it.
     
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  5. ViperDoc

    ViperDoc Plugged In.

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    I might try it with two 112 combos when I have a minute.
     
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  6. sergiodeblanc

    sergiodeblanc Get in, loser, we’re going shopping.

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    That might not be so bad.
     
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  7. Rider1260

    Rider1260 New Member

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    Even if cranky at times I NEED my effects loop reverb and delay ( time based effects ) just sound so much better clean, a shimmer or even fake feedback like sounds :)
    Yes they can be difficult , noisy and tough to get the levels to match. The only way it works better is to take the amp dry and the effects into a board and mix the effects in a subgroup that is complated but the sound is killer ( use to run my Roland Synth Guitar like this ) since I had a mixer with my synth it was easy to do.
    Everything I do at the moment is 4 wire
     
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  8. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    One of the better recording uses my Lone Star gets has been as a wet amp on the clean channel, with either the DG30 or HXDA as the dirty amp. It’s a gigantic, lovely sound. Remember to isolate the ground on one of the amps; I use a Lehle splitter for that purpose.

    Every time I do this I feel like I ought to always do it, and yet I don’t for reasons unknown. Just goes to show ya.
     
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  9. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Your youth was probably more fun than my youth.

    Wait, everyone’s youth was more fun than my youth, come to think of it.
     
  10. elvis

    elvis Hamfisted String Banger

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    Really the best thing is to use a load box and speaker IR followed by time-based effects. In a pinch (or on the gig) I find the loop to be just fine. Though I buffer it and address the other issues that cause tone and response problems.

    In my experience, I'd never use a loop on a classic style amp. Never used one on my deluxe reverb. But for a high gain amp it's absolutely necessary.
     
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  11. sergiodeblanc

    sergiodeblanc Get in, loser, we’re going shopping.

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    Maybe, it had its ups and downs.

    I think for me, the trick is to not have a switchable loop. Like, if I can’t sit there and turn it on and off to compare how it sounds I’m way better off.
     
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  12. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Interesting! I sometimes use the load box/IR, too. Which do you use, how do you like them, etc?

    I’d probably agree that effects loops were much more of a need if I played high gain amps. The highest gain amp I’ve owned was a Mark V, but I didn’t use the highest gain channel, and basically set the amp up for clean and crunch. Yes, I’m boring!
     
  13. Mozzi

    Mozzi https://imgur.com/user/BAMozzy

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    Personally, I think the Effects Loop is very useful on an Amp and wouldn't buy one without one. Well maybe I would if it was bought for a very specific need/sound. I don't have an issue with putting everything in to the front end and perhaps would do for ease - but only if I was playing on the clean channel. As soon as I use a crunch/lead channel, I prefer modulation, delay, reverb etc after the pre-amp so the effects loop is very useful. This is no different really from putting your modulation, Reverb etc in front of your OD,TS, Distortion etc. If the Reverb is going into the front end, the 'reverb' is also being affected by the gain settings from the pre-amp - much like it would if you put it in front of a Distortion or Overdrive pedal. I don't want my delay or reverb to be affected by gain but to affect my 'gain' tone so are 'clean' not dirty.

    If you are going into a Clean amp, then it doesn't matter if you don't have an FX Loop. The actual delay or reverb are still going to be clean because the Amp is clean, put them in front of a dirty amp, then the everything is 'dirty' - inc Reverb, Delay, Chorus etc.

    Its horses for courses as they say - some people only use the Clean channel and use pedals to give them their crunch/lead tones - its a lot easier and has a lot less wiring - just the one cable to the Amp. Others may want to use the dirty channels but don't want to dirty certain effects so the FX Loop is the best option.
     
  14. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    I get where you’re coming from, but I put modulation and delay right into the front of a fairly dirty amp. I like how everything gets glued together and crapped up.

    It’s the old-school, Hendrix-Zep-EVH way!
     
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  15. Mozzi

    Mozzi https://imgur.com/user/BAMozzy

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    It has uses - nothing is wrong and it's all down to the effect you like. As I said though, I do like to have a clean delay, reverb etc and by that I mean that the delay and reverb is not being affected by the gain and distorting for a much clearer effect. Reverb in particular is much more natural as you wouldn't get gain added to it in a hall. I like to add all the tone shaping (distortion, OD, TS, Fuzz etc - inc the amps gain, first and then use that to add effects - like delay, reverb etc at the very end. I want to have a high gain, distorted tone and have that 'delayed' or the basis for the chorus to work - I don't want the effects of the chorus, delay etc being affected by the amps gain and muddying the effect - hence I like the option of an FX loop.

    I would also rather have an FX loop and not need it than not have one and want it. A lot of amps with FX like the Boss Katana for example also puts these on after the Pre-amp so they are not affected by the pre-amps EQ and gain. Not saying that this approach is the 'right' way - it really depends on what you are going for. Its like the Fuzz into a Wah or Wah into a Fuzz - both produce a different sound and it really depends on what sound you are going for so order does make a difference. Therefore I like the option of an FX loop so I can have the choice of how my 'clean' sound from my guitar eventually comes out of the speakers - the exact order of how that sound is shaped by each stage in the chain - whether I want to delay a crunch tone or crunch a delayed tone for example...
     
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  16. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    Mozzi, no doubt it’s a nice option to have even if you’re only going to use it once on an important project!

    I’m not really against amps with loops. I just don’t use them. But if a project came along that needed one, I’d of course use it, and have done so in the past.

    In the 90s I was all loops and high end rack gear, with Eventide H3000, TC M5000 (successor to the 2290), and various Lexicon stuff in a refrigerator sized rack. Sounded great!

    But my tastes changed, and could change again for all I know!
     
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  17. Wakester

    Wakester Re Member

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    I'm kind of torn on this. I tried my digitech RP355 through the loop of the Katana, it honestly sounded horrendous, but Direct it was fine. I tried my little Donner Cruncher Multi-effects pedal through the loop, and it sounded as good as the onboard effects. Then there are the built in effects that just need a laptop to unlock their full potential. I can see the benefit of using both methods, and/or the combination of the two.
     
  18. andy474x

    andy474x Knows the Drill

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    I’m torn between calling them a necessary evil, or a very useful tool for the gigging guitarist.

    When it comes to preference of “before vs after” any dirt, it’s exactly that, preference. Before, the repeats will start to clean up as they drop off and push the OD less, after they’ll be a recreation of exactly what was played, and I think there are times when one might be the better choice over the other. Although, I will say, I know what Les means about “gluing together” the sound. Funny, just yesterday my wife and I went to this gourmet sandwich joint she loves - me, meh. It’s ok, but I’ve never been a huge fan, and I couldn’t put my finger on a reason until yesterday. It’s because my sandwich always tastes like a combination of all the things on it, but that’s it. They don’t blend in a synergistic way into something more than what’s there, like the flavors are too distinct to become one. No sandwich enlightenment, very scary stuff.

    Anyways, using an effects loop has been critical to gigging (the way I do it) for years, unless I’m putting everything into a clean amp. With delay and reverb, if I switch from a clean or slightly dirty tone to a very compressed, high gain tone, the intensity and duration of those effects is thrown way off. Second, on an amp without a solo boost feature, I use a pedal to A/B between volume levels, especially when playing with 2 guitarists, that little push is critical.

    I rarely use my loop in the studio though. Not that I’m there a ton, but when it comes to pure tone and minimal extra noise, those loops (and the pedals in them) can be unkind.

    So, yeah, it’s a tool, with advantages and disadvantages. Which does nothing to advance this conversation, sandwich spirituality is the only take-away here.
     
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  19. elvis

    elvis Hamfisted String Banger

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    I A/B the loop vs not loop until I get the loop 95% or better the same as no loop. Switching loops can be helpful for that, but often the switched loop is not the same gain as without, so the loop can't be compared via the switch.
     
  20. LSchefman

    LSchefman Hears Tones

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    I’m totally into sandwich spirituality! The flavors must merge into a unique thing greater than the sum of its parts!
     
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