Pedals & FX, Setup & Signal Chain

Where to Put the Line 6 M5 In Your Signal Chain [ANSWERED]

Written By :Andrew Siemon

Line 6 has been a considerable innovator in the guitar world since their inception, however, they’ve struggled to get the respect and acknowledgement for this. Although, the M5 and M9 modellers seem to be the rare exception.

The Line 6 M5 Stompbox Modeler and its larger accompaniment, the M9, are two of the guitar pedal market’s most commonly recommended and beloved units. And I’m proud to say that I own one of them – the M5, however, signal chain placement has been an issue.

Generally speaking, the Line 6 M5 Stompbox Modeler should be placed according to the pedal effect. For instance, if you plan to use modulation and time-based effects, it would be best to put it at the end of your chain or in the FX Loop. For overdrive, put it after volume, wah, and pitch effects.

But this is up for debate. I’ve done much research on this topic and I’ve tested many combinations. It’s really up to personal preference which is something you’ll hear a lot if you look into pedal order, moreover, I find this is absolutely the case for the Line 6 M5 Stompbox Modeler because there is a lot of conflicting advice. Let’s dive into this below.

1) After Overdrive and Distortion Pedals

Line 6 M5 In Signal Chain - Where to Put the Line 6 M5 In Your Signal Chain [ANSWERED]
Probably one of the most commonly used signal chain orders for the Line 6 M5 Stomp Box Modeler is to put it right after dirt pedals.

The reason people choose to put the M5 after the overdrive and other distortion pedals has to do with how they use it, as I said earlier. A lot of people probably won’t be using the M5 for its distortion and overdrive, but instead, for the various effects and filters.

For example, it has delays including analog and stereo delay, flangers, phasers, envelope filters, and reverb, and these effects tend to sound the best when they’re near the end of the chain. For me, this is a great place to put it. This brings me to my next point.

2) With Modulation Effects

Line 6 M5 In Signal Chain with Modulation - Where to Put the Line 6 M5 In Your Signal Chain [ANSWERED]
Generally speaking, one of the more common placements of the Line 6 M5 Stompbox Modeler would be to put it with other modulation effects like chorus, flangers, and phasers.

Similar to the first signal chain placement, this one has the Line 6 M5 Stompbox Modeler at the end of the chain. This is where I usually put things like chorus, reverb, flangers, delay, and phasers, so if I want to use all of those wacky sounds, I would put it at the end.

However, the two methods I’ve shown to you thus far aren’t representative of how I would actually use the Line 6 M5 Stompbox Modeler.

3) In the Amplifier’s FX Loop

Line 6 M5 In Signal Chain (FX Loop) - Where to Put the Line 6 M5 In Your Signal Chain [ANSWERED]
My personal favourite for placing the Line 6 M5 Stompbox Modeler would be in the effects loop which is where I put nearly all other time-based effects, including my looper pedal, the BOSS RC-5.

I love using the effects loop because I think it sounds cool to have all the time-based effects right in the back (my guide, btw). At this point, I’ve got quite a few pedals, and I intend on getting super serious about building a pedalboard very soon.

In my view, it’s best to keep as many time-based effects and other pedals behind the amp as possible. I want my pitch effects, compressor, EQ, chorus, and overdrives to be as close to my guitar as I can because that’s just how I like to do it.

Compression, EQ, overdrive, and chorus are the bread and butter of my guitar sound, so I prefer giving them as clean of a signal as I can possibly give them. Additionally, I like to use the drop-tune effect of the Whammy, so it needs to be close to my guitar.

Now that we’ve got all of that way out of the way, let’s talk a bit more about the Line 6 M5 Stompbox Modeler as well as general multi-effects units.

The Line 6 M5 Stompbox Modeler & Multi-FX

Me With the Line 6 M5 Modeler - Where to Put the Line 6 M5 In Your Signal Chain [ANSWERED]
I got my Line 6 M5 Stompbox Modeler a few months back at an auction. It’s a great pedal, and you can still find these online

The Line 6 M5 Stompbox Modeler, as I said to you at the start of the article, is one of the most respected multi-effects pedals. A lot of people swear by them because of how good they sound and how simple they are to use.

Some of their users are even notorious session players like Tim Pierce, Kenny Greenberg, Tom Bukovac, Derek Wells, and Jerry McPherson, according to the guy from Vertex Effects, who has a great YouTube video on the M9, by the way.

Multi-FX units are great because they can be used to make the most use out of valuable space on our pedalboards.

If you’re someone who needs to make as much use of your pedal real estate as possible either for gigs or recording, then a multi-effects would probably do you good.

Like he says in the video I linked to a second ago, one of the reasons why people prefer the M5 or the M9 over the newer multi-effects pedals is because of their simplicity and just the fact they sound good.

And the praise for the M5 and M9 doesn’t stop there either, because you can find dozens of YouTube videos online of people describing the M5 as one of the most overlooked and underappreciated pedals out today.

Here are 5 different YouTube videos that all make this point, or at least make one that’s similar.

Ultimately, there are a lot of people singing the M5 and M9 praises these days, so finding videos stating the same thing isn’t hard. However, what is a challenge to find is where we should put the M5 in our signal chain.

In fact, there are many forums of people online asking the exact same question, and almost everyone has a different answer, ie, forum 1, forum 2, forum 3, forum 4, forum 5, forum 6, and forum 7.

Additionally, it can get even more complicated once we start talking about WET/DRY/WET signal paths, stereo setups, and more. But for today, the 3 most common signal chain placements for the Line 6 M5 I listed earlier should do the trick.

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Important Things to Note About The Line 6 M5 Stomp Box Modeler

1) What About Fuzz?

If you’ve read my other signal chain article on compression and fuzz, you’ll know that fuzz is almost always put right at the start of the signal chain. This is because fuzz pedals have very impedance-sensitive circuitry.

Fuzz is famous for this, and I think the best way of describing it that I’ve ever heard was in the JHS Pedals video where the two guys stated that fuzz was “needy” like a baby, as if the guitar was its “mommy.”

So how this relates to the placement of the M5 on your board is that if you intend on using the fuzz feature, it may be best to put it right at the start of your chain.

2) The Same Guidelines Will Apply to Other Multi-FX Pedals

While many multi-effects pedals are different from each other, they ultimately serve the same purpose – to utilize as many effects as possible within one pedal for the sake of efficiency and convenience.

Where they go in the signal chain is also the same but it’s up to you to change things around and see how things sound.

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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