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Purpose of Amp Effects Loop?

Q: I’ve never really understood why I would want to put my effects into my guitar amp’s effects loop. They work fine going into the regular front input on the amp. What are the advantages to using the loop?

A: This could potentially be a very involved conversation, but the basic answer depends on how you are using your gear and what type of effects you are running. For example, some guitar amplifier effects loops can operate at line level, which makes them better suited for use with rackmount effects processors.

But the big question is where any distortion you are using is being generated. If the distortion/overdrive is coming from the amplifier itself, using the effects loop allows you to place effects, such as delay, reverb, and rotary speaker, after the distortion. This normally results in a better result — running a delay into the front of a distorted amp can result in a muddy, messy sound.

However, other effects, such as compressors, overdrives, fuzzes, wahs, and more, could be considered to “condition” the signal before it enters the amp. You could run those types of effects in the amp’s loop, but you would probably not enjoy the results.

If your distortion/overdrive is coming from pedals in front of the amp, and the amp is being run as a clean platform for your pedals, then you could run your time-based effects, such as delay and reverb, either after the dirt pedals before the front of the amp, or place the delay/reverb in the amp’s effects loop.

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