Tuesday Wisdom: Creative Ways To Use Guitar Effect Pedals

There are many creative ways to dial in your pedals to get new, creative sounds. I've outlined some different types of effects and ideas to try. There are no exact settings, as those are dependent upon the pedal. Twist those knobs and get creative!

Ultimate Guitar

There are many creative ways to dial in your pedals to get new, creative sounds. I've outlined some different types of effects and ideas to try. There are no exact settings, as those are dependent upon the pedal. Twist those knobs and get creative!

Stereo Output Split Signal

You can easily split your signal with a pedal with stereo outputs, such as most tuner pedals offer. It's a very easy and efficient way to run dual amps, two pedalboards, or anything else you'd want to try.

Easy Back-Up Rig

You can have an easy back-up rig that is amazingly portable. Using a pedal that has a DI out like a Sansamp or the Tech 21 character series you can have a solid back-up with a great amp sound without having to haul a second amp around with you. Put a booster in front of the pedal with the DI and you have a 2 channel setup.

You can even have these on your main board and utilize them with an amp, having them ready if there are technical difficulties so you don't have to stop rocking!


Drive The Preamp Tubes

Most people use dirt pedals as such, and that's certainly fine, but they are also very useful in other ways. You can get a very good result using them to drive the tubes in the preamp section of your amp. If you reduce the gain and boost the volume you can get a cleaner boost, or go the other way around and increase the gain and balance that with the output volume.

Alternate "Preamp"

If there is a pedal that you really dig the sound of, considering leaving it in an always on setting and using that to shape what the signal that gets to your amp. With proper gain-staging you can totally re-invent your sound. This can be really fun with pedals like the Tech 21 Character series that model specific types of amps.


The same concept as above also applies to using the pedal as a boost. You can dial it in to be a clean or dirty boost, and use this in different ways. The clean boost can be kicked in to take solos to another level, or the dirty boost can throw more gain on the signal.

Treble Booster

This idea is built around the tone section of your pedal of choice, and probably won't sound that great if said section isn't that great in your pedal. Dial up the tone level, pull back on the gain, and increase the volume. You can mix the gain in for a dirty treble booster sound.


High gain and volume settings can make a pedal a great feedbacker. Hit the pedal when you want feedback, turn it off when not. This can be a great way to control feedback. Very fun to experiment with!


Doubling Effect

The sound of 2 guitars can be approximated by dialing down the feedback, pushing the delay time a little bit, while at a shorter setting of approx. 50ms. Very cool if you're the only guitarist in your band!


These two are related for obvious reasons and most delay pedals can get a good reverb sound.


Rotary Speaker Effect

This works especially well with a stereo tremolo. Set it to a slower rate and you can get a Leslie, rotating speaker type of effect.

Volume Swells

Set your tremolo to a slower rate and you can get volume swells. You can play some very cool violin-like lines at this setting.

Electric Piano Sound

If you balance the rate and depth with a sine wave setting, a cool pseudo-electric piano sound is possible.



Unique hybrid sounds of chorus and tremolo are possible with most chorus pedals by balancing rate and depth knobs.

Dissonant Settings

Chorus pedals are great for getting really out of tune types of sounds. These can be really cool in genres like metal to throw on lead lines, and are also great in any way you could find useful. Fun to try.



Many flangers are capable of a great chorus sound, as the two effects are closely-related. Check out what yours can do!

Tremolo/Gate Effect

A cool tremolo effect can be dialed in on most flangers. Mix with that the modulation of the flanger and some otherworldly sounds can be had.



Many octave pedals are capable of getting thick unison sounds, another fun thing to try if you're the only guitarist in your band.


See what kind of thick, synthy sounds your octave of choice is capable of. Easier to get with a pedal that has multiple octave knobs.


Another cool idea for lead lines, dial in a setting that gives an arpeggio quality to your playing. Very easy to do with polyphonic octave pedals.

These are only a few ideas to get you started. Some pedals are more versatile than others, but most are good for a wide range of sounds. Go get experimental! About The Author: Brandon Stoner runs Audio Ecstasy Productions out of Los Angeles, CA specializing in guitar and backline tech for touring, custom stompbox and cable design for stage and studio, audio engineering, and many other audio and guitar-related services.

23 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Thanks for the love guys! This was just a cursory look at some of these ideas. As always, it's an honor and a privilege to contribute here. @leonkennedy I would gladly write another article going into more detail. Cheers!
    Awesome article. Got lotsa pedals to try this with.
    Try playing through two distortion pedals it's fun as **** because of the ridiculous amount of feedback you get.
    Yea, its the best when you get 2 distortion pedals and end up with a TON of feedback
    I've been doing that for a while now myself, it's rediculous.
    that awesome moment when you double up with a fuzz and an overdrive and your amp can't handle the bottom end and it breaks up into muffled goodness.
    The 2 guitar sound delay idea was pretty cool. The flanger as a chorus idea is one the main ways I use my MXR Micro Flanger.
    i use a aqua puss delay, boss dd7 delay, WET reverb, guyatone sonic shaper, big muff, ISP decimator, and an mrx 10 band eq looking to get a volume pedal soon
    not bad article, i may end up making a back up rig, with my main one theres so many things that can go wrong so having a small back up with the staples is prolly for the best. we all know its inevitable something is gonna go wrong eventually
    An oddball use for a pedal that I despise- I put it in the signal chain with the volume setting at zero. Kill switch! And it works for stuttering, too.
    This is a useless article, sorry. This does nothing but put out ideas that every other mainstream guitarist has done. Lets talk about some interesting pattern delays or something, describe the musical notation of dotted eights or something. Explain the science behind driving preamp tubes vs power tubes, and how the sounds can be different. Just telling people to have a backup board, or to use a rotary effect is completely useless - it's no better than reading the advertisements from Boss, Roland, etc.
    link no1
    If this article helped even one person then it wasn't useless. Do you know if it helped anybody? No. Go away.
    WD Punk
    I think the most creative pedal anything would be Dimebag using that delay and cranking a whammy pedal on the echos in Pride by Damageplan
    I'd like to test out some delays and the stereo output splitter. Gotta get tired of my new whammy first though Gave me some good ideas. Great article.
    You could have talked about wah pedals, talk boxs, and fuzzs. Yeah I know you spoke about ODs and Distortion, but Fuzz is totally different! Great article man!
    Excellent article! I just bought a Flanger for my bass guitar and I'm experiencing a "renaissance" in terms of my creativity. I can't wait to try what a decent tremolo or chorus sounds like!
    I already use the output signal splitted for stereo... but the others I got to try.... especially the delay section.
    I use the EVH Phaser as a wah effect. I have to use slides and wide vibrato in specific spots, but it works fine. Most people can't tell the difference. *shameless plug* If you're not entirely convinced, go here and listen to the first song, it's my one man project vox-less demo http://soundcloud.com/taintedeqtx/sets
    Here's one for everyone to try, plug into the wah pedal with the input being the out put and vice versa. Then you can get some different sounds, too.