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Effects Loop vs. Before Pre-Amp

Question:
Hi guys,
As some of you may know, I had some questions regarding my overdrive pedal in a previous thread, and realized that I needed to use it in an footpedal chain before the preamp, rather than in the effects loop. I never knew that this is the way things were done until now, and I'm realizing that some pedals sound a lot better plugged in before the preamp rather than in the effects loop, now that I've been experimenting with my configuration.
But now this got me curious. What's the point of the effects loop? How is it supposed to be used? What pedals should be in the effects loop and what kinds of pedals should be used before the preamp? Is there any rule of thumb?
I'm starting up a psychedelic/stoner rock band this summer and as you can imagine, I'm going to town with effects, and plan to buy a lot of pedals such as fuzz, vibrato, delay, echo, and reverb. So, that being said, I really need to know what I'm doing with effects here before I move on, and fast. Thank you much fellas.

Answer:
For the most part, time-based effects (delay, reverb, etc) should be in the loop while everything else is infront.

Answer:
The effects loop is to get some pedals placed after the preamp distortion, especial on high-gain amps. A lot of effects like reverb and delay get really muddy if they are compressed by a high-gain amp (all of the repeats are amplified to the same volume as the original signal). A lot of people prefer their mod effects (Chorus, Phase, Flange) there as well, some do not. Something old school, like a Univibe people still seem to prefer before the amp.

Answer:
Effects loops are used mostly for rack effects.

Answer:
Effects loops are used mostly for rack effects. What do you mean by rack effects?
Also, is it strange that my Big Muff Pi maintains a more original sound in the loop than before the preamp?

Answer:
theres not much need for an amp's effects loop if you're only using it for clean amplification

Answer:
theres not much need for an amp's effects loop if you're only using it for clean amplification That may be, but I am definitely using different kinds of distortion pedals.

Answer:
That may be, but I am definitely using different kinds of distortion pedals. I think that's his point. If you are getting most of your dirt from your pedals, and the amp is clean otherwise, then out front is fine for most of your pedals.
For instance, I really only find the need to use the loop for my delay pedal when I'm running my preamp gain high and dirty.

Answer:
I usually put everything before the amp and play the amp clean. I can see the point of an effects loop if the preamp is driven heavy and you don't want the tube compression to color your effects.

Answer:
Effects loops are used mostly for rack effects. +1
The correct answer. Most amp effects loops were NOT designed for pedals.

Answer:
+1
Most amp effects loops were NOT designed for pedals. Can you elaborate?

Answer:
^
Often, putting a pedal in the fx loop of an amp will add noise to the signal. This is a dead give away that the fx loop wasn't designed with a stomp box in mind. If you don't notice any extra noise, then you should pay attention for a drop in volume.
Feel free to use time based pedals like Reverb, Chorus, or Delay in the loop. It won't hurt anything. A pedal buffer will allow you to do it without the noise problems. But, in most cases (without a signal buffer), the signal noise is reduced using all the stomp boxes before the preamp.

Answer:
^
Often, putting a pedal in the fx loop of an amp will add noise to the signal. This is a dead give away that the fx loop wasn't designed with a stomp box in mind. If you don't notice any extra noise, then you should pay attention for a drop in volume.
Feel free to use time based pedals like Reverb, Chorus, or Delay in the loop. It won't hurt anything. But, in most cases, the signal noise is reduced using all the stomp boxes before the preamp. I've noticed a volume drop with some pedals in the loop. Is this an impedance thing?

Answer:
The effects loop is to get some pedals placed after the preamp distortion, especial on high-gain amps. A lot of effects like reverb and delay get really muddy if they are compressed by a high-gain amp (all of the repeats are amplified to the same volume as the original signal). A lot of people prefer their mod effects (Chorus, Phase, Flange) there as well, some do not. Something old school, like a Univibe people still seem to prefer before the amp. That explains why I haven't noticed much difference. I use little gain.

Answer:
Some loops have a switch to add/subtract level, if you notice a volume drop (my Carvin Xt-112 does).

Answer:
I know there's no cut and dried explanations, but here is what I usually do:
Before Pre-amp:
EQ based effects (Wah-wah, graphic EQ) -> this way you can shape your clean tone the way you want it.
then
Distortion effects (Dirt pedals) -> Once the tone is shaped, fatten it up with distortion
Then go into the amp preamp. From there, in the effects loop:
Ambient/Time based effects (This is where I put all the verb and echos) -> This way your whole shaped tone is echoed or reverbed
Rack based effects (I don't use any, but I am told people who do tend to put them here.) -> These can add a LOT of volume, and if you put them before the preamp it will become gain instead of master volume.
The ones I really have no rules with are the Modulation based effects. There can be strikingly different results depending on where you place them, all of which can be pleasing/desirable. They are usually experimental effects, best to experiment with them.
One of the most important things to remember is that if volume levels are boosted before the preamp, then it turns into gain. When they are placed in the effects loop, it instead seems to just bring the overall volume up.
Hope that helps, and correct me if anything sounds wrong - I'm always still learning, too!

Answer:
Some loops have a switch to add/subtract level, if you notice a volume drop (my Carvin Xt-112 does). Your fx loop was designed to work well with pedals. That's rare! You should be able to get great results by putting your reverb, delay, and volume pedal in your loop. Do you use any pedals in your fx loop?

Answer:
Your fx loop was designed to work well with pedals. That's rare! You should be able to get great results by putting your reverb, delay, and volume pedal in your loop. Do you use any pedals in your fx loop? THe ones that you would expect: delay, chorus, etc.

Answer:
Aside from having my Big Muff Pi in my FX loop (which I do need to try messing with more before the preamp), I have the graphic EQ pedal. I have fine tuned this thing perfectly, and get a great tone out of it.. is it really bad to have it there? Should I move it in front of the amp? I use the EQ also to cut feedback from the amp, would this behave differently if it was before? Could I even cut feedback with an EQ by putting it before the amp?
Also, my amp has a button on it labeled "Effects loop pad (12dB)"
What does this mean? I normally have it on? Is it to compensate for the said volume loss when using pedals in it?

Answer:
^ Maybe your pad 12db button is a boost to compensate for stomp boxes in the effects loop. If it were mine, I would move the Big Muff Pi in front of the preamp just to see how the sound compares to Muff within the loop. Perhaps, the Muff in the loop is contributing to your feedback issues.
The EQ in the loop should be ok as long as you have a loop that works well with pedals. But, there is a general order to pedals that can potentially give you the best sound and versatility. Still, rules were meant to be broken and changing the order can result in a unique sound. Here's some good basic information on pedal order:
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