Overdrive, Distortion & Boost Pedal Order Once & For All [You’re Asking The Wrong Question]

Published 16 Sep 2022

Welcome to the show! The most common question we get asked is this: “What’s the best order for my gain pedals?” For example you may have a chain of overdrives, boosts, distortions, EQs and fuzzes and you’re constantly scratching your head about the ‘best’ signal order in which to place them.
We’ve made shows about it, we explain it almost every week in VCQ and we even struggle with it ourselves from time to time.
If you really do want to understand, it’s time to stop asking the wrong question. It’s no good asking what order they should go in; what you need to ask is “What do I want to achieve with these pedals?” So let’s start there and get this thing nailed on.
Enjoy the show!

Pedals and stuff in today’s video
• D’Addario XPND Pedalboard
UK & Europe:
USA That Pedal Shop:

• Xotic EP Booster
UK & Europe:
USA That Pedal Shop:

• Ibanez TS808 Tube Screamer Keeley Mod (no longer available, links for the current standard one)
UK & Europe:
USA Sweetwater:

• Nobels ODR-1
UK & Europe:
USA Sweetwater:

Interesting bits & go-to sections
0:00 Intro sound examples
0:50 The wrong question
1:20 What is a gain pedal?
1:45 Why is it the wrong question?
2:50 Three things the gain pedal does
3:59 Basics of an overdrive pedal
4:37 Louder, less distorted
5:00 Not so loud, more distorted
5:30 Changing the EQ
6:40 The first gain stage is you!
8:20 Another pedal, same fundamentals
9:30 Moving on to stacking pedals
10:26 What about the amp?
11:05 What is clean, what is overdrive?
13:30 How headroom relates to pedal order
14:55 TS808 with a lot of overdrive
15:45 ODR-1 high overdrive
16:30 Stacking two heavy overdrive sounds
17:20 Want to be lifted louder?
18:10 EP Booster as a level boost
19:35 Clean boost vs heavy overdrive boost
21:00 How they’re set is MOST important
22:13 Using an overdrive pedal as a boost
23:50 Mick’s approach to gain stacking
25:30 Clean boost
27:17 A fatter rhythm sound
29:40 Boosting for a solo
30:40 A different basic OD option
31:50 Boosting into your boost!
32:50 More gain for sustain and feedback
35:19 And what about a guitar change?
38:19 Dan’s approach to gain stacking
38:43 Core overdrive sound
40:10 Boosting into your overdrive
43:30 A more focussed heavier tone
48:05 Closing thoughts: a better question

Guitars in this episode:
• Fender Custom Shop ’62 Relic Stratocaster – Mick’s video here:
• Fender Custom Shop ’63 Telecaster - Dan’s video here
• Gibson Custom True Historic ’57 Les Paul Goldtop, Murphy Aged - no video yet

Amps & cabs in this episode:
• Fender ’65 Deluxe Reverb reissue with standard Jenson C12K speaker

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