Pedals & FX, Setup & Signal Chain

1 Underrated Way to Use An EQ Pedal (MXR 10-Band EQ)

Written By :Andrew Siemon

I like using my JHS Little Black Amp Box as a volume attenuator and I’m glad I have it but a commenter on my YouTube channel pointed out a better option to me:

EQ Pedal Instead of a JHS Little Black Amp Box

Rather than using a passive volume attenuator like JHS’ Little Black Amp Box, you can use an EQ pedal and its volume control to act as a volume control in your amplifier’s FX Loop. This gives you not only a volume attenuator but an additional set of EQ controls for your amp’s preamplifier.

What I Use INSTEAD of the JHS Little Black Amp Box..

How to Set Up an EQ Pedal in Your FX Loop

EQ as Attenuator in FX Loop - Infographic
The long and short of putting an EQ pedal in your FX Loop is to connect a cable from the amp’s Return to the pedal’s Output and the amp’s Send to the pedal’s Input.

1) Connect A Cable from the Amp’s Return to the Pedal’s Output

Output to Return - MXR EQ

One thing I will say for instructions #1 and #2 is that it’s best to have cables that are especially long.

They need to be long enough to run all the way from the back of your amp to your pedals, wherever you’ve placed them.

2) Run A Cable from the Amp’s Send to the Pedal’s Input

Input to Send - MXR EQ
Connect another cable as shown here.

3) Set the Volume on the Amplifier to ~2

Volume on the Amp (4)
4 is what I would use if I had the JHS Little Black Amp Box as an attenuator instead. 4 is too much for the initial setup.

This part is fairly important, because you don’t want to test your new configuration out with cranked volume. You might run into some serious problems with that.

4) Set the Volume on your EQ Pedal from -8dB to -12dB

Volume on the EQ Pedal
Similarly, it’s wise to drop the volume down on your EQ pedal as well and slowly increase it.

5) Connect the Power Supply to the EQ Pedal and the Rest

Connect your 18V adapter to your surge protector/power-bar, like so.

For whatever reason, MXR’s line of EQ pedals use 18V adapters. I’m not too sure why that is, but I’m not fond of it. I prefer all of my pedals to use 9V, but I’m sure there is a reason for that.

6) Turn the Amplifier On and Connect Your Guitar

Power On/Off on the Orange Amp
Turn your amplifier on like so. The switch on my Orange Crush 35RT is on the back.

7) Test the Volume on the EQ Pedal & the Amp

At this point, you can begin testing out how loud the amp should be relative to the EQ pedal. This is important because the EQ pedal, at least mine, doesn’t function quite like the Little Black Amp Box.

In order to get the attenuation that I need, I’ll have to turn down the EQ pedal down to -6dB or even -7dB, potentially even more, to make a big difference.

It’s not like the Little Black Amp Box where the smallest turn of the dial controls the volume of the amplifier.

3 Tips for Using Your EQ as an Attenuator

1) Use the EQ Last in Your FX Loop Signal Chain

How to Connect Other Pedals in the FX Loop Including the EQ as Volume Attenuator
This is what my FX Loop signal chain currently looks like.

So far, I’m happy with how this works and how it sounds, however, the Black MXR 10-Band EQ is very noisy.

In the future, I’ll probably upgrade to the silver one, which is the one I’d recommend to you.

2) Make Sure You Start With Low Volume (Amp & Pedal)

Volume on EQ and Amp.

It’s worth stating again that you want to ensure you start with a relatively low volume on both your amplifier and pedal, BEFORE you begin testing out new configurations.

There’s no sense in blowing out your speakers, or even worse, your ears.

3) Some EQ Pedals Will Be Better Than Others

The Source Audio Programmable EQ2 (on my Product Page) is a really acclaimed pedal by people who know and love guitar pedals.

There are many other pedals on the market you could try, including the BOSS GE-7 which is probably the most popular one (and the oldest).

The MXR 10-Band EQ (Silver) is the one on my list just because I think it looks cool. I’m a sucker for MXR’s sleek designs though.

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Andrew Siemon is the principal creator for, a website entirely devoted to all things guitar. From repairs, music theory, chords, and improvisation, to recording at home. I've been doing this for 20 years and I've got another 50 in me.

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