Episode 010: In the Loop

In this episode, Paul and Dave break down the mysterious and often misunderstood effects loop.

Music: Jahzzar, Please Listen Carefully; spinningmerkaba, Urbana-Metronica (wooh-yeah mix)

Show notes

  • What IS an effects loop?
    • If you’re more experienced you might be used to an FX loop
    • But we run across bassists who have them but don’t know how to use them
    • It’s a way of altering your sound before your amplifier makes it stage volume
  • We talked about Minimum Effects in a previous episode, definitely hit the website and check it out.
    • If you haven’t subscribed, do that and you’ll find it in the back catalog
    • But this is more about “as many effects as you like”
  • How does it work?
    • Your FX loop has a send and a receive
    • Your preamp raises your instrument signal up to a line level signal suitable for effects and other processing
    • SEND goes to your first effects input…
    • RETURN comes back from your last effects output
    • You might have many effects in between, each going OUT to IN, to OUT, to IN… and the last OUT going to the RETURN on your amp
    • Then the amplifier actually cranks up your signal into the speakers
  • Do you have an effects loop on your amp?
    • Dave:
      • Yes, and I didn’t know what it was until a couple years ago.
      • Mostly because I don’t use many effect pedals
    • Paul:
      • Yes. Like some amps, my Markbass Little Mark Tube 800 came pre-configured with what’s called a parallel FX loop
      • Your signal gets split up, with one path going through FX, and the other being “dry”… then they’re mixed back together 50/50 to be amplified
      • This is a cool feature because it means when you kick in drastic effects, you don’t necessarily lose the basic sound of your instrument, lows, etc.
  • How do you use your FX loop currently?
    • Dave:
      • Only use in gigs where I am using more than Tuner/Compressor
        • Those can just run straight to the front (less 1 cable)
      • Chorus/Oct/Synth/Overdrive etc.
    • Paul:
      • So I modded my amp like I was some sort of wizard!
      • My effects unit has a Mix setting so I can dial in what I want, and have it mixed with the “dry” there. Since I sometimes want 100%, this lets me have anything between 0-100%, not 0-50%
      • I have a couple of nice long 25’ cables that I can run out to the stage to my effects pedal
  • How do you listeners use effects? We’d love to hear from you!
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