Flangers are a great, bold choice of effect when it comes to striking modulated tones. While they may not be appropriate for every style out there, I love adding flange to my playing to give extra character to my soloing or psychedelic sweeps to my rhythm playing.
But if, like me, you have a whole range of pedals in your setup, where is the ideal place to put a flanger in your signal chain?
Generally speaking, flangers are placed alongside other modulation pedals in the effects chain, after any overdrive or distortion effects, but before delay and reverb. Another great place for your flanger, time-based effects, and other modulation pedals is in the FX Loop (If your amp has one).
In this article, I’ll explain where I like to put my flanger pedal in my pedalboard, and why, and also give you some tips for other alternatives as to where you can put yours. For instance, not everyone has an FX Loop so we’ll cover those people too.
Table of Contents
Why It’s Best to Place The Flanger Pedal In The FX Loop
The main reason why I like to use modulation and time-based effects in the FX Loop of the amplifier is that it offers more control over all of these effects. This is especially the case when I’m using my looper pedal.
As I explained in my looper pedal guide, I like to record a loop with drive, compression, flanger, and maybe some delay on it, and then I turn those effects off and jam over it.
The only way to really do this is with the effects in the FX Loop, otherwise, when you switch off the effects pedal, it turns off all the FX as well. To me, this isn’t ideal.
As far as I’m concerned, putting all your modulation and time-based effects in the FX Loop is the best way to go, but of course, there are other ways to do it.
If you don’t have an FX Loop, the next best place to put your flanger pedal is with your other modulation and time-based effects, which typically go at the end of the signal chain, after drive and distortion. We’ll talk about this more later (skip to the end).
What You Need to Put A Flanger in Your FX Loop
1) An Amp With An FX Loop
Obviously, one of the first things you need to actually put a flanger in an FX Loop is an amplifier with that capability.
There are some smaller amps that have it, including the aforementioned Orange Crush 35RT and the Fender Mustang GT 40. Be careful because the Orange Crush 20RT DOES NOT have the FX Loop, contrary to what other websites say online.
2) 2 Guitar Cables (Over 10 Feet Long)
Cables like this are great for making space on your pedalboard and also for sitting on your couch, which is often what I do when I play the guitar.
If you’re running cables from your FX Loop, you’ll need a much longer cable. I’m only sitting on my couch by my amp and I need at least 10-foot cables. If your amp is further away, it might even serve you to have 20-foot cables.
3) A Flanger Pedal
There are quite a few flangers on the market, but I chose this one because it’s one of the most popular. There is a bigger version of it too if you’re interested. It has an additional control on it, but I digress. Let’s talk about how to set it up in your FX Loop.
How to Put The Flanger Pedal In Your FX Loop
1) Locate the Send & Return On Your Amp’s FX Loop
How you set this part up can be a bit confusing when you first start, but no worries, I’ll get you straightened out.
2) Run A Cable From the Output Into the FX Loop’s Return
3) Connect A Cable Between the Input of the Pedal & the Send on the FX Loop
4) Power On The FX Loop On Your Amp (Optional)
Other amps don’t necessarily have a button though, including my Orange Crush 35RT.
5) Connect The Flanger To Your Power Source
I usually turn the pedals, my amplifier, and everything else on last, after I’ve connected all the pedals and set up the signal chain. It really doesn’t matter that much, but it’ll sound much cleaner and safer.
If you turn everything on first and then connect, you get a lot of annoying sounds like static and popping sounds. If you do it this way, it’s a much smoother process.
Where Most People Put Flanger Pedals In Their Signal Chain
1) The Flanger Before Reverb, Delay, & After Drive/Distortion
By placing the flanger after your distortion/overdrive, the flanger’s sweeping modulated effect will be richer and more pronounced. This is because the flanger will be modulating the signal that has already been distorted by your overdrive pedals.
In general, I find it’s best to keep this as a rule of thumb for all kinds of modulation effects, not just flangers: chorus, reverb and delay all sound fuller if placed after distortion. If you place it before the distortion the flanger effect will be cleaner but less prominent.
It’s all about the signal flow. The way I like to describe it is that effects such as compression, EQ and distortion are what you use to beef up and shape the signal coming from your instrument, and then modulation effects are how you decorate and play with it.
There’s no objective ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way of setting up your chain, but this way I feel like I’m getting the most out of all my effects.
Something I enjoy doing is experimenting with the placement of my flanger in relation to my delay pedals. Having the flanger before or after the delay can yield some very different and fun results, which can be good for both lead and rhythm tones.
By placing the flanger before the delay, the signal from your guitar will have the flange modulation applied to it before it enters the delay processor. This means that all your delay echoes and repeats will come out ‘flanged’.
This can give you some great atmospheric swirls with each delay repeat having its own sweeping flange effect. If you use this with a dynamic delay setting, the results can really be pretty impressive.
2) The Flanger After Delay
The flip side of this is placing your flanger after the delay in your signal chain. If you do this, the signal will be affected by the delay echo before the flanger kicks in and your delay repeats will come out ‘clean’.
The whole combined delayed signal will then have the flange applied to it. This can be good for rhythm playing and experimenting with building interesting textures and walls of sound.
Other Articles You May Be Interested In
- Where to Put the Line 6 M5 In Your Signal Chain [ANSWERED]
- Where Should A Tremolo Pedal Go In The Signal Chain? [EASY]
- Where Should The Whammy Pedal Go In The Signal Chain? [EASY]
- Where To Put The Looper Pedal In Your Signal Chain [SIMPLE]
1) Orange Crush 35RT (on Amazon)
2) Ernie Ball Instrument Cables (on Amazon)
3) TCE Vortex Mini (on Amazon)