Pedals & FX, Setup & Signal Chain

How to Connect FX Pedals to Your Guitar & Amp (EASY Guide)

Written By :Andrew Siemon

Connecting guitar pedals in your setup can actually appear complicated at first but it’s really not at all. Remember that output essentially means “to amp” and input means “to guitar.” That’s the main thing. I often messed that stuff up when I first began. Here’s a short form version of how to do it first:

To connect a guitar pedal to your guitar & amplifier
1) Turn your amp off
2) Connect your 1/4″ cable to your guitar
3) Connect the other end to the pedal’s input
4) Connect another cable from the pedal’s output to the amp
5) Power the guitar pedal with an isolated power supply or 9V battery

What Gear You’ll Need to Connect Your Amp, Pedals, & Guitar

There are many little tips and tricks to share including what gear to buy, signal chain placement, and also some other great ideas that players pick up on over the years. It goes without saying that you’ll need a guitar, an amplifier (with or without an FX Loop), and your pedal, so we won’t discuss those things.

In this section, I’ll share what I believe are the best pieces of equipment for you to get. Let’s start with the instrument cable, which is the most important.

1) 2 Instrument Cables (Right-Angle Is The Best)

I really like right-angle guitar cables because they’re better for playing guitar on your couch or in a chair, and they’re also better for pedalboards. Going forward, I probably won’t buy anything but right-angled cables.

Right Angle - How to Connect Guitar Pedals In Your Setup
Anything other than a right-angled jack won’t work for this. Think about it. If the cable sticks straight out, there would need to be more space between these two pedals.

2) Power Supply or Battery (9V, Isobrick, Pedal Power 3 +)

Of course, the one on the left is a 9V battery and the MXR Isobrick M238 is on the right. The PP3+ from Voodoo Labs is great too

I don’t even bother with 9V batteries, although there are definitely some advantages to using them that I’ve discussed before. Including being the most isolated power supply that you could use and also not requiring messy cables. They don’t last though.

Another one that isn’t talked about a lot is that carbon-based batteries can make an old-school fuzz, wah, and other filter pedals sound better.

3) Power Cables (MXR)

These are for connecting your power supply to your pedal. I’d recommend getting some from MXR, Voodoo Labs, or even Donner would work fine.

The Donner stuff seems to get pretty good reviews despite the low price. I find the Voodoo Labs cables have a hard time going into my wah pedal though, so the MXR ones are usually what I recommend instead.

4) Patch Cables (Hosa)

Hosa Instrument Cable - How to Connect Pedals to a Guitar and Amplifier
These Hosa Pancake Cables (on my Product Page), as they’re called, are fantastic.

I’ve got several different types of patch cables for my pedals, but I would say that these pancake patch cables from Hosa are the best.

They’re high quality, and flexible, and they make connecting pedals super efficient. And most importantly, they don’t get in the way ever which is super important when setting up your board. If you do choose to make one someday.

How to Connect Your FX Pedals To Your Guitar & Amplifier

Infographic - How to Connect A Pedal To an Amp & Guitar
To connect a guitar pedal to your guitar and amplifier, run a 1/4″ instrument cable from the input on the amplifier to the output of your pedal. Connect another cable from the input of the pedal to your guitar. Ensure your pedal has 9VDC power and turn your amp on last.

1) Start with Your Amp and Pedals Turned Off

Orange Amp - How to Connect Pedals To Your Guitar and Amp
I’m using this Orange Crush 35RT

I actually learned this from all the commenters sneering at me about it in my BOSS RC-1 tutorial video. The reason for this is that it just makes way less noise. No cracking, popping, static or any of that.

2) Connect A Cable Between the Amp & The Pedal’s Output

I’ve used my mini amplifier as an example because it’s super small and great for illustrative purposes.

Remember, the output always goes to the amp. You’ll also want to use the mono outputs and inputs.

3) Run Another Cable Between The Pedal Input & Your Guitar

Pedal to Guitar - How to Connect Guitars, Pedals, and an Amp
And input always goes to the guitar.

Get that right, and you’ll never have to worry. The next thing we need to take care of is the guitar pedal’s power supply.

4) Connect Your Power Supply To Your Pedal

Connect Your Power Supply - How to Connect A Looper
I’ve used my Isobrick for the power supply because my PP3+ is attached underneath my pedalboard. Both are great.

Make sure you’ve chosen the proper voltage and current draw. Most pedals these days will use 9VDC power and rarely do they use anything above that, although, there are some exceptions.

For instance, my old-school Digitech Whammy Pedal uses alternating current which is actually kind of annoying. I’m glad they switched to 9VDC in the later reiterations.

Additionally, you want to ensure your power supply is supplying enough power at a time. As long as the current draw is over what’s needed, but is not under, you don’t have to worry.

In other words, 9VDC at 300 mA for a 9VDC 50 mA guitar pedal is totally fine. You wouldn’t want to use 9VDC at 45mA though because then the pedal won’t work properly. Getting the voltage right is super important though. Make sure you get that right.

5) Turn On The Amplifier Last

Power On Orange Amp - How to Use Pedals And A guitar With An Amp
And finally, you can turn your amplifier on last.

You’re good to go now, and your pedal will work the way it’s supposed to. But what if you want to connect a bunch of guitar pedals? It’s pretty easy and it follows the exact same principle.

How To Connect Effects Pedals Together

Infographic Connecting Pedals - How to Connect A Pedal To an Amp and Guitar
To connect your guitar pedals to each other, connect the pedal’s input to the other pedal’s output, and continue the chain until you’ve connected all of them. Also, you’ll need an additional source of power for each pedal.

And really, it’s as simple as that. Let’s walk through the process a bit more carefully though for clarity’s sake.

1) Get An Isolated Power Supply (No Daisy Chain)

18V vs 9V Adapter - Troubleshooting Guide to Guitar Pedals
This 18V adapter (left) is for my old-school MXR EQ pedal. As I said earlier, modern ones are usually 9V like the one on the right.

Use a dedicated power supply either in the form of a single wall-wart adapter or via a bigger power supply brick like the ones I mentioned earlier.

2) Get Another Patch Cable

The small hosa cable is ideal because you don’t want a huge cable in between two pedals that are close together.

3) Connect The Pedal’s Input To The New Pedal’s Output

How to Connect Pedals to Each Other - Diagram
Use your patch cables to connect the pedal’s input to the new pedal’s output and continue the chain until you’re done.
My Current Pedalboard - How to Set Up Pedals With Each Other .jpg
If you’ve got a ton of them, it’ll look something like this.

Now you’re done, but we’re not finished here yet. I’ll share a few tips with you that I’ve learned over the years. The first one I’ve already mentioned.

5 Tips for Setting Up Your Guitar, Amp, and Pedals

1) Use A Powerbar to Turn Everything On

Where to Put The Flanger In Your Signal Chain? [ANSWERED] - 1
I actually connect everything together all at once with my power bar.

I love this setup, even though it technically infringes upon the first tip. I have my amp and my two pedalboard power supplies connected to a separate power bar.

This means that if I want to start playing the guitar, I just hit the switch on the power bar and I’m ready to rock.

It saves me from having to walk over to my amplifier, turn it on, and then walk to my other outlet and turn on my power supplies. It’s a great way to smooth out this somewhat cumbersome process that often can steal my creative flow.

2) Don’t Daisy Chain Pedals

Daisy Chaining Pedals - How to Use A Guitar Tuner Pedal
I don’t recommend daisy-chaining pedals because it’s fairly noisy.

I don’t like doing this because I mostly just consider it as an inexpensive – but temporary – solution for not having enough power supplies.

If you hate noise and other problems as much as I do, you’ll want to skip daisy chaining. Maybe some people like to do it and can do so without problems, but I’d rather not.

3) Keep The Power Cables Away From The Patch Cables

Patch/Power Cables - Troubleshooting Guide to Guitar Pedals
This is my old “pedalboard,” if we’ll call it that (that’s a towel haha). You’ll notice that the power cables aren’t touching the patch cables which connect the pedals.

Similar to #3, this is a good practice to follow because it minimizes noise. Frankly, it’s not something I always follow though which you’ll notice about my board in the next image. But it’s a good thing to do if you’re a stickler for doing things properly.

4) Get A Pedalboard

It took me decades to finally purchase a proper pedalboard and a power supply. This one is the Harley Benton Spaceship 60, It’s a fantastic board for the price.

Are the Spaceships good enough for touring? I’m not sure and I can’t really say, but mine is great for at home.

My only regret is not getting the bigger Harley Benton Spaceship 80 because I’ve got even more pedals I’d like to put on my board. What’s the point of having all of these awesome pedals if I can’t use them all?

5) Familiarize Yourself With Common Pedalboard Guidelines

Ditto X2 End of Chain (No FX Loop) - Where To Put Ditto X2 Looper In Signal Chain - 1
There are a lot of things you can do, but you won’t go wrong with the guidelines shown above. If you don’t have an FX Loop, put the time-based stuff at the very end before the noise gate with the looper in last place.

Amp < Gate < Time-Based FX < Modulation < EQ < Drive/Distortion < Compression < Pitch < Filter/Wah < Tuner

There’s probably a better pedalboard setup that I haven’t come across because mine is always a work in progress.

That said, what I’ve got for you here is going to work just fine as a jumping-off point for your own board. One of these days, I’ll make a more in-depth piece about pedalboards. Here are some other articles you can check out.

Other Articles You May Be Interested In

Important Things To Note About Connecting Guitar Pedals to Your Amp

1) Remember Output Means “To Amp” and “Input” Means “To Guitar”

Of course, these terms don’t literally mean “to amp” and “to guitar,” but I think this is a great way of remembering the order of how things should go. I can’t be the only person in the world that has gotten pedals backwards before. At least I hope I’m not.

2) In Most Cases, You’ll Use Mono Inputs/Outputs

I mentioned in passing earlier that you’ll want to use mono inputs and outputs. There are other cases where the stereo ports are better, but for most players, the mono inputs/outputs are the ones to use.

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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