Quick background update. I've finally given up on my Marshall TSL122 and have made the decision to get a new amp (budget up to about £1200 maximum). Current main contender is an Egnater Renegade for the tone, flexibility, FX loop and recording out.

However, I just wanted to get some opinions on running effects through a dedicated loop or into the front end of an amp.

I've always preferred amp overdrive/ distortion as opposed to dirt pedals, so my effects are pretty much all time/ modulation based and I put them through the loop of the TSL. I do also use a compressor and sometimes an OD pedal in the front of the amp just for a bit of variety. I've never been satisfied with the TSL's FX loop and I seem to spend more time worrying about hum, sucked tone etc than I do playing.

Just for a bit of fun I borrowed my son's solid state practice amp and ran everything through the front end. Though the core tone obviously wasn't great, it was just more fun playing with my effects board.

So the questions are:

Effects loop or front end? AND if you favour front end, what dirt pedals do you use for a natural amp overdrive tone- I'd be looking for a mild/ edgy OD for chords and something with more gain for heavier stuff and solos.

Last edited by philh27 at Jan 30, 2012,
I run wah-> od-> decimator in front of the amp and compressor->chorus->delay in the loop. my od is an eternity clone that mmolteratx from here made for me, i only use it for lighter gain tones in to my clean channel. It's useful in that I have 3 different patches for my clean channel, clean with bright switch engaged, clean with bright and effects loop, clean without bright, and the od reacts differently depending on how i have my clean channel set. I use my amps gain for everything else, though I also have a MI crunchbox that I used to use a lot and it's a nice pedal for the whole spectrum of gain besides death metal levels.
I do front end. I have a bunch of pedals for dirt.

Keeley BD-2
Signa Drive
Jetter Red 2
Mad Prof SHOD
Zia Drive

The Jetter Red 2 has two seperate pedals built in and would probalby be a good option for you but they are a bit pricey.