About LeoKisomma

I learned to play guitar by feel for a long time. By the time I had my first lesson I had already been playing for about 1.5 years. I asked about the modes and chords and the really hard stuff that I couldn't understand at that point. All in all I think I only had lessons for about one year in total.

I have now been playing for 7.5-8 years now, and I have thoroughly enjoyed every second of it. It has always felt, and will most likely continue to be, a deeply personal kind of freedom for me. People have always teased me and taunted me and even bullied me because I'm different, being the last person picked in groups and even being doggedly ignored when many people were forming them is nothing new to me. Because of this I withdrew from a lot of social scenarios because of what I can only describe as a pure sense of dissappointment in the poeple I was presented with more often than not.

Music is different.

In music, there is the inherent ability to take any feeling that I possess and give it a tangable force to be heard; sometimes that message has to be shouted, and sometimes it has to be whispered. Regardless of how we choose to write our music, what cannot be ignored is the fact that it will always have our own personal stamp, an unconcious mark to say that this was what we created, and that can now be heard virtually anywhere on the planet. Whatever the words may be, through music we can speak them more articulately than any world leader, more inspiringly than any artist, and give it the sheer presence and lasting impact of the legends that inspired us to first pick up our instruments.

We are musicians.

We are the people who give thousands the morale strength to see another day through.

We are the ones who create the backdrop to people's childhoods, from games to films to concerts and to lullabyes.

We are an undeniable voice that can literally change people's lives for the better if we make good use of what we can do.

Nothing is impossible unless you allow it to be.

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Guitar rig troubleshooting: how to setup your pedals for optimum tone

Okay guys, this lesson should look into how to set up your gear to get the best sound out of it without having to shell out goodness knows how much money on better equipment and then finding out your sound is no better.

One of the biggest problems people encounter is that they don’t know what affect changing the order of the pedals will have on their tone, or how their amplifier setup will react to the settings on their pedals. It’s what I like to call a musical equilibrium between the pedals and the amplifier, and changing any setting will have an effect on the sound produced, however slight.

We’ll start with one of the most popular pedals out there,

The Wah-Wah pedal

This is quite a big one in terms of where you put it in the ‘pedal chain’. The tone is still up to the user’s choice obviously, but the majority of how well this pedal blends in with your sound is determined by where this pedal goes in relation to your others. Unlike say, a delay pedal, a wah-wah pedals is really something that benefits from being ‘in front’ of the amp rather than being fed through the effects loop of an amplifier (in front simply means you guitar is plugged into the pedal, and then the pedal is plugged into the amp input). The Wah-Wah pedal is mimicking a mouth opening and closing so in order to make sure that this sound is clearly heard over all the other effects you’ll want to make sure that those affects aren’t in front of it. If you are going for a funk type sound then this still applies as you want the Wah-Wah sound to be as clear as possible without interference from other pedals. The further down the pedal chain a pedal is the more effects it has to compete with.

It’s a good idea to put a Wah-Wah pedal right at the front of your ‘pedal chain’ to make sure that the Wah sound is carried over effects such as chorus or delay. The reason for this is simple: if you were to put a chorus before a wah effect, it would sound like the wah effect is occurring inside the chorus effect, making the wah seem a much smaller effect that it would normally be. You may be able to overcome this with playing about with the level dials, but it saves a lot of time to just put the Wah-Wah pedal first.

In terms of level it really depends on who much of an impact you want the Wah-Wah to have. Some people will deliberately put the ‘level’ dial of a pedal quite high so that the volume of their amplifier jumps up slightly when they turn that pedal on, helping them to suddenly switch into a ‘lead’ sound. Mostly this is a trick used with distortion and overdrive pedals, but this can be done with other pedals as well. On the whole, you should set up a wah-wah pedal to make no volume difference to the guitar sound at all if it actually has a ‘level’ dial on it for a smooth ‘activation’, and if you want to hear it above all else when you turn it on, then put it before all else in your pedal chain.

The Delay Pedal

This is kind of the opposite to the Wah-Wah pedal in that you generally want it close to the end of your pedal chain, and if at all possible it’s a good idea to put a delay pedal through the effects loop of the amp so that it’s blended into the amplifier’s natural sound as smoothly as possible. Otherwise it is possible that it will make the delayed notes sound ‘jagged’ and hinder the ‘fade out’ of the notes. One of the reasons for this is that the delay pedal is simply repeating the entire signal that it receives, and this means that you want it to repeat the entire signal so that the delayed notes sound the same as the notes that come before them. Putting a delay pedal through the effects loop puts the delay effect after every pedal that you put your guitar sound through before you plug the jack plug into the input. This means that the effects loop is essential acting at the same level as the amplifiers inner workings, which makes some effects much smoother, and indeed some guitarists will put most of their pedals through the effects loop, but be aware, there are some effects that will be ‘drowned out’ if put through this loop, so I would recommend experimenting your setup in all possible arrangements before a live gig. You don’t want to still be experimenting at the last minute.

On a delay pedal, there are varying controls depending on what model/make/design of pedal you are using, but there are usually three controls common to most of them.

Delay time:

This is the amount of time after a note is sound before the delay effect sounds another note. Depending on what pedal you are using this can be pretty much any time gap you desire. In general if you want to simply thicken your sound a little bit when playing lead it is a good idea to make this time gap quite short, but if you are playing something with a lot of space between the notes and you want to really feel the delay kicking in, then you may want to make this time gap longer. Some delay pedals have a tap tempo function which I will explain in just a bit.


In essence how pronounced the delays are, not to be confused with level, as if you turn the level up, the guitar may sound louder, but all the delayed notes will still be quieter than the original note played. The feedback then controls the volume of each note in relation to the notes that you are playing.


Pretty self explanatory, but some pedals will have different effects on you tone when the levels are set differently. In general, people will set the level dials on their delay pedals to make as little difference to the guitar volume as possible for smooth operation.

Tap tempo function:

Some pedals have a function where you can tap a tempo into the pedal and the delays will follow that tempo you are tapping. Guitarists how want their delays in time with the track they are playing will want to you use this function rather than using trial and error to save a lot of time on stage.

Now for the last pedal in the first part of this lesson:

The Tremolo Pedal

Probably the most famous application of this pedal is in the song ‘Boulevard of broken dreams’ by Green Day. The tremolo pedal is a pedal that repeatedly drops the volume of your guitar before raising it again instantly, and it does this at a constant tempo to give a sort of ‘stuttering’ sound to your guitar. This is one of those pedals that’s really only used on special occasions if you get what I mean; it’s not the kind of thing you can whack on in the middle of a solo and everything will sound great, you need to know when it’s coming.

Most of the time there are really only two dials that are common to all tremolo pedals, and depending on the company that makes it that can be called slightly different things, but they are usually ‘intensity’ and ‘speed’.


This determined how much of a volume difference you want the tremolo to make. If you are going for the Boulevard of Broken Dreams sound, then you may need to turn this dial up quite high to get this effect, but for people who just want a little bit of a dip in volume to make the effect more subtle you will have to turn this dial down a bit.


This determines the tempo of the repeated volume drops. Turning this up or down quite often also can change the amount of impact this pedal has; a faster tempo will make a song sound more energetic, while a slower tempo would make a song sound more relaxed.

As a rule I would say it is best to keep this effect in front of the amplifier as it is directly altering the signal of your guitar. As for where it goes in a ‘pedal chain’, it’s a purely volume based pedal, and as such it really doesn’t tend to make much of a fuss where it goes. If it were up to me though I would definitely say put it before your distortion pedals to save a lot of hassle with gain that you could do without. Fiddling with the volume of the signal before it hits the distortion pedals is the best idea rather than leaving it later.

That’s it for this lesson but in the next lesson I will be going over overdrive/distortion pedals, chorus pedals, compressor pedals and whammy pedals. Hope that this lesson has helped some of you out there.

Take care guys and I’ll see you next time. 

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