How to Use Guitar EQ Pedals

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Guitar EQ pedals are used to enhance guitar sound by fine-tuning individual frequencies in the sound spectrum. The most common type, and easiest to use, is the graphic EQ (equalizer). Graphic equalizers use sliders to control specific frequencies, and form a visual (graphic) representation of frequency spectrum when set. They differ from parametric equalizers in that they allow isolation and adjustment of single frequencies, rather than adjusting parameters of a multiple range. Guitar EQ pedals come in a number of different configurations, usually with five to ten sliders but sometimes more or less.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 guitar cables
  • Amplifier
  • Plug one end of the guitar cord into the guitar's output jack, and the other end into the EQ pedal's input jack. Depending on the EQ pedal used, make certain that the pedal has a fresh battery installed or optional AC adapter plugged into a wall outlet. Consult the pedal's operation manual for details.

  • Plug one end of the second guitar cord into the EQ pedal's output jack, and the other end into the amplifier input.

  • Set all of the EQ pedal's frequency sliders in the center position. This is called the "flat" position, in which no frequencies are added or taken away, and permits the natural sound of your guitar to go through the amplifier.

  • Turn on the guitar amplifier power, and set all controls on the amplifier and guitar to your preferred settings.

  • Press the foot-switch on the EQ pedal (if equipped) to the "on" position. When all EQ sliders are set flat, there will be no difference in the sound whether the pedal is turned on or off.

  • Turn all other guitar pedals on (if applicable), and set them for the playing sound to which you are accustomed. EQ pedals may be used on their own, or in tandem with other pedals.

  • Experiment with moving different sliders on the EQ pedal, starting from left to right. The sliders are positioned with the lowest frequencies on the left, middle frequencies in the center and high frequencies on the right. Begin by raising and lowering each slider in succession to add or cut individual frequencies until a satisfactory sound is reached.

Tips & Warnings

  • When the EQ sliders are properly set, they will form a gentle "wave" pattern, with some sliders flat in the center and others raised or lowered slightly from the flat position.
  • When using EQ pedals with other effects, experiment with the placement of the pedal for best sound results. The EQ will affect all pedals that are connected between it and the amplifier. Some players put the EQ at the beginning of the effects chain, others at the end, and others place it somewhere in the middle. The effects chain begins where the guitar plugs in and ends at the cable leading to the amplifier.
  • Sliders are usually quite sensitive and do not require major adjustments up or down. The sound spectrum must contain all available frequencies for the best sound, so cutting some frequencies all the way may have an adverse effect on overall sound.
  • It is always better to cut unwanted frequencies than boost desired frequencies to keep pedal distortion to a minimum. Boosting one or more frequencies too high will often cause uneven sound and added pedal distortion.

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