Photo: Maroon 5 guitarist James Valentine's board is so packed, the ordering of the pedals is an important consideration.
Trejo: I like to keep certain pedals, especially loopers like the Line6 DL4, in front of the chain because you can loop everything that’s in line and just create massive walls of sound. Anything that has any sort of gain boost like distortions and such I always keep at the end to minimize unwanted pedal buzzing. At the end of day, it all depends on what the guitarist is looking for.
Farmer: I like to put a wah at the beginning of everything, and then I like to use envelope filters and octave pedals hit and unaffected as possible because I feel they need the most organic sound possible for performance. Then I put the boost and overdrive pedals after all that, the delays follow those, and the Rotosphere is at the very end just because it’s a great but noisy unit.
Buffa: One thing I try to always remember when building racks is to keep the connector wires and AC/power wires separate—starting down the right side of the rack with amp to amp and processor to processor—to keep them from even getting close to touching because they could cause noise and grounding. I’ve found when you put everything together and run it over top of each other the cluttering of wires and cords can cause avoidable, unnecessary noise. Always keep signal and power separate for the sanctity of the signal.
I prefer to put the wah before the distortion and overdrive pedals—we tried it after, but the tone of the wah was a lot more coherent before—and then all that goes into a buffer to boost the signal, which runs into a Boss NS-2 Noise Suppressor, and then into a Rotovibe, then into the Volume pedal, and then into the delay, which goes into the switchers.
We like having the Volume pedal after the distortion pedals so when you bring up the volume on the pedal, you’re not cutting the volume and the dirtboxes, thus killing the dynamics of the overall distorted tone. If you placed the volume pedal before the distortion you would be able to dial back the volume and keep your big, thick, distorted tone because it’ll sound super sound, less dynamic and anemic.
The NS-2 is before the Rotovibe and DL4 Delay because I try to keep things as open as possible. I don’t normally have to squash his sound all that much because it’s pretty clean, but there are some venues where the power sources are noisy. And if you had that behind the delays, you could end up cutting off some of the trailing delays or ringing chorus effects from the Rotobvibe.
I’ve had James [Valentine]’s Dunlop Rotovibe, Zakk Wylde Signature Crybaby wah, and everything modded so they’re true bypass [laughs]… because it’s all about tone. By the time you go through five pedals and get to your amp, your guitar’s tone is almost indistinguishable because you’re running through all the circuitry of the pedals—even if they’re off—it squashes it and changes the organic tone you start with. If it’s true bypass you’re not running it through the pedal, you’re just running it from the in and the out. Secondly, if a pedal goes down and it’s not true bypass, it kills the whole thing, but if you turn it off and it’s broke, you at least can get the signal all the way through it and carry on through the song or show.